The Power of Presence

with Kristi Hedges

Kristi Hedges is a senior leadership coach with a specialty in executive communications, and the author of the Amazon bestseller The Power of Presence and The Inspiration Code. Her workshops and coaching programs have been utilized by CEOs and teams in organizations from the Fortune 10 to entrepreneurial ventures to nonprofits. She runs her own coaching practice, The Hedges Company, and is a founding partner in the leadership development firm, Element North. Kristi delivers keynotes to audiences around the world on topics at the intersection of communication and leadership. Kristi writes about leadership for Harvard Business Review and Forbes and is regularly featured in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Entrepreneur, BBC, Chief Learning Officer and CNBC. She is an ICF-certified leadership coach and a teaching faculty member of the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership. The Hedges Company offers a range of leadership development services, including individual leadership coaching, workshops, vision setting, team facilitation, and customized training.

IN THIS EPISODE… Joe and Kristi really dig into the covid work environment with a hyper-focus on communication; specifically delving into adapting your skills, and how our interactions don’t have to be the same now that we are out of an office or meeting room. The great aspect about Kristi, and her coaching content, is that you don’t need to be a CEO, or a people leader to grow from what she has researched. Kristi shares with Joe her findings from conducting numerous interviews for her latest book, The Inspiration Code, and spoiler alert; it’s about listening to those around you and actually paying attention to what they’re saying, which Joe confesses to Kristi that his wife calls him out on occasion for that.

🔍 Breakdown with Kristi Hedges:
Chapter 1 (0:00): Introduction
Joe introduces Kristi Hedges and sets up the episode.

Chapter 2 (2:00): The importance of presence
How you present yourself and allow others to perceive yourself

Chapter 3 (13:48): Being an active listener
It is important not only to listen but to show those you are speaking with that you are listening by responding with what you are hearing.

Chapter 4 (17:17): Different ways to communicate
Now that we have entered a remote world, we need to adapt and find new ways to communicate. This can be doing walking meetings to help with mental health as well.

Chapter 5 (20:40): Changing your way of work thinking
Zoom fatigue and connecting while apart have a series of difficulties while leading your team. It is important to adapt to ensure we still can have a positive culture.

Chapter 6 (24:19): Leading with Authenticity and Presence
Authenticity is so important, and your presence will come from being your authentic self.

Chapter 7 (37:10): Autonomy in the workplace
The majority of the world’s workspace/ideals have permanently changed since covid. As a leader, it is crucial to not only empower your employees but to lead by example as well.

Chapter 8 (42:12): Top takeaways from the book
While interviewing people for Kristi’s book, her top two takeaways were focusing on listening and attention.

Chapter 9 (46:27): Self Awareness is so important
While trying to be the best leader you can be, your first step needs to be self-awareness. Make sure you are looking inward.

Chapter 10 (53:50): Wrapping Up
Joe wraps up the episode with Kristi and she shares her first impressions of Joe

Material Referenced in this interview:
→https://www.thehedgescompany.com/
→The Power of Presence
→The Inspiration Code
→Vienna by Billy Joel

📞 Connect with Kristi
→https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristihedges/
→https://www.facebook.com/powerofpresence
→https://twitter.com/kristihedges
→https://www.thehedgescompany.com/meet-kristi/

👊 To learn more about Not Almost There by visiting this link
→ Not Almost There http://notalmostthere.com/​

Connect with Joe on social here:
→Instagram https://www.instagram.com/joe_chura/​
→Facebook https://www.facebook.com/notalmostthere/​
→Twitter http://twitter.com/joechura

Kristi Hedges:
This has been a really tough time. I mean, let’s just be honest. I mean, we’ve all had been faced with things that I don’t think most of us thought we’d ever be faced with, even if we’ve been lucky enough to stay healthy. And we’ve all known people who haven’t been, and, you know, we’ve dealt with really tough things for their families. We’ve done. Don’t tough things with our kids. We missed out on things like we’ve all kind of gone through this together. And I think being authentic and able to share that, you know, especially as leaders give other people permission to just say, yeah, it’s really hard. Like I’m not a robot. I can’t show up here every day and to be perfect when like there’s a lot of chaos around me, I think that’s been really helpful for people.

Joe Chura:
Welcome Kristy to the Not Almost There podcast.

Kristi Hedges:
Thanks for having me, Joe. So happy to be here.

Joe Chura:
It’s great to see you. I remember us meeting in 2016 after I read your book, the power of presence, and I was initially attracted to your book by the title because at the time I was, and I’m still am a very growing the leader in the sense of trying to always pick up skills to get better. And presence was one of those things that I just think is really important as a leader and picked up your book, read it and got a ton out of it. And then I hired you as a coach in 2016 as well to, to help me personally one-on-one with presence and what I came to find through our, through your book and through our conversations is presence is a lot different than what I thought it would be. I thought it would be this. How do you stand? How do you present yourself physically? How do you speak? How can you be clear and patient? And I think it, it has to do with some of those things, but it’s far deeper than that. And I just wanted to kind of start the conversation by you helping define what presence means to you.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. Gosh, that’s a good place to start so well, first of all, I can’t believe how long it was that we work together. So thanks for dating. Yeah. You know, I, presence is in, I, you know, I wrote that book at the beginning cause I was curious about it. Right. That’s kind of how authors typically start, you get a kind of a question in your mind and, and it was my own struggle to like, why was I, did I feel like I was so on in some moments and then other times I would leave me like what the heck happened there. And so I started going deeper and deeper into that and kind of bringing different parts of my background together. And so as my own work, at the same time that I was working with clients, but presence for it’s, you know, I think it’s, it’s really how we move through the world is probably the simplest way that I can define it.

Kristi Hedges:
People get, they pick up our presence almost in a kind of a visceral way when we walk into a room where we have a conversation and, and we’re really good as humans of trying to kind of figure out what someone’s presence is. But we, when we think about how we work on our own, just like you said, we typically look at externalities, so how do I stay on, how do I, what’s the tone of my voice? Am I making good eye contact, all that kind of thing, but we’re the word, work of presence is internal. So it’s the inner game. So how do I want to show up, you know, what is, what is my sort of confidence in this arena? What’s my mood. And that tends to flow more into our externalities than if we just try to like work on the outside in. I’m not sure that answers your question, but that’s how I think about it.

Joe Chura:
So when you think about, or you’ve obviously worked with a ton of clients, including myself over the years, what is, can you see like someone who has solid presence or do you have to definitely go deeper than the superficial view of someone?

Kristi Hedges:
Well, I think we have a first impression of somebody and sometimes that first impression is accurate and it sustains itself over time and sometimes it changes. So you probably noticed this in yourself, right? You meet somebody and they might walk into a room and you’re like, well, that person seems really confident and they start talking and you’re like, wow, this person is really a pain, you know? Or they’re, they, they put people off as soon as they, you know, cut them off in conversation. So it’s, it’s not, you know, there’s a lot of, I think too much credence sometimes given to first impression. So they’re they say something, but we have lots of, of touchpoints to make an impression. So I wouldn’t say that somebody, you can just judge right away what someone’s presence is. I think we sort of soak it in through a discussion with them and through our interaction with them over time.

Joe Chura:
Yeah. That makes sense. You’ve, you’ve worked with Google or at least spoke at Google. You’ve worked with some of the top companies in America. You started your own company. And, and I know, so part of it in Washington, DC on Capitol hill, a very intense place to be. What did you learn from all those experiences and seeing people with, you know, different personalities, were there key takeaways or something that kind of sticks out to you today that you can look back on,

Kristi Hedges:
But these are tough questions, Joe, think about that a little bit. Well, I, you know, one of the things that I’ve, I’ve said this many times to clients and I’ve worked with, you know, a C-suite execs all through like the top companies, including CEO. So people that, you know, externally you’d look at it and think, oh my gosh, they never struggle with this stuff anymore, but everybody does. Right. We all find ourselves in situations where there are some moments or some audiences where we feel really strong and our presence is exactly what we want it to be. And then others where we don’t really feel on our game. And we’re kind of trying to figure out what that’s about. I worked with a CEO, for example, who, you know, had come through the finance ranks. And so within finance and that sort of functional area, and whenever he was talking about anything like that with investors or what, you know, board members very, very comfortable, but you know, when he’s was talking to employees, just kind of didn’t feel like he was on his game.

Kristi Hedges:
So sometimes it’s just matters situationally, but I would that the biggest takeaway I’ve I’ve found is that everybody struggles with this stuff, no matter how polished they are, they find themselves in those moments where it is a struggle. And so I think that’s comforting to a lot of people because they feel like, is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks about this stuff? And the answer is no, everybody thinks about this stuff. We just get better at it over time. And I think we also give ourselves maybe more forgiveness and grace over time.

Joe Chura:
And we started working together in 2016. I remember doing a lot of inventory of myself and how I viewed certain situations or certain things. And I’ll kind of want to not necessarily, cause I’m sure you have involved the bed or maybe some of that’s the same, but what, what are some things folks can do to take an inventory of themselves and an audit of, of how they are approaching others or kind of, for lack of better words, like their presence meter to see how they are just to getting a kind of baseline if they want to improve.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. Th the, well, I mean, the biggest thing we can do is we can ask, right? I mean, it feels like a personal thing. So a lot of times we don’t want to ask. And I would say, especially in the moment that we’re in, I find that a lot of clients feel like people have so much on their plate already, and they’re balancing all this stuff, trying to work really hard and hybrid, or their kids home from school, as we were talking about earlier or whatever the case has been in the past year, we haven’t gotten as much feedback, but we’re kind of in this interesting experiment where our presence is showing up in different forms than it, the most of us are used to, and definitely more in. So even if we had a little bit of video now where all of a sudden these other, these bigger video meetings, or, you know, things are different, we’ve had to learn new tools.

Kristi Hedges:
So this is a moment where we need more feedback than ever. And so I encourage people just to ask, I mean, that’s really the audit that you’re talking about is, is that I suggest in the book is just a simple one that anybody could do or just, you know, you seek out five people’s opinion that you trust and you think, see you in action and then ask the two questions that I suggested. One was, what’s the general impression of me. And that question is written that way, because it allows that person to not just give their opinion, but also kind of scoop up other opinions around them. And sometimes that’s an easier question for them to answer then, you know, what do you think of me? It’s like, you know, what’s just the word on the street. What do people see? What it, what have you heard?

Kristi Hedges:
What do you notice? And the other one is what’s something that I could do to be even more effective. Right? So just to give a suggestion for something that you could work on, and with those two questions, you, you get a lot of data and just look for themes. Like there’s, there’s one person who might think one thing that’s completely different than what somebody else thinks. If you get some of that contradictory stuff, you can just kind of like, well, those are opinions, but there’s usually a couple of nuggets in there of things that, that you can take away and either strengthen because it’s working for you or correct, because it’s not working for you. And that’s really a good place to start, you know, just with some simple data collection of people that, you know, whose opinion you trust that you think will give you the straight scoop.

Joe Chura:
Is there, are there common themes that you’re seeing with the clients who worked for over the years, too, depending on what industry they’re in or is everyone kind of, when it comes down to it fall in, in a solar boat?

Kristi Hedges:
I think it’s all over the map in terms of what people want to work on. You know, some people will say, you know, I’m being, I come across as too abrupt or too analytical, or I don’t, I’m not, you know, as empathetic as I don’t show as empathetically as I feel, for example, other people are the opposite, right? They might say, you know, people don’t know where, you know, what I’m certain about. They don’t understand what I stand for. So I need to be more assertive in the way that I, that I show up. So there aren’t really common themes. I think there, you know, there’s individuals we are. And so, and again, it’s sometimes it’s situational. We show up one way and one environment and other way in another environment, and one might be working more or less for us, depending.

Joe Chura:
One of the things, regardless though that I’ve, I found from you or learn from you is listening is a key component and something we all hear that we should do. You know, you hear that they adage is that you have two years and one mouth for a reason, I guess, has that thinking evolved, there’s listening to kind of this key thing that you keep going back to, to say, you know, to be, to be a leader or to have presence, you have to be able to listen. Can you expand on that a bit?

Kristi Hedges:
I’ll put it, throw that back to you. What do you think you, what have you learned about listening these last few years?

Joe Chura:
Yeah, so I think listening sounds good, right? I mean, it’s it’s and I think you should listen, but at the same time, like w like you can’t help, but formulate your own thoughts as, as you’re listing sometimes. So as someone is talking, you’re trying to think about the next thing you’re going to say, therefore, can you really be present all the time and listening? So I think it’s one of those that it, it sounds good and it’s important and you need to listen. You need to hear people, but it’s often hard practice.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah, it is. I mean, we all want to appear smart, right? We want to have the right retort to, you know, a comment. And sometimes our job really isn’t to listen it’s to direct and advise and tell people, you know, give people good advice. And it’s, so I think we need to separate those a little bit. However, there are a few times when listening better doesn’t benefit the relationship, you know, benefit what you learn, benefit the conversation. You know, as I wrote my second book, I, I delved into listening even more because as you said, like, it’s hard, right? If it were easy, we would all be doing it all the time. It would be like masterful. I mean, I’m a coach I’m trained to listen. And I still, in my personal life, you know, find myself, you know, I have to remind myself, I’ll go.

Kristi Hedges:
Like, why am I doing, you know, just shut up, you know, just listen to what the person has to say. And I like to be quick, and that gets in my way. So we have sort of the defaults that we, that we go back to, but there’s sort of the father of listening research, this guy named Ralph Nichols. And he talks about the fact we speak much more slowly than we process. So when you’re talking to me, I can process much faster than the words can come out of your mouth. It’s just like, there’s a difference. And he calls that the gap. And so what we need to do is mind the gap. And so while we’re processing and I’m, you know, you’re talking and I’m processing, I have to be cognizant of the fact that I can spend, you know, three thoughts ahead of what you’re saying and bring myself back.

Kristi Hedges:
And that’s really what’s happening. There’s nothing wrong with it. That’s, you know, we have really great high functioning brains, right. They, they go really quickly and we can sort of bounce around on things that said, we, you know, people can see when our mind goes, right. We can kind of see it in people’s eyes. You know, when you’re talking to somebody and they’re thinking about somebody else and they come back and they’re, and they’re gone again. And so, you know, by minding that gap, you know, the biggest piece of advice I can get people is just stay curious if you could just stay curious and what the other person has to say. I mean, honestly curious, then that’s the best tool you have and, and we’re humans. So we lose that curiosity for a second. Cause we remember our grocery list or we remember, you know, an email we didn’t send or, or whatever, but just coming back and trying to stay in a curious place, you can get pretty far just doing that. And so that’s the way that I look at it. And then, and then, you know, just realizing that sometimes, you know, we have one minute and we have to tell somebody edits that they need to make on, on something. And, you know, we don’t need to be in a curious place in that moment. And so save that, those curious conversations or when they count.

Joe Chura:
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense that I could see that in people that are in corporate America or really in any job that has one-on-one meetings with their peers or subordinates and, and you need to be present in those conversations and give your all, I think, have you found those like giving we’re all in kind of zoom land that that’s even harder because now you’re behind a computer, you have all these notifications, like, obviously for this podcast, I disable all of that. And I try to for one on one-on-one meetings, but sometimes that whatever reason they’re not, and you have all these fireworks of notifications and information flowing at you, as you’re trying to have a conversation, have you seen that get worse over time or better? What are your thoughts there?

Kristi Hedges:
It’s kind of a double-edged sword, right? For some people they’ll say, I like this better because I don’t have people popping in my office. I don’t have all the distractions by nature videos, intimate, you know, like we, we dress a little differently, you know, I can see, so your cool background, you can see a little behind me, you know, there’s something personal about it just in, in the way we consume it. And I think for some people they feel like that really helps have a more intimate conversation. Other people would say, yeah, but I miss the, the visceral piece of it. I miss seeing, you know, exactly kind of that, all that stuff we pick up and people’s body language and the energy they put out, that’s harder to pick up. And so it becomes in many ways, even harder. So we have to, we have to adjust, we have to turn off things, right.

Kristi Hedges:
We have to make it use better care. And then, you know, I think for a lot of us, at some point during the last year, we were like, does everything have to be video? Like, like what’s the reason we’re on video for this conversation because we forgot that we actually could just pick up the phone and talk to people too. And I find in coaching, I always, I, you know, at some point I started just giving my clients the option. Would you want to be on video or do you want to be on the phone? And while before the pandemic, most people would do video because they felt like, well, I talked to people on the phone or other things all day long, this felt different right now that it flipped, like I’m on zoom all day with people. So it’s actually nice just to have a conversation on my phone. Like I can sit outside, I can have a cup of tea. I don’t have to think about where I’m sitting and that was actually freeing for people. So yeah, we’re, we’re kind of figuring this stuff out. It’s like this major sociological experiment that we’re all living in.

Joe Chura:
Do you find yourself more present when you are outside? Just on the phone, having that cup of tea? Cause I, cause I do, when I am just on the phone via audio, if it’s in my car or if I’m taking a walk, I feel like I can much more engaged in the conversation than in a video for whatever reason.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. I mean, I do too. Right. Cause when we’re sitting on video, so, you know, we have the same screen here for people who are observing. Like I can see myself and I’m paying attention to my background a little bit. And then, you know, I’m trying to make eye contact view and trying to make eye contact at the camera. Like all of these things we have to think about, we don’t have to do that when we’re on our phone or when we’re outside. And so, you know, part of keeping our energy up is changing our location. Right. It’s just, and I think that’s what we’re missing about being in the office. Like we just intuitively kind of knew that we needed a break. So we, we went up and we went to, you know, get something out of the kitchen and we stopped by with a colleague who makes us feel good and just sort of traded a laugh about something that happened yesterday. Or we went out for lunch and just grabbed a sandwich just to clear our head a little bit. So we missed all those breaks this year and you know, it was helpful to put them back in. You know, I, I, again, I have clients who talk to me when they’re walking. I mean, that’s the agreement we have. Like they, it, you know, they’re moving, it helps them kind of clear their head, have some process differently, you know? So yeah. Go outside and have a conversation sometimes. Like we don’t have to be in this format.

Joe Chura:
Yeah. It’s, it’s kind of amazing to the, the emergence of all the audio applications, audio only like clubhouse, Facebook has more on Instagram, Twitter, and more and more is coming out with that. But yeah, I found, I found just audio conversations to be very helpful. Obviously if you’re learning or you’re sharing a presentation and reviewing financials, it’s, it’s important to see a screen as well. But you know, sometimes even during like one-on-one meetings, I’ll print out what I want to talk about and walk with it. Actual hard, copy something tangible in my hand. Or there’s something powerful about that too.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. I, so I think that’s awesome. Right? And this, this kind of forces all to be intentional about how we communicate in ways that we weren’t before everything was just so automatic. Right. If, if the, if the conference call showed up on your calendar, you were on a conference call. Like, we didn’t really say, why does this have to be a conference call? All right. We just did it. Cause that’s what happened. That’s what we did. And now I think people have been forced because we all burned out so quickly to think about like, what’s the right medium for this conversation so that I can be curious so that I can listen so that I can, you know, pay attention and really take things in and be the leader that I want to be, be the person that I want to be the colleague that I want to be. Yeah. We’re thinking about a little differently. That’s good. Right. I, I, those, we’re not going to lose that. I think that’s going to stay with us,

Joe Chura:
My kids, like they tend to when they’re in school or if they’re doing out school or something like that, they default to the camera off. Like they just default it. Like that’s just off. And in corporate America, we do default to camera on, and then you have the one or two people that have the camera off. If you’re in a meeting of like, let’s say it dozen people, there’s bound to be one or two people camera off. And then there’s probably a call-in right. Like that’s kind of the w w what I’ve been seeing. And it’s like, the call-ins are like socially acceptable, but like, the camera offs are like, why is your camera off? And it’s like, it just, it’s just this odd feeling versus like the younger generation. It’s all just like, Hey, camera off by default. We’re just going to do our thing. And they’re still present. Cause I’ve watched it. But it’s just this odd like situation sometimes too.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. I mean, so that’s interesting about the norms around that. W when the camera’s off, we’re all a little annoyed, right? Cause we, we, many of us would prefer our camera to be off, but we feel like we don’t have that option. It’s not the right thing to do. And so if this person has their camera off, we’re like, Hmm. You know, why do they think they can do that? And then I think even the dial in like, depending on while P why people are calling in, if they’re calling in on vacation, we’re, we’re, you know, we’re very grateful. And so we give them a lot of, you know, benefit for that, or, or grace for that. But if they’re just calling in, because they’re late for something and it’s a little fuzzy and, you know, we’re trying to hear, then we’re annoyed by that too. Right. So some of that human nature stuff is just the same thing. If you’re sitting in a conference room and somebody comes in late, or they’re paper, they’re making noise, or the phone’s on, it just, it goes against the norm of the group. And so the norm of the group now is put your camera on for our generation. Right. But you’re right. For the, for the younger generation, they have to ask permission for that first. They don’t go there immediately.

Joe Chura:
And for the first year of the pandemic, I was like, yeah, camera on. This is awesome. We’re like, we’re together. And for the last year, I’m like dialing in, go for a walk, you know, try to lead by versus versus sitting there in the same spot every single day. I just don’t think that’s a good example to set as, as a leader. Like you have to get up and move. And I think what you said earlier about your environment, and it goes back to even, and I know you spoke at Google, like I had mentioned before, but one thing I learned from them is every few months they would rearrange on their offices. So on campus, they would be forced to move where they were. And if you think about it, when you were a kid, you remember like changing the orientation of your room around and how exciting that was, because now you have a new perspective, even though it’s the same room. And I think there’s, there’s a lesson to be learned from that. And I was doing the same thing with my, my company pre pandemic is a, and not as often as I wanted to. Cause change is hard for people, but I always wanted to move things around and change perspective.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. It really helps. Right. So I I’ve worked at home for a long time. I have, you know, an office that I in, you know, in the city that I use sometimes, and I have my home office, which I use most of the time. And then I traveled and that’s kind of the, sort of the three venues where you would find me on. And when I noticed that when I was working at home, and again, this is pre pandemic. When I was working in my home office, I would sit at my desk almost the entire day, because that is what I thought work look like. And so I was talking to one of my friends who was, who is a friend, who’s a coach. And so we all end up coaching each other. Cause that’s what we do. And she was like, you know, who do you think is watching you?

Kristi Hedges:
Right. And I’m like, I don’t, I don’t know. Like I, like, I felt like who was watching me, like, did I have a boss that was like, Christie, are you at your desk? It was kind of this weird psychology I had. Whereas if I was at my office, I didn’t feel that way. And if I was on travel, I didn’t feel that way. But there was some psychology I had about sitting at my desk when I know that just like you said, perspective’s helpful. Like if I was trying to brainstorm, I would go to a different location. Sometimes I go to a coffee shop, you know, we all have these creative spaces where our minds are a little freer, but I wasn’t really utilizing that at home. And so, you know, the pandemics again, sort of being intentional about that, you know, I like to sit outside sometimes that changes the way that I think about things, you know, and you know, or going into a different room in the winter. It’s not so fun to sit outside here in DC. So maybe I’d go into a different room or maybe I’d, you know, go somewhere else. You know, we all have the option to do that. There’s nobody watching us make sure that we’re sitting in the same spot, but we act as if there is, it’s sort of this weird. And I know I’m not the only one because when I tell people, Hey, why don’t you go sit outside? They’re like, oh, okay.

Joe Chura:
Exactly. No, I think that’s that’s right on. And my, my work was usually behind like a static iMac. So, you know, not one I carry around obviously, but then when I changed to a laptop, proves some of these meetings or video via phone, it’s just the kids you through the days. So it sounded like Groundhog day. And I’ve said this before, but it’s not even so much getting through the day. It’s knowing I got to do the same thing tomorrow. I got to wake up and I have zoom meetings from beginning of the day to the end. So that, that ties into the next thing I want to talk to you about, because one of the, one of the things that I’ve learned as I’ve matured in my life, and I know you talk about this is authenticity and to just be real and, and as a person that wants to have good presence, being an authentic leader, I think is so key and something that I learned from you and I’ve, I’ve since tried to just keep working on. And, and when I see others and I w when I, when you look at other people, what’s what I think stands out with leadership that is authentic as they’re unique, people are different. And I just wanted to get your thoughts on that as well, in terms of, is that something you’re still finding today is, is a very important point. If you want to work on your presence to let your authenticity shine through.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. I mean, absolutely. And so here’s the thing that I’ve probably liked the most or among the most in this whole pandemic is sort of the authentic representation of each other that we’ve shown. It’s the things that would have been career killing, like your kids, like coming and sitting on your lap or your dog barking and screaming, and just right on a conference call with, you know, senior executives and not being able to sort of quiet around you. We’ve all like, sort of, we’ve all been inside each other’s houses now for awhile. And we we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all human and sometimes it’s, it’s okay to go for a walk at lunch and, you know, it’s okay to not have, you know, a perfect attire for a meeting that, you know, you’re sort of running into or whatever. We kind of forgiven each other for that.

Kristi Hedges:
And I don’t think it’s hurt people for the most part. I’ve heard from lots of employees that they feel like they actually know their leaders more than they did before, because they know about their life. And they’re doing back to the intimacy of this or having sort of these, you know, some leaders would do this or these videos that they would put out, you know, once a week or every other week. Cause it was harder to be in front of people and they were more intimate and they were off the cuff and they weren’t rehearsed and maybe the person was dressed a little more casually and authentically than they normally would dress. And all those things have been pretty positive in my opinion. I mean, I hear really good things about that all the time. And so what does that say? So yeah, authentic authenticity always mattered.

Kristi Hedges:
I think this has given us kind of a rush forward in terms of showing that for a lot of people. Cause we’ve watched everybody do it. And, and I think this has been, I mean, we kind of are skipping through this, but this has been a really tough time. I mean, let’s just be honest. I mean, we’ve all had been faced with things that I don’t think most of us thought we’d ever be faced with. Even if we’ve been lucky enough to stay healthy, we’ve all known people who haven’t been and you know, we’ve dealt with really tough things with our families. We’ve done that with tough things with our kids. We’ve, we’ve missed out on things. Like we’ve all kind of gone through this together and I think being authentic and able to share that, you know, especially as leaders give other people permission to just say, yeah, it’s really hard. Like I’m not a robot. I can’t show up here every day and to be perfect when like there’s a lot of chaos around me, I think that’s been really helpful for people and, and appreciative so appreciated. So yeah, that’s a long answer, but yeah,

Joe Chura:
Yeah, no, no, it’s, it’s not, I think there’s a lot of great points in there and I agree, like I love seeing someone live their authentic life. If they’re a new mom and they have their babies around them or they have, they got the new pad. I mean, it’s just, you’re not going to get that same thing at, in the office. So I think that’s, that’s key. And I, I often think of like, when I think of authenticity, I think of like Austin, you know, Austin’s motto is like, keep Austin weird. Or, and, and you just think of all these unique people that you could just spend your day on a park bench, people watching. But I think what I’ve, what I’ve grown to to find is like, that’s, what’s awesome about the world that we live in is that the uniqueness it’s not falling into norms and it’s okay to be yourself.

Joe Chura:
And I think to be a leader, you, you, the more that you can be, your authentic self, the more of an inspiration you could be, which is something I want to talk about next is your book that you created or you wrote in 2017 or, or I’m sure you wrote it before then, but published in 2017, that inspiration code, curious to, to understand where your mindset was in the sense of right. Coming from the power of presence, to writing a book about the inspiration code, what was missing that you needed to, to fill? What, what gap was there?

Kristi Hedges:
It was about, you know, seeing how inspired some people were and how uninspired other people were. And back to what I was talking about, you know, myself, like sometimes I was really inspired sometimes I wasn’t in trying to understand what that was about. That was part of it. The other part of it was because I’m in all of these coaching conversations, I would talk to people about these inspirational people that had been in their life, whether it was a boss or a mentor or a colleague or a friend or a family member, I just, the impact that those people had on them. And they were often kind of small conversations, right. That, you know, they might say, Hey Joe, why don’t you, you know, I think you’re really good at, you know, creating things out of nothing you should really think about starting another company.

Kristi Hedges:
And so it’s just, if something as simple as that, but set in the right way by the right person, it really changed how people thought about themselves and opened up all kinds of doors and inspired them. So, you know, I started getting into that a little bit more like what it, what it was about this conversations, what was it about these relationships that made people inspired and then how do people stay inspired over time? And that’s really where the book started and, and, you know, it’s a code because there’s, there are sort of things that were, that happened again and again and again, with people in terms of what ended up being aspiring for them. And they weren’t that hard, which was the great thing about it. They, they weren’t all that difficult. They just were things that people did intentionally or they sought out. And, you know, we kind of think we’re, we S we think sometimes we have to sit still and like, inspiration’s going to hit us. Like if I just sit here and think about it long enough, or if I, you know, read enough of stuff online, then I’m actually doing something. But inspiration is much more active than that. People who get inspired, tend to do things and be around certain people and put themselves in particular situations that lead them to be inspired.

Joe Chura:
So what’s a, I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone. And I highly encourage everyone to pick up the book, but what are some of those codes that you’ve, you found that you wrote about?

Kristi Hedges:
Well, one of them is a, I’ll just go back to, we were talking about before the conversations. So I call them potential conversations. They’re not that difficult, but we were around if we’d listened for them, right. For people to, and the book is kind of written in the voice of here’s, what leaders can do to be more inspiring. But also if you’re reading it and you’re not a leader, you can look and say, okay, well, how can I be in more of these situations so that I can be more inspired? So you can look at it either way, but potential conversations are really just taking the time, right? Staying curious, I’m listening. I’m being those situations where you’re, you’re pointing out potential and other people. And so those are those conversations might be, I see the strength in you. I think this is possible for you.

Kristi Hedges:
It might be, have you thought about, you know, doing something like this? Cause I think that you’d be really successful at it. It’s just pointing those things out. And, and the only trick about that is, is they need to not be attached to an outcome. So you’re not trying to influence people. Inspiration’s different than influence. The first book was really about influence the second. One’s more about inspiration. And so if I tell you that, if I tell you Joe, that you’re really innovative and you should think about starting another company, it’s not because I’m trying to invest in your next company. And I really want to get in on the ground floor. Right. That’s influence that’s because I just think that that’s something about you. That’s interesting. And I appreciate it. And I’m just letting you know, I do what you want to with it.

Kristi Hedges:
And that’s what makes it inspirational is because you’re the arbiter of inspiration. I’m not, I’m not telling you what to be inspired, but I’m just telling you something that I think is true and authentic, and I’m pointing it out your potential and do what you want to with. And that’s what makes us conversations inspiring. So that’s one, the other, the one that comes up a lot is around purpose and meaning, which we’re hearing a lot about just in general, in terms of the workforce and employees looking for more of that these days, but you’re going to say something, so I cut

Joe Chura:
You off. Can keep going.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. I mean, yeah, I think a lot of people are relooking at their work. I mean, we see a story about that every day when, when they’re looking at workflow, workforce research and trying to figure out what, where people’s heads are. I think we’ve been exposed to a lot of things differently and we’re, we’re looking at meaning more holistically for a lot, a lot of us in our lives and trying to figure out what the right mix of work and life and passion is. But in terms of finding meaning it’s, it’s much more of a personal thing. And there, there are, there’s, there’s good research out there about how people find meaning. And so in the book I talk about, you know, the questions that we can pursue with ourselves or with other people that help us get closer to our own meaning,

Joe Chura:
How have, have you followed that same path to find your own meaning?

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. I mean, I’m always in it, so, right. I’m a questioner. And I know that you are too kind of always thinking about the next thing and what’s going on, how can I make this better? And yeah, I, I think that, I mean, in all honesty, I mean, I think if you’d asked me two years ago, I sort of had this plan for sort of publishing books, like one after the other and, and this last year and a half, I’ve kind of taken a step back and said, you know, what do I want the next five years to look like? And I want to just kind of stay more curious and open to some of those questions. I really love working with people who are interested in their own growth are kind of in that space where they’re ready to sort of think bigger and want a partner in that.

Kristi Hedges:
And so I want to do more of that kind of work. I have two amazing business partners who are two of my best friends, and we love working together. It’s just so joyful. And that gives me a ton of meaning. And so I want to do more work with them, you know, in the next year. And so if that means doing those two things means I don’t publish a book on the scene at the same timeframe that I thought I would that’s, that’s fine. Right. Just trying to be a little more loose and an open, because again, if anything has taught us the last year and a half, we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen. I know we had all these plans at all, but you know, for most of us, they got a little, little derailed or sidetracked or sidelined or turned around or whatever. Yeah. So that, that’s where I’m, I’m, I’m just thinking of me mean just like a lot of Sr and in different ways.

Joe Chura:
Yeah. No, that’s, that’s great insight and I’m glad you’re you pivoted a bit, cause it’s, it’s often, it’s often hard to do some of the things for ourselves. Like we clearly can see what to do and the playbook to apply or try and find meaning. But when you search for it internally, it’s, it’s really tough. And I’ve struggled with that too from time to time. And what I, what I found is like, like even creating this podcast slowly, things are just revealing themselves. This path is slowly revealing itself. And it’s just like, you got to start taking action, uncertain things. And then all of a sudden roads open up that you never knew existed before. I think that has been something that I’ve learned over this past year and I, and I wanted that to happen. And that was like, okay, I’m going to start because there’s no way these different roads are going to open for me unless I, unless I start. And, and I think I had rich roll on the podcast a few, few weeks ago. I don’t know if you know, rich, but, but he has this quote that I think he learned from alcoholics anonymous when he was edited, mood follows action. And I think that is so key to hula to think about like, you know, nothing’s just going to happen for you, but I’m glad you did that. And you had that introspective to, to work on it yourself. So that’s, that’s awesome.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. Yeah, no, I love that mood fall is action. I’m going to, I’m going to keep that one. Yeah. I don’t know how much of this is related to Asia. There’s a whole theory called adult development theory about sort of how we see the world through, so the course of our life. But I, I think part of it is like when we’re in the earliest part of our career, we’re kind of leaning in like this, you know, like at a strong angle, right. We’re sort of going for whatever we’re going for. And we’re about acquiring, you know, acquiring our identity and a job and a family or whatever makes us happy or, you know, experiences, what, whatever, whatever objective is. I think as we get older, there’s a potential, we don’t all do it is to kind of worry that more toward like this. Right.

Kristi Hedges:
And it allows some things to happen. Not feel like we have to be like, this is when we’re like this. We can’t see everything because we’re kind of head down, like, what’s the next thing. But when we are oriented, like this w our perspective is larger. So we can take more stuff in, which is exactly what you’re talking about. I’m just going to start this and then just like, sit back. Right. And it goes, kind of see how it evolves and maybe it’d be great. And maybe it won’t, maybe I’ll just learn a bunch of stuff and meet cool people. And maybe it’ll be something different that I want to keep doing. Who knows. But if you’re like this, it’s, it’s kinda hard to see that. And so I’m really trying to orient more like this, if that makes any sense and isn’t too hypothetical, but that’s kinda how I look at it.

Joe Chura:
Yeah. I know. And then it does make a lot of sense. One of the criticisms I hear, like from my daughter specifically my 23 or about to be 23 year old daughter is, yeah, dad, that sounds great. You’re inspirational. But that change my day-to-day work. And that doesn’t change that I’m going to wake up today and have to deal with all this stuff. And then I don’t have time for anything. How do you coach or show the younger generation that there’s the ability to do both. There’s a inspiration that everything doesn’t have to be like that necessarily that there’s, there’s, there’s other steps you can take. Cause I have a hard time and like my parents do, and sometimes I’m trying to convince her, but, but I run into that, that a bit where you can hear words, you can want to take action, but it’s just hard to, hard to put it into practice. I don’t know if you’ve faced that with your kids or you see that as clear as I do, but I struggle with that a bit to show that kind of delineation between yeah. I get that. You’re waking up in the morning and doing all those things, but at the same time, like you can do this other stuff too.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. You know, the, the, what popped in my head is a song Vienna by Billy Joel, you know, which is a really about, you know, it’s about him trying to like, do everything so young in life. It’s a great song. It’s a beautiful song. Probably his best. I think, I think he said it’s his best Vienna. Yeah. Okay. And I, you know, I think I’m gonna go back to what you said, which is like mood follows action. And you know, when, when, sometimes we’re just in a position or a life where like our, our day-to-day life, whatever it is, homework combination is it makes us feel sort of full up. Right. So we don’t have the mental space to really do some of the more meditative reflective stuff that, that helps us think about some of those longer-term objectives, the things that bring us joy, the things that just give life, meaning we don’t really feel like we have it.

Kristi Hedges:
And I don’t know if we talked about this, but the general question, I will ask any client who comes in, who has a very busy career, which is just about everybody, is, do you have the mental space for coaching? Because that’s the one thing you need. You don’t need a lot of time, but you need some mental space for it. Because if you get off a call with your coach and you don’t have one second to think about it before the next call, you know, there’s only so much, you’re going to get out of the coaching. So even if it’s, when you’re driving or taking a shower or going for a walk or run or whatever, you have to have some time to sort of let things percolate, but you don’t need a ton. And so for some, for the, for your daughter, my advice would be just to find something small, right.

Kristi Hedges:
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I think we have this idea that, you know, if I’m going to meditate, for example, I have to do it every day. Right. It’s just like, if I’m going to work out, I’m going to work out. I’m going to go to the gym every day. No, we know from workout that doesn’t, most people can’t do that in the beginning. Right. You have to do something small. And so what would that small thing be to do a little bit of work towards that? Would it be reading something once a week? Would it be sort of reading, you know, self development once a month or every other month, right. It’s just something, a little thing that just kind of keeps that part of your brain focused, or maybe it’s just the joy stuff. It’s, you know, I really love to do this. I like to do pottery. It makes no sense. I’m not even good at it. It just sort of it’s I work with my hands and it makes me feel calm. And so I’m going to do that. You know, I’m going to make a commitment to do that every once in a while, and then you do, and then you see what happens cause you lean back a little bit.

Joe Chura:
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. So it was when you were writing the book and researching it, was there something that surprised you in your interviews or talking with people about it?

Kristi Hedges:
Well, you know, a lots of, I was very curious, so a lot surprised me. I, I think one of the things that, that resonated the most is something that you talked about earlier. So I’ll go back to it. But I, I did with, with a Harris poll, I did a quantitative survey of what behaviors people found the most inspirational. And the number one behavior was listening to the number one cited behavior of inspirational leaders was that they listened. So going into this, I would have thought that it was something about how people talked. Because again, I was saying about this potential conversations and I heard a lot about how people said things, but when you ask people like what’s inspired them, it’s because people were good listeners and you know, that’s, we all have that ability to be a great listener. You know, it’s easier frankly, than having to say things exactly. Right. You know, you just shut up, ask some good questions. So I thought that was a big surprise. I mean, it makes intuitive sense on one hand, but on the other hand, it’s not how we talk about inspirational people. Right?

Joe Chura:
What, what was, what was the second thing outside of listening

Kristi Hedges:
Authenticity. Okay.

Joe Chura:
So we covered those, those two.

Kristi Hedges:
Oh God. I don’t know. I have to look it up.

Joe Chura:
I, and I, I totally see that. I think it’s also not only listening. Cause you could fake that a little bit. I think it’s maybe repeating back what you heard. And I think that that then creates empathy. And my wife reminds me of this often where she’s just like, I don’t want anything from you. I just want you to listen to what I’m saying. And, and often, you know, I jumped around to the next thing and failed to listen to her many, many times. Sorry, sorry, Heather. But it’s, it’s true. You know, you’re, you’re kind of just go into that next thing. Sometimes it’s hard to stop and listen. So that, I mean, it makes a ton of sense that that would rank rank to the top. And even when an employee comes to me and I have a very flat organization, even though, you know, there’s, we have quite a few team members that if I just re responded with my thoughts and not listen to what they were saying, like then would just not be a good recipe for success or a horrible example of leadership.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. Well back to your, your wife. So there’s a, a phrase I use listening feels like care, attention feels like respect. And so we, we show people we care by listening and we show people that we respect them by giving their attention. And, and the opposite is true, right. If we’re not listening, people don’t feel cared for, if we’re not paying attention, they don’t feel respected. So there, the dialogue is going to shut down pretty quickly if we don’t feel like people care or respect us in that conversation in that moment, you know? So that’s the piece. That’s just, it’s, it’s important to keep in mind and we all, we slept and we’re busy and you know, you come home and you’ve got a bunch of stuff on your mind. We’re not perfect. However, if we just kind of go back and the conversations that matter, if we just go back and remind ourselves of that and just stay a little bit curious. So, you know, not just repeating, oh, so I heard that, you know, that was very hard for you, which is, is better than, you know, changing the subject and talking about something else. And just go a step further and ask a curious question. I mean, you know, what was so hard about that for you today? You know, what made that difficult for you?

Joe Chura:
Yeah, no that, yeah, that’s, that’s a very insightful the, in some of the notes that I looked back on in preparation for this conversation was from 2016, so a while ago, but one of the things that you said is like, when you do go off course, or you asked me to be inquisitive with myself is to like name and label triggers that that are taking me off course. And I’m sure that applies still today to your coaching practice. Can you elaborate on why that’s important?

Kristi Hedges:
Well, it’s part of a self-awareness right. We, we tend to operate in patterns. So the same things that trigger us or get us off course come up again and again and again, and being able to name what those are, helps us pay attention differently, which is really helpful. And then also it allows us to sort of take it out of our immediate reaction and, and naming has a way, especially things that really give us a fight or flight reaction that get us worked up. So for example, when, when I feel like people don’t respect me that I get a fight or flight about that. And so, you know, I start, you know, sort of getting feeling like I need to prove myself, or I might, you know, am I get a dialogue going on my head or sometimes I just want to shut people out and just like, fine.

Kristi Hedges:
If that’s, you know, if you don’t respect me, I don’t listen to anything you have to say, I have that kind of reaction. And I could feel it in myself if I know that. And I say, oh, okay, this is my trigger about respect. Again, it gets my prefrontal cortex that a good executive function part of my brain to lock in faster. Right. So I can get the stress response out of me a little bit faster. And then I don’t overreact to a situation. Right. I just react, you know, with what’s in front of me. So I might say, I feel like, you know, this person isn’t respecting me in this conversation instead of just sort of getting pissy or wanting to leave or throw it right back at them or whatever my, you know, unhelpful reaction might be. I might just decide to observe for a little bit. Right. And then maybe I’m asked a question. It seems like you’re really frustrated here. Right. Am I picking that up? Right, right. Or would it be helpful if I told you a little bit about my background or what I’m bringing in this conversation? Right. So I have a lot more at my disposal for how I react to that situation if it’s not automatic. Right. So that’s what the naming of the trigger does.

Joe Chura:
Yeah. I think that’s that’s right on because typically nothing bad will happen. If you pause, breathe, think, and act, it’s kind of the reverse, I’ve succumb to this as well as when your ego gets the better of you or your reaction. You want to get the point across. And despite all the knowledge I’ve gained, I still struggle with this from time to time because something can trigger me to the point where I just respond quickly and versus pausing, reflecting. And I’ll tell you why, like 12 to 24 hours after my mindset is certainly shifted. And I never regret taking that break. So I think labeling them that, and then taking a break and saying, okay, I’m gonna walk away from this for a second. And I’ve, there’s plenty of examples. I’m sure we can all relate to that at some level.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah. I mean, yeah. So that’s such great knowing for yourself. Cause that’s just something that you can do all the time. Right? You, you feel the trigger, right? You’re like, okay, I can take a break here. I know I’ve learned that when I take a break, I make better decisions. And I, I approach things differently. You know, I started my first business when I was 27. So I was really young. I had no idea what I was doing. And I thought that a good leader, soft problems really quickly, you know, cause I had had leaders who’d never solve problems. You know, I’d worked for people who would just sit on things and it drove me crazy. So I was not going to be like that. Right. I was going to get in and I was going to like sort of get in like a, a fighter every day and sort of solve all these problems and then leave like on a puddle of exhaustion.

Kristi Hedges:
And you know, one of my mentors at the time was telling me, you know, gave me this piece of advice and he was like, you know, Chrissy just don’t, you know, if you, if you, if you have to write an email more than once, don’t send it until the next day. Right. If it’s that complicated that you have to get it exactly. Right. You know, those ones that you’re just like furiously wording and rewording and cutting and pasting, it’s like just send it the next day, just think. And so what he was basically telling me, it’s just sleep on it, you know? And so a lot of us have learned that, right? At this point we don’t send out emails more off, but it was that really wasn’t even about the email. It was about the ability that to just sleep on things, you know, just to see what the next day brings.

Kristi Hedges:
And as we’ve all learned, 90% of the time, you don’t even send the email portion of it or you’re like that wasn’t really posted even that big of a deal. And so just giving ourselves that space. And so now it’s, it’s one night, but a lot of times we think we have to respond so quickly. We can take two days and maybe two days is what it’s going to take for the S the issue to marinate for us to really get our thoughts together. It doesn’t mean we’re ignoring it. That’s different right. Than just not paying attention. It just means that we’re deciding we’re, we’re deciding when we’re going to respond in a way that gives us the best perspective.

Joe Chura:
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense as we conclude this conversation. Is there any, anything like that we didn’t cover with regards to presence or inspiration that you think are standouts, obviously a highly recommend your book. There’s a ton more to discuss, but we don’t have, we don’t have several hours to dive into everything. Just curious if there was any other themes that, that you wanted to bring up.

Kristi Hedges:
Not really. I would talk about you for a second and embarrass you, but you know, when I, when I met you for the first time, I mean, I always thought that you were very authentic leader, you know, and the way you related to people and sort of the vibe you had around you. I really admired that. And I remember walking in and you had this really cool wall with values yeah. In the organization. And just seeing sort of the, obviously people work really hard for you, but the familiarity they worked with for you, I think you do a really nice job of, of bringing some of these things that we’re talking about together. So I’m just going to give you some props and embarrass you for a second. And I’m not surprised how successful you’ve been, because you’ve worked hard for it. But I also think there’s just something that you bring that makes you a great leader, so awesome. To see how well you’re doing.

Joe Chura:
Yeah. Thank you so much for that. And it’s, don’t edit this out,

Kristi Hedges:
Don’t edit this out.

Joe Chura:
It’s an evolution and I’m always, I’m always learning. So I, and it’s people like you guys for all myself, with to, to get better and, and learn some of these things and that, I think that’s the humility you need to have as leaders while to be able to know that you don’t know everything and you got to surround yourself by people that can help you.

Kristi Hedges:
Yeah, absolutely. Isn’t mean humility is such a strength, real leaders like, or, you know, we think maybe it’s a weakness, but you realize the best leaders are so humble and they’re willing to say they don’t know. And that’s really what makes them relatable because we all don’t know lots of things. Yeah,

Joe Chura:
Yeah. Right on how can people get ahold of you Chrissy?

Kristi Hedges:
The best way to find me is my website, the hedges company.com, where you can just Google me Kristi hedges. And I pop up in various places and lots of my writings are out there. So that’s the best way to find me LinkedIn I’m around.

Joe Chura:
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you. And it’s great to see you again. Great

Kristi Hedges:
To see you and take care.

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