Wednesday Nov 30, 2022
EP158: Your “Side B” Is a Leadership Tool
What helps make someone an effective leader? According to our guest, Paula White, the Leadership DJ of Side B Consulting, it’s all about employing a leader’s human side along with their business side when they connect with their team. Using music and musician metaphors, Paula helps leaders discover the aspects of their flip side — Side B — which define their humanity, and how they can combine their Side B aspects with their business side to become intentionally connected with their team members. Our hosts, Corey Frank and Chris Beall, bring their own experiences as team leaders to this topic, discussing with Paula how an imbalance of power can often impede an honest exchange between a leader and his team members, and how the application of a leader’s Side B traits can diminish this. Curious to discover your own Side B? Get some insights from today’s Market Dominance Guys’ episode, “Your ‘Side B’ Is a Leadership Tool.”
About Our Guest
Paula S. White is the Leadership DJ of Side B Consulting in New Albany, Ohio. Side B Consulting helps leaders combine their business-minded skills with their relationship-based people skills to more effectively lead their teams.
Full episode transcript below:
Corey Frank (01:20):
We're back, post-Thanksgiving version of the Market Dominance Guys. Welcome to another episode of the Market Dominance Guys with Corey Frank, and, as always, the sage of sales, the prophet of profit, my personal favorite, the Stephen Hawking of hawking, right, Chris Beall. And here we have another incredible special guest. We have Miss Paula White from the Leadership DJ, raise your leadership style, and always, Chris, because generally you sit with the most interesting people at either trade shows or on a plane, or you're introduced to some of the most interesting people in sales and sales leadership today, so I can't wait to hear how you met Paula. But first, Chris, how was your Thanksgiving, good time all around?
Chris Beall (02:05):
It was grand, it was grand. And, Paula, it's fabulous to have you here. Paula, we can try to remember how we met. Paula's the only person who's ever succeeded in getting me to jump on a plane and go to Columbus, Ohio, just to have breakfast
Corey Frank (02:20):
Really? On purpose? Wow. No coercion, nothing.
Paula White (02:24):
No coercion, just maybe the Ohio State Buckeyes. Yeah.
Corey Frank (02:31):
Perfect. And so this breakfast was what a breakfast it was.
Chris Beall (02:35):
And a graduate from the Ohio State University, who has a PhD in clinical psychology, cooked our Thanksgiving turkey. There's a connection right there, Paula.
Paula White (02:48):
There it is, right there. That person cooked your Thanksgiving turkey and, unfortunately, the Buckeyes did not win and lost to Michigan, the state up north.
Chris Beall (03:01):
Well, that's actually fortunate for me because Sean McLaren, our executive chairman, is a Michigan guy, so I have to deal with him on more occasions than Paula. Paula, I'm so sorry-
Paula White (03:16):
Chris Beall (03:16):
... but out of self-interest. Paula and I met recently at the OutBound Conference, which is a tremendous conference that Jeb Blount and Anthony Iannarino, it used to be Mike Weinberg, anyway, but the Sales Hunter, Mark Hunter is there. And we met and just were having a bunch of conversations about something that's near and dear to my heart, which I'll call it the other side of sales, and she calls it Side B, and Paula's an aspiring DJ or a practicing DJ. I don't know what you are-
Paula White (03:46):
Yeah, yeah, right now, I'm aspiring.
Chris Beall (03:53):
... just as good a DJ as I am a piano player. We were just talking about a whole bunch of stuff, and it also came together in my mind in part with what Helen is doing with her book, Love Your Team: A Survival Guide for Sales Managers in a Hybrid World, Amazon bestseller in multiple categories, and so it was like, "Hey, why not get on Market Dominance Guys?" Because we talk all the time about what I'll call technique, right, but, when we had Helen on, we talked about this other side, which is the human side. We do a lot of the human side on Market Dominance Guys about what's going on in that person's mind and their gut in the first seven seconds of a conversation? Paula is helping folks discover their own human side so they can bring it into the arena, so to speak, and be a whole person and still be a fantastic performer. I think that that just led to this. Here we are. Paula, welcome.
Paula White (04:47):
Well, thank you. What an amazing, amazing introduction there. Although I will say, Chris, that our very, very, very first meeting was seven years ago at the AAISP Leadership Summit.
Chris Beall (05:04):
Was it the leadership summit or the executive retreat?
Paula White (05:07):
Oh, the executive retreat. You're right. Right.
Chris Beall (05:09):
We were sitting at the same table-
Paula White (05:11):
Chris Beall (05:12):
... when we were being challenged to solve some problem of the world that I can't remember. Yes, that was exactly right. And we were, from the speaker's vantage point, in the back on the left table, you and I [inaudible 00:05:29].
Paula White (05:28):
Chris Beall (05:29):
I was to your right and you were two seats over and then we started talking. And, Corey, that is what's wrong with me, right there?
Corey Frank (05:37):
There, there. It all came back in a flourish, right? You just had to unlock the right little [inaudible 00:05:42] cube in there, the brain, and now it all comes forth. When you say become a rockstar leader, and I really like this phrase, I want to learn more about it, called you intentionally connect to people.
Paula White (05:56):
That is correct.
Corey Frank (05:57):
What does that mean versus just a bumbling fool like me who accidentally connects with people, or what do you mean intentionally connected to people?
Paula White (06:06):
First, let me describe, if I may, if you remember these old 45s or old 45 records that had one song on it on Side A and, Side B, they recorded it, but unpublicized it, right? You had a Side A, Side B in these 45 records, and RCA started that about 1942. I decided I would think of your leadership as a Side A, because, as you know, many, many, many great hits came from Side B recordings. Your Side A is your resume building skills, all those things that you do with negotiating and budget planning and sales growth and all the things that you would put on a resume. Side B, I call your hidden hits. That's your humanity, your relationship-based, your people skills, and that's where you really start to intentionally connect with your people. And, when I say intentionally connect, it truly means understanding what your gift is as a leader, because all people are not, and I hate to ruin this or say something out there, but not all people are empathetic or vulnerable.
There are other Side B traits that we could tap into without making people feel that they have to be empathetic and vulnerable. There's curiosity, there's courageous, trustworthy, passionate, and once you understand what you are internally, this comes up from how you were raised, then you can intentionally connect with your people. If you are the drummer and of curious behavior, you're naturally going to be open-minded, experimenting, and communicative. What do you do? You ask a lot of questions. That's what curious people do. They ask a lot of questions of their teams, of their people, of their environment, and that's how you intentionally connect as the drummer. If you are the vocalist, then you are optimistic. You intentionally connect people with sheer optimism. That's what I mean by intentionally connect. It's really finding out what your Side B trait is.
Corey Frank (08:41):
A guy like me, with no discernible talent whatsoever, I just play the tambourine, do I have a [inaudible 00:08:47] on the side?
Paula White (08:48):
You do. It's an assessment that I have that I worked with the Harrison Group on. But we take 175 traits and we narrow them down to what your traits are specifically. You may be a drummer, even though you only play the tambourine.
Corey Frank (09:06):
Yeah. What about Chris? Now that you've spend some time with Chris, what position of the band ... is it the roadie? Is there a roadie or there's a-
Paula White (09:12):
There's a roadie? No, not a roadie this time. But, if I were to really take Chris into everything that he is, I would look at Chris as being very gracious, right, and so being gracious is just one of those skill sets that is so hard to come by. But I want to get my list here, as I'm talking to you about this, because it's so amazing. Being gracious is one of those things that we come by and he is always thinking how he can help other people. Wouldn't you agree?
Chris Beall (09:54):
No, I'm not allowed to agree with this.
Paula White (09:59):
You're not allowed to agree?
Corey Frank (10:01):
I would [inaudible 00:10:02].
Chris Beall (10:04):
It is true that, when I get up in the morning, that is my number one concern actually. I'll never forget my mom saying to me, when I was about four and I was being a little pisser, she said something that really stuck with me, she said, "Chris, there are," and I believe, at the time, it was true, "there are three billion other people in the world. There's only one of you. Do the math."
Corey Frank (10:27):
Chris Beall (10:28):
It is true that we have a lot more opportunities to help other people than we do to help ourselves and that's a steadying thing. It's like you don't have to worry, "Gosh, I wonder if there's anybody I could be helpful to." It's like, "Eh, probably run across somebody soon enough."
Paula White (10:47):
You will. And here's the beautiful thing is the graciousness, or as I call the saxophonist because, if you think of a saxophone, it's rich and deep in tone, those essential traits that Chris taps into is open and reflective, warmth, and I'm going to say it and, Corey, I'm ready for you to come back at me, diplomatic, right? He really likes to develop and is open to a lot of different things. There are traits to avoid in these as well, and I don't see him as defensive or self-critical.
Corey Frank (11:30):
No, very, very curious, and, if you're a regular listener, which all eight of our listeners are, I think, over the years, right, you'll understand that that level of curiosity that Chris has has helped him be very successful in multiple professions and avocation as well, from mountain climbing to selling bug spray to selling Fuller Brush door to door and waiting tables. We could go on. We should do a show, as we've always threatened, one of these days, just to do dirty jobs of all the jobs that Chris has had over the years.
With this, Paula, my first instinct, in this hardened world of ours or so, is this, these are really, really soft, small S soft. Does that make me a weaker leader? Do I cry with my people? Because I still have this stigma where I've got to be ... we were talking about somebody, before the recording here, I don't know what role they would play in the band, Chris, it would probably be more like the one-man band. They try to do it all and they don't believe in this stuff at all. What do you say to that? Can I succeed in business or is it I have to have my B Side and my A Side to succeed in business today?
Paula White (12:37):
Well, I'm so glad you asked that question because I would love to answer that. I get that question a lot. And that's why I say you have to be both business savvy and intentionally connected because you really have to be both, taking the both/and approach to business to be successful today. Employees are looking to be valued and respected. That doesn't mean that, if their dog goes missing, that you shut down the office and go help them, but you can add a level of accountability with kindness at the same time.
If you were all Side A and all resume, I'm going to say, most of the time, your employees are going to think of you as very blunt, very rigid, and really not want to work with you. If you're Side B all the time, you may be seen as weak and soft and really not respected because they can get one over on you, right? The balance of both, and having that accountability with kindness or that discipline with graciousness, is really the effect of taking it to the next level where you're going to get loyalty, you're going to get productivity, you're going to get retention, which, in business, all leads to the bottom line, profitability. If we don't have that, people are starting to churn. Employees want to be respected. They want to be connected to their leaders.
Corey Frank (14:26):
Chris, I think it's so interesting. I'd love to have Paula and Miss Fanucci on a podcast too. I remember, from Helen's book, and I think I have a product placement as well, Love Your Team-
Paula White (14:40):
Corey Frank (14:42):
... [inaudible 00:14:41], but she talks about the categories ... Paula, I don't know if you've had a chance to tackle Helen's book yet, but there's 17 different conversation chapters and they're broken down really succinctly into five categories, and the first category mirrors a lot with what you're talking about. It's called Conversations of Connection. And because the first thing, right, as Helen talks about, is that a manager, a leader, needs to do when they take on a new team, for instance, is make sure that they're connecting with that team, and you can't do that with just A Side type of content, I'm hearing you say
Paula White (15:15):
No, you cannot, and I usually call that, the first 30 days, a new leader needs to listen, learn, and observe, right? They need to listen to their people. They need to observe and learn, right, and get connected with them, learn about what's going to drive them. Because I'll tell you what, money doesn't drive everybody, but if I know one of my employees is looking to buy a new house or is looking to go on a vacation, I am now going to motivate that person with that connection, right, because that's where they want. If you hit your number early, my goodness, what if we gave you an extra day vacation for that vacation.
Corey Frank (16:01):
Yeah. Chris, I think Paula's on to something here too, certainly, I know Helen is too, with this concept of loving your team and focusing on the leadership style of a DJ with A Side and B Side, right? Helen talks about the two ways a new leader should talk to someone, right, when you're talking about what a traditional sales manager would do and then what a love your sales manager would do. You obviously talk ... love your team and had a conversation with Paula about this. You see a lot of the similarities there, that I think maybe this is prime for business today.
Chris Beall (16:35):
Well, I think there's two things that are interestingly similar. One is that, while we have conversations with a lot of people, a lot of the conversations we have are with the people we work with every day. In a leadership position, I think there's a fundamental deep, deep issue with those conversations, and those of us who end up with the no good deed goes unpunished, we get made CEOs or it comes to a head, so to speak, which is what I call the Lonely Minds Club problem. When you're in a leadership position, your conversations are fundamentally asymmetric and you're a little bit stuck with that, right? If somebody wants to ask me, "What's the problem with being a CEO?" and it's like you have nobody to tell you the truth. You just don't, right? And you're not obliged to tell anybody the truth, but how can you be helpful leading people if nobody's going to tell you the truth?
And I don't mean they never do. I just mean that, at the margin, folks are obliged to protect themselves and their careers and you hold an excess of power as a leader, which is inevitable. It's just built into the position. You can't pretend the power is not there, but you have to figure out what do I do with this asymmetry? And there's a lot of how-to in that. We'll teach you how to read P&L, right, a profit and loss statement, in business school, or we'll teach you how to even something like go to market, right? There might be step, step, step.
But what's the how-to that allows you to bring out the side of yourself that allows folks at the margin to tell you the truth and to allow you to help them without them being suspicious of your motives, because that's actually how you take teams to the next level. That's where the magic is is you can't abandon the position. The position is fundamentally corrupt. The position of leader is fundamentally corrupt because you have access to power that other people don't have and, therefore, at the margin, you're always tempted to use it. Now you can't deny that position, but what do you do with it?
And something that Paula is suggesting, I think, in a strong way, and something Helen talks about, is counter that problem that you have of being the leader with a solution that includes who you really are, and that's a different approach. Helen's approach is very much ... it's a cookbook, "Here is the step-by-step," remember, she's a mechanical engineer, Here's the step-by-step to handle this kind of conversation, this kind, this kind. This is when you do it and this is how you do it and this is how you know if they happen," right? She doesn't talk much about what's inside of you, other than to say, "If it's not there, don't do the job, right? If it's not there, self-select and do something else for a living," right?
Paula is actually going about it from the other side and saying, "Well, know what's inside of you so you can consciously and intentionally bring it out in connecting with other people," knowing that the connecting with other people, the building of relationships, the ability to work together honestly, which is the hardest part of business. How do you work together honestly, when you have too much power with somebody that has less power than you? It's always a runaway train. It's the boulder that wants to go down the hill. You know where it's going to go, right? How do you do that? And she's suggesting, "Well, flip the record over and play the other side, not your greatest hits, how you got here, but who you are, which is still in there somewhere."
Chris Beall (20:45):
I think. Right, Paula? Is it something along those lines?
Paula White (20:50):
Exactly. You are speaking my language, exactly. I say Side B as a metaphor, but also as a tool, because I think sometimes we need to understand who we are on the inside, and not just by words, but by feelings. And what's the best way to feel, it's to listen to music, and music because it is the universal language. Now some people like to paint, some people like to do other things, but music is around us every day.
When you're grocery shopping, intentionally listen to the music that they put on their sound system, when you're in a restaurant. Those are specifically there to set a mood, right? When you're getting ready to go into a big meeting, let's say, with your boss, with your people, I talk about taking that one song of yours that's going to get you in that mood so that you can enter that room from a place that's authentically you, bringing your whole self in, and not ready to defend your position, but to listen, right?
Corey Frank (22:03):
It takes a little bit of courage though, doesn't it? If I'm not around necessarily, somebody's got to go first. From a cultural perspective, there could be a lot of risk inherent to that. How do I bypass that? How do I find that cheat code to just ... it's okay to be my authentic self on the Side B?
Paula White (22:20):
First thing to do is put together your leadership playlist, right? Write down the moods that you select or that you're fully aware of while you're at work. Would it be that you're disrupted, that you get angry, that you're joyful? What are those specific moods that you have? You're stressed, you're overwhelmed. And find one song that's going to get you out of that for each one of those moods and create a leadership playlist. It should not be longer than 10 songs because the last thing we want to do is go down a rabbit hole, right? Start that way. Another way is to play your favorite playlist on your way to work to get yourself prepped for that. Then, on the way home, play a playlist that's going to get you prepped for home. Those are the ways that we can use music as a tool.
But, as a metaphor, I'm not sure we're going to be able to change the culture as it is right this minute, but we can start with our emerging leaders, the ones who want that respect, who want that value, who want to be seen, and we start coaching them on their Side B skills and their Side B traits and how to understand that those can be used and, actually, when they are used, they're very powerful. If I'm talking to a CEO today, the first thing I'm talking about is bottom line, profitability, productivity, retention. They're having trouble keeping people. Why is that? Well, people don't like to work. People want to be flexible. People don't want to come back to the office. That's not necessarily true. People want to be seen and valued.
Again, it's not that you're going to go out and hunt for the dog, but you're going to care about that dog when that person comes in, right? And, yes, some people will strike the iron saying, "You're weak. You're motherly," I don't know how many times I've been told I was motherly, "You're nurturing." That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying you've got to use both. You've got to use both your business savvy skills and your intentionally connected skills, and you're going to get the retention, you're going to get the profitability, and your P&L is going to look a lot better.
Corey Frank (24:57):
Well, Chris, you come from the venture world, private equity world, entrepreneur-in-residence, hired gun as a CEO. You probably had to turn around many cultures that you've been a part of, or asked to participate in, either as a board observer or member or an investor. What do you say to that? How do you get that sense where a culture is just missing the Side B and that usually is maybe one of the largest constraints that they have in that system?
Chris Beall (25:27):
Here's a test that I tended to do. It's like let's look at the problem that we're solving. And somebody just told me, "Draw the circle on the whiteboard and have no name in it. This is us, right? This is what we do. A little arrow comes out of it and there's a little stick figure. Who is that person that we help? What is that thing that we provide? How much money do they make or lose when that little arrow ships something to them, so to speak?" I'm not really asking the question. Usually, it's a pretty obvious answer. What I want to know is, can we talk about it together? It's like making music together. Can we talk about it harmoniously? Can we enjoy the conversation? Can we agree and disagree? Can we be confused? Can we do all the things that it takes in order to start to work together within a conversation?
I'm much more focused on the mood. Are we being honest with each other? Is it fun? Can we poke fun at each other? Do people know each other's little foibles and, without being mean, can they point them out in the way that people who are really on a team can do? Everybody thinks somebody else is funny in a particular way, right? I just think that that's the essence of making teams work. Teams work when teams can work together. And, most of the time, when things aren't going well, folks retreat into their own corners and then they can't work together on the hard stuff. They can only work on their own job. But, until you can work together, you can't really work on the hard stuff, and the hard stuff is always out there. It's always there. It's either something competitive, or you've run into the limits of your ability to make the system that you've built build, or you've got a scale issue, or you've got a quality issue or whatever it happens to be. How do you work together on it?
You got to learn to sing together. And I actually think the song that I listen for, in a group like that, is honest laughter. When you come right down to it, if you're not having fun, you're not taking it seriously enough. And getting to the point where you can have fun together is the essence of making teams actually work. There's no such thing as a grim team working effectively together, right, "I hate you, you hate me, but we're going to get this done," kind of thing, right, or big boss is hitting us with the whip and making us go in the same direction. Well, at some point, we're going to cut the traces and we're going to go somewhere else.
But I love this idea of Paula's about the music, by the way. As you know, Corey, I'm an occasional musician, right? As I asked Helen on the podcast the other day, I said, "You got married this summer, didn't you?" And she said, "Yes, and it was so nice of you to show up and play the piano." [inaudible 00:28:19]. I'm not a very good musician, but I'm a big believer in the power of music to get inside of us without us having to invite it in.
And it's something we talk about on Market Dominance Guys with regard to the nature of the cold call and information. When we speak with somebody, the music of our voice goes directly into their mid-brain at 20,000 bits a second. That's four emails a second that are going into that person. It's mostly in the song and very little of it's in the lyrics. That is the words we put in the script are a very small part of what we communicate to somebody with a purpose, and the purpose is to help them trust us enough that we can explore helping them with their business problem. Step one is trust. Act zero is ambush. We go from between ambush and trust. Well, we sing to them.
I remember being in a board meeting once at a company that I was asked to come in and help, and this is a company that I wasn't allowed to know who it was. I was given an address to go to. And so I went to this address and the person who opened the door expected me and they put me in a room and I sat in the room for half an hour and then some people came in and I listened to what they had to say. And, when it came time to ask me and a couple other people what they thought, they got to me and I said, "Well, your problem is your product is a fake, right? It's completely fake. It's just a bunch of fancy slides and there's a fake."
They hired me and stuff like that, and I went to the first board meeting and came out and this brilliant guy I worked with said, "What did you just do to those people?" I said, "What do you mean?", a venture board, he says, "You changed your voice and you sang a song to them that caused them to decide not to shut us down." And I think that, to me ... music done by professional musicians is especially compelling, that's why they're professional musicians, but when it comes to actually interacting with people and helping them along the way of working with us, it's actually the music of our voice that is going to carry the burden. We can't actually go to the professional musician, say, "In the meeting today, what we're going to do is we're going to listen to Stairway to Heaven and the P&L is going to go crazy." But we do sing to each other all the time and we feel different and can act differently and can actually be a little bit different when somebody helps us out with the way they use their voice with us.
Paula White (31:15):
I agree with that 100% because it's like being in the recording studio. Everyone that comes in needs to check their ego at the door and whatever comes out is the best idea and that is really where it comes to. If you were to go into a boardroom and ask them, "Name a song that describes your company right now," they would be all over the place, but, by the end of the meeting, you want them all singing that same song and that song being the same.
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