PP 352: Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste, Behavior Scientist and Author of the Digital Self Mastery Series

Dr. Heidi spent 25 years consulting in the corporate space teaching technology when she realized the human component needed to be addressed. Now she teaches individuals how to work with technology so they thrive in the digital era. Listen as we chat about good and bad ways to use technology, multitasking, shiny object syndrome and more!

04:40 Setting up boundaries with technology
10:45 The digital self profiles
25:00 Digital systems strategists – why I believe we all need one in our business
29:30 Mapping out our tech eco-system

.@2BalanceU and @thekimsutton chat about how to use #technology to enrich life in the digital era. Listen here: https://www.thekimsutton.com/pp352 #positiveproductivity #podcastClick To Tweet

Episode Transcription

Kim Sutton: Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity. This is your host, Kim Sutton, and I’m so happy to have you here today. I’m also thrilled to introduce our guest, Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste. Dr. Heidi is a behavioral scientist, and the best selling author of the Digital Self Mastery series and from 2BalanceU. 

Dr. Heidi, welcome. I’m so happy that you’re here to join us today.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Thank you so much, Kim. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Kim Sutton: Oh, you’re so welcome. Listeners, you’ve heard me say it before, you’ll hear me say it again, Positive Productivity is not about perfection. Dr. Heidi, I would love if you would introduce yourself in a better way to the listeners because you know your story better than anybody else that was so eloquent, wasn’t it? And I’d love for them to get to know you better.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Sure. I spent 25 years working in the consulting space of advising companies about social strategy and social technologies, basically teaching technology. And I just kept on feeling like the biggest challenge for my work was not necessarily the technology, but it was more the human issue and the human behaviors around technology. So I actually went back to do my PhD and really understand the behavior science behind the human relationship with technology. And I did my research actually on wearable technologies and presence of mind in the workplace. So using technology to help counter chronic conditions that really get in the way of your ability to focus and be present in your work. And a lot of the findings that came out of that really evolved into the digital self mastery series. And really helping people understand how much their relationship with technology impacts their ability to thrive in the current digital era, because technology is here, and it’s not going anywhere. And it’s only going to be changing faster and faster. So we better get used to it and develop a good relationship with it, especially since it’s one of the most intimate relationships that we have. So that’s really the premise of it. The other piece is just a lifetime passion for well being, and understanding that technology has been able to support me in that process, teaching people about how they can do that as well. Because when you’re sitting down all day in front of a computer, just as a simple example, there’s a lot of different wellbeing issues that come up in that situation. And unfortunately, that is the way a lot of us work.

Kim Sutton: Oh, my gosh, yes, listeners, I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. But in a previous episode with JJ Flizanes, and Heidi, you know JJ. He’s from The New Media Summit, I was actually talking about bringing my elliptical up to the office. A month after recording with her, it’s still not up here because I’ve been so glued to technology. Well, to be totally honest, I haven’t asked my family to do it, and that can create issues. But you did bring up something interesting and interesting point. I love how you said how to best work with technology. You said it so much more eloquently than that, to thrive in the digital era. You didn’t say how to remove ourselves. And I have to really appreciate that because, especially with my business, I’m working in technology, I’m working in the back end of my clients systems all day, basically all day. And while I’m not doing that, look at me, or look at us now, we’re on Skype recording this. So it’s not like I can remove myself completely. But I have to find a healthier alternative sometimes to take me away and thrive in other areas of my life as well.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Exactly. And it’s really not an either, or. I mean, if you really think about it, technology touches all areas of our lives, and there’s ways that we can bring it in. But with proper boundaries in a way that it helps us improve our productivity and our ability to engage with other people, and I’ll give you an example. The other day, I was getting interviewed for a telesummit and we were talking about digital wellbeing and the importance of finding that balance, and how it impacts your health. And all of a sudden occurred to me, wait a minute, it’s beautiful outside to the inside all day. I have this laptop, which means a laptop, I can pick it up and move it somewhere else. So I moved myself to a quiet space outside the sun shining, there was a beautiful backdrop for my interview that provided context to the interview, I got fresh air and sunshine. But I wouldn’t have been able to do that with the old technology where you’re fixed in this large system. But I had a decent microphone, I was able to have that directional. So it didn’t disrupt the noise, but it added to the experience, and the connection, and the context of what I was providing for the telesummit. So it was a great experience for all of us. And I think it’s important to recognize where those opportunities are, instead of getting fixated in old habits.

Kim Sutton: Oh, definitely. I was out at a soccer game with my son this past weekend. He’s 12, and he plays in a competition travel league. I was sort of surprised when all of a sudden, up on my phone popped a WiFi notification. My phone is always looking to join Wi Fi networks. I don’t know if I can do anything about that. But it said, GMC WiFi connection. And I was like, wow. On one side of me, I was thinking, that’s amazing. They have Wi Fi built right into their car. And listeners, I shouldn’t be so like blown away by this. But considering I still drive in 1996, let’s just say that I don’t have that in my vehicle. But I was amazed by it, I was also taking a little back. Because I do appreciate the fact that I don’t have it because it did encourage me not to stay in my car, and to get out and enjoy the fresh air.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Well, absolutely. And that’s where the boundaries piece comes in. And it’s really important to recognize where your habits are influencing your ability to really engage with the technology in a positive way, and to bring it into your life so that it enhances it rather than disrupts it. So in the context of the automobile that had Wi Fi, I mean, here we are on a podcast. Now that we have Wi Fi in our vehicles, or at least we have them on our smartphones, I also have an older car, but I’m able to plug my phone into my aux outlet or my player in my car, and I can still listen to podcasts. So it gives you an opportunity to connect to other things in a very different way. And in more opportunities, especially for people who spend long hours commuting.

Kim Sutton: Absolutely.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: The boundaries are critical.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. I love how you brought that up about connecting, because that is definitely a huge plus that I’ve seen as time has gone on. And I know that back in a decade ago when I was commuting an hour each way, I was listening to books on CD. And now, we can plug our smartphones up to audible.com. This is not an affiliate offer for them. And we can be enriching our brains while we’re driving. Not that listening to music isn’t, but we can be listening to podcasts, and listening to personal development, listening to just about anything while we’re driving, which completely blows my mind. As a child, I would have never imagined being able to drive down the road. Okay, this is going to make, I love to read as a child, but I was always fiction. And I’m not saying that anything’s wrong with fiction, but I would have just never imagined being so excited about learning in the car.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Absolutely. I mean, as you’re speaking, it’s reminding me of a road trip that I did with my family two years back. Actually, my son wasn’t with us, but my daughter came with her best friend. I think they were 12. No, not the most attentive time for young girls. And my husband and I were listening to audible, again, just audio books. But we happened to be listening to the seven habits of highly successful people just because we were sort of wanted a refresher and figured out what that will kill some time. And it was funny because the girls were in the backseat sort of complaining every once in a while and they have their phones, and they were doing other things the whole time. But about halfway through the drive, they started talking about what had been happening in this book and all of the seven habits, and it became part of the conversation during the horrible course of the vacation. Clearly, they were processing even partially from the backseat and it gave us a platform to do some really amazing sharing, even though they where were in this distractible 12 year old state. So I think there’s something really beautiful about being able to have that shared experience where you’re not just plugged into a headset, and you can learn or hear a story together.

Kim Sutton: I completely agree. While I’ve been traveling to all these soccer games, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, and it’s amazing, the discussions that my son and I can have off of the content that we’re hearing, and it opens up so much dialogue.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Absolutely. And that dialogue is sometimes harder to have when you’re not in an enclosed space where you’re not looking directly at each other. There’s something that’s really amazing about a car ride with a kid where they’ll open up to you in a different way.

Kim Sutton: Oh, absolutely. I would love if you would share more about the Digital Self Mastery series, because I am so intrigued.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Sure. So the Digital Self Mastery series talks about the digital self profiles, and how those influence, in the first book, it’s really about for the online entrepreneur, how your digital self profile can influence your ability to be productive and effective at work. The newer version is actually the digital self mastery across generations. So it has a little different context. It’s looking at the different ways in different generations that we relate to technology, but also how we can use it as a bridge across generations. That the digital self itself, there’s seven different profiles, starting with the digitally averse, ranging all the way to the digital addict. And ultimately, what we’re trying to achieve is that center character of the digitally balanced, where you’re in a peaceful relationship with your technology, essentially, where it’s working for you as much as you’re working for it. And like any other relationship, you’ve developed very healthy boundaries. And of course, it’s important to note that you’re never gonna fully remain in one particular role or one particular relationship, particularly when you’re in the balance point. Because new technologies are constantly coming, and new experiences trigger different responses. 

So when you’re looking at it from the behavior side, we are living learning creatures. And different experiences create different responses that will initiate the way that we respond to other things, and without us knowing it. So part of it is developing a really conscious relationship with your technologies so that you notice when things are triggering you that cause you to respond differently. Give you an example, when you’re working on a document and the application like word crashes on you and you lose all of your information because you haven’t set up the systems to be able to have it, saving regularly, which a lot of people do that. And it happened to me twice while I was doing my dissertation, not a fun experience.

Kim Sutton: Oh, my goodness. I can’t imagine, but I can imagine.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Absolutely awful. And I thought I had. I’ve been using computers since the 80’s. I, of all people should have known to be doing a backup. But that type of thing, it can trigger all kinds of other emotional responses that result in sort of toxic relationship with your technology. And sometimes, it’s with particular applications. Sometimes, it can be with a device. If you’ve ever had that sensation where you’re working on your computer and something goes wrong, and you literally want to pick it up and throw it. That’s a very emotional response.

Kim Sutton: I don’t know what that feels like.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: It’s one of those things where you get that emotional triggered response. If something like that has happened recently, every time you walk towards that same device, you’re going to have that emotional response which is going to affect the way that you engage with it. You’re going to be more aggressive on the keyboard, you’re going to be more physically abusive and emotionally responsive to it in a way that it’s going to actually give you that same kind of feedback back. I mean, if you throw your phone on the ground and the screen cracks, it’s not going to behave well. There’s other things that you’ve caused. So it’s also taking accountability for own behavior and emotional response in that relationship.

Kim Sutton: What do you see as being a few of the major hang ups that entrepreneurs face with getting too wrapped up? When you were explaining the spectrum, and I’m sorry, I didn’t give you a chance to respond. I was thinking about people who share the amount of hours, the number of hours that they spend on their handheld devices looking at Instagram, My Facebook or Snapchat during the day, and the numbers have surprised me often when I’ve read them. And I’m not trying to generalize everybody, but they’re very surprising. So I turn off notifications for most social media platforms on my phone. But where I find myself getting hung up is having way too many tabs open trying to do too much, and multitasking is my hang up because my attention is trying to be split. Any more than one direction is bad, but it can be so easy. I mean, right now, I shouldn’t even be admitting this considering we’re on Positive Productivity, I have no less than 15 tabs open.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Yes. So that’s very typical on entrepreneurs. Particularly today’s entrepreneurs, you can’t really be an entrepreneur without being online for the most part. And so they tend to fall more in the category of digitally cautious. And then on the other side, it’s more like digital hoarders where the cautious ones are bored. They know that they need to try to use particular new tools, or whatever, but they’re sort of overwhelmed and don’t really know where to start. And so they don’t do it, they just keep putting it off. And they know they avoid it. Whereas on the other end, which it sounds like you’re more on the digital hoarder side, which tends to be the people that are actually fairly tech savvy and they accumulate a lot of things, whether it displays as tabs, or whether it displays as accumulating all the newest technologies. I’ve been working on this, but here’s something that’s coming out that’s better. I need to test it. So you’re always in this sort of testing and growing mode, which really eats away the time and energy that should be devoted to actually getting the things done. 

And sometimes, some of the older tools actually work better. And it’s partially because some of the newer tools aren’t fully tested yet because of the culture of just launching early to get it out to market. But it’s partially because if you’re really comfortable with a tool and it works, your learning process is already done. So you’re not spending all of your time trying to figure out how to do stuff, you can just go ahead and do it. So there’s sort of two different sides to that. One, if you’ve got something, it’s sort of the old expression, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And the other piece is, if you’ve got too much to do, you really need to identify the things that don’t require your particular skill set and delegate it? And so it’s a question of growth phase of, if you’re handling too many different things, maybe somebody should be helping you out because you’re not being efficient if you’re constantly trying to catch up. So there’s a couple of different factors that play in there, but both of them can trigger some really interesting emotional responses that can be very disruptive to productivity. And also engagement, because then you just don’t want to engage anymore.

Kim Sutton: Oh, absolutely. You profiled me perfectly. I’m not proud of it, but I am definitely a digital hoarder. One obstacle that I have overcome personally, though, is I have been unsubscribing from email lists left and right. So where I was getting 500 plus emails every morning when I opened up my computer, I may have 10 to 15, which I know will shock some people like, how do you only get 10 to 15? Well, I’m very protective of my inbox right now. I don’t have time. I actually put a picture of something that’s on my bucket list, or as the screen in my Gmail. So that’s what I see when I have a zero inbox, and it helps me think about, do you really want to subscribe to this? Do you need it? And it’s helping me be more aware of shiny object syndrome, because that was my other, I don’t know if Nemesis is the right word. But I would see those new gadgets, and those new programs, and trainings, and certifications, and I would always think, oh, I need to have that, or I need to have that. But like what you’re just talking about, sometimes, the older stuff is exactly what we need for right now. And I have seen that myself where the newer programs are still going through testing and they break, and that’s when, I feel like throwing my mouse across the room because I just put all this time in and there’s no autosave. But yeah, that’s how I’m defeating that.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: No, that’s an excellent example of that. What I tried to teach when I’m working with organizations and teams is they always ask, what’s the optimal time or the optimal tool for particular things? And what I teach is that the anomaly is the norm. There is no perfect amount of time, or application, or whatever for everybody, you have to find what works really well for you. And if you find something that works really well for you, stick with it. And until it doesn’t work for you anymore, if you were growing or changing your business, or your needs are changing, then it’s okay to look at other different options. But it doesn’t necessarily always mean to replace it entirely. You have been very consciously looking at how to build boundaries around your inbox, which is another piece that a lot of people really struggle with. And I teach the whole thing about notification, managing your notifications and managing your inbox. And it’s less about physically going in and teaching them how to do that, but it’s more about building that awareness of. Is that a trigger for you? 

When you wake up in the morning and you turn on your phone, and it says that you have 200 unread messages in your inbox, is that an emotional trigger for you? Or do you find that you’re spending half an hour, an hour every morning just clearing that out? If that’s something that is being disruptive to you, either emotionally or timewise, that’s something you need to prioritize creating better boundaries around. There’s a lot of different nuances there. But for each person, there’s different triggers. And there’s different solutions for those triggers.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. One thing that I’ve seen a lot, especially continuing on with the triggers. As an Infusionsoft certified partner, I see a lot of coaches, especially who are wanting to get, or just because coaches are who I primarily work with, they see a lot of their acquaintances using Infusionsoft and thinking, oh, it’s working for them, I need to get it. But you don’t need to get just because other people have it. If I got everything just because I thought other people have it, then I would be broke and crazy. I’m not saying I’m not either, but I would be broken crazy, combined, which would be a just a mess. And we forget about the fact that there’s that learning curve. When we don’t have the systems, support and self care set up, then we can find ourselves sitting at our desk and getting just so aggravated. And I’ve been there so I know how it feels. Thinking, okay, I just bought this new program. I need to know how to use it because I think it’s the right thing, but I’m not sure. But if I had just taken a step back, I could have seen that maybe I didn’t need it, number one. And number two, maybe I shouldn’t have been learning it at all if I did need it, but have gotten a team member who was an expert in it to handle it for me.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Absolutely. And I think that’s a very good example too. Infusionsoft, of course is one of those. It’s an incredibly powerful tool. And if you need all of what it has to offer, it can be a wonderful tool. But for a lot of entrepreneurs who are just starting out, it is way too much to take on. And the other piece is really understanding what it is that you’re trying to get out of it, and that’s really a business decision. When you delegate your finances to someone, you still want to have a baseline understanding of your finances before you, just say, hand over your checkbook to someone. Same thing with managing your business systems. You would need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish, and then somebody else can do the technical piece for you. But to really understand what you’re trying to achieve is really important. Because otherwise, when you’re communicating with that person, there’s such a big gap between what you’re saying you need and what they’re hearing they should be doing. There ends up being a lot of time, energy and money that’s wasted in just trying to translate that communication. Because I think in your case, you may be unique. But I think a lot of people that are very technical don’t necessarily understand the business strategy piece. Particularly if you’re doing something very creative and different that’s not just replicating another model. You can’t just assume that someone that’s highly technical understands your business and what your needs are.

Kim Sutton:  Dr. Heidi, the person I’m going to ask you about may actually be YOU. But I would love to see entrepreneurs have a digital consultant or strategist that would specifically talk to them about the systems that they need and help give them guidance in the right direction from an unbiased perspective. When people come to me and they’re interested in Infusionsoft, I’ve actually turned people down because I know that it would not be successful. But I don’t think there’s enough. And I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, I don’t think there’s enough people like that. And maybe, I just don’t know where to look for them. But I’ve seen a lot more examples of people who are willing to take a call, because they’re hoping that they can sell people on something. Whereas, I would rather talk people out of something that doesn’t work just to make sure that I’m getting the person that it will actually work for if they do purchase.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: I think that’s a great idea. I don’t necessarily do that, per se. But part of what I teach in the digital life balance work is really in that process. We map out their business and how they’re using technology to support it to make sure that there’s not one redundancy, make sure that there’s not any holes where things are not actually being covered where they could be covered. So in that way, it’s a really simple model, but it helps you understand, when do I scale? When do I need certain things based on my business strategy? Where I want to go? And it’s not just, okay, well, I want to offer courses, and I want to do this, and I want to do that. It’s more looking from the hard core business perspective of, what do I see in terms of, do I want to really have a business that I’m running? Or is it something that I want my ideas to reach the larger world? And so that’s something a lot of people don’t think about. They don’t realize that when they take on something where they’re teaching, or they’re consulting, they just assume that it’s all the same as every other model. Sometimes, what they get into these systems where someone that’s techie that has talked them into basically saying, you need an app, and you need this full platform, and you need all these different things, and then you end up running a technology company rather than teaching what you really wanted, changing the world in the way that you want to change it.

Kim Sutton: Absolutely. I want to tell about every one of my clients that if they just slowed down, they could actually move faster.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: So true.

Kim Sutton: I’ve asked to take a look at some of their expenses before, like give me a list of everything that you have right now. And it’s amazing. What you were just talking about with the redundancy, how some of them have four tools that do the exact same thing, but then they’re missing this gap over here. But if they just slowed down and took a look at the big picture, and listeners, I have to admit, I have been guilty of this myself. And thank goodness, I was doing my taxes that year. That’s all I got to say about it. Because I saw it and I was alarmed. I was like, oh, my goodness, I forgot that I had this, and this, and this, and this, and this, but it got buried in the email.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Absolutely. I can’t remember who I was speaking with recently, but they reminded me of a great way to check on some of those things. Because sometimes, we sign up for an email management system or whatever it is, particularly when you’re in the early phase of growing where you sign up for these things that are 20 bucks a month, or whatever. They’re the sort of the easy early state, but then we forget to turn them off once we’ve grown enough to be able to use a bigger system. And so checking your credit cards for anything that’s a recurring payment, and a lot of them, it’s not clear what they’re coming from because it’s sort of an encoded format. They may not state the actual software is, or what the subscription thing is. But if you see a recurring payment that you don’t recognize, dig a little deeper and find out what it is. You may find that you have a bunch of different things that you’ve signed up for early on that you’re no longer using, and that your new system, whatever you’re currently using actually compensates for all of those things. So by mapping out your tech ecosystem, you can actually remove a lot of things and save yourself a lot of money and headache.

Kim Sutton: What are a couple of your favorite tools that you use day in and day out? I know that they might not be applicable to any or all the listeners, but I would love to know what are your favorites.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Sure. I would say, I’m an Evernote fanatic. I’m using Evernote to organize my notes while I was doing my PhD, and it has just become an incredible tool because you can build into it a taxonomy by tagging everything. You can just keep track of all your information so much better. And now, you can scan business cards. There’s notebooks that you can write with a pen, and with certain pens, and it’ll scan and do text recognition right into your notes, and do the tagging and put it into folders. It’s just a great way to keep all of your information in one place that’s very searchable. I found it just an amazing tool. In there, I keep a folder that’s got all of my different professional BIOS for the different formats so that I can just copy and paste whenever I need those things, and notes when I’m doing podcasts,  all of that stuff. So Evernote is a fabulous tool. What other tools do I use regularly?

Kim Sutton: I have to admit this to you, I just took Evernote off my phone and canceled my subscription. Because I don’t like it. Evernote, I think you’re an amazing product, but that was just one of those redundant products for me because I do so much in Google Drive, and also in Trello that I realize that I don’t need one more.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Well, good for you. And I think that that’s the key. Like I was saying, the anomalies, the norm, you need to work with the tools that work for you. And I’ve just gotten so comfortable with it, that it just works seamlessly for me. And that’s ultimately where you want to get to where you’re not going to multiple places to get your information, you’ve got it all in one place. And if Google Drive works for you, I know my kids use Google Drive constantly because they use it for school. I have to occasionally use it when I have to sign documents for them or do different things for them. So I think Google Drive is fabulous. It’s not something that I’ve used to the point where it is seamless for me. And ultimately, you just want to pick something that is seamless for you. They don’t even have to think about the fact that you’re using it.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. And again, I love Evernote. I just realized I was using something else so much more. Yeah. Plus, I needed the room on my phone.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Yeah, well, that too. Definitely. And the other one that I use a lot, and that it’s something that I only learned about a year ago is Canva. I just think that being a visual thinker, I love the fact that I can just pop pictures when I’m at a conference. Or take a picture of a person then there’s a couple little quotes in there and it just makes it a very easy, wonderful way to share. Just inspirational thoughts, whatever. It’s just so much more dynamic, but I love the simplicity of it.

Kim Sutton: Now, I am curious, what is your digital profile?

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Well, I’m ashamed to say that I gravitate more towards the digital hoarding. I am definitely, I love trying new technologies whenever they come out. I aspire to digital life balance. But part of my problem is because of the space that I’m in and the work that I’ve done, people send me technologies all the time. And so it really feeds into my addiction in a way. So I think my biggest guilt thing is trying to figure out how to deal with my technology graveyard because I have gotten better at testing something out. I’ll write a review, and then I’ll put it aside or I’ll find someone else that might enjoy it rather than feeling like I have to incorporate everything into my workflow. So I’ve gotten better at it. I go back and forth between the digitally curious and the digital hoarder.

Kim Sutton: I love how you say technology graveyard. I actually have an idea graveyard because I have so many ideas. I’m writing my book on chronic idea disorder because I have so many. That’s been my struggle, figuring out which one to work on right now, and which one to wait on.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Yeah. Whiteboards are great for that.

Kim Sutton: They are just not in my house because I have three year old twins who have discovered how to draw on each other with whiteboard markers. Which didn’t wash off very easily which was very surprising to me the first time. They’re about as difficult to get off as permanent marker which I also have experience with.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Oh, dear.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. But when they learn how not to touch mom’s whiteboard markers someday, there will be an office. By the time they’re old enough to know not to go in, then I will have an office that will keep them out.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: And there’s always the old school, I guess it’s not so old school. But I remember when I was in business school back in the 90’s, sticky notes are a fabulous tool for tha, too. And those go a little higher than their reach, so those might be a better option for you.

Kim Sutton: Oh, definitely. I do want to ask, when you have a couple ideas flying around in your head, what do you do to decide which idea to work on now and which one to put aside for later?

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste:  I journal. I actually use my Evernote to journal on it usually. Recently, I’ve been really trying to practice a skill that I learned while I was doing my PhD, which I used to be a chronic idea person. Not that I don’t necessarily still have ideas. But when you’re doing a PhD, when you’re doing your dissertation, you’re digging into so many different rabbit holes, and the biggest challenge is that you have to narrow it down to something really, really razor sharp, that’s just one very narrow topic. You have to learn how to dig a little bit into a rabbit hole and come back out, and extract maybe something, or tag the things that might be breadcrumbs for later, but not get sort of stuck in the rabbit hole. And I think the skill that I’ve taken with me from that is to leave those breadcrumbs, and tag it where it may have relevance later. But right now, I need to focus on getting things fully launched. I’m still only three years out, not even full three years out from finishing my PhD. And it took me a year to recover. 

I don’t know if you noticed, but I got Lyme disease while I was doing my dissertation. And basically, for a year after I completed my PhD, I was basically couch bound, I had brain fog and couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even watch a whole TV episode, my brain was so foggy. So it’s really been only two years since I’ve been able to pull all these different things together and figure out the direction that I want to take my work. And it’s been a really exciting journey. During that time, I actually used technology in my recovery, so it’s given me some really powerful tools for context. But I think being able to really focus in order to accomplish your ultimate goal and your vision is really important for entrepreneurs, because there are so many different rabbit holes, tangents and shiny objects that could be explored. You can still enjoy them, get ideas and whatnot, but tag and save it for later. And when it’s really relevant and it adds value to what you’re doing, you can bring it back in. But you got to be really careful of those, I think.

Kim Sutton: Thank you so much for saying that because that was a struggle of mine. But I also want to thank you for sharing that your two to three years in. In the earlier part of this business’s journey, I was getting really frustrated because I didn’t feel like I knew what I should be doing. All I could feel was I should be making more than I was, but I really wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. And it really took three and a half years to hone in on what I was passionate about, and really start to hit my groove. But I know a lot of entrepreneurs, me included, often wanted to be a lot faster than that. I’m just gonna say that I know, we need to give ourself grace, time and patience to really figure out what we are doing.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Absolutely. And it’s a lifetime of experience that you’re bringing to the table. So to bring those pieces together and identify what is your thing that is the gift to share with the rest of the world, sometimes it’s not so obvious. And sometimes, it may not be what we think it is in the beginning. Like I said, I spent 25 years in the consulting space. I sort of even fell into that. People used to ask me, I was a mentor for a lot of entrepreneurs during that time, what made you choose to be an entrepreneur? I never chose to be an entrepreneur. I’ve been an independent consultant my entire career, and I just happened to be very tech savvy and I understood, I’m a systems thinker, was well educated so I was well spoken, and I was very fortunate to be able to put into a couple friends, invited to the table at several very critical conversations that basically opened doors to me from one job to the next. So I never even really had to sell myself during my consulting career. 

And then going back to school, all of a sudden, coming back into the space. And during that time, I moved from Sweden to the US. So my former market was no longer just within arm’s reach. It was like starting from nothing, even though I had all these years of experience, and this new knowledge to contribute to it. It was humbling to say the least, to have to start again. I feel like I’m on a big upswing, but it’s just part of the journey.

Kim Sutton: Yeah. That has been something that I’ve been realizing even in the last year and a half, that this journey will never end, it’s just going to keep on going, and it’s going to keep evolving, and there’s going to be constant detours. And Positive Productivity was just, I say it all the time, it’s not about perfection. Keep looking forward. I really love how you said that you sat in at a couple of key discussions. I’ve noticed that a lot of my success has been from being in the right place at the right time. And just keeping my eyes up and keep on moving forward. Because if I hadn’t kept moving forward, that I wouldn’t have been at that place at that moment. I know that’s really vague.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: That’s okay. No, I think actually vagueness is important too. And I think one of the other key learnings that I got out of my dissertation experience was the value of rest and doing nothing, because some of your greatest ideas can come from just stepping back from everything so that you get a fresh perspective. I remember someone telling me while I was doing my research with someone that had just finished her dissertation, she said, oh, I did my best thinking in the bathtub. And my husband would be banging on the door, you’ve been in there for half an hour. And she’s like, I’m working on my dissertation. Wherever it is that you’re thinking place, sometimes, taking that time to get a fresh perspective, take yourself out of the chaos and the business of your work to be able to look at it from a different perspective is extremely valuable. And can sometimes shine a light on whether it’s in efficiency, or just the right solution that you’ve been looking for.

Kim Sutton: Absolutely. So where’s your best thinking place?

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: My best thinking place is out on a hike in the sunshine. And that could be anywhere, just out in nature.

Kim Sutton: I tend to get them in the shower. I could understand like what the person that you were talking about in the bathtub, I’ve actually had to get bath crayons to record my ideas because it’s like the water is caffeinated. I get underneath it and bang, idea. The bath crayons and then I shower mine, not my children. So what type of work are you doing today? I would love to hear more.

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: The majority of the work that I do is actually speaking and doing workshops with teams and groups to help them with their digital life balance and digital wellbeing. Consulting I do is more with organizations helping them understand how the integration of digital wellbeing into their corporate wellbeing strategy. And then I have digital life balance programs that people can do online as an evergreen. I make those available to the people that are participating in my workshops, but you can also sign up for them online. Because my belief is this isn’t something that should be just for people who are working for big organizations. Everybody struggles with digital life balance, and it’s something that you should revisit on a regular basis because it’s constantly changing. So the environment that we’re working in is constantly going to create new triggers, new environments and new challenges, but also new opportunities. 

And if you’re not constantly revisiting that, you’re potentially going to set yourself back. So ultimately, I go out and speak a lot and then do workshops. Really excited about something. I’m in the process of building retreats, but they will be multi generational retreats that will be tacked on to my corporate workshops. The workshops will be during the week. And then on the weekend, the participants can bring in their families of cross-generations, the seniors in their family as well as their children. And we do the same kind of curriculum, but we do it in sort of a play format. And it also helps everyone understand the different relationships with technology of cross-generations even within their family, and how they approach technology differently, and how they can learn from each other, but also how they can use it as a tool to enhance their relationships. So I’m really excited about developing that further. I’ll be running my first one in Sweden this fall. So hope to let you know more about that as that evolves.

Kim Sutton: Oh, I absolutely love that. Dr. Heidi, this has been an amazing conversation. I can hear listeners wondering, where can I find out more? I mean, especially your evergreen program, I want to know where to find out more. Where can we go?

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: Sure. You can go to my website, which is 2balanceu.com. That’s the number 2, balance, letter u.com. And there’s links to everything there. There’s even a free download of the first version of Digital Self Mastery book for online entrepreneurs. So if they want to go there, they are welcome to download the PDF version of that and enjoy. They can discover which digital self they are.

Kim Sutton: Incredible. Thank you so much. Listeners, if you’re not able to write down 2balanceu.com right now, well, I guess you wouldn’t really be able to write down my website either. But you can go to thekimsutton.com/pp352, and you’ll find the transcript, the show notes and all the links where you can find Heidi right there. Dr. Heidi, thank you so much again. Do you have a parting piece of advice or a golden nugget that you can offer to listeners?

Dr. Heidi Forbes Oste: This may sound like a really funny thing when you’re talking tech. But one of my favorite things to remind people to do is actually to develop a gratitude practice with their technology so that they start out their engagement each day from a positive note. And simply by waking up every morning and thinking about one thing that technology has done to enhance their lives, then you’ll have a happy engagement.