Innovation is key to every company’s growth. How one business succeeds solely depends on how it is run by a leader. Today, Dr. Diane Hamilton interviews Kaihan Krippendorff about innovation and leadership. Kaihan is a strategy, innovation, and transformational keynote speaker, author, the Senior Advisor at Coplex, and the Founder of Outthinker. Join Kaihan as he talks about how they are making innovation easier for leaders and breaks down INOVATE, sharing how entrepreneurial actions and intentions can lead to better opportunities for any business.
Body language and communication are necessary for business development. Dr. Diane Hamilton interviews Tracey Thomson, the co-author of the Globe and Mail Canadian bestseller Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking and the Director of Business Development at TRUTHPLANE. Tracey shares what their company is doing in helping companies resolve communication issues. She also explains some key concepts being discussed in her book.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Kaihan Krippendorff and Tracey Thomson. Kaihan is a strategy, innovation and transformational keynote speaker and author. He’s the Founder of Outthinker and a Senior Advisor at Coplex. He was acknowledged by Thinkers50. Tracey is a Director of Business Development at TRUTHPLANE. She’s the author of a book that’s about facial expressions, which is fascinating in the area of perceptions that I study. I’m looking forward to talking to both of them.
Listen to the podcast here:
Making Innovation Easier For Leaders With Kaihan Krippendorff
I am here with Kaihan Krippendorff who is a strategy, innovation and transformational keynote speaker. He is the Founder of Outthinker and Senior Advisor at Coplex. He’s written five books including Driving Innovation from Within: A Guide for Internal Entrepreneurs. He’s a member of the prestigious Thinkers50 Radar Group. He teaches at Wharton Executive Education, a faculty at Florida International University and lectures at business schools throughout the world. It’s exciting to have you here. Welcome.
Thank you. It’s great to be here, Diane.
I was looking forward to this. I didn’t get a chance to speak to you in person at the Thinkers50 in London, but we were talking a little bit about who’s who of the most interesting, intelligent people on the planet and what an honor to be considered for their distinguished achievement award and innovation.
I felt it was backstage at my favorite band concert. These are the rock stars that I have been reading and following. To be able to bump into them, see them and shake their hands, I was on seventh heaven and yet should be considered for the innovation award, which is like the Oscars. You’ve got the best actor and best actress in a comedy and the innovation award and they put up these eight pictures. When I saw my picture next to these seven pictures of people whose books I’ve poured over, studied and admired, that thrilled me.
You deserve it, the work that everybody has done there. It was much fun to walk around and talk to many people who’s been on the show like Amy Edmondson and a lot of those people. They are impressive. They were great to talk to. I know Dorie Clark and some others were excited to win and being notified that they were even part of this event. You had to have gotten their attention from doing some amazing work. I want to talk about what it is that got their attention because I know your fifth book, Driving Innovation From Within, is your latest book.
My work up until now for many years has been around the question of where do particularly innovative, strategic ideas come from? What are the patterns of thought that generate these? A few years ago, I shifted the question to where do they go, especially when they are conceived of within an established organization? This book is about not the entrepreneur as the innovator, but the employee as the innovator. What I show in the book, and this is what put me on to writing this book, was that 70% of society’s most transformative innovations came from employees rather than entrepreneurs. I love entrepreneurs. I’m an entrepreneur. There are great books and conferences about entrepreneurs, but there’s little for employee entrepreneurs. Yet the internet, email, DNA sequencing, MRIs, solar energy, all of these things that society rests on, 70% of them we owe employees for. That’s what this book is about.
That’s important because what you research is tied into much of what I’m trying to do with my research on curiosity. We have this wealth of knowledge of all these people who could be doing all these amazing things working for organizations. We’re stifling their curiosity and people are afraid to come out with their ideas. In my research, I found there were four things that hold people back in terms of curiosity. It was fear, assumptions of voice in their head, technology and environment. Organizations can help some of these things. That’s why your research spoke to me because you’re talking about if we’d leave it up to entrepreneurs, we wouldn’t have a lot of these ideas. You did 150 interviews with people, everything from Amazon, MasterCard, Starbucks. You went to the big names. Is this a playbook?
It was a playbook. The first step is seven steps to this playbook. The first one is closely related to your work around curiosity. I didn’t frame it as a curiosity. I framed it as intended because there’s a good deal of research about entrepreneurial intention. The idea is before someone will take an entrepreneurial action on an opportunity, there has to be the intention to take that action. The question is what might hold back someone’s intention? As you’re saying, maybe they’ve found it difficult that they’ve lost the curiosity to try. What this research goes into, of the four things that you mentioned, it’s more of the mental chatter, the beliefs and what the research shows are that there are three primary beliefs that will hold you back.70% of society's most transformative innovations came from employees rather than entrepreneurs. Click To Tweet
Either you’re telling yourself, “It’s not possible here, employees cannot innovate. It’s all the bureaucracy.” There are structures and hierarchy. The second limiting belief you could call them is, “I’m not capable.” That’s about self-efficacy. “It’s possible for someone else, but not for me because I lack skills or characteristics.” The third one is, “What will people say? What would be the social consequence of stepping out of line, of trying something different? Will I be ridiculed?” Those three limiting beliefs are the primary ones that will stop people from taking action, which is that curiosity. When you don’t have the curiosity, you don’t even see the opportunities.
Amy Edmondson and a lot of people on the show, Francesca Gino and some of the people from Harvard, we were talking about what comes first before everything else, before motivation, drive, creativity. They all said curiosity comes first. To me, this is the spark, what you’re talking about here, that if you don’t turn on the oven and you mix all the ingredients for cake mix, you don’t get cake. If we don’t turn out the spark for curiosity, it’s hard to go to the next level. That’s how I look at it. You’ve got seven steps. I want to cover these steps. What comes second?
Let’s call that intent. I made them spell INOVATE because they’re easy to remember. The next one is need, understanding what the company needs. 55% of senior managers cannot name even two of their company’s top strategic priorities. People don’t understand the strategy. I ask them to innovate, but they don’t come up with good ideas. They don’t know where to look. People don’t understand what the company wants. If you were making a product for a customer and you didn’t know what the customer wanted, it’s probably not going to come up. Your company as a customer, that’s a need.
The next one is all of my work for many years bundled into generating lots of options and how do you generate a continual flow of ideas and activate that continue ideation. That’s the next step. V is for value blockers. I wanted to call this business model, but I couldn’t spell INOVATE. The idea is that when you have an idea, there is a natural way to price it. There’s a natural way to brand it, distribute it, sell it or process it. Those natural ways around your business model might be in conflict with the business model that you operate in. That’s one of the big differences between being an entrepreneur inside a company, inside a business model versus outside. Some people throw their hands up and say, “It’s not possible here.” What these internal entrepreneurs seem to do is view that as another level of a challenge and how can I re-engineer the idea so it limits these value blockers.
A is taking action. There’s a lot written about this, but this is about taking an act, learn, build approach versus approved plan, execute the approach. When HP came up with the first electronic calculator, a marketing firm told them to shelve the idea because there was already an entrenched competitor in the market at a far superior price point, which was the slide rule. They said, “Why would anyone buy an electronic calculator when you have a slide rule?” This is the problem with new ideas that it’s too easy to show them off by saying, “There is no data yet to support them. There’s no data to tell you how some have reacted.” What did they do? You have to take action. What they did is they produced 1,000 of them, put them on the market to see how people reacted and people snap them up. Before long, they were selling 1,000 a day. The next dilemma is designing.
I want to tie into that because George Land had an interesting talk about how we put on the gas and come up with these great ideas. We quickly criticize them so much that we put the brake on at the same time. We don’t give ideas time to getting creative and get out there without over-analyzing them to death. You put on the brake and the gas at the same time, you’re not going to go far. It ties in well with his research at NASA.
The systems and resource allocation norms in established companies are weighted heavily to proving it with data. Give me a business case. I will give you funding and you can take action, which is exactly the opposite. We need to take action in order to prove it. We can’t do it the other way. That’s the next step. I’m framing us barriers to each of these barriers. There’s a tool to overcome that barrier. The next one is interesting, the team. The challenge of pulling together a team in a siloed organization is that you need people that are cross-functional. You’re going to need help from someone in marketing, in finance, in sales, in R&D, in manufacturing.
Unless you’re in a small company or you have the buy-in from the top, there’s no one that you’re going to get to who can direct all of those people to work for you because they all report to different people. How do you assemble this team? What is inspiring about the stories that I read was that the way people formed that team is by creating a groundswell of excitement and support for the idea so that people are working on their own time, on nights and weekends on this idea. It becomes a communal creation around this possibility.
How are they getting them excited about it?
By the possibility. The hero in my book and the woman who inspired me to write the book is a woman named Jean Feiwel. She’s a publisher at Macmillan. You probably don’t know her name, but she was part of the team that signed Harry Potter in the United States. She’s behind the Babysitter’s Club. She’s behind Goosebumps. She came up with this idea and she knew that she needed a team. What she did was she sent out an email describing the idea and saying, “If you’re interested in some of the idea, let’s have pizza next Thursday and talk about it.” She told me that if seven people showed up, she was going to do it. If less than seven people showed up, she wasn’t going to do it. Thirty people showed up. These weren’t editors only. These were people from logistics, warehouse, accounting that love the possibility of the idea. It’s enrolling people in that possibility.
Did you happen to look at Pixar at all? It’s interesting to look at what they’ve done to get people excited about these teams. Was that one in your book?
No, I didn’t.
The reason I ask is that I saw Amy Edmondson talk about this a little bit, what they’ve done. Everybody has created a culture of candor there so that everybody was able to speak up. In these team situations, you get people much more excited if they think that they’re invested in it like that. The feedback to everybody gets constructive, but it’s not about you so much as the project. That’s one of the things that are fascinating about getting people excited. Teams are such a huge issue. Is there an E for INOVATE?
Yes, there is an E. I interviewed 150 entrepreneurs. My first question is, what do you see as the biggest barrier to driving innovation from within? A lot of them followed E. E is the environment, the organizational environment. What I did is I scoured through all the research that showed a correlation between some organizational factors and higher levels of internal entrepreneurship. I narrowed it down to fourteen different proven variables and they cluster in four different areas. There is leadership. There’s talent. What talent do you need to find? There are six things there. There are organizational structures and cultural norms.
You can look at the framework either as a CEO and say, “These are the things that I need to tweak in order to turn on the heat,” to borrow your metaphor. These are the four knobs. As an internal innovator, what you see them do is they’ll scan the organization and look for a place to take their innovation. That may not be their obvious place. Ken Kutaragi is the person that came up with the Sony PlayStation many years ago. He could have put it in the electronics part of Sony, which is where he worked. That made a lot of sense because they had all the manufacturing, relationships and all that. He decided it would be better to build that business in Sony Entertainment, the division that creates music and manages artists because he recognized that they had the right organizational, cultural talent combination that would give him the freedom to create. You’re looking for these islands of freedom and the environment. INOVATE: Intent, Need, Options, Value blockers, Act, Team, Environment.
It’s an interesting look at creation and what happens to ideas, how much ego is involved? If you’ve come up with a great idea and you’re probably dealing with that when you’re talking to these people because if you’re an entrepreneur, you get credit. Where did you find out about that? I’m interested in that aspect.
That’s a big part. A big difference is what it takes to be a successful internal innovator seems to be an intrinsic motivation to innovate. You love the idea that you can have an impact on a scale that is huge because you’re doing it inside and you don’t do it for the recognition nor do you do it for the financial gain. You may gain financially because that might increase your salary, but you’re not going to become a billionaire. Many people who are frustrated, they say, “I came up with this idea and the company is making all the money. If I were doing this on my own, I’d be a billionaire.” The successful ones, they don’t go there. They appreciate that they need to be happy and put their children’s financial future at risk.
One of my friends and a former client, she’s retired now, her name is Heather. She’s part of the financial services institution and huge institution. Starting over a decade ago, she’s been talking about this one idea. She has been behind the scenes putting in place the right structures, people and decisions. A few years ago, they made a big acquisition and now they are one of the ten largest asset management companies in the world. That was her idea. She wouldn’t tell you that. Nobody knows that.When you don't have the curiosity, you don't even see the opportunities. Click To Tweet
There are some people that don’t want to stress that it goes along with this support that’s required to create these great ideas. In pharmaceutical sales, I worked for a company that had the guy that created the first beta-blocker, which was a huge thing. It blocked beta receptors in the heart, but he later went on to create Tagamet, which is an H2 blocker because he understood the blocker functions and no one knows his name. I don’t know his name. Tagamet is a huge drug. It took this mind figuring this stuff out, but you can’t do that by yourself. In a lot of cases, some of these great ideas, even Thomas Edison had to patent a million things from other people. He didn’t create the light bulb by himself.
What you find is that an entrepreneurial race is a race that you start and finish. The entrepreneurial race is more of a relay race. Someone passes the baton to someone else, then to someone else, and in the end, someone crosses the finish line. You can’t look back far enough to find out where it happened or you have to dig to find that person. That was part of the challenge of finding these 150 people as they’re not written about it.
They are the most interesting stories to me though, in many ways. I am always looking for good stories. I talk so much about the value of improving curiosity because it leads to innovation, engagement and productivity. What were your favorite stories of products or ideas that you want to share that came from curiosity?
Two things to me that come to mind around curiosity. What’s related to the curiosity that I’m interested in for my next book is luck. There was a study of a professor in the UK. He wrote a book on luck. He did this one study where he took two different people. He said, “Are you lucky or unlucky?” Groups of people who said they were lucky and groups of people who said they were not lucky. He gave them the same task, which looked at this newspaper and counted the number of photos in the newspaper. The unlucky people on average took 2 or 3 minutes to do the task. Whereas the lucky people, they sometimes did it in seconds. The difference was on the second page, there’s a big advertisement in print that says, “There are 38 photos in this newspaper. You can stop counting.”
The curiosity to look and say, “Maybe something is going to happen that’s going to change my life. Maybe something exciting is there and I’m looking for it.” That’s the beginning point. One guy that went for that luck was a guy named Chuck House. He was an engineer at HP in the 1960s. He was working on a project called large scale electrostatic displays. He described it to me as a television connected to a computer. The first time it was done. He is working at the R&D lab. Mr. Packard makes his annual visit to the R&D lab. He looks at the project and says, “I don’t like this project. I don’t want to see it in the lab when I come back next year.” What he meant was, “I want you to kill the project.” Chuck House decided to interpret that as I need to get it out in the market in less than a year.
What he did was on his own time, his own dime. He took some of the units that they were building and over the holidays, he brought them to prospective clients. They came back in January, he had orders. Now it technically was no longer in the lab. It was in the market. It’s because he decided to take that action. That was the fundamental technology that enabled us to see Neil Armstrong land on the moon. If he had not done that, he probably would have only heard you on the phone, say, “One small step for man.” That’s that curiosity and the baton making an uncommon choice and creating the ripple that then changes things.
It’s all ties into my next book on perception. It’s interesting to see how you interpret how you perceive, everything because of how we work together, how we create, everything is influenced by all these things. Whether we can talk about luck or timing or your location, there are many factors that come in, how successful people are. When you’re talking about what you’re researching, there’s a strong focus on this myth. The sole entrepreneur is such a great thing, but working for a company, nothing exciting. How do we get past that?
That’s my mission to flip that narrative. My wife is a creative, smart and successful senior executive at a large financial services technology company. She grew up as a Latina in the South and there were few stories of women reaching that level of success in Corporate America and far fewer Latinas. She nevertheless was able to make it happen. If we don’t tell stories, tell us what’s possible. We live in the stories that we hear. That’s why we need stories of minorities. We need stories of women. We need stories of employee entrepreneurs. If we look at the stories that we tell, take any list of the most innovative business person, let’s take Elon Musk, Michael Dell, the Google guys, Zuckerberg.
Sometime in college, you get an idea and you take the journey to the West Coast. The hero steps into a cave, the garage. The small team that’s the hipster, the hacker, the hustler. They go in there, lock themselves in, they build something and they open the doors. They take it out and they disrupt the market. It is the hero journey story. It’s so compelling that we’d love to tell it. It sells books. It sells magazines. It is a royalty. When we only tell that story, we’re telling people subconsciously maybe that is the path. If you are not living that story, you’re not the innovator. That is a big problem. My mission is to flip this narrative.
What can leaders do to make it easier for employees to innovate?
Tell the stories. When you’ve launched a product, find out what the story is of how that product came to be. The person that’s going to get credit for it is the head of the business unit. It’s going to get the CEO. The iPod was invented by Steve Jobs. No, it was created by people that are employees and tell those stories. The Ikea flat-pack box wasn’t conceived up by the CEO. There was an employee who several years after its founding, said, “I can’t fit this table into the back of a car. Why don’t I take the legs off, fold it and put it in?” That’s a story that people in Ikea know. It’s not Ikea who came up with a flat-pack box. It’s this employee. That’s a great thing to do is create those stories and the folklore internally celebrating the employee innovator and you’ll see people fulfilling them.
You have many great ideas in your book. Many people could learn so much from driving innovation from within and from learning from you. How could they reach you if they want to find out more?
Kaihan, this has been interesting. Thank you for being on the show. I enjoyed our conversation.
I loved it. Thank you for having me and teaching me.
Creating Better Leaders Through Proper Communication With Tracey Thomson
I am here with Tracey Thomson who is a co-author of Globe and Mail Canadian bestseller Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking. As Cofounder and Operator of groundbreaking communication training organization TRUTHPLANE, Tracey advises the world’s top companies and individuals on issues involving communication and body language. This is going to be interesting. Welcome, Tracey.An entrepreneurial race is a race that you start and finish. Click To Tweet
Thank you, Diane. It’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me on the show.
I love the topics that you deal with because I’m fascinated in what makes people tick and how we can understand interpersonal communication. That’s such a big part of emotional intelligence, which I studied. What are people thinking? Why do we need to know what people are thinking?
That’s interesting because we can’t know what people are thinking. We wrote this book. I co-authored the book with Mark Bowden, my business partner. One of the premises that we wrote the book was because people talk about reading body language. It’s an interesting metaphor. You can’t read body language. There’s nothing that’s entirely translatable, but what you can do is make judgments about what people are thinking through their body language. When we say what people are thinking, we’re trying to get a sense of what they’re thinking. There’s nothing that’s completely transparent or translatable, but body language is an excellent key to what people mean towards us. It’s a crucial factor in how we make judgments about other people and how they judge us. That’s why people are interested in it and obsessed with it. People get obsessed with body language because they want to be able to judge what people mean towards them, the inherent meanings.
It’s key because people look at everything through their own lens. Many people don’t realize that because you think something’s a certain way and you’re reacting to it a certain way, that somebody could be completely having a different interpretation. My book is on perception and our perception is there are many things that are impacted and body language is certainly one of them.
Entirely, it’s an important part. It was an important part of our book as well. We take people through the scan system. This will resonate with you. When you’re in a situation, we ask people to suspend their judgment. We all make those instant judgments about whether somebody likes us or not or whether we like them or not or if they mean to be a friend to us or if they’re going to give us resources or if they’re going to take something from us. We can’t help if everybody makes these judgments within a split second of meeting somebody else or seeing somebody else. In the book, what we try and do is tell people to suspend their judgment.
Back to your issue of perception. It’s going, “We all are going to make our own perceptions. Take a second to step back and be a bit more mindful of what’s going on in the situation and what you have brought to this reading. What have you brought to your assessment?” Sometimes you’ll go at night and you’ll be on a high because something awesome happened that day and everything seemed fantastic to you, which it might not be. Sometimes you’ve had a terrible day or some thing’s chipped away at your confidence in the day. You’ll bring that to all your interactions as well. Your personal perception is so affected by what you’re carrying around by your personal baggage at that moment. To bring that to bear on reading body language is important. It’s central and we talk about that a lot in the book as well.
I’ve had people come up to me and they’ll cheer up, but I have a resting bitch face or something. I’m fine. I’m absolutely perfect. You don’t know what people are experiencing. I remember as a pharmaceutical rep, I have doctors. I remember going to shake one guy’s hand and he goes, “Don’t touch me.” He was cold and awful. It was like he hadn’t washed his hands yet or you don’t know. You put in your own thoughts to what that could possibly mean, not only by what they look like but what they say. All this is important to consider, the good versus bad day that they might’ve had. Maybe a patient died on his table. You don’t know what it is that somebody experienced.
That’s the thing, people are like, “That person is in a terrible mood. Are they in a bad mood or is it me? Is it them?” It’s that whole thing. It’s not you, it’s me. They might have had something terrible happen to them or they might not be paying. The way they’re acting towards you might have absolutely nothing to do with you. In the book, we have chapters that talk from a personal perspective, can you tell if someone’s lying to you or can you tell if someone’s cheating on you? We give scenarios. We talk about while you’re maybe putting someone’s behavior under the microscope, it might be that all kinds of things happen before they came to you that day. Even where they’ve been, where they walked through, what environment they’ve been into. If you’re seeing, for example, your partner, your fiancé or your spouse, at the end of the day, you might go, “Why do you smell different?” It couldn’t be that they literally were in a different environment, but our mind, we catastrophize. We feel negative. It can take on a wholly negative and their body language, they did this and therefore it means that. It’s a rich topic about perception about what else you’re bringing to. It’s exciting that you’re writing a book about that. That’s great.
When I had Paul Ekman on the show, I remember him talking about how we have certain phases that all of us have the same seven different expressions that people make. What I found the most interesting about that was no matter what, even if you were blind, you make these same facial expressions to certain things, pain or whatever, the different faces. I can’t remember what they were, fear in different ones. It was fun to watch the television show lie to me. I’d love to watch that stuff, but some of that is overly dramatic. You can’t necessarily tell all these things. Do all people turn their lower lip down in a certain way and do certain things other than these six expressions or whatever that Paul discovered. Do we have our own unique facial things that are unique to us so we have to learn how to read each person individually?
It’s incredible you had him on the show. We quote him quite a lot in the book. He got into this field. He’s amazing. Based on the work he did that he’s done and that he does, there are similarities. There are similarities across cultures, as you say, whether people are even they can’t see or they can see us. We do similar things in certain areas. However, from the reading perspective and we’re talking about is when you try to read that unless you’ve had training, it’s hard to take it all in. While I’m a frown combined with a couple of other characteristics that could mean something, it depends on many other things. If you’re looking at it in a vacuum, you can go, “When somebody in this country and somebody in that country is expressing surprise, fear or disgust, they do the same things.” If I’m talking to somebody in my day-to-day, this is what we all do where I’m in a meeting and I want to understand if they like me or not.
It’s hard to take in the different things that are going on, the different facial expressions because they’re micro gestures. They’re constantly fluid. They’re constantly moving. You need to have for it to mean something. For you to be able to assign meaning to it, you need to have three. Ekman talks about the Pinocchio myth, the idea that if someone’s lying to you, they touch their nose. That’s how you know. Wouldn’t it be great if that were true? It’s not. There’s no lack of one thing. There’s no one thing that anybody will do that will tell you anything. If there’s a set of three, there’s a bit more likelihood. Back to our original topic of perception, of what you’ve been through in the day context is important.
Let’s say I’m looking at facial expressions that might make me feel like that person is expressing disgust or contempt towards me or fear, it might not be towards me. That’s the important thing that we talked about in the book to try to help people. For example, I was sitting in that meeting or I was on that date or whatever and somebody had their arms crossed. That’s one of the greatest body language myths. They’re crossing their arms. They’re close to me. They all like me. They’re giving me the negative body language and therefore I’m going to take that like we’re done. This isn’t working out. This is a great body language myth because if you cross your arms, there are a number of different reasons why you might cross your arms. You might be cold. You might be trying to close down something so you can think more carefully.
You might be closing yourself off to the cold environment or to other stimuli if you’re trying to focus and zero in on something, but it might not mean that you’re close to the person that you’re talking to or to their ideas. It could be self-soothing. You might be tired and crossing your arms because you’re trying to stay awake. People cross their arms for many different reasons and not because they might be closed. The thing is when you’re looking at it, it can look like negative body language. If you’re going to a job interview, don’t cross your arms because it could easily appear to the other person that you’re closed off. It looks like a natural barrier.
It sounds complex. That’s your question, do people have their own specifics? It’s fluid. People have their own facial expressions that they develop over time. Some people walk around with a frown on their face, some people walk around with a smile on their face or we get lines of expression where we tend to have the most expressions. As we get older, especially in a mask that communicates something, it could be whatever stimuli in the environment we’ve been responding to through our lives that affect us. We’re a product. Our personal body language is a product of how we were raised, the environment, the weather, everything about what environment we were raised in, how we were spoken to, how we were parented, how we were schooled. It’s like our bodies are a map, a reaction to that.
I talked to Paul and a couple of other people who’ve been on my show about that. My husband is a plastic surgeon and they’re changing so much on people’s faces these days, but it’s hard to read. It’s something that you look at that. It brings up the women versus men thing though. I’ve had a lot of people talk about that because women seem to take a lot of criticism. I was criticizing, which I shouldn’t. We look at people on stage. A man could get away with saying and doing so many things when you’re speaking on stage. I’ve had a lot of Hall of Fame speakers talk to me about this and all the men say it’s not fair that women get over-analyzed of what their clothes are. Do you think that’s true?
Women get over-analyzed for what they’re wearing. Here in Canada, we had our elections not too long ago. It’s interesting. There was one female contender for prime minister. Every time she walked on screen, every time she had a photo taken, everything got analyzed, her clothing, the jewelry. She was overanalyzed. It’s difficult. The public is starting to realize because as time moves on and we become more aware of these things, we’re putting women underway more scrutiny. It absolutely still happens. In a situation like that as well, she was the only woman with 7 or 8 other men up on that stage. It’s a harder gig in some circumstances for that reason.
It’s fascinating that the way men look doesn’t come up as much in general. Their features or what they wear, any part of their physical appearance, it’s not coming up more. I remember I had somebody on my show who did a reading of my face after the show. I remember he said something and it was pretty funny. My husband still teases me about it. He goes, “You’re striking. Not in a beautiful way.” I’m like, “What does that mean?” I’m thinking, “Do I scare people when I walk in the room?” I thought, “Do you say that to a man? Do people read looks-wise? Would he do that?” I always wanted to ask him.
It’s a bit cheeky for him to say that to you.Before someone will take an entrepreneurial action on an opportunity, there has to be the intention to take that action. Click To Tweet
He did it on video and I’m like, “Yeah, he did say that.” I’m sure he meant it as a compliment. He was the nicest guy. Do we start interpreting what do they mean by that? No guy would even put a second thought to that. They go, “Go on to the next thing.” Women, we are sensitive.
To that point and not to change the focus, but when you say, “What did he mean by that?” interestingly where people kick into, “Let’s look at the body language. What did he mean by that? What was he doing when he said that?” That’s the reason our book exists is that many people will be in any situation, any given context and think, “What were their intentions towards me when they said those words?” We constantly are attempting to pull apart their body language to get a better sense of what they meant by that because it means much to us. When someone says that resonates, it sticks with you. It’s like, “Why did I say that? What kind of comment is that?” Many people will then go, “What was he doing when he said that? What did he look like? He was frowning or he was smiling or whatever. He was emphatic with his hands. He had his hands in his pocket. People will try to pick apart the behavior.
Wanting to have that good body language so people can interpret us properly, how do we do that? How do we improve our body language?
We always like to say there’s neither good nor bad body language, but it gets you a result. It depends on the context. We always talk about it in our business. We generally help people in business or in politics or in the public eye of some sort to show that they are trustworthy and that they are credible. Their content therefore is credible. One of the things that we advise people is to have more open body language. We talk about TRUTHPLANE, which is the name of the company. The truth plane is the horizontal plane that comes out from your belly button area, from your navel. When we’re coaching people in looking that they have more open body language, we say have your hands, your arms gently resting in the truth plane.
You’re opening your hands and you’re showing the people that you’re speaking to on a primitive brain level that you have no weapons in your hands, no tools, that you’re open, that you’re showing your vulnerable area on your body. That you mean them no harm, that you’re inviting them in, that they can trust you, that you’re not going to be a threat to them because of this whole idea of judging people within a split second and seeing them. It’s our primitive brain that’s kept us alive and kept us safe from the saber tooth so we could evolve and be heard. That part of our brain is still active and it’s saying to us this person is an enemy. This person is a friend. It’s the body language of the open as the truth plane hands open that put that primitive brain at ease that we’re not going to bet to be attacked.
That’s how we help people to have better body language that will have an effect that will make them look more trustworthy. The thing is most people are out there working hard, trustworthy, trying to get their message across. They often get thwarted by trying to calm themselves down by doing things like putting their hands in their pockets or putting the arms down at their side or twiddling their thumbs or fiddling with something because people get anxious. People get nervous when they’re talking to other people, when they’re trying to do a business meeting or a job interview or sell something or whatever it happens to be. We try to help people with easy techniques that will relax them but will keep them energized, to keep their breath steady and even. We also help people to use their gesture levels where they’re gesturing with their hands to get their audience or their readers passionate about what they’re talking about, to get them to help see their vision and go with them to get them passionate about their content. Generally, I’d say, “Better body language, open body language, open gestures.”
Is there any sense that this is inauthentic? We were trying to play to this group versus that group that we’re changing ourselves. I see a lot of this is how we work in sales and interpersonal relationships in general as you can’t talk to everybody in the same way. You have to reach people in the way they’d like to be reached. To quote Tony Alessandra of The Platinum Rule . Is it the same thing with body language? Are you trying to reach people in a way they prefer?
To a certain extent, yes, depending on the context. If you are presenting, if you’re selling, depending on who you’re selling. You’ve been in sales. You said you were in pharmaceuticals. That’s a specific audience, isn’t it? You’ll want to speak to them in a way that resonates with them. Back to the issue of whether it’s authentic or inauthentic and we talk a lot about this. If I’m going out to a meeting, I’m going to put on nice clothes. I’m going to do my hair. I’m going to put some makeup on. I make sure my teeth are brushed. I’m going to be striking. I’m going to try and make an impression before I walk out of my door before I leave my house in the morning, I want to make sure I look so. I’m going to make the right impression with that group. For some groups of people, I might dress up more. I might dress more casually depending on who it is. Is that inauthentic? If I’m authentic, I might walk out in sweat pants because it’s more comfortable or in my yoga clothes. They’re comfortable.
If I’m working from home, I sit around in what’s warm. If I was going to go out to a business meeting, I would put a suit on and I wouldn’t necessarily wear fluffy wool at the door because I might not want to look too cozy at my business meeting. With body language, it’s much the same thing. If you’re authentic all the time, you’ll often slump over, standing on one leg. Your head is high. People sit at tables and they rest their fists on the table, which is maybe not the most useful body language at a meeting. It’s like your head’s heavy. You’re being authentic. My head weighs eleven pounds. Body language, it is authentic. You’re in a group and you’re trying to present and to have a meeting of the minds. It’s no more inauthentic than wearing the right clothes for that group, for using the language, the vocabulary that maybe is industry-specific that you know they understand.
It’s no more authentic than that. Rest assured it’s not inauthentic. That’s another thing. How many times have you sat through a PowerPoint or a talk that somebody has given and thought, “This is boring. It’s dire in their PowerPoint, but reading their PowerPoint off the screen and it’s boring. I don’t get what they want or what they mean?” The thing is they might have the best content. That content might be fantastic, but if their body language is telling you that they’re uncomfortable, they don’t want to beat it. They don’t get you as the audience and who you are. You’re not going to listen. You’re not going to care and it’s going to seem like terrible content. You need to use your body language to work with your body language so that the audience you’re speaking to is able to understand what you need them to understand.
That’s important. A lot of people could learn a lot from not only your best seller but your training organization, TRUTHPLANE, offers a lot of information there as well. A lot of people would want to know how they can get your book and reach you. Do you have something you’d like to share?
Our website is www.TRUTHPLANE.com. The book is available on Amazon. In fact, we have four books. The latest one is Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking. Mark Bowden, who’s the principal of TRUTHPLANE also wrote Winning Body Language For Sales Professionals and Tame The Primitive Brain, which you’d be interested in. It’s 28 ways in 28 days to manage how people react to you and how you react to other people. It’s a lot around that. It’s about managing your behavior, managing the behaviors that people around you. The latest, Truth and Lies What People Are Really Thinking, is available on the app and at all major bookstores.
Tracey, this has been fun. I was looking forward to it. I love this stuff. It’s important. It ties into everything I researched. I’m grateful that you were able to join me on the show. Thank you.
Thank you for having me. It was great to speak to you.
I’d like to thank Kaihan and Tracey for being my guests. We get many amazing guests on this show. If you’re interested in finding out more about Cracking the Curiosity Code or The Curiosity Code Index or any of my speaking or anything, it’s all on the site, DrDianeHamilton.com. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you’ll enjoy the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Driving Innovation from Within: A Guide for Internal Entrepreneurs
- Amy Edmondson – past episode
- Francesca Gino – past episode
- @Kaihan – Twitter
- Truth and Lies: What People Are Really Thinking on Amazon
- Paul Ekman – past episode
- The Platinum Rule
- Winning Body Language For Sales Professionals
- Tame The Primitive Brain
- Cracking the Curiosity Code
- The Curiosity Code Index
About Kaihan Krippendorff
Kaihan Krippendorff is a Strategy, Innovation and Transformation Keynote Speaker. He is the Founder at Outthinker and a Senior Advisor at Coplex. He has written five books including Driving Innovation from Within: A guide for Internal Entrepreneurs. Kaihan is a member of the prestigious Thinkers50 Radar Group.
He teaches at Wharton Eecutive Education, is a faculty member of Florida International University, and lectures at business schools throughout the world. He is regularly featured in key business media outlets, including BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Time, Fox Business, Fast Company, PBS, and Bloomberg Radio. Kaihan is an advisory board member for a blockchain-powered transportation platform, an international food processing/exporting company, and a B-corporation focused on sustainable products and lifestyle.
About Tracey Thompson
Tracey Thomson is co-author of Globe and Mail Canadian Bestseller TRUTH & LIES What People Are Really Thinking. As co-founder and operator of groundbreaking communication training organization TRUTHPLANE®, Tracey advises the world’s top companies and individuals on issues involving communication and body language.
Her background in directing and training performers internationally in the psychology of movement, as well as her professional experience analyzing and supplying solutions to the dramas we find ourselves in, gives her unique insights into human behavior and what people are really thinking.
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