PowerSkills In Action: A Conversation With Mursion About Leadership, Practice, Culture, Avatars, And More.

November 24, 2021 00:45:11
PowerSkills In Action: A Conversation With Mursion About Leadership, Practice, Culture, Avatars, And More.
The Josh Bersin Company
PowerSkills In Action: A Conversation With Mursion About Leadership, Practice, Culture, Avatars, And More.

Nov 24 2021 | 00:45:11

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Show Notes

How do you develop these essential PowerSkills in business? As I describe in this podcast, there are four methods: traditional instructor-led training, 360-degree assessment and coaching, simulation and real-world experiences, and suggestions and nudges....
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:14 Please join me in welcoming Josh Buren to today's webinar. Thank Speaker 2 00:00:19 You so much, Marcus. This is just a really interesting conversation we're gonna have today, and I'm thrilled to be here. Speaker 1 00:00:24 Well, I am delighted to have you. And the topic today is the new skills culture, and you've been writing about this topic for a while now and thinking about it quite deeply. Just to frame the urgency of this in your newsletter just a few weeks ago, you wrote, one of the hottest topics in business today is upskilling, reskilling, and redefining jobs for the future of work. It's so rampant that 34% of CEOs now rate at one of their top three threats to growth. So what's going on out there? What's causing this? What's the new urgency around these skills? Speaker 2 00:00:58 Well, the word skills is a very big, complicated, vague word, but to try to put some sense on it, I think there's two big business issues that we face in HR and in companies in general. One is the technical and professional skills that your company needs to stay ahead. So if you're an oil company, you need to understand alternative energy because pulling carbon out of the ground is not your future. If you're not a mobile company, you need to understand how to get into electrical vehicles and batteries and power trains and motors. That was a relatively new skill four or five years ago. If you're in telecommunications business, you need to get into 5G and media, and maybe you're in the publishing business. It goes on and on. E, every company has this weird thing that came up in the last four or five years that is completely disruptive and new, and it's adjacent to the business they're in, but it's different. Speaker 2 00:01:47 So there's this issue of building and acquiring and developing these skills that you don't know a lot about. The second problem is the soft skills problem. What we're gonna talk more about, and in my experience, I got into HR and l and d around 1999, like at that point in time, soft skills was the stepsister of hard skills. <laugh>, I don't wanna be sexist. So in other words, the reason we called them soft was we figured, ah, they're kind of squishy. They're kind of not that important. They're not hard edged. But the reality of course is that's not true. It's actually the opposite. It's the soft skills that are hard and really, really take a long time to develop. And for many years, a lot of you have, if you're working in leadership development, you, you realize how complicated the world of soft skills is. Speaker 2 00:02:32 And the reason it's complicated is because it goes back to the psychology of work, which has been studied since Sigmund Freud and the early Meyers-Briggs type of stuff. We don't really know the psychology of work very well. We're learning it all the time. And every time we change the job and the technology, we changed the psychology of it. So what the last two years has done for us is really accentuated this problem. Let me just take Mark one minute and explain how I came to this. In 2019, we had a C H R O council meeting here in California. We had about 40 or 50 CHROs at the University of California Berkeley. And one of the speakers was a woman who runs this group called the Greater Good Science Center. It's an amazing psychological research group. They study happiness and they have a great model of happiness. Speaker 2 00:03:16 And she went through the words that describe what creates happiness, forgiveness, humility, awe, inspiration. This didn't have any of these hard edge words like execution, accountability, those are not happiness things. And this was before the pandemic. And I went to the CHROs and I said, listen to me. These seem very interesting topics. How many of you use these words in your leadership development, in your mission statements, in your recruiting or any of your assessment for candidates? And nobody raised their hands. They said, this is kind of interesting, but it's not relevant today. Everybody's talking about that stuff. Because what we've discovered, and this is kind of not really a new discovery, is that if people don't feel comfortable, supported, inspired, safe at work, we don't really have a company. The pandemic pretty much proved that. So my journey through this started in a fairly tactical view of hard skills versus soft skills. And now I've really come to understand that these power skills, as I call them, are the most important things that drive you in your career. And if you look at the research now on what people wanna learn, young people are more interested in these power skills than they are in the technical skills because they feel comfortable learning the technical skills on the job, but they don't know that they're gonna learn these other things. So that's kind of my history on this. Mark, sorry for the long answer. Speaker 1 00:04:36 No, that I think that's super helpful context. You also have a great lineup that references the kind of pivot in thinking that CHROs need to have with respect to the approach to the development of those power skills. You wrote. It's a big and complex topic, and one that I often feel is out of control. Companies are buying vast libraries of content in an attempt to re-skill their workforce. And they're seeing mixed results. They buy learning experience platforms in large libraries of content and cross their fingers. Talk to us about what, what do you think needs to be different in terms of the approach you take to these skills? Speaker 2 00:05:14 Well, a lot of companies take this very seriously and a lot of companies are really good at it, but there's a maturity to understanding the need to build supervisory management and teamwork skills. So the bigger companies that have been around for a while have gone down this learning curve, but a lot of younger companies just haven't dealt with it yet. The naive or simplistic approach to this is, and I used to joke about this when I worked at ibm, oh, you're a manager. We're gonna send you to the AMA course and super advisory skills. And when you come back, you can be good at your job and you go to a week long course in some school somewhere and you come back and you're supposed to learn how to be a leader. And we know that's kind of ridiculous idea. It it's the beginning of your journey into leadership. Speaker 2 00:05:56 But these are things you learn your entire life. You're always getting better at them. There's all these odd and strange situations that happen in the workplace, problems with employees, problems with customers, problems with the strategy. Companies under stress because they're underperforming or they're overperforming and things are going so fast, people can't keep up. So evolved or mature or sophisticated companies have learned this and they know that these are not skills you learn by taking a one hour video course or going to an AMA course, or even going to Harvard Business School for three days. People spend 20, 30,000 bucks to go to an executive ed course. Very, very expensive. It's mostly an experience to meet other people and open your mind to things you haven't thought about, but you don't bring that many skills back with you because as you know in your platform, you learn these power skills by doing them. And, but sort of like being a parent, nobody really knows how hard it's gonna be a to be a parent until you've been a parent and you get better at it. Speaker 1 00:06:54 I mean, I think that's an excellent metaphor. It sort of leads me into two themes. I'd love to get your take on. One is the role of practice generally in learning and the relevance of practice, and maybe even repetition of practice to these skills. And then something we care deeply about and have thought a lot about. And I know you have too, but the psychological safety that's needed to fail and to fail, right, to be able to practice and fail so that you can learn. Could, could you talk a little bit about both? Yeah. Speaker 2 00:07:23 This is the secret sauce. Well, I think most of us know that you really don't learn how to do anything until you practice. You can't learn how to play the piano by taking any learning course and playing the pianos complicated, just like leadership and management is. And if you look at the research on this, there is a interesting study called the Ebbing House Forgetting Curve. If you look that up, you can see all sorts of articles about it. These were a bunch of people that studied the discipline of medicine and anatomy. And you know, doctors have to know a lot of stuff about your body. And there's all sorts of situations that are new every time they have a patient. And so they studied medical education and what would work to get doctors to remember what they had to do or what they needed to know. Speaker 2 00:08:06 And what they discovered was that repeated self-study did not work. You could go back to the same thing and read it over and over again and the curve went down, people still forgot it, then they tried context. Let's give them a lot of repetition with a model or some sort of a framework so they can fit into. And that helped a little bit. And then they said, let's try practice. Let's do earning framework repetition and practice, and the retention rates shot up. So you can look at that research, I can point you guys to it. If you can't find it, it's astounding how much more you remember when you've done something. And I think most of us know this, there's something that goes on in your mind that when you actually experience something, you don't forget it. And I remember this with immersion. I remember this when I went through uff, when I went through VR stuff. Speaker 2 00:08:53 There's something about being in the real situation, feeling a little bit nervous or maybe exposed or vulnerable. You don't forget that. And it comes back to you later. And that's really some of the secret that you guys have discovered in your platform. And so the issue of psychological safety is if you've gone to a class where you have to do a simulation and you have to stand up in front of the audience, that's nerve wracking. It's very uncomfortable. And you're probably not gonna be completely honest and genuine. So if there's a way to create that experiential learning in soft skills and power skills in a safe way, you are gonna learn a lot. And that's kind of the secret of immersion. This is sort of the secret sauce that you guys have created is this psychological safe place to learn through experience in a vulnerable way. So you remember it. So it's a pretty interesting topic. Speaker 1 00:09:44 You've been giving a lot of thought to where this concept of practice fits in in the overall learning experience. And I know you talk to everybody who's doing all aspects of learning and development, both on the technical side and the instructional design side. Say more about where it fits in in your view. Speaker 2 00:10:04 I think there's sort of four aspects or dimensions to the continuum of power skills learning. The first is the classroom based instruction, educational oriented approach where you go to a class, many good things about that. You meet other people, you go out of the workforce. So you have time. You might go to a new physical location. So you will remember that if you do go to Harvard University and take a course, you're gonna remember that it's gonna recollect on your mind. You might have some inspirational speakers and so forth. That's the old model that's been around forever. It's very expensive. It's very difficult to do during the pandemic. Only senior people tend to go to those things and you forget a lot of it, but you remember the experience. The second approach to power skills is almost the complete opposite of that. You take a 360, you get some surprisingly disappointing results. Speaker 2 00:10:56 If you've ever taken a 360, you'll definitely feel bad about it. Somebody will say something that'll really hurt. But that's part of the learning experience. Then you have a coach or a mentor, you have some sort of a discussion about what it is that's going on and that could make you better at your job. Those types of activities are usually reserved for people who have problems. But more and more, this coaching based learning is becoming much more democratized. There's a whole bunch of vendors selling AI enabled coaching platforms. So you can find a coach and then get assessed in advance. So that's the second model. The third model is where you guys fit, which is simulation and experiential learning using technology or not. When I was a young guy at I B M in my early career, I had to go to sales training and do simulated sales calls in front of a group of people and they graded me with a grade. Speaker 2 00:11:49 That was the old way of doing it. The new way is you use immersion or you use a VR system and you actually experience a situation and you react to it and you get a lot of muscle memory and mind memory from it. And there's a lot of d e I courses that are taught that way. People try to do this with self-study video. I think it's kind of hard to do with self-study video because you never quite have to react to it. So that's the third model. And then the fourth model that's just beginning, but I think it has a lot of potential, is this idea of AI enabled nudges, suggestions, microlearning. There's even software now in Microsoft teams and WebEx has some software that can determine if a team is under stress and might give you feedback that maybe that meeting didn't go very well. Let's look at the conversation that happened at that meeting. You talked 90% of the time, nobody else talked at all. Maybe you don't want to conduct your next meeting like that. Yeah. So anyway, all four of those things are, are there plus combinations of them. And I think you guys are really an interesting, important player in that area of simulation and experiential learning. And I think we'll talk about the avatar approach to this, which is very, very interesting too, the impact of that. Speaker 1 00:12:58 Yeah, I mean the search on avatars, as you know, is fascinating. The folks at Stanford who run the Virtual Human Interaction Lab have shown that through a ton of studies now there's a literature that people tend to be willing to reveal more things about themselves when they have this veil of a digital character Yeah. To interact with. And that it, it actually does afford this kind of psychological safety for failure and practice that we're both talking about. In an earlier conversation, you said a fascinating thing to me. I was asking you about organizations that epitomize the kind of commitment to practice that we ought to see. And you had an unusual answer as to where it's done best. I, I'd love for you to, Speaker 2 00:13:43 We're talking about the military. So I think we can learn a lot from the military and business about leadership, about management, about delegation, about empowerment, about practice, talk about mission critical stuff. In the military, if you don't do your job right, you break something really expensive, you hurt somebody or somebody gets killed. So there's no tolerance for, I didn't really understand how that worked. And I had this experience in my career for about two years. I worked for a guy who used to be an admiral in the Navy, a really interesting guy. And he used to say to me in the military, we only do two things. We fight and we train. And when we're not fighting, we're training. So we're basically always training. And I've never been in the military, but I know from a lot of people I work with who have, in talking to people, a lot of the training in the military is simulations after action reviews, real world war games or real world physical simulations of equipment or situations with the enemy or whatever it may be that you're working on. Speaker 2 00:14:48 And I think we have to just take that as good science. They've done this for a long time. There's people in the military that probably know more about learning than we'll ever know in in the business world. And this idea that if you're not executing your job, you're learning is also a big idea. I joke with my wife all the time, she always asks me, how come you're so productive? And I say, because I spend a lot of time learning about the tools that I need to know so that when I do use them, I know how to use them. Well, do you know how to use your pc? Do you know how to use Excel? Do you know, et cetera? I mean, that applies to humans, your human job too. So if we can give people ways and time to constantly burnish off their human skills and their relationship skills, we can take advantage of the same sort of discipline that the military uses. So I never forgot that quote. In my experience working with him, Speaker 1 00:15:39 You shared another quote with me that I think emphasizes this, that I like a lot and amateur practices until he can do a thing, right, A professional practices until he can't do it wrong. I think in a way to connect the dots here, your concept about the military and the, the need for constant practice for a state of readiness. Cause you never know when you're gonna be facing the crisis that calls you to action. The more we develop empathy, understanding, communication skills, we are more creative, we're more innovative, we get the best idea on the table. People wanna stay in our organizations, those are all day-to-day returns. But there's a risk avoidance thing as well. Sometimes these conversations or the conversations where your emotions get the better of you and you say something terrible to a client. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> or an employee that loses a deal or a customer. Talk more about that aspect of it as well. Speaker 2 00:16:34 Well, the older I get, the more I realize that one of the most important skills is humility. <laugh>. Some people are born with it, some people have to learn it. Some people never really are very good at it. These are sort of, like I said, like parenting. These are skills that most people constantly need to learn. I suppose there probably are people who are just born great leaders and they just know how to do it from early in life. But that's the rare person. Even when you read stories about some of the greatest presidents in the United States and when you read their biography, you realize they were actually very worried about what they were doing. So I think a lot of the characteristics of great leaders and great leadership development is this sense of humility. That no matter how good you think you are at whatever it is you do, you can always get better at it. Speaker 2 00:17:20 You can always improve and help other people learn what you know. And I've also learned in my career, and this happened at Deloitte, actually, I learned a lot about this at Deloitte when I was parachuted into a very large, complex organization, which I'd never worked in that kind of a company for a long time. Sometimes it's better to listen and not jump to action. Use every situation at work as a learning experience. It's almost like every meeting you're in, every dialogue with a client, every sales call, whatever it may be, if you are paying attention, you're learning something. And people react very positively to that. When people sense that you are listening and you are paying attention to them, they pay attention to you. So it's actually also a skill of building relationships. So I think that's a lot of it. It always bugs me when I see arrogance CEOs on TV or on Twitter talking about how great everything is. And I understand where they're coming from. They want investors to be confident and they want their employees to feel confident. I don't think you need to do that. I think most people would prefer the people around them to be a little more humble. And I think it's an attractive quality. Even Colin Powell was known for this. I mean, if you read about a lot of the really highly esteemed leaders, they're very honest with themselves. So that's a big part of it. To me. Speaker 1 00:18:32 I, it's a fascinating topic and it leads me to a, a topic that's been certainly at the forefront of our work. It's the forefront of the news and you've been writing about it. We are experiencing a rapid acceleration around the need for cultural change at work as well. And the conversations that every organization wants to be going on around diversity, equity, and inclusion couldn't be more at the center of the mission of the folks we're running into in the world today. And there's no way to start those conversations. But from a standpoint of humility, and I, I am curious your take on how this is playing out, what it, what it means for the future of work and organizational development, and again, some of these same power skills that you, you've written so eloquently about. Speaker 2 00:19:22 Well, I think in many ways this is the silver lining of the pandemic. There's been so much stress in organizations and CEOs and business leaders have realized how difficult it is to execute well when people are not feeling comfortable, when they don't feel like they belong, when they don't feel safe, they're now looking at a lot of these issues of psychological safety and inclusion and belonging in a business context. I think the problem with the D e I, we wrote a big study on this last year and if you read it, you're gonna see, I was pretty clear on my thinking here. You can't push diversity into the company by just hiring minorities and assuming your problem is solved. That is actually not the answer, the real solution. If you look at highly diverse, highly inclusive companies, they have a sense of trust of people. Speaker 2 00:20:09 They create a feeling of belonging by not just having equitable HR practices, but truly believing that everybody and anybody is capable of performing regardless of their age, their gender, their nationality, their race, whatever. And they bring that idea of trusting people to all aspects of the company, to their supply chain, to their customers, to their employees, to their leadership. Then they do diversity work to get more people to become aware of that company and to join that company. And the inclusion process creates more diversity. So I've always felt that inclusion creates diversity, not the other way around. And there was a long article in the Wall Street Journal last year about Coca-Cola and how Coca-Cola had a lot of lawsuits about black people not being promoted and paid dis disparities. And they had this lawsuit and they went through a massive 20 year fixing process. Speaker 2 00:21:05 And it's just as bad as it was. This is not me, this is in the Wall Street Journal, I can read this story because they didn't change that culture. So it's not a new topic, but I think the pandemic sensitized people in a better way. Because if you're just not really thinking about it at all and you're trying to run your company or your group and people are not showing up for work because they're stressed out or their kids are home, or you're scratching your head thinking, well what can I do to get them to come and take advantage of what we're trying to do here? You're gonna end up building a more inclusive and trusting environment. So the second thing about diversity that we learned from that research is diversity is not an HR problem. It's a business problem. I mean, you can have a d e I person in HR lead it. Speaker 2 00:21:44 It's a very difficult job. But you have to think about the diversity of where you sell your products, who you sell them to, where your locations are, who you do business in your supply chain. If you think about this inclusive idea across your whole company, all of a sudden your company is bigger, you have a bigger market. So it's a, it's a more expansive way to think about business in general. So I think there's a lot of important lessons there. And the kind of stuff you do is really critical because immers experiences will teach you about bias that you're not even aware of. So situational and simulation learning is a big tool for, for belonging and diversity. Speaker 1 00:22:21 I think for the good folks in our organization who do that work all the time, they realize just how extended the continuum of expertise is out there in the world. And it's not just a problem for old guys like you and me, it's uh, there was a great piece in the New York Times the other day about how Gen Xers are struggling to manage Gen Zers. And I think some of this is just a kind of appropriate urgency that young people who are coming into the workforce expect these companies to manifest adult behaviors of tolerance and inclusion. And, well, Speaker 2 00:22:58 I think there's something else that's happened too culturally. You guys know I'm in my mid sixties when I got into the workforce in the seventies, conformity was the name of the game. You become the job that the company wants you to be. So if you tow the line, wear the clothes, do the work, practice the behaviors, the company will take care of you and you hang around for a while and 10 or 20 years later, 30 years later, you can retire. That's not the way it works anymore. Everybody's got their own personal brand, their own Instagram, their own haircut, their own tattoos, their own special clothes, their own gender. Everybody's got a lot of individuality in their lives now. Culture has changed and that's been embraced by society. So companies have to accept that yes, you do have to conform to certain rules if you wanna work here, but we have to accept the fact that people are going to come to work as individuals and they wanna be treated as individuals. That's kind of a big cultural thing. I don't think companies can change that. That's just the way the culture is. Now Speaker 1 00:23:56 You're saying some really interesting things about the business metrics around the return on investment associated with working on these power skills. So as I hear you, critical for recruiting and retention of talent, it's tied to productivity and creativity. But there's also something in, in from consumer facing companies about just your brand and your identity at some point. Cuz I do think the l and d community feels its budget's very tightly constrained. Is there a different thinking that ought to go on around the O roi? Speaker 2 00:24:32 Good question. The o ROI of power skills is mass very hard to measure. You're not gonna be able to do an O ROI study study of it very well, but it's massive. One example that I always think of is Southwest Airlines versus United Airlines. I think United Airlines has cleaned up their act, but I live in San Francisco, so I'm forced to fly in United most of the time. I haven't done it for a while, but there used to be cranky flight attendants, no sense of taking responsibility for problems. You're the passenger, so you deal with it kind of situation. Now, United Airlines has changed a lot. I don't know what happened. I think the new CEOs change it, whereas you go into a Southwest Airlines flight, people are really nice. They're very understanding, they're very business oriented. But there's something different there. If you look at the HR practices of Southwest Airlines, which I know something about, they do focus a lot on power skills. They recruit based on power skills. They develop and coach people based on power skills. They have all sorts of interesting tricks they use to identify people who have positive caring personalities and have good senses of humor. That's a big deal. Southwest has been profitable almost every year of their existence. I think they lost money one year, whereas most of the rest of the airline industry is barely broken even in its entire history. So these are really important things. Speaker 1 00:25:50 There's a case study that, uh, Harvard Business Review published that I think Four Seasons collaborated a around, not surprisingly, that measures the growth, retention, and profitability of companies that have some emotionally intelligent organizations. And the the numbers really are sort of staggering. And I do think it, it's a mind shift to think this isn't a check the box any initiative that we, we were so used to compliance oriented things that we have to do. This is the cost of doing business in the 21st century where we're hiring talent that, as you say, expects individuality and we're serving customers who expect to be treated with individuality. Right. Well, Speaker 2 00:26:32 And you know, one of the things that kind of burns me up a little bit as as an analyst is I think companies have over-rotated towards hard skills. There's all this money going into digital academies and digital boot camps and tech education and skills taxonomies. And that stuff's great, but this other area is just as important and it's much less mature. I've told the people I work with in our team that we're gonna do a whole bunch of work on leadership next May at our conference. We're gonna be introducing a new model of leadership that we've been working on. I think this problem has to get just as much attention as the tech skills that everybody's working on. And it's a much more complicated problem, much more nuanced problem. And I think some of the things you guys are doing are pretty groundbreaking. One of the other reasons that I think soft skills or power skills are difficult is there's this sense of rationing the content because it's too expensive for everybody, right? Speaker 2 00:27:23 Right. Oh, you know, you're just a supervisor in the retail store. We can't afford to send you to a course here, read this book. And I understand that, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's paying off. And in a lot of the development that happens in power skills is cultural leaders teaching others supervisors modeling behavior that they see other people modeling. Those are things that don't cost a lot of money. So I think discussing these issues is important. And I think CEOs and CHROs have to constantly talk about what are the power skills that we emulate and we wanna live by in our company. Not everybody's the same. One more thing on that, just while you got me going here. Some companies thrive on competition, hard work execution. Think about investment banks. You read story after story of investment banks and people working 80 hours a week and making tons and tons of money. And they're fine with that. That's just the way they operate. But then there's other companies that operate on a much more inclusive sharing culture because of the business that they're in and because of the kinds of customers they serve. So this isn't a one size fits all problem. This is an opportunity to learn the power skills that matter to your company and then reinforce them and have that conversation with senior leadership. So it's a very, very important part of what we do in hr. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:28:39 I, it's really helpful. So I know you wanted to dive into the metaverse. Yeah. Do you wanna go there for a minute? Speaker 2 00:28:46 Yeah, yeah. Let's talk about the metaverse. Speaker 1 00:28:48 All right. So I, I know I saw you quoting Han Zimmer's comment to Kara Swisher the other day that the music of the Metaverse is gonna be, what was it, A dentist drill or something like that? That's Speaker 2 00:28:59 What he said. That was <laugh>. All Speaker 1 00:29:01 Right. What Speaker 2 00:29:01 Do you, well, I'm learning about it. I learned about vr, I'm a game player type of person and I like tech. So I believe that this technology will become very much a part of our lives and it will become very friendly. And if you talk to the people at Microsoft that are doing work on gaming and avatars, and I talked to them a few weeks ago, they said, look, we've already proved that when people are virtual, they behave a lot differently. They feel more comfortable, they feel more safe. There are people who are worried about their appearance. There are people who have disabilities, there are people who are very introverted and they thrive in virtual worlds. They just come out of their shells. So there's a lot of psychological benefits to virtual worlds. I think there will be psychological damage and problems too. I don't think this is your guys' problem. Speaker 2 00:29:48 I think that's why I'm a little worried about Facebook's attitude about it. But if it turns out to be a big advertising network and it goes down the same path as Facebook, I don't think we're gonna be that happy with it. But there's a lot of players involved. And so I think virtualization of work and life is gonna end up being very, very positive and really fun and and exciting and a massive industry, massive. Imagine going to a virtual Amazon warehouse to buy things, a virtual Disney park. All of the stuff Microsoft's doing to create virtual experiences in teams that they're now using at Accenture, what you guys do, I don't want to talk about immersion since it's your guys' webinar. Just to tell everybody online, the immersion experience is very, very unique. It's an avatar based, uh, human simulation and it really gets ya, it really works. So I think there's a huge amount of potential here, but there's also gonna be some probably dead ends that'll happen too. Speaker 1 00:30:44 I mean, it's a really, we we know in, in this razor's edge that you're describing where a a an incredible new technology can be used for powerful positive purposes or for negative outcomes as you've alluded to. I think there's another dimension to add to this, that there's a ton of research to support. And this father of the Metaverse Journal, Lanier writes about this. There is something about the virtual experience that actually reinforces your humanity. To go back to the Stanford lab that I referred to Jeremy Besson's lab at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford, they've done studies about allowing in VR somebody to experience the plight of a homeless, uh, person or connecting to the environment. That there is this empathy effect that is very powerful about walking in someone else's shoes that can be done through VR and simulation. And in some ways the counterintuitive notion that I think is the positive promise of the good side of what the metaverse can be is that I go back and I get a chance to experience what it's gonna be like so that I do it better in the real world. Speaker 1 00:31:51 Cause I actually do care. You use the metaphor I often use at the beginning of our talk today about parenting. None of us knew what it was gonna be like, um, certainly when they were young. But wait till they're teenagers and they come at you guns blazing. Practicing that just to have had a chance to kind of run through the paces and sort of see how some of your arguments play out or don't. As we've all learned, I'd love to take back some of those and I think we all would and think about the number of customer interactions, the number of employee interactions where just emotion got the better part of us. And it's really just building a kind of automaticity around those skills that we can do that isn't divorcing us from humanity. Right? That's actually ramping us up getting that sort of military readiness for humanitarian. And that's what I think we're all trying to do here. Speaker 2 00:32:42 Well, you guys are definitely doing that. And I think you and a company like Striver and others are really creating incredibly positive educational enlightening experiences in the metaverse. My experience with immersion and other VR is stuff I will never forget in the small amount of it I've been exposed to. I have really learned a lot. So I think the impact of this technology is massive. And I think that Stanford study is a wonderful example. The homelessness thing is a good example. I live in Oakland. There's a lot of homelessness around here. I ride my bike a lot. I ride my bike through homeless encampments all the time. And every time I do it, I get a little bit of a pain to see people living like this. Well, not everybody can do that. Not everybody can ride their bike through a homeless shelter. They could do it online. There's so many things we can learn about life and people, one of the things about VR is that when you come out of it, the world seems better. The world seems more vivid. So you're not living in it. It's giving you exposure to things that make the rest of your life better. So I, I think there's a lot of positives coming out of this, but I think Facebook's got just a brand problem right now. I think Speaker 1 00:33:50 There's a question about the data. I think there is a fear that people who build business models monetizing data on other people, those lives are fundamentally giving something away in order to be exploitative later. I think they're linear rights about this. And I think this is a thing we're thinking about, just about analytics. The best data we can give you is your private data that gives you information about how you come across in the real world and use simulation to tell you something you didn't know about yourself. One of the big EQ skills that we care deeply about is the skill of self-awareness. You talked a little bit about this earlier when we were talking about power skills. Many of us don't realize how we come across and we find out in those 360 review. Speaker 2 00:34:43 I think all of us don't realize that, Speaker 1 00:34:44 Right? And I think you're absolutely right. And the realtime feedback, just the numbers of times, for example, you see it at dinner parties, that people interrupt one another in conversation. And you see it in meetings where there's somebody who actually had the best idea at the table, they just didn't get a chance to voice it cause somebody just talked over them all the time. Those things, they're corrosive for the individual who's silenced and they're detrimental for the organization that never gets the benefit of that person's ideas. And we often don't know we're doing it. So we want that data to go back to the learner so they have a chance to get better and, and to, and to practice in a safe way essentially. And I, I do think that data privacy will be a big piece of what goes on in this metaverse. Well, Speaker 2 00:35:27 I think in the case of you guys, this could be one of your greatest business opportunities, is to give people meaningful data about their behavior that they can use. So my hats off to you for that in terms of the confidentiality of the data. I do worry after reading all the stories about Facebook, lying about what they were doing with all of our data and in fact lying about the fact that they're even collecting it, I think you gotta be a little careful. Yes. I think we as consumers have to be a little careful. There's a vast amount of data in these virtual universes, but it's interesting, a self-awareness issue and power skills is maybe one of the most powerful things of all. If you could replay a simulation of yourself, you'd probably learn a lot. Speaker 1 00:36:08 H how do avatars help when agents do not see customers? And this is all about the importance of face-to-face interaction. So I I, I'll take this because I think it's a really interesting one. I, uh, to be honest with you, I was sort of initially surprised at the number of customer service organizations that don't actually physically see the customer wanted to have the kind of simulations that we do. And I'll, I'll tell you where it came from. If you think about that skill I referred to about tracking, sort of reading the person you're interacting with, you have to develop a mental model of how, if you were staring at them across the table, what they're, are they rolling their eyes? Are they bored? Are they pissed? How do you read that? Just from picking up their tone of voice and increasingly training where you're actually seeing the facial recognition and the facial reactions to the things you're saying trains you to have a more sensitive ear to how you are coming up, that has a huge impact. Speaker 2 00:37:02 That's interesting. Mark. You know, one quick story on that. There was a call center company that had all our call centers in Indonesia. They told me our call center agents are very, very good natured happy people. And they have a lot of customers in New York and New Jersey who are mad all the time. And they were having a lot of problems interacting with them because the people in the call center could not understand this anger coming out of these people. And it's just cultural. So I'm sure this is a good opportunity for you guys. No, Speaker 1 00:37:30 There's a follow on question for you, Josh, just about the d and i work, it's pretty open-ended and I think you're well equipped to respond. Can you talk a bit more about the role of a d and i leader, uh, being an hr? Speaker 2 00:37:43 Okay, so a couple things. First of all, if you're a D E I leader, you're in one of the toughest jobs of business. I wrote an article on this. I think it's a very, very difficult complicated job. Obviously an inspirational job, but not easy. And we have a working group of d e I leaders that you can join with us and talk to other people about it. I think in some companies that already have an inclusive culture, you are the cheerleader, monitor, measurer, enforcer of that. But in some companies, they bring you in to try to fix a problem that is much, much deeper than hr. So you have to be sensitive enough to where the company is today, in what areas of the culture and the HR practices you can add the most value during the Black Lives Matter movement, there's been this massive increase in demand for D E I leaders, heads of D E I directors in that job. Speaker 2 00:38:34 And I think a lot of those people take those jobs and realize, wow, this is a lot harder than I thought. So I I, I have a great amount of respect for those of you that are in those roles. And I just wanna honor the fact that it's a difficult and complex job, but a very important one. And sometimes can have a huge impact if you have a good relationship with the senior leadership team. And by the way, you can't be buried in hr. You need to be able to talk to the c e o, the COO and all the business leaders directly helpful. Speaker 1 00:38:59 There's a couple of good ones that have come in. We've got time here. I'll throw another one at you. Do you see a different learner reactions to these different approaches? I presume by this they mean the approaches to power skill, you know, training on power skills mm-hmm. <affirmative> based on the personality or the learning preferences, or even generational preferences in terms of the modality of learning. Speaker 2 00:39:21 I, I think all of the four concepts that I talked about are, are valuable for everybody. I, I think we all can benefit from all of them, but it's usually a cost issue of how much money can we spend on a store manager versus the senior executive. The senior executive will spend 25 or $30,000 a year. The store manager, we might spend $500 a year. So, so that's usually where it varies. Listen, human beings are the same regardless of what job they have. We all learn in multifaceted ways. If you can find one thing that works for one group of people, great. But right now example, I think there's a mentality that coaching is a nirvana solution for everybody. Coaching is only one piece of this. By the way, one of the things I wanna make a plug for immersion. What immersion does is add pi fidelity very meaningful simulated experiences at a low cost per person. That's one of the things you do that's really cool about your business model. So some of your assumptions about how expensive it's gonna be to bring something of a high fidelity nature need to be revisited because things are getting much more inexpensive per user than they used to be. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:40:28 I, I, I couldn't say that more. And I, just to connect the dots to your comment about coaching, we've had a number of internal organizations that do their own coaching and external organizations that provide coaching come to us and say, you know, our biggest challenge is we don't really know what Mark is. Like if Mark is the guy I'm coaching when he's under stress or when he's lost his patience or tired. But boy, if I can simulate that and see him in the moment, I can be much more helpful as a coach. And I, this idea of blending simulation and coaching is one that we are big believers in as well. There's a question in here that I like about fear. I, I'll just read it out to you. If you fear failure, which tools do you find effective to crush that fear, to crush it quickly and turn that mindset around so that I will improve and not quit? That's Speaker 2 00:41:20 A really good question. Just briefly, I, I'll give you some ideas on this. First of all, the organization itself has to honor failure in a positive way. If you know that if you mess up, you're gonna get fired or you're gonna get humiliated or you're gonna get yelled at, you're gonna be afraid. And I've worked for companies like that. I remember earlier in my career, I won't mention the name of the company. I went to work every day a little bit afraid that if I didn't do things right, somebody was gonna come down on me. That was a weird culture that company had. So that's number one. Number two, a lot of it does come down to the work group and the team and the manager and the supervisor in your location. I think great leaders do have some sort of magical ability to allow people to make mistakes and still coach them and develop them in a positive way. Speaker 2 00:42:10 If you watch Ted Lasso, he does it. You can learn a lot from him. You know, he doesn't judge people. He believes in people. Now it is a TV show, but I think there's that. So I think both of those. And then in terms of just generally learning, I, I think any education or training you go through that gives you a sense of who you are and what you're good at, will allow you to eliminate your fear. Because when you're afraid of something you don't know how to do, you rely on the thing you do know how to do. So your own superpowers, whatever they may be, are the things that prevent you from being afraid of doing something new and something different. So really getting to know what you're good at is a third thing that I think helps with that. Thank you for listening to that. Speaker 2 00:42:47 I know it was a long recording. I just wanna close with a reinforcement that power skills, human skills, soft skills, are still the most important issues we have in organizations and new technologies, new approaches are really revolutionizing the way we do this practice. Uh, nudges ai, vr, ar, all these technologies are coming into the soft skills world. So I think the world of power skills is more interesting than ever and we're going to be introducing some new research on leadership next April and May. So stay tuned for a lot more to come. Thank you very much.

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