Michael Bungay Stanier on Interview an Expert with Salim Omar
Recently I sat down with Salim Omar from CPA Marketing Genius and spoke with him about how people can be more coach-like. This interview is gated content on his membership site, but Salim was kind enough to allow me to share it here on the Box of Crayons blog.
In this podcast we speak about:
- The definition of Bad Work, Good Work and Great Work.
- Why advice often really isn’t as good as you think it is.
- How to fight your inner advice monster.
- Powerful ways to start and finish conversations.
And much, much more. So, please listen in.
You can follow Salim on Twitter @GeniusCPA.
Or bookmark it to listen to later.
Salim: Hello everyone Salim Omar here from CPA Marketing Genius bringing you another Interview an Expert call. I’m super excited about the guest we invited for this month’s call. His name is Michael Bungay Stanier. Wow that’s a tough name Michael.
Michael: It’s a bit of a mouthful but you did a great job pronouncing it. When I got married I took my wife’s name and so I became this double-barrelled name of Bungay Stanier and it really does freak people out. I once got a letter addressed to Michael Banging Spaniel. Honestly, everything is an improvement compared to Banging Spaniel.
Salim: Welcome Michael and I appreciate you taking the time to be on this call. For the folks I’m going to quickly introduce you and then go into your bio and then we’ll dive into the questions. I’m looking forward to what we’re going to uncover and talk about today.
Michael is the founder and senior partner of Box of Crayons, a company that helps people and organizations all over the world do less good work and more great work. Box of Crayons is best known for its coaching programs that give busy managers the tools to coach in 10 minutes or less.
Michael left Australia 25 years ago to be a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and so he’s a smart guy. His only significant achievement was falling in love with a Canadian which is now why he lives in Toronto having spent time in London and Boston.
He’s written a number of books and his latest, The Coaching Habit, has been praised as one of the few business books that actually makes people laugh out loud. The book he’s proudest of is End Malaria, a collection of essays on great works from leading thinkers that raised $400K for Malaria No More.
Michael was the first Canadian Coach of the Year which is pretty good for an Australian. He was recently named the #2 coaching guru in the world which caught him by surprise as he’s not entirely sure why.
So funny and smart guy and a successful entrepreneur and mentor and coach to others. Welcome Michael and again I appreciate the very funny and interesting bio.
Michael: It’s a pleasure. What people also don’t know about me is I’m extremely good looking. You can’t see it but honestly I’m extremely handsome as well so it kind of rounds everything out.
Salim: Michael, I’ve been doing this for 5 years a monthly call with experts and I think so far in the minute or so we’ve spent together on this call you’re my funniest guest and I’ll probably have to say that if it continues for the rest of the call and so we’ll see.
Michael: I’ll do my best. It connects to that piece around business book because and I’m sure your guests pick up the occasional business book and it’s part of what you practice is helping people expand their concept of what it means to run a CPA practice and have more fun and be wiser and have more impact. Business books are terrible for the most part, there’s like one idea scraped thinly over 220 pages. They’re humorless and too self important.
And you mentioned the importance of having fun as a way of living a life as a CPA and I do think that approached to go how do we enjoy this life we lead? How do we do the work that matters to us and lights us up? It’s a big part of why I do this work and I think why you do this work as well.
Salim: Absolutely! So what do you mean by coaching?
Michael: That’s a great opening question and a great place to start because the book I wrote, The Coaching Habit, and that’s what we’re going to dig into. One of the things the folks listening now Salim might be thinking is honestly I don’t want to be a coach. I’m a CPA and run my own small business. I don’t want to be a coach I’ve got better things to do. And honestly I’ve met some coaches and I don’t want to be like them.
But I’m not trying to turn anyone into a coach but I am trying to have people be more coach like more often. When you ask what that boils down to its simply this…how can you stay curious just a little bit longer? How can you rush to giving advice and providing solutions just a little slower?
Salim I’m talking with not just the people you might be leading whether it’s 1 or 10 people or whatever, I’m also talking about the interactions you might be having with your clients as well because as a CPA one of the things you’ve been trained to do is say my job is to give people answers. And I’m certainly not saying stop giving anyone answers.
I’m saying if you can slow down the rush to giving people answers and stay curious a bit longer you’re actually going to help people solve better problems, you’re going to come up with better answers, you’re going to be a more trusted resource and this is either as a manager or someone providing services to a client.
Salim: Yeah! That really makes a lot of sense what you just shared. Be more coach like. How does coaching help people do less good work and more great work? And when you say people are you talking about your team members in an organization, the staff right?
Michael: Right. It’s probably useful to define what we’re talking about. This comes from an earlier book I wrote called; Do More Great Work and it came out about 5 years ago. The basic model is this, everything you do and I mean not just your CPA work but everything in your life can fall into 1 of 3 different buckets – it’s either bad work, good work or great work and so let’s have some definitions.
Bad work and I’ll be blunt here; it’s the mind numbing, soul sucking, and life crushing work that makes you go why am I doing this? How did I end up doing this sort of work? It feels utterly pointless and I’m sure everybody listening is saying I know exactly what that means.
Good work is your job description. It’s productive, efficient, it’s getting things done, you feel good doing it and you know what you’re doing and don’t screw it up too often. It’s keeping the wheels turning and that plays an important role for everyone.
Then there’s great work and great work the way I think about it is it’s the work that has more impact and the work that has more meaning. So one way of thinking about that is impact is about the work that best serves your organization. It’s the work that wins you clients, wins you better clients, claims more marketing space, drives more revenue, has a low dent in the universe.
Then the work that has more meaning is a kind of personal level, a personal measure which is what lights me up and gets me excited. What brings meaning and purpose and engagement into the work I do?
What I’m trying to do and our bigger goal in our company, Box of Crayons, is doing less good work and more great work. So one of the things I do Salim is I give speeches at conferences and the like and I’m often working with a large crowd of people and if we’re talking about great work I’ll get people to do an exercise. Anyone listening in can even do this exercise now and you just need a sheet of paper.
On that sheet of paper draw a big circle and then think about how you’re currently spending your time. how do you put in your hours at work and I want you to just divide that circle literally and if you’re doing it in your head that’s fine as well, into 3 segments that represent how much bad work, how much good work and how much great work you’re currently doing.
When I ask people to do that the results vary depending on who they are and where they’re at in their life. Some people go I’ve got no great work or a little sliver, some people say they have a bit more and it’s very rare that anyone says they have more than 50% great work and it’s probably about 1 in 100.
But here is the thing, when I ask the group who has too much great work? Who has how much of the work that has more impact and more meaning? Exactly zero people stick up their hands and everyone has a hunger for a little more of this great work. This is a very long answer to your question but it kind of connects us back to…how does coaching help with that?
Coaching actually helps people figure out where to focus to have the courage to focus there and to help them to have the resilience to actually follow through and do their great work.
Does that all make sense? It was a long answer and I’m aware of that and so I want to check in that you didn’t fall asleep halfway through.
Salim: Yeah it was great! So you took us through an exercise of drawing a circle and in that the components or sectors one was great, the other was good.
Michael: There’s also bad work as well which is bureaucracy and it’s a waste of time work.
Salim: Right yeah. Now earlier you said to stay curious, be more coach like and you followed that up with stay curious longer. Why is it hard for most people to be curious?
Michael: Honestly it’s because we have so much practice at not staying curious. We have the habits we develop which is an expectation and a habit to go my job is to give people the answer. We’ve honestly been trained to have the answer at school, at university, in our jobs and so it becomes very much a default way of responding.
Again it goes a little deeper than that as well which is honestly it does feel more comfortable when you’re the person providing the answer. When you’re giving an answer you’re the smart one, you’re the person who has figured it out and you’re in control of the conversation. But ironically your advice really isn’t often as good as you think it is and it’s often not followed as much as you hope it is and it’s not often heard as much as you think it is.
Again, I’m not saying never give advice but there is something that if you can stay curious a bit longer and ask better questions you will (a) help the other person figure out answers for themselves a lot of the time and (b) when you come to the point of giving them the advice they want from you you’re actually going to be able to give more useful advice to them.
Salim: Yeah totally. You hit the nail on the head.
Salim: Wow! Our advice is not followed as much as we would like.
Michael: I know. As you think about the advice you dish out to your team whether it’s 1 person or 10 people or however many and you’re like this is awesome advice. I’ve got years of experience and you can kind of see them not listening or not hearing it or following up on it. In part it’s because you rush to advice giving that often you’re not solving the right problem. Or we just have an inherent resistance to people telling us what to do. I mean it’s a very human response, if someone tells you what to do there is one part of you that goes hmm I’m not going to follow that advice and I prefer to figure it out myself and that’s what coaching can really help with.
Salim: Yeah. I think advice given with lack of context isn’t good advice. You have to have context and I think asking a question helps to create that context.
Michael: Yes spot on I agree.
Salim: Yeah. Now what do you mean, in the book you used the words “advice monster?”
Michael: That kind of follows on from the conversation we were just having which is just as soon as someone goes Salim how do I…immediately you can feel yourself twitching and this inner advice monster starts rising up and going this is fantastic. I’m going to add value and be helpful and I’m going to be smart and in control. And your job in terms of staying curious is to tame your inner advice monster and go look before I give you this advice let me just ask you a few questions.
Of course in the book 7 good questions will take you a long way down the path and here are the 7 best questions that can really help you. You don’t have to know every question, you don’t have to be a coach but if you have 7 good questions you can be more coach like and be more effective as a manager and leader.
Salim: Yeah and really the stuff you’re sharing here Michael is so relevant not only in our practices as CPAs not only with our clients but definitely employees and then at home as well in our personal lives with our kids and spouses and in organizations we serve outside our businesses right?
Michael: Exactly. I’ve had some great responses to the book and people going wow I tried out some of these questions with my teenage daughter or son and honestly I had the best conversation I’ve had with them in years. So it can be really useful internally as well in your own life. In part because and this is important to hear, it’s not about becoming a coach it’s just about being more coach like which is how do you stay curious a little bit longer.
Salim: What’s a good way to start any conversation coaching or otherwise?
Michael: It’s the first question in the book and we call it the kick start question because it’s a great way to kick start a good conversation. Here is my favorite Salim and it’s simply this…what’s on your mind? What is really powerful about that is you’re saying to the person look I’m giving you control to choose the topic that we talk about.
So you’re giving them autonomy which is one of the great drivers of engagement and motivation. But you’re not saying to them let’s talk about anything you’re saying to them let’s talk about something that matters to you and is exciting or worrying or concerning. For the folks listening in here is a way to think about this, many people have regular 1 to 1’s with their teams and you pull people into your office or on the phone and say okay tell me what’s happening and they’ll give you a report out and honestly as you listen to it you’re slightly bored because you didn’t care that much but you’re holding them accountable or showing them you’re interested.
The other person, of course, isn’t that interested because they know what they’re doing and feel that they have to prove their value and existence. So, so many 1 to 1’s in a big or small company is a wasted opportunity, a slightly boring exchange of information. But you can reinvent that and so instead of going tell me what you’re up to or what the last week was like you say to them what’s on your mind? What they will come to you and this will happen more and more the more you practice it is us going here is the thing I’m excited about or here is the thing I’m worried about or here is a way to help me. You will more quickly get into a conversation that feels more useful.
Salim: Such good stuff you’re sharing with us here.
Michael: I’m glad it’s useful.
Salim: I mean you’re really connecting with me and probably connecting with the folks who will listen to this because you’re sharing the unspoken and it’s the truth. This is how things are.
Michael: Right. Oh good.
Salim: Where do most people go wrong after starting a coaching conversation or for that matter any conversation?
Michael: I think often it almost connects back to what we were saying before which is they go wrong by moving to advice giving more quickly. One of the things that goes wrong is not getting to the heart of what the real challenge is. So someone comes up to you and goes…you go what’s on your mind? And they go blah-blah-blah and you go oh again how good was I to ask that question? Fantastic! They told me what’s on their mind. Brilliant now I can tell them what to do.
Again there’s a time and place where that might be relevant but what you have to do is stay curious a little bit longer. At this stage I often encourage people to practice the focus question. The focus question is…what is the real challenge here for you? What you’re doing is instead of rushing into advice you’re staying curious as to what the challenge is just a bit longer so you can get clear and more specific about what it is.
I can tell you that often the first challenge people mention is the real challenge it’s just their first guess, their first go at it. So let’s play this out as a pretend conversation. So Salim comes into my office or wanders by my desk and I go hey Salim what’s on your mind. Salim goes I’ve got this client, Susan, and she’s really troublesome because she’s just not responding to my emails and phone calls and my attempt to get her engaged.
Of course because I’m an experienced CPA and I’ve done your marketing course Salim I say okay here is what you need to do, you need to try this out and here is an email template and maybe send her this piece of direct mail or maybe wear a sandwich board and walk up and down outside her house and do this and then do that and you come up with all these ideas.
But actually more powerful is to go let me ask you what is the real challenge here for you with this? Suddenly the focus goes back on the other person as they go a little deeper into what’s actually playing out for them. I go the challenge is actually I don’t like marketing or the challenge is I had a difficult call with another client and now I’m feeling a bit unconfident about how to do this outreach. Or I’ve run out of ideas on how do I actually approach this person?
But staying curious and getting that focus question…what is the real challenge here for you? That will delay the rush to action, delay the rush to advice and drill down a little more to figure out what the real challenge is so when you solve it you’re solving the real problem not just the first problem.
Salim: And for those of us who have stayed a little longer curious, a little longer because of your advice here and what you’re sharing, now we’re really burning to give advice. Do we then go into advice mode and become an advice monster?
Michael: Right and again there is a place for advice but my general guidance here is the longer you can resist giving advice the more likely they are to figuring it out by themselves and when your advice finally comes the better it will be.
Salim: So don’t give advice.
Michael: Yeah so I’m like I’ve asked Salim what the real challenge is here for you is and he thinks about it and says I think it’s this. Great and then I ask…and this is Question #2 in the book and we say this is the best coaching question in the world. It’s very simple it’s just 3 words and so it’s very short and it’s this…and what else? Because the first answer someone gives you is almost never the only answer and it’s rarely the best answer.
Okay so I get that this is part of the challenge…what else is a challenge for you with this person? What else is a challenge? And what else is a challenge? Okay this is fantastic and is there anything else that’s a challenge? Now we’re really getting into it and seeing a range of different things that might be coming up. So then I can lean into you and say, okay Salim so there is a lot going on here let me push you. What is the real challenge here in all of this for you? We’ve now gone another level deeper into really figuring out what’s going on here. It’s taken us maybe 2 or 3 minutes but rather than me giving them the advice of the first thing that came to my mind and I gave them advice to not the real challenge…now we’ve gotten clear on what the real challenge might be. And either they’re going to know what to do or I’m in a perfect position to actually offer up useful advice to that person for the first time.
Salim: I totally love this what you’re sharing here! It was interesting that you shared a few words within this process of what else and what else and what else and you said this is fantastic. So you kept a positive note to us not drowning in problems as you were inquiring about what else. Is that a recommendation? You may have done it unconsciously but you said this is fantastic what else. You said that. Would you recommend that to keep the conversation positive?
Michael: Yeah. I as a general rule I’m going if I’m not sure what to do or if I think I know the answer…what if I ask what else one more time? People listening will have an anxiety of going what if I ask “what else” and they go there is nothing else? That’s fine it just allows you to go okay if there is nothing else what is the real challenge in all this for you.
So in terms of thinking about this in a way of creativity and in some ways it’s like what you’re trying to do is expand the options and then narrow the options. And there is a good bunch of scientific research that says that process of expanding options means that when you get to narrowing the options you’re going to make a better choice.
Does that make sense? I’m not sure I answered your question correctly.
Salim: Yeah very much so.
Michael: Okay good.
Salim: Where does empathy come in, in that situation where you’ve got an employee who is frustrated and the example you gave of the client Susan not getting anywhere feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and you’re asking and digging in. How are you bringing empathy into the mix as a leader?
Michael: Yeah that’s a great question. What I’m going to say will sound a bit controversial which is you don’t have to be empathetic in the sense of I really understand exactly what you’re going through because you may not fully understand what you’re going through. However, what’s powerful and makes these conversations really work is not so much empathy but presence and by that I mean you’re giving that person your full attention and truly listening to the answer. You’re being sympathetic to how they might be feeling.
So you might not be able to be empathetic about what they’re going through but you might be able to be empathetic and appreciative of how they’re feeling. Man it must be frustrating! God it must be irritating! Wow I guess you can be feeling pretty sad about that! Wow you must be feeling pretty excited about how that’s going!
We’ve all had an experience of someone giving us their full attention and being really curious to the answer to the questions they ask us. We also had the other experience where someone is going through a checklist and kind of had distractedly being present and answering your questions or asking questions but not really being there. And when somebody shows up and gives us this intense I’m only going to give you 5 minutes and it’s going to be a great 5 minutes it can be a really powerful experience.
So shifting it slightly to say look empathy can be really powerful but if you show up and you’re present and giving them your full attention and you’re genuinely curious and really want to know what the answers are that’s actually what will carry you down the track.
Salim: Shifting gears to our team members in terms of finding focus and so many studies and the Gallop Study comes to mind, 1/3rd of employees in an organization are actively engaged and then a similar number of 1/3rd not engaged…
Michael: Yeah and 1/3rd actively disengaged. It’s depressing isn’t it?
Salim: Yeah! What is the secret to helping team members find focus in the work they do?
Michael: It’s probably useful to tease apart the difference between engagement and focus. So focus just means going look we figured out the stuff you really need to be working on because this will make a difference and so do this but don’t do the other stuff. You can make connections there to being strategic and actually going how do I as a CPA leader provide strategies so my team knows where to focus? It can be at an individual level which is how do you get clear on what matters and then have the courage to say no to the other stuff so you can say yes to the stuff that really matters?
But engagement, I think, comes about from having people find and do more great work. So we touched on that back at the start going how do you help people find work that has more meaning for them. With that I think one of your options is to go…do you really know what lights these people up? Do you know what they care about? Do you know what they get excited about? Do you know maybe what their personal values are? And how can you help them find work that has more meaning? Or how can you help them do the work so they get to do work that has more meaning for them?
Michael: But it’s tricky Salim because one of the things I encourage is that we actually treat each other as grown up adults rather than children. And to an extent your job as a CPA leader and manager is to do your best to create opportunities in the environment for more great work. But it’s not your responsibility to help them find great work; it’s partly their responsibility. It’s their life and they’ve got to step up and actually be courageous enough to say I’m going to take on doing more great work and so it’s a tricky balance.
Salim: Yes. So how do you help people find focus in their work? You talked, I guess, from an engagement standpoint but what about from a focus standpoint where I’d say they’re distracted.
Michael: Let me turn the tables on you and go…Salim you’re a busy man and you have a CPA practice, you have this CPA Marketing Genius blog and so you’ve got things pulling you in different directions. How do you stay focused in the work you do so that you’re focused on the stuff that has the most impact?
Salim: That’s a great question Michael. Remembering what’s important and keeping what’s most important top of mind through the use of personal organization like a to-do list. So creating a to-do list and then continually prioritizing what is the most important? What are the 20% of things that will bring in the 80% of results? So keeping that always on the forefront is how I do it.
Michael: Yeah I love that. Let me build on that because I think that’s one of the great strategies which is one of the things I would recommend around driving focus. It’s for people to build a practice and reconnect with what matters most to them that day to achieve. I do a practice that I call The 1 + 2 Practice and here is what it means.
The context is I spend a bit of time beforehand going I think I know what my great work might be. It might be to knock the socks off a client, it might be to develop your own blog, it might be a side project who knows, but you’ve actually gone okay of all the stuff I’m doing and I have a lot, here is what I would call My Great Work or My Great Work Project.
Then my 1 + 2 Exercise is that at the start of each day rather than rushing into email and meetings and before you know it you’re just getting through the day, you give yourself 5 minutes and you probably don’t even need that and you say…what is the one task today that would move my Great Work forward? What is the one thing that would make the most difference? Then you go let me define 2 other tasks that would also move my Great Work forward and help with this.
My commitment is that I will do the first of those tasks. Absolutely that’s the one thing I have to get done today, my one task. Then with the + 2 those are 2 additional tasks that if I get to them then that’s a bonus but if I don’t get to them I won’t feel guilty about not having achieved them.
But sometimes that one can be something that takes me an hour or it can be something that takes me 3 minutes. What’s the one thing that would make the most difference in moving my Great Work Project forward?
That’s just a very specific build on the exercise you were talking about Salim.
Salim: Sure. Was there a question Michael?
Michael: No I think I’m just responding there to your question. You asked about what’s a tactic to stay focused and I think that 1 + 2 tactic can be useful. I’ll give you another one I use in my own office.
I have 2 small desks in my office. I bought them at IKEA and they’re maybe 3’ x 3’ and I use one desk for doing good work and that’s where my computer rests and where I do email and I process work. I have one desk for great work and that’s where I do my thinking work. I kind of move from desk to desk and when I sit down at my Great Work desk my whole body goes hey this is the Great Work desk so this is how you need to show up and behave and act for the great work piece. And it’s different on how to show up and act with more process on the getting stuff done work which is the Good Work desk.
So having 2 distinct work spaces can be really useful as well.
Salim: Hmm nice I like that. Have the environment support the reasoning.
Michael: Yeah! I mean there is a great saying from Winston Churchill that says something like, “Man shapes his buildings and afterwards the buildings shape man.” It’s not quite right but, of course, by man he’s talking about men and women. But really the point is if you want to behave in a certain way how you arrange your environment makes a huge difference as to how you actually behave. So set up your environment to drive the behaviors you want.
Salim: I like it very much. All right let’s move on and this has been an awesome interview. You’re sharing some real gems with us and I’m appreciating it very much. What questions lie at the heart of being strategic?
Michael: I think we’ve almost touched on one of those already and I think it’s worth coming back to because it’s really the question that lies at the heart of doing more great work as well because you’ve done a great job of blending these 2 concepts – the coaching concept and the great work concept throughout this conversation.
But the strategic question and I think its #5 in the book is simply this. What am I saying yes to? If I’m truly saying yes to this what must I say no to? Because your yes if it doesn’t come with a no that gives its shape, meaning and force is increasingly a useless yes because we’re all over committed and doing too much.
And in some ways strategy and being strategic is actually figuring out what you want to say no to even though a part of you really wants to say yes to it. It’s having the courage of your thinking and commitments to say I’ve got to say no to this so I can be fully committed to the yeses that matter most to me.
Salim: That makes a lot of sense. What is the most powerful coaching question in the world?
Michael: I think we touched on that also briefly which is, this is the “and what else” question – AWE and so it even spells awesome. And why it’s so powerful is the first answer somebody gives you is never the only answer and it’s rarely their best answer. So that’s one reason it works so well.
The other reason is this; it’s a self management tool. You’ve heard me say 1000 times in this interview…how do you stay curious just a little bit longer? How do you rush to advice just a little more slowly? “And what else” is a great way for you to stay curious. So I asked Salim a question and I said…Salim what’s the real challenge here for you? He gives me an answer and part of me wants to respond to that answer because now you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and you go okay Salim what else…what else is a challenge? Good and what else is a challenge? Great and what else is a challenge? Great! Is there anything else that’s a challenge? And this “and what else” question allows you to stay curious and go deeper.
Salim: It takes you wider right? The “what else” takes you wider…
Salim: But how do you go deeper?
Michael: You go deeper by once you’ve created those options of and what else and what else and what else you can actually come back and use any of the other questions out of there. So you can say okay now we’re going wider and here are the options and so what is the real challenge here for you or what do you really want here? Or okay you see these options and so what do you really want to say yes to and what do you want to say no to? Those are all questions that will help push the conversation a little bit deeper.
Salim: Yeah. Now what question is at the heart of human happiness?
Michael: This I want to say is the foundational question and it’s #4 in the book. I mean all these questions are simple but it doesn’t mean they’re easy. They’re simple and the question is…what do you want?
So often in our lives we’re not that clear on what we really want. Some things are really obvious but often the older we get the wiser we get and it actually becomes a bit more elusive to what it is we really want. So I have a conversation with Salim and ask him what’s the real challenge here for you? We get to the heart of the real challenge and I’m like okay so if that’s the real challenge let me ask you this…what do you want here? What do you really want?
I’m going to promise you that that’s going to make Salim work really hard to figure out that answer because he has to get to the heart of what does he really want here. But if you know what you want and you know what the other person in your life wants it gives you a very powerful foundation to build a relationship that is fulfilling and happy and engaged.
Salim: What do you want?
Michael: What do I want? Yeah it’s worth asking yourself the same question.
Salim: So asking that question to team members, asking that question to clients in a business setting…what do you want out of your business?
Salim: What do you want out of life?
Michael: Exactly it’s really powerful. And after you ask them what do you want and they give you an answer you go, fantastic I love that. What else, what else do you want? What else do you want? Okay and seeing all that let me ask you this; at the heart of it what do you really want? It’s going to take that conversation to a deeper level that’s going to make you a trusted advisor to your clients and to the people you manage and lead.
Salim: Yeah. What is a good powerful way to finish any conversation?
Michael: I think one of the things that really helps to finish a conversation and not every single conversation but many is to help people reflect on what they’ve just seen and learned from the conversation. So as a leader, a manager and someone who manages client relationships part of your job is a teacher and helping people learn.
So the very final question in the book is called The Learning Question and at the end of the conversation with a client, with someone you’re managing you can go, before we go and before we wrap things up let me ask you quickly…what was most useful or valuable for you? What that does is it forces them to stop and reflect and go what was most useful or most valuable?
Let’s do this here and so Salim this is a genuine question to you. We’ve been talking for about 45 minutes or so and of all the stuff we covered and we covered a lot with the questions and the great work idea and other stuff as well…what has been most useful and valuable for you so far from this conversation?
Salim: You’ve shared so many things that I can’t say I can pinpoint to which one.
Michael: But if I pushed you and you had to take a guess.
Salim: Hmm I’m thinking.
Michael: I hear you.
Salim: I’ve got a page full of notes frankly and…
Michael: That’s fantastic!
Salim: This is what I do.
Michael: And what’s important about it is that you’re thinking and figuring out and reflecting on what just happened and so that silence is actually a learning moment for you that I’m helping to facilitate. And I can ask the people who are listening in and so Salim and I have covered a lot…what is the most useful and valuable for you? I would encourage you to really answer that question because what it will mean is that it’s much more likely to stick or linger that you can use in practice for yourself.
Salim: Yeah. And I stalled to some part intentionally Michael with my response and not responding to that because I wanted to see where you were going to go with that and the advice you were going to share there. You gave me the space right? You asked that question and then you gave me the space to think about it and that’s powerful of me thinking then because now I’m making it my own.
Michael: You’re exactly right.
Salim: You gave me good advice all along and I took notes and all that but you’re really making it now for me to take ownership of it. I think giving that space is really important.
Michael: Yeah we generated interesting insights but that last question of what was most useful or most valuable for you is where the real ownership can land.
Salim: And ownership leads to results right?
Michael: I think so.
Salim: To advise is not a result it’s not action right?
Salim: We’re coming to the tail end of this interview and it’s been awesome and great and fantastic and I’m really enjoying it. I’m getting a lot from it myself as we’re covering different areas.
Salim: Yeah. This is really high impact stuff and so…
Michael: It is.
Salim: So folks listening to this, this is one of those interviews you might want to listen to several times and so forth. But I have a few questions before we finish off.
How do you help people build new habits?
Michael: It’s a big question and so I can only touch on it briefly. I will say this, the purpose of doing this work this coaching work and being more coach like is really you want people to do things differently. You actually want them to change their behavior. So they get a new insight and translate the insight into a new action and the new action has an increased impact.
The building blocks for behavior change we’re doing things differently and building new habits. And there is a lot of terrible stuff out in the world wrong stuff about building habits, but there’s also some good stuff. So if people are looking for the single book to read on habit building it’s probably by a guy called Charles Duhigg who wrote The Power of Habit. I’ve taken his work and talked to BJ Fogg and we created something called The New Habit Formula and it’s the very first chapter of the book because this behavior changing is so important.
The simple formula is when this happens and that’s when you define the situation or the trigger or the context instead of and that’s when you’ve identified the old behavior that you want to do differently and so, for instance, I’m going to give less advice, I will…and that’s when you define a new behavior that takes 60 seconds or less to complete. So it’s like a micro habit of the first powerful step.
There’s more information on that and actually I’m going to give people a resource here. If you go to www.TheCoachingHabit.com it’s the website of the book and there is a ton of free resources there including an e-book that people can download called The 6 ½ Coaching Gurus and that actually gets into conversations about what habits are and how you build them. So if people want additional insight about habit building that e-book is definitely a good one for people to get.
Salim: That’s very generous of you. So it’s www.TheCoachingHabit.com and that’s the name of the website. The name of the book is The Coaching Habit. It’s a bestseller with more than 100 5 Star reviews on Amazon. There is a reason you got so many reviews because it’s a great book and it has great insights and great advice that you’re sharing in the book and it’s easy to read as well.
I highly encourage each and every person listening to this to get on Amazon.com and get this book for less than $15 or whatever it is, maybe even…yeah it’s a steal.
Michael: Thank you.
Salim: So do that right away.
Michael: I’ll also say that I wrote this book for normal people. So if you’re a normal person going look I’m normal and I don’t want to be a coach but it could be useful to be more coach like to stay curious a bit longer and give advice a little slower then I think you’ll find it a fast and enjoyable read.
Salim: Yeah and its super relevant Michael to what you shared. And working with CPAs in my world and the world of the listeners this book is like highly relevant because we’re working with team members, we’re working with clients and we are giving advice faster than slower and not getting the best results and the best compliance and so this is really useful.
Any final words of wisdom before we finish?
Michael: Honestly, part of it is to simply say never trust anybody else’s advice. So when I give you some advice be suspicious about it. But yeah I just make the connection back to perhaps great work which is I would love people to shift their behavior and be more coach like, but also to just say to people be really hungry about how do you get to do more great work in your life, work that has more impact and work that has more meaning because it’s going to generate a great sense of well being by being able to find more great work. And so stay hungry for that.
Salim: I have written that down – be more hungry is how you can do more great work. This is a thought that will linger in my head over the long weekend.
Salim: Because I’m going to carry that along after this call and I encourage everyone to do that because that’s what it’s all about more great work.
Michael, I really appreciate the time you gave us and the advice you shared with us, the wisdom and thank you.
Michael: My pleasure and thank you for having me.
Salim: You’re welcome and take care.