Leveraging Neuroscience to Scale with Joy

0:00:05.2 S1: Welcome to the Wired for Success Podcast. Your show for ambitious mission-driven entrepreneurs who understand that there’s more to entrepreneurship than finding the latest flash in the pan strategies, who understand that in order to build your empire… You need a solid foundation. I whole-heartedly believe that entrepreneurship is the biggest self development journey you can be on, and it’s my mission to help you make that journey easier. In this show, I bring together the very best from sign staff development and entrepreneurship to set you up for sustainable success. Hi, I’m Claudia Garbutt, the scientist and mindset coach behind the show, and you’re listening to the Wired for Success Podcast. Hey everyone, and welcome back to a brand new episode of the Wired for Success Podcast, where we talk about all things science, self-development and entrepreneurship, that help you get to that next level of success in your life and business, and today I’m bringing you another exciting and brand new interview. So my wonderful guest today is Jennifer Thornton, she’s an executive coach and leadership educator who focuses on leveraging the neuroscience of the brain to drive optimal results. Jennifer has developed her expertise in talent strategy and leadership professional development over her 20-plus year career as an HR professional, and she has led international teams across Greater China, Mexico, the UK and the US, to expand internet markets, managing franchise retailers and developing key strategic partnerships all while exceeding business objectives and financial results, and… Well, those of you who are listening to my podcast regularly know that I love neuroscience and I love cuts, I’m really looking forward to that conversation with Jennifer today. So welcome in and thank us much for being on my show today.

0:02:05.7 S2: Thank you for having me. It’s gonna be a great show.

0:02:08.5 S1: I’m sure it would be. So done, as I mentioned, you have started your career as an HR professional, and now you have a rapidly growing coaching and consulting business, can you tell us what made you decide to become an entrepreneur? Was there a key moment that made you realize you could build something amazing on your own, or was it more of a gradual process that led you to start your own business?

0:02:34.1 S2: I think that it was kind of one of those moments in time, but it was a couple of little moments in a short period of time where I was like, What am I doing? And I will never forget, I was in Hong Kong, I was in the board room, a new executive came in the door, and I had not met him physically… Yeah, I’d only talked to him on the phone, and I remember him walking in and every bit of me was like, Oh, I’m done, this is not gonna work out anymore, done out of here. And it was just this total body experience, and prior to that, I had realized that what I was really good at and what I really enjoyed doing, I was getting in trouble for a lot. And I was like, Why am I getting in trouble for what I’m really good at, and it was just this kind of this moment of time where I was like, Maybe I’ve outgrown what I can do here. I’d been with the organization for 20 plus years. I’ve done a million different positions, I’d worked all over the world, and it was just that kind of moment where I was like, I’ve outgrown my position, I’m out grand what I could do here.

0:03:44.6 S2: And it’s time for me to try something new. And so I thought, Well, I help my company start new businesses and other country surely I could figure out how to start my own, and so I threw out the shingle and here I am today with a successful business. And that’s awesome, I love that. But how do you experience this transition into entrepreneurship, was it difficult in the beginning or was it something that felt natural and… Right straight from the story.

0:04:14.8 S1: It did feel natural and right straight from the start… And I was in the retail industry, so it was all about building teams, it was all about KPIS and P and Ls, and forecasting and planning, and your product and delivery and service, so my background had a lot of the pieces I needed to be a successful business owner. Now, what I say, it was easy. Every day, no, I did feel natural. But some of the days were tough, and one of the best decisions I ever made when I started as I went out and found a really talented high-level business coach that pushed me and helped me ride the emotional roller coaster that we ride as entrepreneurs, and I have no doubt that hiring someone to help me do the mental work because I could do all the pieces, I needed help mentally, and having him mentally helped me get through things was probably one of the best decisions I made as a business owner in the last four years, right. I think the emotional role comes, as you mentioned, this is one of the key things, and that’s so many starring entrepreneurs struggle with…

0:05:27.2 S1: So you mentioned that was one of the roadblocks, were there any other roadblocks that you encountered… And if so, how did you overcome them?

0:05:35.4 S2: I think the other road block that I built myself, no one built it for me, ’cause we build our own road block is I felt really embarrassed, isn’t the right word, I just didn’t have the confidence to really put myself out there because I was worried that I’d be judged by people I used to know or people that I used to work with, and this feeling of judgment, which no one was doing but myself against myself, that was one of the road blocks, and it took me a while to overcome that, I would say I probably it probably took 18 to 24 months for me to really say, You know what, judged or not judged, I have to put myself out there to build my business, and so that was probably one of the next roadblock I had to fight through and figure out…

0:06:24.4 S1: I totally relate to that because it was the same for me. And it’s this mixture of impostor syndrome, and then also the fear of judgment and the fear of failure, and on my goodness, what will other people say? And then I see that in so many other body entrepreneurs who don’t want to post on Facebook, who don’t want to post on LinkedIn, because there are people in the networks that knew them from before before they started their business, and it’s all this fear of getting judged by those people, and what if I fail? What would they say? What would you think of me?

0:07:01.9 S2: It’s incredible. What we can come up with in our own lives is it can be held and that those stories we create, and I think about… Some of the things that’s helped me as an entrepreneur is I’ve really started setting the neuroscience of the mind and the tricks it plays on us, and I think being able to overcome this feeling of judgment was me to change the story in my head and just say, I don’t know if anyone’s gonna see this or not, and maybe someone saw this in me when I was… They knew me 10 years ago, and now you can see it in me today, I just changed the story, and our brain make stories up, so if you’re gonna make something up, at least make it fun and purposeful and it gives you energy instead of bringing you down if you’re gonna lie to yourself like in a good way, and so I just play that same trick on my brain that it wants to play on me.

0:08:02.9 S1: Just use the brain what it’s intended to be used, or do you want to take your business… Would then say the next year or so, do you have a one-year vision for your business? And if so, what does it look like?

0:08:19.7 S2: I love that question, and the question is so important to me right now, and I love that you asked it ’cause I’m in this moment where I’m trying to figure it out, and I think that’s what we have to know as entrepreneurs, and we won’t always have it figured out every single day. And we just celebrated our fourth year anniversary last month, and so we did a little… I know. Is so exciting. I was like, I did it. I got through the first two years and I got through covid, we are on a role, and so I’m in this place where I have to really think about scalability, I’m looking at everything that we offer, and what do we do that brings us joy and ease and feels natural, and that we were really good at, and are there things that we’re doing that were maybe not as good at, and maybe we take that energy and we move it somewhere else, and so right now we’re at this phase where we were looking at where does our income come from where does our happiness enjoy come from, what are we good at? And cycling through all of that to figure out what will be that next phase, and next year for me will be all about launching that new scalability phase, and in the next three to four years playing on that vision and delivering on it, but we’re in that discovery right now, after four years.

0:09:38.6 S2: And it’s so much fun. It’s so cool to sit down and think about all the things that are possible, ’cause I certainly didn’t expect it to be what it is today. So this energy of, I didn’t know it would be this great. So who knows how great it will be in another four years… Yeah, it’s given me a lot of energy.

0:09:55.8 S1: Oh, that’s awesome, and it’s so exciting. And I love that you also emphasize the joy because that’s something a lot of entrepreneurs don’t think about that often, they look for revenue, for growth, for even impact maybe, but they often forget about the joy and then they end up pursuing a goal that doesn’t really make them happy. And that’s one of the things that I just think is not sustainable, because at some point you would realize that maybe it would have been better to just follow the joy a little bit, and when you follow the joy, the money will follow because you’re gonna be better at it, you’re gonna show up in a new way. You’re going to be proud of your work. It’s just, this is a whole different way of being when you go out and sell yourself or your company, when you truly love what you do, and the people around you will see it and they’re gonna wanna be a part of it. And if you’re doing something just for the money, people will notice that, and you may not say it with your words.

0:11:04.1 S2: But your energy, in your body language and your decisions, if you’re making decisions around happiness versus finances, you’ll just show up so different and… Yeah, we have to have a good time because we spent a lot of time working as entrepreneurs, you better like it on your Drennan, you want to achieve something that we have and achieved so far… We have to do the things that we haven’t done so far.

0:11:30.4 S1: Right, so we have to venture out of our car conference zone and enter this, I’m charge of territory, which naturally brings a lot of this uncertainty you already mentioned with that, and we don’t know which tallest will encounter along the way, and as you know, a brains don’t like uncertainty, because to brains austerity equals unpredictable situations and potential danger, so everyone who has this audacious and big goal that requires them to leave the comfort zone, which by the way, all our dates and big goals do has to learn to deal with that instrument without freaking out compete, and that’s where I often see things go terribly wrong, because when people consciously want to achieve something and they’re so terrified by their fears that they start to submit themselves, so what strategy or strategies doing you… That help you face uncertainty and Romford with confidence.

0:12:30.8 S2: Oh my gosh, so many different things, because if you only have one trick sometimes it doesn’t work, right, and so I think you gotta have multiple ones, so the first thing is I remind myself I have no evidence of failure, and when my brain’s like, Oh, oh, danger Don’t do that, you could get hurt. Judge things to go wrong. I would just sit back and say, I have no evidence at failure at this point, so why would I believe that there could be failure in this future, and even if we have evidence… ’cause Blane, I felt and all of that stuff, but I’m still standing, I’m still alive. I still learned a lot, and so I don’t think of evidence necessarily as hard cold facts, and on a spreadsheet, I look at it as I’m a better person today, and I’ve grown and doing things that don’t work actually sometimes lead you to what you should do and what should work? And so all of that is evidence that I’ll be okay, and so I use that kind of angle when that doesn’t work, I always ask myself What else could be true because you know when we’re in fear, grin starts to these stories and the brain doesn’t want us to go out, it doesn’t want to do all those uncertainty and all the things that you talk about, and so what it’s telling me a crazy story, I just say, Well, what else could be true, what else could be true is that I meet great people along the way, what else could be true as I learn something new, what else could be true as I lay on that dream client, there’s a lot that could be true, so those are my two favorite go-to is there’s no evidence of failure, and what else could be true and I stick with those.

0:14:13.4 S2: And they usually work.

0:14:15.5 S1: I love that. Thank you so much for sharing. What I like to do as well is kind of similar to the second one you mentioned, so instead of believing my worst-case scenario that I… A gap in my head, I try to see or I try to think about What does my best pace scenario look like, because that also has to get your brain out of this fear state, it needs to see a positive future for you to be able to move on and to not… Subconsciously sabotage yourself, right? That’s all what we want to do. We want to show the brain a bride future, so it’s not so afraid anymore. Now, we just talk about the fact that a new goal brings those new challenges, some of which we can’t even predict in the beginning, but of course, there are also new challenges that we can anticipate based on the new goal and the strategies that we choose to achieve them… So for instance, if you wanted to reach a bigger audience, and let’s say you were convinced that story on Cocos was the best strategy to achieve that goal, yet you also know that public speaking was something that you were not comfortable with, then you can anticipate that starting that podcast will be a challenge right now, when you think about your own goals, what do you think will be the biggest challenge in bringing that vision to life, and what do you think you need to get better at in order to achieve those goals? I…

0:15:47.8 S2: ’cause there’s a lot… We’re always growing, we’re always developing and becoming this new version of ourselves, I think for me right now, some of the biggest goals will be scalability and really deciding how do I take what I’m passionate about and what I do with clients? And how do I teach other people to have that same level of skill, because to scale the business, it’s gotta be more than just me out there creating content or doing research or coaching or developing programs, and so that is where we are. That’s part of our quest right now, to figure out scalability. How do we now create other people that have the skills that I have and can coach the way that I coach who are passionate like you, like the… And all of those things. So I think that’s one of our biggest challenges right now that we’re working on and trying to figure out, and that public speaking one… That’s one for me too. I just started a… If I’m scared of it, then I’ve got to try it, so I just started this really intensive six-month coaching program to become a public speaker, and I mean acting coaches, boys coaches, stage coaches, writing coaches.

0:17:06.4 S2: I mean, it is everything. It’s like, I think I got a second full-time job in this program, but I’ve learned so much in only a few weeks in, I’m loving and I’ve learned a ton and I’m gonna do what I’m really scared of, and that’s the only way to grow.

0:17:21.0 S1: That so true, because I’ve actually had the exact same fear that I described, so I wanted to grow my reach, and I thought that podcasting would be an excellent way to do it.

0:17:33.4 S2: Yeah.

0:17:33.6 S1: I hate public speaking. So I knew this would be a huge challenge. And I’m so glad I did it anyway, so I was afraid I had this anxiety. I had this voice inside my head that was telling me, Oh no, oh no, this is dangerous, you don’t wanna do this, but I also knew it was the right thing to do, because as you said, you have to confront those fears or else they will take what you do or do not do in your life, and if that’s not acceptable to you, you just have to face them there though, they’re slow to wait about… So you have to do it right. Now that our listeners know a little bit more about you and about your background and about your goals, let’s talk about your expertise and how you help your clients, so tell us about your ideal clients and what you help them with… So my ideal client is a CEO, executive group of people who are really passionate about the development, not only of their business, but of their talents, and we focus on talent strategies here at 304 Coaching, because everyone has a business strategy, everyone has their business plan, and it’s locked down and they’re shown it to investors or the market or whoever is investing in their organization, but they never talk about how are we actually gonna do this work, and so we help people understand what their business plan is and what does that mean for their talent strategy, so if you are a half a million dollar or 500 million dollar business and you wanna become a 2 billion dollar business, well, then the people that are on your team today, there is work that needs to be done with them so they can ride that ride with you too, often our business out-grows are key players who help build it, and then they get exited out of the business because if you can’t keep up…

0:19:31.1 S1: And we wanna prevent that, and so we’re really focused with working with fast-growing organizations who want to rapidly grow the skill set of their leaders and ensure they have a pipeline to support the growth of their company. I love this person focused on the person-focused approach, that having their… I know that one of the things that you talk about is psychological safety as the foundation of a positive company culture. Now, could you expand on that? Why that’s so important. Psychological safety is so important in the workplace, and very few workplaces have it, most workplace is talk about it. They say, you can, you have it. But it’s just not there. And a lot of the reason is our best practice leadership skills, and we’ve all been taught, were designed in the 50s, 60s and 70s, and today is a little different, the world’s a little different, how we work is a little different, and it was before we knew anything about the brain. And so a lot of how we are taught to lead is very fear-based, and if we’re managing through fear, we can’t be innovative ’cause we’re losing access to the pre-frontal cortex is stuff you want you’re turning off through your language and the way you’ve been told the lead…

0:20:54.3 S1: And so that’s why we have to start to understand the brain in the workplace to create that psychological safety, and when it’s there, we have access to more innovation in our brain, we have access to better emotional control, better decision quality, we start telling the truth in the workplace, which is what I used to always get in trouble for is rattling in the workplace. And when you have an environment where people can really tell the truth about the business and the reasons why the business is doing well or not doing well, it’s just incredible what can happen from a result standpoint and from just every single person in the building filling like they can contribute and they matter, and their voice matters, and that’s why I’m so passionate about psychological safety. I totally agree with everything you just said. Because when people feel safe and when they feel valued, it brings out the best in them, while the opposite is also true, if they feel threatened and not appreciated, they will act in a way that reflects those hard feelings, and that can get really ugly for everyone involved, and it’s also not healthy on physiological level, because the chronic stress keeps their body stuck in this constant fight or flight mode, and that is a leading cost for so many illnesses from cancer to hard to see, and not to mention all those things like depression and anxiety disorders, and that’s one of those examples that really show, well, how Psychology and Physiology, they just…

0:22:27.0 S1: They work hand in hand, the way you think and feel absolutely. Impacts your physiology and the other way around. And this is really a two-way street. And that’s what people need to understand. And it might sound obvious when you talk about it in this context, yet there’s so many Type A entrepreneurs and executives who dismiss this connection and who suppressed what… Disregard their feelings because they think that feelings don’t matter, which simply is not true, they tell themselves to just suck it up and get on with that instead of the dressing problems head on in for too many people, they do this until they face a serious illness that forces them to take a break and change what they’re doing, and I know because this has happened to me too, and that’s why I think it’s so important to openly talk about it so that maybe others won’t have to go through the same experience. Oh yeah.

0:23:25.1 S2: You would say. I was just gonna say that I agree with you so much, and I think that one of the things I’m passionate about is creating better communities, and your comments really speak to that because if you feel more confident at work, your health is better, how you treat the people you love in your home or around you is better, and therefore they go out and treat the world a little better, and I think that one of the reasons why I… So many communities struggle is because people are just… They don’t feel good about themselves, they don’t feel like they’re a purpose and they’re contributing, and their stress has really impacted their mental health, and then that starts to create communities and damage communities too.

0:24:09.1 S1: Absolutely, so a negative company culture is really a toxic environment that we all should try to avoid, now, what’s your best advice for creating more trust and safety in the workplace.

0:24:22.0 S2: Language language and more language and have to manage your language when a word goes into our brain, we put our own experiences to it, yes, the dictionary may give it a definition, but we put our own experiences to it, and so you have to be really careful around your language and things that are really simple, so say someone comes into your office or jumps on Zoom and tells you this great idea they’ve had, and you’re like… That’s the worst idea ever. And you’re like, I don’t think that that’s gonna work. And you could say to them, I don’t, it’s not gonna work now. And you can send them on their way, or you could say, I don’t see it, but change my… My mind, right? Give them a call. Give a challenge, but it also says, I don’t see it, but I’m willing to learn from you. I’m willing to hear you, I’m willing to define maybe something in there that is really good, I’m not shutting you down, I’m not judging you, I’m open to learning from you. And then that changes everything, ’cause if you shut someone down a couple of times over time, they’re not gonna come back and tell you things, and then you’ll be like, you know what, she never gives me any good ideas anymore, well, I wonder why it’s ’cause you’ve not liked any of them, and you haven’t listened to them, but if you say, change my mind, then there may be something in there that’s really good, and sometimes you might change your mind, they may have a great idea, you just weren’t willing to see the whole truth around…

0:25:49.3 S2: See.

0:25:50.3 S1: All have our blind spots, and sometimes we just can’t see what the other person is seeing through the lens of their own experiences or from their own standpoint, so yes, definitely be open-minded and not shutting… Gooden is a great strategy. Now, from your personal experience, what do you think are the top… Are the tops really most important leadership skills. So I think they are changing. I think that what we would have thought our leadership skills were even a couple of years ago, they’re very different today. I think one of the top skills is continuous education and learning, when an executive is constantly trying to take in new information and learning, they are growing, but what they’re also saying to everyone around them is, I don’t have all the answers, I don’t know at all. I’m learning, learning is cool, so that everyone around you starts to take on this environment of learning, and I think that’s been profitably important. I think another skill that we have not been comfortable with in the past, we have to get really comfortable with is leading people who do work where you have no idea how to do the work, because things are changing too fast if you were an expert at IT, security five years ago, and you haven’t…

0:27:12.8 S1: And you haven’t been in the trenches, you’ve only been leading, guess what, you’re no longer an expert, things have changed too fast, and so you have to learn how to lead people that do your work that you don’t know how to do. And then with some of the changes in how people are working with a gig economy and people wanting to be more flexible, we hear everyone talk about flexible work environments, but I think we have to learn how to manage more experts and how do you manage core employees but then also knowing when do you need to bring an expert in as a consultant, and how do you manage a consultant and manage that information? And so I think those are three important skills that we’re not necessarily talking about a lot right now, but are going to be critical as we start to move into the future. Totally agree. Those are great leadership skills, for sure. Personally, if I had to pick just one to add, I think I would add self-awareness, which is probably one of the most important leadership skills, at least in my humble opinion, that you can have… And I love this quote by Meghan.

0:28:19.9 S1: I don’t know if you know who said, people can only meet you as deeply as they have met themselves, and I think this is so true, because if you don’t understand our own thought and behavior patterns, we project our issues, we project our fears and insecurities onto other people… And we also take other people’s behavior personally because we don’t understand why they behave the way they do, and that’s why I think that self-awareness and understanding really what drives and motivates us, but also what drives an moieties others is so important for avoiding these unnecessary conflicts and mis communications, and that’s also why identifying those offices of conscious patterns is one of the most important things that I help my clients with, because it not only response and those amazing personal breakthroughs, but it also allows them to become those confident and authentic leaders who don’t need to lead with fear or by pressuring people or threaten threatening them, but they can lead from the heart, and this is something that I think will be crucial also for keeping the talent in your company, if you don’t wanna lose the talent to your competitors, you probably have to change the way you need them.

0:29:46.8 S1: Right.

0:29:48.5 S2: You do. And different countries are in different places right now, but there’s just a labor shortage when it comes to people skill to do the jobs that we’re looking for right now, and if we live in a world of constant growth, and obviously all of our skills will grow and that allows us to have better jobs, but the competition is thick out there, and for too long, I think organizations made it about them, and you really… And they should have made it about the employee, ’cause employee will then take care of them, but I think people are recognizing and does have to be about the employee these days, and that A and I should have always been that way. But people are being forced to reckon with that in today’s world.

0:30:32.1 S1: Right? Now, before we go, can we talk about another aspect of your business for a moment, so from talking to a lot of coaches, I know that lead generation is one of the biggest issues for so many of them right now, so how do your ideal clients find you and how can our listeners get in touch with you? So.

0:30:52.1 S2: Our ideal clients typically come to us from my network or the network of the team, or they come from referrals, and so I can’t say enough about taking care of your clients because our repeat business and they’re your referrals, how clients can find us is on our website at 304coaching.com, you can connect with me on LinkedIn and we can always continue the conversation there.

0:31:18.3 S1: Awesome, so I make sure to put the links to your website and your social media in the show notes so that listen is not exactly how they can get in touch with you. Now, thank you so much, Jen, for this wonderful interview, and I really appreciate you sharing all those tips and insights, and I’m sure our listeners will find them helpful too.

0:31:39.5 S2: Well, thank you for your time. Your energy and all of your work, I appreciate it, thank you. So talk to you soon, take care.

0:31:54.1 S1: Bye, thank you so much for listening to The Wired for Success podcast. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you did, please take a sec to rate and review my show, it would mean the world to me because you’d help me reach more entrepreneurs like yourself who would love to show… If you’d like to learn more about creating a widely successful business without sacrificing your health relationships or sanity, make sure to stick around and subscribe so you don’t miss out on any future episodes, and why don’t you help you spread the word and share this show with your friends, I really appreciate it, and I’m sure your friends will to… I wanna continue this conversation. Build real relationships and join a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Can join my free Facebook community for visionary entrepreneurs. I would love to see you there. In the meantime, if you haven’t done so already, Reb my free brain priming Audi for entrepreneurs and start priming your brain for success in less than five minutes each morning. Curious, you can learn more about how this works and download the audio file at wiredforsuccess.solutions. Until next time, by.

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