Can A "Same Page" Emerge If We Manifest It With Others? Susan Parente Says, "Yes."

May 25, 2022 00:48:35
Can A "Same Page" Emerge If We Manifest It With Others? Susan Parente Says, "Yes."
I See What You Mean
Can A "Same Page" Emerge If We Manifest It With Others? Susan Parente Says, "Yes."
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Show Notes

When I teased Susan Parente about the eight designations behind her name - eight! - her response said a lot about her. She laughed and said she not only loves learning, but she teaches subjects which lead to certifications. So all the letters are a selling point for students who would think it fun to take a class from someone who loves certifications.

And that about sums it up. Astute. Insightful. Self-aware. Passionate. Susan's sees black and white with an engineer's mind, while helping students find their way through their own gray areas, with a lot of heart. She creates an environment for students to discover things about themselves, while teaching them the rights and wrongs of project management and cybersecurity to pass certification exams. She loves working independently to produce a deliverable, and loves extra time with students who seek her assistance.

I had a lot of fun talking to Susan, and I learned a lot. Here are some of my favorite ahh-ha! moments:

1:00 - 4:00 - How I switched from "I don't want to be a teacher," to "teaching is my passion."

5:28 - When I started my business but before I made any money, I did pro bono work to literally speak my future into being.

9:53 - "Students say, "What I'd really like to do is…..but…." And it's the "but" that stops them.

17:05 - To teach is to create a safe space for learning not just a topic, but to learn about oneself.

19:54 - Maintaining a beginner's mind to facilitate learning

24:13 - We can't learn if we're afraid of failing

36:14 - I grade for class participation but never grade someone down for saying something wrong. Discussion is when we're supposed to figure things out.

40:14 - Project success means team success, and team success is a human endeavor, not a project management practice

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Welcome to I see what you mean a podcast about how people get on the same page or don't, or perhaps shouldn't today. My guest is Susan perk. Susan's an engineer by training who consults a lot in agile software development and teaches at several universities. Susan, welcome to the show. Speaker 2 00:00:22 Thank you, Lou. It's really great to be here. Very excited about this. I've listened to your other podcast. Yeah. Thank you. And I, uh, I've, I'm excited to be on this side of it. Thank you. And, uh, have a great conversation. Speaker 1 00:00:33 We're we're gonna have a good conversation. I know we are. Why don't actually start by going listeners, a short bio about yourself. You've got quite a background with a lot of letters behind your name. Speaker 2 00:00:43 Yes. I got a lot of letters. Um, I teach certifications, so that's why I have a lot of those letters. And I also think, uh, certifications are fun game, um, into continuous education. Yeah. Um, I know this seems kind of silly, but this, this is also a selling point. So people will often want to take a class from a person who thinks it's fun to get certs <laugh> cause you don't wanna take a class from someone who doesn't think it's fun. <laugh> I love it. It won't be fun to take that class. So this Speaker 1 00:01:09 Is true. Um, Speaker 2 00:01:10 <laugh> so I'm an engineer by education, which we were just talking about at mechanical engineer for my undergraduate and engineering management for my graduate. I do actually use a little bit of engineering management and I definitely am an engineer. I'm a problem solver. And nowadays it's, it's, it's become more, I guess, appreciated. And I'm mostly the it space and mostly surrounded by computer science majors. I teach MBA students, but I don't have an MBA, which is kind of funny it's okay. So what I do now, I'm I specialize, I'm a project manager, program manager, sometimes portfolio management, and I specialize in risk management, which includes both project risk management and cyber security. Okay. So I I've been in the federal government space for a few decades now, and then my other big area and passion is agile project management. Right. And with all of that, my greater passion is teaching mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I do teaching, I do consulting in the contract arena and these really play off each other really well, surprisingly well, and then honestly, every client experience I have always seems to have some educational sure. Part Speaker 1 00:02:19 To it. Tell me a little bit about that because you had consulted for some time in your career before you began teaching, and then you told me in the prep call that teaching became your passion. Tell me a little bit about that. Speaker 2 00:02:31 Yeah. So it's kind of funny. I, I fought it a little bit, which I find very interesting. So my mom was a teacher. She taught special ed middle school, New York city public school system, which probably was a little horrendous mm-hmm <affirmative> Speaker 1 00:02:44 At times. I'm sure. Um, Speaker 2 00:02:46 I went into school with her a few days when I, when I was off for some reason. And she wasn't. So I was actually like in the classroom with her and I probably at that point where, you know, you just like, I don't wanna do it. My Speaker 1 00:02:57 Parents did pretty. Right, right, right. Speaker 2 00:02:58 It doesn't matter if it was good, bad or different. Right. I mean, she was a great teacher. Her students loved her. Yeah. I was like, I don't wanna do this. And my, my sister also wanted to special ed. She was actually in management first. And then, um, like, and so I thought to myself, I wanna be a teacher. I wanna be a teacher. I wanna be a teacher. Okay. So that's in the background. So I'm doing consulting work and I'm doing, you know, different contracts in the government and people would come up to me and say, Hey, Susan, I wanna write a project charter. Do you have an example one? Oh sure. I do sure. Uh, project management plan. Sure. This is this. I would implement software systems. And at the end of that, we'd have to do training. Yeah. I would develop the training. Speaker 2 00:03:35 I' deliver the training, all of that. And then at some point I literally had people standing outside my office with questions. Like there was actually a little bit of a line, not all the time, not every day, but there were times when there was a line and it was no brainer to me. Like I didn't have to look anything up. It was just in my head. And I was like, okay, well do this, do this, do that. And I mean, I think at that point I became like a leader in the project management field. Okay. Which was a really great feeling, cuz I always wanna make a difference and have an impact on people. Okay. So that was like a great thing. So then slow, I think that's the start of where the teaching training thing came in. Sure. But I didn't realize that at the moment. Speaker 1 00:04:13 Yeah. You just kinda eased into it that way. Speaker 2 00:04:16 Yeah. So it, it, and it's very interesting. I all, I think sometimes people think people get out a whiteboard and make a decision about what to do with their life mm-hmm <affirmative> and I don't think it works that way. I think life comes at you and you respond to it in a certain way. Sure. And then at some point you do make a decision, but that doesn't, that's not necessarily a definitive decision. So I actually even made a decision to teach before I would even call myself a teacher. So, so I'll move up, move forward a little. So eventually I, I quit working for a company and decide to work for myself. Okay. Which I actually explain to people as like I'm a skier and when you're at this, this steep steep slope, the one where once you go down, there's no way back up. It's that steep. My skis are hanging off the edge and I give it that last push mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> and that's how I felt. And there's like the butterflies in your stomach. When I said I'm quitting my job and I didn't have another job to go to. Sure. I was literally quitting my job to start my business. Sure. And there was no way for me to kind of do it on the part-time or whatever, cuz non-disclosures non-compete and all this. Right. So I just, I couldn't do that. I basically just had enough. Speaker 2 00:05:28 Yeah. Like my safety net thing of money, my little egg, and I went ahead and did it. And so when that happened, I, you know, told people as many people, Hey, I'm doing consulting work now I'm 10 99, da, da, da, duh. Right? Right. So I'm at a dinner after a benefit. And the, the woman who worked with my friend, her husband was there mm-hmm <affirmative> and her husband was the provost at the university. The first university I taught at and I started talking about project management and I told him I had my own business, which didn't have like a lot of work, but I had my own business. And what I started doing is I started doing pro bono work. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so that I could verbally declare I have a business and I have work clients. I have contacts. I wasn't making money, but you gotta start somewhere. And that's how I started. And I'm really glad I did because it, it allowed me to speak my future into being Speaker 1 00:06:19 Yeah, there you go. Wow. That's cool. Literally speak your future into Speaker 2 00:06:24 Being yeah, literally. So, so I was working at that point too on like growth and development stuff and, and basically it's very be careful of your words. And there are a lot of like motivational speakers who will tell you this, like Tony Robbins, even like Joel Olstein they will say like the words that you say mm-hmm, <affirmative> create your life. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> you can't say like, I'm going to, I'm trying to have a BI, like you just say, I have a business and in order to have, for me to feel good about that, I was doing work. So I actually, one of my friends has a, has an organization harmony for kids. Mm-hmm <affirmative> where she raises money. Mm-hmm <affirmative> to buy instruments for York city children to get them instruments, to get them involved music. Okay. To do music. Yeah. And so, so I was actually writing a business plan for her business. Okay. Which is still exists today, which is like cool. Almost a decade and a half. That's cool. Yeah. Very cool. So anyway, so I was doing things that actually mattered. So the gentleman next to me happened to be the provost at the university. He said, would you be interested in teaching Uhhuh? And I kid you not lie inside. My head is like, hell no, I don't wanna Speaker 1 00:07:29 Teach. Right. Speaker 2 00:07:31 I'm not a teacher. I wanna do that. And the words that came outta my mouth is sure, Uhhuh, you know why? Cause I didn't have anything else going on. Right. I had to get something I wanna make money. Speaker 1 00:07:41 Yeah. Right. Speaker 2 00:07:42 So then I was like, oh, that's kind of cool. It's a resume builder. It'll look cool. I don't think I'll like doing it, but I'll do a class or two Speaker 1 00:07:51 Can't hurt. Speaker 2 00:07:52 It can't hurt anything. You know, little did I know, it's like just try a little piece of chocolate and then all of a sudden you like Speaker 1 00:07:58 Little bag, let me pause you for a second. Cuz I wanna, I wanna go back something and then pick up where we are right now, central to the show central, to the coaching that I'm standing up, you know, I'm rebranding, I'm reimagining and rebranding a consulting practice. And mm-hmm, <affirmative> be careful with your words, Speaker 2 00:08:17 Your words create your Speaker 1 00:08:18 Future, your words create your future. There's a line I'm thinking of from a book that I like a lot, Paul, meaning by um, Harry and Michael Pani. And there's a line in it that says we dwell in the meanings that we can comprehend. And I love that idea of how words create that reality. Right. I reality. And you said, I spoke, Speaker 2 00:08:41 I spoke my future into being Speaker 1 00:08:43 Into being, so tell me a little bit about your, your thoughts and your experience, whether consulting or maybe that maybe this is something you do in teaching, you've teach in teaching or you, you, you, it might not be the subject of the course, but you might be showing to students. Hey, think about how we think, how we communicate, how we create a reality with right. Tell me a little bit more about that. Cuz I think that's a fascinating area. Speaker 2 00:09:06 You know, I, if it, if I'm inspired at the moment, if I, if I'm talking to a student, you know, a lot of times I teach project management courses, I teach agile courses. Uh, I teach risk management and sometimes in a moment a student will say something that I I'll feel inspired by. And, and I don't know how else to say it. Like I don't, I don't think you can have a real conversation if you have an idea how it's gonna end up when you start. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I, I think that there's a conversation as a dance. If I get on a phone with a student and they say, you know, I'm thinking about taking a certification, I get a lot of those calls. Mm oh, okay. Okay. Which certification do you think mm-hmm <affirmative> well, I dunno professor, which one do you think I should Speaker 1 00:09:52 Get? <laugh> Speaker 2 00:09:53 Tell you until you tell me like, what is it you wanna do? Right. Right. Like what is it you're doing? Right. What would you like to do? And let's chat. And so like, and then in that moment, like a student will say something like, well, what I'd really love to do in. Speaker 1 00:10:08 And, Speaker 2 00:10:10 But Uhhuh then there's like the butt Uhhuh and the butt is the thing that they're actually stopping themselves. Like the, the universe is not stopping them. And if someone talking to a student who was like, she wanted to do this, she wanted to do that. She, she, she, there were like four things she wanted do. And, and she's like, well, but I guess I gotta pick one, but I guess I gotta pick one. I said, um, actually you don't cuz what you just described are all things I'm currently doing right now in this moment. Speaker 1 00:10:34 <laugh> Speaker 2 00:10:35 You do not have to pick one Uhhuh and you could pick all of them. Maybe not all together. That might be a little, Speaker 1 00:10:41 Same time. Right. Speaker 2 00:10:42 But, but you could literally do all of those things in your life and it would not be dis dis discontinuous with one another. Right? Like it would actually work. Right. They, they build off each other cause she's like, well I wanna teach, I wanna do consulting one day. I wanna own my own business. And I'm just like, you, you just kind of described like my whole career, Speaker 1 00:10:59 Your life. Yeah. Right. Speaker 2 00:11:00 That I didn't as much as I say yes. I, I spoke my company into being there. There are things that I created from my speech and there are things that just showed up and I saw them in opportunities. Speaker 1 00:11:14 Sure, sure. Speaker 2 00:11:15 And I think that it's a, it's a combination of the two. I think that, that your, that your, your purposeful life, I guess if you would call it that sure is a combination of what shows up for you and how you respond to it. Like, I don't wanna teach, I don't wanna teach, but I said, sure. Right, right. And I took the teaching job and what you create. Like I told myself for years, one day I'm gonna have my own business. One day, I'm gonna have my own business. And I, I pegged it out. Like, I don't know, probably five, 10 years farther than when I actually did it. Sure. And, and the thing that stopped me, my butt was that I should be 40. Ah, by the time I got my business. Interesting. Well, I started my own business, 35, I think. Yeah. So, but, and I interesting, and I remember thinking to myself, am I too young for this? And I was not and I could have done it sooner. And I don't know what made me think that like, you have to be a certain age to start your own business. Speaker 1 00:12:10 Oh. Who knows where those things come from, Speaker 2 00:12:11 They come from somewhere, but they come. But the thing is, and I I'm using the word, but now too. But the, the thing is, is that we stop ourselves. We do more than anything else, more than anything else. And you can say, if there's somebody in your life who is stopping you on a regular basis, you may wanna not talk to them as much. But for the most part, the stopping comes inside of ourselves. It doesn't come from outside. And you'll also find if it comes from inside of yourself, other people around you start repeating it because you're actually telling them to mm-hmm Speaker 1 00:12:40 <affirmative>, Speaker 2 00:12:41 You know, I would do this, but, and then people are like, well, you know, I understand. Yeah. You can't do that because of that. Like, Speaker 1 00:12:46 Like they're trying to be empathetic. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:12:48 Yeah. They'll be empathetic. So like, so what shows up is what you expect in life. Right? And so one of the things that I've been very fortunate in my career is although I've had some, like thoughts about what I wanna do, I've always been open for, I don't really know yet. Like I don't really know what yet, what I wanna do when I grow up. And I have this thought that I'm gonna teach until I'm 72 <laugh> and I might retire like early, but semi-retire right. But I don't really know. Maybe something else will come up and I'll wanna that. I just don't know. And I actually think, I think it's great. It's Speaker 1 00:13:21 Useful to have that much of a plan or an outline of a plan because you move toward it. But as things emerge, then you, you look at them as opportunities. You can go, you can pass. There's a book. I have that. I got both my girls called write it down, make it happen. And I don't know if it's based on much actual research, but it's a cool read where the author goes through many stories of people who wrote down for themselves, some pretty aspiration, highly aspirational things. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. But when it's written down and you look at it from time to time, you don't put it in a drawer, not look at it for 10 years, you keep it in front of you. You can adopt a mindset of how, how will I make that happen? What are steps toward that? And mm-hmm <affirmative> you might achieve what you wrote down. Speaker 1 00:14:10 You might, something else might emerge and you achieve something else. But I know one thing for sure, at least this is how I think of, of life. If you don't write it down or you don't try to make it happen, it's not going to mm-hmm <affirmative>. And if it happened by chance, you wouldn't be ready for it. Cuz you had done no preparation. There's something about now let's talk, let's shift this. Let's talk for a minute about in a team environment. And then we'll go on. We'll go back to teaching cuz I want to get, I wanna connect some of these things to uh, teaching project management or teaching agile software development, but education almost in a Socratic way. Right? You, you help people discover things about themselves, but take let's shift from the individual to a team environment where two or more people are having the kind of realizations that you and I are talking about two or more people are having, uh, maybe through conversation, they're recognizing constraints that they put on themselves or I recognize you recognize the constraint I put on myself mm-hmm <affirmative> and there's good conversation techniques to, to do something about, to address that mm-hmm <affirmative> and by addressing it, what you wanna do is unpack the assumptions and, and things behind it. Speaker 1 00:15:19 Mm-hmm <affirmative> so if I said, if I said, if I said to you, uh, Clint vote in a cus will never accept that you might wanna know Tommy Moore, Tommy, why I might have two or three things I say in response, which from an engineer standpoint, those become things like, okay, problem, solution. Maybe you're maybe you're making, maybe you're making a fair point. Let's think about what we could do about it. Maybe something maybe nothing, but don't not have the conversation. Yep. Don't not talk about it. We go nowhere if we don't talk about it. So if you don't think the customer or you don't think you could do that in your, you know, in your lifetime or you think you gotta be this age or this height or this, whatever. Tell me more about that. And then once they start to unpack that options arise or they can mm-hmm <affirmative> so how, how, how have you seen that in work settings in groups? Speaker 2 00:16:06 Well, you're right in that those things come up in conversation. Mm-hmm <affirmative> if we stay in our head and we stay by ourselves and I mean that conversation, you know, you could read something and that could have you think a different way. Right? And then you might, that might shift your mind. But if you just literally left with your mind, I'm I'm not sure that you would get there. If you're practicing some form meditation, you might, that might be a way, but that, that still is meditation is like an engagement with the world. It's just in a quiet space. <laugh> right. Yeah. So it's in some ways it's Speaker 1 00:16:36 Kind of, so you learn to practice self awareness. Yeah, Speaker 2 00:16:38 Exactly. Through self-awareness but more often than not, it shows up at a conversation with somebody. And that's why I think discourse is really important. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and one of the things that I really like about education is we're always talking. I teach the same classes. One of the reasons I never wanted to be a teacher was, oh my God. If I have to teach the same thing every day, I'm like, wanna just like, I'm done, I'm done I'm over. But it it's not the same. It's not the same. Speaker 1 00:17:04 Because interesting. Speaker 2 00:17:05 Because when you're teaching, you're teaching in a space that people are creating with you and I, as a teacher, I facilitate learning. I create a space for learning. Now I know stuff. Sure. But that's a book thing. What has people learn is people are not afraid. Cuz if you've ever been afraid, what you do is you will crawl back to your base knowledge. You will not do something new and innovative when you are afraid. I know this from teaching skiing, um, I've taught some sports and other sports like golf right now I do something with first tee was a ski instructor for many years, basketball coach, like I've done a few of those different things. Okay. Nobody kids or adults will learn when they're afraid. And so I, it became very obvious to me in skiing because of all those things, the most fear is in skiing. Right. I remember people like, well, I don't wanna fall. I'm like, you don't wanna fall. I'm like skiing is falling. It's a controlled fall. Like you're gonna, you're gonna start up at the top of the mountain or the hill and you're gonna fall the whole way down. <laugh> I'm gonna teach you how to fall in a way that, that makes you happy. And your butt's not on the ground, but if you don't wanna fall, you might be in the wrong place. <laugh> yeah. Speaker 1 00:18:19 Yeah. Well, that's a, I like that reframing. Yes. You're gonna fall, but it's gonna be a controlled fall, which means you don't get injured. You get back up and keep skiing. Speaker 2 00:18:27 Yep. Yep. And, and, and if you do have to fall, like I know a good way to fall. Right. Cause there's good way and bad ways to fall. Speaker 1 00:18:34 Right. Right. So there's a little aha moment in that. Yeah. So someone's, let's say someone's gone to the mountains because they're gone with people and it's not really what they were gonna do, what would've chosen to do. So they they're out there and they, they they've got their ambiguous or I'm, I'm sorry. They're ambivalent. They would, I'd like to ski, but I don't want to get hurt. I don't want, I don't wanna fall. I'm gonna make fool of myself. Those are the kinds of things we're talking about that we mess with ourselves. <laugh> yes. Our heads, our heads with our heads. Speaker 2 00:19:03 <laugh> a lot of that in skiing shows up. I mean, it shows up other places too, like I've done hang gliding. There's a, there's a little fear in that. Sure. Drive race car real fast. You're like, if something goes wrong, right. This could be my last few moments on earth. Right? Like, you've get a, you get a lot of momentum, a lot of speed, little bit of weight. You multiply the two and yeah. I mean, it's pretty, it's pretty amazing. You could, you could watch your life fly by in 30 seconds. Right. You Speaker 1 00:19:28 Know what I mean? So. Okay. So project team just think of a project team. And where, how would you lead? Let me ask you this question, this, ask the question this way. How would you lead a conversation that was effective in the way you and I were talking about where you, what would you listen for that were cues mm-hmm <affirmative> and how you follow the cue to try to UN what would you do? How would you describe it? Unpack it, open it up. Challenge it. I don't mean challenge it like, you know? Yeah. Speaker 2 00:19:54 Like in a, in a, in a, Hmm. That's interesting. Like if somebody said I would do this, but oh, that's interesting. Why do you say that? Right. Just kind of get curious, like, um, what do they say? Beginner's mind? Yeah. Like approach it with beginner's mind. Like, I don't know. Um, I gotta tell you if I, as an engineer can approach something with beginner's mind. So can you, that is one of the most difficult things you can ask a left brain engineer. Problem solver to do is approach something with beginner. Mind, if you're not sure about that, you can ask my husband and he will tell you <laugh>. I wish my wife approached things with beginner mind because I often don't, but that is my default behavior. Right? My default behavior will only get me what I have so far in life. It will never get me to the next spot. Speaker 2 00:20:41 Every everything that I have, which is great. And I have it because of how I am today and to get to that next level, you know, somebody once told me this in leadership development course, he said, the things that got you to where you are right now are not the things that you need to get to the next level. Mm. And what I walked away from that is, you know what? I can solve some problems. I'm quick to think about things, but what I'm missing is actually listening to people, listening for someone's actual experience. And, and I will tell you, my success in the last decade has been listening to people. Like I started my business and I was like, oh, elevator speech, how do I sell this? How do I sell that? Mm-hmm and I was like, it's getting nowhere. And I was like, you know what, what if I just meet with interesting people and talk to them about what problems they're having. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and what's going on. And maybe I can't help them, but somebody else can, but you know what people like to do, they like to talk to like to about themselves. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They do. That's why you asked me to come on here to talk and I'm like, no, why wouldn't I Speaker 1 00:21:48 <laugh> Speaker 2 00:21:49 Especially a extroverts. We love to talk about ourselves. So I started listening for what's Speaker 1 00:21:55 Going on. You said something very important there. I want to, I want highlight someone made that comment to you. What what's gotten you to this point. Isn't what will take you to the next point. And you used the example when you started the business. Speaker 2 00:22:08 Yep. Speaker 1 00:22:09 You were kind of in pitch mode, you were talking and you noticed that it wasn't working. And so the first thing to do is to observe Speaker 2 00:22:17 Mm-hmm Speaker 1 00:22:17 <affirmative> right. You're you're the, the pitch is a means to an end. And if it's not working, you have to ask yourself, is it the right means to the end? Is it the right means to an end in some circumstances, but you just have to ask, you have to notice this isn't going the way I thought it would and ask yourself questions. That's an analytical act act, right? Speaker 2 00:22:38 Mm-hmm <affirmative> Speaker 1 00:22:39 But then you said something that was the key. What if, what if I just talked to interesting people about the problems and listen, mm-hmm <affirmative> that? What that, what if is the pivot point? Mm-hmm <affirmative> that? What if gets you out of where your head was? Which is where we it's gotta be somewhere. We start, but to a different place asking different questions. Actually, what I think is happening is you're incorporating information. God, you operated on the environment, you were pitching people, you watched what happened in the environment. You incorporated the data, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> you incorporated the information back in and maybe ran another experiment. Maybe may had another hypothesis and run it at a different way to see what happens. That what if though is where the, the turn happens and you try something else. Speaker 2 00:23:27 Yeah. And it was very interesting. So for one I felt less pressure. Hmm. And my guess is they felt less pressure Speaker 1 00:23:35 <laugh> Speaker 2 00:23:36 And then I can actually be who I wanna be, which is somebody who makes a difference. So, Speaker 1 00:23:42 Well, I could see you being very engaged in the conversation too. If you asked you, you, you just would want to talk. You could be at an airport gate, you wouldn't selling them anything. You're just talking and you would enjoy the conversation. Yep, exactly. If it so happened that you could help them. Cool. Yep. But either way, you're gonna enjoy the conversation. It causes an approach. Motivation more than an avoidance motivation. It causes somebody to want to come in rather than pull back. Speaker 2 00:24:08 Okay. So they're not being defensive and they're not, there's no fear. They're Speaker 1 00:24:11 Not protecting themselves. Speaker 2 00:24:13 Right. So we, we can create, we can learn when there isn't fear. And that's so fear, fear shows up for everybody all the time, different, different things, right? Fear of snakes. Fair job. Fair. Getting in trouble. I mean, I, I do now I'm doing like video recordings of stuff and I am I'm I'm so behind. I could say it's because of how much time I have, but it literally is like, I don't want to look at myself recording. Like, I'm just like, oh God. And it is literally, it is stopping me. Sure. From making the next move in my career. And I'm, I'm, I'm at the point where it's, it's not like a skill thing, Speaker 1 00:24:50 Right? Yeah. It's a mindset thing. Speaker 2 00:24:52 It's like, I, I need like a psychologist or something. I need somebody to be like, eat. Like, it's just that little thing. And then boom, I'll just be talking and I won't really care it. I could talk in front of 500 people. I have no fear and no anxiety about that. Interesting. But if I record and I'm looking at a computer, I'm looking at my face, I'm just like, Speaker 1 00:25:10 You're distracted by yet. Right. Speaker 2 00:25:12 <laugh> yeah. I'm just like, oh God, I don't wanna look at me. So then people are like, well then don't look at the camera. And then I'm like, well, then I might not be centered on the camera. So I got have Speaker 1 00:25:19 Problem. Speaker 2 00:25:20 So I'm like, I'm just like, I don't know. That's interesting. I dunno. I got, I gotta get over that because literally like, why would I CA if you can talk live in front of 500 people, what's the big deal to hit record? Which, by the way, if I screw up, I can redo, Speaker 1 00:25:36 Right. Well, this less, Speaker 2 00:25:37 Less of a fear. Speaker 1 00:25:39 The signals are different. If you're looking at a crowd, you're picking up on eye contact and facial expressions, and you're looking at yourself, it's a, your, the signals are different. It's like, you almost distract yourself. Your, if your brain focuses for a moment on your own image, you've taken yourself out of what you were, the, the message or the content you were trying to convey. Speaker 2 00:25:59 You just gave me an aha Mo moment. Speaker 1 00:26:01 Oh, what's that? Speaker 2 00:26:02 So when I'm speaking to 500 people, I'm being with them. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I'm not being in here in my head, right. Point in my head. Speaker 1 00:26:12 And you like that, extemporaneous speaking, you comfortable with that? Yes. Yes. So is this flow and an energy? Speaker 2 00:26:19 I, I mean, I always, even as, even as a young kid, like, I didn't mind the attention of people, you know? So that, that helps. I'm an extrovert that helps. But I was still in my head a lot. And somebody, a wise leader said to me, Susan, when you're talk, you're like in your head, I'm like, well, where the heck else am I gonna be? I'm like, I'm conveying information. I mean, I'm talking about cyber security. I'm talking about project. I'm talking about technical skills. Like what other part of my body am I using to talk? It made no sense to me. Right. Right. And she's like, well, come out here. Like, she's pointing like towards herself. And I was like, what do you mean? Right. And it's like, literally you gotta understand, like, as an engineer, like, I am sometimes like, like the guy on big bang theory who has his spot on the couch. Speaker 2 00:27:05 Right. Like, I can relate. I'm not saying that I am Shelton Cooper, but I can totally relate to him. So she's like, what do you mean come out here? You're like, you're, how am I supposed to not talk with my brain? So she says, talk to the person in the back of the room. Now that wasn't like a literal do that. Right. But she was smart because when I did that, the next time I spoke, I all of a sudden got it. I'm not talking to this room. I'm talking to that person in the back, the person sitting right up here next to me, the person over there, the person. So I literally, when I present will speak to everybody somehow at the same time right now, while doing that, I'm not thinking about me. Right. I'm not worried do my socks match. What do people think about me? Right. And then all of that just goes away. Right. And, and one of the things that I suggest to people, cause I've had people come I'm really bad at public speaking. Here's the thing you're getting in your head. Right. Right. There's people on cell phones, are they doing other things? Do they like you? Do they not like you? Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes people are on a cell phone because they're their kids sick at home. It's not personal. Right. Fair Speaker 1 00:28:15 Enough. Speaker 2 00:28:15 You come out there and you say, what is it? What is the vision I have? Right. So for example, cyber security, I present it on cyber security to project managers. I want project managers to walk away saying, you know what? Cybersecurity is something I'm responsible for. I can't just let the person, the it cybersecurity expert be charge of it. Right. I need to be responsible for it because, because it shows up in my project, it shows up everywhere. And I am the first line of defense. I was so committed to that. And I so wanted that for this group of hundreds of people. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> when you're present to that, I don't have time to think about like, do they notice the pimple? I got this morning on my forehead. Right, Speaker 1 00:29:00 Right. You know? Yeah. The focal point is different. Speaker 2 00:29:03 So I suggest that to people, like, if you're speaking, there's something you're committed to. That is so much greater than who you are. And if you can be in that space, then you'll stop being worried about yourself. Yeah. So you're right. Aha moment. When I'm presenting to myself, not to another person and recording, I am present to myself, right. I, I, I'm almost like how could I be present to anyone else? There's no one there, but Speaker 1 00:29:28 You could imagine Speaker 2 00:29:30 I could just as easily imagine that other people will watch this when I'm creating and recording. And I'm looking at my face, I'm not looking at my face. I'm looking at the face of people who are listening to me, who, with my words, remarkably miraculously could literally have a shift in their life. Mm-hmm <affirmative> cool. And it's literally happened before. I've had people. I've had students in my class, say your class, change my life. So I don't think, I don't think I'm wholly responsible for that. But I, I mean, I am as much as everybody in the classes also, and where I feel good about that is I create an environment such that a person learned in a way that they can't even unlearn. Like they literally, the way that they look at the world has now changed and it will never change back. Speaker 1 00:30:21 It's an excellent point. Did you and I talk before about Lisa Feldman Barrett? Speaker 2 00:30:26 No, I don't think so. Speaker 1 00:30:27 Look, her up. Lisa Feldman Barrett is a neuroscientist and she's done, she's done research for decades and, and in the last 10 years or so, I think she's become, she's got a popular following. She wrote a book called how emotions are made. Speaker 2 00:30:41 Mm. Speaker 1 00:30:42 Which is a constructivist point of view on the origin of emotions. She talks extensively in that book and she wrote a small, a shorter one. That's a little bit less academic called seven and a half, seven and a half lessons about the brain is I love the title. How are, how our brains are rewired by experience? Mm there's a, there's a page on, in her book that shows you've seen this kind of thing before. It's it looks like a RO shock test. It's a bunch of black and white spaces. Speaker 2 00:31:08 Mm-hmm Speaker 1 00:31:09 <affirmative> and you can't make out what it is. And then she shows you a different image of it. And you realize it's a bumblebee mm-hmm <affirmative>. So she calls it, she calls the image that was unrecognizable of BL bee. And the image that you could see, you know, is a, is a bumblebee. You see the stripes, the, but she says, you go back to the first one and you can't unsee that. Yep. Your brain's rewired to see the representation of the B in, in that BL image. That's a powerful experience. No matter how we have it, and it can be trite like a picture of the BL B, that's just illustrating, used to illustrated point. It can be very profound. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So tell me about the classroom. Tell me a little bit about how you create the environment where let me restate that. There's students there to learn, let's say project management or something about cybersecurity. How do you create an environment where people who are human beings do something different in that space? So they're learning about the subject matter. You're gonna test them. They're gonna have a grade they're gonna, right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but something else happens when someone says to you, your course changed my life. It wasn't about project management. <laugh> so tell me about the environment you create and what people bring into it with you. Speaker 2 00:32:20 Well, I think, I think the Socratic method is a big part of it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so, you know, when I'm grading an assignment, I can say, this is incorrect. This input is not used for this process. Like that kind of thing. But when we're in discussion, I'm very careful, especially in a social forum where the rest of the class is listening. I'm very careful to tell somebody they're wrong and say, oh, why do you say that? Where did you see that from? How does that relate to what we learned in such and such chapter? Gotcha. Speaker 2 00:32:49 So I'm helping them to get back to where things are and also helping them to think about it. Right. Unfortunately, I think that some of the, that creative mm-hmm, <affirmative> innovative thinking mm-hmm <affirmative> is, is getting missed in the classroom. I could tell you as a teacher, I often feel pressure around that even by the students. So the students hit some barrier something's in their way. And they, they kind of fold like a deck of cards. Like, I'm just like, I don't know how to do it. Yeah. I mean, I had a recent thing it had to do with an application they're using for, for, for project management. And, you know, I get it, there was a problem. Like they couldn't, they didn't have access to something they should have access to or whatever, but then they're just like their whole world fall Speaker 1 00:33:35 Partner. Right. Speaker 2 00:33:36 You're like, okay, let's get creative. First of all, if the assignment is on a project schedule, what I care about is that you can create a project schedule. I'm not so attached. Like you can use this software or that software, like, honestly, I want you to be able to use any software, you know? And so you Speaker 1 00:33:52 Could use a whiteboard and a pinch Speaker 2 00:33:54 E exactly. You could actually, you should write it on paper and <laugh> like, take a picture of it. And I'll grade that <laugh>, I mean, I, you might have some points off for like format or CLE clarity, but the reality is like, it just any, anything in the way. I mean, my program chair said this to me recently. He's like, he's like, oh my gosh. It's like any little thing. And then, and literally it's not just the student that gets outta courts. They actually, the whole university gets outta sorts and everybody's like, oh my God. Oh my God, what are we gonna do? What are we gonna do? It's just like, okay. So like stuff happens in life. Yeah. By the way, in fact, every day I go to my client site, even though remotely, but I start that, that job. Sure. Something different happens like, hello, like this is about, this is the world we live in. Speaker 2 00:34:40 Yeah. Like we have to be agile. We have to be adaptable. So fortunately this, this one class and, and honestly I've had it in other classes, but the one class, the student talked to me about this, it was, it was agile. And in agile we talk about a whole mindset. Right. And it's a shift in agile and it really is a shift. And I think the thing I didn't get to talk to her yet, we, we made an appointment and she missed it. It was a mistake. But anyway, we gotta, we gotta reschedule. But I think what, what, what clicked for her? If I, if I get her right. It was around failure. Right. And I think what shifted for her is that she she's a very diligent, smart, like throw anything at her. She's gonna make it right. Kind of person. And the conversation around failure and agile is that's failure is just information. Speaker 1 00:35:32 Oh, I see. I see. I see. She, she, that word meant something else to Speaker 2 00:35:36 Her. Yes. Speaker 1 00:35:37 Got so it was, it was like loaded with 70. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:35:40 And so, and by the way, same, same goes for skiing. If you wanna learn how to ski and you think you're gonna do that by never falling, you, you might possibly not fall, but I can guarantee you, you're not gonna get good unless you do fall. Right. Yeah. And you don't have to fall miserably and you don't have Speaker 1 00:35:56 To break into, you have to roll down the whole mountain. No, you just have to. No, no, Speaker 2 00:36:00 But like to think that you're gonna succeed at something without ever failing. And I, and, and this is a challenge I have. So, Speaker 1 00:36:08 So you create an environment. How do you create the environment? Where that's you make that safe? How, what do you tell people? Speaker 2 00:36:14 Well, first of all, in discussion, I never grade somebody down for saying something wrong. I only take off points for participation for, you know, if they interesting do research, they need to cite something. But you can't saying something wrong in discussion does not count against. Gotcha. Gotcha. And I don't know how other student, how other professors do it, but I just, it, that makes no sense to me. How, how can I grade somebody down in discussion? The whole point is you don't learn unless you talk about it and you don't learn something, unless you get something wrong. Same thing. When I teach certification classes, we'll do practice questions. Somebody will get something wrong and they'll be like, oh my gosh, that was so stupid to me. I go, you know what? That's great. I said, because the things you get wrong in this class, you will never get wrong again. Speaker 1 00:37:00 <laugh> if it shows up on the, and I tell Speaker 2 00:37:01 Them that because I'm powerful. And I know that if they're not creating their future, I can create it for them too. My words are powerful Lou. Right? Yeah. So if I tell students, yeah, if you get something wrong here, you'll never forget it. And you'll always get it right from now on. Then they say, oh, I think she's right. Speaker 1 00:37:19 Oh yeah. And they will, oh yeah. One of the chapters in Lisa Feldman, Barretts short book, seven and a half lessons about the brain. One of the chapter titles is, and now I gotta paraphrase. Cuz I blanked out something like your brain does not work alone. Mm. She talks about how at the level of our brains of our brain's structure and processing mm-hmm <affirmative> we influence each other at that level. Yeah. At that level. And that, that, that can be very positive. That can be very negative or detrimental. Right. In, in, in the environment you're creating, that's safe. People feel free, comfortable, relaxed, excited to explore, to discover whatever. Right. That's a different feeling, a different attitude. In what she's saying is your brain, you, you, you wire each other's brains to do that. And, and it's a positive or beneficial effect you could have on another, if you are in an environment where you're criticized publicly, you're called out. Like you said, I I'll write 'em down for not participating more than I grade 'em down for something Speaker 2 00:38:19 That's incorrect. Like, I mean, we're looking, you know, project management is pretty Speaker 1 00:38:23 Technical. The brains are do. Right, right, right. Speaker 2 00:38:25 You can say something wrong. Like, will we execute before we plan? Speaker 1 00:38:28 Exactly. Right. That's not Speaker 2 00:38:30 Right. But I mean, I'm not gonna say I've never seen that happen, but <laugh>, it's very poor project management. I wouldn't recommend that. Definitely. But I mean, there's, there's, there are, there are things that are right and wrong in project management. I, one of the reasons I like it is because I am an engineer, like I, I want to live in a world of things that are right and wrong. Yes. Yes. However, the being successful in the world is not about things that are right and wrong. It's a, it's actually about removing barriers that we create for ourselves. You know? Like, but there's something that we stop ourselves about. Speaker 1 00:39:03 Yes. Mentally Speaker 2 00:39:04 We we're verbally stopping ourselves. Yeah. Yeah. So it's like, you know, what do they say? Um, if you don't believe it could happen, then it certainly will not. Yeah. And if you do believe it will happen, there's a possibility. It will. In fact, if your words, your thoughts and your actions are consistent, your ability to, to manifest things, to create things for things to happen in your life is way better. Right. Then if then if you say, oh, I would never do that. I could never do that. I wish I could, but I'm just not BBA B BBA fill in the blank. Speaker 1 00:39:36 So these are the kinds of things that you discussed with students where you've, you've allowed conversation to open up to be about more of them inputs operations on the inputs outputs, right? The mechanics of project management, let's say, cuz when you're managing a project, you could use those tools. You could use those things as tools or devices, but you're still doing a human activity, you know? Yeah. There's still hopes and dreams and fears and there's all those things going on when, as you manage a project. So Speaker 2 00:40:05 Yep. Speaker 1 00:40:06 Yeah. You're talking about things that are just about being human interacting with people on teams, um, Speaker 2 00:40:14 Yeah. Being successful, having a successful project means that your team is, is performing well. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so you have to have team success to have project success Speaker 1 00:40:23 And not everything went the way, not everything went the way the pin box said it would go, but that's the point that the team recovered and corrected and Speaker 2 00:40:31 Yeah. And, and really fundamentally, um, success really comes down to people. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, you wanna have the right tools. I mean, if you wanna get a nail on the wall, Hammer's much better than a screwdriver mm-hmm <affirmative> right. So you wanna have the right tools to do the things, but the end of the day, it really does come down to people and I'm finding more and more trust is a big factor. Speaker 1 00:40:52 Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:40:52 Um, especially in remote, remote working. So I do have established trust relationships with people I've never physically met and I may never meet and it's possible. Yeah. Um, but it's possible through intention and you certainly, I, I believe that I can establish trust with somebody quicker in a virtual scenario because I'm very aware that it's important. It, it is organic. Like you will establish trust for people, you know, even, you know, your dog, you got a dog. Yeah. I've got dog. Right. So dog relationships are it's about trust. Right. And they don't have to talk. I mean, there's lots of ways to establish trust. I would say it's easier probably to establish trust with a dog that you're co-located with than a human being that you're remotely located with. Right, right, right. Um, but I'm very clear of that now. And one of the things that I think makes me an effective project manager and actually effective instructor is establishing trust. Speaker 2 00:41:55 And it is definitely more difficult when you're asynchronous and virtual. So like a lot of my classes are asynchronous and virtual, but we do have synchronous touchpoints mm-hmm <affirmative> so we do have points where we meet together with the class or there are conversations like the other morning, I had a conversation with the student who was very upset about, about the course mm-hmm <affirmative> about the content in the course, the explanation, the assignments, and like all these things and, and probably not shocking was a person who always gets A's and wants to get A's mm-hmm <affirmative> so guess what guess what he doesn't wanna do is fail. Right. And failure in his mind, isn't an F is probably like a B plus. Right, right, right. And so he's dealing with that. And so I listen from that perspective, I actually, when somebody critiques the course content, some of the courses I teach, I am actually not responsible for the course content. Speaker 1 00:42:50 Oh, interesting. Okay. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:42:51 I find it easier to hear that criticism cuz I, it, I don't take it personally. Now what would be really awesome is if somebody was criticizing something I did create and I still didn't take it personally, cuz guess what? In neither case, is it personal and in neither case, is it helpful for me to be defensive about it? In fact, the, the entire opposite, the moment I am on defense, I stop listening. I shut down. Yeah. Yeah. I have fear. I'm not learning. I'm not innovating and I'm not connecting with the person on the other side, you know, a lot of people are, I'm not gonna call my professor. Yeah. But I will tell you when they do call me, I try to make sure that I create a space of openness and conversation. You know? I mean the best way to make the best way to take anger away from somebody is make them right. I'm angry. The course is broken. Yeah. Me too. Right. <laugh> what are we gonna do about it? Yeah. What can I do to help you? You know what I can do? I can post announcements. I can give you extra information. You can ask me questions in the ask instructor. So I, you know, there's, these are the things we can do, but I can't do can't Speaker 1 00:44:03 The right and edit it. I like that. Speaker 2 00:44:05 Like, we'll lose our accreditation, but here's the things we can do. Yeah. And you're right. It, it shouldn't be. Yeah. I agree with you. Yeah. It shouldn't be, oh that you make a good point. Speaker 1 00:44:14 I like that. I do that a lot too. And I like, so when I key on words, if someone says, I don't, I'm mad that the course is broken. I would say, Tommy, what you mean more about broken? What's broken. How's it broken? If someone uses a word, I take it as a cue that has more meaning behind it. And I just wanna know, tell me more. And then sometimes you can do that in levels. Yeah. But I like that because you get more information and eventually you get the picture. I like to try to understand some, I would like to try to understand what you understand, the way you understand it. I don't have to agree yet. We couldn't. Yeah. That's a different part we can work on. Yeah. But to start if we're colleagues on a project or if we're, if we're partners in light, I wanna understand something the way you understand it. Speaker 1 00:44:59 Because one of the things that's also true behind truism behind the kinds of things you aren't talking about is we all have a perspective and it's not ever complete. We see some things in a situation, but not other things. We, we size them up or make something other in a certain way, but not other ways. It's just human nature. So to share that and to get a different perspective on it is again, to possibly get more information that I can incorporate into my mind, my schema or not. But at least I'd like to, to know. Did you ever look, I wanna ask you this quick. Did you ever look at the speed of trust by Steven Mr. Covey? This, I think he's the son of Covey. Speaker 2 00:45:39 Yes. That's a great book. I use that in one of my courses. It's Speaker 1 00:45:42 A great book Speaker 2 00:45:43 Teaching right now on virtual teams. Speaker 1 00:45:46 You mentioned trust being so important. And I, I thought of that book. Speaker 2 00:45:49 Yeah. It there's actually, there's a YouTube video. So if anyone listening wants to look up it's um, Steven Covey and it's the waves of trust. Yeah. And the beginning of the video, he talks about like a hot dog, um, a hot dog stand person in New York city. And I, I love that cuz I'm I'm from New York, Speaker 1 00:46:05 I' go check that out Speaker 2 00:46:06 The city. But, but he, but he, he talks about allowing people to make their own change. Yeah. And he's able to actually be more productive and get more hot dogs out at lunch, which if you've ever been at, at lunch in New York city, it can get busy even on the hotdog stand line. That's interesting. Speaker 1 00:46:22 I go check that out. Speaker 2 00:46:23 He found that there, there might have been a few people that cheated him, but by much more degree. Yeah. Most people actually gave him a bigger tip. He ended up with more money. Oh. And they loved the fact that he trusted them and more people showed up at his hotdog stand and he sold more hotdogs. Like it was interest like a win, win, win. And so the interesting thing is I think he says, this trust starts with me. Speaker 1 00:46:48 Yeah. Speaker 2 00:46:48 Right. We haven't like trust starts with you, but that, that doesn't really work. Yeah. It only works if it starts with me that love it, Speaker 1 00:46:56 Susan, thank you for joining our podcast today. Speaker 2 00:46:58 Oh, thank you. It was great conversation. Speaker 1 00:47:00 I enjoyed our discussion like I did when we were doing our prep call. There's a lot of interesting things that work related, personal related and, and how we, how you brought them together. Thanks. I really appreciate the insights and the great ideas. Speaker 2 00:47:13 And you gave me a great aha moment about recording myself on video. Please Speaker 1 00:47:17 Tell me how it goes. Like when you next time you're filming yourself. And if you get your shift, your, your mind into that different place, I'd like, I'd love to know how it goes. Speaker 2 00:47:25 So it, so I think we showed people that that aha moments can get created when we're engaging in conversation. Mm-hmm <affirmative> with no expectations. <laugh> no worries of failure, no fear and anxiety. And that's that's when we can, there you go. Have those moments, right? Speaker 1 00:47:46 That's the environment you try to create. Speaker 2 00:47:48 Mm-hmm <affirmative> you can actually create that environment. Even if the other person doesn't want you to create that environment. Speaker 1 00:47:53 That's a good point Speaker 2 00:47:54 And was a really powerful thing. So think about that. Like how much, how much you, you create that conversation. You create the space for the conversation. Speaker 1 00:48:02 Thanks Susan. Thank Speaker 2 00:48:04 You, Lou. This was a really great conversation. Speaker 1 00:48:06 I loved it. I have a good day. Speaker 2 00:48:08 You Speaker 1 00:48:08 Too. Bye-bye bye. And that's how we see it. My friends, I wanna thank Susan for recording today's episode. You can find it at, I see what you mean. Dot cast.com. Plus all the usual places, send questions and suggestions through an app. Subscribe and give me a five star rating unless you can, in which case, tell me why enjoy me next week. When we take another look at how to get on the same page and stay there. Um, unless we shouldn't.

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