PP 692: Leadership at Its Core- Pursue Impact with Rodney Burris (Part II)
“Leaders have to be the first at embracing change and innovation within themselves so that their people can too.” -Rodney C. Burris
If money was not an issue, what would you do for free? Join Kim and Rodney C. Burris for a refreshing conversation about leadership and building a stronger team, with each member operating at their zone of genius. Listen as Kim and Rodney talk about the importance of getting perspective, nipping the root of unproductiveness, 4 zones from which one can operate, leading with heart, and listening to the gut-brain. Rodney also stresses what a leader should have, do, and be to facilitate team connection and elicit optimum performance. Press play and discover how to be free from stress and move towards your peaceful place!
01:44 The Uninvited Speaker
09:55 The Heart of Being a Leader
20:58 What Zone are You Operating From
32:55 The Gift of Being Cognizable
40:38 The Ultimate Approach to Building a Stronger Team
48:38 Freedom from Stress, A Place of Peace
55:47 It Comes Down to Perspective
01:01:45 The Best Place to Start
14:05 “One of the best benefits for a leader is incorporating perspectives into their process and their decision making.” -Rodney C. Burris
16:04 “Fear is a crippler. It’s hard to do it by ourselves but it’s possible if we connect to good people.” -Rodney C. Burris
19:58 “If work doesn’t feel like a chore; if work is a joy, they’ll stay longer.” -Kim Sutton
23:05 “Leaders have to be the first at embracing change and innovation within themselves so that their people can too.” -Rodney C. Burris
39:35 “That’s such a freeing space to be in to be able to let things go and not regret it.” -Rodney C. Burris
43:32 “Sometimes, the way a substance bonds with each other molecularly doesn’t change what it is at its core. It just changes how it relates to one another inside.” -Rodney C. Burris
57:57 “Just because you’re doing a lot doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot done. Productivity and activity are very different things.” -Rodney C. Burris
01:03:06 “If we can’t get it out and we are starting and stopping, it’s not because of them. Perhaps we don’t fully have it fleshed out yet ourselves, and that’s a good place to start.” -Rodney C. Burris
About Bridgit Dengel Gaspard:
Rodney C. Burris is an International speaker, Youth Advocate, Professional Development Coach, and Published Author. He has a BA in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University, as well as a Masters in Management from Capella University. He is deeply rooted in neighborhood empowerment and has encouraged area leaders to become more involved in the community, tutored struggling students, and reconnected fathers with their children, advising them on parenting and life skills. Rodney can help people realize how to become different and better than their circumstances/background/conditions by focusing on the simple changes that achieve the big goals. Rodney has assisted numerous companies with team-building, communication, data evaluation, and program development. His workshops and seminars are among the most popular in colleges, corporations, nonprofits, and schools throughout the United States and abroad.
Kim Sutton: Well, welcome back my friends. I hope that you were here with us for the last episode, Episode #691 of the Positive Productivity Podcast. Oh, my gosh, frog in my throat. That was missing for the last 10 minutes, Rodney. But in Episode 691, Rodney C. Burris was here with us, we had a fantastic conversation. We were both on a little bit of a time crunch. I knew I needed to take it further. So if you didn’t already listen to that episode, go back. Listen to that one. Leave your comments down below and then come listen to this one. Because today, we are picking up wherever we feel like it. I was gonna say where we left off, Rodney, but I just say where we feel like it. But welcome back.
Rodney C. Burris: Thank you for having me. And yes, we were chit chatting right before we jumped on the show, and you sounded beautiful. And then soon, as you started talking, your oh Familia Frog Friend, the FFF, he kind of hopped on over there, didn’t he?
Kim Sutton: I’m gonna have to borrow that one from you. I don’t know where that frog came from. I’m affected by squirrels all the time. I get distracted very easily, but frogs? Yeah. Yeah, thank you. I’m writing that one down, Familiar Frog Friend. That’s really awesome.
Rodney C. Burris: That’s right. That’s right.
Kim Sutton: So this isn’t where I was intending to go. But honestly, I never know where I intend to go. It’s been a couple of weeks since we chatted. What has been especially impactful in your life or in your business since we chatted last?
Rodney C. Burris: I jumped on a plane after we talked and I went to Atlanta. I spoke at a conference. And it was amazing, Kim, because I manifested that conference. I heard about it, I knew it was happening several weeks ago, and I wrote out my talk that I was going to give there. Now, mind you, I wasn’t even invited to come. At the time I wrote it, it was like 6:00 in the morning. I was out kind of doing some exercises at one of our lakes here in Baltimore, and I had the whole inspiration about it. I sat down and started typing on my phone, texts, and texts, and texts. And I sent myself this whole kind of brain dump. Several weeks go by, and there’s a photograph of me with a slide image behind me depicting what I was sharing with them. And what I was sharing with them was birthed out of me running around, doing an exercise at 6:00 in the morning several weeks back. So just to be able to have an idea, birth an idea then live in it and walk with it in a way where people are like breathing new life with you because of it. That has been an impactful experience with me since we last spoke.
Kim Sutton: So that’s very actually similar to what I’ve been experiencing in the last two weeks, but not all the same. I know that sounds really crazy. But the feelings, the intuition, like everything that I feel I need to do, in the last few weeks, I realized I just need to follow that. And usually, when I will not usually, whenever I follow that feeling in my gut, something amazing happens. But when I don’t follow my gut, when I follow my head instead, and I’m going to say Angel, like the Angel on one, that’s my gut.
Rodney C. Burris: Gotcha. Gotcha.
Kim Sutton: Not to say that my head is bad, but I’m going to call that the devil on the other. That one will lead me in the wrong direction very often. Usually it says, okay, you got to pursue money today. And the other side, my stomach says, you got to pursue impact. But when I’m going and I’m not saying that they can’t both, be friends and make awesome happen. But usually, my gut leads me in the right direction. And it’s a faster path.
Rodney C. Burris: Can I share something?
Kim Sutton: Please.
Rodney C. Burris: And the only reason why I said that because I know we want to have some sort of like aim for our talk today. So I’m very mindful of that. So please feel free to direct it as you feel fit. But that whole thinking with your gut feeling with your gut, do you know what I’ve learned Kim? I’ve learned that there are neurons in a type of brain cell called ganglia, G-A-N-G-L-I-A, ganglia inside of your digestive tract, and actually inside of your heart and soul for years and centuries across cultures, and histories, and people groups around the world, there’s always been this nod towards the idea that you think in your heart, and we’ve always just kind of viewed it figuratively and poetically. Or this gut feeling, like that kind of phraseology pops up in cultures, like anthropologically speaking around the world forever, for histories, it pops up all over. And now, it kind of seems that it wasn’t just figurative, and it wasn’t just poetic. And it wasn’t just ancient people, or culture groups trying to figure out how to describe a feeling. But we actually on some level kind of knew that there’s a little bit of thinking or thoughts of some sort that happens within me, that’s not with up in my head. Yeah, there are peer reviewed journals right now, like research data, empirical data, articles that talk about the neurons in the brain cells and the ganglia that are inside the heart and inside the digestive tract. How about that?
Kim Sutton: I want to look into that more, because I’ve never heard of that.
Rodney C. Burris: Isn’t it amazing?
Kim Sutton: I barely passed biology, though. So I’m not surprised. I’ve never heard. I passed it because my mom told me I had to.
Rodney C. Burris: Right, right, right.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. Earlier this week, I had a call with a great friend who was thinking about an area where he could go off in his business and start something new. It’s an area that I’m moving away from in my business. I love building marketing funnels. I’ve been doing that for seven years. But I’m realizing that’s not where my passion is. There’s the zone of genius, and there’s the zone of excellence. And that’s my zone of excellence. That’s where people know me. But if I’m really gonna follow my heart and do what I feel is my purpose here, that’s not my zone of genius. Like funnels is not my zone of genius. So he’s talking to me about this new opportunity that he sees in his business, and he wants to work with me to possibly build it out. And the first instinct was, Oh, my gosh, that could be a lot of money. There’s a lot of potential there.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah.
Kim Sutton: And as I’m listening to him talking, I just felt my gut saying, no, no, no, no, no. And it took a lot for me to say: “I think there’s a lot of potential here. But if I’m going to be true to myself this year, and going forward, I have to turn this down. Because it’s not where my focus is. Especially right now in my life, I want to get my book written.”
Rodney C. Burris: Nice. What’s the aim, the goal, the vibe, the title of your book?
Kim Sutton: Chronic Idea Disorder: The Entrepreneurs Guide to Conquering Idea Overwhelm. See? So if I follow his path, it’s going to be another chronic idea disorder attack. It’s going to be another, Ooh, let’s go build something new. But it’s not going to be finishing up something. again. My book, and everything else that I have planned. I’ve already been talking about this book for seven years, and I don’t want it to be another seven years.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah. Yeah. I like that. How far are you in your book so far?
Kim Sutton: Like 15,000 words.
Rodney C. Burris: That’s a lot of work.
Kim Sutton: It is. It’s not in any order, I had to give a big shout out to Scrivener. It’s an awesome writing tool for people who are squirrel brain like me. You can come up with random thoughts and put them in a little section. And then you can drag and drop the sections around to put it in exactly the order it needs to go. Because I’m not a linear thinker, you’ve already seen that. My thoughts just come how they want to come. And I’m not going to tell them to stop.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah. So Scrivener helps with that. Do you type it? Do you talk it? How does Scrivener work?
Kim Sutton: I just got the phone app this week, because my friend Richie was actually asking: “Can you talk to text it?” And I was like, I don’t know. And at first I was like, I don’t need another phone app. I don’t need one. But then I was out driving around and I had an idea. And I was like, that would be really handy. So yeah, you can talk to text it. So when you’re going around the lake at some point, you could just talk to text it and put it exactly how you want it to be. But anyway, to go back to the point. Every time I follow the money in my business, yeah, the money has been harder to get, and I’m not going to do that path anymore. I realized that we never really got into what you do in the last episode. I know because–
Rodney C. Burris: Right, but we didn’t get to share it out.
Kim Sutton: We didn’t get to share it out. So before we go any further, let’s give you the center stage. Yeah, share what you do.
Rodney C. Burris: Thank you so much, Kim. So I am, by profession, the leadership development trainer. What does that mean? That means, oftentimes, we are in positions in our organizations, in our companies, our schools, what have you, where we need to fire everybody and start over? We need brand new staff, because this ain’t working. But we can’t do that for, you name it, what are the reasons? Pick one, all of the above.
So how do we take the human capital that we have and make it different and better in a way that helps. Bottom line, productivity, profitability, and a lot of that is around personal development. So what happens is, companies do a lot of training during orientation. Here’s what we expect, here’s why we hired you, here’s the things you need to know. And then they don’t touch training again for, who knows. Sometimes, never again. And what has happened is you have a decrease in connectedness to the work and increase in burnout, you have this high turnover rate that starts happening, or people that are just sitting on the clock. So there’s been a movement recently. So if any of your listeners, especially the entrepreneurs that have their teams, they feel as though they have been in a position where they’ve been spinning wheels with the 2, 3, 4, 20, 50 people that they’ve been working with, we seem like we make progress and we fall back.
I got this one guy, I got these two people that you are in good company with so many other leaders that are in that same position. And what has been happening, Kim, is a consistent movement towards training and developing our people on things that seem dis non connected to the work. So for example, money management, personal finance. Listen, I’m gonna give you a paycheck. You do the job, I’m gonna give you a paycheck and how you spend your money is your business. However, their approach to spending personal money is a function of a mindset. That mindset comes to work with them every day, right? Also their interpersonal relationships, whether they’re going well, whether they know how to communicate. Hey, whatever. Sure, like or don’t like. Delete who you want to delete, whatever. But those actions are a result of a mindset, and the mindset comes to work with them every day. So whether I realize it or not, as a professional, as the boss, as the manager or supervisor, I’m dealing with their mindsets, their scruples, their baggage every single day. It’s affecting how they respond over email, and is affecting how they are showing up in the workplace. So companies have been doing more and more towards training and developing their staff in ways that have produced cost savings, profit increases, higher attendance, better work life balance, higher morale. So we have studies about this. I have stats about this sort of stuff, and that’s the space that I get to show up in my work that I do, and I love it.
Kim Sutton: I want to take it back to our conversation about heart. Where does heart come in, in your perspective, in the role of a leader?
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah. So leaders have a phenomenal responsibility. They are fully responsible for the decisions that are made. So if things go poorly, they take that blame. And then things go well, it’s the struggle of taking all of the credit and not sharing some of the love. Like when you know good and well, some of that came because you listened to Kim’s Podcast. Some of that comes and goes. You got some great people on the team with you and stuff like that. So it’s a consistent internal battle between thinking with their heart and thinking with their brain. One of the best benefits for a leader is incorporating perspectives into their process, into their decision making.
So earlier guys, you guys don’t know this. But Kim and I were talking about the value of perspective, and about the value of being able to sensibly listen to somebody else share something in a way that adds input, that adds perspective to the decision. And leaders have to do an intentional job of that. Because sometimes, the battle between the heart, brain and the mind brain can be a complete wash, and then they get what’s called analysis paralysis. And your book title I think talks about that Kim. Your book talks about, like getting stuck with the chronic ideas. Can you share that title one more time for the people in the back.
Kim Sutton: Chronic Idea Disorder: The Entrepreneurs Guide to Conquering Idea Overwhelm.
Rodney C. Burris: Idea overwhelm. I never heard it the way Kim has phrased it. I love it. I think your book is gonna do numbers. I think it’s gonna, because it seems timely. And it seems like it speaks to a condition that many people experience. The way I’ve heard it before, one of the angles that I’ve heard, it has been analysis paralysis. So I’m thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking. But I can’t really get to an end because it’s not perfect yet. And I can’t launch, and I can’t start, and I can’t decide, I can’t hire them, I can’t fire them and I can’t read finance. And that’s analysis paralysis. And Kim, when all of our options are crippled by fear, that is a sign that we are not actually thinking through. But we are being laden by obscure notions that things are not going to work out well. So fears are crippler. And when that happens, when every option, every single option is a dead end, if I did that, then that will happen. And if I know that’s a good one, if I did that, but then this would happen. If that is our situation, we are not actually in a space of thinking. Whatever the opposite of chronically is, our ideas are not in that life given space. They are very much be chronic ideas, and we need the benefit of perspective and others to help us pull a lot of. It’s hard to do by ourselves, but it’s definitely possible if we connect to good people.
Kim Sutton: Oh, absolutely. See? I didn’t have an issue with not being in analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis, that was never my problem. But I never took time to pause and think, is this what’s best for me, my business and my purpose? I didn’t even take time to decide what my mission and vision were. For my business, what impact do I want to have? And to be honest, I think that is what has led me here. And I think that was supposed to happen. Actually, I don’t think I know that’s what was supposed to happen, because I wouldn’t be writing the book if I hadn’t struggled. Like you write the book you’re most supposed to, you could have used. There’s some more eloquent way of putting it. To go back though, with the team that I worked with in corporate when I was in corporate, I noticed a big discrepancy between leaders with heart and leaders without. And I don’t want to make it sound like my leaders sucked and mean people, they weren’t. But they were always focused on the finances first, and the heart came way at the bottom. I’m going to give an example. I was pregnant with my first child, this was 18 years ago. And let’s just say I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, and I would miss an hour of work. But then I was working enough overtime that I could be at work for 60 hours a week. There was no comp. If I missed that hour in the morning, I got docked for that hour.
Rodney C. Burris: Oh, my god.
Kim Sutton: There was no consideration for the extra.
Rodney C. Burris: Right.
Kim Sutton: It was more, more, more. We’ll take it, but we won’t give it.
Rodney C. Burris: Oh, that’s horrible.
Kim Sutton: It is. But what I learned out of that is I saw the extreme turnover that they had. I stayed for a year and a half. To be honest. I was already looking for a new job before I left. But I left because my son was born with a clubfoot and he had a lot of doctor’s appointments, and I couldn’t afford to miss four hours once a week to take care of that. Even if I worked overtime, I couldn’t afford to be docked for hours.
Rodney C. Burris: Mm hmm.
Kim Sutton: I would have stayed happily, but I was going to have to pay them.
Rodney C. Burris: That’s ridiculous.
Kim Sutton: Why should I pay them–
Rodney C. Burris: That’s ridiculous.
Kim Sutton: what I’m working overtime. And I saw it happen in other places too. So I’m all about, I will start people on my team that are completely green, like don’t have any experience. And there’s a time and place for that. Sometimes, you need to hire somebody who is so super experienced in something so that you don’t have to go through that learning curve. But I want to get to know my people. I want to know what they’re passionate about. And I asked, what do you love to do? There’s even a, I can’t remember the name of it, maybe I’ll look it up for the show notes. But there’s a test, a quiz that I have them take and says, what area they’re most passionate about? And I let them know. If it’s not in alignment with what they’re doing currently, I talk to them about it. This is what the quiz says, I just want to talk to you about it. Is this true? They will go, yeah. Oh, okay. Well, I want you to stay around. Let’s talk about how we can get you into that area instead, because just like you were saying, they’re gonna bring whatever baggage they have from outside circumstances–
Rodney C. Burris: Everyday, they can help it.
Kim Sutton: If work doesn’t feel like a chore, if work is a joy, then they’ll stay longer. And then I don’t have to go through retraining services.
Rodney C. Burris: And then they start alleviating. If that experience starts alleviating their baggage, so now, coming to work with Kim, doing the stuff that we do, because we love it. Kim mentioned something earlier today guys, I listened, I get all of the good nuggets right before we jump on the show. So here’s another great nugget that Kim shared. She mentioned some–
Kim Sutton: Wait, you’re not gonna share my weight, right?
Rodney C. Burris: No.
Kim Sutton: That came out before the show, I just need to put it out.
Rodney C. Burris: That’s not a nugget Kim. She mentioned something about a genius zone. What was the other zone?
Kim Sutton: Yeah. So you can be in your zone of genius or your zone of excellence. And then there’s two other ones, the Big Leap, I will put that into the show notes after I learn that.
Rodney C. Burris: Wow. So when we all operate in our zone of genius. I don’t fully know those terms, I got those from Kim. And she said she got them from something called the Big Leap. But as I understood it in the context of what she was sharing, there’s stuff that we’re good at doing that we could do, but it’s not our zone of genius. And yes, I can make it look good. And it can be nice and all that, but it doesn’t give me life. It’s not where my true genius shines. So when we intentionally, one, new hires. You look for people not that just feel good with the team, but something about the work makes them come alive in his ways to do that.
I have one of my books, Kim talks about that. I’m not going to get into that right now. But then the other thing is, now that I have my folks, because I can’t hire anybody who knows Rodney and Kim. I hate this guy talking, Kim, your guests, and he’s saying hire new. Great, but then that doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen. Matter of fact, I may have to let some folks go, what do I do now? And that’s when you look, it’s a reason why they’re there, there’s a reason why you all are there. And there’s something about the work. And as a leader, it takes a little bit of re envisioning and kind of getting out of static channels in static roles. This role does this, because this is how I designed it and wrote it out. And this role does this, and those team members do these sort of things. You might have to kind of break some of those categories down in order to maximize the people that you do have. Because I may be really, really good at doing this thing out of that job role that has that role, in this thing out of that role, in this thing out of that role. And collectively, I would be great at it. But it breaks down our paradigms, Kim. It breaks down our constructs that we’ve so perfectly set up and work so hard to have in place. And we’re not realizing that that may in, and of itself be a chronic idea that’s holding us back. And leaders have to be the first at embracing change and embrace it’s innovation within themselves so that our people can too.
Kim Sutton: Absolutely. So I just pulled the book off my shelf, I wanted to share with you the four different zones.
Rodney C. Burris: Yes.
Kim Sutton: So there’s the zone of GENIUS, which is your passion area. What would you do for free if money was not an issue? Okay. There’s the zone of EXCELLENCE. That’s what you’re really awesome at. You like doing it. You might even love doing it, but would you do it for free? Probably not. Right? There’s the zone of COMPETENCE, and then there’s the zone of INCOMPETENCE. And I just want to give an example. If you haven’t heard it already, I don’t cook, I burn. Okay. Put me in the kitchen, was unemployed and I needed to make money, and I went and applied for a job as a line chef. I would be working in my zone of incompetence.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah.
Kim Sutton: Because people would be getting either charred to hell or undercooked food all day long. Zone of competence, okay. They’ll get food they can eat, does it taste good? Questionable. But they can eat it.
Rodney C. Burris: Zone of excellence.
Kim Sutton: Zone of excellence. I was trained in a French cuisine, but I really love Italian. But I’m gonna cook French because I’m good at it and people know me for it. And then, okay, let’s just take a deep plunge and say, but my passion is really baking, baking pastries. By the way, this is true. I don’t cook, I burn. But I am getting damn good. And I love making baklava. Okay, if that’s not the right way of saying it–
Rodney C. Burris: It’s the right way of saying it, but I’ve never had it. Believe it or not, I’ve never had it.
Kim Sutton: It is absolutely amazing.
Rodney C. Burris: Is it a German dish?
Kim Sutton: It’s Greek I think.
Rodney C. Burris: Okay, okay.
Kim Sutton: I would get it at Greek restaurants when I went to school in Chicago, and then Greek festivals here in Dayton, and then I found a Greek restaurant here. And let me just share, I can go and I can get it for four bucks a piece. Now, I figured out how to make a whole like 9×12.
Rodney C. Burris: Isn’t that a–
Kim Sutton: Cookie. Yeah. If I’m making anybody hungry, I’ll put the baklava recipe into the show notes.
Rodney C. Burris: She would be making me hungry guys, but I’ve never had it.
Kim Sutton: Oh, I’m sorry.
Rodney C. Burris: Look like missing something that you never had.
Kim Sutton: So yeah, don’t look at the recipe, alright. Because you’re the one who’s out there exercising, this is just not going to help you stay fit.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah. If it tastes good, listen, we all got to live a little. We all have to live a little bit. Can I share my zones?
Kim Sutton: Yes, please.
Rodney C. Burris: So I am incompetent. As it relates to bookkeeping and finances, it’s something I literally have been working on the past two years or so. But yet, if you hired me on the team and my job was the accounting or the treasurer, that money wouldn’t be missing, that would never be the issue. But it’s like, but Rodney, where are the records? Why didn’t you, like, what’s up? What are our profit and loss metrics? Did you send the payments on time? What about accounts receivable? We got money waiting in different things you just never, like, oh, man, that’s overwhelming you just to think about. So that’s definitely–
Kim Sutton: Thinking about the audits too.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah, yeah. So I have incompetence with that. My zone of competence, that I can just get by in. I’m competent enough to kind of contribute with building. So like building a shed, or a porch, or fixing the hole in the wall. But I’m not good at it. The work is a little sloppy, to be honest. And it takes me a long time. It takes me a long time to do, and I’m like, geez, this is all I got done today. And it’s been a whole eight hours of me doing the honey do list handyman stuff. Okay, so that’s my zone of competence. But I should probably outsource and pay somebody for that. My zone of excellence is, hmm, I am really good at teaching stuff as an educator. So taking your material, whoever you may be. The school system or this program, you have a set of materials and some content that you want people to learn, I can do a really good job of learning it and then sharing that for the audience. Even if the audience has changed.
So if I have a whole bunch of stay at home moms that are in like their 40’s, it’s a way to connect with those moms. If I have a whole bunch of 20 something young guys that are just getting out of college guys, girls getting out of college, it’s a way to talk to them, it’s a way to talk to corporate leadership, it’s a way to talk to community service workers. So I have a really good way of bridging those gaps, taking that content and making it relatable, but I don’t love it. And it’s a little bit of a chore, but I’m really good at it. But I don’t love it. My zone of excellence, Kim, that I would do for free, that I do for free. I feel my most self actualized when I am standing in front of a group. And I am talking about the analogies, and the concepts, and ideas that have sprung out of my heart that help make life better as we know it. I come alive, I get more and more analogies, I get references to statistical data points that I’ve forgotten that I knew. And I’ve kind of just interweaved all of these different aspects. I would do it non stop unless my body didn’t get tired. I could just live in that space. I’m at this point down in my career, Kim, where that’s my livelihood. So those are the things, I train teams on as a leadership development trainer. But that’s the sort of thing that I would do for nothing. I will come and work with your teams, whoever you are out there, and we will talk about this stuff, because it gives me life in a way that my molecules vibrate. And I love it.
Kim Sutton: I love that. What I was thinking when you were saying that, and then I had to course correct myself and I’ll explain that zone of genius, I can start that at 7:00 o’clock in the morning and still be going strong at 3:00 o’clock in the night. Not that I should be.
Rodney C. Burris: Right, that’s healthy.
Kim Sutton: Right. Zone of excellence. I’m like 9:00 to 5:00, I’m good, close computer.
Rodney C. Burris: Let’s pluck it out.
Kim Sutton: Go home or just close the office door and go to the other room. But what I found with chronic idea disorder is that if I don’t consider the why and the idea that I have, if I don’t look and see, is this really what I’m passionate about? Or am I just chasing the money again? I could easily, and I’m out of this now, I could easily confuse it for my zone of genius. And I could do it from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Rodney C. Burris: Yes.
Kim Sutton: Or 3:00 AM.
Rodney C. Burris: But it’s not life giving, it’s not draining.
Kim Sutton: And after like a week or two, or sometimes it would be a month or two, tons of money, tons of time and resources, like people power invested into it, I would realize, Oh, I don’t love this. No, I don’t like it. I don’t want to continue it. So my Dropbox, I think I’ve a terabyte plan. My Dropbox is full of projects that were started, and maybe months through, like complete website design, courses that I like, recorded all the modules for and then realize, oh, do I really want to be known for this?
Rodney C. Burris: This is taken away from me.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. I’ve been doing speaking lately on Pinterest for podcasters, or Pinterest for entrepreneurs in general, just to make it clear. Well, we already talked about the fact that I can’t cook. I’m artsy, but I don’t really care for crafts. Like I don’t need to decorate my house for every holiday, and I don’t do those things with my kids. I hate the mess afterwards. And clothes shopping? No thanks. I’d rather hire a personal shopper if the budget allows. So Pinterest is normally thought of as a web for clothes, crafts and recipes. I don’t apply to any of those, but I still get massive traction. And I’ve been asked to speak on it numerous times, that’s in my zone of excellence.
Rodney C. Burris: Why do you think you get the traction? What draws the people to you?
Kim Sutton: It’s just that it’s a marketing technique that a lot of podcasters and entrepreneurs haven’t considered because they are not the woman looking for clothes, crafts, or recipes. But when they hear that, oh, my gosh, she’s getting 1 million monthly views. As of this day, today, I’m not getting 1 million monthly views because I haven’t been up keeping it because, yeah. But anyway, I can easily go well over a million monthly views.
Rodney C. Burris: Wow.
Kim Sutton: And I’m dedicated to having that done, or that’s something I should really outsource to a team member who is there, a zone of genius out there. But that’s like one of those things. Could I speak on it? Yeah. Just like you and teaching.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah. Right.
Kim Sutton: That is what you want to be doing all the time.
Rodney C. Burris: You nailed it. Absolutely not. I took one of your nuggets. You dropped nuggets, Kim, all the time. It is why you should be in the spaces that you are in, with your podcasts, with your books, with going and doing live talks because you have a way of making things. Are you ready for this big word? This is an unnecessarily big word.
Kim Sutton: Do I need to get my dictionary out?
Rodney C. Burris: You might need it, but that’s okay. We’ll just work with it. You have a way Kim of making things simple and cognizable. Which is actually not so simple, right? But you have a way of [inaudible]. Real world is connected to all of the words like recognition, recognize and cognition. So cognizable. Yep, real word. So you have a way of making things formatted and packaged in a way where we can easily think about it. It should be a much simpler word to describe that. Coz cognizable is not such a cognizable word in and of itself, but you have that gift. One of the things that you said, and one of our previous conversations was you would get all of these ideas, but you’re learning that they’re all not for you to deliver on and execute. And that resonated with me so much Kim.
I have a buddy of mine who has a laptop full of websites, and ideas, and initiatives, and things that he’s thought about. And he would start them, and run with them, and go, and they made so much sense. But he couldn’t bring them to fruition because he didn’t want to be known for that. He was losing the fervor for it etcetera. And it wasn’t until you’ve dropped that nugget on me that I then recently went back and shared with him. Bro, this isn’t for you to deliver and execute on. It’s for you to identify the person, or persons out there that this is there. And I didn’t have this word when I said it to him, but I meant this intent. Who has this as their zone of genius, and then equip them, empower them, give them the starter stuff that they need to run with the idea, like that’s your role. Because he runs the gamut. He’ll have something that makes an athlete’s life better. Something that makes homeowners’ lives better. Something for, he’s gonna be so embarrassed that I said this, but something for intimate relationships. He has this little do hickey that I’ve never seen on the market before. So it’s not even like he’s all like engineering, or for the kitchen, or for legal stuff. It’s all of these different things. And I’m like, yeah, you can’t run in all those directions, bro. But listening to your point, what you said, Kim, I took that back to him. And like your job is to empower those with this zone of genius to execute on these things. I’m really glad when you share this stuff like that. I hope that I made that very cognizable for you.
Kim Sutton: I gotta tell you, I have my dictionary from when I was in high school, okay. And listeners, that was like 1997 when I got this dictionary and I highlighted words that I looked up. I just pulled the dictionary off the shelf and highlighted cognizable. I will text you, Rodney, like proof of that. I seriously did. I want to challenge that though because maybe, okay, this is something I’ve been going through lately. Exactly what you just said, I found this awesome website, I’m just going to spit it out, Empire Flippers, or Empire Builders, or something like that. Where people can sell their business.
Rodney C. Burris: Oh, wow.
Kim Sutton: So you can go on there and buy somebody else’s business. You can see the stats, if you get like a premium plan. No, this episode is not sponsored by them out there. So one of the things that I was considering was, yeah, there’s an opportunity with all these crazy ideas to build a business, even if it’s not mine and put it out there. But I think that has to come from me personally, when I already have my team active, and we’re very profitable in our zone of genius business. We know that this is just a side product project. Well, I guess both words are feasible. And we are building it knowing that we are building it to sell it to somebody who can benefit from the work that we’ve already done for them. Because some people aren’t meant to build websites and get their marketing. Like come up with a marketing strategy on their own and source all the right suppliers. But if we could do that, great. We could save somebody a lot of time, but there’s no reason. I mean, if my primary business is already doing well, then I could hire people to do that for me, but keep me out of it. Because like you and I being here, if you are focusing on building one of these side businesses rather than being here in your zone of genius, talking about what you are incredible, you would be missing the opportunity to share your mission and your vision with the world. I can’t do that. If I’m going to do that, I need to give it to somebody else. If you looked at my GoDaddy account right now, you will see a lot of domains. I don’t know how many are in there right now, I’ve been slowly letting them go. But I’m realizing, yeah, this one’s not for me.
Rodney C. Burris: That’s such a freeing space to be in to be able to let things go and not regret it. Like, this is not even a missed opportunity. I’m actually releasing this dove into the atmosphere so that somebody else can get some life out of it. So this thing can really fly because I’m just sitting on it. That’s a freeing position to be in Kim.
Kim Sutton: It is definitely. I want to go back to the different zones in [inaudible] of a leader. Okay, so when somebody comes in, they fill out an application, interview, often were asked, what’s your biggest strength, and what’s a weakness?
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah.
Kim Sutton: And I have given out those totally puff, puff.
Rodney C. Burris: I work so hard, this my biggest weakness, I’m working on it.
Kim Sutton: Where do you think that asking those questions, like asking, what’s your zone of genius and your zone of competence could come into making stronger teams, stronger leaders, stronger employers or employees?
Rodney C. Burris: Right. Right. Right. So you want to take the approach as entrepreneurs, as leaders. You want to approach this with the idea that this is a very strength based exercise, which doesn’t mean we don’t allow weaknesses to kind of bubble up. It means that weaknesses are identified as opportunities. Think about a puzzle piece. Every divot in one piece is just an opportunity to be connected to another team member, to another community partner, to another organization that does business with us in a way for us to build. But if we don’t allow it, if we don’t talk about it, if we don’t let those things kind of bubbled up to the top, we operate as if there’s not a weakness. Everybody has a strong hand and a weaken, everybody has a left and a right, everybody has something that they’re great at and something that they’re not so great at. So that’s just normal.
A lot of times, companies operate under the auspices, where everybody has to be great at their job. This is what I was hired to do. And although my numbers of my performance is kind of saying otherwise, I have to fake the funk. Like, no, yeah, no. I like all of this on my plate. Like, I enjoy all of these things. I thought I loved the baklava, for example. And then I tasted it and I ate it. It took me three weeks, or three months, or three years, but I realized that I didn’t love this. I just was kind of going through the motions so we can either let them go. And that’s a whole financial consideration and relationship consideration. Or we can let the Kim’s and the writings of the world that are on your teams that you’ve built relationships with to identify where we are strongest and where we are weakest. And then you, as the leader, look at the pieces on your team and figure out. Hmm, if Kim did a little bit more of this, will free her up from doing some of this stuff that she’s not good at, it’s actually hurting us. That’s actually not helping us at all. But if she did more of this stuff that was freeing her up, and Rodney is actually kind of good at that and he doesn’t mind it. So I can kind of let Rodney do that, and let Kim do that. So that’s the beauty, Kim, of leaders and entrepreneurs asking about zones of competence and incompetence, and genius and excellence. I know that that was completely out of order, but that’s the beauty of it because it gives us an opportunity to strengthen the team.
I was about to go into a whole example about molecular structure versus atomic structure. And I won’t do that now because that may take us on a rabbit hole right down a rabbit trail. But just understand that sometimes, the way a substance bonds with each other molecularly doesn’t change what it is at its core. It just changes how it relates to one another inside of the structure, inside of the molecule, inside of the system. So what you have is to think about it like this. Think about very, very creamy oatmeal versus oatmeal that’s a little bit more chunky. And the only difference sometimes is it could be, yeah, milk, or creams, or sugar. But sometimes, I let that one just get the water and whatever ingredients and I let it sit and marinate. In this one, I stirred, and stirred, and stirred, and stirred, and stirred, and stirred. And so the texture is silkier and creamier with the same ingredients. That’s a molecular change. But atomically is the same thing. My phone is buzzing, I’m so sorry, Kim.
Kim Sutton: Are you kidding me? Positive Productivity. My husband came in to get my credit card so he could go get his lunch.
Rodney C. Burris: I love that.
Kim Sutton: Dude, I’m hungry.
Rodney C. Burris: I love that. I didn’t even hear that. But yeah, that’s one of the major things that you can change how your teams relate and interconnect with each other without changing the teams out themselves. And that is the beauty of going through those zones. That’s leadership in action.
Kim Sutton: I want to share a quick story quickly. I was an interior designer for 10 years. And the design part was the most exciting to me. I think that’s the same for every person who dreams of being a designer. It’s the design, it’s the color, it’s fabrics, it’s how it looks. But when you get into the field and you realize what you got to do on the back end, there’s some parts that are so damn boring. My parents were both accountants, I didn’t go into accounting because I didn’t want to look at spreadsheets all day. Well, one of the things I had to do as an interior designer, especially when I was designing schools was make schedules, it’s what it was called spec schedules. Okay, spreadsheets saying, okay, this paint goes on this wall, this paint goes on this ceiling. This is what the floor type is. It was the most monotonous, oh.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah, that sounds horrible. I didn’t want to judge it. Just because it sounded horrible for me, doesn’t mean it was horrible. That sounds horrendous for my personality type. Can I say that one?
Kim Sutton: And mine too, What helped me get fired from that job,and helped me transition out of design in general. when I was most overwhelmed in work, and when I should have been spending the most time on design, I got so overwhelmed one time that I put all the ceiling colors on the walls, so white. I was designing the school’s, primary school, and I put all the bright primary wall colors on the ceilings.
Rodney C. Burris: Like for an actual building or this–
Kim Sutton: And this is how the contractors actually painted out the class. Thankfully, they didn’t charge me to fix the paint in this whole school, but it definitely helped me out the door
Rodney C. Burris: Oh, my God.
Kim Sutton: Had they just got an intern or somebody who really loved looking at charts to do that work for me that could have gotten the best of me. He’s a lot of money.
Rodney C. Burris: And alleviated so much of that heartache. How did that, I wish it was a visual for one of those rooms, a couple of those rooms.
Kim Sutton: Just imagine a bright red ceiling and white. And this was not, I was gonna put a bed. Like, let’s just leave it there.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah, yeah, I feel you. I think it would have been cool if the leadership had the foresight and the balls. Because this is a little ballsy to do to just kind of revamp the whole vision of the school. So you’re not, I mean, take those ceilings. And this now represents, I don’t know, now we’re looking up for, like just kind of use it, like utilize it towards as a strength as opposed to like, now we have to start all over it. I don’t know.
Kim Sutton: I crack up now because, like taking my kids to pediatricians offices and stuff, like they do stuff like that. They put cloud plastic coverings over the ceiling light fixtures, because the kids are laying there and it keeps their attention. Does the ceiling need to be red? No, maybe let’s just say I was before my time.
Rodney C. Burris: Right.
Kim Sutton: Yeah. But when kids are bored, they could have been entertained looking at those red ceilings so let’s just cover one more time. How would you like to work with people? If there’s somebody out there listening who would like to get in touch and they want to know if you are the right person to contact, how would you love to work with somebody as a result of our conversation today?
Rodney C. Burris: Gotcha. So the very first thing we should just do a free pro bono, just kind of like overview of where you are. This costs nothing. We sit down, you say right, and I got these people. Let me give this real quick example of that, and then I’m going to share my little contact information. I had a director of a nonprofit in Maryland, charter schools are run by nonprofits. That nonprofits answers to the Board of Education. So that’s how it works here in Maryland. I’m not sure how it works in other places.
So I had this director of a nonprofit that owned a charter school that operated charter school. So she called me and she said: “Rodney, can we meet?” I was like, sure we can meet. So we set up a time, I went to her office. She said, Rodney, I have a lot of this, I forgot the word. People weren’t in agreement. People felt disconnected and at odds. She was like, we’re not on the same vibe here. I was like, Well, what happened? She said: “Well, I fired half of the teachers last year, and the principal.” She was like, it was two schools and one. She said: “I fired one of the principal, and I fired half of the teachers.” And she said: “Also the building had a flow. You come in this door, you work your way around the building and you come out this other door and you went through the various grades.” You went through this grade, this grade, this grade. And they’ve been like that for years. She was like a completely flipped the theme of our building, the flow. Now, the little grades are here, in the bigger grade are here. And it’s such a such as there, and I moved this room to this part. And it’s been very different. Everybody just feel shooken up, shaken up, whatever the proper term is, and everybody just feels antsy. And everyone’s kind of worried about their job. I also hired brand new teachers to fill those slots. So we got brand new people who don’t know what the heck is going on, that are trying to keep a positive attitude as they connect with older teachers who feel like they were just kind of saved by the Bell, by the skin of their teeth. But they could be on the chopping block next who used to have a room, but now they have a completely different room and a completely different part of the building. She was like, it’s a mess, and they’re not seeing my vision. And then she paused, Kim, she looked at me and she said: “Can you fix it?” Very matter of fact, just like, wow, can you fix it. And I was like, oh my goodness gracious.
So with that led into a series of talks, and then we mapped out some stuff. And then we did a series of team meetings. We worked through a model called, a tool called the EPS Model that allows them to identify solutions in house that don’t cost anything more than the budget that they’re already working with. That’s always a big help for teams. We looked at group dynamics and the five phases of group development. We looked at the whole brain model, how best to structure and counterbalance targeted teams that are working on goals. We looked at ETO, which is Efforts To Outcomes, and how to make sure that our actions are relevant to the goals that we’re setting. And we did all of these different things, we put these tools in place. And we implemented them in a way where the staff was able to do it on an ongoing basis without having me come in, and monitoring, babysit. So I came in a few times, but I didn’t have to babysit it because these things are kind of self propelling. Once you get them, they kind of make some sense. You can go with them, but they just need to be applied well. Those are the kind of things we can do for teams. Those are the kinds of things that we can have conversations with the leadership, and we might need a little bit or a lot of it. It may well be that that very first initial conversation is like the spark that inspires you as a leader, as the entrepreneur, as the boss to do whatever else is necessary. You just needed that talk, you just needed to unpack. So I would love to do that. If it blossoms into more collaboration and opportunities to work together? Great. If it gives you the spark that you need to go, this is what I love to do.
I’m in a position, Kim, gratefully, humbly where my bills are paid, my mortgage is fine. I don’t know if this is the smartest thing to do, but I did it. I literally went to the dealership last year and dropped cash, and walked off the dealership lot with a brand new car. So I wanted to have that experience that people like, well, you gotta leverage that money and you put it in another account and got the interest compounded. So now I’m like, man, maybe I could have used it as a financial tool. But I wanted the experience of walking into a dealership. And like, it doesn’t matter what the haggle negotiation, good credit, bad credit, no credit, no problem. All of that is irrelevant to our conversation because I’m coming to here–
Kim Sutton: But I think it’s so relevant. I’m going to interrupt you.
Rodney C. Burris: Yeah.
Kim Sutton: Because I want the listeners to think about, okay, I’m going to talk to one listener. You, the listener who is financially struggling right now, I just want you to think about what you would do that would make your heart smile so big. If you had the ability to go in and pay all of your bills right now, like, if you didn’t have to worry about a car payment or a house payment, what would you do? How would your day look different if it weren’t driven with no concern about paying bills today, tomorrow and the next day? And then start making decisions about how you’re going to lead and how you’re going to live from that way. I love that you did that because that’s actually my goal in the next two to five years. I want to get my car paid off this year. I just bought it a month ago.
Rodney C. Burris: Wow.
Kim Sutton: I want to pay it off this year because I know that that freedom in my stress space will allow me to work more from my peace place.
Rodney C. Burris: Yes, right. Freedom from us. Did I tell you I dropped these little cognizable gyms. The freedom from my stress place allows me to work–
Kim Sutton: More from my peace place.
Rodney C. Burris: Work from my peace place.
Kim Sutton: For my awesome team, can you write that one down and send it to me because that just came out.
Rodney C. Burris: I love that.
Kim Sutton: And then my house, that’s a goal for five years, we still, to be honest, have 27 years left of mortgage payment.
Rodney C. Burris: So let’s do it at five, I love that.
Kim Sutton: I want to do it in five, because that freedom from the stress place will allow more for the peace place. If I’m not driven by money every day, I can’t imagine. And I’m not. This last year has been amazing. I’m not working from a place of worry anymore, and it’s amazing because I trust that whatever needs to happen will happen. So with all that said, yeah, that’s where I want to be.
Rodney C. Burris: Yes.
Kim Sutton: Sorry, go ahead.
Rodney C. Burris: I was just gonna say that, because of that freedom from the stress place, and operating out of my own peace place that Kim just talked about. I get to experience doing what I love. Guys, I have a unique ability. And I know it’s tons of us and the 7 billion people on this planet, I know that I am one of a contingency that can also say this as their truth. I’m one of them. The ability to speak and spark new life into a current situation is a gift that I have. And a lot of times, you have on a team everything you need, but it doesn’t seem like it because it’s dark, it’s murky, it’s baggage laiden, like this whole lot going on. And just having the benefit of that perspective allows you to revision what you currently have and say like, wow. I mean, Kim, I’ve sat down with people with teams, I was working with a nonprofit in Philadelphia, like in the western part outside of, I mean, in Pennsylvania, in the western part of Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. So we were way on the other side of the state, and they were a fatherhood initiative. They were trying to get guys jobs, underemployed guys in the rural part of that town or county, get them employed. And they were showing me all of these, they’re about to lose funding from the government. And so they were like, what we do all of this great work. We have this after school program and we kind of feed the students, and we actually have this closet close giveaway that we do for the community. And they were talking about all of these things and I said, which one of these beautiful initiatives points to getting guys employed. Because everybody that’s busy is not always, just because you’re doing a lot doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot done. Productivity and activity are very different things. So sometimes, you need perspective to come in and say, Hey, why are you guys doing it like that? Because the people that are in the system are accustomed to the system. That’s what we always do, we always just submit on the first and the 15th. We always take it over there.
We always heard this anecdote Kim about Henry Ford, his claim to fame people think that he invented the car. He didn’t invent the car, he invented the assembly line. So that is taking the process of making a car out of the hands of one or two mechanics and hiring a bunch of folks. And all they do is put this pipe on this thing and turn this wrench. Put this pipe in this thing and turn this wrench, and just move it down the line, and he was able to crank out cars for every American or whatever the goal was back then. And he was walking through his factory. The guy put 50 drops of oil, he was using 50 drops all over them, over the almost finished product. And he was like, why are you using 50? And the guy was like, Well, that’s what we always do. He was like, but could you get it done with less oil? Does it need that many strokes? Because I got, no, no, no, we kind of need 50. We know we need 50. And so then he dropped them down to 40 and a car messed up. And then he bumped him up to 45, and then he bumped him up to 48, and 48 drops of oil did the job. Well, when you’re cranking out hundreds of vehicles per month times maybe thousands of vehicles per year, that savings between 50 squirts versus 48 squirts had a cost savings in barrels of oils that needed to be purchased, which helps profitability and profit margins.
So having somebody come in and just kind of look at what we’re doing and not question it in a way that just kind of knocks down who we are, what we stand for. But like, hmm, maybe it’s an opportunity there. Maybe it’s an opportunity there. That’s what I’m uniquely gifted in. I would love to have this conversation with your leaders, with you guys as entrepreneurs. My name is Rodney C. Burris, every single way you want to use social media, or website, or .com, that’s how you would find me, rodneycburris.com. Rodney C. Burris on Instagram,Twitter or Facebook. Rodney C. Burris on LinkedIn. This is what I do. Very good at it, but it brings me life. And that life is actually what I bring to our table into our conversation. I would love to have those with you.
Kim Sutton: Bam, mic drop right there. I don’t know how I can follow it up, except to say that if you’re driving, if you like me burn dinner and you’re trying not to right now, you can come back later. Or you can go right now to thekimsutton.com/pp692, and you’ll find all those links. So you can leave it open and come back later. But I’d especially love for you to go over there and drop a comment down below in the show notes. Let us know what you got out of this conversation. I’d even love to hear what your zone of incompetence is, and what your zone of genius is. And perhaps, within our listener, community and even between Rodney and I, we can start to help you shift into a better place of being constantly in that zone of genius. What do you think, Rodney?
Rodney C. Burris: I love that. Yeah, I’m down for it.
Kim Sutton: Awesome. So thekimsutton.com/pp692. Rodney, I would love to end the show since we didn’t do it last week. But I would love to wrap up with asking you for a parting piece of advice or a golden nugget.
Rodney C. Burris: Yes, yes. Well, this is my favorite quote from Einstein. And Einstein was a genius, as we all know, and came up with the theory of relativity. He had that beautiful like hair that wore him, I don’t know if he wore his hair or if his hair wore him. But we all know what Einstein looked like. Looked like Einstein, Kim said something that was so profound. It knocks me off my socks every time I think about it, and I’m about to share it again. And that quote is simply this, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t really understand it yet yourself.” Einstein. The beautiful thing about that, Kim? Do you know how he explained the inner workings of the universe in light, mass and matter, and how it all connects the theory of relativity? He did it with three letters, E = mc2, the universe. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t really get it yet yourself.” So as leaders, if we are trying to have a conversation with our team, or explain the vision, or talk about this new project and we can’t really get it out, and we starting and stopping. It’s not because maybe them, perhaps, we don’t fully have it fleshed out yet ourselves, and that’s a good place to start.