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 Cal Tani. Cal's a federal government consulting colleague. Who's mentored a lot in his career, which we're gonna discuss today. K, welcome to the show.
Speaker 2 00:00:21 Thanks Lou, appreciate, uh, being on the podcast I've, uh, listened to several of them. Lot of friends have participated, so I really appreciate the
Speaker 1 00:00:28 Opportunity. Thank you, sir. I'm looking forward to our conversation. Why don't we start with a short bio about yourself?
Speaker 2 00:00:34 Sure. So Cal Shani I've, uh, I was a Navy submariner many moons ago and uh, served for seven years active duty. And once I got out, um, I've really been in a federal technology contracting community ever since mm-hmm <affirmative>, as you mentioned, mostly consulting systems integration mm-hmm <affirmative> is the primary primary expertise, and I've had all sorts of roles, primarily BD oriented capture, but I've, I've had operations, I've run a, a 300 person organization, uh, for one of the large integrators. And I have worked both large and small businesses. And then throughout my career, I've been involved in various parts of M and a, whether we're, um, being part of due diligence, acquirer company. I, I have been in a company that was acquired mm-hmm <affirmative>, but mostly on the acquisition side and helping to due diligence, but more importantly from my, uh, perspective and also perspective getting on the same page, right as, uh, the, uh, acquisition integration, making sure that stuff works. You had mentioned mentoring. I've had a great opportunity to mentor quite a bit in my career. And some of it's been more formal mentoring I'm uh, both of you and I are part of this organization at DIAC and they have this great professional development program called partners. And I was a partner back in 2003. And after that we created a mentor protege program for folks who were more on the entry side, only about five to 10 years in the, in, in the industry, both government and
Speaker 1 00:02:10 Industry. Right.
Speaker 2 00:02:11 We started that program in 2005 and I've, uh, been fortunate to be able to be a mentor almost every year, since it started in
Speaker 1 00:02:20 2015. That's a great run. 2000.
Speaker 2 00:02:22 Yeah. It's, it's been, it's been great and I I've had lots of fun doing it. And I had met lots of incredible people. Yes. And as, as most people who are in a met at protege relationship, the mentor probably learns as much <laugh> so it's, it's been really, really great.
Speaker 1 00:02:37 The, the, um, M and a experience you have is very interesting and let's work our way toward that, but let's start with the mentor. Sure. The mentor, uh, experience you have, let's say first, a word about act IAC. That's a hyphenated title
Speaker 2 00:02:50 For yeah. American council for technology, which is the government side and industry
Speaker 1 00:02:55 Alliance. Yeah. Industry advisory advisory
Speaker 2 00:02:57 Council.
Speaker 1 00:02:58 Right. I was gonna say for our listeners who didn't know, it's a, it's a fabulous organization. It's a really two organizations, one on the government side, one on the contractor's side. Mm-hmm <affirmative> who unite in a, it's a non-profit, it's a, not-for-profit in a, in a, in a way to change information, build relationships to sort of bridge that divide between government and industry at mm-hmm. <affirmative> nothing, nothing political. I mean, I think we should say, this is not about any kind of DNR politics. This is about, I think the issues that act DIAC works on, we could say are, are more operation the strategic and operational for organizations. Mm-hmm
Speaker 2 00:03:34 <affirmative> yes, that is true. And it's also to really understand kind of what the other side, right. How, how they do things, what they're trying to achieve. Right. And by having that open dialogue in a, uh, safe space, if you will, you, you can actually get a lot yeah. Uh, going more, more forward, you know, getting on the same page.
Speaker 1 00:03:55 Yeah. That's right. That's right.
Speaker 2 00:03:56 Right.
Speaker 1 00:03:57 And they have, they have, they do quite a bit to develop professionals at a couple different levels of career.
Speaker 2 00:04:03 Yes.
Speaker 1 00:04:04 Yes.
Speaker 2 00:04:04 And yeah. So there are, it started with the partner program, which I mentioned, which is really focused at the GS 14, 15 level and rough industry equivalence. So mm-hmm <affirmative> VP or above. And we would spend a year in a group of anywhere from 20 to 30. Sometimes it got larger, but that, that was the ideal group. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and we, and each equal parts, government and industry. And so you were, you worked as that larger group and, and got some leadership development kinds of training, but then also pair it up with one government in, or, you know, as an industry guy, I will pair up with one individual from the government. Right. And got to learn a little bit more about what they do, how they, how they work, that sort of thing.
Speaker 1 00:04:51 Yeah,
Speaker 2 00:04:52 Yeah, yeah. And then the other, and since then they started the Voyager program, which I said was for that five to 10 year in industry that, that individual, so a little more junior. Right. And then since then they've started an associates program, which really is for the entry level that says, you know, here are some up and comers who've only been in industry or government for a couple years. Let's get them, uh, access and exposure to these leadership development ideas. But also just the interaction of how government and industry can actually work together instead of just being on opposite sides of the fence.
Speaker 1 00:05:26 It's it's great. It's great. It's, it's, it's excellent networking in the best sense of the term.
Speaker 2 00:05:32 Oh, it, it truly is. It truly is. And, and we've because of that, you know, lots of friends who are, or have been government senior that's right. Servants that's that's right. And, and we've had the first several Voyagers programs. We had more Voyagers who started an industry and then moved to, to government mm-hmm <affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative> as kind of, as part of this program, they're like, oh, wow, this is really cool. I think I'm gonna go work on the other side. So it's, it's been great.
Speaker 1 00:05:59 So they do some working groups, they call 'em different things over time. Yes. But some work and, and a joint between government industry. Yes. They're, they're they're staffed or they're populated by government industry members. I was on acquisition there's cyber security. Right. They have different work groups that do information sharing about the topic, perhaps hold, um, sessions that, you know, open invitation to the whole entire, you know, community, maybe write reports there there's some, there's some, um, good thinking that goes on across the line between government industry. When there's, we're we're not talking about it, a solicitation or a proposal going on. Right. It's just good information exchange to UN, like you said, understand how the other side sees things. I mean, this is what right. Exactly. Getting on the same page. What do you see? What do you make of what you see? Right. We have those conversations across a, a line like that. That's a very big and important line between government industry, but they collaborate to get things done. So greater understanding produces greater results.
Speaker 2 00:06:58 One of the, if, if I may, one of the workshops that we've run on and off through partners, and then Voyager is kind of a role swapping where there there's a, a couple of us, you know, as an industry person, I'm supposed to wear a government contracting officers, hat, or a Cottar's hat, you know, and my government kind part does the other thing. And you're coming in for that initial fact finding session. And so my, my job that I was told by my boss is to get them interested in bidding, but tell them as little as I can <laugh>. And of course this government person, who's now acting as an industry person has to say, Hey, I'm just trying to find out as much as I can. And also kind of pitch my company. And you, you go through that. And at the end of it, both sides of us go, oh my gosh, that was hard.
Speaker 1 00:07:45 Yeah. Yeah. It's mind bending.
Speaker 2 00:07:46 Yeah. Yeah. It's incredible. So
Speaker 1 00:07:48 That's brilliant,
Speaker 2 00:07:49 You know, and that, that is one of the workshops where people go, oh, wow. I really, really get it.
Speaker 1 00:07:54 That's a, I'm glad you mentioned that. I actually was not aware of that Cal and I, I, I'm glad you mentioned it. That's a fantastic example of shifting the frame or a perspective mm-hmm, <affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative> and you take on that role, even if it's, you know, it's an exercise. Right. But when you put your head in there, you're using your brain to go, okay. I have a, a little mission right now in this meeting. Right. What do, how do I do this? Right, right. And then you realize that you come to understand what you didn't know about how the other side operated, maybe assumptions you made about how the other side operated. Absolutely. Yeah. That's, that's fantastic.
Speaker 2 00:08:31 Yeah. Yeah. It's, uh, it's, it's been a lot of fun. It's a great program. I've, I've just had, uh, really enjoyed being able to participate and gotten a lot out of it myself.
Speaker 1 00:08:40 Well, let's, let's talk about that then, in terms of the mentor protege roles, activities that you, you know, the, the mm-hmm <affirmative> the relationship you have and the things that a, a mentor and a, and a protege do together, the, the term is used often to refer to perhaps a relatively informal relationship. Yes. But you're also, you've also had experience where it was more formal. Yes. Tell me, I mean, it raises some really interesting questions about what it means to get on the same page. How do we get on the same page? What do we do if we can't mm-hmm <affirmative> get on the same page. Right. Right. Right. So tell me what, tell me something about the same page that mentors and proteges get on.
Speaker 2 00:09:19 Yeah. So from my perspective, I think that part of the mentor's job is to get on the page to understand what the protege is, is trying to deal with. Mm-hmm <affirmative> if I'm, uh, working with someone and whether it's career development, or they come and say, Hey, Cal, here, here's a current, I'm working this project. And I'm really having a tough time getting through to X, Y, or Z mm-hmm <affirmative>. If, if I jump in and say, well, Hey, I've been through this before. So let me tell you young child how to, how to get this done. You're not gonna get anywhere. Right. And so it's a series of asking lots of questions. You can give some advice, but, but I find asking questions, one, to understand where they are to get their ideas of how they might be able to move forward. Then you could give some, well, yes, I've tried that way. Here are a couple results when I try it. Right. Right. The first way you mentioned plan B, here's a couple things. So how, how's the best way for you to work through it? And so I, I really do try to get on, on their page because if I just come in, you know, coming from the mountain top with my two tablets, it, it doesn't, it's not gonna get me anywhere.
Speaker 1 00:10:32 <laugh>. So this, this is like the, uh, workshop. You mentioned where the government industry participants switch roles. What you're saying is the first thing you attempt to do is understand what the protege is, understanding the way they understand it.
Speaker 2 00:10:49 Yes. Yeah. What, what are your challenges? What have you tried? What works? What doesn't, what, what are you trying to achieve? What are the downsides? If you don't achieve it, all of that, to let them talk through it.
Speaker 1 00:11:01 This is interesting. Let me ask you may, I wanna get to a real specific point. It's because you and I are in our sixties. Right? Right. And we have one of the things about a mentor is that they there's a probability of having been through something that the mentee project is going through. So it would be easy to understand what they're telling you and have had that experience one or more times and know exactly what mm-hmm they should consider. Maybe what they try is their business. Right. But you might know exactly what they could, what they should consider. You could interact with them in a way that's like, they're Googling you. Right. They're hitting you. Hey, Cal, here's the situation. What do I do? And you have an answer. You spit an answer out, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> or you, or yes.
Speaker 2 00:11:41 Right.
Speaker 1 00:11:42 But here's what I want to get at. I'm guessing. And I want you to tell me how this works. I'm guessing that produces a certain kind of conversation
Speaker 2 00:11:49 Mm-hmm
Speaker 1 00:11:50 <affirmative> compared to separate from, or, or I wanna contrast if you resist the temptation to, to advise,
Speaker 2 00:11:57 To give an answer. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:11:58 Yes. If you resist the temptation to give an answer and you spend a little bit more time, as you said, asking questions, or your intent is to understand the situation they're in the way they understand it. You're putting yourself in a different mind set or mind frame by doing that. And my guess is that change is the conversation.
Speaker 2 00:12:16 Yes. I, I totally agree.
Speaker 1 00:12:18 Tell me how it's different and then how it goes.
Speaker 2 00:12:21 Yeah. If, if someone comes to me and says, Cal, here's my challenge, I've done X and Y it's not working. What do you think? And I say, oh yeah, been there, done that. Here's here's what happened to me and what I did and why is why it was successful. That's that's a point in time. And they, they say, okay, thanks. And they go try it. And maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> if you ask lots of questions to see what they've already tried and then offer up, well, what happens if you try X, what are the pluses and minuses? What happens if you try Y pluses and minuses? What happens if you try Z? You know, what's the teach the person to fish, instead of giving them a fish, if you can walk them through that process, then they, then they know next time, you know, same thing, you know, whether it's formal mentoring, like I was able to do with act IAC or the informal mentoring.
Speaker 2 00:13:19 You're, you're the leader of a team. And you have some folks coming to you, right. If you always give them the answer, then they'll just come back and ask for the answer. <laugh>. And if you actually let them work through the thought process and, and think of all the things that you would think of, and then they come to you and say, okay, okay, coach here, here's the deal. I've run into an obstacle. And here's the three things I'm considering the pluses and minus right? Going this way. What do you think? You know, then, then that's, that's what you want. You want them to be able to come up with those kind of ideas too.
Speaker 1 00:13:51 There's a difference that I heard you say that I think is very important. And I wanna highlight it. Let's say some protege of talking to you that they need some help. Let's say that there's a immediate or urgent or sort of primary need. They, they, they are in a situation they have, there's a there's, there's something they need to figure out to do.
Speaker 2 00:14:09 Mm-hmm <affirmative>
Speaker 1 00:14:10 And the easy thing would be to sort of cut to the chase, cut to that part of the conversation, come up with that. But what you said is different is important is if you help someone figure out their own way of thinking yes. Of, of processing. If you ask a lot of questions and help them explore, that's a skill they can take to the next situation.
Speaker 2 00:14:34 Exactly. Yes.
Speaker 1 00:14:35 Because some other situation is gonna be a different situation with a different, a different challenge and a different answer. If you're always looking for the answer, you'd always be asking somebody, what do I do in a different situation? Right. Right. If you learn, like you said, if you learn for yourself, what works the best for you, you to sort all these things out, to work through it, to process, to weigh options, to try things. If you learn how to do that, you can always do that at any situation any time. So you're the, the difference in the conversation is one, you get 'em the answer, or you move more directly to answering the question the way you describe you do it is teaching them how to think through it.
Speaker 2 00:15:11 Yes. And, and to your point, you don't necessarily have to understand everything about that person's business. Right. Which is also true. You need to be careful on things like that too. Right. Is, you know, don't, don't give answers in an area. That's not necessarily your, your area of expertise, but you can always ask lots of really good questions that help someone kind of, kind of get to their own
Speaker 1 00:15:35 Answers. Yes. Yes. I like that. So you answered my question about the page to get on by saying the mentor has a responsibility to try to get on the mentees page. Mm-hmm
Speaker 2 00:15:46 <affirmative>
Speaker 1 00:15:46 Mm-hmm <affirmative> right. Yes. And that's a, that's a, a means to an end, you're trying to understand from their point of view yes. To do what we just described to help them think it through, maybe there isn't even a single answer that emerges out of that conversation, right. A decision. Correct. But they're, but they maybe extended or, or deepened how they've, how they're thinking about something. They can keep mulling that over after the call and, and they can, they can come to their own decision, you know, when they're ready, you get on the same, you sort of get on their page to help them do that. Now that's interesting because there isn't really a same page going on in there is there does it doesn't have to be, I'm just curious, you know, I like, my whole thing is getting on the same page, but I don't know if there really is one there.
Speaker 2 00:16:32 Yeah. When, when you and I first started talking, you know, gearing up to this conversation, I, I kind of mold through, is there a same page? <laugh> and, and from a mentor protege perspective, my belief is you're trying to get on their page, but through this relationship, you end up, you know, finding a similar page. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that's neither the yours nor theirs. Um, so you, you get to that same language after they've heard me ask my questions and never give an answer, however many times <laugh> they, they start to get like, okay, he's, he's not gonna gimme the answer, but he's gonna ask me lots of great questions. And
Speaker 1 00:17:14 So they, so they shift their minds
Speaker 2 00:17:16 A little bit. Yeah. So, so they, they shift a little bit too. Yeah. So I'm not, I, I don't impose my page if you will, right. On them. But after good point, good point. After a year of working together, you definitely know each other. And, and the amazing thing about the act IAC men protege program, as you end up knowing some of those folks better than, you know, some of your own people on your team. <laugh>. And so, and that that's the funny thing is when I started doing, um, the, um, voer men protege, I was at, uh, a large systems integrator, um, and had a group of 300, some people, right. Which to tie later on, had some original company people and several acquisitions. Right. And I looked in the mirror and said, why am I not doing this?
Speaker 1 00:18:06 So with my own people,
Speaker 2 00:18:08 And I had the great fortune to have a couple people who were really passionate about getting this kind of program going and said, Hey folks, what do you think? And, and it just launched and ended up the company actually adopted it sort of for a company wide thing that it started off just in my, my little corner. But yeah, it was, it was very much, Hey, you know, eat your own dog food, or, Hey, you're creating this great stuff over here. Why aren't you using it for
Speaker 1 00:18:34 Yourself? Let's come back to that because it's got some very proj program within an organization has some important HR implications, but let's, it does let's come
Speaker 2 00:18:43 Back to that. Yes, it
Speaker 1 00:18:43 Does. Let's come back. I wanna just, I wanna, I wanna highlight what we can wrap up what we were talking about. I wanna highlight what you said, which is, let's say Lou and Cal first call men protege relationship. You, I have a own page. You have an own page.
Speaker 2 00:18:58 Yep.
Speaker 1 00:18:59 Your effort is to try to understand my page.
Speaker 2 00:19:03 Mm-hmm <affirmative>.
Speaker 1 00:19:05 But as you said over time of working together, I come to understand yours, something about yours. I come to understand how your mind operates. I come to understand how you're gonna interact with me. So over time, I, what you said, my interpretation of what you said was we do build something of a, a same page from the two own pages. It's a cert, it's a third thing. It's not it's separate. Yes.
Speaker 2 00:19:28 Yeah, yeah. It's uh, the, in between page. That's
Speaker 1 00:19:31 Cool. <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:19:32 Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Speaker 1 00:19:34 That's great. I love it. I love it. Yeah. What occurred to me while you were describing how over time, like you said, a year into relationship, something happens in that time though. That's about trust.
Speaker 2 00:19:47 Oh, absolutely.
Speaker 1 00:19:48 Yes. Right? So there's, there's a lot of trust built in. If I'm the protege I come to trust you. I never, I never thought about it until we're talking about it now. Kel though, I wonder if, do you both come to trust in that third thing? Feel like, Hey, you know, we've created something we can stand on. We can lean on. We can, is that a thing or not?
Speaker 2 00:20:09 No. Yes. So before I lose the train of thought, good for the act DIAC meta protege program, we actually talk about that code of silence or code of trust that coming into the relationship, I, as a mentor will not talk about what I've talked about with, with that's right. The protege that's right. Unless I get their explicit permission to your point of a company mentor protege program, we can't always do that. There are some, you know, HR sure. Serious issues where we say, I'm sorry, I have to take off my mentor role. If you aren't going to report this, then it's my responsibility to report it. Right. Certain
Speaker 1 00:20:52 Circumstances where that's, where you're going. Right. Right. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:20:55 And onto the, um, you know, that, that shared page, you definitely do develop a sense of trust through that mentor protege relationship. And it continue, it, it extends, I mean, I I've had folks that, that I first met in 2005 mm-hmm <affirmative> who've who've called me up and said, Hey, how's it going? Or mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, folks somewhere in that pipeline say, Hey, I just, I'm getting ready to take on a new job in my company. Or I'm looking at this new job, you know, what are some of your thoughts and what are the pluses and minuses and what would you look out for? You know? So still, still have a lot of that, which is one thing that I, I love about the program. Yeah. Because at that
Speaker 1 00:21:38 Point it's just really a, it's a, it's a, more of a relationship of equals at that point.
Speaker 2 00:21:43 Yes, absolutely. Yes. Um, a lot of these folks are now chief growth officers. Some have started their own company. Yes. Yeah. Their SES is in the government. They've definitely, they've just taken off and it's just so much fun to see and to see how they use some of what they learned in that meta protege program and definitely advanced the ball a lot faster and better than, than I could have.
Speaker 1 00:22:05 Well, then here's a question, there's a phrase that came to mind as you were talking and pay it forward. Have you seen people become mentors in the more formal way? Or do you, have you seen people just adopt the, sort of the practices and the approach that they learned in the role with you and then maybe they take that on as a way of their interacting more with their staff or their team or their colleagues.
Speaker 2 00:22:27 Yeah. I've, I've absolutely seen that. And I won't, I won't claim any, Hey, it's cause of discussions we had, but I I've definitely seen people that I met early in their career who have adopted, who have, who have become leaders in the act DIAC matter protege program who developed their own teams as they grow either their business or their mm-hmm <affirmative> their government side of the business. Mm-hmm <affirmative> right. And you, you definitely see a lot of these leaders, you know, take what they learned and apply it and amp it up and do, do even more. And that's, that's what makes it so much fun is to, to see how, how people can, can take what you're trying to impart and do even better
Speaker 1 00:23:10 With it. Well, it seems if they had a positive experience with it, which is what we're talking about. Yes. That they want to have that with others. They want others to have that.
Speaker 2 00:23:20 Yes, absolutely.
Speaker 1 00:23:21 And whether, like you said, these are folks who be who've come into leadership positions, whether or not they establish a program. Mm-hmm <affirmative> you could just take the ways that you learned talk to, to think, to interact with someone mm-hmm <affirmative> you could take those and just practice them yes. In your next staff meeting. Right. In the next team meeting. Right. In that conversation. I, I love conversations like that because there's often an aha moment. Someone has like, oh man, mm-hmm <affirmative> Cal asked me that question. I hadn't thought of it that way. Right. Sometimes something occurs to you immediately. Sometimes you just realize, Ooh, I gotta think about this because I don't know what I think, but I hadn't thought about it that way. So now I'm going to right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. So people can just adopt those practices and use them independent of minute protege program. Sure. And you're making for better conversations with people.
Speaker 2 00:24:13 Absolutely. Do it. Do it in your staff meeting, do it in a one-on-one when someone comes to you with a problem and you just ask a lot of questions instead of saying, oh, kind of the answer
Speaker 1 00:24:21 Now, how did you avoid the feeling on their part of being asked? A lot of questions feels like an interrogation or feels like a, well, how, how was it more conversational than just a barrage of questions?
Speaker 2 00:24:35 Yeah. That's, that's a great question. I, I don't remember someone, you know, pushing back and saying, oh, you're, you're just interrogating me. <laugh> actually the one, the one person it's, you know, my, my adult daughter is she's made decisions in her career. All I do is ask her questions, like, come on, dad, what do you think? It's like, it doesn't matter what I think you're the one making the decision <laugh> but yeah. I, I haven't. Yeah. It's like, Hey, stop asking me questions. I wanna let's. Let's get to, let's get to the meat of it. So yeah, that there's,
Speaker 1 00:25:08 Well, I know you, my line. I wouldn't have, I, I know you, and I wouldn't think an interaction with you in which you were asking, a lot of questions would feel awkward or, you know, feel like, I don't think you would do it that way.
Speaker 2 00:25:19 It's conversation. Yep.
Speaker 1 00:25:21 Yeah. Cause what I'm wondering is if some, for listeners, like what, what, what I'm thinking, what someone could take away from what we're saying. Right. So you don't want to just quote unquote, ask a lot of questions that isn't very conversational. It's almost, it could almost be offput it could almost be.
Speaker 2 00:25:35 Yeah. Yeah. You do have to offer, you know, as you're asking questions, have, you know, when I found this,
Speaker 1 00:25:43 You shared something.
Speaker 2 00:25:44 I, I tried X, have you considered something like that? Right. Right. If they say either yes or no, you say, well, here's, here's some of the pluses and minuses when I went down that path. So you, you also share, right? It's it's not just asking lots of questions, right?
Speaker 1 00:25:58 Yeah. One of the things that I think we might've talked about, this, one of the things I'm working on for coaching is a method that, that looks at focuses on for questions or for aspects of a situation. What does someone see in a situation? Right?
Speaker 2 00:26:13 Mm-hmm <affirmative>,
Speaker 1 00:26:13 Mm-hmm <affirmative> what do they make of what they see mm-hmm <affirmative> what would they do about what they see to what end? So I I'm I'm working on this because I find if I understand that sometimes I gotta understand about my, my own thinking. Right? If I understand that about you, if I understand that about in a personal relationship alone, a business mm-hmm <affirmative> anywhere. If I understand what you see in a situation, what you make of it, what you would do and why like to what end? I have a much clearer picture in my mind of understanding what you understand, the way you understand it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I might, it might not be complete, but the attempt, just to, to understand. Sure. And I don't have to agree, but I, right. But, but, but to your very first original, the original point, one of the first things you've said is I want to know what these experiences is like for somebody else. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I could help them better if I know what they're going through. Not because I've been through it. And so therefore I have greater knowledge and I can just like, come in, like the Oracle, not the Greek order, not the
Speaker 2 00:27:15 Company. <laugh>
Speaker 1 00:27:15 Right. Thank you. But to understand the way they, and here's what I find, and this is why I asked you the question I asked you. If I understand, if I ask those questions and understand something, the way you understand it, it gives me a different, a much better place for an interact, a conversation with you,
Speaker 2 00:27:33 Right? Yes, absolutely.
Speaker 1 00:27:34 It doesn't feel so much like outside in, I kind of get inside out. And then, and sometimes you make that person you're talking to rethink those things too. Like, well, I, I, I know what I saw and I made something of it one way, but, but you're right. There could be a different way to think about what happened. Mm-hmm <affirmative> a different way to think about what someone said or a different way to think about the tone of VO. Right? You can just rethink, right?
Speaker 2 00:27:57 Yes.
Speaker 1 00:27:58 So it opens up some possibilities, I think, are, are, are productive. Having heard me say those things, what do you see? What do you make of it? What do you, what would you do? Why, I suppose you would say that a lot of your conversation sort of hovered around those things, even if you weren't asking those exact questions.
Speaker 2 00:28:14 Yeah. It, they, they weren't those exact questions, but they, they very much
Speaker 1 00:28:19 Were getting so well at those kinds of, of kind
Speaker 2 00:28:21 Kind of, what you're trying to do is, is it's making a decision, lots of parts involved. And so if you don't understand all the aspects, you mentioned, you don't have the full, the full picture. Right.
Speaker 1 00:28:35 And of course I'm working on this as much for really not at all for a mentor pleasure relationship, I'm working on it for leaders and teams. Yes. Right. So really important in team conversation, let's say a, team's facing some situation with a client or project management budget, you know, schedule mm-hmm <affirmative> right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and you, and I know people want a team because of different training, different areas of expertise, different responsibilities on the team. Mm-hmm,
Speaker 2 00:29:04 <affirmative>, mm-hmm, <affirmative>
Speaker 1 00:29:04 Different Myers Briggs type. What different role in the company do? Lots of reasons. You see something a certain way.
Speaker 2 00:29:12 Mm-hmm
Speaker 1 00:29:12 <affirmative>. So to exchange information with each other about what someone sees, why they, what they make of it, what they would do and why they would do that thing, at least let's others on the team say, all right, you know, cows in charge of the budget. I wasn't thinking about that kind of thing at all. Right. Right now I see what he is facing or now I see what he means.
Speaker 2 00:29:34 And your last question to what end could actually be answered differently by different parts of the team. Right. Very much so. So the PM versus the finance person versus an engineer
Speaker 1 00:29:44 Very much so. Yep. And then to understand what the end is, is to open up some possibilities about means, well, how about, how about, what if you couldn't get on the same page with someone Cal you're a mentor, or you have a mentor mentor, protege relationship. What if you couldn't get on the same page with them?
Speaker 2 00:30:02 Yeah. And that unfortunately did happen a couple times where, you know, that person just got overcome by life and work and whatever, and just didn't come to the table. You know, we try to have a monthly call and get together face to face however often. And, um, there, there have been times during that program that it, it just didn't happen. And you try, but you can't force the better protege relationship. And so you offer things when you, when you can. And sometimes if, you know, there are going off, you know, they're just buried in a proposal or some deliverable, or something's happening on the family side, you offer up some things every so often just to say, Hey, I just read across this article, thought it might be interesting. Or I was just talking to Sue, who works in programs around you. And, and she had these interesting ideas. So you can try. And even if, but you can't force
Speaker 1 00:31:03 It. Nope. And even if the chemistry's just not good, do you just, do you acknowledge it and just part amicably what we don't always get on the same page with people? What, what happens?
Speaker 2 00:31:12 Yes. Um, so part of what I try to do is either whether it's a relationship that's going great, or one that, you know, isn't going as great as, as I personally would like is I don't have the answers to everything. And sometimes, you know, that individual is really looking for expertise or experience in an area that really isn't mine. Sure. So I'll say I'm really not able, I can ask some good questions and maybe help you sort through it, but here's a couple of other folks you might wanna talk to that, that could give you some good ideas and I'll make the introduction and they can take
Speaker 1 00:31:49 It from there. So you acknowledge a limit or a boundary that you saw. Yes.
Speaker 2 00:31:52 Yeah. Yes. Yep.
Speaker 1 00:31:54 That's fair. That's I think respectful. Uh, yes. I think it, it doesn't, it doesn't harm the relationship. It's respecting the, the person it's effective. I mean, that's, that's a great, that's a great piece of advice.
Speaker 2 00:32:06 Mm-hmm, <affirmative>,
Speaker 1 00:32:07 Let's shift to the, uh, MNAs by which we mean merger and acquisition. Right. And they are very unique events. <laugh> yes, they are. Companies can do it can grow that way. They can do a lot of it. That doesn't mean that a lot of consultants are involved in it. And you were kind of yes. Up close and, and personal, right?
Speaker 2 00:32:28 Yes. Yes.
Speaker 1 00:32:29 What were the roles you played in, in M and a or two?
Speaker 2 00:32:32 Yeah. So ver variety of roles. In the beginning, it was CEOs looking to acquire a company, come in you're you're our BD expert in, in this particular field, look at this company and help make a determination. Are they a value add? Can, can we make one plus one equal something more than two mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> you know, so coming in just on the due diligence side to say, Hey, with this company's capabilities, customer footprint contract vehicles can, can, our, our two combined companies grow faster than what we're doing together. So, so that was my first introduction into, okay. The M and a process. And then, uh, one of those first companies actually was acquired. And then I was asked, alright, help from a business development perspective to integrate their BD with R B D and start looking at those targets. She told us that we could chase go start chasing and be careful, be careful what you, but be careful what you talk about. And so that, that was the beginning. And, and I was able to participate in several of those, through several companies. And then when I was at C ACI, did that with an acquisition. And then the leader of the acquired company said, you know what, it's time for me to go, go do something else. And the general manager said, okay, call you helped
Speaker 1 00:34:05 Acquire this company.
Speaker 2 00:34:06 Yeah. Yeah. I helped you now it's your turn to try to go make it work. You led it. And so I was act, I actually led that organization and then started getting other acquisitions and, you know, through reorgs sure. Some of the quote unquote original part of the company was, was rolled in. And so really trying to figure out how to, how to bring all of that together. Yeah. And
Speaker 1 00:34:32 That's really cool. And
Speaker 2 00:34:32 From, yeah, and from the same page perspective, to me, it's probably more important for the people who are coming into the organization to feel like they are a value added, that, that they're valued, that we listen to their expertise, what they've heard as we're going after new procurements, as, as we're working together, that, you know, I, I had the fortune to, you know, we, um, had acquired a company that wa had some really great processes and were already IO certified. And so how to take what they did and take it across the organization. Right. Right. Um, and the people who are leading that were leading it for the entire organization instead of, well, we'll, we'll get someone who has the original company brand and they can, they can run it, you know?
Speaker 1 00:35:22 Yeah. We're all one team now. So you were involved in activities that would lead up to an acquisition might not have, but pre yes. Acquiring, you were involved in the research homework due diligence that then you were involved in integrating functions like business development function, correct. Post acquisition. And then you ended up leaving the unit unit. Yes. The unit that was acquired or, or, or
Speaker 2 00:35:46 Yes. Yeah. The, the entire business was acquired. I ended up leading that and then a couple more pieces of companies got added to it. And then some other organizations that just fit well within that customer and capability footprint,
Speaker 1 00:36:02 Let's supply some of the same principles we talked about that were the men of protege that were sort of at the hard of the men of protege relationship to mm-hmm <affirmative> one company is bringing another one into it. It could be a smallish number of people. It could be a large number. It be three, hundred's a large number of people. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you're dealing with the same issues of role, relationship, trust, value, or, or worth do I fit in? How do I fit in, what do I contribute? Even sometimes this is part of it. I'm sure you could tell me in detail, am I gonna have a job,
Speaker 2 00:36:34 Right. Or some job. Yeah. And, and there's a lot of that.
Speaker 1 00:36:37 There are some jobs gonna go away. Would it be what am mine? So there's a lot going on in that time. And it's not a it's this one day when it happens, but there's many months.
Speaker 2 00:36:47 Yeah. Many,
Speaker 1 00:36:48 Yes. Leading up to it and following it. But before that dust kind of settles. So what were your, what were your same page goals or objectives? What were your thoughts?
Speaker 2 00:37:00 The focus, all the companies I've been at we've acquired companies. You're looking for what they call a cultural fit <laugh>. Um, and we'll, we'll have, we'll have more discussions on that, but it's like, are, are you basically approaching the business, your people and the customer the same way. So a lot of the discussions is, you know, people are in the business because they want to be successful. Most of them either want to win new programs or get levels of new responsibility right. On
Speaker 1 00:37:31 The program, just one.
Speaker 2 00:37:32 Right. And so it's, it's how to show them that given the expertise that they developed in the, in the, their original company. And now that they're part of this larger company, here's how they can grow personally and professionally and help the company grow at the same time. And so one way to get those folks energized about being part of the new company I found was, you know, actively involving both sides of the company in a, in a new bid, you and I have both worked those proposals late at night, and nothing binds a team as much as, as those late night working a proposal and, and would do it. And it's, you know, it didn't matter which older new company you came from, people were leading and would say, Hey, the company we just acquired has some great processes to do
Speaker 1 00:38:23 X that's cool
Speaker 2 00:38:24 That lady's gonna lead this process for us, because we're all gonna learn. We think that the acquiring company does this other part really well, so that person's gonna lead that one. And people start working together. And through those late nights and weekends, they figure out, wow, you know, Sue is an awesome PM. You know, I'm, I'll be loving to work with her if we win this thing. Interesting. And so, so you do a lot of that.
Speaker 1 00:38:51 So you found, if you, could you found something to get them to work on together sooner than later? Yes. Yes.
Speaker 2 00:38:58 And, and also purposely tried to find something that, that company was hoping that they could bid, but didn't have the capability. Yeah,
Speaker 1 00:39:09 Sure.
Speaker 2 00:39:09 To sure. Talk, you know, to talk to that capture team and say, all right, you know, we're gonna help you, you know, you're still leading, but we're gonna help. We're gonna give you an engineer here and a proposal person there. Right. And we're gonna go win this together. And, and they're like, wow, this is why this
Speaker 1 00:39:25 Sense motivating <laugh>. Yeah. Hopefully, hopefully,
Speaker 2 00:39:29 Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:39:30 I like how you said, so culture is just such a big question and seems to be more questions than answers, but I like how you said, do you cultural fit being generally, do you approach work to support clients in, in, in roughly the same way? Which means, which means, which means what kinds of things just make that a little bit more specific.
Speaker 2 00:39:53 Yes. And so I I've found that asking many questions helps that definition. So I've been in a company that said it was entrepreneurial and we acquired a company that said it was entrepreneurial. When you drill down the, you know, my original company thought were entrepreneurial. We did a lot of things, but we had a pretty rigid bid review process. So you could sort out the stuff that like, okay, we don't have a large probability win, so let's not waste our resources. Instead, we're gonna put a ton of money into this other one. The company we acquired says, Hey, we're entrepreneurial. Which meant that they bid a lot of things that they hadn't necessarily positioned for, but that's how they were successful. They were wildly successful by bidding 20 projects and winning five of them. And that's more than if they had
Speaker 1 00:40:42 Bid bid five much.
Speaker 2 00:40:44 <laugh> right. Yeah. And so it's important to understand when you say we're entrepreneurial or we are customer-centric or we are employee-centric, it means different things to different people. And you really need to ask several questions about, about that definition.
Speaker 1 00:40:58 That's great. It can even mean different things to people within one organization.
Speaker 2 00:41:02 <laugh> absolutely. Yep.
Speaker 1 00:41:03 Fantastic. Ask your, ask your customer, facing folks who are doing delivery or doing sales, what that means. And that could mean something different to other parts of the organization. And yes, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but the question I always would wanna know is, well, are we all clear on that? Or are we not clear on those? Right. Right. Exactly. Because if there are differences, we could trip over them. If there are legitimate differences, because we have different roles and responsibilities, but we know that yes. You get a different team. Right, right. A different team effort. So did you see, were you able to foster think of like circles, inven diagram, more of an, did they come together a little bit more because of the conversations, did people start to start to sort out a shared meaning mm-hmm <affirmative> of something?
Speaker 2 00:41:52 Uh, yes. In, in most cases we're able to find something that, that worked. There were a couple instances where one company where employee centric, which meant, you know, they had unlimited vacation and tuition was, you know, mm-hmm <affirmative> way high mm-hmm <affirmative> this larger company couldn't afford that for everybody mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so you had to figure out somewhere, somewhere in the middle, but just that conversation alone shows that you do care about your employees. You're just trying to figure out, okay, what, what works for this larger organization? How do we make sure that we can be flexible and how we're working with our employees? So you, sometimes you can have that great VIN diagram where the, the, the merger is, you know, that nice big,
Speaker 1 00:42:44 Uh, yeah. They come over, they overlap and come. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:42:47 Yeah. And, and sometimes it, it doesn't, and it's the same thing with people. There were some people who said, I'm all in, I, I love this new organization and, you know, the, the, the thing I just talked about, uh, that the company, when was that acquisition 17 years ago, that are still there mm-hmm <affirmative> and doing very, very well and others who said, ah, you know what, this isn't for me, I'm gonna go try something else. And, um,
Speaker 1 00:43:12 That's legit is, yeah. That's legit. Exactly. Did you, 300 people is a lot, if they're in one office building, you actually could get around to them, but they're often on client sites.
Speaker 2 00:43:23 Yeah. And that
Speaker 1 00:43:24 Was spread around.
Speaker 2 00:43:25 Yes. That was, that was the biggest challenge is that of the 300, 220 to 250 were at client sites. And so that was a big challenge of, you know, how to, how to go around and, and see all those people. So they felt, so they used to work for a smaller company and now yeah. You know, they're, they feel like they're even more disassociated. And so how to make sure that they knew who the leadership was, you know, that, that they were cared for, but also that they could start to interact. And it's actually something that, that we were able to do. You know, some of my team came to me was, you know, their idea and if nothing else can recognize other people's really good ideas <laugh> um, and, and started when we started this mentor protege program, it was, we purposely set up the mentor was in a different organization than the purchase. Oh. So there was some of that crosstalk. Okay. And we started having, we called 'em bagel breakfast, you know, they, they all, you know, we'd be there at seven 30 cuz they had to clock in at eight or eight 30. Yeah. Um, and the programs would start to talk to each other. And after a while, you know, the leadership team, we're just watching it happen
Speaker 1 00:44:37 Because isn't that beautiful.
Speaker 2 00:44:39 They're comparing, oh, well we were just doing this delivery and the customer asked for this, but what did you guys do? And, and they're going back and forth. And, and the same thing from a midlevel PM or the team lead, who you wanna promote to PM. They're getting exposure to other people. And, and so all, all of that works really, really well.
Speaker 1 00:44:59 That's beautiful when it happens. It's great to see. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:45:02 Yeah. It it's
Speaker 1 00:45:03 Fun. And an organization that size though, it would've changed, changed what you did because now you have to, you've got people who are direct reports. Yep. And then they've got direct reports. Eventually it gets out to all the people who are leading the work on client sites, but there's a little bit of a hierarchy there or a lot of hierarchy. Yes. But, and, and, and then, and then you're communicating up and down through people mm-hmm <affirmative>, which has all, all the known challenges
Speaker 2 00:45:27 I would try. Like, I, I talked about the bagel breakfast. I would have, you know, go visit, you know, the, the client sites and just it's Hey, here's, here's an hour with Cal and the rest of the leadership team. Yeah. You know, where sometimes it's just shooting a breeze and having a bagel sometimes, you know, there there's always
Speaker 1 00:45:48 More of agenda. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:45:50 A sh a shorter presentation. I, I, I wouldn't wanna, you know, do death by PowerPoint, but at least kind of here's where we're going. Yeah. As an organization, here's where the company's going. Here's how you fit in and then, and then talk. But yeah, it, it takes, takes, um, lots of time to, it does go around and see all those folks, but it's, it's absolutely essential to do.
Speaker 1 00:46:11 So. How long was it after the acquisition and you got things, you, you had the idea about the men protege program within that organization.
Speaker 2 00:46:20 It's probably there a little over a year. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:46:24 I think. Okay. Yeah. All right. So you had some good, interesting, because then you had a period of time where you, you knew how things were running, you could sort of characterize that time. What happened then after, did you see a difference in, uh, in the culture or did you see a difference in performance? You know, so a year later after the, let's say the program's a year old and it's, and people are participating in it, what, what did you see?
Speaker 2 00:46:48 Yeah, we had a lot more upward mobility where before in order to hire the right PM, you know, we were looking outside, I think we had more upper mobility. Interesting. We had F we had folks who had been in one customer set for five years or 10 years, and they, and they moved over to another one and were able to bring
Speaker 1 00:47:12 That that's good
Speaker 2 00:47:13 Customer experience as well as, as the
Speaker 1 00:47:15 New stuff. Yeah. Sort of cross pollinate. Uh, yeah.
Speaker 2 00:47:18 Yep. Yep. Uh, so, so that worked and then as I mentioned, so after probably a year and a half, then the company did another acquisition and the company they acquired, they actually split into two pieces. One was more intelligence related and I, and mm-hmm <affirmative> that went off to one group and I got the other one. And so having already been through mm-hmm, <affirmative> the first one we're able to integrate those folks in, I think, a little more quickly and, you know, got, got their leadership integrated in pretty well.
Speaker 1 00:47:49 Interesting.
Speaker 2 00:47:50 Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:47:50 You had, you had a fun career, dude. <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:47:53 <laugh> it was fun. I, I, uh, I lucked out with, uh, working with lots of really, really good people and, uh, and got to do lots of interesting things. It was fun.
Speaker 1 00:48:03 All my friend, thank you for joining the podcast today. I enjoyed our discussion. Like I knew I would, and we've covered a lot of ground and some good things. Thank you,
Speaker 2 00:48:10 Blue. It was a lot of fun. I really appreciate the discussion and, uh, kind of came away thinking about even new things like <laugh> oh, here's how I could do a little better on getting on the same page with someone. So I appreciate it.
Speaker 1 00:48:22 I that's, I love hearing that it's a great conversation. I think you probably gave listeners a few things. Aha. Moments of their own and a few things to try.
Speaker 2 00:48:29 Oh, thanks.
Speaker 1 00:48:30 Thanks my friend.
Speaker 2 00:48:31 All right. Have
Speaker 1 00:48:31 A good one. You too. Bye-bye and that's how we see it. My friends, I wanna thank Cal for recording today's episode. You can find it at, I see what you mean.casto.com. Plus all the usual places, send questions and suggestions through your app. Subscribe and give me a five star rating unless you can, in which case, let me know why enjoy me next week. When we take another look at how to get on the same page and stay there, unless we shouldn't.