Use Strengths To Create Customer Moments – With Mike Ganino

Use Strengths To Create Customer Moments - With Mike Ganino [episode art]This Episode’s Focus On Strengths

Mike Ganino joins us to help you lead through your strengths at work. You’ll find this episode especially useful if you manage a team and you’re trying to create a better culture at work–one that your customers can feel too. You’ll also love this episode if you’re fun and you like people who are intelligent and charismatic at the same time. That’s Mike!

10 Things You’ll Learn In This Episode

  • How to create a culture change, even when you’re sitting around on milk crates with no budget or corporate support.
  • Influencing what happens in moments of truth between employees and customers. You can do this by creating an environment that helps each person bring their best performance to work. It’s using their individual strengths to get the experience you want for your customers and employees.
  • How to improve customer service without writing employee manuals and memos that say things like “you need to smile” – because making employees force a smile is just weird.
  • Viktor Frankl “Man’s Search For Meaning” – Mike shares this nugget about Frankl being able to, in the darkest of humanity (a reference to his experience in concentration camps),  act intentionally with the energy you bring to the team.
  • Owning it. When you’re managing a team, it’s your team. You get to choose how you run your meeting. You get to decide whether to do it like everyone else, or to change some simple things so you can lead through your strengths. And in doing that, you can help your employees lead through theirs too.
  • Meetings. He offers a tip to wrap up your meetings with one minute of appreciation. Just one minute. Do small things to change the temperature of the room. When you take time to notice what works, your team members will know what you want to see more of and they can give it to you.
  • Doing more of what allows you to use your natural talents. That way, you’re building a personal brand. You’re getting known for work you love and you’re great at. That creates a virtuous circle for you because you end up getting more work that reflects what you’re great at.
  • Live into your strengths and change your entire career trajectory by doing more of what you want to be doing.
  • Applying this concept in non-corporate work environments (this is where people like to tell me that working from strengths won’t work in their industry). Mike shares a story with contrast where you’ll see that you don’t have to stop your expectations at, “I wish they’d stop coming in late because they’re hung over.” He used these techniques to transform restaurant cultures.
  • The magical properties of applied improvisation. Mike and I are both big fans, students, and users of improv. He gives great pointers for using it in professional development, employee interviews, and even coaching and feedback.

Strengths Tools of the Episode

  1. Check out the Viktor Frankl book “Man’s Search For Meaning.” And grab Mike’s coaching, feedback, and improv tips on mike.tips. You can also follow his ideas on Twitter or Instagram.
  2. You’ll also find lots of StrengthsFinder, leadership, and team tools on our Strengths Resources page.

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Here’s A Full Transcript of the 30 Minute Interview

Lisa Cummings: [00:00:05] You’re listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you’ll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I’m your host, Lisa Cummings, and I’ve gotta tell you, whether you’re leading a team or leading yourself, it’s hard to find something more energizing and productive than using our natural talents every day at work.

[00:00:21] And, today, you’ll learn from Mike Ganino. His career has spanned the whole spectrum from washing dishes at a pizza joint to leading a $30-million restaurant brand. He comes to you as a fellow leader of teams and as an expert on corporate culture and leadership. You, guys, are going to love Mike’s mix of executive experience and thought leadership, and he has such a variety of experiences. He’s been a COO, he has landed private equity funding, and he’s had really practical field experiences opening over 100 restaurants for multiple brands, not to mention he’s a super fun guy. He’s married to a chef and he loves dogs, so who cannot love that?

[00:01:00] So, Mike, welcome to the show today.

Mike Ganino: [00:01:03] Hi. Thank you so much for having me, and a really awesome intro.

Lisa Cummings: [00:01:06] Well, you make it easy because you’re an awesome dude.

Mike Ganino: [00:01:08] Thank you.

Lisa Cummings: [00:01:10] So, as you know, this show is all about exploring Strengths, how to find them, how to leverage them, and then what it actually feels like when you’re in the midst of doing that. So, to kick this off, if you think about over your career, which has so much good variety in it, what is your favorite peak experience, one where you were really feeling energized and in your flow?

Mike Ganino: [00:01:31] Yeah, there are so many because what we do in the restaurant industry is innately exciting because every day it’s like you’re going up, every lunch shift is like going to war and, “We’re going to make it through.” So, I think, if had to pick one it’s definitely been this team that we built to open new restaurants.

[00:01:52] So, if you think about it, people are on the road, they’re traveling, they’re staying in hotels, they’re probably staying up a little too late having a little too much wine, maybe some are restaurant people, and then they have to wake up super, super early and get into their restaurant. And as trainers, we’re in charge of the temperature of the room.

[00:02:11] And so probably my totally energized peak performance days were really when I was leading this group of people who were doing this very high-performance job, traveling, giving it their all every day, solving really crazy issues that you can’t predict when you’re opening a restaurant. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know if you’re going to open on time, if food is going to show up, or what you’re getting. And so they had to be performing at high, high levels, right?

[00:02:37] And so, for me, the moment where I thought, “Ah, this is what I love to do.” Outside of the restaurants and all of that, what I love was really looking and saying, “How do we build a culture with these 10 people who are doing this job that allows them to perform at their highest level and that allows them to be creative and use their Strengths every day?”

[00:02:58] And so I remember very specifically we were in New York opening a new restaurant up in the suburbs of New York near Greenwich, and we were sitting around this group, and we had never really talked about this before, but it just hit me and I said, “Hey, so why don’t we have a conversation?” There was as little bit of discord. Everyone had been on the road a lot, everyone had been traveling a lot and everyone was a little tired.

Lisa Cummings: [00:03:18] Okay.

Mike Ganino: [00:03:19] So I said, “Why don’t we have this chat? You guys are all great at many things. You’re all great at teaching. You’re all great at training but we each bring something different to the table.” And we had this really amazing conversation that I facilitated. I didn’t lead it; I just facilitated them talking to each other about what each person was strong at, and what they brought to the team, and what that meant for the team. And then at the end we kind of recapped that and said, “So what does that look like as a group? You all have these individual Strengths and yet you come together and you do this thing. So how does each person contribute to this overall thing?”

[00:03:55] And I remember thinking in that moment, kind of guiding that conversation to get really specific about what the culture of that team was. I remember thinking, “This is what I want to do full-time someday,” because it was powerful for me, and it was powerful for them.

Lisa Cummings: [00:04:11] That’s a cool moment. Okay. So, one, it’s just really great to hear that the natural tendency and things I’ve seen in the past when you’re faced with that situation, other people would be thinking, “Alright, they drank too much last night. Let’s just talk about how to get them to show up without a hangover.” Right? You took a totally different angle.

[00:04:28] So what was it like if you kind of flip it around and share with us what it was like to watch them react to your question? How was that experience for them? Because I’m guessing they had never been in a discussion like that in a restaurant before.

Mike Ganino: [00:04:44] Right. And, again, for all of the folks, and you and I know from having worked in some restaurants and that type of thing before, those aren’t the kind of conversations we typically have when we’re working in a restaurant.

[00:04:56] So I think it was surprising at first. And what was very cool was how quickly they felt safe having that conversation which, to me, told me a lot about the culture we had on that team already, right, because they felt safe getting really, really honest in it. And what was interesting was getting to watch them almost discover something.

[00:05:19] So they would hear somebody talking and they were listening, right? So Joanne was listening to Katy, and in Joanne’s eyes when Katy was talking, there were those moments where you saw that little light flicker, right? And it was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s why I love working with Katy. Of course she’s a great trainer. Of course she knows her stuff to be able to operate in this high-volume place. But, oh, yeah, she brings that other thing. She’s really good at being Futuristic. She’s very good at helping us kind of think about what might happen and how can we get ready.”

[00:05:54] And so it was cool to watch them realize that in each other, and say, “Oh, my gosh, that’s why you specifically add to the team and I totally get it.” And then what was cool was that, I think somewhere inside, they were having that same moment for themselves, “Well, what’s the one thing that I am really strong at that’s different than everybody?” And so having people in front of you, I mean, we were just sitting in a circle on some milk crates. This is not a board room or something fancy. We were on milk crates and sitting around at this pizza shop and everybody was having this moment of self-discovery because they were able to be really open and see that.

[00:06:37] And, for me, that was really rewarding because I said to myself, “Well, I’ve really been able to do something here with this group that they wouldn’t have ever done, that they wouldn’t have ever experienced and maybe ever learned about themselves if someone didn’t ask them.”

Lisa Cummings: [00:06:51] Yeah, beautiful moments. And I get to experience those luckily as well, because this is the work that I do. And when you watch people have the twinkle in their eye that you talked about, and they think, “Oh, that is what that person does so well.” And then they have it for themselves. I love how you brought that out, because they have it about other people on the team, and they have it about themselves, and this is a huge moment for people.

[00:07:14] So if you’re listening to this show and you have a team and you can facilitate a conversation like this, and you can, it doesn’t have to cost money just like Mike said, sit around in a circle and just have a loose conversation. This enlightens people. It’s crazy to watch.

[00:07:30] And I want to get into moments. You’ve mentioned the word moments a couple of times. I saw you do a talk once and I really loved how you described the creation of moments – beyond that one that you had with your team – out in front of customers rather than having employees walk around like zombies, instead watching for these opportunities to create moments. Tell us more about how you can go about doing that as an individual, and if you have a team, how you could encourage your team to look for those moments.

Mike Ganino: [00:08:05] Sure. And, like you said, this is kind of the cornerstone of my keynote talk, where I talked about how these moments, what creates them, right? Because we all want them, and I don’t think there’s anyone in any business, whether you’re a restaurant or you’re a graphic design firm, I don’t think there’s any business that wouldn’t say, “Oh, yeah, those moments of truth between employee and customer, that’s our business. Right then when that happens, that’s the business.” I think on a theoretical level we all get that. It’s like, “Customer service, yeah, it’s important.”

[00:08:36] I think the struggle that people have sometimes is that those moments don’t come from having a memo, right? And those moments don’t come from having a handbook that tells you what you should do. And when we talk about those moments, we’re saying the ones where somebody decides, an employee decides to pick up a piece of trash or not; an employee decides when someone walks up to the counter to say, “Oh, hey, how are you doing?” versus, “Hi, how are you today?”

[00:09:04] Those are the moments that, in reality, your employees get to decide. You can tell them what they need to do, but at the end of the day, in that moment when you’re busy, when someone is answering the phone, how is that, in that moment, with that one customer, because that’s all you have, how did it play out?

Lisa Cummings: [00:09:19] Yeah.

Mike Ganino: [00:09:20] And so what I’ve always been interested in this, “Well, what creates that?” because I know it’s not rules, and I know that it’s not telling people these little old-school restaurants sayings, of business sayings, you know. And I remember thinking this early on, somebody told me one day there was an employee who wasn’t really smiling, and I was an assistant manager and I have this general manager. And the general manager said, “Well, you need to tell him to smile.” And I remember thinking, “That’s so weird.”

Lisa Cummings: [00:09:46] It probably would look weird too.

Mike Ganino: [00:09:48] Yeah, it’s so weird. It’s like, “Hey, person, you need to smile.” It’s not that they forgot their smile in their dresser drawer at home and it’s like, “Oh, darn it. I lost my smile at home. What do I do?” It’s because we didn’t create an environment that lent to that. And so my entire career, while I’ve been opening restaurants, and I’ve done a hundred restaurant openings which either makes me crazy, passionate, or just crazy, probably both.

Lisa Cummings: [00:10:11] We’ll find out later.

Mike Ganino: [00:10:13] Yeah, we’ll learn as the show goes on. But I’ve always been interested, I’ve always watched underneath when a team is working well, when service is working well, when a leadership team is really gelling and getting things done, what is the pulse underneath of that? What is the temperature of the room that creates that?

[00:10:30] And, for me, those moments don’t come from the fact that you have all the rules spec’d out and you have all the things said, or that you wrote a tersely-worded memo that said, “We need to be nicer to customers today.” Because, think about it, if your business was slow on Tuesday night, and you needed to grow Tuesday night sales, you wouldn’t write a letter to customers and say, “We really need you to come in on Tuesday nights.”

Lisa Cummings: [00:10:51] You wouldn’t write an employee handbook, a customer handbook for that?

Mike Ganino: [00:10:54] Right, could you imagine that? We think that that’s what we need to do with employees, “Hey, you need to be nicer,” versus just saying, “Hey, I wonder what would create an environment where people were just naturally nice? I wonder what would create an environment where I filled my space with people who had Strengths that would lead to the kind of culture that we naturally just do that.”

[00:11:16] And I just recently was talking with a client, and I was working with them on some coaching around creativity and innovation. They’re really looking at in the restaurant world there are some areas that are pretty hot and there’s a lot of that there.

[00:11:29] And so they were saying, “We really need to be innovative. We need to be thinking like this and that. We need to hire innovative people.” And I said to them, “So do you think all the people you have are not creative people?” We’re all born creative. We all colored. We all played. And then somewhere along the way we stopped doing that because the environment we were in didn’t allow it. We got made fun of. We got told our pictures weren’t pretty enough. We got told that only artsy people did that. And so we stopped doing it.

[00:11:54] And then we go to work, and we’re supposed to be creative but then the environment around us, is it conducive to that? And so I’ve been working with this client on how do they create an environment and a space and some structure that allows for people to be innovative, that allows for people to bring their best selves to work, and use their Strengths at work every day versus feeling like, “I can’t give the best of myself there. I’ve got to hold back a little bit because there’s some fear.”

[00:12:22] And so I think that those moments, whether they’re innovation moments, whether they’re service moments, whether they’re operational get-done-on-time moments, those moments happen, or don’t happen, because of the temperature of the room, and that comes from culture and leadership.

Lisa Cummings: [00:12:37] Yeah. And I love how you describe it because it’s a temperature in the room thing, and creating the environment, and we can use corporate culture, that’s a familiar term to people, employee engagement starts to get more buzzword-like and scare people off, and I love how you’ve made it really approachable.

[00:12:54] So let’s take this angle on that same topic. Let’s say you’re in a situation where somebody is listening to you, and they’re like, “I’m buying what this guy, Mike, is saying. I love this stuff. But I am working in a crappy culture and I’m not sure if I can influence it because it’s a longstanding crappy culture. But I work here and I’m going to make the best of it for my team.” So in that situation, what action would you recommend taking for that person who’s trying to get the momentum started?

Mike Ganino: [00:13:22] Sure. And that’s always tough because you come in and you say, “Ugh, I’m in a world that’s like this. And what can I do?” I mean, getting really deep, I go back to the work of Viktor Frankl, who was Jewish, and was in the Holocaust, and was in one of the concentration camps, and he was a psychologist by training.

[00:13:39] And so one of the things that he noticed was even in the darkest of places there is a space between stimulus and response. There is a space where we make a decision, and that ultimately – I don’t know if he said this or I’m adding it – but that ultimately is what makes us human. If something happens and we do have a choice to decide what to do, right? Like animals don’t do that so much. If I do something, my dogs respond to it. There’s stimulus and response and there’s not a lot of thought in between.

[00:14:02] But what was interesting that Viktor Frankl said was even in the darkest of humanity and the darkest of places, there were some people who chose to do bad things, and there some people who chose to do good things. And so that space between stimulus and response, we are in control of.

[00:14:23] So if there was someone who was working in a culture that was a little bit toxic or a little bit just not what they like, what I would say is, on their team, in their meetings, can they be intentional with their energy? “I’m having a meeting with my team today, so I can either have a meeting that looks like every other meeting this company has, which in this case is maybe draining everybody, it’s not getting people pumped up or excited,” or I can say, “You know what, this is my meeting, this is my team, and this is how we’re going to do it.” And I kick off the meeting with some energy, and I’m intentional with how I walk into the room and the way I start the conversation.

[00:14:59] And even if it’s a weekly meeting, and it’s like, “Hey, we’ve had this weekly meeting every week where we talk about the same things,” it’s coming in and say, “Hey, I’ve been looking forward to this because I know there’s a couple of really cool projects we’re working on and I can’t wait to see what the progress has been, so let’s get started.”

[00:15:13] And then at the end of the meeting, wrapping it up with a minute, one minute of appreciation, and say, “Hey, everybody, just really quick. Before we head out of the meeting, I’ve really been thinking a lot about gratefulness and appreciation, and we’re all doing such great stuff. Let’s take a minute here and just acknowledge anybody in the room, and even someone in the room, for something great that’s been going on.” That will change the temperature of the room so much.

[00:15:35] I think, as leaders, often – and as employees – when we think of the thermometer, which a thermometer’s job is to tell you if the room is cold or if it’s hot. A thermostat changes the temperature, and I think that’s what we have to aim to be in whatever role we have. There’s a way that we can show up, there’s a way that we could be intentional with our energy, and I think that even if you’re in a bigger culture you could still decide what the stuff around you is going to look like, how your team is going to operate. And that’s what I would do in that case.

Lisa Cummings: [00:16:04] That’s cool. And I love that you made is so approachable by talking about a typical meeting and then even at the end just adding the appreciation piece, because it’s something that’s so doable. Anybody who’s listening to this can take a meeting they’re leading, and say, “Hey, I want to take a minute to recognize,” and notice what’s working. And when you focus on what’s working, you’re going to get more of what’s working. People know what you want to see and you can continue to be the thermostat with it. So I appreciate it that you made it really practical.

[00:16:32] Going back to your Viktor Frankl, because that book was so good. If you are listening and you haven’t read it, it’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and I remember a part in there where he was talking about other people – he was obviously a prisoner – and other people maybe having more liberties than he did, not being imprisoned, but that he felt free to make those choices.

[00:16:55] And it’s the same thing, you can be a prisoner of your job and just resign to the fact that you’re in this culture and it’s just going to be a sucky workplace or you can take the freedoms that you have and be a part of creating a culture, be a part of creating those moments. So I love what you brought up with that book and the connections. I’ll put that in the notes in the post of this show so people can read that if they haven’t. It’s a really moving book, isn’t it?

Mike Ganino: [00:17:19] It is. And it’s great because it’s relatively small but it’s really, really impactful so it’s like you’ll get it and you’ll think, “Oh, read through this really quick,” but then every word you’re like, “Oh, my God, that’s a quote. Oh, my God, that’s a quote. Oh, my God, that’s a quote. There’s something to do with it.” And you know what’s interesting, I was thinking when you said this, is there’s an opportunity in there even if you work in a bigger culture, a bigger company to say, “What am I strong at? And can I be the person in my company who could be known as the person who gives great meetings?” Right?

Lisa Cummings: [00:17:46] Right.

Mike Ganino: [00:17: 47] And so that was something for me early on, when I realized that I was really strong. And I did this StrengthsFinder stuff once upon a time. It’s been a while, but I had really high levels of Winning Others Over, the Woo.

Lisa Cummings: [00:17:57] Yes.

Mike Ganino: [00:17:59] High levels of Activator.

Lisa Cummings: [00:18:01] Okay.

Mike Ganino: [00:18:02] So I realized early on…

Lisa Cummings: [00:18:04] You mean, since you’re a restaurant opener?

Mike Ganino: [00:18:06] Right. Right.

Lisa Cummings: [00:18:07] Get it started.

Mike Ganino: [00:18:08] Get it starting, get everyone engaged. And so I realized early on, “Wow, I could be good. I could be the best person at this thing.” And what was interesting was, over time, when other departments in the company were getting ready to give presentations, or share information, they would come to me, and it wasn’t my role as a trainer. My role wasn’t to help the finance department give a better presentation, but they slowly started to come to me because I was known as that person.

[00:18:33] And so, again, that person that’s in an organization that they say, “Ugh, everyone around me sucks.” I would say, one, change that story because that’s a limiting belief, and, two, be the person who’s known for whatever it is you’re strong at. Use your Strengths to become the person in your organization your other people seek out for advice on X, Y & Z, and it’s amazing how that starts to shift a culture.

Lisa Cummings: [00:18:57] Totally agree. And that ties back to your idea of being intentional about it. If you want to be intentional about your career and your personal brand, then think about your Strengths and how you want to be known in the world and what you want to show up for. And just like you mentioned, you weren’t out there soliciting, “Can I do your presentation for you?” But they start coming to you because you were living and stepping into your Strengths, and they saw it and then they start asking you.

[00:19:21] So it’s kind of like a virtuous circle you create for yourself when you step into it, people see it, they want more of that, instead of you just going along with how the role has always been defined in the past, and maybe that’s made up of 50% of things you don’t really like, and so many just resigned to the fact that that’s how it is, and they don’t try to shape the job to their Strengths.

Mike Ganino: [00:19:42] Well, it’s amazing when you start to say, “Hey, here’s what I’m strong at,” and you start to put that out there and you just start to do it, you don’t have to broadcast it to everyone, you just start doing it and living in that. Other people notice it, and it changes your entire career trajectory, right? Because it’s like, “Wow, that person is really great and that they’re known for that, and they’re always willing to give and help.” It changes how other people view you and could really, you know, you may find yourself doing a job you love some day, simply because you put that out there.

Lisa Cummings: [00:20:10] Oh, exactly. There are so many opportunities I bet that just have never come into fruition because people didn’t try, they didn’t put themselves out there in that way.

Mike Ganino: [00:20:19] Right. Right.

Lisa Cummings: [00:20:20] Oh, okay. Speaking of putting yourself out there, let’s finish this interview switching gears, let’s talk about improv for a second. We both adore the concept of Applied Improvisation. So can you share with people what it is, and then how that could serve the workplace?

Mike Ganino: [00:20:38] Yes, so Applied Improv is really taking the art of improv and applying it to life and work. And so if you don’t know what improv is, improv is an art form, right? And you may have seen Saturday Night Live, and you may have seen different shows like that. And it’s really about being on stage or being in a situation, not knowing the outcome, not having anything scripted, and then being so in the moment that you create something magical with whoever is with you.

[00:21:07] And so improv, to me, has taught me a lot about saying yes to opportunities, yes to things that come up and saying, “Okay, this is here. How can I use this versus pushing it away?” It’s the idea of yes, and, “How do I say yes to this, and make it better?” So if you’re out there and there is improv school near you, no matter what you do I recommend that you take a class because it just opens you up to how you show up and how you communicate, and it’s really brilliant work.

[00:21:34] But the art of Applied Improv is about, “How do you take those same lessons from improv, which are about creating a team present, or about being open and how you show up and how you contribute? How do you take all that in and apply it to work situations, to education situations?” And so I use improv a lot in my training.

[00:21:57] So when I work with clients, I recently did a workshop for a client who has several… they have about 10 locations and they wanted to do some interview work, like how their managers do interviewing.

Lisa Cummings: [00:22:07] Okay.

Mike Ganino: [00:22:08] And so a huge part of interviewing is that, yeah, you can have your script or the questions you’re going to ask the people when they come in, but what happens a lot and if somebody will say in interviewing, “Hey, tell me about a time when this happened to you.” And then the applicant answers, and there’s some juicy nuggets in there where it’s like, “Wait a second. What did you just say? Tell me more about that.”

[00:22:28] But because the person interviewing is so on their little script of questions they don’t dig deeper, they just ask the question that’s on their form and they move on. And yet the good stuff, the real stuff is in the, “Well, wait a second. Somebody did that and you decided to do that. Tell me more about how you decided that. That’s interesting. What was going on in your mind?”

[00:22:47] And so what I use improv for, how I use Applied Improv in my coaching and workshops and training with clients is to say, in an interviewing situation, when somebody says this, how can you be open to that, so that you can kind of explore it a little bit, so you can kind of take that journey? How do you look up from your scripted page, and just sit here with this other person and say, “Hey, I’m a person, you’re a person. Let’s have a conversation”? Obviously it’s a guided conversation because it’s an interview, “But let’s have a conversation. I want to get to know the way you think,” because that’s who is going to show up in your business. Not the person who answered the interview questions that they could’ve Googled and practiced.

Lisa Cummings: [00:23:27] Right. Practiced the top ten interview questions.

Mike Ganino: [00:23:30] Right. Right. And even now with Glassdoor you could see some of that actual questions for somebody’s bigger brands because people are putting them on there.

Lisa Cummings: [00:23:40] Yeah.

Mike Ganino: [00:23:41] And so by being able to say, “I understand directionally where I need the interview to go and what I need to find out, but I can just sit here across the table, human to human, and get to know how this person is going to show up, that’s powerful stuff. And so I use Applied Improv for that. I use Applied Improv for my workshops around feedback delivery and coaching. So when I’m teaching restaurant managers how to give feedback which is a huge issue in our businesses. People just ignore things or they give a look and they hope it makes sense to somebody.

Lisa Cummings: [00:24:13] Yeah, every business, “I hope they can read my mind. I wish they would just do their job well.”

Mike Ganino: [00:24:16] And it’s like, “How do you write that up?” “It’s like on Wednesday I gave Lisa a crooked eye, and she knew what I meant.” It’s like, “What is that?” But using Applied Improv you can actually say, “Hey, here’s how we’re going to have the conversation and when I present to you. Hey, here’s some things I like great about today. Here’s some things I like different next time.” The other person is given a chance to respond, and you have a moment to listen to that and then figure out what to do with it.

[00:24:42] Often what we do is we practice these little feedback situations where it’s like, “I’m going to say this, they’re going to say this. No matter what they say I’m going to respond this way.” But that’s not how life works, and that’s not what’s going to build your business and pull the Strengths out of everybody. And so Applied Improv is a great tool to help people get connected and really have those honest conversations that take their business forward.

Lisa Cummings: [00:25:03] I love how you tie it to Strengths too because in saying yes and in being fully present where you’re just listening to the interviewee’s answer, or just listening to the feedback, and then going from there you’re really seeing them, you’re really getting into the meat. And you gave such a practical way to take it too, because I could just take a little script from what you said, and say, “I’m going to listen really hard, and then I’m going to pick a good juicy nugget out of it, and say, ‘Tell me more about that.’” And it’s just the phrase “tell me more about” and that gets you into the next layer where you really see how they’re going to show up at work. It’s such a good tip you offered.

Mike Ganino: [00:25:42] You know what’s so funny, I think, for me, years of restaurant work where it’s all about, “Let’s come up with a recipe that we can use again and again that’s really simple to remember and we can trust it,” I just think of life that way. And so even when I think of coaching or feedback or interviewing, I always think, “Okay, what are the one, two, three steps? How can we make this simple and practical?” And I think it’s partially just because that’s how I need to receive it so I always think, “How can we just break this down into a simple little thing to understand?”

Lisa Cummings: [00:26:10] Well, I’m so glad that you give leaders recipes because I cannot cook anything to save my life. I get tips from my husband that I should remember I have to boil water to accomplish, you know, the X dish. So I really appreciate your recipes because they’re the only ones I’m going to be good at, these coaching recipes.

Mike Ganino: [00:26:29] I love it. I love it.

Lisa Cummings: [00:26:31] So I know the listeners are also going to want to get more of Mike, more of your recipes after this show. So where can they find more of your work and then where can they connect with you?

Mike Ganino: [00:26:41] Yes, so I’ve made it really, really easy. So I’m Mike Ganino everywhere. So on Twitter, on Instagram and all those things. To make it really, really simple, a bunch of my best tips on using improv in your business, on using improv for coaching and really getting clear about what your culture is, and people can find that – this is super simple – Mike.Tips. That’s all they have to do. Mike.Tips and that’s where all my tips are.

Lisa Cummings: [00:27:05] And you can even spell that. That’s just great.

Mike Ganino: [00:27:08] Super easy, yeah, Mike.Tips and you’ll get a bunch of cool stuff including the piece on how you can use some of the improv techniques to build your Strengths and start developing a great culture.

Lisa Cummings: [00:27:19] Thanks for making it easy, Mike. That is so great. Thanks. And thank you, everybody, for listening to Lead Through Strengths. Remember, using your Strengths makes you a stronger performer at work. If you’re always focused on fixing your weaknesses, and the weaknesses of your team members, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents, and share them with the world.

 

 

 

As an international speaker and facilitator, Lisa Cummings has delivered events to over 9,000 participants in 14 countries. You can see her featured in places like Harvard Business Publishing, Training Magazine, and Forbes. She’s the founder of a company called Lead Through Strengths. When she’s not out spotting strengths in people, you find her playing drums, rescuing dogs, or making things with a welder. Her Top 5 StrengthsFinder Talents are: Strategic | Maximizer | Positivity | Individualization | Woo.