Episode:20 Self Awareness as a Leader with Roxanne Kaufman Elliott

Episode:20 Self Awareness as a Leader with Roxanne Kaufman Elliott

In this episode Brian Comerford and Nick Lozano are joined by special guest Roxanne Kaufman Eliot to discuss a breadth of topics contributing to the character of leadership. Key to the theme is the distinction between leadership and management - a discussion robustly supplemented with a number of supporting themes, importantly self-awareness and self-development.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott

0:08 Opening
2:25 Intro to Roxanne
9:26 Leading vs Managing
16:57 Leadership can be learned
18:32 Self Awareness
24:31 Meditation
29:16 Other forms of meditation
31:41 Being in the Zone
39:18 Mastery of leadership
40:26 Mentors
44:00 Belonging
47:03 Self Development
51:54 Closing

Books Mentioned:

Hosted By:

Brian Comerford
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/briancomerford/

Nick Lozano
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-lozano-97356621/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickLLozano          ‌

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Show Transcript:

Nick Lozano  0:08
Joining us again today was outstanding conversation. As always, Roxanne, I always feel like I asked her a question, are you doing an hour later? Time to wrap and she has to go.

Brian Comerford  0:23
Now? Well, that's part of why we've got her back on for the second time, right. And fact, we might be teaming up having her as a guest, again, another 10 or 20 episodes because she really is someone who's just, you know, she's living everything that we talked about when, you know, we explore all these various facets of leadership that I think you and I are so passionate about. And she's so articulate. She's got tangible action plans for hooking in these ideas. So she's a great teacher, and it's always just exciting. Talking with her. She's such an authentic person.

Nick Lozano  1:03
Ya know, we we did everything from our leaders born or made, you know, belonging. You know, I don't want to ruin that for anybody. You know, we talked about belonging, and, you know, self awareness, we just kind of went up and down the gambit, and I think it's gonna be a pretty interesting conversation for our listeners.

Brian Comerford  1:23
And we kicked it off really starting about the distinctions between leadership and management that, you know, you and I have talked about numerous episodes now, but it's always great. She's so articulate, that, you know, she, she really helps, I think, frame a very coherent perspective on on, on what are you know, those characteristics and she even turned the tables on us and put it right back in our laps for us.

Nick Lozano  1:51
I know we almost got interviewed on her own. But I like I said she, she's awesome. And I think that's a great lead in for our guest. to, you know, listen, and if you haven't listened to episode eight of our episode, you don't necessarily need to listen to that one first before you listen to this one. You can listen to one in either order, but I would recommend going back and listen to episode eight, you'll get more of a background of who Roxanne is and where she came from. That's great. Take away that enjoy.

Brian Comerford  2:25
Thanks for joining us for another edition of the E xe I'm Brian comer Ford in Denver, Colorado, and I'm Nick Lozano, Washington DC and today we are joined once again with Roxanne Kaufman Elliot from Pro laureate who is a certified master at the leadership challenge as well. And Roxanne I think you may have the distinct honor of being our first guests to rejoin us on an episode of The

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  2:55
a huge

Nick Lozano  2:58

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  3:00
two twos are my number. I love this. So 20th episode second time first one. I'm honored. Great fun.

Brian Comerford  3:09
Well, we're honored to have you and you're just so much fun to talk with. And you know, you've got such great insight. And, and, you know, I feel like getting through the first episode was hardly scratching the surface with where we could have taken things with you. So it's a delight to have you back on the program.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  3:28
Thank you, Marion, to be here.

Brian Comerford  3:31
So, you know, why don't you tell us a little bit. I know we've shared this before, but for the benefit of folks who may be listening in for the first time and learning a little bit about who you are. Why don't you just give us a quick background on how you got into leadership. And tell us a little bit about your book and a little bit about pro Loria? If you would, please.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  3:55
I'd love to Thanks, Brian. I promise to be brief this time.

Nick Lozano  4:00
Go back and listen to the first one if you put all the details right,

there you go.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  4:05
Yeah. So

in a nutshell, I've had three very distinctive careers. And this is the third one, being an entrepreneur and having my own business since 2005. When I was in college, and right out of college, I was actually in the performing arts. So I did, I worked in nonprofits for a number of years, both in front of the curtain and behind the curtain. So that was great fun, and then actually stepped over into for profit work and went to work for a corporation in of all things, the construction industry. So why does a girl out of her Performing Arts go work for a construction company because because they were cool, was a small company. They had wonderful capacity and potential for success. A great team, and I was there for 13 years I was the only woman or the first woman that was hired in into the firm, with all the guys, my brothers at the time, and we grew the firm, around six fold. in as many years we were very, when we ran it out, it was wonderful. had a blast doing it learned a lot, but we grew the company very quickly. And then we were bought out by a much larger global firm. And for me, that changed the game. It was just it was really the beginning of what I began to understand. It was the beginning of my understanding of what my leadership journey had been up until that point, how it was completely changing, and how I needed to think about that going forward. So this was a pivotal moment, not just in my career, but in my life. Everything I had known up until that point was going away. And I knew because of the circumstances surrounding the way that the buyers The merger and acquisition was taking place that I didn't want to be an employee anymore. I decided at this point I was pretty, pretty unemployable just from what I had learned and what I knew about myself at that time, so I gave it a lot of thought. And this has a lot to do. What I did the first year after leaving the corporation, is what is part of the leadership process that I practice now and share with others and that you really have to go through a discovery process of self. I didn't really know what I was doing that but I was it was kind of an informal process just to ask myself questions. All right, girl, where have you been? Where are you now? And where do you want to go? And what does that really look like? How is that different? Is there anything to same about that? And why? What makes you want to do this. So what I learned in that process, was what my greatest talents and gifts are and we all have them. This has nothing to do with our egos. This has to do with our innate talents. And I'm beginning to discover those, uncover those and then develop them. And I've always had an incredible knack with other humans, just to kind of dig in and begin to understand there's an empathy factor here that runs very deep with me that I feel it, I understand it. And I wanted the tools and the knowledge and the expertise to be able to help people to figure out how they could become their best selves, how they could help their organizations to do the same thing. So I had a lot of business background and experience and it developed a lot of expertise, both profit and nonprofit. And then I completely reinvented myself. I took tons of classes, I spent tons of money, I didn't have to gain some certifications and credibility and went out and started finding people who had an interest in development. Self and of organizations and it took off from there. So that's what I've been doing ever since. I started pro laureate, which translates in pardon me into professional champions. It comes from the word laureate, the laurel leaves that we crown our champions with, because I believe in creating champions and helping them to emerge into their best. So I have learned over the years, that it's a great name, and everybody loves it. Most people can't say it. Right now, and this is news to you guys, because I haven't even had a chance to share it yet. I'm in the process of rebranding. And all of my clients when I did a survey of my clients that I've worked for all of the years and I say, you know, guys and gals when you think about me and the work that we do together, what is what is my company name?


Is it okay big mistake here. What should It Be and they said Raxiom we only know you as leadership. So the new company, the new moniker for the company is Raxiom leadership.

Brian Comerford  9:08
Cool. All right. Well, you know, I like that lead dx, he gets some street cred here with some breaking news. So thanks for sharing it here first.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  9:21
And this is the first public announcement. So you're right, it is breaking news.

Nick Lozano  9:26
Very nicely like that. Awesome. So thanks for that a rundown of you know, your experience and how you kind of got where you were. And I just want to let our listeners know that it was episode eight, that you were first on. So if they want to go back and dive a little more deeper into your background, you know, episode eight, the language of leadership is what you're going to want to listen to. But that kind of brings me to my first question. We know we always hear leadership and management. And people always think that leadership means you have a title right. Senior Vice President Tough funding games are people person, you know, whatever crazy title we can come up right where it's where it has like a co executive name. So what's the difference between leadership and management? A lot of people kind of think it's always the same thing.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  10:16
You know, it's true. Most, most organizations, and most people do use those terms interchangeably. And when they begin to discover that there's really a very, very big difference between the two, although they coexist, they begin to get very, very focused on success factors within their organization that really helped them to drive toward the accomplishment of their goals. And let me explain what I mean by that. So let me ask, let me ask you, Nick and Brian, get you involved. Let's get some of your input on. Do you when I say the word leadership and it is overused and it's misused, or indeed it's used for everything, but when you say that when you hear that leadership What are the words that come to mind for you? What do you think of?

Nick Lozano  11:04
I can take that one for me it's relationship building, right? Awesome. It's not really, cuz you could be a leader and not necessarily actually be the person in charge of anybody. It can be leading up helping making your management team look good. Right. So, leadership is relationship building. Right. You know, that's, that's, that's for me. What about you, Brian?

Brian Comerford  11:28
I think in terms of setting direction, and to your point, Nick, you know, you don't necessarily have to be the one who's at the front of the pack. Right. But being able to have that directional intent and setting the vision and, you know, bringing along the entire team so that everyone is moving in the same way. Right. And, and, and that there's sort of a cohesive intent that everyone can understand through the way that you're interacting and sharing that vision.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  12:02
Both of you are dead on you're absolutely right. And just think about what what you both said you had a whole lot of left brain things going in there in terms of being able to guide being able to lead being having people follow you. Because because you have a path, and you know what you're doing, but even equally as powerful is the right brain and that's the intuitive part of leadership is reading people communicating with people, hearing, listening, feeling what they're feeling and being able to tap into that so that so that you can find the intersections between where you want to go where they want to go and how you can all start pulling that rope together. So leadership when I asked this question, and I asked it of every group and individual that I work with their words like like you both just said, words come up. I'm a visionary, communicator, trust. charismatic is A word that comes up, although not as often as you might think of caring, empathetic. So you kind of get the ideas. The leadership piece of this is all about this is someone I want to follow. When I think of the people that I've known in my life thus far that are the greatest leaders I've ever known. Very few of them have a title. Very few. And it wouldn't matter if they did or if they didn't, because it's not about that. Leadership is not about title. It's not about authority. It's not about what you wear, where you work, what kind of office you have the car you drive. I never get those. When I asked what is leadership? I never have anybody say it's making $500,000 a year and the title of CEO. Right. I never hear that. So leadership is not about any of those things. Leadership begins with first understanding who we as an industry jewel are and taking a deep dive into that and being really honest about it. I mean, write it down, look at a list and ask your family and friends and coworkers. What do I really do? Well, and What don't I do? Well, you might be surprised by some of the answers what you think you're communicating all of the times, in terms of working with others, and bringing people along with you, really isn't something you're all that good at. So you never know, ask the question. So, leadership is to guide is to lead in order to lead you you have followers. So being someone who others are willing to follow, and great leaders, they don't just they aren't just willing to follow you. They're willing to throw themselves in front of the bus over the cliff, you know, whatever. It take one for you. Right. Management, on the other hand, comes from the Latin word hand, or maness, which means Hand me and us which means hand, it's to do is to get your hands in it and get it done. When we're when we're creating a strategic plan, and we're creating the the areas of focus, and we're breaking those down into very specific goals, and then we're taking action on those goals. And we are helping other people to be accountable to their responsibilities and goals. we're managing ourselves and others, we are managing our business, when we're working on spreadsheets when we're doing the accounting. When we're doing marketing, planning and execution, we are managing processes within a structure that supports the vision and the leadership of the organization. So we're doing both at the same time, but it's important to know the difference because managing is not leading. Man is not managing. But if you can manage people with a depth of leadership, you'll get 10 times the productivity and the results out of that situation.

Brian Comerford  15:59
I love to hear You say that because, you know the number of managers that I've either interacted with or reported up through or had reporting up through me, where those leadership qualities were clearly not present. You know, you may have, you know, high quality in, you know, kind of, as you described the tactical, procedural, you know, sorts of activities. But there's nothing that goes beyond that. And so in terms of how all those qualities of empathy where you're actually engaging people where you're developing talent, where, you know, there's, there's there's room to grow beyond what the procedural requires. All of those things can become obstacles, then, you know, when you've got the wrong type of person, managing in that type of role,

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  16:57
and leadership can be learned. So you may A person who just doesn't understand what leadership is and they've never thought about it or done any development work in their own personal leadership so they don't even know that this is something they need to be doing but when when they start learning about it when they it's it's something you can learn and practice every day. I I had a coaching session yesterday with with a leader in one of my my client companies and she's she's overwhelmed right now as we all are, we all have lots of thing it seems like this is everybody is so busy or abundantly busy, abundantly booked. And she was the same and she said, Rex when I walked into the office, and I had so much on my mind, I had so much client work I needed to focus on, walked in, was in my office closed the door. At the end of the day, I walked out it was 10 hours later. And I realized I had never even said hello to the two people who report to me and she said oh feel terrible. These These are two incredibly important people who work very hard. And then I found out later, they both needed me during the day and were afraid to come through the office door, because I was so busy. And that's when we had this conversation about leadership and management. What would it take what would have been taken for you spend five minutes to go out and engage with the two direct reports and lead a little bit while you were managing as well.

Same changer. It's a game changer.

Nick Lozano  18:32
So it seems like someone what you're talking about a self awareness, right? Oh, go from being the manager, the tactician to being a leader is some self awareness, right? Being able to realize that you have some weaknesses, and some strengths and your strengths might even be your biggest weakness as well too. You know, and that's, that's what we're talking about. I think when you hear it's like the self awareness right there. So rapid What they're doing currently, at the moment of time, they're not able to kind of step back and look at the whole situation of what's actually going on. And I like that you bring up that story that, you know, at times, we have a tendency to just bury ourselves in the work, our work or our phones or something that we're doing, and not being aware of the people that were supposed to be leading. And when you brought this up, I'm sorry, I'm rambling here. But when I used to work in the restaurant industry, we somebody told me a long time ago, he goes, walk your shift. And I was like, Well, what do you mean by that? And he's like, Well, I mean, I want you to walk around in the morning and talk to your people have real human interactions with them, and get to know them as individuals. Not not fake, like, Hey, how you doing? How are your kids He's like, but really get to know one thing about them, and have a quick discussion about them. And he's like, do that every day. I want you to walk around, walk your shift and talk to everybody and get to know the people who work for you as human beings. And that was probably the greatest advice I'd ever had. And I've been Just that has just followed me through my career. And that's where I feel like that person that you're coaching if I could just reach out to them and tell them that that piece of advice that I've got would be great, you know, that self awareness and just walk around and walk your shift. But, but I'm sorry, I just I just had to share that.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  20:17
Love that I absolutely love that. I'll give you a phone number.

Next week, Nick, what you're saying is so, so simple, and yet, it is so elusive to so many people that they don't understand. Don't think about it. So think about imagine this, that imagine a circle at the bottom of a page, just draw a circle at the bottom of a sheet of paper. And in that circle, write the word self. Okay, this is exactly what you're talking about niggas self awareness. As we become more and more technology driven, technology dependent. We are moving away from cell phone awareness, I will tell you one of the most debilitating and de motivating things you can do is that when someone walks up to you and says, I really would love to have five minutes of your time, I have a real critical situation or I have something important. I'd love to get your insight on or whatever. And you go Oh, Oh, sure. Let's do that. Go ahead and you immediately pick up your cell phone. Yes, what terrible What are you have just completely dismissed that human being and everything that they said, You disrespected them totally self awareness, just walk through an airport. If you want to see an example of how not self aware we are, I do that a lot of blows my mind. So we have this circle at the bottom of the page that says self. Now draw, draw an oval around that so it's thin at the bottom and kind of expands at the top. We have another oval coming around that and in that oval right to Team and partners put another circle in an oval above that one and right organization. Another one expands around that community. And another one expands around that and says world. So now you have like this little egg that get grows, grows with these these circles coming out, right? This is the developmental process of self leadership. We start with self. If we don't know who we are, if we are not developing as you were saying, Nick our own self awareness, and it's simple, do make one thing your mantra every day. Walk your shift. Perfect. That's it. That's the mantra. That's perfect. You are now connecting with humans. They will love you respect you follow you into the fire because you they know you care about them. So when you get a difficult problem, an issue of any kind in your organization, you have that followership, they're going to step up and and have your back You're going to lock arms and walk into that together, because you care about each other. So the first thing you do then as you start the self development is go to the next concentric circle. my team's my partners, I need to help them develop themselves. What are they doing to understand? There's a ton of assessments out there, just go online and look for them. There's color codes, there's personality assessments, or you can call me I'll give you names that you can go out and find, and it's helpful and it's fun, because you start learning more about each other, but help those people you work with and that you live with your family and friends as well. To start digging deep, who am I? What do I excel at? What am I terrible at? And my, my disrespecting people and not even realizing I'm doing it. Next, we go to our organizations, again, we're expanding out. We're taking this knowledge we're paying it forward into our teams then into our organism. Then into our communities, then into our world, one person does make a difference. That's how it happens. Right? When I think about, just think for a moment, all the human beings, you have touched individually by you. And in just your seven degrees of separation. It's millions of people, guys. Yeah, we all touch in one way or another. And whatever message we're sending is being carried forward.

Brian Comerford  24:31
It's interesting in that process that you just described, in Buddhism, there's a meditation practice called my tree. And that's exactly what it is. It's starting with the self, having gratitude, asking for blessings of peace and abundance. And then extending that out into the family into your neighborhood, your community, into your state, into your country and to the planet and into, you know, animal form Stephen and and the idea is to develop that self awareness exactly as you're talking about. And also to recognize that we all share those same common interests, right? We all have dreams, we all have desires, we all crave social acceptance. We all want to feel that we were being rewarded for our efforts, you know, all of those things, develop that kind of understanding and empathy. And you do that as a routine practice. I love how you even used the term mantra. Create a mantra and I've heard Nick tell the story of walk your shift many times but now that I've heard you connected, I'm sorry, Brian.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  25:49
I know that's a great one to hear. Nick

You know what, Brian, I absolutely love what you are saying, just a little bit of a personal share for you and all the folks that are that are tuning in. I share this too, with all the folks that I work with, because I found it to be so profoundly self, not to self discovery but self actualizing. And we're getting back to your, you know, your, your Buddha practices that we follow. And it doesn't it's just what we do every morning, every single morning, regardless of how busy I am or where I need to be. It may be five minutes, it may be an hour, but I do my self reflection. I have a process that I follow. And I go very deep within myself. What am I grateful for today? What is my mantra going out into the world today? What do I want to pass on? What is that positive statement that that encouragement, that that one thought or that one deed or that one? behavior that will send the message of You got this, you can do this, whatever you're facing right now. You got it, you just don't know you got it. Let's let's get you in a place where you can. So even just that's me you walk in my shift.

Brian Comerford  27:20
Well, and it's, it's, it is transformative when you take the time and you make it a conscious practice, particularly to do something just as simple as having gratitude. You know, particularly from a leadership perspective. How often are we buffeted by, you know, negativity by blame by you know, you know, attitudes among our workforce, you know, that you can carry a heavy load, coming home from you know, an intense day of toxicity that tends to serve workplace And, and there has to be some kind of, you know, cleansing process or you know, protecting process to, to kind of hit reset on yourself.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  28:09
Well, that's absolutely true. And when you start out you know, as you continue to do this work on yourself a self discovery and the leadership development of self, you get a stronger, a stronger ability to recover more quickly and more completely. Because you'll still have those days, you're still going to have that flying at you. It comes at it comes at all of us every single day. And depending upon what our what our work is, or how we interact with others, it can be more intense in some situations than for other people. And it's very important that we do develop the mechanisms within ourselves to deal with that, or I can send you spiraling, it's tough. I totally get that. So self reflection quiet. You know, there is such power in silence. If we could just learn to be silent. Just sit in the silence and just B. And I know that sounds kind of out there and all that, but I'll tell you what, I'm the poster child it works.

Brian Comerford  29:08
You know, I can think of a few folks. I'd like to put that in their job description. Actually,

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  29:11
let's do it.

Make it happen, Brian.

Nick Lozano  29:16
I like your idea of silence and I always feel like people get stuck in the meditation train, right? And it's not for some people I understand. And I like meditation. I've tried it many times for myself

and do anything

just to to all over the place. I'm I'm like the squirrel, you know, that looks around. It's like, Oh, look at that. Look at that, like later. But I've actually found for myself is actually journaling journaling at the end of the day. Yes, your diary? No. But like, just freeform writing what is in my brain, worrying about format, not worrying about scientists not even worried about if I can even read it later. I'm just doing a complete brain dump has actually helped me a lot.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  29:58
I will tell you, I know listening. You can't see this. I'm just going to show this to Brian and Nick. This is just one page out of my morning journal. You can see this. Yeah. So every page looks like this. This is what I do. This is my morning, my morning thoughts stuff and it just comes out and I color coded it's random but I'm still color coding it day by day. But I'll tell you what, man just having that that quiet time those moments by yourself to just think that through and actually take it from from your brain to your hand to a piece of paper with a writing implement, is liberating.

Nick Lozano  30:44
I'd even recommend to people there's other ways to do it too. Like I used to do a lot of endurance sports like running or swimming is a good thing too. Because especially with swimming, you can't listen to headphones while I'm maybe there's stuff out there so you can listen to it underwater, but it's just one of those things that repetitive motion. You had to force yourself to focus on one thing and you just those things are helpful too. Sorry, Brian, it mean to cut you off?

Brian Comerford  31:06
No, I was just gonna comment, Nick, that what you described is that's actually the you're the perfect candidate for meditation. Because everyone is in the exact same chatter box inside themselves that you just described. That's why that's why Buddhists call meditation practice because again ever be mastered.

Nick Lozano  31:27
I feel like I just meditate in different ways. For me to sit in the sitting still part is like, Oh, I gotta move, gotta move. Gotta move.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  31:36
I know a lot of people like that, Nick, you're still doing it. Like Brian said, you're just doing it in a different

Nick Lozano  31:41
way. I'm just doing it in different forms. And that's I always try to bring it up to people. There's, there's other ways to kind of meditate or or I would say, you know, it's like when people say like, they feel like they're in the zone that you're probably meditating if you feel like you're in the zone, your brain is just flushed and you know, you're just operating, you know, without thinking

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  32:01
That's the best place to be cool. I could go on and on about that you just took the trigger in my head about the zone.

Let me just be really briefly

Nick Lozano  32:13
let's talk let's explore this.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  32:14
There's a grid that I use. So and there's an arrow that goes from so you think about a grid, you know, 90 angle, 90 degree angle grid, and from the the corner over here to this card is an arrow going up, which is the flow, that's your zone, right. So on the bottom on the horizontal axis is your capacity, your abilities, your talents, your expertise to your strengths, on the vertical axis is the degree of challenge. So think about when if the if the vertical axis is at zero, the challenges, almost nothing. And you're over here, you know, in your high in your highest level of expertise, you're at the bottom of that arrow, that's going to suck you right into the bottom of the arrow. And how does that make you feel? bored? Like, why am I here? Why are you doing this to me? So the fruit so when you get those things moving together so that the challenges are slightly above where your expertise is, you're going in the flow because now you're in the creative juices. And even with your meditation, you're still doing that because your challenge, it's the way you think, is your area of expertise. It's your area of, of capacity and opportunity to grow. So as you're challenging that with higher and higher levels of well, what if asking questions like what if using improv which Peter will share with you on Monday ask you're saying instead of no bugs You're going to say yes, and it's triggering all different kinds of things in your head. So if you're sitting down in the morning, and and you're writing down a specific thing that you want to focus on to accomplish, and you just know, you don't have the capacity, you don't have the training, you don't have the knowledge. You don't have any of that. And you're overwhelmed by it. Say yes, but what if I did? Yes. And if I did, sorry, yes. And I can learn how to do that. Yes. And I can and suddenly you start moving toward the flow again, where that passion starts igniting and coming up, and you saying, What if I could, if I could make this thing fly? What if I could get it out of here, right? Yeah. So that's the way that works is you have to challenge just just a little bit above where you are. You don't want to crash and burn. You're going to push the envelope out too far. But you want to keep it just above where you are so that you can up this and get in the flow

Brian Comerford  34:58
for it. That reminds me of an NLP technique. That is something that I've, I've used a lot of times when I run into obstacles, exactly as you're saying, Roxanne, it's you run into something where you've never had to deal with it before. you're uncertain about what's the next step that I need to take. And of course, the I think the instinctual reaction is to go into that place of fear. We're right away. It's a I don't know how to deal with this. I don't I don't know how to face this kind of challenge. And then just as you're saying, What if I did? If I did know, how would I and then all of a sudden that creative mechanism kicks in. And it's funny how you start to answer yourself with some creative solutions that you may never have, you know, come up with, if you were just locked into that, you know, self conscious place of fear.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  36:00
even be even be doing this podcast if you didn't have that kind of thinking going on. No, I do. I'm sorry. Good.

Nick Lozano  36:08
No, I do crazy stuff all the time. Brian, Brian will tell you. A long time ago I heard of this guy, Alister Humphries, who rode his bicycle around the world. And he's like, you know, the Scandinavians have this thing called the doorstep mile, right? The hardest part of any journey is just taking those first few steps out your door and starting your journey. He's like, you know, riding his bicycle. And he's really I didn't know how I was going to do it. I just decided if I didn't start, I was never going to do it. And then later, I would have the what ifs if I didn't try, you know, you so concerned about the what ifs? What if I can't get across here? What if I have no money? What if I have no money? What if I don't have any support to fix my bike? And then he just turned it around. It's like, you'll be like your Yes. And he's like, well, what if I meet some very cool people? What if I have some great new experiences? This, a lot of times we think about the negative consequences of things. Instead of looking at the bright side of things, you know, you can get by just being an amateur at everything. I'm not a professional radio broadcaster. I mean, I know Brian was, but we get better as time goes on. I'm sorry, that was just my two cents on the bus.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  37:19
Stop saying you're sorry.

Nick Lozano  37:23
Sorry, sorry.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  37:24
eliminate those words from your vocabulary. That's your work. That's your homework between now and the next time we talk.

Nick Lozano  37:30
That's my way.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  37:33
And you're absolutely right. It's doing that. Again, just a quick anecdote. I was meeting with a group of another client company and we're doing cultural leadership development for them. We're going company wide through them. Gosh, I love this when the leaders of an organization understand how important this is they are just digging into so deep, granting a foundation of leadership so we were going back to your yes and Because they were saying, well, we just have so much so much angst when we get our teams together. And I said, Tell me, so the language they're using, what are they saying? So they were going on about and I said, I'm going to give you one phrase that if you can help your folks to say this instead of know, but, or we've all we tried that before, and it didn't work, we're not going to do it again. or using the words No, we can't we've done it before. That's not possible. Not knows don't can't all those things. What if they just said, Yes. And let's think about that some more. Hmm, maybe we could, what if we could, and they just lit up like Christmas trees, and said, Oh, my gosh, that changes the entire conversation. So we did a little round robin with it. And it just generates questions. So I don't want to steal any more THUNder thunDER from your guest on Monday because that's his But, but I've learned so much about that. And now I talk about it everywhere I go, because it's just, it's just a game changer and you have to practice it. Like like leadership, you have to practice it and be aware first to practice it in order to get good at it and start changing the game a little bit.

Brian Comerford  39:18
I like that practice comes back into the conversation, you know, that, that leadership is something that, like meditation is not necessarily about mastery.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  39:29
You never get there. Sorry, folks, this isn't something where you arrive one day and cross that threshold they can go

now I'm a leader. No, no, doesn't happen that way.

Brian Comerford  39:45
You know, the, the idea of having, you know, mentors, a variety of mentors, and practicing and mentorship yourself, you know, that's also part of what I really value in my own. Leadership Development, you know, the the amount that I can learn from someone that they themselves might not perceive themselves as someone who would be able to, you know, convey some kind of teaching that would be important to someone who's senior to them or someone who's, you know, older than them or you know, any of these different things that tend to be self imposed obstacles, you know, in the way that we perceive.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  40:26
You know, I will tell you, you've touched on two words, in our conversation so far, Brian that I am incredibly passionate about in because I never had either one. And that's mentoring, and belonging.

It's, these are,

go find mentors. You gotta have a mentor it or several mentors for different areas of your life. It's so powerful. That's why I am so adamant about being a mentor. I have my own Interest now for the first time in my life I never had before it just was it you know, this is not a sad thing. It just was the way that that things unfolded for me. And I wasn't aware that I needed to do that I was always forging my own path and way it would have been so much easier and faster and better, that I had some guidance along the way, but I was too darn smart enough, I don't know. But I encourage everyone, everyone, and people will will be glad to do that. They're usually quite honored. To be asked to be someone's mentor, and it doesn't have to require a lot of time. It just requires quality time. The belonging thing this is coming up a lot now in diversity and inclusion work. I just moderated a panel for a women's leadership council that was open to the public and had almost as many men in the room as women, which was thrilling to see because we need to do more of that right. And it was all about diversity and inclusion and belonging in the workplace, the panel was outstanding. They were just fabulous people. We had a woman from Bogota, Colombia who works in a very male dominated industry around the world. She was awesome. We had a very incredibly successful woman who started construction firm about 30 years ago and is among the most successful, at least in our region of the country. With that she was fascinating. And then we had a gentleman who is with one of our largest law firms here in Cleveland, who about a year after he had joined the law firm came out and is now the leader of their diversity and inclusion initiative at the law firm. So these are huge strides and in the audience, everyone had a different story and you could see every you see So examples of so many people in our world that don't look like us. And here's the coolest thing in the world to hear the stories and it was really a very intimate and a very personal and a very heartfelt conversation. And it was all about finding our belonging human beings are our tribe seekers. We want we need our tribe around us. And you know, for me growing up my tribe was my family because we moved around so much I never really was able to put down roots. I thought everybody lived that way. I didn't, you know, weren't traveling around like like gypsies like we were. Just it's, this is one. This is why I think these are two things that really drive the passion in what I do around leadership, mentorship and belonging because it's all an integral part of it. Its inherent, you can't separate them. These are things that leadership is all about, is helping people to find their belonging first to themselves. And then going out through those concentric circles.

Nick Lozano  44:00
actually love that. I don't think I I recently just got into the blogging thing because I ran Bernie Browns braving the wilderness.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  44:08
Oh, she's fantastic. Anything listened to everything she does.

Nick Lozano  44:12
And she is outstanding. And I don't think I understood the concept behind belonging until I read that book. And then what stuck out for me this is a quote there. And I hadn't wrote this down. Like every time I read a book, and I get a quote, I just write it down. You know, she says, true. Belonging doesn't require you to change who you are. It requires you to be who you are.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  44:30
Oh, yeah. Oh, my gosh.

Nick Lozano  44:34
And that, and that goes back to my LinkedIn changing my status to a janitor. Know my job. And I don't know if you read my post to that. But you know, good. That goes back to me saying that, you know, you don't have to be an expert in anything. And when I meet new people, I never start with what I do, because that seems to be the thing that people do in the United States. Mostly, I feel like but I'm like, Oh, you know, nice to meet you, Brian. What do you do? And then I always tell people, I'm a janitor. And I'm trying to find interesting people who actually want to talk to me and and are not looking for me to do something for them. And then instantly I know right away as if they're willing to talk to me and I'm a janitor, and I've been a janitor before it was my first paint job ever. And that just goes back to the whole Bernie brown thing when when I had read that, and I was like, You know what, I totally get it, you know, and it took me reading that book to finally understand that.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  45:30
Thank you so much for sharing that I did. I did see that on your post and I did read it and I was laughing the whole time trying to figure out what can I say that I do? So I think I think I just came upon it. One of my first jobs was a dishwasher.

dishwasher, the bus girl, it's what I did.

Nick Lozano  45:47
There you go. Go

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  45:49
bartender for a while. I'm a bartender.

Nick Lozano  45:55
You're free to use it. Let let me know what your experiences with that but I find when I do it at that cocktail parties or networking events, I meet the coolest people. And instantly, you know, eventually you get to what you actually do at some point. And then you find out what they actually do. It's, it's, it's actually a fun exercise, I find it

Brian Comerford  46:12
very, very cool. Yeah, well, we use the braving acronym was my son, to help him have something concrete so that he can use that, you know, really to be able to tie together some of his challenges. You know, he's only in sixth grade, but he's right on the cusp of a lot of the shift in self awareness and becoming a lot more self conscious. And, you know, how does he trust himself to be authentic when he's interacting with others and, you know, so so we sat down, we spelled out the whole braving acronym forum, and now that's something that he carries in his backpack with them and it's, it's something that it can easily refer to and, you know, it's it's really become something that's important for him as well.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  47:03
Yeah, really kudos for sure. You know, I wonder if if I might take just a moment and share with you a very simple process that I've come up with over the years. It's just something that's evolved to manifest self development in a very tangible way. And it just boils down to three simple things. Find your inspiration, what inspires you? What makes you Where's your passion? What are you passionate about and why, right? And then allow that to guide you in what you are doing. How What do you want to do? What do you want to be when you grow up? And that's a good statement for any age. Older you are, the more important that statement is, what do you want to be when you grow up? And then think about what you're This is what I did when I when I went when I when I learned that my purpose was that I was here to to do this leadership thing. I went to this is what drives me, what am I passionate about? What am I doing when I'm absolutely in my flow in the zone, loving what I'm doing? And just I don't even have to think about it. It just flows. And I started writing a vision statement around that. What would that look like? If I were doing that every day, and I didn't have to do anything else, it also generated revenue for me and for myself and my family, that it created a sphere a large ever expanding, beautiful culture of tribe of people of humans far and wide, and making an impact making a difference. So first thing you do is think about that when you're in the morning doing that or journaling in the evening, whatever it is that you do. What am I passionate about? If I could do anything in the world, anything? What would that be? That's a fair it's a fair question. Once you kind of figure That out and you start, just start writing randomly about it. You don't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be word or phrase or a thing. It's just write a write, write, think, think think. And you'll figure it out, listen to music, it helps spur it on. Once you get there, though, and you have an idea around, and if we had more time, I would share with you that whole vision thing I went through it was, it was hard. It was pretty brutal, but boy, was it worth it. And then that's all great and good. But that's just going to stay in your head like a cloud. It's not going to manifest itself in anything unless you actually do something. You need to plan. You need to get your head around some strategy if you want to manifest a reality around that. So you have a mission and you say, Okay, what if I really created that for myself? What What would I need to do first? Well, you need to pick the low hanging fruit from it and say, what are three or four things I can do right out of the gate, to start making that a tangible thing. And you write those down. And then under each one of those things, you say, well, each one of those buckets It's a things that I just put their needs specific goals. You're going into your right brain right now you're getting real right brain on this, what you're doing is igniting your inspiration. You're igniting it, they're putting a tangible plan around it. Then you look at those goals, and they're aligned to those buckets. And they're lying to the low hanging fruit and they're aligned to that really cool vision and inspiration that you have. And then you say, Well, okay, what do I need to do? I need to make some action. So you take each one of those goals, and you and you take your, your planner, whatever that looks like, and you write down the things you're going to do every day to move you closer to accomplishing the goal. And then when you accomplish the goal, whoa, celebrate. cross it off the list and move on to the next right. And then you wash, rinse, repeat. Go back to the beginning and say, Okay, what else comes out of this vision? What's the next one? What's the next goal? What's the next action step and you celebrate. And you do it in little bits all along the way until you start climbing that big old mountain, and you see yourself getting closer to it. Now remember, you never reached Nirvana, not a place for you arrive, and you're done. Because because it keeps moving on, you know, getting a little bit taller, a little bit taller. But here's what you've done. You just followed a very simple process to do a very deep thing you have inspired yourself or others. You can do this through a process with others. You can plan a wedding with it, you can plan a vacation with it, you can climb a mountain with it, you can create a career or business around it. You've been you've got your inspiration, you've ignited it with the plan, and you've made impact because you're taking action. Remember those three eyes, so it takes anything.

Brian Comerford  51:54
All right, I can't think of a better place to wrap up this episode. Then with some Put something as tangible as what you just gave us and our listeners. So thank

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott  52:06
you. Welcome. Thank you guys. It's always a joy. You guys are really good at doing this. Please continue doing it and I send you all my very best and warmest wishes for most wonderful holiday season. Just enjoy your family.

Nick Lozano  52:22
Thank you. Thank you.

Brian Comerford  52:24
And that means a lot coming from you too. So thank you

About Nick Lozano

Co-host of the > Lead.exe_ Podcast and owner/consultant at CornerStack, LLC.