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Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates, with Karin Hurt [Episode 814]

On today’s episode my guest is Karin Hurt, author of the book “Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates.”

Courageous Cultures, as Karin describes it, challenge the status quo. They acknowledge that people operate from a position of fear. Fear of losing whatever status or position they have. This is a huge problem in sales. Sellers stuck in an ineffective and unproductive sales process. Who won’t speak up. Who won’t push back. Today, we dig into why people have FOSU (fear of speaking up) and what constitutes courage in a business setting.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul: Karin. Welcome to the show.

Karin Hurt: Oh, thanks so much for having me

Andy Paul: It’s a pleasure to have you, so where have you been sheltering in place?

Karin Hurt: In Laurel, Maryland, which is halfway between Baltimore and DC.

Andy Paul: Got it. So you work from home typically, or I know you are now probably, but, but typically.

Karin Hurt: Okay. Well, we have built out a, our entire basement is now become a live online studio. So yes, we are working. Yeah. We’re working from home. That’s been a big pivot for us, but typically we spend a lot of time on the road traveling internationally doing our leadership development program. So this has been a big shift. This is the longest time I’ve been home in three decades, probably.

Andy Paul: Yeah. I was thinking about that myself during shutdown. I think for me, it was probably very close to the longest period since 1985. Uh, not to date myself on necessarily, but yeah. Yeah. We talked about, you know, it’s you lose that, that muscle memory for travel.

Karin Hurt: Right. I can’t believe I actually am saying I miss airports, which is crazy.

Andy Paul: I think I got through that stage. I mean, early on, definitely. I could feel it in my body, you know, just the impulse to say, look, I mean, what am I missing? Something’s going on here. I’m missing being on an airplane and going somewhere, but then I got over it. Maybe it’s the idea of what I was going to confront when I got to the airport. So, or in the airplane, I guess, since they seem to be ready to become a political battleground going forward. So yeah, it’s not going to be the same.

Karin Hurt: No, it’s not, but it’s been interesting to see all the innovation and all it’s so interesting seeing people doing the best they can with what they have from where they are right now. It’s, uh, it’s been a real interesting period of time.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Well, I agree. And I, I, yeah, on the sales side of things is yeah lot of discussion about, okay, I want people have traditionally been and the field sellers, you know, face to face with the buyers. Are they going to go back to that? Are the buyers going to want them there? I suspect, I think we’re seeing it just when, the way people are reacting when there’s a little bit of an opening and everybody goes outside and mills around and drops their masks and so on is that just people are normal or really anxious for normal, but, uh, Yeah. I don’t think we know what that normal is going to be yet.

Karin Hurt: Yup. People are yearning for that human connection. And it’s not just not the same over the screen, you know, as much as we are able to do and accomplish. Thank goodness. Uh, I think people are still yearning for, to be in the same room with people.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. And we’ve had one dinner with friends here in San Diego. That was a socially distanced dinner. We were 12 feet apart in their backyard. Uh, you know, the wind blowing, the virus moving, rolling along. And, um, but yeah, we had, you know, the hosts made sure that every had their own separate trays of food. No one’s ale, no cross contamination. It was, it was nice to be able to do that, even though we sort of had to shout to make each other heard. So we’re going to talk about your book. Uh, Courageous Cultures, How to Build Teams of Microinnovators, Problem Solvers and Customer Advocates. And I think this is a timely book in many respects. So what was, the given that you, you wrote a while before this time happened? What was the impetus to write the book?

Karin Hurt: Yeah. So what we noticed a pattern over the last couple of years, we were working with our clients and what we were finding when we were working at the very senior levels of organizations that executives would be really frustrated. They would say, why are people not sharing their best practices? Why am I management by walking around and stumbling on an idea that other people should know about? Why don’t people speak up when they have a concern? And then we would be working at the front line of those very same organizations. And we would hear things like nobody wants my ideas. You know, the last time I spoke up, I got in trouble. Nothing ever happens, so why bother? I thought, are you working for the same company? You know, because employees have ideas and leaders want to hear them, but somehow there was a disconnect.

Andy Paul: Well, it raises a question though, is, is, and I know you can’t generalize necessarily, but yeah, I was reading through a book it’s like, yeah, because this idea of a courageous culture is really about challenging the status quo in many respects and thing is status quo is a pretty comfortable place to be.

And I think even if managers are saying and leaders are saying, yeah, we want to hear it. There’s, there’s always this substrata of fear I think. That you have the challenge of status quo changes. Maybe they lose status or something that, that affects them personally.

Karin Hurt: Yeah, the, the problem is that the status quo is completely disrupted right now, anyway, you know, and you know, it was already on its way to doing that because if you’ve got, you know, the gig economy and employees have more choices than ever, and technology is taking away the easy jobs. And so you need humans to be showing up, to do the work that only humans can do.

And, you know, that’s, you know, the ability to create a real, genuine connection with a customer. You know, your AI can sell you well, you know, you’ve got 37,000 curse words, so somebody’s probably upset, but it takes a human right to get underneath all that to say, what is really happening here?

Andy Paul: And I want to get to that specific point a little bit later, but, but yeah, that’s, that’s a big topic all in itself, which we’ve dealt with on the show. Um, but when I was talking about the status quo were talking about. You know, people’s natural instinct is to try to protect what they have.

Karin Hurt: Yeah.

Andy Paul: And I think that’s why, you know, this idea of, of the sort of is a courageous culture where people are empowered to speak up. It’s it’s I, I think it’s fear based. At least my experience has been is, is people only have the best of intentions, but as we know the road to hell paved with good intentions.

Karin Hurt: Yeah. So, you know, one of the things that we found, we call it FOSU you know, fear of speaking up and what causes fear of speaking up. And a couple of things, a lot of the, so we’ve partnered with the University of North Colorado to do the quantitative research, but we also did a lot of qualitative research in addition to all that.

And one of the things that we found is that 40% of the people said, I just don’t feel confident to share. And a lot of that was coming from fear. Well, where’s the fear. Well, once upon a time, somebody had a really bad boss and that experience with this really bad boss tends to stick with you. So if you can have, if you’ve had one really terrible experience with a boss, but you’ve had other good experiences, psychological research will tell you, you are more likely to remember that toxic boss, the one who did shame, blame or intimidation, or shut you down or stole your idea, took credit for it. And that lingers. And you’re less likely to say, you know, Oh yeah. But that was just that one time. And you’re more likely to think, Oh, well, if it happened before it could happen again, say it’s safer to just keep quiet and play it safe.

Andy Paul: Yeah, and absolutely. And I agree with that, but I guess I start with task or from the perspective of the bosses, I was just going to address that issue first. I, yeah, I, I, you know, you talk about courage and this fear of speaking up, but I don’t know. I, my experience has been, there’s almost as much a fear of actually listening because when they listen, they’re being challenged to do something about it.

Karin Hurt: Yeah. I mean, and that’s one of the biggest things is if you are not going to do anything with it, then don’t ask people to speak up because that’s absolutely the worst thing that you could do is to invite people into the conversation and then ignore them. And you have 50% of the folks that are research said, the reason that they don’t speak up is that nothing ever happens. And that’s managers not responding.

Andy Paul: Shaming them or bullying them or threatening them or ignoring them or, or whatever. Right. Yeah. It’s it’s um, and I know you’ve, you’re targeting both audiences, but you, I look on the sales side of things and, and you always have this sort of perception of salespeople and negative perception of salespeople, right.

It’s sort of ingrained into the culture, stereotypes, whatever. And. And so blame is always so point at them, but I feel like the finger blame really needs to be pointed at the managers because they’re the ones that create the culture that these people operate within.

Karin Hurt: Absolutely. It really goes from, you need to approach this from two angles, right? So it absolutely starts with the leaders and having clarity, get that. Yes. We want your ideas and clarity around what would a good idea accomplish. So going out and then deliberately asking for those ideas and then responding well to those ideas, but also.

One of the things that we do when we’re working with sales teams is say, how do you, if you have an idea, how do you position that in a way that it could be heard? Because part of the reason I think sometimes these ideas are not heard is because they’re presented in a way that maybe is a little clumsy, you know?

Well, you just, you know, you blurt it out or you say this is stupid, or yeah. And instead of saying, okay, So we teach this idea model, you know, what makes this idea interesting? Well, how is it strategically aligned with what you, where your boss’s headed? Is it doable and to have thought through some of the logistics of your idea, is it engaging? Who else would think it’s a good idea? You know, how do you engage your key stakeholders and Hey, what are a few key actions? And so when you come to your manager with an idea and you say, Hey, I’ve thought this through and you could take them through this. It’s much more likely to be heard, but it absolutely starts – you cannot expect people to speak up, if you’ve got a culture where you’re consistently shutting people down or not responding well.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And the thing that you were just referring to is. Yeah, people have. I’m like, why don’t you call it? Your microinnovators have an idea. And I think there’s a really important point there for people, but it’s, it’s interesting. Well, how do we, how do we transition them from the point where, Hey, I’ve got this idea, right?

I’ve been in this work, in this job. I think I’ve got great idea for how we can improve it. But then how do you actually, and you referred to some of them, but I mean, in a practical sense, how do you train people to think these things through? So it’s not, you had a boss that talked about this just needs to be baked a little bit more and

Karin Hurt: Right. Right. So you teach them how to vet the ideas. You know, this is-

Andy Paul: So tell us, yeah. Tell us how, how they do that.

Karin Hurt: You know, as part of the reason I think that managers say, you know, Hey, our salespeople just, aren’t thinking strategically, they’re only caring about their, you know, their own bag. You know, that kind of conversation comes often. What we find is, they haven’t been given enough information to be strategic. So if you want people to be bringing you better ideas of, you know, how do you generate more revenue? How do you get better relationships with your clients? How do you get within a company and, you know, get deep, more deeply embedded, all those things that you want, your sales people to be bringing you ideas around. You need to be specific about connecting what you need them to do to why it matters for your business? You know, because I think what, you know, the sales seems that I’ve worked with. I led a large sales team at Verizon, um, It often feels like things are happening to salespeople. You know, the comp plan is changing, but they don’t really understand why. Right. It just feels like I’m getting jerked around. Oh, well we’re changing our product mix, but I don’t know why. Um, we’re going to change our market. Um, you know, the, the way we’re structuring markets are, we’re going to realize it around brands. And all of a sudden, you know, the sales folks are at the bottom of that cycle and they feel like they’re keep getting whipped around, you know, whiplash around all these changes. And I think that is where, you know, it’s particularly in a sales culture, you really need to be explaining and keeping people over informed of the clarity aspect of what, what you’re doing, why things are happening the way they are, and then bringing them along in terms of how can we do this well, because they’re the ones that are closest to the customer. They’re the ones that understand that the policy that you were about to do, how that’s going to impact and play out for their customers. And they can see ahead of that impact that, but not if you’re not asking and if you’re not open to that, you know, Uh, we like to say, you know, ask courageous questions. What’s one thing that’s absolutely ticking off our customers. That’s a courageous question because it assumes that something is ticking off our customers and it’s also very finite, right? Just one thing. So that makes it easy to do. And then when your sales person brings you that, and they give you one, you thank you. What’s one more. And now you have a conversation or what are the, what are our policies that suck? Right. Cause they’re the ones that know because they’re hearing it from your customers. Yeah. And so you’re with that, you’re assuming that there are policies that need to change and then you’re actively listening and you know, it in a culture, in a sales culture, if you can be having every one of your salespeople, knowing that it’s not only okay, but it’s expected that you’re going to be bringing ideas and challenging. That’s where you’re going to have a, you will get to solutions much more quickly.

Andy Paul: Well, I think one of the push polls that exist increasingly in sales these days is the fact that there’s so much data about what’s going on in sales. They have greater serve process transparency and thus metrics that people look at that. Yeah, I think there’s a discounting of that goes on of, of what people say on their observations. Cause they’re saying, well, I’m not sure the data supports that.

Karin Hurt: Yeah.


Andy Paul: I see this as a big concern of mine as I look at organizations, cause I think in the past, what you saw more frequently in a sales environment was managers being less focused on the metrics and more about what can I do to develop this individual. But now it’s, it’s more, uh, not saying exclusively, but you see a greater trend toward well let’s let’s let’s judge what you’re doing based on what the numbers say.

Karin Hurt: Yeah, it’s interesting. We are in the middle of a really big, um, leadership development program. We’re designing the curriculum really from scratch for these folks. And, uh, it’s, you know, one of the things we’re really focused on is moving from what we call. Counting to quality, you know? So it’s not just how many client visits did you make, right.

How many sales calls did you make? Yes, it’s a numbers game.There’s always going to be that game to some extent. Right. But what is the, but what are you coaching to? Are you coaching just to the numbers or are you coaching to the quality? But yeah, that’s not enough, right? That’s not, that’s, that’s a really dangerous slope because I can make a hundred calls.

Right. Anybody can make a hundred calls. But whether or not you’re going to have a productive call… it and you know, so what should you be coaching to it? Should you should be coaching to, how did you open the call? What was the connection? Like what, you know, did you ask the right questions? Did you notice when they were pausing? Did you see the look on their face? You know, and that’s the kind of, you know, In the conversation that you should be coaching too, not just the quantity of the calls. And, you know, we call that playing the, you know, you want to play the game, don’t game the score. And you know, if you’re only coaching numbers, then it’s really tempting for yourself, most people to game the score and give them the numbers that you want. But you’re not going to get the end results that you need.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And when I, my point too, is the fear that the managers discount the observations of the people who are in the process, talking to the customers because they say, well, the data doesn’t necessarily support that. And. And as I want to get to and talk to as per what you talk about forth with, sort of, AI machine learning driven systems. You can’t take the human out of though the process.

Karin Hurt: Yeah.

Andy Paul: go ahead. I’m sorry.

Karin Hurt: No, go ahead.

Andy Paul: Well, so not to focus exclusively on sales. What I mean, it is obviously our audience, but, but you know, you talk about the five reasons people don’t speak up and it’s sort of classic, you know, when you’re looking at it, when I look at, from my experience levels and managers, I’ve dealt with it, that they’re just not trained. Right. We’ve got this. I don’t know. I think part of the culture issue that that’s so hard with management is that we imbue them with these are mythical qualities. You know, they must know everything. They must be the expert on these things. And. And they start believing it and it creates this clash.

Karin Hurt: Yeah. That’s why we try to really break it down into, you know, very practical tools and techniques that you can use. And, you know, so it starts with, you know, what we were talking about earlier, asking creative questions you want to, what are the myths is? I think people say, Oh, well of course I, I have a courageous culture.

I have an open door policy. People could walk through that or any time, tell me anything. I’m an open book, right?

Andy Paul: I liked your example. Now that was a good one.

Karin Hurt: But the problem is it still takes courage to walk through an open door. And so, you know, we, we are training managers to go out and be deliberate and asking, you know, one example is, uh, what we call the curiosity tour.

And we were working with one CEO and he had a new product that they were launching was absolutely strategically imperative for their, or for their industry, like this was, he was betting the farm on this thing. And he had what I would call a high clarity culture. He was absolutely communicated. Well, five times, five different ways.

It connected what to, why he did strategic stories. He had, he held rallies to make sure everybody understood. He managed by walking around and made sure everybody was doing what they were told, but it was still, but the product was not selling. And. So I said to him, what if for one week you just stopped telling and you showed up curious. And so he said I was walking through our, our, our call center and one of my top sales reps was on the phone.

And I was listening to her, struggling to answer these customer’s questions. And I thought, Ooh, I’m, you know what I’m supposed to show up curious. Now he had to be really careful cause this could be radically right. Intimidating to a sales rep on the phone. But he said, look, my coach said, I’m supposed to be showing up curious.

So would you mind if I took over the call? And so we got to the call, he introduced himself to the CEO and said, you know, Hey, I’m just, it looks to me like my rep is having trouble explaining this to you. Can you tell me, uh, tell me the questions you’re, you know, not understanding? And he said, when he listened to those questions, he understood, there were things about this that they had not thought through. Like she didn’t have the answers to this question and neither did he, and they had some things they had to really think about. And so that’s what we say, show up, curious and listen to the people closest to the customer. He had to be open to that until he was really open and deliberately seeking out information. He did not have all the information to get, to build the product launch.

Andy Paul: yeah. I mean, it was, and that, yeah, you can translate that down several levels, uh, in terms of individual performance styles, right? I mean, yeah, if he’s not curious then. Sellers. Aren’t gonna be curious either. I mean, chances are they’re prejudice or their culture is going to be a little more pitch oriented, a little more, what I call logic based, right?

Here’s our offer. Here’s the logic of why you need to buy it as opposed to let me ask some questions, I might influence the choices you want to make about what to buy.

Karin Hurt: Absolutely

Andy Paul: Yeah. Very interesting. I mean, you’ve talked about, and you write in the book because it’s the success of an organization depends on incorporating these best ideas from around the business. Um, as you said, what happens if it’s, if you never hear what’s broken and, and this is another thing that happens in sales is managers just saying, yeah, you’re distracted by that. Right. They’re distracted. Just heard this conversation last week. Someone is as, yeah. Yeah. I was asking a question of the VP about this person and it’s just like, yeah, he’s, he’s just. You know, we don’t want to go there. It’s yeah, he’s being distracted by this.

And to me, it’s like the distraction really involves more than that. People tend to fixate on some of these things and not let them go, you know, the such high churn and sales these days, depending on daily lookout, that average VP of sales I think is like 16 to 18 months tenure and, and at lower level sale entry level sales jobs, like 12 to 14 months.

And you can’t build a business with that level of churn. So if there’s this uncertainty, if people feel, um, to your point about, I think the Gallup data, right. Three out of 10 workers, agree, their opinions seem to count at work, which means, which means seven out of 10 don’t, um, that’s, that’s a problem. Right? And so what they do is they leave.


And Gallup has data about that as well. And sales is yeah, two thirds, virtually two thirds of sellers leave a job because of their manager.

Karin Hurt: Yeah. Yeah. And which means that the, the organizations that are going to win are the ones that are really letting humans do what they do best. And, you know, not just try to run everything through AI and be able to, you know, tap in you you’re, you. Your opinion is valuable here. We need it, you know, way, you know, our favorite definition of culture is Seth Godin. People like us do things like this, you know, hear people like us speak up here. People like us do listen to the voice of the customer. In fact, it’s not just, okay, it’s required. You need to really do that from the minute your folks walk in the door in the new hire orientation. Hey, how’d you do it in your last job.

Hey, if you are not tapping it with all that churn in sales, if you are not tapping into what people are learning from the competitors they’re coming from, you’re missing a big opportunity.

Andy Paul: Yeah, well, I mean, one of the conundrums there is that also though, when you get this, this rapid churn and sales is the question is an open question. Is, was anybody there long enough to learn anything?

Karin Hurt: I would argue you’re always learning something. Right. I, you know, one question I like to ask, encourage people to ask in their, you know, if they’re new hires is what is one thing that your company, your old company did better than the way we’re doing it here. And they may not, they may not know that in the first two days, but you can say, I’m going to ask you that I’m going to come back in 30 days and I’d like to have your best answer for that.

Andy Paul: Yeah, I’m willing to bet. Not like with you and a start with someone else that that question rarely gets asked.

Karin Hurt: Yeah, I agree.

Andy Paul: Yeah, very interesting. Well, one thing I wanted to get into before we ran out of time was just, we had talked earlier before this whole importance of being human. And for me, this has never been more essential than now in sales is that there’s this wave of fear that AI is gonna take over and humans will be unnecessary and sales and I don’t believe that, uh, for an instant, I mean, obviously at some lower end, more transactional opportunities, perhaps, but as you talking about us, you talked with you say the secret to surviving and thriving in the automation revolution is, and what computers can’t replace, which is creativity, empathy, and critical thinking, especially in unpredictable environments. And there’s nothing more unpredictable than a sales interaction with, with the buyer. Um, and. I don’t know if you’ve read Geoffrey Colvin’s book, Humans are Underrated, but you know, he writes about the similar thing and he talks about the, really, the requirement for us going forward as to learn how to become more intensely human. And I love that phrase and I think it really aligns with a lot of what you talk about.

Karin Hurt: Yeah. I think even, you know what we’ve experienced over the last couple of months, you know, just, it amplifies that so much. If you can’t possibly go in tone deaf to somebody’s situation, and there’s no way, you know, Right. We’re you know where they say we’re all in this together? Well, everybody’s in this together as a different place.

Nice. And so if you are calling, yeah. If you calling on someone who’s, um, Got a sick mother in a nursing home that they can’t visit and just got back from a rally, that’s got them angry for good reason, you know. And they’re, you know, and, and they’re behind it. Just, you just don’t know what somebody he’s dealing with.

And I am finding the conversations are happening at such a different human level at every level of the business, across every organization right now. And giving people an opportunity to connect and talk. And it is the same when you’re selling. Yeah. Because yes, I run a leadership development company and by the way, I also do a lot of selling of these programs. Right. And a lot of what I’ve been doing right now is just connecting. Just connecting and checking in with clients to sell them nothing right. To just show up human. Are you okay? What’s going on? What’s happening in your company right now? And interestingly, a couple of those conversations have led to some pretty important work that we’ve ended up doing, but that wasn’t the reason I reached out.

I just reached out to be human and, and I think that people are yearning for that. People are lonely, they’re tired. They’re worn out. They’re frustrated. And you can’t with all of that going on. If somebody feels like a hardcore, somebody is coming to hardcore, sells to them. It’s going to be an immediate turn off.

Andy Paul: Yeah, you would think, right? I mean, but there’s still, if you go on LinkedIn and you read what people are writing, it’s-

Karin Hurt: There is a lot of bologna on Linkedin.

Andy Paul: Oh, well of course. Yeah.

Karin Hurt: you know what I mean? I’m just watching it and

Andy Paul: Oh yeah,

Karin Hurt: Are you kidding me? Are you really saying that right now?

Andy Paul: Oh yeah. Yeah. Double down.

Karin Hurt: and all the people

Andy Paul: how do I handle objections during a COVID panoramic? It’s like really.

Karin Hurt: And all the freaking people who are connecting the LinkedIn with me and then immediately trying to sell something and saying, I’m sure your business must be in trouble. So here I can fix it. And like, you haven’t paid any attention to what I’m doing at all.

Andy Paul: Well, yeah. And also when have you gone through something similar that you can think you can help fix it?

Karin Hurt: Right.

Andy Paul: I mean the, yeah, it’s not like the situations are transferable. I mean, I’ve my career. I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of working through, I don’t know, five recessions and other, you know, things have really disrupted the economy 9/11, blah, blah, blah. It’s like black Monday, you know, double digit inflation. And when I first got out of school, cool. It’s like, yeah, there are lessons to be learned, but they’re not the same.

Karin Hurt: They’re not the same. And you know, everybody keeps saying, Oh, we just helped to help people learn how to work from home. This isn’t about working from home, right? This is working from home in a pandemic, in the middle of the biggest racial tensions explosion we’ve had in a very long time that it’s not just working from home.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not, I don’t want that. But at the same time though, I think, and interesting for you see this as well, but is there’s never been a time in my career, certainly that spans a long time is that where, when you’re looking to connect with someone that you’ve had this shared experience, it’s not identical experience, but it is shared, and you know, if you can’t connect in the midst of this, right, if you can’t empathize with what people are going through in the midst of this, because you two are going through it to some degree. Yeah, you’re in the wrong field.

I mean, certainly from a sales perspective, because as you said, you really got what humans do best you say is, you know, connect and create and yeah, my writing and the work that I do, I think that I can usually tell with somebody just on how they connect, whether they’re going to win a piece of business or not.

Karin Hurt: Yeah, I think, you know, small talk has gotten bigger, you know, like even someone said to me the other day, do you just get really stressed out when you have to go to the grocery store? And the answer is yes, by the way. And I thought, you know, but I thought that is, you know, that was small talk, but it was big talk. It went to like, yeah,

Andy Paul: No, I think that’s, that’s a great, that’s a great question. I love that, but it is those things, right. I oftentimes talk to people. If you don’t challenge of educating their kids. I mean, my kids aren’t at home, but it was hard enough educating teenagers and elementary school kids when they were going to class.

Karin Hurt: Yeah.

Andy Paul: I mean, that’s great-

Karin Hurt: I think Zoom also, you know, everybody says, Oh, this is, you know, uh, so hard over zoom, but if you are selling over Zoom right now, you are seeing into people’s homes, you’re having, you’re watching their toddlers crawl into their laps. You have big opportunities for genuine human connection that you wouldn’t have necessarily had if you took them out to, um, you know, Chili’s for lunch.

Andy Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think that that, along with this connection is again used the phrase, which I really liked, which was that empathy can’t be outsourced and I’ve used something similar and it’s, it’s, it’s so true. I mean, this is to Colvin’s point about becoming more intensely human is the way that you differentiate yourself in an automation driven economy is, is, yeah.

Just be more human to have, have empathy, do things that machines aren’t good at. And aren’t going to be good at for a long time.

Karin Hurt: Yeah. One of the things that we do a lot with groups is ask for their hopes and fears, and we have ways of collecting those in an anonymous way and then bringing out the themes to folks and people want to talk about that? It is astounding to me, how much people are just so wanting to talk about that right now. We were working, uh, yes, just with this group yesterday and, um, they were so busy, like at the beginning of the session, the bed. Yeah, I’m overwhelmed, you know, all these feelings, like I thought, Oh boy, they’re not going to have time for what we’re about to do. They’re going to, this is going to not land well, because we, it was, it was about connection and getting underneath these fears and their hopes and how they were going to thrive in the next 18 months.

They were so all in, even as busy as they were, they, it was almost like they exhaled to be able to have those conversations.

Andy Paul: So, what did you hear in those conversations?

Karin Hurt: People are very, you know, it’s, it was one thing, you know, people just went into overdrive for the last three months to pivot. Well, right. Like, Oh, all of a sudden we’re all working from home or we’ve got this new approaches and we’ve got new processes and it was like, the adrenaline was up and now they’re looking and they’re like, Oh, my gosh, this is not going away anytime soon.

And now it’s like, how, how are we going to do this now the next 18 months? And it was interesting, one of the, um, executive teams we were working with said, you know, they were international. So they’ve been dealing with this since China first had the first cases, you know, so they thought he’s like, well, originally we put all the energy and we’re going to support our peers in China, not thinking that this is going to be a problem too, you know?

And then, and then, Oh, now we’re going to support our peers in Italy. Oh, my gosh. And so it’s just been, it’s this rollercoaster for them. And so they, you know, what we’re taking a step back is where do you find your courage? You know, what are the, you haven’t seen something like this, but you have had courageous moments in the past. What happened then? What are the values that you care about most right now? How do you want to be remembered once this is, you know, we’re through this, how do you want to have been proud of that you showed up during this time? And a lot of what people are saying is I am learning a lot more about empathy than I ever have before, and I don’t want to lose that.

Andy Paul: Right. Very interesting. Very, very interesting. Yeah, I think, yeah, this is such a. So our single moment, um, but in our history and you know, we talk about empathy and the business context at some social context, with the unrest that that’s going on, where yeah, people are, people are having empathy in ways. I think they never realized that they would. I mean, the, the, the, the call is to stop being just an observer and to be more of a participant and to do that requires a greater level of empathy.

Karin Hurt: It does. And I am seeing more senior leaders sitting back and really listening more than I ever have before, which is good.

Andy Paul: Well, it’s required. I mean, I think there’s so many challenges. One is to build a truly diverse workforce and, and have truly equal opportunity for people, it requires that listening. It requires leaders to, to challenge themselves and their status quo in a way that they’ve never done, in a way that’s that maybe they think they’ve done, but they haven’t really.

Karin Hurt: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Andy Paul: Yeah. It’s it’s, it’s fascinating time. And, and it’s, it seems to be yeah. Converging in many respects, um, various threads of thing. And I think, yeah, I think to the point is like, if you can’t find a way to be empathetic, having empathy for someone today, um, It’s a problem. Yeah, that’s a problem. Well, I mean, Karen, it’s been fantastic talking to you.

Karin Hurt: Oh, I appreciate the opportunity so much.

Andy Paul: Yeah. And I’ll have to do this again because this is the type of conversations women keep having. Um, because it’s, it was funny. I had a guest on the show. Oh, last month. Um, gentleman named Peter economy who writes for-

Karin Hurt: Yeah, I know him. Yeah. He’s got a new book out.

Andy Paul: Right. And we were talking about his new book, what the new manager should do. And that’s not the exact I was paraphrasing, but, but yeah, the striking thing from our conversation and from the book was that, he has this statistic in there is that, you know, the average age at which a manager first receives management training was age 42.

Karin Hurt: I believe it.

Andy Paul: After they’d been on the job 10 years, basically.


Karin Hurt: would believe it.

Andy Paul: And it’s like, you know, here, you know, this shows you raised in your book. Okay. Yeah. It’s one thing to have everybody read the book and they should read the book, but, but yeah, there has to be some institutional reinforcement behind that. And I think more so than ever, and not just in the sales field, but I think it’s doubly important in sales field is that it’s really time for companies to say, look, where do the problems really originate that we’re trying to fix and sales performance and sales productivity and sales retention. Yeah, it doesn’t start from the sellers.

We have to do more at the senior level. So anyway, we’ll continue that conversation. So Karen, thank you very much. And if people wanted to learn more about your doing in contact with you, how can they do that?

Karin Hurt: Yeah. So our book is Courageous Cultures, how they build teams of micro innovators, problem solvers and customer advocates in our website is letsgrowleaders.com and we have a blog and definitely connect with me on LinkedIn because I do an asking for a friend video each week, which people seem to enjoy too.

Andy Paul: Alight. Excellent. Karen, thank you.

Karin Hurt: Thank you.