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Nancy Lyons on Mindset in the Workplace

Apr 28, 2021

Season 2, Episode 17


Buckle up, buttercup. This episode covers a lot of ground as Nancy Lyons and I talk about death, grief, racism, white privilege, mindset in the workplace, making work better, how Wells Fargo could make banking better coming out of COVID, and being kind. Nancy is the co-founder and CEO of Clockwork, an award-winning digital agency. She has been a leader in the technology industry for more than 25 years and has proven that people first business strategy wins. She is also a national speaker, great conversationalist, and the author of “Work Like a Boss: A Kick in the Pants Guide to Finding (and Using) Your Power at Work”.



Work Like a Boss

Dr. Joi Lewis

Masterclass: Secrets of the World's Most Successful People



Michael Kithcart: 0:00
Hello, I'm Michael Kithcart. I'm a high performance business coach and entrepreneur who helps worn out achievers become thriving trailblazers - if I could say that, they'll become thriving trailblazers, so they are unstoppable. Welcome to the Champions of RISK podcast, where we examine the many aspects of risks so that we can all face uncertainty with more strength, courage and a little humor together. Today, we are going to talk about mindset in the workplace with Nancy Lyons. She is the co founder and CEO of Clockwork, which is an award winning digital agency in Minneapolis. She's been a leader in technology for more than 25 years, and has proven that people first business strategy wins. We love that. She is also a national speaker, and the author of Work Like a Boss: A kick-in-the-pants Guide to Finding (and Using) your Power at Work. Nancy, thank you for being on the podcast.

Nancy Lyons: 0:59
Thank you for having me.

Michael Kithcart: 1:01
I'm excited about this conversation. Can I just tell you something? Like you've been on my bucket list? To have on the podcast.

Nancy Lyons: 1:08
oh, no.

Michael Kithcart: 1:10
Yes. So no pressure.

Nancy Lyons: 1:12

Michael Kithcart: 1:12
On you or me, how's that?

Nancy Lyons: 1:14
Okay. Okay.

Michael Kithcart: 1:16
So Nancy, I just want to start off, and you told me, nothing's off limits. So I'm just going to first and foremost, you've been very open and sharing that you recently lost your mother. Mm hmm. And you just wrote a beautiful piece on your newsletter, which we'll put in the show notes, a link. So everybody subscribed to Nancy's newsletter. It's so fantastic. And it's called, Nan-Cave. How brilliant is that? But you wrote really beautifully about grief, capitalism and dehumanization. Like all in one free flow of thought. Can you just share with me what, and with listeners, how you are creating your own grief process?

Nancy Lyons: 2:05
Sure. First of all, thanks for subscribing to the newsletter. That means a lot. And it means a lot that somebody you know, anybody, I really appreciate anybody reading the pieces. It's a great outlet for me, but it helps me sort of collect ideas from the people I encounter or experiences or questions that are asked or conversations that I'm in. So I really appreciated just the the the process of the newsletter. So I'm really grateful for any audience. So I'm defining my own process of grief. Because I must write like, like anybody, I think. Grief is a surprising process, because we don't talk about it in mainstream culture. And you know, it you know, Nora McInerny is a local person, author, Podcast Producer, and host, you know, maker creator, and she has made, you know, a good chunk of her career is devoted to talking about grief. And that's because somebody needs to, but nobody prepares. It's like menopause, right? grief and menopause are the things that nobody talks about. And, you know, my mom passed away. And I, this is never before revealed information. So here's the scoop and your podcast. And the day before she passed away, we had an unpleasant conversation. And part of that is old age and discomfort on her part. And I think she knew something was coming. And I think she was scared. But we had a really difficult conversation. So when she so I, so I had to walk away from that discussion with her, I just say, you know, I'm gonna call you back later, or I'll call you tomorrow. And that was the last time I talked to her. And so I'm, I'm there, you know, I have that, that I have to process my way through, I have the fact that my mom was my hero. You know, my mom sort of shaped my view of the world in a really dramatic way, in that she is it and and I was the person in the world that she was the hardest on. So you know, that's a really fascinating dichotomy. Because she expected so much from me. And, you know, you said, I'm on your bucket list. My mother never recognized what I actually did. So that was the, you know, it was never enough. I remember when I published my book, she said, When are you going to get your PhD? And I was like, my-this is my first book. And I was like, Wait, hold on, you used to say, When are you gonna write a book? So I've done that. And then she was like, well, there's more. So and I say this because I recognize that so many of us have complicated relationships with their families. And it doesn't stop the fact that we are programmed to love them. Right? Like, like in the hardest of relationships, we love each other. And my relationship with my mom was hard. But I adored her. And the model she was, for me, that was all I needed was the model, like the fact that she had great expectations for me, was both a good and a bad thing, right, there's two sides of that coin. And so losing her after a difficult conversation has been particularly troubling, because there's no closure, and then in the midst of COVID, and then, you know, without the ability to gather with friends and family, and then to discover that my you know, that my father was far more dependent on her than we realized. Just the whole thing of it. And then the world says, your week as though your week of mourning is over, right, move on. And, and I had to write about this, you know, this that, I mean, I call my mother's life, an unfinished sentence. For that reason, I just felt like there was this abrupt ending, and it was over. And then in a week's time, the world wanted it to be completely over, but my process has barely begun. So, so I'm giving myself space to honor my mother, to honor myself and my feelings, to honor my humanity in, in sort of letting go of that contentious discussion that we had, but the emotion is right here, it's really close to the surface. And, and I'm just trying to make space for all of it, while also, you know, being present for my, my family and being present for my company and my work and, but I'm screwing up left and right, you know, yesterday, I missed our appointment. So, um, you know, and I say that because I, I want to say those things in the open, like, I screwed up yesterday and felt like a complete imbecile. And, okay, you know, people mess up and people cry, and people choke up in meetings and people, you know, need to reschedule things, and people need to make space for being human. And that's what I wanted to write about. And, and actually, it really resounded with you know, it had a particular impact on people. I heard from more people from that, that newsletter than I've ever like, I, you know, probably every newsletter, I get people writing to me saying, you know, what, you know, what, that, what struck them in what way and how it, you know, moved to them or whatever, but not that many, and yesterday, I had many, many people write to me to say, Whoa, I never thought of that, or, you know, Oh, my gosh, I'm a victim of internalized capitalism, or, you know, my value doesn't seem real, unless I'm producing something, or, Oh, my gosh, grief, I can so relate. So, um, I try to write things or say things or do things that remind people that it doesn't matter. You know, like, even now recording your podcast, it doesn't matter that I'm talking on a microphone. You know, it was in recording something that will be broadcast to people that I've never seen, or don't know, we are all human, and we are all flawed, and we all fall down and we all cry. And we have to stop pretending like that doesn't happen because we're really hurting each other by, you know, having these expectations that we will just move on from something as profound as the death of a parent.

Michael Kithcart: 9:01
Yeah. Yeah. It's just there's so much that you just said in that, Nancy, and and I appreciate your willingness to just as you said, I just want to get it out there in the open. And I'm just curious, we're recording in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The the trial has begun to charge the, you know, the officer who murdered George Floyd, you talk about how, especially in America, we dehumanize so much and part of the capitalism piece of tying all this together, just off the cuff here because I just feel like in every moment, it's so raw right now, reliving the George Floyd murder, and seeing it from all these different angles. And we and he absolutely was dehumanized in that moment. And since and we have everything like we're coming out of COVID, or are we, or aren't we? And and we have hate on Asian Americans, like we've never seen it before, right? And in we're talking about death and grief and all of it that the common thread to me is that where's the humanity? And you ask this question, you ask this question, right? So it's not original to me. But where's the humanity? We're all humans. You've said this five times since we started. And yet we're not treating each other as humans. What? And you're and you're a leader, right? You see, so tell me? How hard is it for us to treat each other? Well, what what makes it so darn hard?

Nancy Lyons: 10:42
Well, you know, it, I think that we've moved into a place where, you know, we've evolved to this place. And technology has supported us getting to this place in that we are used to getting what we want, when we want it. And it allows us to be to be relatively self focused, right? Like, we don't have to work together as much, you know, and I'm gonna set work aside and the value of collaboration, truly, I can have what I want when I want it, and I become used to that, as you know, especially as a white American, right? I you know, and technology has made it so if my Netflix buffers, I'm going to get angry, you know, any delay in my immediate gratification is going to make me angry, right? Because

Michael Kithcart: 11:39
Oh, my God, so true.

Nancy Lyons: 11:40
I want it. And, and any talk of the other makes me and I'm using myself as an example. But I actually don't feel this way. But any talk of the other makes me wonder what of mine I will have to sacrifice in order to make space for anybody who is not like me, or doesn't have access the way I do, what am I gonna have to share? What am I gonna have to compromise or sacrifice, I don't want to do that. I don't want to do that. And, you know, I think it's tragic that a man had to be murdered in a, in a, such a violent, you know, horrible torturous way. And then that had to be video recorded, and transmitted across the globe. Before we had an I'm showing you my air quotes and awakening that everyone is referencing and awakening, it wasn't enough that we destroyed race for 400 years that we built our entire culture on the backs of humans, that we continue to manipulate laws in order to serve white people that we continue to vote for politicians that carry that torch, and I say that deliberately forward and represent us by ensuring things like ongoing segregation, and Jim Crow mentality. It You know, when I tell people that there are still laws that suggest that that incarcerated folks who are you know, incarcerated folks, and we know that the the numbers of incarcerated black folks, folks compared to numbers of white folks in this country are, I mean, there is no comparison are still we're still able to use them for their labor. And that private prisons are a giant issue in this country, because of the free labor, right? And the money from the government, when I tell people that they're shocked, and it kind of blows my mind that, um, you know, we have gotten so far down the path toward the individual, that we have forgotten the importance and the need for the collective. And, and, and that and that we can so easily dehumanize folks who just don't look like us. I mean, it just boggles and I still, you know, I mean, I still am blown away by these dramatic examples of white people and their privilege and their overt racism. You know, and just in the last couple of weeks, I think about Sharon Osborne, I don't know if you saw that clip. It was all over the internet, but watching it I was horrified. How could she not know what was coming out of her mouth? How could she not see how she was treating her colleague, her peer, mind you? I, and the shame that I felt, you know, for that For the white folks who are that defensive that we all encounter every single day.

Michael Kithcart: 15:06
And then she kept doing it,

Nancy Lyons: 15:07
And she kept doing it! And then she said, Why are you crying? I should be the one to cry, which is a typical, frankly, white lady response, right? white women have been complicit in in the white man's patriarchal activities forever, because it serves them. And this was just one more way for white women to act play the victim to get the black person in trouble. Right. And it was, it was mortifying, it was absolutely mortifying. And so I think you're right, there are so many raw feelings, because we're all going through it. We're all feeling this stuff. Yes, I lost my mother, I don't know what's going on in your life. But I imagine you have your share of stuff. We all have our share of stuff. And then you layer that in, and you either become part of the reckoning, and you change your behavior, and you become willing to speak about it and call people out and make change and dismantle. And it's incremental. And it's small, right? It's tiny changes, because our whole world looks like this. Or you become or you accept that you are the problem. And and I think that's why we're so divided. Frankly, I think racism plays a much bigger role in the division in this country, then, you know, than politics. I think it's, it's responsible for the political divide. Because, you know, even this morning, I'm trying to remember what I was hearing. Oh, you know, what it was, it was a, it was a an article about the most recent episode of the Real World reunion from the New York cast. I don't know if you've seen this. But the very original Real World cast got back together for a reunion in the loft in New York during COVID. And they revisited conversations from 30 years ago. And many of them were about race. And in that process, the woman Becky revealed herself to still be a privileged, liberal white lady racist, right and got so upset about it that where we're at right now is she has left and I was reading an article and somebody said, Why do they have to do this? Why they have to politicize everything? Why did they have to make it political? She was called out because Kevin, who was the the gentleman who was challenging her on her position, wanted to make it political. And that reaction makes me want to choke people, honestly. Because, I mean, I'm not I'm a non violent person. So it's a it's a proverbial choke, it's a choke in my mind, throat punch in my mind, but, uh, because people in their value and their, you know, their, their, the fact that they're deserving of respect and dignity, that's not political. Right? That's, you know, if you're a person of faith, that's what God wanted from you, if you're a person of decency, that's what we owe the world if you're a person who woke up this morning, you know, and you value your place in the world. That's, that's how you show it.

Michael Kithcart: 18:18
Yeah, it's just we're exhibiting the worst possible behavior. All the way around and consistently. And I, it brings me back to the grief that we started with, because it feels like to me, that we're all grieving. And we're grieving different things. And we're grieving for different reasons. But with what COVID has brought, you know, through people losing and not being able to, it's not being able to bury their loved ones at different stages, the grief that everybody has gone through about, you know, all the interruptions that have been caused the grief that we are feeling with all the racial tensions on all sides, if you are of human descent, and you know, are feeling this, and so, you you did some of your research, to kind of handle with your own grief of different cultures and what they do. So, I'm just gonna, like, say, so, how could we maybe heal our communities by going through some of the rituals, then that other cultures go through in depth, but we could use it to apply to actually heal our grief? You know, is it possible?

Nancy Lyons: 19:46
Mm hmm. Yeah. Recently, I actually took a workshop from Dr. Joi. Are you familiar with her? Are you editing this?

Michael Kithcart: 19:55

Nancy Lyons: 19:56
Okay, good. I think her name is Dr. Joi Lewis, but she goes by Dr. Joi, that's the part I want you to cut out because while I look for for one second because I want to, I want to... it is Dr. Joi Lewis, I was just questioning, my menopausal brain is questioning. Yeah. So. Dr. Joi lewis is a local motivational of Minneapolis based motivational speaker. And she subscribes to this idea that Audre Lorde articulated, which and actually, if you get a chance to talk to her, because she's amazing. And she, she subscribes to the idea that Audre Lorde articulated when she said, self care, is, um, is an act of what did she call it radical. It's a radical act, it's a radical act. And we went through this four week process this four week process with Dr. Joi and was a bunch of women from the Twin Cities. And I at first was uncomfortable with it. Because I have been in workshops around anti racism, and really have felt the tension in those workshops and felt like I was deserving of feeling the tension in those workshops, right. And this was such an interesting experience, because she really wanted us to care for ourselves, and not just our physical, you know, not just the self care that we hear about often, like, you know, do your breathing and get out and run. But she really walked us through the hand over heart meditation, and really wanted us to get centered with ourselves, because the work of antiracism is so hard and require so much of our energy and our effort. And she was really influential for me at a time, when I could not have predicted it, in that it was you I took this workshop just before my mother passed away, and had to talk about some really difficult, you know, moments in my upbringing, you know, related to how perhaps I was conditioned to see people a certain way. And then my mom died. And I was able to, and actually, this is reminding me that I should reach out to her and tell her that I was able to apply to use some of that to actually care for myself, just to give myself the mental space, and do the, you know, the the meditative exercises, to move through some of the hardest aspects of grief? I don't think I'm answering your question.

Michael Kithcart: 22:55
I love your response. So we're good, we're good.

Nancy Lyons: 22:59
Okay. And Joi Lewis, find her, love her. She's got the best vibe, and just has such good work to do and that she brings to communities.

Michael Kithcart: 23:10
Yeah. Okay. I noted her down, we're going to, we're going to give her a shout out in the show notes too, just because we need to, you know, you mentioned earlier, I'm going to kind of bring it back as we want to talk about mindset in the workplace mindset in life, even really, it was such a big premise of your book. And you said earlier, too, it's like, come on, and just like, decide that, you know, be responsible and some respect, that wasn't your exact words. But like mindset is such a big piece of how we decide to see life. We choose whether it's going to be you know, hostile, is life working for us? Is it against us or our coworkers, you know, are they talking behind my back? Are they being collaborative? And so, share a little bit about how you pull mindset to influence the culture that you've created at call at Clockwork.

Nancy Lyons: 24:15
Sure. Well, you know, I did a lot of research on the book about mindsets and attitudes and the importance of those things. But I also, I've told people before, and I maintain that, you know, I didn't know if I'd have a career because I didn't fit the mold, which I talked about pretty openly in the book. And it wasn't until I shifted my own mindset. So I was sort of my own lab rat in that. It wasn't until I decided not learned you know not you know, was told her control But decided now, all those other things happened. I did do a lot of learning, I did have some experiences I did. But I had to also decide that I wasn't less than, and that I was responsible for my success or lack thereof. And I believe you know that. And, you know, listen, when I say that stuff, I'm really careful to recognize that I'm generalizing, right? Like, there's all sorts of mental health stuff and physical stuff, and opportunity stuff, and white privilege, all of that is baked into my own experience. But for myself, um, I had to decide that my fat ass was not a deterrent to success, right, I had to decide that the fact that I don't look or act like other women was actually a deterrent to success, I had to decide that being out in my life, right and proud of my life, was actually a compliment to the things that I wanted for myself, so. So I was the first, you know, sort of subject of the research in my book. But I've also seen it from so many other people. And in the beginning of this, when you when you talk through my bio, you said, I've been doing this for 25 years, in that entire time I've been managing or employing people to, and what I know about people in that process, or by consulting with other companies, where I wasn't an employer, but I was an observer of behavior. What I know is, most people let stuff happen to them. And most people are looking for someone to give them a set of instructions for how it should happen. So they're not, they're not only just looking for, like, my job is this, here are the checkboxes next to my job description, this is what I'm going to do. But they're when they can complain, like crazy about the lack of change the lack of evolution in the organization, but they're very rarely the people that want to make the change happen. And when employers or institutions, organizations, leadership, whatever, try to make change, people resist it. And, you know, and they, and they, and they, they don't just resist, they complain like crazy, right? And there's all sorts of it. But all of that is from a place of being a victim of it. You know, I'm a victim of change, I'm a victim of their thinking or not thinking about me, I'm a victim of my circumstances. I'm a victim. And I will say, you know, I talked earlier about how my mom modeled behavior for me and my mom, in her professional life, was very rarely a victim. So I didn't see her ever really settle. And I think the fact that she never really settled modeled that for me, and it was something that I was able to grab on to in my professional development. And then when I started doing some research and digging in and really writing, it became clear that the kind of experiences that I had, could be sort of rolled up into tough love that I could deliver to others. Because here's the thing I taught I do consulting for organizations all the time, and or I do keynotes and, and I said this in the in the book to, like people in keynotes or when I do talks or workshops, or whatever, people are saying, gosh, it's like you're a fly on the wall. So they acknowledge the truth, the shared truths, but they don't want to hear about themselves, right? They don't want to, like what they say is, yeah, we're screwed up, or this place is where my boss is a mess, or, yes, my team is crappy, just exactly like what you're describing. But I'm not the problem. They are.

Michael Kithcart: 28:54
I know, and I love it when CEOs say that. It's like, so go fix them. And it's like, yeah, that none of that's gonna stick until we address you.

Nancy Lyons: 29:04
Right, right. Right. I mean, it basically happens at every level of an organization, like, people, they, people very, they act as if the stuff is happening to them. And then they rarely take a long look at themselves and say, Wow, if I change these four behaviors, a I might like go into work more. I might like my co workers more. You know, I might get what I need. I might feel challenged if I asked for what I want. Whoa, I might get it.

Michael Kithcart: 29:32
Yeah, I have a I I'm with you and spent a number of years in corporate and leading teams and people will come in that people like to bitch right, like they want to come in. They want to complain and say what's not right. So Institute the 90 second rule, you get to bitch for 90 seconds, go ahead and get it off your chest and then it's like, Okay, what are you going to do about it? Right? Right, and put the onus back on because sometimes people just want event. Okay, come in here and do it. Don't do it out there. Don't do it out in the, you know, the bullpen come in here. But then that shift of like, Oh, well, I'm going to go talk to the person. You're right. I do have a voice. Like sometimes people need to be reminded. And sometimes people just don't have the flippin guts to do it. And so how do you encourage people to get the guts? To raise their voice and and to be part of the change?

Nancy Lyons: 30:32
Yeah, um, well, I mean, it's a it's a mantra, right? It's a drum. It's a resounding theme. So when you say encourage, I feel like that's pretty much the constant drumbeat. And I tried to model the behavior. I tried to ask for it. I try to remind people that you know, especially the folks on my staff, because I think people are always surprised when I tell them that people on my own teams struggle, just like people struggle anywhere. And when they're like, why are you the best place to work? It's because that's the nature of people. You know, it does, yeah, I have a fine place to work. But, um, people, no place is utopia, no place, you know, is everything that a person wants. And I think people make up narratives, you know, about why they're feeling the way that they're feeling. And it's never the truth. But it somehow, you know, eases some of their pain or quells, the need to take personal responsibility for it. So I think, you know, for me, it's just constant conversations, it's reminders, it's modeling. It's empowering a leadership team to reflect those values. It's having values that are people focused and people centered, but also, that set us, you know, that that sort of lay out a set of expectations. For us, like our values are being adaptable, being curious, being fueled by challenge, being helpful. All of those and telling the truth, those are our values. And, you know, and I, and I think adaptability is probably the number one thing that people need in the workplace right now. And when I say workplace, I'm not talking about a brick and mortar place, I'm talking about, you know, that sort of mind space that you go to when you're doing the thing that you do to earn a living. And, you know, there was a reporter in town who didn't want to write about the book, because they were like, well, this doesn't make sense now, since nobody's going to work. And I was like, what planet are you on? Because I think this book is perfect for this post-pandemic, you know, reality that we're all facing, which is, you know, if we want to take whatever it is we pivoted into, and evolve and expand and face this new world head on, we have to recognize our power as individuals, and what happens when we actually drop our judgment, and our inability to collaborate and our, you know, our fiefdom and our information hoarding, what what magic happens when we just go in it with the best of intentions, and we stop being so selfish about it, like, what, what beauty can we actually produce? And so I think, you know, there's no magic bullet. There's no, you know, there's no, I can't wave a magic wand and get people to think differently. It's just like therapy. It's a conversation that has to happen over and over and over again.

Michael Kithcart: 33:51
Got it. Well, and you mentioned modeling the behavior. And I have to say, one of the things that I really enjoyed about reading your book, is that you are so as you point out, like, me. I'm just me.

Nancy Lyons: 34:03
(dog barks) We're working at home now.

Michael Kithcart: 34:10
(laughter) That's so great. I have a dog too.

Nancy Lyons: 34:12
I don't know what he's doing. Sorry.

Michael Kithcart: 34:15
The look on your face was priceless. Anyway, okay. This will get edited out too. I'll start at the you know, you talked about modeling behavior. And one of the things I really enjoyed reading your book and I loved all the parts where you are just like so you like, this is who I am. And it's part of the story and the narrative that you tell throughout it was very refreshing to hear and to see and to read. And it made me also think to, like, so many people don't feel like they can be themselves at work, especially at work. And so what are your would you like, advice, what words would you share? with people who might be listening right now who are like, that's great, Nancy, it's your company, you get to be you. I don't feel like I can be me and in my workplace.

Nancy Lyons: 35:09
Yeah. You know, I think that and I think I said this a little bit in the book, but we have this old way of thinking about work where, you know, if I get a job, they own me, and I don't upset anybody or rattle the, you know, the the authority of this organization. And I'm just going to play by the rules, and I'm not going to ask for anything, especially I'm going to, and oh, no, you know, don't let them see me. And I sort of feel like, if that's how you're feeling, you aren't valuing yourself enough in the broad scheme of things. Because as an employer, and someone who has been around employers for 25 years, really solid, mindful, thoughtful talent, and not necessarily talent that possesses every ideal skill set, but decent, ethical, hardworking humans. That's what most organizations want. So everybody, regardless of skill set, if you are a decent, you know, emotionally intelligent, hard working human, that's you are valuable, you are a value. So if you aren't, given the space and the respect to be fully yourself in your current employment situation, leave. And I know that sounds like a really easy thing to say. But I, I really believe that if this you know, if the book or if what we're saying resonates with you, there's a place for you, there's a place for you, there's some place that will value how you think and how you work, and how you want to show up. So to allow yourself to be continuously mistreated, speaks to how much you value yourself. And you know, we are and I'm talking and I'm talking about any job, you know, in the book, because I think I get a lot of people saying, well, that's fine. You're the CEO, like you mentioned. And that's absolutely true. But in the book, I talk about different situations, one of which was waiting tables, which I did for 10 solid years, while I was finishing school and building my career, through college, finishing college, you know, starting my career, I worked several jobs, to try and start, you know, kickstart my career. And I loved food service, I met brilliant human beings in food service. And, and I did not let you know, and I quit jobs that were not for me, where I wasn't valued, or, you know, I mean, jobs where I had one job where they wanted me to where I am particularly well endowed in a certain area, and they wanted me to wear the lady shirt, and the lady shirt was not only unflattering, but it was inappropriate, in my opinion. It was also risky, I was exposing things that I did not want to drop hot food on, let's say that.

Michael Kithcart: 38:08

Nancy Lyons: 38:08
And, and they, you know, we had tension. And, and I was like, I, you know what I get to decide what I put on this body, I'm willing to play by the rules, but when the rules compromise my safety, the rules can go to hell, and my comfort and my ability to provide good customer service. Like if I'm not comfortable, am I really showing up? Well, for those customers, right, they want my full attention. They want my energy. So I left and I think, um, I think there's something in this book for everybody. And there's something in that thinking for everybody. So I think when people discount it, because they're like, well, I don't have the luxury of doing that. They're not thinking they're not really challenging themselves. And I think there is no business or industry where we can't challenge ourselves, to show up more fully, to ask for what we want to be solution focused, to be interested in change and to contribute to the success of the company, because their success is our success. So I guess, you know, the CEO thing is honestly, neither here- Yes, I have power. I made it. I made it for myself. Do you want to know why? Because I was powerless when I had bosses who just looked at me like some chunky woman with a big mouth. So I made my power. And that's an option for everybody too.

Michael Kithcart: 39:32
Yeah. And I want to say to when I was reading the book, and you give lots of examples of where you worked in situations, and you were really I was going through my own past work experience. I've never had bad work experiences like what you described in your book. And so I think it's also a testament to your point, okay, you're the CEO today, but in all of those situations, You also had the power to decide whether or not you left or you stayed. And everything in the book is personal accountability, in my opinion.

Nancy Lyons: 40:08
Yeah, exactly.

Michael Kithcart: 40:09
The whole thing. And so if you need a good dose of self accountability, and who doesn't, you will find it in this book. Tell us the definition of boss, because its Work Like a Boss, and how is it different from being bossy?

Nancy Lyons: 40:26
Well, I think, you know, in the book, what I was really trying to illustrate was, you know, I think people always, you know, they distance themselves from the issues, and they're always like, Well, my boss will figure that out, or my, you know, or at the end of the day, I'm still gonna have a job, it's my boss's problem, or whatever. And I was trying to sort of illustrate this idea that bosses aren't any different from anybody that work for them. The biggest difference, you know, they're there, they're human, too. They're flawed, too. They make mistakes, and they show up wrong, and they trip over themselves, and they forget, appointments they have and don't show up. And, you know, they're, they're equally as flawed. The difference between a boss and everybody else is, they have to take the risk, they have to make the decision, they do not have a choice. So some of that boss behavior that you know what, I'm just gonna do it, and we're gonna see what happens and I'll be accountable for the outcome. Some of that boss behavior is what everybody, A, does possess, if they're willing to really open up to it, and, B, needs to show up with, everybody needs to show up with their boss energy. So I think boss, you know, it's not bossy. It's not about telling people what to do. I think that's how we romanticize the role of boss, so they just get to tell people what to do actually know. They are accountable for all of it, all of it. At the end of the day, if my company fails, nobody's going to go to the employees and say, well, you failed, you really screwed up. I'm the one that the Business Journal will write about, and talk about as the failure. And so I do think that that energy, and everyone embracing it is what's necessary to meet this next iteration of work head on.

Michael Kithcart: 42:17
Yeah, yeah. And you know, talking about that, too, as you think about we're coming- hopefully, coming out of COVID and stuff. What do you think that next iteration needs that we didn't have before?

Nancy Lyons: 42:33
Well, I think the obvious from this conversation is more personal accountability. But I also think it's more humanity. I think that work still operates like work, which is how work has operated all the time. And I say work repeatedly, because it's just a product, now. It's like a bottle of a thing that we've always had, right? It's it's the thing we've always had the back of the refrigerator, it looks the same, it acts the same, tastes the same. We're used to it. But we can't be the same anymore. You know, I was telling somebody earlier today I read that article about Wells Fargo sending a note to their 260,000 workforce, right? And what did they say the Business Journal said, they have 60,000 that had been at locations and in offices around the country and 200,000 have gone home. And now they've, you know, whatever, hope Wells Fargo doesn't listen to your podcast. But if they do, I'll stand by what I say, which is they sent a note out saying in September, everybody's coming back to work. And, and they talked about the value of impromptu conversations, which they don't have to tell those people, right. Those people know, they're missing those, they're missing each other right now they're missing. Being in the office, they're missing, you know, spontaneous interactions and lunches and being pulled into meetings and creative collaborations. They're missing that they want that. But it's the snap back that I think is dangerous. It's the it's over in September, we're coming back with an it's the inclusion of those voices, and there and those 200,000 unique perspectives and unique set of needs and wants an interest and capabilities that I think are being ignored in how that decision is getting made. Because banking is always looked like this right? banking. This is how we bank, we bank with you being there and your suit, and people coming into the bank to talk to you and your suit. And if you have an office job, we go further down the hall. But I think there's an opportunity for us to have far more personalized relationships with our bankers if our bankers are here, right? I mean, I don't even know who my banker is. All I know is my teller pisses me off whenever I go make a deposit because they ask me personal questions about my accounts and I'm like, Who are you just take my money, put it in the box, leave me alone. But if bankers really want to engage with people, I think there's opportunities for relationships. All over the world right here. And there's opportunities to serve customers in a different way, by thinking about how we're going to serve our people in a different way. So there's an opportunity to revolutionize that entire world of finance. And to me, it's a Nope, we're going back. And I don't know about you. But I think about the snap back, and I'm scared of it. And I'm the boss. Right? I never have to go to work a day in my life if I don't want to, because I'm the boss. But I think about this idea that okay, when this is over, we're all just gonna go back to the way it was. I don't want to socialize the way I did before. I don't want my family as busy as we were before. I don't want work to look like the way it did before. So I think not using this as an opportunity to really think through what's possible, is a big misstep.

Michael Kithcart: 45:50
Yeah, there's a huge opportunity here. And we're already seeing the disconnect. There was just a statistic that came out that said something like nearly all CEOs want people back to come back to the office, hence, the Wells Fargo's, but 75% of the workforce wants to be able to continue to work remotely, at least part of the time. And so right there, like, like, there, there's that. Okay, how are we going to bridge this gap? Why does it have to be done the same way that we used to do it? Right? This innovation was created out of the necessity of COVID. Right? You know, this, you're in technology, you you innovate every day. So this is an opportunity for the leaders of the world to to relook at things. And so what would you do if you were the CEO of Wells Fargo? (dog barks) Let's just keep playing that out.

Nancy Lyons: 46:49
And like, I've killed my dog an hour ago. Like I don't know why he doesn't- like, he hasn't been a sound all day. Now he's in here barking because he's like, you already looked like a fool in front of this woman. Let's make you look more foolish. Hold on one second. Nobody's home, I don't know why he keeps doing that.

Michael Kithcart: 47:11
I'll re-ask you the question.

Nancy Lyons: 47:13

Michael Kithcart: 47:13
Or do you not want me to ask you the question?

Nancy Lyons: 47:15
No, go ahead, (to dog) lay down and shut it.

Michael Kithcart: 47:18
Oh, my God, you talk to your dog the same way I talk to my dog

Nancy Lyons: 47:22
I love him. But honestly. Sorry,

Michael Kithcart: 47:27
We might not edit that out.

Nancy Lyons: 47:28
Yeah? You don't have to.

Michael Kithcart: 47:31
We don't. Okay. So we have the you know, it's it's opportunity there. If you were the CEO of the Wells Fargo, what would you be doing right now.

Nancy Lyons: 47:44
I'd be approaching this with a design thinking lens. And I would encourage, you know, Wells Fargo has layers and layers and layers of management. But I would encourage management, the leaders inside of the organization, and the managers, too, pull together the stakeholders, and think through how they could both serve the organization and the customers how they could co create a new way of thinking about work that better serves customers and better serves, but also allows space for those people to be people. I don't have answers for how Wells Fargo should operate other than to say, I believe that the CO creation piece of it is what's missing. I'm sure leadership co created the response right to the, to the vaccine and the coming out of the pandemic isolation. But I think we need to bring in people who are, you know, the people that clean the floors, the people that are the tellers, you know, because those are the those are the aspects, I'm not worried about the CEO, he can work wherever he wants, right? Probably on the plane somewhere. I'm worried about the tellers who feel like their jobs are that rigid. I'm worried about the people that clean or, you know, the office workers or, you know, the young folks or the single moms or the, you know, anybody who's half human who needs some space to take care of their lives, who are already balancing and have, you know, really struggled now there are going to be some people who just want to go back to work, they just want things back the way they were. Cool. There's there's lots of room for them. But we also have to hear from those other people who need the organization to shift a little to make room for them too. So I think it's a design thinking exercise where you start to go Okay, what is ideal look like? And what do we all need? Let's just put all of our needs and wants out there and and categorize them right as this would be nice to have this is essential, you know, this I could do without and then start to prioritize, you know, because the priorities right now only reflect the most privileged in the hierarchy. And the priorities need to reflect the people that keep the business alive. And that's through its, you know, there's a through line through that organizational chart that I think is poorly represented when we make a big decision like that.

Michael Kithcart: 50:14
Yeah. Well, there's a, there's a lot of good ideas and that and it's just on some, like real basic level, it's just kind of like, we're not the same people we were a year ago, why would we operate the same way?

Nancy Lyons: 50:28
Right, right.

Michael Kithcart: 50:30
Just common sense.

Nancy Lyons: 50:31
It does. And I think, you know, when I survey my own staff, which is much smaller, um, you know, they miss each other. So I'm not worried about them actually getting together seeing each other going, they miss the office. But for me to dictate how that happens, is short sighted.

Michael Kithcart: 50:50
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I've nodded my head in agreement with you throughout this entire podcast, that I just want to note, since people can't actually see it, I'm just gonna have you bring it home for us. And what would you say are like the top three to five things that people can do, regardless of circumstances or situations right now where they can be bringing their power forward at work, so that they're working like a boss?

Nancy Lyons: 51:18
Sure. Well, I think instead of complaining, I'm really challenge yourselves to be solution focused, you know, like you said, it's easy to point to things that are broken, it's much harder to point to things and think about how you might improve them, how you might be part of the change. So I think that's one way being solution focused, I think letting go of judgments of other people, we have a lot of, you know, people, sometimes workplaces are hard, not because of the rules that are in place, but because of the expectations that we have for each other, I expect you will be here, and your butt will be in the seat, I expect that you will dress or look a certain way, I expect that you're not going to be too loud or too pushy, or too, you know, bombastic or whatever it is, I have expectations of you, you know what, don't worry about other people, let them show up as they will worry about you, you know, and and model the behavior that you're interested in seeing from others, which should be, you know, that one of collaboration and honesty and decency, and, you know, respect, like model that. So I think letting go of our need to complain about other people or to judge other people. Is, is another one, I think remembering that we have agency, like I think people tell themselves stories about what their worth is, you know, about their worth, or their intelligence or their, you know, they can talk themselves out of sharing ideas, because I'm, you know, that's not actually a good idea. But remember that we are all good and valuable, just because we were born and you have a right, you have a purpose. But you know, your, your thinking is as valuable as anybody else's. I also think that there's a big difference between ideas and acting on them. Right. So I think oftentimes, people believe my ideas, brilliant, why aren't they doing my idea? Prove your idea out, right? What's a prototype? What's a way of sharing data that suggests the idea will work? ideas on their own are just a cloud, right? They're, they're vapor. So being solution focused, recognizing your agency, you know, really limiting self talk, not judging each other. But showing up with a desire to be part of the solution, not part of the problem and shifting your energy. Right. Like, people are just we, you know, I talked about this in the book, but we default to negative, right? It's like, oh, everything sucks. Everything's horrible. Well, that might be but something isn't right. And maybe it's you. Maybe you are, you know, the thing that isn't lousy today. So show up with that energy. I think, you know, people recognizing that they're responsible for energy, and the energy they bring into meetings and interactions. And customer engagements are so important. So important. It's why, you know, as you can tell, I'm always on a soapbox. I'm always like, plugged in, right? And there was a long time when I had people in my life that wanted to shame me for that. But that right there is my secret sauce. Like I don't do anything half assed. I don't do anything without believing in it. That's it. That's my gift. And I appreciate it. And I'm showing up with it. And if you don't like it, that's not my problem. It's yours. And I think that's how I feel about you know, most things. It's like, if other people bother you set their problem, it's yours. fix it.

Michael Kithcart: 54:51
Yeah. So because it's all in the way you all the way that you perceive it and the way that you look about it, look at it, and if you can't, I have a friend who always says if you can't change it change the way you think about it. There's my shout out to you, Sally. And yeah, it's a good one. It's good. And if nothing else, we all have the ability to be kind.

Nancy Lyons: 55:11

Michael Kithcart: 55:12
So if you can't do anything else, be kind. Nancy, I could talk to you forever. This was so great. Thank you so much. How can people follow you or find you?

Nancy Lyons: 55:27
Um, you can find me on my website at or my company which is You can find me on Twitter @Nylons on Instagram @Nylons on Clubhouse @Nylons. I know that's weird, but that's what people see when I write N Lyons. Everybody looks at and they're like Nylons. Is that really your name? It's like no, but now I'm going to take it. So just Google. I'm everywhere. And my book is on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and wherever your favorite books are sold.

Michael Kithcart: 55:54
Yes, that's great. We'll put a link to that as well as to your newsletter. So, Nancy, thank you.

Nancy Lyons: 56:00
Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Michael Kithcart: 56:03
If you're like most people you want this year to be better than last year. How's it going so far? Chances are you're making some progress. So how's your momentum? If you'd like to find ways to accelerate your goals, check out Champion New Group Coaching each month other high achievers just like you meet virtually to learn new ways to break down current barriers and put action and momentum behind their goals. If you're looking to get different results in your business and in life, then discover how Champion New Group Coaching can support you in achieving your own version of an unstoppable 2021. click on the link in the show notes or go to for more information and sign up.



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