In this interview Jay explains the importance of self-awareness and authenticity in business, the fact no large companies have "Chief People Officers". Amazing stuff...
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Full Transcript Below
Jay: No problem, Ben, glad to do it.
Ben: I really appreciate it. I'm going to focus mainly in this interview on the What's Your Genius? Content, because I think it's applicable to a slightly wider audience. Although, I have just been reading The Profitable Consultant, and that's a fantastic resource as well, I'm reading it very slowly and deliberately to make sure I apply it as I go.
Jay: It's much more specific to a much smaller segment of the market, that's for sure.
Ben: The, What's Your Genius; concept really was a big blinding flash of the obvious to me, when I first read it. I'm still grappling with really living into this authenticity, so could you outline the concept of turning left verses turning right, basically the core principle of, What's Your Genius?
Jay: Yeah, we kind of went into it with the understanding conventionally, what everyone tends to do. Everybody gets the job, so you got the two sides that we talk about left and right, so everybody gets the job. The job and the individual come together and they say, "Alright, I'll take the job." And then they'll go to the next step and then say, "I get into the job." And they start identifying gaps. I need to be better at this, or I need to be better at that, for the job.
The third step is what do I do what I realize there is some gap, when there is some distance between what the job requires and what I possess. Coming out of that is where you either go left or right, on the screen I've reversed it so I should be pointing to your left. Most people, conventionally, said I'm going to, point left I'm going to go back up and look at myself. They say, well, the jobs fixed I need to move, I need to close that gap. I'll figure out how to change myself to close that gap. That's fine when it's knowledge, or skills or something that's learnable something that's acquirable. A lot of what drives the success, the majority we found of what drives success, are the intangible things that you can't change. The way you think, what motivates you, your behavioral styles, and the cognitive neuro-networking in your brain basically that controls all of this.
When you try to change that, it doesn't work. If you're 40 years old, you've been doing that for 40 years plus nine months, you can't just rewire that overnight. It takes a long time to do that. What we found was the very best, the most successful, when they got to that gap instead of trying to take themselves and move it to the job. They said, "I'm fixed, and the job's variable and I'm going to move the job to me." So, they turned right, and said, "How I can fix the job so it's modified to meet me? I'm the stationary thing, because I can't change the way I think, I'm not going to change the way I think, they actually said.
That all grew out of the industrial economy when, I needed you to be able to manually, the manual labor from the industrial economy. The job says you must be able to move this many parts with your arms and hands in this many ways. And if you're not good at that, you change the way you physically behave, change the way you physically provide labor. That works, I can learn use my left hand, I can learn lift it this way, put it that way, twist it, but that's just a legacy, we call it. Now in the intellectual economy, we find the same situation, there's a gap, but the historical way is you go to the job. Now we're not changing our physical labor, we're changing the way we mentally think, that just doesn't work. That's really the key, to the entire study is, turning left verses turning right.
Ben: Fantastic. I think it said in your book that even geniuses as you describe them; geniuses are people that I think turn right a lot of the time, right? They really create strength for themselves by identifying their talents and turning right rather than left. Is that it?
Jay: Yeah. The term genius actually, we broke...we had 197,000 people, we had about 300+ thousand people in the study worldwide, but 197,000 of them fit all the parameters that we set in place. They had good objective metrics to define whether they did well on the job or not, they took the profiles. We broke them up into five levels of performance: below average, average, above average, excellent, just those four in the beginning. When we were interviewing managers, saying why is this person a top performer, excellent?
Rarely, we would hear people say, "This person is above excellent, can we give an excellent plus, a level four plus?" And they were actually using the word genius a lot. It didn't come from me, or from anything beforehand, it was in reading the interviews and listening to the people go, "Oh Mary's a genius for this. John's a genius when it comes to doing that. It's just this gift that he has." So we said, let's have five levels of performance, and we nick-named the fifth level, genius. So, all the people that achieve that height in performance, that kind of praise from their manager; those types of results all were in the fifth level, and we just nick-named it genius. What the book really says is, what is it you possess that will allow you to achieve the fifth level of performance, the highest level of performance?
Ben: Fantastic. That's a really cool name genius, and it says in there, that even geniuses turn left sometimes. Even geniuses decide they're going to fix themselves a little bit, but they're aware of when they are doing that. I got a very strong sense of self-awareness out of the book. That it's all predicated on being aware of what you're doing and why you're doing it. So, my question would be, how do you... what's the feedback mechanism, how do you know from the inside when you're making the right choice? When you're turning left verses right? You get feedback from money, from how you feel inside, from other people? What's your feedback mechanism, so we can get ourselves back on the right track? If we're in the habit of turning the wrong way, how do we get ourselves back on track?
Jay: That's a great question, and it's a tough one. It requires practicing and developing a feel for what's right or what's not right. So you step into it very slowly. The fact that geniuses turn left every once in a while is absolutely true, and back to that if it's a skill needing to understand how to use this program, or drive this car, or this kind of software or something. Its knowledge like I need to learn the law for this country, or I'm a physician I need to learn this new technique or anatomy or physiology. Acquirable skills things I can read, and learn, and develop an expertise in, you can turn left. And they do all the time. There's nothing that say some of the natural talents you can't continually develop, you can't continually be focusing on it.
It's an ongoing, I coined the term, glacially dynamic. The way you think there is plasticity, our brain changes but it doesn't change in weeks, months or even slowly over maybe years. They say, I've got an ongoing self- development process where I will try to improve maybe the way I think, or some of my habits, but that's not something I'm going to count of effecting results in the next six to twelve months. They turn left when it comes to knowledge, and skill, and things they can acquire. As far as understand how I am doing with this, well the two other things you said. It starts with self-awareness. The average level of self-awareness of the 197,000 people was a 5.5 on a zero to ten scales, so right about in the middle, average. The average score of self- awareness, defined as I really know what I'm good at, I'm fully aware of what motivates me, what drives me, how I like to naturally behave, what I'm gifted for, what I do without much effort and I do it really well. That level of self-awareness in the geniuses went from a 5.5 to about an 8.3.
Jay: The first of the two things that we found with those top performers were; they really, really knew what they were good at. That requires introspection, can sit down and just look at your life and say where are the areas where I've done things that to me seemed almost effortless, or much less effort, I really enjoyed them, I do them well, I love to do them, I do can do them better than anyone else, it doesn't require a lot of effort. That's kind of subjective input, but it can be good. Then there's also psychometrics that we recommend you use: personality profiles, behavioral profiles, competency profiles. There are millions of them out there, there's probably hundreds of thousands literally, Myers-Briggs, Strengths Finders, our profiles Advanced Insights. Anything that's validated, that helps you get an objective view, scientific views of these are some of the strengths that you have...
Ben: On that topic Jay, sorry to interrupt. Those self-reflective tests I found very helpful, but I have this horrible fear when I'm filling them out that some little part of my brain; possibly because I went to school, I think going to school did not do any good for my ability to turn right. At school I would get engaged in a role, I would take a test, I'd learn it, I'd identify that I didn't get 100% and of course you had to just go out and get better at it. That became so ingrained in me that when something wasn't 100% right I should go and fix me so that next time I'd pass the test. I've got that habit, then I come along and I sit and fill out a self- reflection questionnaire. I have this horrible feeling that I may be answering questions, how I should be as if my Mum or somebody I admire at school or my teacher is looking over my shoulder when I'm filling it out; what do you say to that?
Jay: A really good, valid test and there is a lot of crap out there, there is a lot of profiles that aren't valid. In assessing which profile to you use, you are looking for one that is well established, widely used, and I would say used in Business. You want to use one that you know businesses use, these are all stated out there and there is a list of them actually in the book you can take a look at, because when they're used in business they are validated to very high standards. Both the European Union and the United States have Equal Employment Opportunity kind of commissions that rigorously say we need to make sure these are accurate. Part of that assessment is making sure that your mindset is not really a huge influence. Whether you sit down and say this is how I honestly feel, verses how I think I should feel, and many times is the very same thing. Obviously however, when you are taking an assessment you want to just be truly honest. You don't want to find yourself saying, I would put B, but I would think that my mom would want me to put E, so I'll do that. That's key. You got to be honest with yourself, and say let go of the control, take the profile it's had... One of the one's we use has had 82 years of research behind it from a Harvard psychologist and others after him that say, if you just let go and answer the way you normally would, your first instinct. We're going to be measuring really accurate stuff. On your comment, real quick, that's a lot of where that comes from to, is school. Industrial economy in work says, "hey you change the way you do it, the job's fixed' but school as well. That's to skills and knowledge the acquirable things I talked about. In school, I can learn math, I can learn history, I can learn geography. It may not be as easy for me, based on how I think, but we get ingrained in the first 20, 21 years depending how long you go to school. If you don't do well in this subject, do better. Subjects not changing, so become better at math, become better at physics. And we get that habit, 21 years from a very early age four or five. It's just programmed into us; you didn't get it quite too well, get better. Change yourself.
Ben: I definitely see, in my work, an epidemic of people who don't even think about changing the environment around them, they kind of assume that's fixed, and then they have to change themselves. Do you think the school system could change to make people come out a lot more authentic, and a lot more self-aware?
Jay: Absolutely. Some of the geniuses, the top performers, that we interviewed went through some very special schools that were private schools, as children. It was interesting because, they said there was a big difference in the schools' mentality of appreciating the individuality. Helping them understand there are certain courses that you're not necessarily going to be quite as good at. Some people are bigger picture, strategic thinkers that aren't great with details. Others are very systemic thinkers and their great with numbers and complex problems, others are very interactive and they get all the social sciences and the social studies, really high attention to detail kind of folks. Love history, because it's just route memorization of dates, and times, and calendars, and things like that. These schools that these guys described, were much more about individualized curriculum, it's always going to be a problem because they're always going to want to get a well-rounded education. Part of the key factor is, go through school and you do that thing, coming out of school realize I learned how to learn, and learning is something I can turn left and do. The application of who I really am, and what I love to do; I need to pick a job that going to maximize my successes dependence on what I love to do and I'm naturally good at. And minimize dependence, minimize is the key, you find a gap because there is a dependence between something that you don't have that the job requires. You try to fix the gap, you're in trouble. If you get a job where your success is minimally dependent on the things you're not naturally good at, you're a much better fit. You don't have to worry about changing.
Ben: Interesting. There is a theme; also through you book, about not settling. One way to get into this mindset is to just not settle. I've got an imaginative little guy here, let's call him Adam; he's got a business, turning over 100,000 pounds or dollars a year of profit. A small business, a few people, but he's stagnant he hasn't had any growth in a while. If he chooses not to settle and take himself to the next level, how should he train his self-awareness? If that's the first thing he needs is self- awareness, how should he go about training that? Once he gets a hold of this idea that what's holding me back is a lack of self-awareness, what are his next physical steps?
Jay: You mentioned two comments, first deciding you're not going to settle. The next step is, now that I'm not going to settle, what do I do? The first part is a big part, I always thank a gentleman named Rick Gildsend [sp], who was a manager for me back at Johnson and Johnson many years ago. Rick's the guy who looked at me and said, "You get what you accept." It was his quote, I don't know where he got it but I locked onto it. And it's been a key driver in my life ever since. What that does is, if you say, "I'd dissatisfied with where I am. I'm not happy with the results or the performance. Or I do okay with the results, but it's killing me." You're in the driver's seat, you're in control. That first spark is to realize I'm not going to settle. I get what I accept. It's called internal locus of control in psychology verses the only other thing, which is the external locus of control. External locus says, the world decides what's going on with me, I can't influence very much. The big business, or the corporation, or where I am, the world tells me what to do. They're in charge. People with genius levels of performance almost across the board, have an internal locus of control. They go, I'm in charge. I don't let the world dictate what I take, what I accept, what I get. That's the first step. Once you can get that, once you can say I really am in control. If I'm not happy with it, it's my fault; then you go I need to be more self- aware. That just goes back to what we talked about A and B. A, sit down and do some mental work, exercises and say what have I been good at? Can I write down some broad categories of things that I've always done and loved to do? Working with others, solving problems, creating new things, being entrepreneurial, not being entrepreneurial; there's nothing wrong with that. I like working in a big system with lots of other people. IBM, I like lots of rules and structure. Then also take some profiles. I strongly recommend get with you, Ben, and get a couple of different assessments that can help measure those things and get the feedback on the results. That probably is 80% of it.
Ben: Fantastic. Thank you. Let's make it a little tougher. I'd like to hear your insights on the next era. We've had the industrial era that moved into the knowledge era, you mentioned that earlier. I'm getting the sense that we might be near the top of the knowledge era, I think that because I can pick up my cell phone and ask Google, with my voice, practically any question about what mankind knows and the knowledge is there, straight away. If we're not at the end of it, we may come towards the end of it in my opinion. If we are, what would you say would be the next era? Do you want to hazard a guess what comes after the knowledge era?
Jay: There is a lead and a tail; I think I'm with you on the environment has lead it very far down the road of technology, and intellectual things and stuff like that; the tail that is still way, way back and still has very far to go to catch up is many years to come. The way we look at people, the way we value them as a resource, the way we value ourselves as a resource, has not caught up, it's still very much grounded the vast majority in an industrial mindset. I don't know that we'll leave the intellectual economy and be able to move to the next until that tail catches up. We changed from an agrarian to industrial, and that was an easier transition I think, because both were based on physical labor. It was just where does this labor take place, what machines are being used, and where do the people live, and what's produced? But you look at an organization, and they'll all say we realize people are our greatest asset, but find an organization that has a Chief People Officer, or a Chief Talent Officer. It's a very small minority. I catch companies all the time with my three litmus tests. I go, "So you really appreciate that human value is unique, and you need to adjust your organization to make that the center?' And they go, "Oh, yeah." I say, "So you have a Chief Executive Officer, or a Chief Financial Officer or a Chief Technology Officer." "Yes, yes, and yes' "You have a Chief People Officer?' Unfortunately they go, "Yeah it's the Vice-President of Talent, she reports to the COO." They just didn't get it. Chief Officers were created to be in charge of the core assets of the organization. People weren't a core asset, so they didn't get a Chief Officer. Look at a spreadsheet, UK, anywhere in the world; they'll put down equipment, technology, finances as an investment. Almost every one of them, by law in some countries, how do they record salary, as an expense? So they still haven't caught up. I'll buy a $500,000 piece of equipment that's not an expense that's and investment, and I'll amortize it out of many years because it's a good thing. Right next to it is a column that says I spent $500,000 on salary, it's not an investment it's an expense. If we could reduce that we could be a lot more profitable. Then look at human turnover, not financial turnover in the UK sense, but how many people are leaving. If they manufacture something normally the percentage of defect rates in that little widget that they manufacture is really low, single digit. You don't see a company that's around for very long with 25% defects in what they make. One out of every four ear buds, like you're wearing, just doesn't work. Look at the turnover of their people is, you see ten, 15, 20, 50 percent turnover in some industries. They do a much better job of managing things effectively, than they do people. So those three litmus tests tell me, we're not near the end of the intellectual economy yet because we haven't fully grasped it. As for what's after that, I don't have an idea. I don't really know. I think, we'll go from a financial world to more of a resource economy.
Ben: I've got a notion; it's going to be something like a connected or a oneness era. I think we're going to use the information age, the information technology to collaborate to solve problems that we can't do individually, on a global scale. We see that with peer funding, and the way that people collaborate massively on projects. I'd be interested to see how it pans out.
Ben: Fantastic, Jay. That's been really interesting. I've run out of direct questions for you. I really recommend everybody firstly, read your book, and also take the metrics tests. It's the best and most comprehensive personality test I've taken by a long way combining some of the best things in the world. I personally refer back to it, I've taken it twice and it gave the same results both times, which was good. It even managed to catch out where it found me being inauthentic in the disc profile it told me that my natural verses my adaptive style. I kind of answered my own question there, it can detect when I'm cheating.
Jay: Yeah, that's one of the things in the disc piece that helps you measure how authentic. That was the second piece self-awareness was the first, the only other piece was authentic. Am I trying to move left instead of right a whole lot? It will actually give you a degree of how authentic you are. Are you trying to modify the way you think? Are you trying change who you are, or not?
Ben: This interview has been a lot about, getting what you accept. Saying, no this is not good enough I can do better, there is more out there for me, and deciding to become authentic.
Jay: I would put it as three. Deciding I'm not happy and I'm getting what I accept, if I'm not happy with that it's up to me to change it, not having the golden handcuffs as we call it in the States. I know too many people who hate their jobs but they go to them because they say they have to. I got a good salary with good benefits, I couldn't replace it. Well, either shut up and stop moaning about being dissatisfied with the job, or change it. Change the job or change the company. You're really in control. Then become self-aware. What is it that I really should be doing, and then authenticity; is going out and figure out how to make an authentic match with what you love to do and really great at. Get where you job relies more on what you love to do and much less, as little as possible, I don't think it's possible I've never met anyone that had zero percent dependence or 100%, authenticity. There is always going to be something, but if you're 80 or 70 or 60 percent authentic, then becoming 10% better is an improvement. It's incremental but over a period of time constantly self improving; constantly becoming more authentic, one thing at a time.
Ben: Thank you, Jay.