Chad Littlefield is the co-founder and Chief Experience Officer of We and Me, Inc. (www.weand.me)—an organization that creates tools and facilitates experiences that build trust, strengthen relationships, and unify your team.
Forbes calls him a “global expert on asking questions that build trust and connection in teams.” He is a TEDx speaker, author of the Pocket Guide to Facilitating Human Connections, and his new book Create Conversations that Matter, now a #1 Amazon Bestseller.
Chad has led workshops, trainings, retreats, and interactive keynotes at JetBlue, Starbucks, Conscious Capitalism International, Johnson & Johnson, Penn State, George Mason University, Typeform, Goodwill, and dozens of conferences.
Listen in to this episode to learn why a feeling of belonging and trust is needed within your company’s culture and how it ultimately drives performance once created.
- 2:17 – What leads to extended smiles at work
- 3:50 – Everyone you will ever meet, knows something you don’t
- 4:52 – How Chad got into this profession
- 8:45 – Topics HR would not approve of
- 12:04 – Teaching guidelines for discussing difficult topics
- 15:05 – How misinterpreting leads to a better understanding
- 16:50 – Why you learn more when you teach
- 19:02 – The most overlooked elements of trust
- 20:15 – The importance of psychological safety
- 21:18 – The secret recipe to create trust within organizations
- 26:45 – Creating business that elevate humanity and not just turn profit
- 30:36 – Life Purpose: To eliminate small talk
- 33:20 – How to create conversations that matter
- 37:28 – The difference between engage and connect
- 41:02 – Why people are afraid of risk
- 46:10 – Be 25% a kid
Ask Powerful Questions, Create Conversations That Matter – By Will Wise
Explanations on how the questions we traditionally ask are virtually meaningless when it comes to establishing connection.
Sam Richards Ted Talk: A radical experiment in empathy
Quotes we discuss:
39:33- 40:55 – Activities to connect and engage in your organization
Ideal listener for luminary business podcasts. TEST
Well before I even answer that want to make sure we have hinted at it. And that’s the whole purpose of us being on the thruway here’s we are we are doing two for one, right, we’re gonna. This is what would be the scrimmage podcast and the luminary business podcast.
Much more focused on making it ideal for scrimmage. And if it works for luminary business as a separate thing. Awesome. So, Derek. You probably answer best. There’s a couple different segments of ideal listener.
There’s two categories of ideal listeners that I would say actually more than two but there’s a variety. So one is
Employees just broadly speaking, and that could be of a large company. It could be a small company could be an entrepreneur could be anyone, but anyone who’s looking to really
Change the context right for how work is being done in terms of allowing a new culture to to rise, that is based on you know values driven alignment between
Organization their teams and be able to co create value and a community around that. Right. And that’s very much
Part of what scrimmage. And what I’ve tried to create an express to the marketplace. And the cool part about is that we work with a lot of fortune 100 companies. See, I kind of see so that we’re this
The interloper or so to speak revolutionizing how business can be done and still have fun and create a place where people want to be in work together. Right. And so I feel like that’s a place we’re going to set that example. So ideally,
We’re reaching executives CEOs of big corporations that could be our client, but are also who are like
What I would call a line on the values level with what this could be. But maybe have not created that within our own environment, but they could create that by working with companies such as you and me and and others like us to
bring that forward, right. So, for me that’s like the perfect outcome, how this all plays out on the t shirt.
Beautiful. Awesome. That’s super helpful done sold
Excellent. So, and then chat. I think I mentioned this on our first call that
Then I’ll do the intro after our conversation today because then I’ll have all the nuts and bolts figured out in my head of what we’re actually going to talk about. So I can introduce it properly.
And that way, it gives people a little more clarity on whether or not they should spend the 20 or 30 or 40 minutes listening to the whole episode. Yeah.
One other question. Do you have 2030 or 40. Do you have an ideal time frame that these kind of fall into
We do, but we keep not making it within that time frame we were shooting for 20 minute episodes. I don’t think we’ve ever got it even close. So
40 minutes seems to be our flow. Generally, yeah.
Cool. Cool. Well, how that will help just knowing that are shooting for shorter will be
Yeah, I mean,
The ground me words.
Yeah, I mean, the goal here is that if in a perfect world.
It’s episode as a commute. Right, it’s the it’s literally like they’re putting a commute like they’re on the train or in the car averaged me to 20 minutes they can pop it on and hear it before they get to work on the way home from work. Right. Great.
We have a clear enough part one and part two we could experiment with a two part episode.
All right, so I’m just going to jump right into the hello Chad welcome and okay
So I’m gonna do the intro go over how awesome you are, how great everything is you’ve ever done in ever touching your whole life and Chad, my man. Thank you so much for joining today so excited to have you on the show with Derek and I
Super pumped to be here.
Awesome, man. How is life, Ben.
Life has been crazy full in a lot of really beautiful ways. One of them is got a kiddo on the way. And so lots of magic shifting on that front. And then, yeah, I’ve had some really
Fun experiences with clients in the last couple weeks that have just been like extended the smile for a week or two.
I love it, love it man. Well,
First off, yeah, I just want to say, congrats chad on that, that’s pretty exciting news and we can share that experience here. So, and then I’m really curious to hear about your smiles for weeks with clients tell us about what what leads to that for you.
Yeah, that one of them in particular i’ll have to send you all the video afterwards. So, but my job is
Traveling around working with organizations, oftentimes in a speaking context but breaking that like sage on the stage dynamic where one person speaks to a bunch of sponges, because in any audience.
You know the wisdoms very distributed on the other side of the stage. But in this case, a couple weeks ago I was invited to speak at convocation at the University of Wisconsin. So was a nice intimate group of 8,000 18 year old college
Very, very, very good group. And so that was just like
An epic experience to see, you know, 8000 minds. You know, it takes 45 minutes for that many people just to get into a room. Right. And when you see that many people and you just take one quick moment.
And imagine that all of them even though they’re just 18 and just entering this whole phase of their life. All of them have an entire lifetime of un Googleable experiences behind them and they’re bringing to like this moment right now in the
Collective genius and the future CEOs in the group and the future leaders and inventors and doctors and it’s a fun group to be around, so that’s that’s the lingering smile.
I love that mindset and that approach. It reminds me of something I really admired the Jordan Peterson says a lot which is, you know, you should imagine every single person you meet has something they can teach you that might save your life.
That’s really good. Yeah.
It’s I haven’t heard that Jordan Peterson, but I love it because Todd. My favorite quote on the planet is from Bill Nye the Science Guy and it says exactly everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t
But saves your life that’s like taking it to the next level.
It’s pretty intense. If you don’t know Jordan Peterson stuff I would look I would look into it. I think you, you probably love him or hate him. I think he’s phenomenal is brilliant thinker and yeah recommend diving deep, if you want to. If you want to go deep. He’s your guy.
So what we’d love to get from you at the very beginning is what has drawn you to this world that you live in. I mean you you help people communicate you help people make connections.
I specifically wrote down. And as I was prepping for the show. Like was it something very specific in your life that led to this, or just kind of things fell into place and you ended up here by a series of events.
Ah, such a beautiful question.
Yeah, there’s two one moment very clear and then another moment that kind of sank in after the fact. My mom was the one who reminded me of it. But the first one is, I saw this movie with Robin Williams called Patch Adams.
It’s so good. Right.
So if you haven’t seen Patch Adams.
Becomes a doctor to really promote the quality of life over quantity. And so when I saw a movie when I was nine years old or so came out in 1995
I have my whole life figured out I was going to be Patch Adams. That was my future. And then I took a chemistry class in college and was like, oh, I don’t know about this whole med school pre med thing.
Like I thought that it was just supposed to be a funny doctor right like I just like skip to the end, kind of thing.
Yeah, exactly. I was like, Oh, cool. All the human connection relating empathizing connecting with healing patients through human connection and humor, not the scalpel and the 45 years of school.
So, so that was, that was one moment that that taught what that taught me was, well, I’m really obsessed with this idea that you can actually heal people and create
Higher engagement and actually measurably and objectively better outcomes through human connection. And so I kind of set out on this quest to figure out like
Is that real. Is that a thing I need to figure this out. The, the second experience, which later on. My mom reminded me of when I was
Even before I saw that movie. My mom is actually a medical Illustrator super weird job she likes to say that she graduated in the top five of her class at Ohio State, because there were only five people in our class.
So basically, your job was to draw like a doctor and teaching hospital would say, Hey, I’m trying to teach a bunch of med students this surgery from this angle at this stage, his neck surgery. Can you draw like
You give me a drawing that highlights the tendons and muscles and everything from the state.
Like Leonardo da Vinci stuff right there, right, like
My mom is Leonardo da Vinci.
And so when Leonardo. My mom was when me and my siblings were really young. She were when we played doctor. It was like we played a doctor. She drew these wild open wounds on our arms.
And all this stuff diagnoses. You’re prescribing actual treatments. Yeah.
Maybe pill bottles, maybe some placebos involved.
But she she recalled to me recently that
When we would play doctor, my brother would have this like giant life threatening open wound on his arm.
And I didn’t care at all about the clinical stuff. I was like, Hey, how are you feeling, are you know, do you need a pillow for your head that’s totally interested in the person
Not the clinical medical side of things. And so I think I was destined to be the medical version of Patch Adams for you from the time I was a little, little we one.
And then so what was the, what was the inspiration for we and me specifically
Yeah, so that bring us to bring that to present because there’s obviously a huge gap in between.
Nine years old, playing doctor
Then your TED talk, right.
So that realizing that obsession kind of set me on this journey of studying the brain and how he
Stops on the way while you’re at it was interesting.
Yeah, plenty of stops along the way. Usually bumpy and windy. I think we’ve probably all seen the graphic of like you’re here and successes here and we think it’s a straight line. And really it’s 100 squiggly lines.
So I wanted to, I could I could articulate, like how I wound up
In where I am now probably by sharing four people’s names, who are mentors along the way, who were doing something similar to what I was interested in doing and took me under their wing, but
Yeah, I worked for an organization called world and conversation for a little while and my job was to sit groups of people down in
Eight to 10 people that talk about it’s usually strangers to talk about stuff. You’re not supposed to talk about, especially with strangers like race, gender, long term conflict politics.
Things that like usually HR is involved with and
That sounds really fun. Really fun.
I bet. I mean I’m super curious. I would love to be an observer of one of those sessions.
That darn cool like you know there were there sessions where I had a military cadet with somebody
On a, like a Cisco telepresence system with a civilian in Pakistan, whose neighbor’s house had been blown up by an American drone twice. And so you’ve got two very polarizing views.
in the world and they’re connected with each other and then somebody who’s grew up in the 99 98% African American school system in New York City with somebody who’s has several family members in the KKK and rural North Carolina in the same dialogue talking about race. It’s like
Wait, I am who
Who like who who puts this together. Who funds this like why would. Is it a company that does, is it a research organization, who’s behind the mask. Who is behind the curtain, of this wild idea.
It’s, it’s called world and conversation. The Center for Public Diplomacy, it’s kind of a nonprofit in a center embedded within
Penn State University. And so you can Google Sam Richards, who is one of those four people a mentor of mine that kind of helped me along the way he gave one of the more popular TED Talks called a radical experiment in empathy and so
Him and his wife, Lori and whole team people there’s a team of 40 facilitators or so that lead those dialogues, so that they’ve actually
done an amazing job at scaling those intimate face to face and virtual conversations so they they lead about 8000 students and other people through these dialogues every single year there’s somebody sitting in a small group dialogue that
They always person like when you say scale is that just they’re doing a lot of in person meetings or is there a digital mobile aspect to it.
90% of those people are in person and then they also and I worked for well in conversation a little while, as the Global Dialogues coordinator. So they also have partners in stereotypically peaceful nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran Gaza.
Where you would pair up people from those countries with civilians in the US to skip the media skip headlines and actually talk to each other and so that the, probably, I don’t know what the percentage is now but around 10% of those are Global dialogue.
That’s really fascinating. So tell us what the common themes that you would find these experiences would be
Yeah, so this is this is actually where I met my co founder and we me will wise working there. He was the lead facilitation trainer. So his job was to teach people
To lead those conversations because i would not advise throwing eight to 10 people in a room and saying, talk about race with no guidance whatsoever. Yeah. And so there are some pretty brilliantly trained facilitators in the room.
The common theme.
Was and this was repeated over and over again that the example of the person who grew up in a 98% all black school in New York and rural North Carolina family members in the KKK.
That was an actual conversation that I was in the midst of facilitating and at the end of the conversation. They both looked at each other and said, Dude, you’re the same
We are the same. Your parents
Told me to watch it, my parents told me to watch out for white people when I went outside your parents told you to watch out for people that look like me when I went outside and so over and over again. What people realize is
Despite their immense differences. The more you talked about them and understood and really listened to each other. There was a pretty big shared commonality between us all that unites us and
Connected to that. I think the other theme was seeing how Curiosity has the power to transform differences into connections, where
That. So, you know, usually we see here difference and we get fired up against, and we launched some tirade a rant or comment against it. In this case, it was like no, sit back from it. And actually, like, what are you naturally genuinely curious about this person.
That’s, I love your curiosity in the organization. It’s super cool.
Yeah, there’s a quote unquote, I forget who inspires Roosevelt or someone like that. But the quote is that, you know, I don’t like that, man. I need to go get to know him. Yeah.
There’s that I love the share that because that that quote was actually hanging on the wall in the world and conversation offices.
At least you know, who knows where quotes or sometimes miss attributed at least the one that was hanging up in northern conversation was an Abe Lincoln, quote, and I actually
Was and it was will be at the irony was it about it was that it was a part of a speech, and when he said, I don’t like him. I need to get to know him better
The finish sentence of that quote was so that I can destroy him.
Like that part out.
Like no, you know your enemy sort of a was the way that I understood it, I need to go back and look at that, before I
Write it down in stone, but
For the conversation.
I know it’s good.
We just talked about how they edited.
Abe’s quote, and now we can just edit this right out to
I think the other magic, maybe, though, is that
You know, I tell every group or company that I ever work with to like ruthlessly misinterpret everything I say and do and apply it to their own context.
Because that’s how they get the most value the most magic out of it. And I think in some ways I think that’s what we should do always we should ruthlessly misinterpret what people say and make good use of it. So yeah, ruthlessly misinterpret Abe Lincoln. He won’t mind.
That’s the first stop tell us more stops along the way.
Yeah. And I, and I get. I get Sam Richards is one of the mentors is is Will Wise, are you putting in in your top four as well.
Yeah, I would say, Will Wise is in that top four and then Rod Lee, who wrote this little mini book The Pocket Guide to facilitating human connections with I taught. I ended up
Finished undergrad and I took this team development facilitation course with rod and every day I go up after class like rod. This is super cool. You got to tell me more.
And at the end of the year he tapped me and said, Hey, have you thought about going to grad school.
For this kind of stuff. And I said, Yeah, I thought about and I cannot wait to get out of school. I’m not interested. And his response was, Well, I’ll pay for it, da. Okay, fine. So I’m going to grad school for organizational development and experiential learning and learning design and that
All very relevant to scrimmage, you know, so that’s good.
Say that again.
All very relevant to scrimmage as a company, those aspects to your life. That’s good to know.
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Keep going though we’ll hear more about that.
Yes, studied that. And then taught that class that rod taught for a couple years. I taught at Penn State toughest team and leadership development facilitation course for a little while. It’s just like
gave me this, you know, you teach you learn way more when you teach something, then when you’re actually learning it, I think. And so that was just a, you know, that was like school. Number three, for me, was teaching and then
I was invited because of some work that I was deeply involved in at Penn State. Some of the world and conversation stuff and some other projects was invited to give TEDx talk and after that.
Talk somebody reached out to me and said, Chad. This was super cool. I love this. We’re having a company retreat.
Would you come speak. How much do you charge. And that was, I was about somewhere between seven, eight years ago, and that immediately caused me to like Google.
How much do you charge for something like, I didn’t even know that wasn’t in my brain that this was the thing. Right. And so I was not born an entrepreneur, but I’ve been learning to become one. So,
And yeah, a couple, couple years after that we created the we connect cards. This the box of 60 questions that over the course of two years boil down like these 60 questions particular help accelerate the building of relationships of trust within organizations.
So glad you use that word specifically because I was actually where my next question was going
To be is that, you know, one of the things that I’ve been feeling throughout everything that you’ve shared so far in terms of the mentors and and just communication and just what I what I’m hearing kind of beneath the surface is all about the role of trust.
In being able to get to know another person’s point of view and how that is I’m magnify within the context of of teams of companies.
And obviously with it you know leadership in general, that’s something that I think we all agree is important. Right. And so maybe you talk a little bit about about that from your standpoint, trust, specifically as it as evolving and in business and you know in this concept of the week.
Yeah. Yeah, well it’s
We alluded to it when we were off air just chatting beforehand that I think
One of the most overlooked elements. But most important elements of trust is this idea of cultivating creating a culture of psychological safety.
Which which really actually is a PC academic term for interpersonal trust which develops largely not purely but largely through
social connections with other people. It’s like, Hey, I have a chat with Derek and I have a chat with Todd and is my sense that there are good people and they have my interest and other people’s best interests in mind. And that’s a huge chunk of trust. I don’t know what percentage. It is
You know, yours is like reliability.
Performance do do show up on time, like there are other elements to it. But I think one of the biggest elements is that interpersonal level of trust and so
Real quick, I would imagine you’ve seen it, but Google did a, I think a two year study on the effectiveness and the, I think the profitability of certain business units within
The Google environment and they came to that conclusion that psychological trust was the number one factor that drove success in their teams.
printed up with Amy Edmundson from Harvard to
Measure psychological safety and the number one characteristic their language was the number one characteristic of the highest
Performing and innovative teams at Google. So within that context was the degree of psychological safety. It wasn’t the years of technical experience actually that was nowhere on the list. It wasn’t the
You know, perfect Myers Briggs blend that brought everybody together. It was, did people trust each other. Did they share ideas and not fear ridicule from their colleagues did they know that
Everybody had their best interests and support in mind. So, big deal. A huge finding. It’s super relevant to extrapolate to education into a classroom to your own company, your own business. Like, that’s a pretty big deal to
To see that research come out.
Yeah, I’d imagine, like you said, those questions really get into that. So if you found you found a recipe to help companies accelerate that experience of trust and how to do that effectively.
Yeah, so I to be really, really transparent with you. We created a recipe and I didn’t know for sure if it was the recipe or like a really impactful.
Recipe and the recipe was we will, and I wrote this co wrote this book. Ask powerful questions, create conversations that matter.
And our evidence. I mean, in addition to experience the world and conversation and experiencing the impact of the tools and mindsets that we teach and unpacking that book. It’s a very practical read like
What do you do with your hands, not a very like high level cloudy ethereal read and so
When we launched that we were like, We believe in this. We’ve seen it work anecdotally, but we’re not researchers and so we haven’t collected this, but I think one of our pieces of data.
For it is that like way much to our surprise, the book took off and became a number one Amazon bestseller, and that that framework. And that idea is being used.
In companies all around the world to cultivate and create this culture of connection and accelerate trust. And so it’s kind of the Book of like
When you don’t have a card with a question on at to spark that conversation. Like, how are you generating your own and how are you actively from your brain.
As a leader leading through asking really great questions. Listening really deeply empathizing with the people that you’re with. And so
All of those kind of line up into this pyramid of both mindsets and skills.
That we walk through each chapter in the book and the foundation of that. I think this is maybe the most relevant and perhaps another overlooked bit of trust is
One of the first tools. We talked about right off the air at the outset is how important it is to be clear about your intention and share it with the people that it affects
Because so often like we have intentions that affect other people but so rarely do we share them and when we have intentions that affect other people and we don’t share them. That is manipulation.
We’re actually trying to get people to do something that they’re not on board with. But when we’re clear about intentions and they can choose to play that same game as us, that creates trust which is perhaps the opposite of manipulation.
Make sense yeah i mean i think so I can say that in the context of scrimmage. WE WORK. I WORK. We work as a team and leadership team worked really hard to cultivate
That culture that environment of communication and trust and build upon that it’s
I think we do a fairly effective job at it. Obviously, there’s always room for improvement. I think that we look at some of our clients you know great companies market leading companies innovators. Some of the biggest, most successful
brands in the world and their space. You know, I think that consistently when you look at the data around worker engagement and we’re forced disengagement and all that. It’s there. It’s if they’ve been successful in an old model some, to some extent, right, and so
It’s really, really interesting time when you’re seeing the shift.
Happening from the expectations of, of, you know, the collective, if you will, right, the employees that work for companies a team or companies and their expectations of how they can contribute
In a meaningful way and how that’s still being
Led and manage and optimize relative to KPIs performance metrics, you know, a competitive environment like all the things that do exist in the world like
in terms of business. How do you, how do you integrate those effectively. Right. I think that’s the trillion dollar question, right, literally. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
Yeah, so I want to reflect, to make sure I’ve got it. So you’re wondering what’s the intersection between trust and all the very like tactical real world stuff boiling down all the way to like KPIs of
So yeah, there’s so many layers to that question, I suppose. But yeah, I mean I guess just maybe even a question, just for your reactions and thoughts to that so
Yeah yeah i think i mean one. I don’t know that as a business, we should even be caring or thinking about building trust unless it has a really measurable impact on the group right if if
And I say that because a business that isn’t extremely profitable and high performing quickly becomes a hobby or a failed company right and so we actually have to
Care about that. And I would say, you know, Google is one tiny marker. What you know one time marker of yes i got this trust is important. And this is also not
Not brand new either right like people do business with people they know like and trust that’s been around for a long time. And so it’s not a particularly novel idea. I think what is novel and what is
Speaks to this like bigger shift that at least I’m noticing happening is as a new generation workforce starts to populate and become leaders and decision makers and a lot of these companies.
I have not talked to very many if any millennial or younger generation folks that say, I’d love to work for a company that doesn’t care about me doesn’t really have a purpose but makes a lot of money.
And so a big piece of, you know, I’m going to say for this moment, aside from KPIs is actually this more conscious capitalism frame so will and I for the past handful years of spoken at the conscious capitalism conference which John
And john Mackey as well good guys. Yeah.
Perfect, yeah. So, so that that whole community and crew that that idea of let’s create business that elevates humanity, rather than rather than just turns a profit.
is huge. And I think the most impactful way to do that. Right. Like when when tech company started really exploding in San Francisco, it got really popular to have cool paint beanbags and ping pong tables and a keg in the office and like those were the perks in the way that we created.
Meaning or collective action community. Thank you, community at work. And I think that that is like
The one inch thick layer of ice and there’s a whole sea underneath that. And I think the deeper
Maybe not sea me the deeper river that runs underneath that is, do I really feel like I’d belong. When I work here. And so when I show up when I turn up at work. And there’s some really cool research that we can put in the show notes that people on average, and
Not worth maybe digging into like this specific manner which this data is collected, but the day that came out the final came out was people are three and a half times more likely
To contribute actively and above and beyond their role if they feel like they belong at work. That’s interesting because how much of an onboarding process is geared toward like you know it’s the first 90 days was only geared toward
Creating a place for people to belong and making them feel welcome that may be time better spent than teaching them like all the super tactical things that they must do, obviously that needs to be
They need to be in tandem. Right. You don’t just, you can’t just just focus on the rainbows and butterflies of business. But if you forget about them, they will turn into rain clouds and thunderstorms.
It’s a really good image I have in my mind.
Yeah, I mean I were very much like minded in terms of leadership philosophy and how that is evolving and
I think it’s really refreshing, just to hear that other leaders of big companies out there, seeing that. And I do agree completely that
The fun factor of what and I do believe you can have fun at work. I think you should have fun at work. I think that ultimately you’re working with people that you
Trust and have a line of values and align purpose with work will be fun because there’s that shared there’s a shared
Goal or shared there’s a shared purpose or there’s a shared, meaning there’s a shared keys that you are looking after that and ultimately that feeling of belonging. Makes it fun right away.
But the part that you mentioned about the bean bags in the games and the beer keg mean that just made it acceptable to start being
start bringing people’s full selves to work right. It changed it instead of having to leave to go to happy hour and have been, you know, being separate from work.
It was being welcome to happen at work. And so now what we’re seeing is this evolution from okay it’s accepted. Now, how do we impact that right. How do we evolve that and I think that’s kind of what you’re giving voice to
Yeah, and I think the beanbags in the ping pong tables, the keg like those are all they help create the environment for the connection to happen. They don’t make connection at all.
But they do facilitate like if you’re really into ping pong really into beer like sitting on the beanbag, you’re going to have more opportunities to have a meaningful conversation.
Because you’re doing that and you’re having fun and you’re not just nose to your computer and doing you’re doing your work.
Chad, you mentioned to me when we talked. The first time I think you said your IT WAS TALKING ABOUT YOUR PURPOSE. And I think the words you use to where your purpose is to eliminate small talk that correct
Yes, I recently. I don’t know if I shared this context with you but
Last summer I went away on the Six Day semi silent kayak camping retreat in the middle of nowhere Maine no human contacts.
Like just out there like we lost cell service three hours before we got to the put in where we were going to spend, you know, six days on the river.
And I left that retreat and this is making a very long story very short, but I left that retreat with like complete an immense clarity on why actually exist on this planet. And I really believe and I would say that this did not come from just my brain pondering floating down the river.
I’m not even sure from whom, but I feel like I heard really crystal clear that this language that Chad you exist on this planet to gently eradicate small talk.
And then what followed was just this our like rush of ideas and like trying to scribble down and try not to tip over. As I’m floating down the
River and part of that rush was realizing like oh my gosh, especially in companies.
First of all, I’ve asked at this point about 10,000 people. How many of you like really love small talk chit chat shooting the breeze about the weather and always 99% of people don’t raise their hand, there is always a few. They’re like,
Hey, I could chat. I could chitchat forever and always. And I’m like, cool, like you all find each other and
The rest of us. What’s the alternative. And that’s, I see a big part of my life’s work starting to create and carve out that alternative
To small talk because I’m also not advocating, you know, the gentle part is important. I’m not advocating that you sit down with somebody at a bus stop and turn to them and ask what is life teaching you right now. Right.
There’s a happy medium balance between it all. But yes, that is my life’s purpose.
And I love it. And the reason I bring it up. Now, when we’re talking about ping pong tables and beer kegs right like
Most of the talk that happens in those situations that I’ve experienced is small talk.
Right, so your cards. I want to get a little tactical if you’re ready to share some of your wisdom and your cards in your
I guess the two sets of cards right so if you can combine these little planting of seeds of how to get into meaningful conversations. While, people are playing ping pong and hanging out on the beanbag chair. That’s the magical combination right so
I would love to learn more about the cards. I want to buy all of them immediately. So, can you can you share a little bit of the tactical application of what what those cards are what they do.
Yeah, yeah. So I’ll give the for free without the cards insight that helps maybe turn that, you know, first of all, frame small talk versus
Big talk or create you’re creating conversations that really matter.
And that is, it has nothing to do with the content. So I think that you can actually talk about the weather talk about where you’re from and talk about what you do the three questions that are always asked when you meet somebody at some networking event or something.
I think that you can talk about that and have it be a conversation that really, really deeply matters if separating from content go down to process.
If the process is people are listening deeply. They’re really curious that might be reflecting back what they’re hearing. They’re taking it. They’re not just thinking about me, me, me, me, me and jumping in with like, Oh you’re from here below. I grew up people that
Write very quickly. Our default mindset is a turnaround on ourself. And so I think all the cards really do they happen to make that whole process very easy, but all the cards do is shift the focus from me me me me me to
Invited curiosity about the other person that another never otherwise would happen and so
We know in what context. Are you going to ask somebody what is life teaching you right now. And so the cards, take what Jennifer Stansfield calls shielded discussion.
And so it’s like, well, I’m able to answer it, because the card allowed me to. And so I know a lot of companies use them in their onboarding process.
They, you know, a lot of companies have like Buddy systems right they pair people up when they come in.
And so great. Keep doing that and to facilitate it a little bit have each of them pick out three questions from the deck three
Questions that they’re naturally curious about to ask the other person.
And the only conversational objective is to have a chat about those six questions collectively in the first 60 days of your onboarding
Something like that. As simple as that, like, as a leader is such a gift to assume the social risk for somebody else to have those conversations, rather than making them do it themselves, like right your new assume the risk you make it safe for them very quickly.
So that’s, that’s a big one in terms of the way that
You know the cards are flexible to be used. Really it’s it’s 60 just really darn good questions that invite people’s stories and their whole selves.
Out in the conversation. My favorite way to use them, though at any sort of like group gathering company retreat all staff, whatever it is, is a this question swap mechanism. And so I give everybody a card. And so actually even at
The University, Wisconsin. I gave 8000 freshman a card with a question on it. And rather than me just blabbing at them. The whole time I invited them to get up, turn to each other and like, cool.
Now I know why you were really used by that event. Got it.
Going. Yeah, yeah. I’ll send you a quick video after is it it’s a electrifying feel is the largest question swap to date that is having done lots of them with you know 500 1000 2000 3000 but 8000 was like a whole different level of excitement
So anyway when everybody has a question. Invite them to pair up ask the question on those cards. And then once they’re done with that conversation. Once they have that little chat that seeds planted.
The invitation is to swap cards and go pair up with somebody new and that self facilitating process is is really magical because it allows people to be in conversation for as little or as long as they want to
Phenomenal. But we’re gonna have to swap some questions, too, because
I’ve got a laundry list of them that I use it. My luminary DINNERS THIS THIS KIND OF mastermind dinner group and
Can you explain before we move on to something else that is fun and exciting. Um, what are the difference between the engage and connect cards.
Yes, we have.
Those the two names right engaging connect. Yeah.
So we have we connect cards and we engage cards that we connect cards have questions on one side and action on the other and they’re really, really great.
Particular for creating what Peter Block would call connection before content. And so, sparking those conversations that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.
The we engage cards are really, really great for intact teams that may have been working together for a long time that might be in a rut of like Monday meetings are getting a little bit stale.
And they want to spice it up. And so there’s those cards are hexagon shaped and they have
Photos on one side and quotes on the other side. And so there’s a number of activities and each of the decks comes with a link with a bunch of video tutorials on how to use it, how to make get the most out of it.
But one of my favorite exercises to do that allows
Engagement at a much different level and a typical standard standing meeting is when
You lay out the cards on the table photo side up and
Invite people to choose an image that represents fill in the blank. Choose an image that represents what you want to get out of this meeting, what your goal for the year is what
Anything like that and pairing conversation with imagery makes it much more memorable and so it sparks that extra memory there. Hi, Derek.
Welcome back. That was fun. I got dropped off the call.
I got most of that explanation. Sounds really really fascinating like an exercise. I would love to facilitate so
And in fact, just to your point, I mean, back to the 8000 people connecting and just and your how you initially position that around the future leaders and
Their role in the world. You also connected, potentially, you know, future friends business partners spouses relationships that happened literally in that moment, if it’ll go back
You know 15-20 years from now, you’re going to get a note from someone
Or maybe a bunch of people telling them about that experience that you created at the University of Wisconsin in 2019 and how they now have gone on to do whatever. Right. I think that’s the payoff of that.
20 years now is going to be immense and really really cool and fun and exciting. So
I love hearing, can we just take that. That sounds funny, I just needs to be like you hop on the web page and like that video plays right there.
It’s like, you like it like a cat a catalyst or detonator like just to go back to your like very, very interesting conflicting
Your words was a gently eradicate right, I love, I love the
What is the word I’m trying to think of the
Difference, or the space.
Years economy between those two words.
There you go. Uh, yeah, I mean it. It is like this is a capitalist, it doesn’t happen very often in real life in real life. It is real life, but it doesn’t happen very often.
And this is this is a question I had for you why, if this is what people love like getting into these conversations he said, 99% of the people.
didn’t raise their hand and say, I want to talk about the weather, how the traffic was or where you parked your car right if everybody wants deeper connections. What is holding people back from
Risk. It’s way safer to ask somebody what they do, then, to follow your natural curiosity about something that they’re wearing or something that they said earlier, something that you saw online or, you know, fill in the blank. It’s just, it’s risk and
Risk is solved by what you said to shield the discussion right I
Arguably, though it’s it’s it’s it’s false risk really when you think about. I mean, like, what is truly the risk about it. I mean, like, objectively speaking, what’s the risk that someone doesn’t want to talk to you again, or that someone doesn’t maybe like you, I mean,
Okay, one out of 8 billion people. I mean, like, relatively speaking, what’s the true risk, other than it’s like a lot but you know it’s like
It’s your own internal direct nonsense is
Our perceived risk of social and in social interactions is always higher than the actual risk. I shouldn’t say always, because it you know if you’re
There are extreme contexts that like in a dark alley at two in the morning, maybe don’t ask the guy with the trench coat what life is teaching him right now.
And and so right there, kind of, is there a lot of factors that play into that and
Important. Keep in mind that our perceived risk is always higher than our actual risk. And I think this is actually kind of sparking for me right now. And I wonder what you guys think about this.
I think that part of the reason that are perceived risk is so much higher than actual risk is we don’t have like there are no saber tooth tigers in the world. We don’t have
Physical Reading Oh my gosh, do we’re literally, I was gonna say the exact same thing about survival of humanity, and that’s why
We’re, we’re still in reptilian brains and man early survival brains and that we’re living in a world of abundance and non survival, you know, around us. But we’re still preconditioned right it’s crazy.
This is, this is, this is why. Actually, we even chose the name our company we and me for that for me that language is like
Me is represents that reptilian mindset me extends into mine and it’s like that part of our brain that develops first and our default is to say, me, me, me, me.
But we’re humans and we have this awesome prefrontal cortex that allows us to get out of that and to choose a more deliberate
Conscious path forward. And I think for me, that is the we it’s the other centric it’s caring about the people around us is what, like the leadership lab program that we have, like, it’s
Where it all stems from and thinking about that Sabretooth there’s a crazy, crazy study that was done where they actually had people go out and take social risks.
And found that Tylenol actually reduces the pain of rejection Tylenol, which is meant for physical pain actually reduces the social pain of rejection.
When you go, I think that’s in the study. They actually had people like go out and ask strangers a question or or maybe even as strangers out on a date.
Or something with pretty much no expectation that they were going to say yes. And it actually reduced
The perceived pain, taking a pill, which means our, our brains are totally wire likes
The part of our brain that processes social pain is the same as processing physical pain, but because we don’t have that space. Neuro plasticity. We take over the social pain aspect of our brain takes over.
That part and it takes over the part that’s usually dedicated dedicated toward only physical pain and we’re using it for both. And so we’re on like high alert high fear alert.
This stuff is fascinating and I and like I said I love this shielded discussion that term is great because you’re the card is your shield. Right. You’re like, oh, I didn’t say this, the card the card said this, I have to read it right that’s that’s the idea behind that.
That’s the idea is that I think that the best leaders are that I’ve seen observes are facilitators people who create that shield for people and then get out of the way and so
Maybe I’ll get a letter from somebody in 20 years from now, that they they met a convocation at the University of Wisconsin and 2019
And I’d actually be perfectly happy if I never heard about any of it because I’m okay. If they forget me as long as they know the person next to them because I’m going to leave.
Right, and so I don’t need. I don’t need to be famous in their mind. I’m happy to be forgotten. As long as their connections are continuing onward really really
Well, no. I think my egos. If somebody sends me a letter in 20 years now be pretty pumped to
I appreciate your self awareness, Chad.
Well, but what do we, what do we wrap up with here guys. I think I’m I’m certainly going to go and get the cards, Derek. We should get them for the whole scrimmage to integrate these with with what we do.
If someone wants to just jump in and do something right now. Chad and maybe they don’t want to
You know, walk up to the big scary dude in the back alley in the middle of the night and asked him how life is.
What life is teaching them right now. What, what’s a baby step. How can people dip their toe in the water. If they’re typically talking about the weather and the traffic but they know there’s something else.
This is this is it right here. Be 25% of a kid. And here’s what I mean by that kids, on average, ask between the ages of two and five ask about three to 400 questions per day. And this is Will and I dug into like every possible available piece of research on this. And so the
I have a three and a five year old. So I’m very aware
Aware. Right. So you’re at the like the six to 800 questions a day mark right so adults. Any guesses on how many questions. Adults asked per day.
I was gonna say 20. 6 to 12 questions per day.
So be 25% of a kid. I’m not advocating going back to asking three to 400 questions of a day, bad idea. Good way to get fired.
What I am saying is if maybe if we were to even just double the amount of questions that we ask, as adults, so maybe 12 to 24, I would say that you would learn twice as much in a given day about people, about your work or
About the world, your employers
A great segue. I’m going to close it, because I know you may already know this, but, you know, there are two hashtags chat or learn when you play and play where you work, and the whole concept around play is all about being a kid. Right. And the idea that kids.
There, even when they’re being serious, they’re playing when they’re in their learning. It’s, it’s
Wait, derek go back 20 seconds.
Say that again. You cut out
Play work fun. All those things for kids are are the same, right.
More than we can bring them together.
Wait, go back, go back.
Hold on your yellow your reception is yellow. And maybe you coming back.
It’s alright the beauty of post production so phenomenal.
When I can use some of my main goes, because I’m starving.
guys hear me okay. Yep.
Yeah, we got you.
I turn my video off. I’ve gotten so what I’m saying is that our hashtags play where you work, learn when you play the common denominator. There’s about play right and
When you look at those things work, play, fun learning. They’re all correlate are all together for children, they don’t make that distinction. It’s all just living right and
And that’s the thing that we, as adults, for whatever reason,
Have deconstructed them and they become separate things. And they’re isolated and the more that we can bring them together and play in the context of
Work and we’re learning and all those different pieces that it’s fluid, the more rewarding and the more fun.
And the more deep conversations will have frankly by doing all that it’s my it’s our it’s our philosophy. It’s a big part of what we stand for. And so I just love what you’re doing. And we’re just so on the same page with us. So, very cool.
This is so good. Derek, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it. There’s a beautiful place to end and we need to be in 3D. At some point, not just 2D on the podcast.
Absolutely make that happen soon.
Chad Where Can everyone go to get all your best stuff and hire you and bring in to have you help them connect with their clients and their team. And they’re strangers. They don’t know on a bus.
Yeah, so I’m, I have a secret mission in life to reduce the amount of emails that exists on the planet.
And as a part of that I run and as a business, you can’t not have an email list and so will and I created this interactive learning letter.
At we and.me so instead of.com we and.me slash ideas and people can hop on there and we made a pact to
Not market heavily on there just like share tons of valuable little nuggets. And so it’s mostly video based the video length is listed in seconds when you get it, of how long it is. And you pop it on. You can see a quick outcome of connection before content, etc.
Love it, man.
Was really great to talk to you. Thank you for joining us today. Got a lot of good notes and we will
We’ll get all these things in the show notes. So everything we mentioned will be in there. There’s some great content. We mentioned will link to your cards on your site or Amazon or wherever you want us to link to and we’re gonna have you back again, man. This was great.
I’d love to be back.
It’s actually worth while I’m closing to literally in the background. Right now, the song Lean On Me is playing. I just find that so appropriate so
Call on me brother.
Awesome. Thanks so much. We’ll see you soon.