Our guest today is an old friend of Todd’s named Russell Pereira.

“Russ” is a leadership coach and management trainer based in Silicon Valley who’s helped individuals, teams and leaders at Google, Qantas, Altis, Pixar and other successful companies. He has 15+ years of international experience in crafting and building programs for leadership development, learning, talent management and organizational development.

Strong management and communication skills are imperative in our multi-generational organizations today. It is important to be able to effectively understand the needs of your employees and co-workers, so being able to speak the same language is key. Executive Coach, Russell Pereira shares tips and secrets on how to effectively shift and train an organizations mindset.

Here’s a few of our favorite highlights from this episode that we think you will love:

  • 2:16 – Find out if you are a good leader based on four important questions
  • 4:13 – How the four-question framework was developed
  • 6:17 – How to speak the same language to diffuse tricky situations
  • 21:44 – The secret to creating a successful working environment
  • 25:38 – Using a common language throughout business
  • 27:44 – The big trends: Employee turnover & company lifespan

Book Recommendation by Russell
The Living Company – By: Arie De Geus
Explores the theme of organizational learning. Provides an investigation of the consequences of building a sustainable work community for human resource management, strategic planning and organizational structure.

FULL TRANSCRIPTON*

**NOTE: Timecode is from the FULL podcast interview, not the final edited version.

Todd Staples: (01:34)
Hello?

Todd Staples: (02:06)
Russell.

Russell Pereira: (02:06)
Hey. Hi mate.

Todd Staples: (02:10)
Good. How are you doing buddy?

Russell Pereira: (02:12)
Going great, man. Doing great.

Todd Staples: (02:15)
Excellent. All right, now wait, what’s that?

Russell Pereira: (02:21)
You doing a whole bunch of podcasts in a row?

Todd Staples: (02:23)
Yeah, we’re uh we’re cranking through them, man. I’m a, I’m playing around. You see my background?

Russell Pereira: (02:29)
Yeah.

Todd Staples: (02:31)
That’s pretty slick, right? Wait, well, maybe this is more fitting because you’re in San Francisco.

Russell Pereira: (02:36)
Well there you go man. We’re just cranking it there.

Todd Staples: (02:41)
And there’s Derek, Derek meet Russell. You guys are awesome. I’m so excited for you both to meet.

Derek Lundsten: (02:47)
Hey Russell. How you doing?

Russell Pereira: (02:49)
Good yourself.

Derek Lundsten: (02:50)
I’m great. Thanks. Nice to meet you.

Russell Pereira: (02:52)
Yeah, yeah, likewise.

Derek Lundsten: (02:54)
Awesome.

Todd Staples: (02:54)
So Derek, I don’t even know if I told you where we first met. We met at the tribal leadership intensive, which was Dave Logan’s like, it was a two day event, I think two day. Um, and we ended up in a group that were doing these crazy exercises together and we just hit it off right away. And, uh, I was about 10 years ago, wasn’t it Russ?

Russell Pereira: (03:16)
Wow. My goodness. Yeah. Yeah,

Todd Staples: (03:21)
pretty close to it.

Derek Lundsten: (03:22)
And Russell, where are you based now?

Russell Pereira: (03:25)
So I’m based in, uh, in San Francisco. Um, so yeah, I’ve been there since 2011.

Derek Lundsten: (03:31)
Okay.

Russell Pereira: (03:33)
And, um, uh, yeah, prior to that was in Australia most of my life.

Derek Lundsten: (03:38)
Yeah.

Russell Pereira: (03:40)
Hence the accent, but I was actually born in India.

Derek Lundsten: (03:41)
Okay.

Russell Pereira: (03:43)
Yeah.

Derek Lundsten: (03:44)
Awesome.

Russell Pereira: (03:45)
Yeah. And uh, and yourself?

Derek Lundsten: (03:48)
I’m on the East coast, uh, near Philly, right between New York and Philadelphia actually, but I’m originally from Northern New Jersey.

Russell Pereira: (03:55)
Right. Okay, cool.

Derek Lundsten: (03:57)
Absolutely.

Derek Lundsten: (04:00)
Well, it’s going to be a fun chat. Uh, I get out to the Bay area a little bit, so next time I’m out in town we’ll have to get together. I used to get out there a lot more, but this year I have a baby coming, so I’ve been home a bit more than usual, so.

Russell Pereira: (04:10)
Okay. Cool. Is this your first one?

Derek Lundsten: (04:13)
No, it’s our second one

Russell Pereira: (04:15)
Yeah. Oh, congratulations. Thank you. That’s awesome. And yeah, we’d love to catch up. Uh, you know, when you’re out here, um, Todd’s already mentioned a lot about you to me and um, you know, uh, especially the fact that you’re into a lot of, you know, culture and learning and obviously with the service that you’re offering. So, um, yeah, I’m sure we got a lot in common.

Derek Lundsten: (04:37)
I’m sure we do and it’s going to be a good chat. Yeah.

Todd Staples: (04:40)
You know what Russ? It’s funny. Uh, tomorrow Derek and I are going down to the city to meet Colleen from Spartan because it’s part in leadership.

Derek Lundsten: (04:50)
Yeah. You know Colleen too? Coleen’s great.

Todd Staples: (04:52)
Yeah, I had him go to the, uh, the San Francisco event a while back.

Russell Pereira: (04:56)
Yeah, that was a great event. And the actually kicking on after that, having dinner with a few of the other speakers and uh, ah, I forgot the uh, the footballer’s name, but he’s based in Arizona. Um, I had an amazing connection. They did some, some wild stuff on biohacking.

Todd Staples: (05:14)
Oh, cool. Yeah, I don’t, I don’t think I know him.

Russell Pereira: (05:21)
Um, I’m sure he was was someone.

Derek Lundsten: (05:24)
He was an NFL player an NFL player?

Russell Pereira: (05:26)
Yeah. He was a former NFL player. He was, he had a reputation for being the most consistent a player that showed up to every training. He was a linebacker.

Derek Lundsten: (05:37)
Okay.

Russell Pereira: (05:37)
And um, he just hard hitter and um, man, he had some stories to tell. I tell you, um, uh, it was fascinating to just listen.

Derek Lundsten: (05:48)
That’s cool.

Russell Pereira: (05:48)
Yeah.

Derek Lundsten: (05:50)
I like your book collection back there by the way.

Russell Pereira: (05:52)
Thanks. I took something there. Yeah, Todd’s pretty good. He changes his at a whim.

Derek Lundsten: (06:00)
yeah. You got the bridge. You guys are out in the Bay area together then, right? Are you in the Valley? You’ve been Palo Alto. Where are you? Where exactly are you based?

Russell Pereira: (06:08)
I am in uh, San Carlos.

Derek Lundsten: (06:11)
Okay, nice. I love it. There’s a great little Italian restaurant there that I’ve been to on the main street. It’s awesome.

Russell Pereira: (06:18)
Yeah. Yeah. On Laurel street. Yeah.

Derek Lundsten: (06:20)
Yeah, there’s a couple other, there’s a couple other good restaurants there so yeah, cause we have a, one of our clients is Gilliad, San Mateo foster city. So we go to San Carlos a lot for, for dinner and stuff and we’re in the area, which is cool.

Russell Pereira: (06:34)
Yeah. Oh, awesome. Awesome. That’s great.

Derek Lundsten: (06:38)
Yeah, there’s a couple of really good restaurants down that way.

Russell Pereira: (06:41)
Cool. Cool. Um, and so you’re with, um, uh, I mean it’s, I, I don’t know too much about, I mean other than what Todd has mentioned, uh, like you’ve got an online, um, uh, sort of mobile platform,

Derek Lundsten: (06:53)
Correct. That’s exactly right. Yeah. So we were one of the, I don’t know how familiar with the whole learning management learning experience platform space, but we were one of the pioneers of the what is now considered the LXP market, right? So we were building a platform for learning to be delivered on mobile devices back in 20 when the iPad first came to market, which at the time was very early, um, relative to where the technology was, right. And now it’s obviously become come to where it’s matured and now even going beyond into, uh, different types of mobility, augmented and VR goggles and headsets and glasses and voice chatbots and all kinds of things, which is great. That’s exciting to see where the market’s evolving. But yeah, that’s, that’s our space. Okay.

Russell Pereira: (07:47)
Oh, cool. Yeah. Um, yeah, I haven’t sort of come from that sort of background myself. I’ve come more, um, well from as far as the leadership management development, uh, as part of a pioneering group, I guess in the Australian landscape around executive coaching.

Derek Lundsten: (07:56)
Okay, great!

Russell Pereira: (07:59)
Yeah. Years ago, before it was an industry, I was, um, coaching executives as well before coaching became cool.

Derek Lundsten: (08:05)
Yeah.

Russell Pereira: (08:06)
And that was proceeded by firstly making all the mistakes as a manager. And then, uh, you know, it was interesting. I was a surprise, pretty likable guy at work. I had a sort of a brand marketing career before that and um, you know, uh, pretty successful in the company, but when it came to handling emotionally charged situations. Coming from an Indian family where you’re kind of like wrapped up in cotton wool insulated a little bit. Um, uh, you know, I’d have, you know, one of my colleagues come and say, I just broke up with my girlfriend and I’d like freeze. I was in shock and like didn’t know how to handle it. I mean, just like stay silent and then all of a sudden Scotty’s thinking like, Oh, he’s must think it’s my fault, not what I intended to do you know. And, uh, uh, or I’d have someone say, ah, look, I’m just coming up being laid off. Same thing. I like I need to get a handle on how to handle this emotional stuff. And so I ended up sort of seeking out mentors and that’s where I sort of came across. Um, what am I being told? He’s still my mentor to this day. Um, uh, John Matthews, he’s kind of one of the heavyweights in the executive coaching scene in Australia now. Um, he introduced me to his mentor. Uh, it was Dr. Cynthia Throne. She, uh, uh, so I was in the right place at the right time and just made a career transition. We got into this whole thing called executive coaching and um, was it kinda just lit me up, it’s like this is, I can see this as a next thing to do. And it was just an intuitive Cole jump straight in and first contract teamed up that train and coach 5,000 managers that one of the big banks.

Derek Lundsten: (09:51)
Yeah.

Russell Pereira: (09:52)
Purely around all the nontechnical, you know, soft skills.

Derek Lundsten: (09:56)
Sure.

Russell Pereira: (09:57)
Um, and so since then just worked across multiple industries, geographies, company sizes, you name it, um, and have just not done thousands of hours in the trenches. I don’t have kind of like a psychology degree or anything like that. Um, our firm at the time was actually the gold sponsor of the, the whole coaching scene in Australia before it even became a formalized,

Derek Lundsten: (10:25)
yeah.

Russell Pereira: (10:26)
And to this date, I don’t have any coaching qualifications, but I’ve just done a lot of coaching

Todd Staples: (10:32)
when I always think of you as every time. It’s funny you mentioned that story like, Oh I just broke up with my girlfriend cause I’ve come to you three or four times with similar, not that story, but others, other situations. One, Derek, I’ll tell you really quickly, I was having a really nasty breakup with my business partner for my eCommerce company. Do you remember this Russ? Yeah. And I had to, like, he had basically cheated me out of a $50,000 bonus. And I was like, I wanted to just strangle the guy. And Russ, you gave me this framework for having the conversation, which I literally, I just opened it in Evernote cause uh, cause it worked. It was awesome. And um, and what I always think of you as, you have these frameworks that you’re just so good at storing in your memory bank and when the situation comes up you’re like, Oh, okay, well here’s exactly what you do. And you just have this calm way of just saying, here’s how you’re going to do it. Do this step one, two, three, four, five. And it just brought a sense of control to the situation. I was like, I didn’t even know how to approach that. Uh, that challenge. So, so that would be fun to get into. Did you guys discuss anything else specific? Derek, you want to just go with the flow?

Derek Lundsten: (11:47)
I was just going to just say, I’m glad that we are already recording cause there was some of this stuff that I feel like could be a really good natural incorporation of the show, we may have to edit some of it in,

Todd Staples: (11:54)
But we were just in the show already.

Derek Lundsten: (11:58)
Yeah, exactly. And so like just, you know, Russell, we, the way we tee this up as we just jump right into it and then we do the introductions and stuff later. So just imagine we’ve been your high profile introduction to the listeners. Um, cause one of things that you got me, you know, now that we’re in it, when you’re, when you’re sharing a little bit about your, your experience on the coaching path and you, and you kind of just, you mentioned that, but it felt very powerful to me as you talked about going through your background, coming from this Indian family and you mentioned that you were raised in Australia and I hear the Australian accent, but you made the point to tell me you were born in India. Like I’m really interested in that part of your life and that dynamic of your life and how it’s influenced your journey.

Russell Pereira: (12:37)
You mean now in India or Australia?

Derek Lundsten: (12:39)
Well, India to us, the whole process being important, like going, being born in India, it’s an Indian family and then going to Australia and all that, and then that, that mashup of cultures of India and Australia and then further beyond that. So I’d love to hear just wherever that leads you.

Russell Pereira: (12:56)
yeah, it goes further down the rabbit hole there too as far as moving up with culture.

Derek Lundsten: (13:00)
Yeah, I had a feeling.

Russell Pereira: (13:00)
Yeah. So, uh, so, so my surname is Perreira. Which is Portuguese. And so, so that’s really the influence of the Portuguese missionaries when they first came here with the spice trade and, uh, and so, um, you know, and they converted the locals to Christianity. So I was raised as a Catholic.

Derek Lundsten: (13:23)
Okay. Wow.

Russell Pereira: (13:25)
Which is a minority.

Derek Lundsten: (13:26)
What part of India? Over.

Russell Pereira: (13:27)
Mumbai.

Derek Lundsten: (13:27)
Ok, in the big city. Yeah. Great.

Russell Pereira: (13:32)
My parents actually grew up on the outskirts, um, in a place called Basai. Um, but, uh, they also lived in Bandra now and um, you know, which is kind of like the, uh, dad had an apartment there, which is now kind of like the, the, the central scene for Bollywood styles. Yeah. But you’ve kind of laments the fact that he sold that apartment because, so, um, but uh, yeah, so on one hand the culture has been overlaid by a religion also, um, where referred to as East Indians. Right. And if you think about it, geographically, mobilize is on the West coast. So it’s sort of like, begs the question, why, why do you call yourselves East Indians? And I ask that with one of my uncles when I visited back one day and they said, it’s nothing to do with geography. It’s because our forefathers used to work for the East India company, which was the first incorporated company. Right. And so the culture, you know, as been overlaid by religion, by a corporation, uh, the Eastern needs are kind of known for being kind of like the party people are more friendly to various types. Uh, and then, you know, so then with that and being raised Catholic then came over to Australia. It was a typical migrant story. Your dad does. I guess he has a little streak of a, of um, wanting to do something bold and new and different. So back then he’s, our family was one of the first families to just leave the village entirely. That was kind of a big deal. Um, and uh, you know, came to Australia with, you know, a couple of kids under the arm and uh, and 500 bucks in the back pocket. And then, you know, just.

Derek Lundsten: (15:10)
Why Australia?

Russell Pereira: (15:13)
Um, I think, Oh, it was a choice between America and Australia. And he chose Australia because he already had another kind of, his sister was out here and, um, yeah, so did that and then, uh, yeah, and just basically got into it and you know, just had a very strong work ethic, which I really appreciated him and just decided to get any work he could. And uh, back in India he was working for, um, air India and so was able to get the flights and everything coming out here. But he took a job working in an oil refinery, like a hard laboring job, just a small dude. And, um, the foreman’s kind of looking at him just struggling out in the yard there, had a look at his file. And saw that actually the guys very well qualified for office work. Pulled him in and did a bit of a change and then he eventually ended up just getting back into the airline industry. And so, uh, so yeah, it was, um, uh, raised most of my time in Australia then and at that time we moved a couple of times and then really settled down the South, the Southern side of Sydney in a suburb called Garney, which is one of our sort of a beach culture. And, uh, you know, at that time, again, always kind of found myself. Uh, I think cause of my age and timing, Oh, I seem to be the youngest in the class or youngest in, in sporting groups. And, uh, and certainly when we moved down South, um, it was more just white Anglo Saxons, you know, so, um, uh, I was definitely the minority there. And so, uh, I just realized to really, you know, stand out and be accepted. Um, one thing that Australians worship more than religion was sport. I figured I could get good at sport, you know, you get to be well liked, so really, uh, played a lot of soccer and cricket and then, um, career-wise, yeah, listening to my parents, you know, like a good Indian boy would do. Um, you know, dad said, get an office job. You know, become an accountant or something. And I was lucky enough to get a, a scholarship with a, with Pricewaterhouse at the time. Um, so, uh, did that and then found out pretty quickly that auditing wasn’t my cup of tea, but yeah, good company to work for if, if you knew what you wanted to specialize in. But at that point I had no idea. So then I kinda looked consciously for some sort of a program I could get into that would give me exposure to all different parts of business. And yeah. And so I got into this, um, accelerated management development program with, uh, you know, in the fast moving consumer goods industry. And the company just moved me through all different parts of the business and the country. So I spent three years traveling around Australia, which was, and living in different parts of Australia, not just like three or four days, seeing the four walls of a hotel room, but blocks of months at a time up to 12 to 18 months in some sense. And so, uh, really got to experience the different parts of the business and the country live like the locals do. And just an amazing experience because as I said, most Australians don’t really take the opportunity to experience their own backyard.

Derek Lundsten: (18:25)
Sure. Either do Americans.

Todd Staples: (18:26)
Yeah, I think it’s the same everywhere.

Russell Pereira: (18:30)
Yeah. And I think what that gave me was just an opportunity to just develop versatility, um, communicating at people. Like I spent, uh, I was driving a truck, ah selling product for awhile. I was working on a farm, living with an Italian family, just laboring, uh, working in a warehouse right through to working with company directors in marketing and corporate affairs. Just amazing experience. And what I realized is I did like variety I didn’t really want to specialize in. And, uh, it was the variety of work, which is what sort of got me into brand marketing because it’s a brand marketer you’re working with, you know, one part of the company’s portfolio, but working through the whole company, I really enjoyed that. And then, uh, the company I was with went through a global merger and then we, um, ended up, uh, yeah, at that time I was just going through a lot of transition, just felt that need to change. And, uh, and that’s when, um, you know, the whole getting into the executive coaching scene, as I said, it wasn’t even an industry then. So I can’t even say I chose that. It chose me in a way. Um, and uh, you know, at one stage, uh, I was going out with a girl who was like president elect of the coaching Federation. And I didn’t even know what coaching was at that stage. And then I got introduced to my mentor through a meditation class, um, at one stage. And, uh, that was kind of like the second, um, hit on the head per sort of say, cause he was a kind of an executive coach and, uh, went along to one of his classes and that’s where I got, I got grabbed by it and I thought, wow, this is something I can really sink my teeth into. So at the end of the the, the course, I just asked him, Hey, who trained you? How did you get to do what you do? And he, uh, thankfully just introduced me to his mentor, uh, an amazing woman, overqualified, double PhD in psychology and adult learning and other than, and a dynamic woman. Um the only grandma I know who races Porsches. And so, yeah, I was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time and uh, and just jumped into it at that point. And, um, uh, just got to learn off the shoulders of giants, like some of the best instructors, trainers, coaches, and uh, I just really absorbed that. And um, and since they know, kind of lucky both, then just learn some from not just the peers that I work with, but probably even more so from the clients. So the time and, um, and the beautiful thing I think about being in the game for that long across so many different industries and different types of challenges. Um, I think it’s given me an insight into what are those common points of leverage regardless, because when it comes to managing people and performance, I really feel it’s a probability game. You know, there are just certain things that if you do them and you do them well, it’ll increase your probability of being more effective. And if you don’t, it’ll just decrease it. And, um, you know, I’ve had the opportunity over just constant iteration to really try and systemize it. Um, so that, uh, you know, it’s repeatable. And, and then you know, when, when the going gets tough, instead of trying to rely on your emotional state, which always, you know, we’ll lose you money. Just like investing in, in finance and in the money market, uh, having strategies to manage your emotions will actually win you money and get you closer to your goal. And the beautiful thing about systemizing it is that it’s the system that then carries the load. So you don’t have to. And, uh, and what I’ve really enjoyed is, you know, last I sort of am in sort of, uh, my background has come from sort of executive coaching. It’s never been one on one coaching. It’s always coming in at the company level. Figuring out what is the strategic imperative they have to deliver on and then customizing a solution to help them deliver on that.

Derek Lundsten: (22:35)
Yes. I think that’s important too. So, first off. Really cool story and I have so many sub questions I could ask, but just kind of where you led it to at the moment. I appreciate you sharing it. Um, I think it’s important to mention that you do work with big corporations and you do work in the context of a company now and you work in the context of, Of, helping talented people find their purpose and their role. I think that’s really important. I think that’s really admirable. Um, in terms of how you applied your, your experience in your, and your journey and your gifts to that purpose. Um, one of the things that you mentioned that, that caught my attention was the probability and the different leverage points that you have found across the people that you observed in your career. Can you tell us what about what those are in your mind? What are those consistent leverage points that you’ve been able to systematize?

Russell Pereira: (23:21)
Sure. Yeah. Um, I mean I can teach it to you probably just in 30 seconds and I’ll,

Todd Staples: (23:29)
let’s get right to it. I love Derek. You’re like give us the goods, man.

Russell Pereira: (23:33)
Being able to answer four questions. So if you’re a leader, people manager there are four questions that, um, your people should be able to answer yes to and they can answer yes to these four questions, uh, and they, uh, I know what I’m expected to do. Uh, I know how I’m tracking against those expectations. I know what I need to do to improve my performance and I know what my future looks like. Um sitting behind those four questions is easily a two to three day workshop on all the necessary skills and behaviors that allow you to be both competent and consistent over time. On answering those four questions. But if you can answer those four questions for your people competently and consistently, you can pretty much be sure you’re doing a good job as a leader and a people manager.

Derek Lundsten: (24:32)
That’s great. So what, how did you first crystallize those questions? I mean, honestly, like I said, a lot, experienced, a lot of observation, a lot of different pieces that you did. Was there a single moment in time or this dawned on you that this was the model that you could use to apply it? Or was it,

Russell Pereira: (24:49)
Um, I think it’s iteration over time. Just doing dozens and dozens of workshops. Hundreds and hundreds of coaching sessions. Literally just thousands of hours. Yeah. All the questions thrown at you over the years.

Derek Lundsten: (25:04)
The common challenges all fall into these four categories basically. Right?

Russell Pereira: (25:07)
So that’s, that’s what I found is like, it doesn’t really not, if you think about it, whatever the business is, right, whether it’s tick, uh, healthcare, uh, you name it, uh, when it comes to managing people and performance, what you have is you have a set of expectations that need to be met. Right? So the one thing is, the first thing is about getting clear on what those expectations are. Right. Secondly is then measuring performance or assessing performance against those expectations. So that’s the question number two. And, uh, you know, there’s a whole sort of framework and an operating system, uh, you know, I’ll provide around that as well as, uh, a framework around how to just set expectations. Um, and then how to improve, which is really about feedback and coaching and so on. And again, just being able to systemize that. And because, um, I’ve also worked across multiple cultures as well. I’ve had to develop it and then refine it and simplify it in a way that it can be understood at the lowest common denominator by a frontline manager in a remote location. Um, otherwise, you know, if it’s all, you know, I believe that everything can work. It just, I think some things work better than others. And in the context that I operate in, which is really working with entire leadership groups or management teams, um, on strategic imperatives under high pressure situations. Um, I’ve actually drawn a lot of my learning by studying, uh, organizations of outside of business. And if you look at the whole, I’m sure you’re aware of like the whole leadership development sort of scene is kind of struggling because companies can’t fill the pipeline of leaders and so on quickly enough. And you know, I think quite often, um, one can tell how much BS there is in a topic just by Googling how many books have been written by it about it. And I’ll tell you what management and leadership takes the cake. Like there’s over a million books on that topic, right? And, uh, um, but when you look at some thing like, um, a very the specific area like learning Python, there’s one way to learn Python, right? And so in the same way being able to develop a common language, um, is, uh, I believe very important because under pressure, um, you know, having a common language in the way you operate creates consistency. And competency and, and gels the group. Um, and I think that’s where it’s, it’s quite confusing for a lot of organizations because I think, you know, more learning is better. So let’s come up with a whole bunch of different learning programs, curriculums. And when you look at them in isolation, they’re all really good in their own right, probably best practice. But as the organization tries to synthesize it, it’s a bit like, you know, trying to build the ultimate street machine by getting the best components of the best brands and trying to put them all together. You know, you end up with an expensive piece of junk.

Todd Staples: (28:18)
Yeah. Russ, I, I love what you’re saying and I know you pretty well. So I am understanding a little more than probably some people are. From that small statement you made about the common language, can you give a very specific example about like common language that is effective and then where not having a common language can create chaos or,

Russell Pereira: (28:38)
Yeah, sure. So I’ll give you an example. We, one of my clients, my, one of my longest serving clients, uh, they’re a team of data warehousing and BI consultants. They’re very high tech. And my job was to come in and, and build their emotional intelligence to be just as strong as their, uh, intellectual, uh, cognitive abilities, uh, in the eyes of their clients. And so teaching them skills around relationship building, uh, and particularly again, under stressful situations where the conversation, uh, moves from the rational plane to the emotional plane. Um, you know, as a consultant, you now have to shift it back to the rational plane. Now, if that client is upset, how are you going to do that if you’re not equipped with the skills? So it depends on the nature of the, the emotion that’s there. And one of them could be the client gets very defensive, uh, for whatever reason you’re asking, you’re doing a, a scope, um, and analyzing scope and asking a lot of questions. If the client gets defensive, one of those feels how it teach is to how to diffuse the defensiveness and it’s a specific process. Uh, and they learn it, practice it, um, with me in coaching sessions or with each other. And uh, I remember like coming back for another round of training and then one of the earlier clients just came in and said to me, um, Oh, uh, consultants came to me and said, Hey, look, I was in here, this client here. And they got really upset. But you know what? I just did the verbal judo and uh, diffused defensiveness. It was all fine. So what was really cool, it’s not just that he, um, diffused the situation and got the client back on side, but he was using the language. That’s the language they use with each other and now they all have a common approach to teach each other and hold each other accountable.

Derek Lundsten: (30:39)
It’s a really cool story. Really good example. Todd, you a fall. And that tells me I have a different topic, but if you have a followup question on that.

Todd Staples: (30:48)
No, no, no. Let’s go. I can go deep down there. I was a, I was debating but no, why don’t we shift into another question. I know we have a lot.

Derek Lundsten: (30:55)
So one of the things that you also mentioned just a few moments ago was um, the shortage or the, the lack in the pipeline of, of leadership and future leadership in their organizations. Um, A why is that? And B, how do we, how do we create more leaders that are prepared to serve it? Does high level that companies are desiring from your perspective?

Russell Pereira: (31:18)
Yeah, yeah. Really good question. And it’s a, it’s one of the things that has got me really thinking on how to really do this at scale and uh, which is why, you know, um, you know, I’ve worked in a lot of different organizations and um, I enjoyed being both internal and external. And currently I’m internally in a larger organization, you know, nine and a half thousand employees. Um, you know, uh, cause what I’ve experienced also is that as a consultant you can come in and do good work, but a lot of that also could unravel and list the systems and processes are supporting the desired behavior change. Right. Um, the, to your point, I think part of the reason comes back to just the nature of this area around leadership development. Um, I believe there is no shortage of thought leaders,

Derek Lundsten: (32:11)
There’s a million books literally. Right.

Russell Pereira: (32:16)
Um and that also then creates the problem. Because you sift through all that and figure out what’s working and what’s not working. And in organizations, if you look at a couple of the big macro trends that are going on, um, just employee tenures, uh, decreasing right here in Silicon Valley. If you’ve got an employee for two years, you’ve done kind of well before they move on. Um, and uh, you know, so with that you’ve got a limited amount of time. And then when a new employee joins, especially if it’s a senior person, you know, they bring with them their background and their baggage and perspectives on leadership and management and so on. And, uh, and then even if they come into a great culture, if they sort of say, Hey, this is how we used to do it over here, let’s do it this way, that keeps happening over time. It’s very easy for the culture to start the fragment, um, and, uh, without some sort of, but level of consistency there. And so is that sort of one thing? Uh, the other trend is if you look at this, even just the lifespan of companies, particularly, even like big companies on the S and P 500, it used to be, when that index first started, it was like 67 years, uh, and by 2020, I think a or 25, I think it’s expected to be down to 18 years.

Derek Lundsten: (33:35)
Yeah, I’m going to say around 20 years. Yeah.

Russell Pereira: (33:37)
Right. And so, and then this explosion of all this thought leadership that’s out there. Um, I think the thing that’s really lacking there is practice leadership. And I kind of consider myself more of a practice leader than a thought leader because I’ve really just come from spending thousands of hours in the trenches. And really I love researching and analyzing different frameworks and you know, what the latest academics are doing is measuring it against what, what’s my experience of what’s actually working and trying to build the both together.

Derek Lundsten: (34:08)
So I’m glad you raised that. So let’s, so it’s a really good segue. So, uh, there was a big, there’s a lot written, especially in the younger generation, right? Millennials of which I’m an older millennial and Z and so forth. There’s a lot of desire to be an influencer, right? There’s a lot of, there’s a lot of desire to be the thought leader and at some degree it’s, it’s neglected to be exceptional at doing the work. It’s exceptional to be actually implementing and in the trenches like you’re describing how do we inspire the, the th that generation, this, this, this workforce to recognize the power of being able to do what you say you’re going to do and be able to teach what you do to other people so they can do it effectively. And how that is actually creating powerful healthy organizations and leaders, right? It’s not just the shiny, Oh, I’m a leader because I say I’m a leader. No, you’re a leader because you actually are, are demonstrating how to do the work.

Russell Pereira: (35:02)
Yes. Yeah, definitely. It’s definitely when I’ve sort of given some talks here and there, I quite often do get ’em uh, you know, younger workers coming up to millennials and so on saying, yeah, what books can I read to, you know, to build on this. And I’m just sort of thinking, dude, I’ve just given you what you need to do. It gets like, I guess it’s part of probably the schooling system of being able to demonstrate it by PowerPoint, but you know, I’d give them the analogy of like, okay, you know, it would be a bit like trying to teach someone how to ride a bike through PowerPoint. Right. You can give a whole presentation, but until you actually get on that bike and learn how to balance, you aren’t going to learn Jack. Um, so, um,

Derek Lundsten: (35:50)
Kids don’t ride bikes anymore. I’m just kidding. Hoverboards.

Russell Pereira: (35:55)
Yeah, totally. It’s definitely, um, and again, I’ll come back to, you know, some of the organizations I’ve learned from for a while, I was studying like outfits, like the Navy seals. How did they teach and train their people, you know, or ambulance or police. Like there’s no ambulance officer that goes to a, a one day workshop on PowerPoint and walks away going, I know how to amputate a leg now, great. Right. It’s a lot more rigorous. It’s tough and there’s conditioning that needs to happen. I think the biggest gap in leadership, um, is the knowing versus doing gap. And, uh, and quite often, like if I, it’s like when I conduct teaching and training, um, I actually don’t do any training unless there’s coaching behind it, uh, to ensure what is actually learnt, gets implemented and integrated at a cellular level, a, not just an intellectual level. And that can only come through practice and repetition.

Derek Lundsten: (36:57)
Yeah. I totally agree.

Russell Pereira: (36:58)
Yeah. So, yeah, and it’s a, it’s a constant challenge, but I think it’s just, um, it’s just like anything, you’ve just got to do the time, uh, and, and jump in. And I think creating the awareness around that, um, is is always a challenge when, uh, we live in a, in a strongly, very much an information age where just bombarded with data and how do you do this? Then some cases I’ve had, you know, people wanting to learn what I do and say, Hey, sure, like come along. And cause I don’t think what I teach is, is all that um, uh, complicated. It’s actually pretty simple stuff. Uh, and so people will sit in there and go, you know, by the morning session, very excited because the stuff is really good and so on. Uh, but by the end of the first day, they’re saying, man, I can’t do this. And I said, well, what do you mean? So you get asked too many curly questions. I don’t know how to answer those questions. And I thought about it. It’s like, yeah, well I guess that’s only come from years of experience and there’s a certain level of confidence that comes when you’ve done the time. And I think people pick that up, not through just what, what you say, but through just subtle cues. And so on that this guy knows his stuff and, but there’s no shortcuts around that. And um, so it’s really about picking your mark and if you want to develop as a leader, um, you know, it’s a bit like learning to surf as well as no shortcuts. You’ve got to get out there.

Derek Lundsten: (38:33)
So then it goes back to the same back, the original question, like how do we create more leaders? How do we solve that shortage? I mean, how do, how has leaders that we create the expectation, the context and the support that’s needed to, give the time and the effort and the work that an experience that is needed to really cultivate those skills. Because it goes back to, I think the biggest thing is there’s an instant gratification mindset, but yet the need and that, and the, and the, and the skills take time to develop. Right? And so that’s the friction point in my mind.

Russell Pereira: (39:08)
I think the responsibility there lies with the senior leaders. Um, and I think to talk about it from the skills is one thing. Um, I think, uh, though, what’s probably more important is to really focus on playing the long game. And by that I mean really not just looking at what to do to develop new leaders in terms of skills and behaviors, but really look at it from the context of organizational mindset. Because what’s an organization? It’s really a group of people and a whole connecting of neural pathways. And it takes time to develop that organizational mindset. And you know, this kind of mind I was telling you and my longest serving client, you know, when I first sat down with the CEO, he made a, um, his request is that he wanted the company to become one of the great places to work and to be officially recognized as that. And, you know, so got to work on developing a program to help do that. A couple of programs actually, and um, year one, nothing happened. Um, year two, no change. Um, uh, and when I say no change, we didn’t make it into the top 50. Right. Um, but year three, we made it into the top 50 list. Um, and then since then, um, actually like the CEO just posted a on LinkedIn mentioning that, uh, they’ve now become the fourth company ever in the history of this award to have done it 10 years in a row. Right. And I think if you think about too, that they’re not like a fancy Google or a Nike campus, that employees hang out, enjoy all the perks. They’re geographically spread and their consultants are primarily on client’s sites for them to say that 10 years in a row. So something about how that company is connecting together.

Derek Lundsten: (41:08)
So what have they done the secret in your mind?

Todd Staples: (41:11)
And before we even get to that, Derek, can I ask you a quick, quick question? When you said what the goal was, Russell, you said he came to you and he said he wanted to to be one of, ah, or be recognized as one of the top 50 places to work. Was he thinking longterm or was he thinking, I just want that award. I just want to get it one time.

Russell Pereira: (41:31)
No, no, he was thinking longterm. It wasn’t that, I mean some of the foundations on which he built the company, um, two sort of, um, models in particular. One was the service profit chain. Meaning, you know, look after your employees first cause you’ve got happy employees that’ll mean happy customers and your customers will meet and your profits will come. So they spent a lot more time focusing on non financial metrics as well, so unsolicited resumes, uh, employee tenure or so on. Uh, and uh, so that was one thing, the service profit chain. The other thing is they studied the principles of a book called the living company, which was basically a study of, uh, by some Shell executive, a study of the handful of companies that have lived to be over a hundred years. And what were the common traits that they shared. And so with that in mind, uh, you know, that was the foundation of how they wanted to build a company. So they weren’t interested in fast growth or anything. They want to hang around for a hundred years of great place to work.

Derek Lundsten: (42:38)
Yeah. So what did they implement? What in those first two years where they didn’t see the, the outward fruit, if you will, what were they doing fundamentally internally to create that environment for that 10, you know, extended success and prolonged success?

Russell Pereira: (42:51)
So I think, I think before the implementation was firstly just a strong commitment. An unwavering commitment, uh, to just stick to a plan through thick or thin, whether it was a recession or not. And so, uh, as far as my responsibility with them, they did a whole bunch of things. Um, but uh, my responsibility with them was to, um, develop the, uh, the, EQ the emotional intelligence of the consultants, uh, to differentiate them in the marketplace. So I ran a program around relationship building, which was really developing the influencing skills of each of the consultants. In fact, everyone from the CEO to the front desk went through this program, uh, so that helped develop both a common language and a set of practices and habits around how they relate to each other internally as well as externally with clients. And that was a, once again, it was a a training program, but also coaching based as well. So, uh, I did that consistently, um, every year. And uh, and then I did a, another program. So that looked after, I guess the horizontal leadership and influencing, you know, um, horizontally. And then I ran a program to look out for the vertical relationships for all people managers. Um, and uh, and really that’s kind of like the two sort of main programs. And I think that what made that work is just being consistent with it. There was nothing super special, but it was just being consistent with it and developing that common approach and language and so on.

Derek Lundsten: (44:28)
And advocacy by thought leadership throughout that.

Russell Pereira: (44:31)
Oh, also, I guess the other way we did it to how we did it was really important as well. It’s not just what a, coming back to this point about really shifting organizational mindset, um, started really at the top first when the company was only 30 employees. So we just did it with all the consultants and then we did all the managers. Um, and when we did sort of like the first tier, um, we didn’t sort it just launch into the next group straight away. We actually gave it two or three months. Um, so that the leaders had the opportunity to practice and apply the skills so that the next level down will end up learning twice. First they learn by example, which is the most powerful way to do it. And I think this is where a lot of companies fail, is they don’t start from the top so that they’re not leveraging leadership by example. And that’s the first way to sort of shift the mindset. Because once you cascade down two or three months later to the next level, what happens is that the leaders at that level of the people, managers go, you know what, that’s exactly what my boss has been doing on me in the last two months. It’s like, I know, like welcome to the club. Now it’s your turn, right? And then we wait again before we get down to the next level. And, and that way, you know, you’re learning once by example and you’re being held accountable by your boss. And then, um, you learned that the, the secrets of the trade as well, and now you’re starting to develop that commonality.

Derek Lundsten: (46:04)
See one, do one, teach one. Literally. Cool.

Russell Pereira: (46:10)
Does that answer the question?

Derek Lundsten: (46:11)
It does a great answer. Yeah, it’s very helpful. I think it’s, yeah, it’s very, very helpful. And I think a lot of companies could back to the same concept of creating leadership, writing leaders. I mean, that’s how you do it.

Russell Pereira: (46:22)
Right? And I think the, uh, the other module there, um, it’s kind of like three basic modules. One that sort of focuses on influencing skills, a horizontal relationships which can go outside the organization. And I think that’s really where the future’s going to go for the companies that really will stick around.

Derek Lundsten: (46:42)
They explained more on that topic when you say that. Yeah.

Russell Pereira: (46:46)
Uh, well I think it’s, it’s, um, you ever heard of the concept of boundary spanning? So I’m actually a former colleague who’s written a book on it. Um, he, uh, in order to actually strengthen, it’s all about like building your network of your suppliers, providers. And when you’ve got strong relationships as an organizational network of companies that work together, that’s what will help ride through tough times and recessions and so on. But in order to be strong at building horizontal leadership, you, it’s counterintuitive, but you have to get very strong, your own, uh, organization first. So, and have very clear boundaries and vertical relationships first because then you are very clear on who you are and what you’re about and how you operate. And then it’s easier to stop building bridges into those other networks and strengthen those networks. And so I think, you know, the leading companies will take what they’re doing that’s working for them and it is really differentiating them and then offer that to their suppliers and providers and strengthen them as well. And now you’re getting a common language across the whole network of providers and um, you know, the companies that can do that. Because if you think about it, really what is business? Business is just an extended group of conversations, right? And a, and where it comes on stock is if there’s conflict and so on and people don’t have a common way to handle all that. Um, it’s easy for things to unravel and so on. Um, and again, if you, it’s, it’s like programmers, programmers can go from one company to another because they all know how to code in Python, right? Um, even with products like credit cards, there’s all different brands out there, but there’s one platform on which credit cards operate on. So I think, um, you know, why should leadership and management be any different, you know, would it be great, in fact, if, if there was a common approach, even a common set of human values that, uh, employees, you know, it said that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. So if we could be as consistent across companies where people didn’t feel the need to leave companies for that reason, in fact, the reason they leave is because they’re pursuing their interests or their passions that would make the workplace, I think a much more enjoyable place. And it’s one of the things that kind of drives me, I guess, is some of those acts that you see from Gallup that, you know, 80% of people aren’t engaged in their work and so on. What a sad way to live. You know, the majority of your conscious waking lives, you know, it’s awful.

Todd Staples: (49:37)
That drives me insane. People are doing that not only because they’re miserable, but because they’re not productive, right? So like if they’re in the wrong spot, you just need to switch some ponds around to different places. Right. Um, find the right spot and it creates a dramatic impact on both sides.

Russell Pereira: (49:54)
Totally. I think in my neck of the woods where I operate, I just feel like it’s so, doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you know, you think about how most people get promoted into management leadership positions, it’s usually because they’re a really solid individual contributor. Someone says, let’s make you a manager. Totally different skillset. And learning by trial and error is really an a expensive way for the company to learn. Yeah. And especially when you look at all these bigger trends of employee turnover company lifespan, if you’re an entrepreneur, that really to make a little small dent in the universe, your, your time span to get that happening is shrinking. And so you’ve got to really hit the mark and hit it well. Um, and that’s why I think it’s, um, this, there’s so much opportunity there, um, too, but, you know, I guess it’s more than in a sense, it becomes more than business because if you’re spending the majority of your life conscious waking hours at work, you know, that’s a big part of humanity’s time. And you know, there’s an opportunity there to just uplift humanity as well. And, um, you know, I, that’s why I just really admire some of my clients and work with, uh, doing some great stuff out there. Um, you know, around that I’ve learned so much. Um, even from one of the last places I worked at two cofounders had a big data company, Silicon Valley. It was kind of like the cash cow and doing some good stuff around identity and so on and search. Um, but they also had a charitable arm, uh, that was doing some good giving there. And uh, they made that charitable arm, a 10% shareholder of the company, which a lot of companies haven’t could do. In addition to that, they also, you know, these are two millennials who, who recognize there are bigger problems in the world, then, uh, the problems we’re solving for like problems in agriculture and so on. And just an amazing vision that they had was that, um, you know, they thought, well, you know, we’ve gotta be able to do something about that. So what they started doing was looking at, well, how do we create that and scale globally? And they were looking around, for where to do that and they did their homework and decided that New Zealand was the place they’re going to do it. So I ended up selling part of their business for about a hundred million cash, bought some property and everything there, and then just put a guy on the ground who started, uh, getting networked into the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem, meeting the government because it’s a lot of hierarchy. Then they had access to the government and uh, they’re not building this bridge between Silicon Valley and New Zealand and ended up, uh, coming up and launching the world’s first global impact visa. So that’s your a game changing entrepreneur with some big ideas to help solve world problems. You can now go to New Zealand and be sponsored by New Zealand government. These guys are now running that operation and incubate your idea there. And so I just think there’s not only do we need to uplift these skills, but you know, amongst the talented younger generations, there is so much talent there that if we learn, us all the folks, learn how to get out of their way and context for them to flourish. It’s important.

Derek Lundsten: (53:21)
So, so much of that, I mean I feel like that’s the golden nugget of the entire episode. I mean there was so many that you’ve just shared on you personally, but for the listeners, the big vision inspiration that you’ve just shared to the audience and that I can so resonate with. I think his, is that Russell, I mean I think that I’m just calling humanity to a higher standard and in leadership and potentiality and roll, the entrepreneurship in business can play in that and that our part as human beings and in supporting that, I mean that’s, that’s what gets me out of bed every morning they go to work, right?

Russell Pereira: (53:52)
Yes. But really spot on. I mean I feel it’s such a privilege, um, to work with, with really smart people like way smarter than me and decided we should do that little bit and sort of keep them in play and just see the amazing things that can be achieved. And uh, I really think, yeah, business is the answer to uh, yeah. To help make that happen. Yeah.

Derek Lundsten: (54:13)
Yeah. Well this has been an awesome interview. I feel like we should just let it ride at that and, and we can definitely have a second round of this and talk about lots of different, so I’m telling, cause I, there were so many questions which you can take offline on that, but I just want to thank you for you’re sharing your story and sharing yourself and, uh, your, your work and all that you’re doing to help create progress in all those areas. So thank you.

Russell Pereira: (54:36)
Thank you, Derek. And thanks Todd.

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