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Episode 58:

Love as a Tough Strategy

In today's episode we sit down with founder of WGNinHR Consulting, Joanne Rencher where she shares her experience with coaching executive leaders. We dig into what works and what doesn't work and, as always, test our hypothesis of love against what she's seen.

Speakers

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

Host

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Joanne Rencher

Joanne Rencher

Founder of WGNinHR Consulting

ChrisProfile

Chris Pitre

Vice President

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Frank Danna

Director

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Transcript

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Jeff Ma
Hey folks, in today's episode, we talked to the founder of WGN in HR Jo Rencher. She shares her experience in coaching and consulting executives and business. And we talk about what works and what doesn't work and leadership. We try to test our hypothesis against what she's seen. does love and humanity belong in the workplace? You're going to love what she has to say about it. So enjoy the show.

Hello, and welcome to love as a business strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business. We want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from and we believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma, a director at Softway, a technology company that brings and transforms company cultures. And I'm here today joined by my co hosts Frank Danna, Director at Softway. Hey, Frank.

Frank Danna
Hey, Jeff.

Jeff Ma
And Chris Peachtree vice president. Hey, Chris.

Chris Pitre
Hey.

Jeff Ma
And each episode we'd like to dive into one element of business strategy and test our theory of love against it. And we have a guest today I'm very excited to have join us is Joanne Rencher, who you see on your screen, if you're watching is going by Jo.Jo rancher, host of The Real Talk podcast and author of tough as nails finding your voice as a woman in the workplace. Joanne has had an incredibly diverse, diverse career so far. She started at GE, and ended up as the chief people officer at the Girl Scouts of America. And today, she focuses her efforts on consulting and HR space and has founded her own business WGN consulting. So welcome to the show. Joe, how are you?

Joanne Rencher
I'm doing really well. Great to be here. Excited.

Jeff Ma
Thank you so much for joining us. And if you've familiar with the show at all, we will actually start with an icebreaker we used to give as we used to give everyone a unique icebreaker, which put them on the spot quite a bit. We found it easier, just choose one question. And then we'll let you go last Joe, so you have time to prepare? Oh, Frank, what's your number one tip for combating distractions while working from home.

Frank Danna
Number one tip for combating distractions. I would say if you're doing any brainstorming, where you need to be focused as focused as possible, do not use a computer. So one of the things that I've done is I'll take my notebook downstairs, into a room that has no electronics at all, and brainstorm with no connection at all to any sort of electronics or technology. And I find that it helps me stay very focused. And then I'm able to bring myself back to the technology when I need to. But that has been proven to be very helpful when I just need a little bit of time to actually focus my energy, my thoughts.

Jeff Ma
I like it, I'm gonna try that actually. Chris, same question.

Chris Pitre
My tip is actually going to be to embrace them. So I know for me personally, I will spend more energy trying to ignore something that's very bothersome, rather than just spend the time to go and address it and then get it done with. So my, my sister has a dog that I will sometimes watch, and he can be a distraction. But if you just like if he's hungry, if he needs to go out whatever the case may be, he does deal with it, then he stops bothering you. But also, when you think about, like the Pomodoro pomodoro method, or if he spent, you know, 20 minutes on and then give yourself breaks, it actually helps you to focus more. So sometimes those distractions actually timed for the Pomodoro method where you actually force yourself to break. So you're not so heavily concentrated that you actually lose energy, lose the mental capacity to continue on, you're not sort of a stress beyond measure. So I always I would tell people to think about embracing their distractions. And also it lets you lead an authentic life where if you are a parent, you need to acknowledge that you have kids at home versus try and avoid the reality of you being at home with kids.

Jeff Ma
Nice, agreed. Joe, what is your number one? Sorry, what is your number one tip for combating distractions and working from home?

Joanne Rencher
So there's a distinct disadvantage. I think going last because people just take your stuff.

Jeff Ma
You can you can say that's what I you can totally say that I had that in mind. Because I that was it.

Joanne Rencher
Actually what Chris said Really? I mean that honestly, we really resonated with me because I tend to step right To the distraction and, and I love the flexibility of working from home from the home office, I love it, I love being able to just kind of, you know, sort of set my own pace. And so if something is happening, like that happened just yesterday, you know, I really needed to get my attention to something, I was able to just sort of like hop off the call, you know, and, and, and go, go tend to that, and then think about what I was doing later on. So I just I lean right into it. Obviously, if I'm with a client, and you know, it's a major project, I'm not going to lean into the distraction. But I do think it's important to just kind of go with the, you know, the flow that you're in, and take advantage of the flexibility because I mean, let's face it, it's hard to it's harder to do that in a more structured setting. And we've all you know, this is the greatest work from home experiment ever known to man. And we should, we should take advantage of it. So I like to take advantage. That's great.

Chris Pitre
Like, I have just, I know some people like, Oh my gosh, I'm so stressed. This is so hard. I'm like I've been enjoying it. I've just been like me, me and my sister have been talking about this ad nauseam. Like, I know what we have coworkers that are just like, this is so hard for me, and I get it. But for us, we're like, this has been a joy. I have nothing but a joy. We have just been having fun. It's like I can I don't have to dress up like, like I've saved on dry cleaning saved on gas. Like we just been so excited. And you know, when we have that, like be in those meetings where people are complaining about it, we just like sit quietly, and I'm like, I don't have anything to add to this. Like I'm good.

Joanne Rencher
I'm with you, Chris. I am 100%. With you, especially having come from a two hour commute into the city. Yeah, it's it's, it's nice.

Jeff Ma
Yeah. All right. Joe, I gave you I gave a very LinkedIn style introduction to you in my in my opening, there's so much more to you, as I already know. So if you don't mind, can you give kind of yourself that introduction and kind of talk about where your passions lie? Really what what you know what you have to share today?

Joanne Rencher
Well, I guess when I think when I when I, if I were to put it as sort of a marker, or some sort of label on on my career, it would just be all about figuring out how to get other people to that next level. I mean, that's kind of the thing that speaks to me. And, and I never really understood it that way. Because as I, as you noted, I started off in financial services that work for some pretty amazing brands. And, you know, had it had a real opportunity to do some amazing work across different sectors and globally and domestically. And it was, I would always kind of come back to how can I how am I spending my time? And how is this helping anything? Like what difference is any of this making in the life of a person or, you know, the company or the business. And so going from financial services to the nonprofit sector and spending time and submit, as I said, major iconic brands and getting to be the first this or the first that first chief people officer for the Red Cross, or the first, you know, global HR leader to build a public private partnership for the International AIDS vaccine initiative, those things are big jobs, but at the at the kernel of it, it's how am I helping move this needle forward? This? Is the business better? Because I'm here, you know, are people getting to that next level? Is the model is the model working? So I've always had a passion about kind of pushing towards that question. And so it's kind of full circle now that I'm doing I'm running my own shop, you know, I get to do that, you know, over and over and over again for for different clients across a, you know, a broad portfolio, but in financial services, data science and technology and the nonprofit sector. areas that I that I've gotten to know fairly well, I now get to do that for C suite leaders and board members and just everyday leaders, how do we get you to the next level? The you might be your business or your team? But it's always the same question. And I love it. I love the I'm a complete geek about what I do, I could talk and talk and talk about it. Because I always felt when I was on the inside, so to speak of other businesses, I was always kind of leaving maybe 40% of myself somewhere 40% of my potential, you know that I could really push the envelope in certain areas or innovate and, and really press toward that mark, you know, I couldn't really do it with the level of freedom that I can do it now. So that's what I do I help people get to the to the next level.

Jeff Ma
Nice. That's awesome.

Chris Pitre
I was just gonna ask a question or just follow up. Yeah. So in sort of being I'm gonna say the wind beneath someone's weight is basically what I'm taking away from what you said, What is your biggest challenge? Or what do you see most often are a commonality and the leaders that she worked with support, push talk to help, in terms of like, because I know that we're all unique, but at the end of the day, we, we tend to all want the same things and leadership, we tend to want to see the same outcomes, you know, whether that be business outcomes or outcomes for our people, but just curious to know, like, what you see and what you what you come to know, in your experiences.

Joanne Rencher
It's a it's a tough question for me to answer. And I think the answer I think the reason is because is because my answer is that Yeah, there are common threads that, you know, leaders have, and businesses have, and, you know, whether it's more revenue, or you know, you're expanding, or it's a program trend, it's a business transformation, or it's a new program, or whatever it is, there's there's certain common threads in business, but I find in which is what's exciting to me, that every leader is so different, that the those uniquenesses are either, you know, things that you can latch on to and sort of help propel them to that next level, or things that you can sort of, like, smack your head and say, Wow, this is how you've been doing stuff this could you possibly have been this successful. And then you have everything in between, because people, you know, we're also different. And so you put, you put the unique individual in the context of, you know, any business, any company, any organization, and you get all these different variations of success, or not, so, you know, not not success. And that's where I, that's where I entered the picture, you know, the opportunity to problem solve, which I love. And to do it with the uniquenesses of the person. And, you know, what makes people tick. I mean, I'm a, I'm a true, I know, it sounds corny, but I'm a true people person. So I like study people, and really observe and try to understand them. And so the differences in leaders, it's just fascinating to me. So that's, that's, that's the heart of why I love what I do. Because no two problems are the same. I may bring the same toolkit. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, I may bring the same toolkit, but no two problems are the same, because people are so unbelievably different.

Chris Pitre
Yeah. Nice. I stand corrected, there are a lot of differences between people and leaders.

Frank Danna
Let it Let it be no, on this day. What I wanted to the 19th of the 19th

as we have I took notice. So how can you get? What do you Where do you start getting people to that next level? If you're seeing an opportunity in that individual? I know that you mentioned that you you'll bring the same toolkit for a different variety of problems, right? What do you what do you how do you typically start with getting them to that next step?

Joanne Rencher
Mm hmm. So in, in my business, what just popped into my mind, and I never really thought about it this way, but i think i think it applies nicely. In in at my firm, WGNinHR, we, we talk a lot about five principles. Not in any particular order. I'm going to just name them speed, precision, impact, growth, and service. And so at any given time, those principles are in operation and helping people to think about what what is that next level? And, you know, so speed, for example, you know, we consultants get oftentimes a pretty bad rap, but also a true rap, you know, which is, it takes a long time to sort of come back to an answer that I could have found myself. And your methodology is a little cumbersome, and the decks or the PowerPoint decks are a little long. And, you know, you got a lot of people on that team, you know, did we really need that? How are we paying for all of that, you know, so you have certain, certain, certain ammos in this world where I think speed is really pivotal to actually helping people, you know, because sometimes you you have a window of opportunity when I like to start with the end in mind, and when I work with a client or have a conversation, I'm starting, like, what's the end goal? Let's work our way backwards. And you know, when I think about that, I don't want to go at a sort of a glacial pace to do that. I want to help them build on the momentum when they get excited about something so speed matters. But precision matters. I don't want to just go fast just to go fast. I want to I want to be precise, I want to understand I want to listen really well. And then I want to understand Okay, let me zoom in here because looks like looks like this is where this Some of the issues are and I want to pat you know, peel that onion away until there's nothing else to peel and be really precise about what it is we're doing and how you're how you're spending your time and, and your money, you know, to to help me or to work with me to help you on your solutions. And then that whole, you know that growth. To me, that's the that's the, that's the differentiator when somebody or a business wants to get to that next level. You know, growth means very different things to different people to different industries to different businesses, I was talking to, you know, with a client yesterday, and, you know, they're struggling with, you know, what does growth mean, it's a nonprofit client. And so what, you know, they have to be able to prove to donors that they can actually not grow responsibly, and not just sort of, you know, raise, you know, they an increase operating expenses without having something to show for it. So, what is growth in that particular world? And then, impact, you know, that speaks for itself, you know, we if we can't show something measurable, and when all is said and done, you know, you can talk about the wind beneath your wings, you know, all you want, but, you know, what difference did it make? If you can't answer that question in tangible terms, then, you know, it doesn't, doesn't really matter. And then the service thing is really personal for me, because I always feel like I'm in service to some to someone and to people and to businesses, you know, I like to think in terms of serving, you know, because it gets me out of the way, you know, as it gets, it keeps me tamed and humble, you know, because I'm, you know, it's not about me, it's in service. I mean, I don't always I don't always, you know, I have to sometimes be reminded, but I do really work hard to think about service, you know, I'm serving you. So if I'm serving you, or if I'm serving that business, you know, getting to the next level is all of where my energy comes from. It's all where my, where my creativity comes from. And that's, that's, you know, that that should be gold at the end

Jeff Ma
helped me, like connect the, with the role that I'll call it love, but you can call it culture or any of those, you know, tools. Where does that exist in your world? And how does that how, what kind of role does that play?

Joanne Rencher
Hmm. Well, I can give a little bit of a story, please, and then make it. Yeah, so much, somewhat. You know, people say long story short, and then they go on for like, forever. And it's like, it's too late to say that. It's too long.

Chris Pitre
I want the long version. And like long stories.

Joanne Rencher
Oh, okay. All right. Stage. All right. I, I was a chronic introvert. I mean, to the point where, you know, I mean, I always, I always liked school. I know that sounds a little nerdy, but I did like school. And I did you know, I liked you know, the different subjects, not all of them. But I really enjoyed the kind of like, book or made parts of set of school, but I wasn't expressive about anything. And so, you know, a parent teachers conferences, is that what they call it? The the parent, teacher night and whatever, you know, my parents would go and they'd say, yeah, She's good. She's really good. But she doesn't talk. She doesn't say anything. So I was very, very introverted and very uncomfortable with not only my figurative voice, but my literal voice, because I used to be teased, mercilessly, by these really mean kids that would convince me that I sounded like a man and my voice was so deep, and you know, just I, you know, it was really, it was kind of rough, growing up. And so I was very insular and closed and how I thought about things. And so while I felt like I always had a really big heart and compassion for people, and, you know, I was that person that, you know, if someone was crying, it's like, I'm crying too. Why am I crying? You know, someone's tears actually caused my cause me to cry, I was always that person. I could, it was always hard to express it because of its kind of introverted nature and closed way of being. And so when I got, you know, as I started to get older, and sort of find that, you know, find myself I guess, and really get comfortable, you know, talking besides like, wow, I really like talking. And I really like what I have to say, and I think other people like what I have to say, and I got more comfortable with myself and what I sounded like, and it caused me to think and to get back to your question, Jeff, it caused me to think that I could actually use my voice to make a difference, not just in the work, you know, the work world and know that, you know, business sense, but, you know, to actually show love and compassion, I could actually show that part of my You know, I put my toe in the water periodically, you know, someone walked in, you know, and you're, when you're in HR people come into your office, and they tell you, you know, some pretty, you know, messed up stuff at times. And, you know, it can get very complicated just by nature of, you know, by virtue of what we do, or what happens in the field. And so I would put my toe in the water and really just connect with people on a very personal level, when once I found my own voice, I discovered, wow, I think I'm supposed to be using this in ways that are well beyond just business, I'm supposed to be encouraging other people and helping other people, you know, maybe sometimes crying with other people that that matters in the workplace just as much as the business matters. So I think love has a total place in the workplace. It has it, it has a spot there that we don't use, that we take that we take for granted, or that we think is mushy or dumb. But I think that's what makes us human. And so why should we hide that when we enter the workplace, if you know, people bring all of themselves to work, and their baggage and all their issues, you're not just dealing with a performance problem, you're dealing with that whole person. And so I learned how to not only once I found my own voice, but to use it to sort of tease tease out the voices from other people like, what are you really thinking? What's behind this? What Why were you so upset about that? You know, help me understand. And I think that makes a difference. I think leaders are often uncomfortable with that, you know, I don't show up to client meetings talking about that on day one. But I do I do like to operate that way. Because once I found it for my once I found my own way of expressing myself, I really, I am kind of like on this quest to make sure that people can can do the same thing.

Chris Pitre
Awesome. So saying that you don't show up on the first day talking about that? How does it show up? Like when do you find the opportunity to bring up this part of the conversation with leaders who may not see the importance or the connection between maybe their behaviors or their own psychological safety with their teams, and the outcomes that they're trying to seek or drive in the business?

Joanne Rencher
Well, sometimes those moments are very spontaneous, but I think even spontaneous moments need preparation. And I remember once I was in a CEOs office, and we were having the conversation about a major change that was going on, for them, that was going to result in them having to transition. And, you know, they the transition was not in their control. And so there was just a lot that you can imagine, after several years with the business, and you know, you're you were at the helm, and all of a sudden, now, you've got to step back from all of that in voluntarily, and you've got to figure out how to, you know, like, what do I do now, you know, what's next for me? Your ego takes a massive hit. And I remember saying to that person, that I'll never forget this moment where I actually I looked at them, and I'm really trying to be neutral in how I describe it, because heaven forbid, this pops up somewhere. And it's like, I tell that story. And I remember looking at them as we were getting, because I had been working with them, you know, on sort of transitioning and the plan and handing off and the team, you know, that was going to continue afterwards. I mean, it was a very complex kind of a transition, couldn't just pluck them out. And then, you know, sort of go on about your business. It was it was complicated. And I looked at them, and they said, How do you feel? So how are you fit? I think I said, How are you feeling? And that one question? I mean, this was a person that was pretty tough, you know, and, you know, had had been writing this for, you know, this change for, you know, a period of time, not showing a lot of emotion, pretty Matter of fact, and that one question, sort of like it was like little thread that you pull and unravel everything. And they fought, they fought those tears, they fought Fight, fight. And then finally it was just sort of like, you know, let's just, let's just let's put it all out. Let's just talk about that. We don't have to have answers and solutions. There are no models for this. You know, there's no Gantt chart. Let's just let's just talk about how you actually feel. And that was powerful. And that was really, really powerful. I learned a lot about that moment. I didn't plan on asking that question. It was spot it was really a spontaneous moment. But I said to myself afterwards, I have to ask that question, question more and, and be prepared to actually dive in on that personal side. And I was able to kind of show compassion And show humanity that this wasn't just a business transaction, but it was good.

Chris Pitre
Yeah, no, I think that's a really, that's something that I've ever since I was in business school was, again, they don't you don't talk about your personal feelings when you're learning about accountancy or marketing or HR, or any of the things that that would be in a function of business. In most what's really odd is that you don't talk about how other people feel about stuff, navigate change, right? Like, they talk about organizational development, they talk about like, the theories and the concepts, but they like there's no preparation, how do you have a conversation about a major change? Or how do you like, you know, humanely lay someone out? like none of those actual sort of soft, critical skills, as I would call them, but others are actually given in business school. And so the entire time I'm sitting there in class, like, how do you have this conversation? I mean, like, of course, strategically, this all makes sense. It makes sense why you would, you know, lay off this to employ automated robot. All that makes sense. And so, but how? Yeah, how do you do it? And it's interesting that even to this day, you are still in that situation where you have to help leaders navigate those waters, who have years of experience, have done some of the smartest things in anybody's career that you could imagine, but still struggle with that ability to process their own feelings, feelings, let alone understand how do they make other how other people might feel about change inside of their strategy, plan or communication.

Joanne Rencher
Because we kind of compartmentalize things when we go into, to, to work, so to speak. It's sort of like we put ourselves in this box. And so like, you stay over there, no, no, no crying here, and Bloodsport, you know, we you stay in that box. And, you know, we deal with other stuff in this other arena, and you start to take that, you know, that other part out of the bots, you know, who knows what can happen? And can you imagine? I mean, what could it What, what would it work? What would workplaces actually look like? If you? If we did that more? I think it would be really it would be interesting and and better?

Chris Pitre
I think yes. It'll be scary at first, because you feel like we're taking too much into consideration. We're gonna be paralyzed if we were worried about how everybody's gonna feel about this

Joanne Rencher
now. Well, this intro. I mean, there is a balance to it. Yeah,

Chris Pitre
yeah. But what I've learned is that by just taking the step to even think that way, you can get 80% of it, right, ya know, in terms of anticipating feelings, or reactions to things. And you know, one of the things that we've done recently, internally is, we were given a list of questions that you can ask before you sort of communicate or make a decision or build a product or service or launch an initiative that makes you stop and just think, oh, what happens if a bad actor gets a hold of this? How could they make this worse? How could they like, right, like, all of those types of questions that prepare you for how to anticipate, you know, the worst, or the feelings or the the mushy side of things, even though that's not the core of the decision that needs to be made, even though it's not going to stop the decision from being made? it at least allows you to think about, okay, how do we position this? How do we say, how do we answer this? How do we prep people? Who needs to learn about this first, second, third, fourth, right, you start to figure out solutions around it versus, you know, assuming everybody's compartmentalised, because that's not true.

Joanne Rencher
Right. I think that's such a great point. Yeah. Yeah. I actually talked about I think about, I'm big on talking points. And, you know, sort of like prep and FAQs. But the way you just described it, though, is much less clinical sounding, then the way I might do that, the way I might talk about it, it's more sort of like, let's unpack some of this stuff in advance. That's good. Yeah.

Chris Pitre
And it's, it's from, it's actually from a technology company that asked these questions when they're building a product, but it can be taken into all sorts of different decisions. I'll share the list with you. So you have it, but it's just like, a really interesting list of questions that are that's cool. That forced you to think differently. And if you are decided, that makes sense.

Frank Danna
I like that. And at first, when I saw the list, my first initial reaction was, Oh, my gosh, this is so overwhelming, like, how are we going to be able to communicate anything? Right and, and then you start to recognize the value of making sure that you are prepared. And, and and considering every, every angle, every facet, as much as you can, as much as you can, you're always going to you're not gonna hit everything but right. That that was my first reaction that was like this is going to be so challenging, so difficult, but in reality, you need to take the steps to create the environment for people to commune appropriately and effectively. And it's it's much more important than creating something that would harm someone or, you know, cosmic cause problems.

Chris Pitre
And I think one of the, of those questions, the most powerful one, the most powerful one to me is who or what disappears if your message or decision or product is successful? Because then you start to like, oh, who is going to be impacted the most? Or what goes away? Like, what is lost in this? Yeah. Because, again, if you've already made that decision, it's just about acknowledging it. Right? And then from there, you can start to really think about, you know, what you do, as far as Fallout? Right? Yeah, there's gonna be Fallout.

Joanne Rencher
You know, kudos to you guys. I mean, oftentimes, in the technology space, you get a bad rap into it, you know, they, that you're seeing this perhaps more robotic, you know, and, and that's the just blue that, you know, myth right out of the water.

Chris Pitre
Yeah, unfortunately, unfortunately, a lot of technologists Do not ask these questions. So that's true. There's a reason why that rap exists. But it No, it's, it's something that does come up. And, you know, unfortunately, you have to learn the hard way enough times to understand that to sort of be prepared for the future. But it sounds like you're helping your leaders now, after that one experience, really start asking themselves how they're feeling so that way, they can see how it might impact others do. You know,

Joanne Rencher
yeah, it gives people permission permission to to be a little bit more vulnerable.

Frank Danna
Yes. Enjoy. wanted, I wanted to ask you about your book, tough as nails. And I wanted to know a little bit about what was the impetus, what compelled you to title that, and, and really pushed you to to write this book?

Joanne Rencher
Well, I was in this place of having thought for a long time that I wanted to write a book. And I wanted to, again, you know, figuring out how to help people get to that next level, I often tease and say that I'm, you know, I carry this title of the chief encouragement officer, because I'm always, I'm always looking for ways to encourage people, like, how can I encourage you, or I'll sign off sometimes and say, Be encouraged, you know, and it's, it's a constant for me, and I thought, I want it I always thought, instead, I was gonna write a book. And I was in a place career wise, where I hadn't yet taken the business that that I'm in now kind of, to the full to the mainstream, it was still like, it was like a little, it was still a side hustle, a little bit. Growing side, hustle that I was having a huge amount of trouble managing along with my day job, and I thought, I really want to write in this place of thinking about what's next for myself, I want to write something that can help other people. And I want to be able to put myself in the book in ways that help people with the experiences that I know other people have struggled with. And so in the book, you know, they're part, you know, there's some sort of biographical information there in terms of, you know, what I shared about being a chronic introvert and, you know, struggling to have found my voice, but I don't just make it all about that I make it about well, how do you how do you turn the corner? How do you become a, you know, a better listener of, you know, how do you test your environment and take the temperature of a room, you know, how do you stay authentic? when, you know, everyone around you feels so inauthentic you know, how do you take a unique position about something and disagree without being disagreeable? There are so many things that I, you know, thought about and, you know, at times struggled with a times coached other people on that were also real, that I just I wanted to put it all in the book for other people to really glean from and so all of those chapters are heavily researched. Have some at times autobi biographical information, at times, they're, they're pulled from real life information with names and, and dates omitted to protect the innocent kind of a thing. And they're very much action oriented. You know, so it's not just I think you should do this, it's, it's very actionable. They're all very actionable strategies and takeaways, and that's what made me happy about about the book being able to say, you know what, I can help you and when when when Kirkus Reviews described it, I mean, first of all, it was my first book review ever from a major reviewing body and you know, for them to for it to be positive was I mean, I had a stomach ache for like days leading up to when the when the when the review came out, and for that to be so positive, but then they put this capsule around it and they say and so what they said it was a well thought out career manual, and I thought, yes, that's exactly What it is, I never thought of it as a career manual. But that's exactly what it is. That's why I wrote the book, I wanted it to be a career manual. And they actually put put words around, what, where my heart was. So that's why that's why I wrote it.

Chris Pitre
Nice. So what's been some of the responses you've gotten in? Have you gotten testaments from people who've read it and felt like their careers have changed because of it. Or some of those memories, lots of them.

Joanne Rencher
Those are, those are so then I mean, I can't even describe sort of what those feel like, I get them through inmail, on LinkedIn, often, at times, people literally take the time to sort of old school, you know, write to me, you know, I get it through maybe emails, or if I'm doing a post on LinkedIn, you know, someone will sort of slip in the comments around that around it. And so I get it in, in different ways. And it's just precious as precious to me. And it speaks to, you know, generally, if I were to wrap up the themes that I hear, it's, you know, this is so helpful, I was going through x, and I got your book, and it was so helpful to be able to sort of apply strategies. Or I could really relate to that chapter on the mean, girl culture, because oh, my gosh, you know, I'm working with someone right now, where, you know, I'm going through the exact same, you know, exact same thing, or, you know, I really struggle with representing myself, you know, financially and negotiating for more money. And, you know, those tips were really useful, that kind of thing. So people do get specific with me, which I love. And, and yeah, that's exactly why I wrote it.

Chris Pitre
Nice. And I want to broach a topic, and I'm going to try and say where it is, I'm not trying to be offensive, but it is geared towards women. And so I'm always curious to find out like, being a woman in the workplace, what, what are some of those big impediments blocks, challenges that you you would love for our listeners to understand or at least hear about? Because I think sometimes it's, it's very hard when you're not a part of the community, to see it, feel it, experience it, and then know how to not promote it or to avoid it or not be it so to speak, if you are the impediment?

Joanne Rencher
Yeah. So that are unique to being a woman and

Chris Pitre
a woman in the workplace. Yes,

Joanne Rencher
I would say, you know, I was I, it makes me it makes me think of, I think, was a couple months or so ago, I was on a webinars, something like that. And I think the topic was the number of women that have left the workplace because of the pandemic, you know, that had, you know, decided to homeschool and, you know, just really stepped back and, and made personal decisions that have impacted their careers. And, you know, lo and behold, the entire industry at, you know, writ large, that they may have been a part of when it was so, you know, there was such a dearth of female representation to begin with, and those, those men, that that Exodus has really taken it taken a toll. And I remember thinking to myself, as I was listening to people talk, that people tend to think of women as blocks of, you know, so that, you know, that there's this kind of one perspective that we all share. And, you know, and therefore, there should be one solution that can be applied. And that's just so wrong. You know, and so I think the big takeaway for me, is, you know, as a woman in the workplace, I can have divergent opinions about things. And I don't have to feel as though I'm betraying my female, you know, my sisters, you know, or, or then you know, that there's some, you know, code that I've broken. I think that allowing, you know, women in the workplace to be as different and as unique as we all are as people is the best thing that you can do, to support us and to not make assumptions, assumptions about anything. You know, that's attached to why we work, why we, you know, why we choose, you know, to work at home, why we, you know, decide that, you know, flexibility is more important in some cases and, you know, money, just straight up that salary is a more important another In other cases, it doesn't have to attach itself to, you know, who we are. And I think that's an important concept concept, not only for employers to But also for women to get, you know, to allow to allow ourselves to actually just think a little bit more outside the box and have opinions that may be a little bit a little bit unpopular, you know, and feel okay about that. I think when we get to that stage, that diversity of thought, and diversity of perspective can go a long way in and just female representation in the workplace.

Chris Pitre
That's really insightful. Oh, I, I would say that I agree. But I'm not a woman. But I hear you. And that sounds like it resonates with me what you're saying. And I'm also speaking from just being a minority myself, where it's like, I might have unpopular opinions that are popular in the black community doesn't mean that.

Joanne Rencher
I have a chapter actually, in my book about that. It's called age and race, race and age factors. And I talked about the sort of, you know, like, I could, yeah, we don't all think the same way. Yeah, don't make assumptions.

Chris Pitre
Yes. Oh, for sure. Yeah.

Jeff Ma
I want to ask you a little bit different topic. But about, you know, I'm always really interested because I know, you work really tactfully with executives, leaders, and that and such, and they're looking for a lot of tactical, you know, very grounded and, and, you know, academic, academically backed kind of methodologies and understandings. I'm curious, your opinion, or at least your experience of how how these people would react to the word love in the workplace. Like, because I don't get to meet all of them. We worked with a lot of them, we worked with a wide range, but I just love asking, because you work with these folks. On the regular, how would you? How would you say on average, or just in your experience, they would react to the word love?

Joanne Rencher
I think they would cringe. I think they would recoil. And I think they'd be interested still. I think all all three, I think they'd be interested. And, and they'd be interested because I don't believe I come across as, you know, Goofy ish, and, you know, sort of, like, you know, let's talk about, you know, I don't, I don't believe I come across that way. And so, you know, because I, you know, I tend to sort of be very bottom line ish in terms of, you know, you know, what are we meeting about? What's the agenda, you know, worked, let's work backwards here. And actually, you know, get stuff done, I'm gonna get stuff done type of person. If I'm now talking, if I'm putting on that other hat, and now talking about love. They're like, that's different. I think it piques their curiosity, and they want to know, a little bit more, because I do have that side to me. But I do think that, you know, for the most part, their natural bent wouldn't be, wouldn't be that.

Jeff Ma
What do you what do you think that is? Like, it's just an experience, like, when these types of spaces get approached? What is the what is the tractor?

Joanne Rencher
I mean, cuz I think we, you know, well, you know, it's interesting, I think it's generationally different. Because, you know, I'm a Gen X, sir. And, you know, I work for, I would say quite a bit with maybe late exercise and boomers, you know, so they're, you know, tend to be maybe a little bit older than me or my age. And then there's a generational difference, I think, between those categories, and young Xers and Gen Gen. What is, what is it? What are we on y or z?

Chris Pitre
Gen Z is the sort of the up and coming Yeah, next in the workforce generation. And the why Millennials are interchanged Okay, there you go. Like,

Joanne Rencher
yeah, I feel like those, you know, sort of younger generations are a little, sort of, they're more complicated, and they sort of wrap up, they wrap everything up. And in that conversation, you know, sort of how they feel and what they thought and oh, my gosh, you know, I didn't realize this was gonna happen. And so they are naturally more in that, you know, sort of in sync with those kinds of conversations, because that's just how they are. They tend to be wired. This is a generalization. I don't make it shouldn't be a sweeping, you know, it doesn't have exceptions to all of this, but they tend to just sort of be wired that way. They come into the workplace thinking that, you know, this is how, you know, this is how I can just be you know, And, you know, when you get to the older generations, you know, I think we were honestly taught taught to just be a little bit more guarded, you know, circumspect and just, you know, not not as trusting and, and that is direct around a lot of things because, you know, hey, you never know, never know who you're dealing with, they're on the other side of that table. Everything is a constant negotiation, and, you know, assessing. And so it's a little bit different. I think generationally. And so I think you'll see those differences when you start to broach those topics. But that said, I really do think it comes down to the person, I really do. I have one client in mind that I who makes me smile, and I just love working with, with him. He's a CEO of a, you know, legacy organization where he's just so enjoyable, you know, and so authentic, I can totally see him, you know, jumping into the conversation around love in the workplace and being so intrigued about it. Whereas I have other clients where I would never, you know, so I would really think, long and hard before I actually, and how I brought, I brought something like that up just because of the way they, they carry themselves the way they think about life in general. So it really does depend on the on the person and the person and the person that I enjoy, you know, that I that I'm talking about that I think would just be all over it is a I forget what's what's before a boomer, a traditionalist, I think, I mean, he's up, he's up there, you know, he's up there. And he's very much soft at heart, and wonderful, as an individual.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, I asked, because, you know, I think we sit in a very interesting part, moment in history, that's accelerated, in my opinion, through the pandemic, is that it's like a workplace revolution, I think, is coming, you mentioned it yourself, there's this divide, and just how the younger, you know, workforce operates, what you expect, what they need to be happy, what they desire, in satisfaction, is different, wired differently, completely different mindset and culture. And we're sitting in that environment right now, where the old guard is still in charge, but it but it is transitioning, right? It is, it is it is changing over and, and now more than ever, you know, culture. And a lot of a lot of these topics, especially you talk start talking about diversity, inclusion, equity, but culture in general, and all these topics that, you know, that normally were not necessarily discussed as much vulnerability in the workplace, bring, bring your whole self to work, these are all products of these, the the clash of these two worlds. Yeah. And the reality is, I mean, the revolution is bound to come my opinion, because that the young folks will eventually take over, but I see that, I see that. It's just, I've seen so many environments, where these young folks come with their dreams, they come with their ambitions, they come with their desires, and what they need. But they have to conform right? to two leadership that is operating in a very in a way that's completely different from what they want to be. And, and it kind of slows down this revolutionary process, right? Because these kids are these younger folks adopt that as the way to move up. They learn they learn from that they perpetuate it, and they kind of propagate it forward into their leadership style. And I do believe that the world is changing around those kinds of things. And that, but but I still think that's the norm. You know, for now, I still think house companies are structured, how people are kind of laid out in organizations and how performance is measured. Nowadays, it's all still in that same legacy system. And so a big part of love is a business strategy. What we believe in is bringing humanity back to the workplace. And it's not really a shot at the generational gap is not shot at older folks versus younger folks, and like that. But we've seen like, statistically, from metrics that you know, this message is very well embraced by the, by the younger workforce, by the up and coming in workforce. And they're looking for their leaders to meet them somewhere, right? looking looking for them to pick up even if just a little bit of it, but to have these conversations to come to the table and not just be you know, a boss. And something more that can that can help them get there. And so that's why I had to ask I'm very always very curious because you get this opportunity to kind of work for bird's eye view with these with these, these environments. Does that resonate with you? Does that, like, do you see that happening in your space and the challenges that these leaders deal with?

Joanne Rencher
Yeah, I mean, there's so many thoughts that I have, Jeff, when you have, I mean, there's so much to unpack of what you just said, because we are in, in this time, this kind of revolutionary time. And there are a lot of people that have such, you know, just strong opinions about a lot of things. And it's in, it's incredibly polarizing. And it's going to be the leaders that actually write the, in my view, the leaders that actually rise to this occasion, this like, unprecedented moment in time, in this workplace setting, where we're talking about things that we would have never talked about, just three years ago. And all of a sudden, we're sort of everything is now you know, part of a conversation that is very uncomfortable for, for some people that, you know, you don't really want to slice and dice and you thought you could just kind of come to work and, you know, leave all the other stuff out, you know, outside of the workplace. And, you know, there's some arguments for maybe that being, you know, the way it should be in some cases and their arguments for it not, but the leader that rises to the occasion, that can sort of deal with all of the, you know, issues, and run the business and get stuff done, and actually move your team forward and have people motivated and happy and staying, I think is the leader that is the authentic, I bring, I bring all of me to work, even when I don't know what I'm doing even when I don't know what I'm talking about, even when I thought I had the answer, and I really messed up. And I can say that, I can actually be honest about that, you know, or I can say, you know what, I'm having a really bad day. That doesn't mean I'm a, you know, a loser or elite leader that you shouldn't follow, but it just means that I'm a human being that, you know, struggles with a lot of the same things that you're struggling with, I think the leader that can figure out that sweet spot is actually going to rise to this occasion. And we might be really shocked at what that what that leader when I say what the leader looks like, I mean, in terms of age, I mean, in terms of background, you know, I think we might be really shocked at the next sort of generation and wave of leadership. And so while we're hanging on to our kind of, you know, old school models, and you know, what, how we always did stuff, and, you know, when we're, while we're hanging on to that there's a whole new crop that's coming up, that's really thinking about things very differently. And I think we're gonna have to make space for that, because honestly, we're going to learn a lot from them. And then from us, you know, it's a two way street. But But I think the workplace setting is going to be just a lot different, you know, because the world is a lot different. So if the world is a lot different, how could the workplace stay the same? That doesn't really make sense? You know? So I don't know. I have a lot of different viewpoints that this this podcast could go on, you know, a long time about that. But I'll just leave it there. Yeah.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I think there is probably a whole nother podcast that we can just dive into that. But I wanted to save time today to talk a little bit just before we close, just a little bit more about WGNinHR, like what you do and make sure the audience knows, you know, how they can reach you or find your book, if you can just take a moment and tell us about that real quick.

Joanne Rencher
Okay. So the way to think about WGNinHR, which feels like a mouthful is that it started off by with me calling it who's got next in HR. And the reason I called it that was because I was on a stage talking as doing a keynote speech. And I was talking to a bunch of senior HR professionals about well, what's next for you, who's got next in this audience, you're always always, you know, sort of worrying about someone else getting taken care of developed, hired, etc, who's got next here and i and i said that to them. And from that moment, an idea was born around what we need in the field of HR to get to that next level and to help other people get to that next level, it started out differently. It's now morphed into these three practice areas of, you know, the executive search finding talent at the C suite level. HR solutions are strategic solutions, major transformations and coaching, which is a smaller part of part of the business. But WGN in HR is just that. And so wgninhr-consulting.com is how you can reach me and how you can get on the website and learn so much more. Sign up for a free consultation or just good conversation. You never know where it can go. And my contact information is there. But I'm also on LinkedIn. I love connecting With new people on LinkedIn, I'm fairly active on LinkedIn. And so I'd love to be connected that way. The book tough as nails finding your voice as a woman in the workplace is on Amazon, you can get it on my my author site Joannerencher.com but it's also on Amazon. So you can feel free to dig into the book, there's a lot of good stuff in there a lot of good nuggets for people to, to learn, and men as well, by the way, just because it's geared towards, you know, towards women doesn't mean men can't benefit. So

Jeff Ma
absolutely. Very true. Joe, a lot of insight, a lot of wisdom really enjoyed the time, we had to pick your brain today. Really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. And everyone, please do go check out w g and in HR and the book and I understand you know, I know you had a podcast that you put on pause. Do you have plans on bringing that back?

Joanne Rencher
I do. I'm really thinking about rebranding and sort of being more relevant in the moment, the moment the conversation we were just having in terms of the type of leadership that's needed for today. I'm thinking about rebranding around that. So yeah, I'm excited to sort of resurrect that at the appropriate time. But I really enjoyed this conversation, Jeff and Chris, and Frank, I really, really love this topic, and these related topics. And so the chance to get to talk about it. At length was a lot of fun. Thank you.

Chris Pitre
Likewise.

Jeff Ma
Thank you. Pleasure. Thank you. Absolutely. And, as always, thank you for listening. If you're listening in, please be sure. I think Joe accidentally, inadvertently already plugged our book, Love as a business strategy because that that leader that might surprise you. We describe that leader in our opinion, in our book, love as a business strategy. So please check that out on Amazon, or your local, you know, book supplier. And then as always, with the podcast, we will be posting new episodes every Wednesday. And if you like what you heard, please leave review. Subscribe, all that good stuff. Tell your friends. And you can always check us out softway.com/laabs. And with that. Thank you Joe. Thank you. Thank you, Chris. And we will see you all next week.

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