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Authentic Leadership

Dr. Michelle Johnston: Thriving Through Connections – Joel Goldberg Media

Leadership / September 23, 2022

What is authentic leadership? How do I become more connected to my team? Why does it matter? These are the types of questions I’m often asked by the corporate audiences I keynote to. And it isn’t because attendees are interested in the type of audio-visual “connectedness” I use as a sports broadcaster for the Kansas City Royals. Our post-pandemic world has given many the flexibility of remote and hybrid work models. But it has also created the unique challenge of forging authentic connections, which teams want and need to be successful.

Research shows that feelings of connection accelerate when the mic and camera are turned off. The most successful leaders recognize the critical value of creating authentic relationships, shifting the question from “why do we need this” to “how do we implement this”. And one recent guest on my podcast Rounding the Bases helped explain.

There’s a saying that people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. As workers continue to demand better, she would argue that what many are calling The Great Resignation is actually a “treat me like a human” revolution. She’s a celebrated academic and joined live from New Orleans to weigh in on this new school of leadership.

Her name is Dr. Michelle Johnston, the best-selling author, award-winning executive coach and Gaston Chair of Business at Loyola University of New Orleans. With compelling research, she’s facilitating seismic mind shifts, and positioning leaders to retain their talent. We may be working in a digital world, but authentic human connection can still reign supreme.

SINGLE: Authenticity Is The Way

Dr. Johnston isn’t your typical academic. As a young professional, she worked hard to fit the archetype of a professor. Or what she thought others expected a professor to look like, anyway. It included lecturing for hours in a serious, occasionally inhuman way. And despite her undeniable capabilities, she was failing. Why? Because she wasn’t being herself.

“Once I embraced who I was,” she said, “that’s finally when my career took off.” Her authentic leadership style was engaging and her personality bursting with color. So she traded black for pink and control for conversation, and by the time she was finished, she also found herself on the fast track to success.

DOUBLE: Priorities Redefined 

A seismic shift is, by definition, a fundamental reorientation. We see them in nature as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides…you get the idea. They’re major events with the potential to literally change the landscape. The human version of these earth-changing events are unfolding in real-time at companies all around us, fueling – or at least catalyzing – The Great Resignation.

Until recently, people were willing to tolerate toxic workplace culture for the stability they received in exchange. But employee priorities have changed, and in a groundbreaking kind of way. “If we are to get the results that we want, we need to treat people like humans,” Michelle explained. The first step is seeing them as their whole, authentic selves, not just the professional edit that shows up to work. By empowering employees to be authentic, leadership helps them feel a sense of purpose. That they are valuable because of who they are, not just for what they do.

TRIPLE: Connection First

“Research shows that people want to be seen, heard, valued and appreciated,” she told me. It’s a sentiment that was echoed by another recent guest of mine, executive leadership and culture coach Bonnie Hagemann from EDA Inc. She observed that the new generation of employees are forcing ground-up change on an unprecedented scale. And we’re seeing it as employees walk away from their jobs in droves. In many cases, positions they’ve occupied for 10 or more years.

Michelle cited a team building event she facilitated for one of her biggest clients. Qualcomm is an innovative tech company that was, at the time, eager to formulate its next disruption. Throughout the exercises, Michelle had to remind its leadership team that before you achieve success you must have connection. Instead of allowing discussion to jump right to what she calls the “blowing things up” phase of strategy planning, she insisted on first building a psychological safety net. For 80% of the team, this retreat was their first time seeing or meeting their colleagues in-person. While many had established familiarity, they lacked trust, which is critical for teams to succeed.

By the end of the activity, one woman approached Michelle with tears in her eyes. She recalled sheltering in place for two years, completely alone, during the pandemic. Worse still, her prior boss had never once reached out to ask how she was coping. “I choose to work for someone who cares,” she told Michelle.

HOME RUN: Big Little Things

Deep connections take time. Aside from the obvious challenge of earning trust, there’s the task of building rapport and actually remembering the details your team shared with you. But any short-term effort exhausted on remembering little things will pay dividends down the line, or something I call small ball.  “You search for community, you search for connection,” Dr. Johnston told me. “It’s what the research shows.”

Take time to go deeper, to remember kids names and who is in what activity. It shows employees the kind of care they need to feel valued, and also become long-term members of the team. After all, its the little plays that help the big wins happen.

Listen to the full interview here or tune in to Rounding the Bases every Monday and Thursday, available wherever you get your podcasts.

Learn More About Authentic Leadership from Joel 

Book Joel Goldberg for your next corporate event. He draws on over 25 years of experience as a sports broadcaster. In addition, he brings unique perspectives and lessons learned from some of the world’s most successful organizations. Whatever your profession, Joel is the keynote speaker who can help your team achieve a championship state of mind.

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Full Transcript:

Joel Goldberg 0:00
Welcome to another episode of Rounding theBbasis presented by Community America Credit Union, believe in unbelievable. Love the partnership with them as well as my friends at Chief of Staff Kansas City, making connections that matter. Check them out at Chief of Staff kc.com. I’ve got a guest today, who actually I’m just meeting and I’m excited because I already could tell that we have a lot in common. And this is a topic that we’ll be discussing that I really love because, quite frankly, we could use a lot more positivity in this world and a lot of hope. There’s a saying that people don’t leave companies they leave bosses. As workers continue to demand better, my guest today would argue that what many are calling ‘The Great Resignation’ is actually a ‘Treat Me Like a Human’ revolution. She’s a celebrated academic joining me live from New Orleans to weigh in on the new school of leadership for our post-pandemic world. Everybody’s going through this in some way or another right now. Her name is Dr. Michelle Johnston, the best selling author, award winning executive coach and Gaston Chair of Business at Loyola University of New Orleans. With compelling research, she’s facilitating seismic mind shifts and positioning leaders to retain their talent. We may be working in a digital world, but authentic human connection can still reign supreme. I believe that, there’s some days I’m not so sure. But Michelle is going to tell us right now that this is all very doable. And there’s a lot of hope. Dr. Michelle Johnston, Hi, Michelle.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 1:47
Hey, Joel, thank you so much for having me. I’m really looking forward to our conversation.

Joel Goldberg 1:52
As you told me beforehand, you may or may not be going through a hurricane right now. So I’m just hoping you’re here when it ends. And, you know, if not, well, you’ll be there. But will we hear some thunder rumbling that’s part of interviewing someone in New Orleans during the start of hurricane season. But other than that, I know that just in, in you and I talking. I know that we have a good rapport, because what should have been three or four or five minutes turned into you and I just kind of yapping for 20 minutes. And, and that was a lot of fun. But but I sense that you are a high energy person. Is that a pretty obvious and accurate statement?

Dr. Michelle Johnston 2:29
Yes, it is. I’ve been told that. And you know, it took me a while as a young professor to kind of own my style. And there’s a chapter in my book about giving up perfection. And I tried to be you know what I thought an academic was supposed to be. Super serious, and just talking about rigorous research and lecturing for hours. And I tried so hard, Joel to be that person. And it did not work. Instead, I had to really kind of own my strengths and own my energy. And I really wanted classroom discussions and role plays and interaction and engagement. And so finally, once I embraced who I was, and, and kind of the gifts that I could bring to the table, that’s finally when my career took off. And so I ended up writing a chapter on that.

Joel Goldberg 3:17
That to me, I told you, I love organic conversation. So I didn’t know we were going right there. But what jumps into my head and I love it is that I think all of us can fall into traps where we think we’re supposed to be something that we don’t have to be. That that may be sometimes that’s just in our own minds, right? I mean, this is the way a TV person supposed to be. This is the way a professor’s supposed to be. This is the way and it’s like, wait a minute, aren’t we all different types of personalities? That had to have been a very liberating thing for you. When you got to a point of saying, This is what Michelle Johnson the professor is like, not what someone needs me to be.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 3:51
Yeah, I swear there could be a movie made out of all of the, the faux pas that I made as a young professor. I never would have worn hot pink. I had like an entire wardrobe closet of very conservative black Ann Taylor pant suits with reasonable hair, you know, reasonable heels, not even heels, shoes, hair, you know, severely pulled back and I have this one episode that I’ll never forget Joel I was in a stadium style classroom. And I was lecturing in my very reasonable conservative, black pantsuit. And I was talking about nonverbal communication trying to really temper my enthusiasm and energy, but my heel I guess I was wearing heels that one day my heel came flying off and went tumbling about 10 feet away and landed right in front and I was this young professor who in my head is I just shared with you all. I thought it was all about power and control and never let them see you sweat. And so I just pretended that that did not happen. And I awkwardly you know, tried to kind of make my way and pick up my heel and never mentioned it, and I think back to those years, and I think what an idiot, I mean, now, if that would happen to me, I would just let out this huge laugh and say, “So glad that didn’t pierce you in the lips. Sorry about that.” At least acknowledge it. But so much of leadership back then, what I was seeing, and what I was subscribing to was the that command and control all about power. And you have to know everything about every topic and assert your authority. And I’ve just I call I named my book, The Seismic Shift, because there’s this huge shift that’s happening. And that’s no longer effective. It’s just not.

Joel Goldberg 5:43
Well, I would think that students nowadays, not just right now, but But in recent years, and, you know, you were telling me that you have a son about my son’s age. And so we know, as parents, what they’re looking for, we don’t always agree with all that. But that’s generational, right? But like, this is a different generation that expects more. And I’m constantly amazed at the pushback from some in management and leadership positions that want things to stay the way they were. Nothing ever stays the same, too. So how would you describe that seismic shift right now? Because I would bet that anyone, I’m not sure how much you’re in the classroom anymore at this point. But I would think students nowadays in the classroom, have a different perspective and different expectations than maybe what you and I did when we were in class.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 6:38
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I spend a lot of time also as an executive coach, and, and so what I was seeing in the corporate realm was that the leaders who were holding on to that old command and control authoritarian style, were getting pushed out, and they were calling me, “Please come help this person.” And whenever I begin a coaching relationship, I conduct a stakeholder analysis. A 360. Because you’re held hostage in a leadership position by how other people perceive you, right? So we got to know, it’s one thing for me to say, oh, here are the characteristics that make a leader successful. No, I need to see how I need to interview and understand how other people perceive you. And what was happening is those who were holding on to that old bastion of power, and control were creating these cultures of fear. And so companies wanted to be innovative, yet the leaders who were subscribing to that style, they were stifling risk and innovation and creative problem solving. Right? So, so I was seeing the negative consequences of that old style. And then I would interview like, you just refer to the younger employees are like, I’m not working for this person. Are you kidding me? I’m out. And we, that was also a shift. We weren’t used to employees having that much power now coming off of the Great Resignation, or what we call the Great Reevaluation, the Great Reprioritization, employees are saying, Yeah, I learned a lot about myself. And I’m not putting up with abusive toxic cultures anymore. I want to work. I want flexibility, right? I want to find purpose, I want to find meaning. I want to feel like I contribute. So what I found the seismic shift is what we need right now, Joel is meaningful connection. If we want to get the results, whether it’s in sports, whether it’s in hospitals, whether it’s in the classroom, if we want to get the results that we want. We need to treat people like humans, we need to show up and see them from a personal perspective, not just from a professional perspective. So that’s another chapter in my book that the research uncovered when I went and interviewed all these leaders like okay, I figured out its connection. But what the heck does that mean? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How do you do it? And so what I got after interviewing, we had spoken right before we started recording the podcast, when I interviewed Jim Mora, who’s now the head coach at the University of Connecticut. And I interviewed Swin Cash, the former Olympian. I interviewed Drew Brees, you know, and then I interviewed CEOs of all these global companies are Juan Martien of Kind Bars to really help me understand, how do you show up and connect in a meaningful way? And it’s not easy, and like you just said, people kind of given me pushback, like, Wait, you’re telling me in the beginning of meeting, I have to actually connect with a person on a personal level, but we’ve got an agenda and we’ve got things to accomplish.

Joel Goldberg 9:38
You know, what I learned over the years, which is now everything that you’re talking about. It wasn’t a product of changing times. It was just a revelation on my part, and something that I don’t know that I was ever taught in school. My professors might push back on that, as I think about it, because I actually talked to my old, a broadcasting Teacher’s Assistant. Yesterday as we’re recording this, and I hadn’t talked to him for a bit, it’s not the first time. But he was my teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin. He’s now the dean of the Journalism School at the University of Missouri. So he, he’s done really well. And so we were catching up on the phone, and talking about the different lessons learned and all that, but I don’t remember them ever teaching how to build the relationships. They, they taught you sourcing, they taught you all the things you needed to do to be a journalist. But my big revelation, I wrote about this in my book, over the years was when I learned how to put the camera and the microphone down. And that that all of that the interview, was a byproduct of the relationship that was built. In essence, that’s what you and I did for 20 minutes before we came on here, and thankfully, but thankfully, I think that we have a similar energy. And I feel like a lot of philosophies that align. So it was a really good and easy match. We got lucky on that one, right. But ideally, you would like to be able to build the relationship. And once the you build the relationship, then the results in the business come versus everybody wanting the business first. Without getting there, right. Everybody wants to get to the finish line. And the big light, the light bulb went off for me. When I realized I didn’t need to be living in the soundbite world. Yes, I have to get sound bites every day and that type of stuff. But that I spend the bulk of my time without a microphone in my hand just talking to people and listening. And that is something that I think, getting back to the younger employees, students, that they demand right now. And it is, this is the time for it, right? I mean, we’re coming out of this pandemic, to talk about Great Resignation, Great Resignation. Great Reevaluation, I look at it as a great opportunity. I don’t know what your thoughts are on that.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 11:54
Oh, I love that. Yes, it is a great opportunity. Because we did have to spend a lot of alone time, a lot of time with our own thoughts, our own heads without a lot of social interaction. And so what the research has shown is people want to feel seen, heard, valued, and appreciated. And so they’re willing to leave one job, whether they were there for 10 years, just to try to find that with another job, I’ll tell you, I was out. Qualcomm’s a great, great client of mine, and Don McGuire just was named one of the most influential chief marketing officers out there right now. Incredible guy. So he kept flying me out San Diego, in the middle of a pandemic, whenever we had like, a couple of weeks, where you could actually meet in person, you’d be like, Michelle, can you fly out? I want my people to come and meet each other in person, we’ll go to a resort. And if we have to wear masks, we’re going to wear masks, we’re going to be totally safe. But I need my people in person. And I would say to him, yes. Why he’s like, because if we got to disrupt if we’re going to be the most innovative tech company, we’ve got to figure out how to disrupt everything, everything’s on the table. And I’d say okay, slow down. If you want to disrupt, you got to create psychological safety with the team, that 80% of them were just hired during the pandemic. And they’ve never seen each other from the waist down, right? They’ve only seen each other. And, and so we ended up over two, two and a half days together at a resort embedding so much time, just for connection, we would put them into circles and just say, have each person share their story. And then you know, the next hour, we’d come back together with a different team and take a personality test. Let’s talk about different personality styles. And he would he’s such a fast mover, he would say, Okay, can we get to the disruption stage, we need to blow everything up. We need to read the I was like, Yes, we will get there. But we’ve got to do it through connection. So in any case, the culmination of all of these visits, he bought my book for everybody was so sweet. And he said, Let’s do a fireside chat. So a couple months ago, I flew back to San Diego and he and I did this fireside challenge trying to kind of deconstruct How do you meaningfully connect with your people now, even though everybody still wants to work at home. And so at the very end, after it was over, this woman came up to me and she had tears in her eyes. And she said, Michelle, I am so grateful to be at Qualcomm, because for two years I was with a company that I will not name. And I lived by myself totally alone shelter in place. And my boss never once asked me how I was doing. And she said So going back to what you just said Joel, she said the great opportunity after all this was over is I’m going to choose to work for somebody who cares.

Joel Goldberg 14:51
Well, this was something people or someone told me during the pandemic. He said he was in HR, he said that you build a mental equity with people. And they will always remember how you treated them, especially during the tough times, they’ll never forget it good or bad. And so that’s when I think about opportunity, right? How do you want to present yourself today? What can you do for people and look, we all have bad days. As I’ve said, you and I are high energy people. And I can look like a high energy person all the time. That doesn’t mean that that’s where I knew that we were connected, because I was telling you about everything I had going on, and you immediately referenced, you know, that’s not easy to keep up that energy, I can keep up that appearance of that energy. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t wear down on the inside. So we’re all going through some version of that. And you never really know what someone is going through what I what I wanted to ask you because I think this is this is such a challenge for so many companies and people right now is that how do you bring people together to form a culture to sustain a culture to build a culture, when they’re not together the way they used to be? And as he talked about, they may only know each other from the waist up. And they may not want to know each other more than that. And not everybody wants to be hanging out every single moment of the day, right? We’re all a little bit different in terms of data. How? How do you bring all of that together? Understanding that everyone right now feels like or should feel like they have their own voice?

Dr. Michelle Johnston 16:25
That is a great question. And I just asked this question to Juan Martine, who is profiled in my book, and I had him on my podcast called The Seismic Shift. And Juan Martinez, the global president of Kind Bars. And so and he truly leads with compassion. I mean, Mars had to be really, really strategic when they bought Kind bars from its founder, Daniel Rybicki. And Mars had to look all over their global organization to find the right leader who could represent kindness, because they’re so long has not just evaluated because we talked about this, from the number of bars that he sells a year, he’s evaluated also on the number of acts of kindness. So you better believe you better have somebody at the helm of your kind organization who can demonstrate kindness. So he and I were talking about this, I said, Okay, well, the whole world has changed since you and I spoke. And when I interviewed him for my book, I said, So what are you doing differently now to connect when your employees told you, they still want to work from home, and now he’s in Manhattan. And when I interviewed him, he was stuck in, in Madrid for two years with two tiny kids in this in this smaller apartment with his wife. And it was so cute, because when I would interview him, you could see that had this adorable daughter would run into the room because it didn’t have a door, where they were quarantining and hop into his lap, and with a little, you know, chocolate milk and want to know, when when her dad was going to be off the call. And we talked about how the pandemic exposed, like we were all in our homes, and, and you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube now, because we’re still gonna be in our homes. But we also can’t pretend that that didn’t happen, and that people didn’t see us with, you know, the UPS man and the dogs barking, and our kids hopping into our lap. So I said, one. So now that you’re in Manhattan, and you’re asking people to occasionally come to the office, I said, What are you doing differently? And he said two things. He said, our employees absolutely said they would love to work Mondays and Fridays at home and come in Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays to our offices. So we’ve revamped the entire office space. He said, I don’t even have my own office now. Because when we come together in person, we want it to be collaborative. And we want to be able to brainstorm and work together in teams. When you’re home on Mondays and Fridays, you can be behind your computer and still throw in a load of laundry and maybe pick your kids up from school because we know that flexibility is key. I said, Okay, got it. So on the days that you’re home, you still are zooming with your people from around the world that’s not going to go away. So how do you make those meaningful connections on Zoom? And he’s got this. He’s from Spain, the south of Spain. And he has this beautiful accent. And he said, Michelle, and he lifted up his espresso cup. And he said, My people know that the first 10 minutes of whatever meeting we’re having, we’re drinking an espresso together. That’s what we do. And we don’t talk about business. So Well, there you go. That’s exactly what I’ve been talking about. It’s like you have to embed time for connection. You have to be deliberate. And so if somebody hops on the Zoom, and it’s like, Let’s get to business Juan says I lift up my espresso cup and say in a second, but I want to hear How’s your summer vacation? How is the beach?

Joel Goldberg 19:55
And so many of us forget that or we just get into the Hey, what’s up? How’s it going? And we’re not really listening. It’s just a formality. Right? It’s just a greeting. For the most part. I’m not saying everybody instead of a pointed question, right? You know, how was the trip? How’s the family what’s going on with so and so and it just the world moves so fast nowadays, and then we, in my opinion, we all need to slow it down a little bit of a job I’m dealing with.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 20:26
Well, you did because in the beginning before we you pushed record is you’re like, I love New Orleans. Michelle, my wife and I love the food. We love the poboys, I ate alligator, right? It’s it’s you search for commonality you search for connection. You’re right. It’s getting out of those kind of trite, oh, how you doing? Good. Okay, good, good. Let’s go ahead and begin. We need to go deeper, you need to show that you care about them as a whole person. And I’ll give you a funny story. I was at my daughter’s graduation. So yes, we have the same age kids, you have a son, I have a daughter. And she she just graduated, and I was at the graduation party. And my book just launched this past spring. And so one of my best friends husbands comes up to me, and he owns a big company, very successful company, President CEO. And he said, Michelle, I read your book. I said, Awesome. He goes, No, not awesome. I said, uh, talk to me. He goes, Yeah, I realized I’m doing everything wrong. And I said, Oh, no, talk to me. And he said, Well, are you really telling me, he said that when my people come in the office, and they show me pictures that their kids walk in and so and so is doing this and little league that I have to remember all of that. He’s like, I don’t know if I can do it. I said, just take notes when they leave the office. So yeah, we got to go deeper. And I think that’s what the research is showing. We got to go deeper and really show people we care about them.

Joel Goldberg 21:54
So good. Before we get to my baseball themed questions, I just wanted to ask you, unless this is the home run, and then then that that’ll answer that, but a little bit more about the book. And I know in talking to you in advance you put a lot into it. It’s not an easy process. I know that you know that also some amazing content. I’m excited to read it and you know, some some big names in there like Drew Brees, I’m curious about what the I feel like all academics are supposed to write books and and so I’m, I’m devaluing the process with the assumption that just because you’re a professor means that you just crank out books, and that’s what you do. It’s not that simple. I know. But I’m curious what what it felt like for you to be able to put something out there that helps and will help so many people, your friend, obviously one of them. And that was enlightening for him. That’s part one of the question. Part two is if there was a commonality between some of these, these people that you interviewed from from Drew Brees to, to any of the others as well, because I know that that’s a lot of successful people.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 23:04
Yeah, so the answer your first question, I took a huge risk when I wrote this book, because I’m not a typical academic, I teach practical skills. So I’m the business professor who teaches the soft skills. And I was so self conscious about that for years that I was surrounded by my colleagues who taught finance and accounting and economics, and I’m teaching leadership and strategic communication. And I was so self conscious and wanted to show that it really does matter. And it makes a difference that when I was publishing or perishing in order to get tenure, I went out and collected data with my colleague, Dr. Kendra Reed, and we wanted to show that creating a positive environment really did drive financial performance. And so we went and collected data from a manufacturing facility, multiple plants that manufacture they took car batteries, and turn them into plastic portable paint cans. So that was our sample. So we had all these manufacturing facilities. And we asked the question, that if you work for a leader who creates a positive listening environment, communicative values, your input transparent, do you make more money, and we were able to show that the sales were higher when a leader actually took time to create a positive environment? In any case, back to your question about this book. So I’m not a typical academic. So when I decided I was going to write a book, I self disclosed quite a bit and quite a bit of academics don’t really do that. So it was a huge risk. I talked about my failures, my missteps I talked about the shoe flying off in the classroom and me feeling like I couldn’t even laugh or act like a human because it was all about power and not owning the fact that I just made a mistake. And I put that all out there just in hopes that I can help others who who are struggling to be their authentic selves. Because that answers your next question, did I find some common themes with all these leaders from Drew Brees to Juan Martine to Todd Graves of Raising Canes to you know, CEOs of hospitals? Yes. And what I found is that once they finally gave themselves permission, right, they had to work on their connection with themselves. Once they were able to say, This is me, and I’m going to take the risk and show up as me. That’s when all of their careers took off, not just mine, which I talked about in the book, my faculty evaluations, Joel, were horrible. The dean had to pull me in, during that time when I was trying to look and act and sound like what I thought a professor was supposed to be. The dean pulled me in, and you’ll love this. The Dean’s name at the time was Pat O’Brien. How great is that in New Orleans? Perfect. And so he brought me in and said, Michelle, you’ve got to do something differently. And so I heard moments like that from a lot of my leaders. Warner Thomas is the CEO of a huge 40,000 person hospital system. And I said, Warner, when did you finally connect with yourself? He’s in his 50s. He’s one of the, he’s one of the most admired hospital leaders in the country. I said, When did you finally feel connected with yourself? He said, Honestly, Michelle, just a few years ago. So this connection with yourself is absolutely vital. If you’re then going to get to that next level, which is that meaningful connection with others, you can’t really meaningfully connect with others, if you’re not connected with yourself.

Joel Goldberg 26:37
And that applies to all of us to the to the highest level of leaders to whatever your role is. It all starts with ourselves. And so now you’re dealing with a lot of ego a lot of times and that’s one of the many challenges. Okay, how about for the baseball theme questions now a home run, what’s the biggest home run that you have hit in your career?

Dr. Michelle Johnston 26:59
I can’t believe my book is a best seller. I’m still in shock. I think I knew that I was on to something with connection that it’s all about connection, right. But I’m feeling incredibly blessed and grateful that it’s a homerun. And it’s a bestseller.

Joel Goldberg 27:15
Pretty awesome. And again, I’m looking forward to reading it. The Seismic Shift in Leadership: How to Thrive in a New Era of Connection. Second question, is we’re gonna miss a swing and a miss that you took and what did you learn from it?

Dr. Michelle Johnston 27:32
Well, my miss is what I talked about a lot with you today is I tried for years to be somebody. I tried to be perfect. And whatever perfect was in my eyes, and it wasn’t me. And I finally, you know, when I dedicated my book to the city of New Orleans, where you don’t have to be perfect, I finally realized that I just had to show up as an imperfect person. And that was the only way to make meaningful connections. So that was my hit and my miss all in one.

Joel Goldberg 27:57
I love that. It’s good. And the New Orleans reference. I mean, I guess what city is perfect, right? But in New Orleans is so uniquely itself. That’s a whole nother discussion. And maybe we’ll get into that in the final four questions. Last baseball theme question is small ball. That’s what I wrote about the little things that add up to the big results what a small ball to you.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 28:19
Says small ball is when that So speaking of the little things, I coach about 18 executives right now, and I will begin my coaching calls with Okay, what did you do to meaningfully connect with your team this week? And one of my leaders came to me this week and she said, You know what I came up with I said what she goes I know it’s small, but it’s really big in the beginning of my meetings now, all I say is give me a happy and give me a crappy. So we begin every meeting with happy crappy. And she goes it’s huge. So that small thing is turned into a huge thing.

Joel Goldberg 28:53
I like that. Happy and crappy. Never heard that one before. But it, it resonates righ? And it’s real. It’s real real. Yeah. Yeah, no doubt. And you know what? People, people want to be heard. People want to feel validated, whether it’s the happy or the crappy, right? And if they don’t feel like they have that voice, that’s when they end up going elsewhere.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 29:16
Totally. And I’m not advocating because some people think, oh my gosh, now that they told me their crappy, do I have to be a therapist and do something about it? No, no, no, no, this is just a little a little question to do a check in before you begin your meeting. And once people feel like, okay, I’m heard. That’s it. You don’t have to circle up. You know what I’m saying? Don’t you don’t have to circle back. It’s just a little exercise. And then you can go into your agenda.

Joel Goldberg 29:43
Well, it’s all it all applies. So great lessons, and I will one be reading the book soon. But again, encourage people just to jump online, The Seismic Shift in Leadership: How to Thrive in a New Era of Connection, I assume Amazon on record, where else can people go to find that?

Dr. Michelle Johnston 30:02
You can find it everywhere. And you can go to my website, MichelleKJohnston.com. But in every book, we have to retail or small enlarge the seismic shift. And I just launched my own podcast called The Seismic Shift. And I had Marshall Goldsmith was my first guest. And I’m so grateful. He’s my mentor, and he’s the number one executive coach in the world. And he just launched his new book called The Earned life and it’s a New York Times Best sell best seller. So we had a really interesting conversation. And Joel, I would love for you to be on my podcast, that would be amazing.

Joel Goldberg 30:36
Well, let’s just do that. I’m officially saying yes, so now I can’t back out. I wouldn’t have backed out anyway. But I will do that. So hopefully, everybody will check out Michelle’s podcast, you can check out her website, MichelleKJohnston.com. It’ll be in the show notes. Michelle with two L’s Johnston with a tea in there. It’s not Johnson Johnston. And this has been great. We’ll continue it over on the YouTube side so you can search for that’ll be in the notes as well. Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg and Michelle Johnston. Michelle, thanks so much for doing it. Congratulations on the book really, really enjoyed the conversation.

Dr. Michelle Johnston 31:14
Oh, Joel, this has been a blast. Thank you so much.