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Pink Headphones EP 2: The Future of Work

unsplash-logoMay Lawrence

Welcome to the dreamers succeed podcast we have as our guest today Cindy Montgenie an amazing keynote speaker, author, executive coach and expert in the leadership of the future of work.

Berta

Welcome, Cindy!

Cindy

Thank you very much, Berta, for inviting me to your podcast today. It’s an honor.

Berta

I’m so happy that you’re here. Good. So, Cindy, tell us a little about Cindy and more than anything I want people to get sort of a background of you. It’s an advantage that I have [met you]. Those of you who do not know Cindy yet: you’ll get to know her throughout this interview. She’ someone that I really admire but I really want her to get into her backstory. She’s going to be talking a lot about how leadership roles are going to be put to good use with the future of work.

I just want her to get into a little bit of backstory just so that you can come from a place of understanding… to see why [I’m like] “Holy crap really I get to know this lady and I get to share the stage with her all around the country!” So tell us a little bit about Cindy and who you are and how you got started.

Cindy

So first let’s address the elephant in the room for your listeners. The accent is due to the fact that I’m French. I was born and raised in French Guyana and I had the opportunity to build an international and multicultural career. After my bachelor’s degree I went to study in France, then lived in Sweden, Mexico, Caracas, go back to Mexico, [then] Miami. I spent twenty years working at Hewlett Packard in the IT industry; a really fast paced corporation in different countries leading multicultural, multigenerational teams throughout Latin America.

[I lead them] through different changes like mergers, company splits, and internet reorganization. So after those twenty years of international corporate careers I switched three years ago to become a keynote speaker and author and -- as you are mentioning -- I’m focusing on preparing organizations and leaders for the future of work.

Berta

Now tell me a little bit about – because I think especially as a woman in a male-dominated industry and we’re talking about, you know, twenty three years ago when you got in where it was even more prevalent that it was very, very male heavy. I don’t mean that in a bad way; I love men. Not like men, men… my husband will hear this and he’ll be like… look at her. But [it’s] a very obviously male dominated industry. How [did] you work yourself up to a position that basically (and I’ve heard you talk about this before that’s why I want you to really mention it the importance of that relationship) creates collateral as a leader within an organization a huge organization like HP?

Cindy

So the first is to deliver results because to grow your career it’s all about influence and impact. Impact is about the result that you produce for the company. So the first one is really to be a hard worker and to have a leadership [position]. I had a lot of regional roles so it was really about serving the country… sometimes I had roles at the country level. But it was about serving the internal customers and also external when I was in salles and marketing.

The second is to build really a great team of mentors and sponsors because you need to be able to develop this relationship with people who are in higher positions than you and ones who are going to advocate for you behind closed doors.

[For me] I know the point was really clarity about what you want to achieve. For either men or women that position is different. But for me it was always my career was part of my life. It was not the other way around. So throughout my twenty years in corporate America, twice I’ve rejected two big promotions and once I asked for a demotion. At that moment I really needed to focus on what was going on in my personal life.

You can always rebound, because if you deliver results -- if you have a great capital of relationships and you have clarity --  there will always be opportunities. Something that I was mentioning to other women when I was at the company and mentoring (and I’m still doing it now) is to take risks. I had the opportunity to have P and L responsibilities so for those who are not into corporate America, that's profit and loss. I was responsible to bring the revenue, gross profit, and market share and that's is really a great stepping point to grow and to have more responsibilities.

When you have those positions you have a variable salary  because you work on commission. And a lot of times I see women don’t take those risks because they are risk averse. If this is your goal -- because not everybody wants it -- and you want to really achieve a higher position, at some point you need to go to a sales role, have P and L responsibilities and get that variable salary. So these were some key variables that I was able to [work with] and to build what I consider was a dream career.

Berta

I think the foundation of all of that is that you were focused on your results. You were very clear on the objective and you were clear on your career playbook (which is something you talk a lot about and we’ll get to in a minute).

I think the posture that you have to have regardless of your gender, regardless of everything else in your position as a leader is to have the clarity [on your] priorities; your family needed you. You were going to step off. It’s a big risk even to ask for a demotion because... how do you recover? I think a lot of people can’t recover, especially when they’re not coming from a place of posture and standing in their results... [standing in] who they are and what they represent for that organization.

You came back after that demotion and worked your way up. You came right back up. I know her story and I know she’s super modest so she’s not going to sit here and talk about all this stuff but I’m sure you will find a way to hear her on a stage at some point and hear her story. Like I said she’s miss modest so I’m going to have to pry things out of her during the podcast today.  I really think that, to speak to what you just said: the leaning in and taking risks... I love that you’re mentoring women in that capacity and mentoring leaders. I know a lot of your coaching clients are executive and high performing men as well. Tell me a little bit about what you have found at least on this side of that coaching process. It's under the corporate umbrella that you’ve been able to bring  amazing results for your clients. Tell me a little bit about what that has looked like and what it’s done for you as a professional.

Cindy

So what is great as a coach, and you know it because you also coach, is really to be able to be this outside adviser and to work with your clients without anything at stake. Sometimes when you are in the corporate environment you might not be totally free to have those conversations when you go to the blind spot -- to the deep issue -- and this is like offering a safe space and some tools to help my clients achieve their goals. This is what coaching is about: giving you the tools so you can take action to achieve and over-achieve what you aspire to accomplish.

Berta

I know that a big part of what you do is you work with organizations as well... sort of mid-level companies around their leadership. If you had a bunch of executives or business-owners in the room that wanted just the secrets of how they can help their leadership teams take their businesses to the next level... if they asked you for three things what would you say?

Cindy

It's going to be different according to the level of the executive because the leadership skills that you need to deploy when you are a CEO of a 100-200-1000 employee is not going to be the same leadership skills if you’re a first time manager. We will need the context of each situation. Overall, leadership is about creating this environment where you can execute a vision and develop and grow all the people so they can grow into their leadership roles. It's about creating a connection with a team you’re leading at that moment.

There are super big topics right now: employee engagement, employee mobilization, and the employee experience. That is not going to change no matter if you’re a CEO or if you’re a first time manager. What is going to change is the scope and the strategy .If you’re a CEO, you need to connect maybe with 500 employees 1000 or 100 and if you’re going to be a first-timer it’s going to be maybe your team of 8 or 10. The strategy or the techniques will change but the end goal is the same. It's about the connection... it’s about having the vision and the strategy. As a leader you need also to develop a lot of trust because you are going to lead your team to a destination.

At this moment, when you look at life, at politics... trust is something that seems broken. Even when we look at the social level and families [there are] so many divorces and separations. Trust is also a big element in the leadership mindset and skills that you need to develop. No matter if you are at the top of the ladder or you are a mid-manager or an entry-level manager, we have connection, we have trust. The other one for me is execution, because you need to executeEspecially in big corporations and even smaller ones, it’s more and more difficult to have people that take action. They’re going to have a chain of one thousand emails, passing the ball to everybody [else]. Leadership is about executing and delivering results; execution, trust, and connection.

Berta

Those are great! Cindy, when you’re working with someone -- because I know that they expecting you to come in there with the experience and the level of expertise that you have to be able to create that platform for the strategy. What is the difference between those leaders that are able to effectively execute that strategy vs people that drag their feet? Let's say they're closing out a year or a fiscal year and things are happening but not much has changed in the way of traction.

Cindy

There are a few keys of my platform, [which include] focus and task management. Nowadays there are so many distractions; everybody needs to juggle with a thousand projects at the same time. One of the key attributes to win in this new era is to be able to  focus. You know that I’ve created a planner, too,  on the personal side to help people manage both their career and their life. So one of the differences is the focus.

When we work on the strategy we’re going in the end to handle three to five key initiatives.  Sometimes you have like a plan of a bunch of projects and in the end none are going to be done. Once you agree on the strategy you need to make trade-offs... you need to invest. Sometimes you havee something great on paper but there is no investment of resources to really implement the plans. That is the difference between those who are able to execute and those who aren’t.  Focus, allocation of resources, and clarity on what you want to achieve in the beginning. Don't go for too much; pick your battles. 

Berta

When you’re strategizing you get so excited about so many things and its almost like you have to focus on that next step. I love that way that you said it: I’m not just telling you to pick one... let’s pick five. So what would you say is important for them to do?Somebody that has fifty things on their list? Do you go by what could bring the most revenue or what could be a catalyst for the biggest growth?

Cindy

It's going to depend. There’s going to be a process where first define what they want to achieve. Where is the company -- the industry? What is the competitive edge? Then we start a big list of different initiatives. Generally nowadays everything is so fast that you no longer work with a plan of ten to fifteen years. If you have a strategy plan from three to five years it's already a big step.

[For my platform], for twelve months pick one topic. So for one company it can be international expansion, for another it could be taking the number one market share spot, for another one it might be let’s focus on processes. Once we define what the main objective is for the year and the next three or five years, we start listing different initiatives. Afterwards comes the selection process and allocation of resources.

There are a lot of stats differentiating companies that are growing and those that are staying behind [but one in particular is] the investment in the leadership team. In the end, your team is your biggest asset. That's why you see large companies invest a lot in building talent. With the future of work there is this big fear that robots are going to replace people or replace [at least] some jobs. This is true. With automation, 800,000,000 jobs might disappear on the worldwide level by 2030. But will be new jobs created, too, so this capacity of the leaders to invest in their team and build the new leadership is going to be a big game-changer for them to strive in the future.

Berta

How important do you think it’s going to be for these companies to start doing that right away? I mean, we’re coming into 2020 -- a fresh new decade. But we’re only ten years away from 2030. It’s not that far of a stretch. It seems to me that the time would be now for those investments.

I know you talk a lot about innovation and I think it’s just really preparing them or giving them license to fail. Let’s try something new and if it doesn’t work [then move on].  I’ve seen you do it masterfully -- breeding that innovative spirit. So how do you change the minds of the powers that be to make the investment and to look at it from outside the box? They might have been doing business a certain way for fifty years and it’s just going to be different so better ride the wave early than get in when it’s crashing on the shore. How do you address that?

Cindy

As a coach -- and this is also a personal approach -- I can work only with someone when the person is aware there is a pain point and also they are willing to work. We need to have permission. If there is no pain --  even if I can see it --  I will not even try to change the mindset because I don’t think the person will do it. As a coach and keynote speaker I have different ways to be in front of the audience. If I’m going to deliver a keynote or workshop at a conference or a company, maybe through the keynote people will start having this opening and they will approach me.

It’s going to be different because already they’re aware that they need to take action. Then we'll work on the coaching plan or leadership development. The keynote speaking is creating the awareness because a lot of people are not aware of how those technological breakthroughs and globalization will affect everybody. It's not only companies who are small, mid-sized, or large; even individuals must adopt this growth mindset and reinvention mindset to keep thriving in the future.

Berta

I know that you talk a lot about influence as well and I’m wondering if the leaders of today and tomorrow -- starting today -- really need to become influencers.

Cindy

Leadership is influence by definition -- this is a quote from John Maxwell. It's all about getting things done through the people so it’s all about influence. It's going to be even more important in the future because there will be so many tasks that are going to be replaced by machines and by robots that the things that make us human are going to be critical. Influence is one of those.

I have a program and keynote where I say that [influence is] going to be your secret weapon to beat out robots. This is a skill and some people sometimes think that some people are super charismatic or super influential and they can't be. All of us need time to grow our power base, our network of relationships, and our ways to lead others. You need to do something that a machine or a robot cannot do. Machines and robots will not be able to connect heart to heart with someone else so it’s definitely a big part of winning in the future of work.

Berta

I know you’ve said that you know we will be printing our food in the morning getting into our driverless cars.

Cindy

I'm waiting for the driverless cars and printing food. That's going to be a whole new game for those who think I’m not a great cook.  I’m excited to see 3d printing for food and I don’t like to drive ever so driverless cars are the best!

Berta

I know Tommy is a big Tesla guy and I hear people say that they’re not really that expensive because you get a chauffeur and a car for the price of just the car. I always think about how much work I could get done when I’m driving to Tennessee if I’m in a driverless car.

You talked a little about time management and I just want to go back to that for a minute before we get into more of the future of work. That’s really what’s on everybody’s mind now and I think you’ve provided some great tools and tips that people need to really be looking out for.  Your company, New Skies Nation (newskiesnation.com is your website right)? I’m going to post all of this with the podcast but guys if you haven’t been there and if your ears are burning about the future of work and how you get ready for it I r encourage you to get to Cindy’s website at least find out how you can connect with her.

I know she’s great and is very active on LinkedIn as well just because there are things that she’s opened my eyes to that I would have never known. I would have never even known you could print a slice of Nutella that you could put on a slice of bread that you printed.  I’m joking, but really it’s just that things are changing much more rapidly than they used to. I remember when I started working at the bank it was 1986... my first real job. We didn’t have a fax machine and when we got a fax machine to get payoff letters  through a little machine we were like, "this is crazy how does this even happen." Now people don't even need fax machines but there was a time before they went obsolete where people had fax machines in their homes.

The speed of change and innovation is happening so quickly. You said something about how the industrial age and hunter gatherer stage... how everything went from taking centuries to taking decades to taking just a few years. Now things are just changing every day.

I want to go back just for a second to talk about time management because I think a lot of the issues that people face especially when they’re looking at growth [is related to time management.] You developed a planner which I think is such a powerful tool and I’m going to let her talk about it. Just so you guys know I use them every quarter -- they’re good for a quarter -- and when I was getting ready to really get serious about the book that was published last year (The Why is the Way) I sent my son Sindy’s journal and we coordinated our efforts. The book was done within ninety days because we set the intention and we followed your steps in that journal. So tell us a little bit about how that journal [works]. I’m a big fan and I’m super biased because I’ve used it since it came out. Tell us about your logic behind how you put something so powerful to move people forward together.

Cindy

So the story of the journal is a result of my own experience working in afast-paced industry like tech... the ups and downs of a corporate career and also personal life.

One of reasons for my demotion was when my sister went through cancer. She died when my nephew and niece were super young -- two and six years old. I took six months of leave first to be with my sister which was super emotional during the fight against the disease. Then [I was] helping my brother and my mom with my nephew and niece. Then after my own recovery. In this process I lost a lot of weight and it was super painful. I know a lot of people, many probably in your audience are going through his process and maybe some went through this process. Unfortunately cancer nowadays is like a plague.

So in all these ups and downs and being as you mentioned a woman of faith, in the midst of high pressure, how do you remain stable and resilient? You're going to get affected. I lost a lot of weight in the process but you have to be able to anchor in a kind of supernatural peace. So I took all these spiritual dynamics and how my last corporation worked. I combined spiritual concepts, mindset concepts, and execution processes to help people accomplish their goals. The journal is called The Destiny Breakthrough Journal because it’s all about becoming who you were meant to be; achieving what you were created to achieve.

I believe everybody has a purpose. I know everybody has their own personal beliefs but [I believe] there is a creator, and in each of us he has deposited greatness, purpose, and destiny. People have dreams and they can achieve them, but we see (as coaches) there are so many people that have a lot of dreams but they don’t know how to do it, right? And for this reason, coaches are so great. This is a step by step process that works in 90 days. We start with your vision for the quarter. There is a process for the month, there is a process for the week, and there is a process for day by day.

I know there are millions of different planners. A lot of them are monthly and weekly planners but they don’t tackle the day to day. Really, the only time that we have is today because like the past is over and tomorrow doesn’t exist. It’s so important for me to have a tool where you could measure what you are doing every day because this is really the only time that you have to make progress. It works. You start with your spiritual practice -- I know not everybody is a Christian but people who practice others faiths can still apply the principles -- then it also includes mindset because mindset plays a big part of how we act in life. Then there are techniques that corporate America uses to help you achieve your goals so spiritual practice, mindset, and execution.

Berta

I’m sorry I’m just a big fan. I tend to buy bundles for Christmas and every one that has ever received a journal from me just loves me. For the next ninety days they’re remembering me every single day because it really is just one of the most powerful tools to keep moving forward so I thank you for sharing that.

Cindy

I’m not an expert in this area, but there is a big awareness of mental health -- we are not going to go there because I’m not an expert on it -- but one part is also to have peace of mind. Throughout this process that I use in the planner there are ways to take out the pressure and to get peace of mind. I know mental health is much bigger than this but it could be part of a solution to have that peace of mind when you take back control of your time

Berta

I’ll tell you what really helped, and you know I’m a planner person; I’ve used them all... I’ve played with them all. One of the things that I love that I’ve never seen in any other planner is what you call the frogs. Identifying the frogs. These are those things you know are going to just mess with you during the day. By identifying them and being able to just put the pen to paper with what those things are it’s almost like you dare them to come and mess with you. You already know and you've identified that could happen.   

That’s probably one of the most powerful elements of the planner is that you’re gonna get your excuses out of the way really early that morning. Then the giants -- what do you have at your disposal that is going to help you really slay the day; what’s really going to help you get things done?

Cindy authored a great event called Procrastination Slayer. Her ability to look at what can get in the way is really looking at ways to just undo the procrastination. It’s in all of us, so I just love that. Thank you for getting into that because I think that’s a big deal.

So, Cindy, going back to the future of work -- I know that what everyone hires you for. I know that’s what has you pulled in different directions and people want you traveling here and there because people need to know this. What do you think is going to be the biggest game-changer for people that embrace this change early on?

Cindy

Because I’m an expert of the future of work but I’m not a tech person I don’t have the details of automation or robots or 3d printing. It’s not my area of expertise. So I work with people on the transformation of culture. It’s how to really --  as an organization or as an individual -- create habits and mindsets and frameworks so you could embrace everything that is going on around you. This is the main game changer: to create a culture of innovation and collaboration that is going to allow you to compete on a global level and to really absorb the technological breakthroughs that are going to disrupt how we live and how we work.

Berta

Guyst, just so you know, we call Cindy a genius behind her back. She will never take ownership of that title but she’s super smarty-pants inside and outside. Look... she’s laughing. For those of you who do not see the video I can tell you she’s laughing and blushing. She really is [a genius] and I always says it’s a blessing for me that I get to play with her outside of the stage andshe’s coached me in the past and it’s been just amazing stuff. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Cindy

I will go back to my corporate background when I was still in the early stages of my career. I had a great mentor and he told me something like to never... each time I telel story I never know how to do it in English. Never step on a cockroach.  You never know when this person could be one day your boss. He was making references like there are so many organizational changes in corporate America that really you need to respect everybody. For me it’s not only in corporate America; it’s in everyday life. You need to give the same amount of respect to the CEO and to the person that has a lower position. This stuck with me and it was so true.

At some point when I was in the early stages there were some people that I really, really admired. Some years later I had their position and there were also people who were super high and at some point they disappeared. There are so many changes that [you should] never focus on the title but really respect everybody and connect and develop personal relationships. Don't be so focused on the title because sometimes you can see people that are going to have special attention for the big boss and they are going to treat other people badly. For me: no. Treat everybody the same because everybody is a human being, right?

Berta

I think what happens is we always attract our tribes. The beauty of it is that when that’s the message that you’re putting out there and that’s the message that you’re living, you’re attracting these people that are working with great organizations. They’re all people you want to work with. I think that only comes when you’re out there promoting that kind of culture. That culture is going to reciprocate and I think it's a beautiful thing.

Do you have a top three for 2020 goals?

Cindy

One is the expansion of my own company and to really play more between Latin America and the US; to really consolidate both the speaking with the coaching, training, and leadership development. The second one is more personal because it’s to get more friends --  like physical friends. The third one is always my personal relationship with God;  to go deeper in my revelation of the bible. I do a lot of ministry that’s outside my business. For me it’s super important to see this part growing and each time getting closer to God.

Berta

I know the impact you’re having with that and I’ve learned so much about the word from you, but I heard rock climbing in there... is that what I heard?

Cindy

Maybe for the end of 2020 when I get big arms. (Laughter)

Berta

There’s only one way to build it! We just go and play and it’ll get better and better.

It’s so funny because we were in Tennessee two weeks ago, Khloe and Tommy were ice skating. Khloe had ice skated before and she was just scared. She’s hugging the wall and going around very, very slowly, barely taking little steps.

There were these four siblings there and you could tell they roller-skated or roller bladed or whatever but they were being cautious, too: holding onto each other. [There were] two girls and two boys, the youngest of them I named him Jimmy. I don’t know what his name is, he just looked like my cousin Jimmy. 

He was wearing a yellow fleece jacket. He was just there to have fun, and that kid must have fallen 100 times. Every few minutes he was just on the floor. I kept watching him because his jacket was so bright that I couldn’t help out of the corner of my eye as I watched Khloe go around. This kid was just expertly falling. I realized that he was having the most fun of everyone in the ice skating rink. I realized that every time he would fall it was almost like his mission was to fall as much as he could. Every time he would get up from falling he would get better. He would be more and more confident and he just built this ability to skate that he couldn’t have gotten if he had been afraid of falling.

I think by that time Khloe came around... she gave me a thumbs up and I was like, "Hey you did great." She was afraid of letting go, so I said, "You see that kid there?"

She said, "Yeah he’s always falling."

I said, "Yeah but he’s having more fun than everyone here. I want you to go to the middle and try to fall."

She took my word for it... she didn’t question me. She went to the middle and she didn’t fall. She was skating and she was keeping up with Tommy and she was having a great old time.

You know.. the rock climbing? We're only going to get good if we go!

Cindy

It's one of my dreams to be able to do it. This is a podcast, so maybe for some people who won't watch the video, I really have skinny arms. We tried once for my birthday. It was my idea and honestly I was not able [to do it.] For this reason let’s say the first six months I will build those great arms and after that, yes. Rock climbing. I will say yes to sky diving maybe for 2055. (laughter)

Berta

Cindy what are you reading, before we sign off?

Cindy

What I’m reading at this moment... I’m reading different books. I’m reading one about faith. It’s a book by a Latino pastor. It's called in Spanish No es Por Vista. It's about faith. So, "It’s Not By Sight," for those who don’t speak Spanish. And I’m reading another one about about influence. It’s called The Influence Effect. It's for women to climb the corporate ladder and to develop their own power.

Berta

Thank you for being here, Cindy!

Cindy

Thank you very much. It was a lot of fun, thanks for having me.

Berta

 I knew it was going to be awesome information you were going to bless us with so thank you for that and we’ll talk soon.

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