Catch Lynn Thomas on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.w
Russ Johns: [00:00:10] I sure hope you're having a wonderful day because I know I am and we have another amazing pirate on board and we're going to be sharing #interestingthings and also engage in the conversation. Drop some comments, make some notes. If you're off for the holiday long weekend, 4th of July, Happy Birthday America, and hope you had a safe and happy weekend. And good day. How are you doing, my friend, Lynn?
Lynn Thomas: [00:00:39] I'm doing well. I'm excited to be on your show. This is my first time and the rain has ceased in the east finally and the heat. It's a glorious day.
Russ Johns: [00:00:50] Oh, wonderful. Wonderful. We were introduced through Justin Breen who is also a pirate and an amazing individual. Thank you, Justin. If you catch this episode, love to catch up with you soon again. Also, I know that you have been in the business of, resiliency, retention, consulting, and things like that. And we were talking before the show a lot about how we get through things. And I want to make sure that we touch base on that, but first you have a background in, and I won't say HR, but you've been employee retention, I guess is a better way to put it. Is that the focus of your adventures in the last few years?
Lynn Thomas: [00:01:36] You're talking about the last 30, really Russ. I really started focusing on client retention and there's a very strong correlation between client and employee return. And right now more on employee, because that's where the angst is and that's where the pain via COVID and everything else is. if you don't have the employees have the talent, the skills to be able to handle the next disruption or the next volatile moment on certain moment, your business is not going to thrive. And I really want our clients to really thrive, not just survive. Survive is like eeking through and I want them to come blazing through as best they can. And there's many elements that are necessary for that, but it's just a little bit of, I'm a tax attorney by training. I started with Arthur Anderson years ago and I left there, went to bank of Boston as a private banker and then a change agent. And I share that just because I pivoted quite a number of times and people say how'd you get from being a tax attorney to here. And that's a sort of another story in some level, but part of it is I was very fortunate. There were three daughters and we grew up with a father who really loved his work. And so the mindsets and mindsets are really important, I found. It was work is fun. And for me, until I found something that was fun, I kept changing. I look back and I say,was is it the best? I think I would have wound up where I am now, because fundamentally I work with companies and want to work with people who really care about people. If you care about your employees and really genuinely care and you and your clients, you're set, because if you really care about your employees, they'll do anything to take care of your clients. Now I'm trying to mine with an insurance agency and he has literally piles of resumes of people who want to work with him because he only wants eight employees. He wants A+ employees. A plus because he says, I want the best. And it's not an option for a top client which is the top 20% that generated percent of the revenue to leave, it's just not. So he runs a business mindset we don't lose a response and he's lost maybe three over 30 years and those are through mergers or things out of his control. It's a different mindset, he's like there's an abundance mindset. You have to take risks. People are so risk adverse, especially with COVID. And yes, it can be scary and it's uncertain times. Each of us on a given day only uses 2% of our brain. And on a day we're really pumping the audience, 5%. Man of the century, Einstein 12%. So we all have such untapped resources inside of us. Massively and I don't want people going to the grave, the best songs or melodiesunsung. There's some somebody I'm quoting there. And I think what happened with me is people did give me feedback at Arthur Anderson and said, you're a little more extroverted. Talk a little bit more than you do and listen, and actually I didn't take it negatively, but they were saying it's like you just different, not I didn't belong. But I heard that and it's okay. And by giving me honest feedback, and I'm a big believer in really honest feedback. I was able to see my blind spots and we all have blind spots. The gentleman I just told you about with a really very successful insurance agency, if he called me and he said, you're coming next week. This is many years ago. And he said by my office managers being verbally abusive, so cutting to the chase after I interviewed everybody in the agency, he was the one who's being verbally abusive and he did not know yelling was not motivating. And you'd say, I'll call him Harry. I said, Harry, I want to say you had a clue. You had a glimmer, you had a clue. No, he said when people yelled at me, when I was young, it motivated me and here's a man who's really brilliant. And it's a blind spot. We all have them. , I grew up outside of New York city and I'd say my older sister and my father were quicker, spoke faster than I did. My mother, my younger sister were slower. So I think I'm average. I'm not average. And I get out in the world and especially when I'm speaking, there's a lot of speaking engagements. I go down south, I have this lovely man just say ma'am, I'm sure you have something really important to say, but you're speaking way too fast for me to follow, and I can say, oh, that's his problem, but how it lands over there, that's probably a good communicator. I've got to take responsibility for it. So that's not my intention. If it keeps landing and they're not getting it because they speak at a slower pace, I need to accommodate that. As opposed to they need to change. And I hear a lot of people saying that wasn't my intention. If that's how it landed, maybe changing your intention and doing things differently, let's brainstorm. And I also love people to come up with multiple options. And what I find Russ, is that people come up with one solution and. My friend Scott Jones, who didn't vent a voicemail, he comes up every day with it. He looks at what is his biggest personal or professional problem. And it comes up with the least 20 solutions. And number one say why twenties it the first 3, 4, 5. Everybody thinks so after that, there's some good ones, but once you get around 11, 12, 14, 15, you really get. And that's where he gets his ideas for patents. He has probably 20 patents and he came up with voicemail you'll a year and a half before anybody else started it because they were betting judge Green's decision on trust with the other way it did. And he parlayed 20,000 into quarter of a billion dollars in four years now, that was astounding then. And it's. And it's exciting because he does uncomfortable things. We were talking a little bit about, people stay in their comfort zone, then, someone said your comfort zone is like a lead line coffin, and unless you try, unless you do new things and you're willing to be uncomfortable because that's how we grow. You're probably not going to come up with great new ideas. We're just we have, what's called it our brain neuron pathways. And the deepest one is our name. So we're in a restaurant and all these names are called. We don't even hear it, our names called, we hear it. And so we have also reticular activating system in the back. That filters out information we don't think is important. And we all have confirmation bias, which is a huge factor in a lot of areas of, we know lots of things and we're missing data all the time opportunities. And I really see COVID is a opportunity for people. To really challenge themselves to find the hidden gifts. And it's not easy. This is not an easy time and people are burnt out. And when people are burnt out, they can most work like four hours a day, productively. You just can't push. And people, employees do have the upper hand in most situations now, and you want to keep talent because there's a shortage of talent and a lot of industries and the P flux. Maybe down to the individual level, depending on the size of your company, you know what each person needs is different and it's fluid, what they need this month. After this month, we convene with everybody what's working. What's not working, there's a client of mine. Who's just gone to open a restaurant working with the restaurant in the morning because they're closed. So they meet there three days a week. So he doesn't have the overhead. They're able to meet with near where the other office was, if people can, for some reason then he, they come in via zoom, but he really doesn't want people on zoom. He wants people there, but you have to give people a reason to come into the office or come together. If they're just coming, they come to collaborate, come to brainstorm, come to bounce an idea off people, come to share perceptions of what's happening in the industry. And come to share what you'vedone is overcome. The mental stress is people are willing to talk about mental health and mental stress of COVID. And what possibly is the future? Because the future is unknown. Nobody knows three months, six months from now where we'll be so might as well make it up.
Russ Johns: [00:09:33] Let's make it up. I want to go back to the blind spots because I think that's a big part of our change evolution. And one of the things that, like I mentioned before we started, a lot of what I've been thinking about is how do we move outside our comfort zone? Because for myself, a lot of times, my most tremendous growth has been as a result of tragic circumstances or life-changing events or things like that, that toss us outside our comfort zone. And so I'm thinking about what does it take to move ourselves outside the comfort zone and express and extend our gifts to the world and share something that we may not necessarily be comfortable with. How can we practice that on a daily basis and continue to grow and expand and remove our blind spots?
Lynn Thomas: [00:10:29] When I work with clients, I suggest that everybody has to do at least two things uncomfortable every day. And it's just part of who you are because by doing things uncomfortable and we all do. Anytime you look at my daughter, I've got a 20 year old daughter and I remember when she was learning to walk, like we all did. She fell on her diaper couple of hundred thousand times, but what do they all do? They get up. And when I'm presented, I'll look, I'm always looking, did somebody maybe try this three times and said, I'm not a walker, I'm a crawler. Okay. I tried this three times cause we do that with technoloby. Oh, I tried, I'm not good at this. So we all have the ability to do things uncomfortable. Cause we did that as a child. And they don't cry when they fall, they get up again, they get up again. They get up again. So there's this part, I want to invite that part of all of us that says I can do this. I can do this, I can do this. You can find your way through. Nobody knows what it looks like. Everyone's in the same boat. So by forcing yourself to... Tom Peters, I remember him speaking two years ago and he said, if you go to work the same way every day, meet with the same people, I know this is different now, but it's a little dated. And that you go home the same way. On the same weekend, you go out with the same people at the same stores and same movies. He says, where the heck are you supposed to get new ideas? So he says I go to the airport, I pick up magazines I know nothing about. What most of you do is pick a magazine you know something about. That just reinforces your thoughts or ideas. So be uncomfortable, talk to neighbors, talk to people that you don't know. There's so much virtual. Take a course on coursea. Do something really uncomfortable. It's okay. You'll get comfortable. Our nervous system when we do something uncomfortable, it sends, we have a Migdal hijack. It's an adrenaline because it checks your memory and it says you've never done this before, my job is to keep you alive. I don't know if this is fatal, so fight or flight and if you could wait six seconds, it said that freedom, human freedom or human will is between when you have a thought and the mouth opens. So when I'm having a thought that I don't want to come out, cause it's not kind and it's not appropriate or it's not the best thing to do, I will breathe oxygen cause that burns off the adrenaline and bite the inside of my cheeks. I'll do what's necessary. And I grew up at least with a critical father, who was amazing too, amazing dad. Critical in many ways. And so I can say anything to anybody and make it sound nice. And I can because I had a lot of angst not and I take people up on that. You can do it. If you can really put yourself in somebody else's shoes, how would you want that information to get into you?
Russ Johns: [00:13:14] Empathy, huh?
Lynn Thomas: [00:13:15] Empathy, compassion, nobody wakes up and decides to be a jerk. Nobody makes a decision, I want to cut people off from the road. I want to piss the people off that I work with. I just want to wreak havoc.. Maybe there's some real small and most people are doing the best they can do in the given day, but around finding new ideas and being uncomfortable. There's a client of mine out in California that hired a new CEO. And they said the day they were comfortable, they were going to fire them. So because they want to be on the leading edge being on the leading edge and we all are in a way. Because we don't know where we're going, it's uncomfortable. Make it your new norm, enjoy it. And as you said, in the moments of hardship, of tragedy, of difficulties, there's always a gift in there. It's well hidden, but you dig deep enough inside you willing to face some of your own, maybe demons inside or some of your own angst or anxieties or...
Russ Johns: [00:14:14] We're always learning or growing.
Lynn Thomas: [00:14:18] Yeah. Alwayslearning and growing. Every day we learn and grow and I think it's how I got to where I am today. I've done a lot of personal growth work and have dug deeper inside me than I ever thought I would. And I've turned a lot of, more than lemons, I would say into it better than lemonade. Because I wanted it better, I want every day for me to be the best human being I can be. And by doing what I did yesterday, today, I'm losing ground because there's people who are accelerating their growth. You want people to come back and stay, help them to develop. Everybody wants to have a job two years, five years, 10 years from now. Develop, get your digital skills. Someone wants to take a sabbatical and go over to England or South Africa or somewhere and study for six months, let them. If they're a valuable employee, why not? Because the future's unknown. Whoever has the employees who learned the quickest, amid disruption, constantly changing. A VUCA volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous situations, and they can experiment, create an idea, test it if it works great, even if it works, pivot to something else. It's pivot.
Russ Johns: [00:15:37] Pivot, pivot, pivot. Speaking of South Africa, we got Elize and from South Africa, good morning, Russ and Lynn. Got a few people in the room, Lynn. Wendy's in the room. Good morning, #piratenation and welcome Lynn, the newest pirate on the ship has to buy the first round, right? Cathi Spooner is in the house. Good morning pirates. Wendy says, resiliency is a gift we each possess and we have to open the box to use it.
Lynn Thomas: [00:16:07] I like that.
Russ Johns: [00:16:08] Adapting to the audience, bonus gift. Absolutely.
Lynn Thomas: [00:16:12] Beautifully said, Wendy, it is.
Russ Johns: [00:16:14] Yeah. Amy Martin says good morning. And she also says you have to fail to grow. That's how we gain experience. True story. And business is that way, and I'm not sure how you imagined you wanted to work as a tax accountant, but your personality...
Lynn Thomas: [00:16:35] Tax attorney, but that's ok.
Russ Johns: [00:16:36] Tax attorney. Yeah. And it's you made a decision to do that. And then because you didn't necessarily fit into entirely into that mold, you evolved, you push through, you grew when you changed and now you're a completely different person than you were then. And all that years of experience, I call it the fabric of life, a page in the book of life and we have this experience that we accumulate, hopefully as a lifelong learner, because you don't want to do the same thing every day. Because I think we underestimate, how much are we going to accomplish in a year. We over estimate how much we can accomplish in a day, but we've failed to really see how much we can accomplish in a longer period of time. So learning every single day, pushing the boundaries.
Lynn Thomas: [00:17:24] Yes.
Russ Johns: [00:17:25] Experiencing new gifts new, new ideas, new horizons, new conversations. And that's why I love the #PirateBroadcast. Just having these conversations, expand our ideas and our thoughts and our ability to see different things. So I just really appreciate you being here, Lynn and sharing this information. And it's a gift to the world and we're in a place right now where humanity can capture these ideas and these thoughts and share them out on regular basis. Thank you for being here.
Lynn Thomas: [00:17:57] My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Russ Johns: [00:17:59] So what are you seeing right now as we're working through this pandemic and evolution of working from home versus the businesses that are starting to open back up and think about what they're going to do in the future. Are you seeing more businesses say, we need you to get you back in the office immediately? Some businesses have actually thrived with remote workers, so what's your thoughts on the landscape of works and employment today?
Lynn Thomas: [00:18:30] I think work and home have merged for those that have been working remotely and I don't think we ever can go back because some people have really enjoyed working from home and some can be more productive. I think, to have a day or two in the office, if that's needed for them to be able to push to the next level, share their ideas, talk through things with people, especially different departments and build a social capital that's really gone. And the social capital is who do you know in the organization? How well do you know them? So when you've hit some place, you want to bounce an idea off, you can just go to them and that's declined because we only have really kept in contact with the group or the small group cause you could not do it always. What the best companies are doing, Russ, I think is if anybody's saying everybody has to come back, like now, immediately, that's a little dictatorial, autocratic. Really more extreme humanism, gallantarian, to some extent. Employees, I can tell you from interviewing thousands of clients, your frontline employees have probably 90% of the information you need to make really good decisions. But what I find is senior management doesn't ask them enough questions. Probe underneath the initial response because they don't have some of the experience that the management does and then bring them into the dialogue, bring it to the table. Everybody has a seat at the table and diversity, some people think it's really not necessary. If you look at the most successful companies, they're very different culturally, racially, People have come from different places in the country, geographically, every way you get somebody who's different. And because we all have different perspectives and the more perspectives you can get, the closer to you're seeing the greatest percentage of the situation. So if there's a hundred people in your organization, there's a hundred different perspectives. If it's important to hear from each of them, that's probably great. And then fluid . Ask, is this working? What's working, what's not working. And really listen. Now, the more we can listen these days and not talk. And I know that's hard for a lot of extroverts, sometimes me too. But where some of the great ideas are coming up now are with the introverts and people have said, they've always had the ideas. We just have not given them the space or maybe permission or whatever to speak up. Go around the room, make sure everybody gets... when I hold the meeting, everybody gets to talk. Everybody gets to say their piece without being interrupted. And another thing is called the fishbowl, which probably some people are familiar with. If everybody's agreeing except one person, that one person speaks, everybody else just listens. And if you could actually put your eyes down and look away from them to just really listen and hear what they're saying, there's probably a grain of truth. With feedback. I look for, did you want to take an illustration that was done for me as if this tissue box is my feedback loops there. And so someone throws me the tissue box. I can grab it and hit myself on the head and beat myself up with it. I could take it and bam, hit it back to the person. I can go like this and it goes flying by. The best thing is to look at, ah, feedback. Interesting. And maybe I take a grain of truth and I toss the rest away. There's probably less, if somebody is really nasty and I don't think there's too many real nasty people, there's probably a grain of truth. If someone really cares about being in a relationship with you in work and wanting that to work and they want to get feedback, you may do it privately, obviously, but really listen. I have wonderful relationships with friends and family where we can listen and hear things we don't want to hear. But what that person is saying is I really care about you. I care about our relationship and I can BS you, I can just say, hey, everything's great. I could BS you and you could be asking me, but you know what? We're not going to be connected. We're not going to be resilient. We're not building bonds that are gonna last a long period of time and pull us all through onto the next stage of the organization's growth.
Russ Johns: [00:22:33] Friends that you have in your world will actually call you out on your BS.
Lynn Thomas: [00:22:38] Hopefully, absolutely. Those are the best people. You may not like them.
Russ Johns: [00:22:41] Love them and let them into your life because sometimes you need to be called out when you're going the wrong direction.
Lynn Thomas: [00:22:49] Yeah. When the leader is going over the cliff, you need to say, excuse me, there's a cliff there.
Russ Johns: [00:22:53] Yeah, watch out that stove is hot and we don't want to get burned. I really love these conversations and I just want to make sure that people have an understanding that you do not have to stay where you are if you're not comfortable at the moment. Change is constant. Things are evolving in the world today. I see so many business owners with the help wanted sign and it's almost as if, I don't know where these people are that are going to work. However, there's a lot of people that could work and a lot of employers are looking for quality people. And I guess, as employees and client retention, it takes quality employees to continue to serve and keep quality clients. And I think customer service is really high on the list. The way you treat people, the way you engage with people and you ask them good questions, and you listen to what they're saying. This is all components of what I would consider a quality life. It doesn't matter if it's in the board room or in the back room or in the front office, it's all part of what we do and if you, and that's why promote #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree so much because you don't know what other people are going through. You don't know what their circumstance is, you don't know what their perspective is. So I just encourage everybody to think about how you want to feel and how you would like people to treat you and work from a place of kindness and empathy. And it, just, to me, it makes a lot of sense. So hopefully we can continue to do that. Any parting words of wisdom, nuggets of knowledge that you would love to share with the pirate community today that encourages us this week and beyond?
Lynn Thomas: [00:24:46] I would say with COVID, hang in there, you're more resilient than you think. Take a lot of deep breaths, get out into nature, do find ways to restore yourself. I do meditation. Some people love yoga, do more of it. And you know what you had said, Russ, everyone's having be kind because everyone's having a hard time. There's lots of hard times going, so as much as you can, you can say to somebody I'm just really sorry to hear that not to blast them. And to the self also just worry about the self critic. We all have this critic in our mind. Silent that critic as much as you can, there's great strategies I have for that. I've done well with mine but make it like the best teacher who always knew you had the potential in you and pushes you gently and firmly, and then really applaud you when you do it. It's yes, you did it. I knew you could do it. Excellent. So sometimes we have to be our own cheerleaders, but we will come through. We are, what Pfizer did and Moderna and J with the vaccine was impossible to do. You couldn't get a vaccine. And effectiveness is huge, it's high. I think any other vaccines ever been created and look what they did when they all came together and they're going through one goal, we can do amazing things. So reach out, engage. Ask for help, please. We cannot do this alone. We cannot live life alone. Ask for help and make it a great day be kind to others and surprise some people with kindness and they don't even know where it came from.
Russ Johns: [00:26:19] Surprise him. So how do you like people to connect with you and reach out and make that connection.
Lynn Thomas: [00:26:25] You can reach me... my email is Lynn Thomas@ThomasConsultingWins. A client gave me that and said that I always win with Thomas Consulting. So ThomasConsultingWins.com is the email and phone (781) 899-4210 and I'm also on LinkedIn and I would welcome your feedback. If I wasn't clear on something, I'm looking at questions, I'm willing to really talk to anybody, 10-15 minutes, just to help people through difficult times because we all can help each other.
Russ Johns: [00:26:56] We all need it now and then.
Lynn Thomas: [00:26:58] And Pixar has a great thing, which is they want to find the slice of genius in every person. And so I think if we start looking for that slice of genius in the people around us, as opposed to what they're not doing right. Or not aligned, we can really amaze ourselves, amaze theworld and do some really magnificent things to create a wonderful future for all of us. And I'm not saying that Pollyanna, we really can do it guys.
Russ Johns: [00:27:21] Yes. I love that. Lynn, thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for sharing with the pirate community and everyone, you have a gift, you have a message, you have an opportunity to share it, deliver it and add value to the world. As always, remember, like, comment, share this thing that we call the #PirateBroadcast because #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree and we want you to #enjoyyourday. Take care, Lynn.
Lynn Thomas: [00:27:54] You too, Russ. Thanks so much.
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