Clinton Larson: Hello and welcome to EB & Flow. I'm your host Clinton Larson and today's topic is going to be all about leadership. And joining me to talk about that is Bethany Berkley, CEO and owner of Dale Carnegie, North Dakota and Minnesota. Welcome to the podcast, Bethany.
Bethany Berkeley: Thank you for having me, Clinton. It's great to be here.
Clinton Larson: We're glad to have you. And do you want to give a little quick introduction? So I guess I know a little bit more about you.
Bethany Berkeley: You bet. So I am. Let's see here. Not a native of the Midwest and actually from Texas originally and a long journey brought me to Fargo. That's a story for another day. And I was introduced to Dale Carnegie, a gosh. It was almost seven years ago when I was in the thirty five thirty five program through United Way. And I met our previous owners who Dale Carnegie to me and I'm having a coffee meeting. And before I knew it, I was saying yes to a job that I knew nothing about.
And I've taken a lot of time, obviously, to reflect on our journey. It's been pretty incredible that we are now here still thriving. Our team is growing. I bought the business in the fall in the midst of the pandemic after my previous partner was ready for a new adventure. Took the risk and I'm so happy that I did because we are needed now more than ever. People skills, human skills, all of the training we provide is incredibly relevant, especially today.
Clinton Larson: Yeah, which makes you a perfect guest for a guest for this topic that we're talking about today and because we wanted to bring you on because with this new year beginning and I feel like we're all sort of just kind of cautiously optimistic about 2022 right now. Yeah. And so if you're a business owner, obviously every year you're hoping for a good year, you're hoping to hit your goals and hit that stride.
But you know, in terms of like you just mentioned, the past couple of years of the pandemic and all the changes that have happened, you know, I think a lot of business owners are evaluating, OK, how much of this change is now actually just permanent, you know, you know, how much of my workplace is going to stay the same as it was two years ago? How much of it is just going to completely be revamped? So considering all of these workplace changes that we've been through, you know, remote work, video calls, hybrid workplaces now, I guess, you know, I just wanted to start off with just like, what does leadership look like in 2022?
Bethany Berkeley: Yeah, you are. You're just on point with everything that you mentioned. The landscape has, as we all know, shifted dramatically. And what I believe that means for leaders is we have to be more empathetic. We need to be more agile. Authentic and showcase empathy with everything that we do. So meeting people where they are because we were all forced to innovate very, very quickly and to restructure business and teams, it gives us an opportunity to really get a pulse on as leaders.
What is our culture looking like and feeling like? What can we do differently? How can we move forward and explain the why? Along the way, and really, at the end of the day, I believe it just means that we have to be open, aware of where everyone is out, because that psychological safety right the term that we keep hearing is incredibly prominent. Right now, we want our team members to be able to contribute to their value. We want to be able to innovate, which means we need to keep our workforce, keep them engaged and meet them where they are wherever they may want to work from.
Clinton Larson: Right, and you bring up an excellent point there about just, you know, how people are just feeling in general, you know, after these last couple of years and I feel like, you know, burnout is a common topic these days in terms of how employees are feeling. And it's not anything that necessarily their, you know, their employers are doing is just, you were just all tired, you know, from the last few years. So in terms of like addressing that burnout and addressing like what you've been talking about, you know, meeting employees where they are, you know, how can leaders what are some tips you'd have for leaders in order to help do that in a in a way that helps, you know, not just boost the company, but boost the employees as well?
Bethany Berkeley: Yes. So in a way that boosts the company and the employees, hopefully, you know, it should always go hand in hand. One thing is if our workforces are engaged, we're being mindful and aware of what their burnout looks like and what resilience means. One of the things that I talk about when I think of resilience and just how we can evolve as leaders and what recommendations we have as a business, we have to recognize what our own level of resilience is and that we all have different life experiences.
So what we think someone should be able to handle or we don't understand why they're stressed a is, of course, normal because they've had an entirely different life experience and have different expectations as a result. And we can't read each other's minds, but we can create an open environment to talk authentically about how we're feeling. And that's how we kick off all of our one on ones here. We do a I do a quick question every single week before we even talk about tasks with one, with our goals for the particular year, of how they want to feel, what characteristics our team wants to demonstrate.
One of our team members is fearless. The other one, calm. Someone else's is I'm worthy. We start there and I ask on a scale of one to 10 where you feel you are with really characterizing shifting how you show up every single day and what can I do to support you? So that's some of it is just as a leader being aware that we are truly all different and we're all people. We never know what's going on in people's lives. And we don't know unless we ask and we create an environment where people really feel like they are part of the change.
Part of the innovation can contribute freely and openly, and if we don't create that environment, we know it hurts us, right? Because people, they're not speaking up and demonstrating their talent that's on us as leaders to figure out why and what we can do to truly unleash everything they're capable of.
Clinton Larson: To your point about people, you know, we have to remember, we know we're all people, we're all sort of experiencing things and like, you know, my life experience might not be somebody else's life experience, and it just kind of recognizing that, you know, those differences, you know. It sounds also to like there's probably some fundamentals as a leader that didn't change because the pandemic, there's always some things that probably leaders have needed to do in order to to be effective leaders. So I'm curious, what are some of the fundamentals you would say haven't changed despite all of the stuff that we've been through the last few years?
Bethany Berkeley: That's an interesting question. I have to reflecting on my experiences over the last few years. Everything related to people has not changed the importance of leading, knowing how to lead, the difference between leading and managing and what we can do to bring out the best in other people. And we all benefit through that. That is not shifted. I believe that it's just been intensified the need for people to focus on people and developing their own human skills along with their team. It has not shifted.
There is so much that has, but I think that some of these areas that have maybe been neglected before are just coming to the surface, and they still remain vital for us as leaders and we lead from any position. I'll mention that when I say leader, I'm not specifically talking about people who have the title and authority. It is anybody in any organization is leading has the ability to influence culture and outcomes. So it's a very it's a holistic term for me.
Clinton Larson: That's great because I wanted to ask about what you said there about like there's a difference between leading and managing. Can you expound on that a little bit?
Bethany Berkeley: Absolutely. So I think of managing as we define it here, it's the tasks, right? It's the way that we need to manage a process. It's the things that we do when we're giving reviews. Where we're managing a team which that term alone, right? I don't love that term because who wants to be managed? You want to be led, you want to be inspired and motivated. And that's where the leadership component comes in is actually seeing people as people and not just doers. It's not just executing tasks, but seeing them. And what we can do to, truly, you know, win their hearts and minds, which is what influences.
And understand what we can do to even, you know, give them more and more opportunity, I'd say, you know, leading for me is also recognizing that I want to hire and be surrounded by people who are smarter and more talented than I am in every single way. And that is how we build our team here. I want a diverse group of people that feel respected. I want people to speak up and contribute their ideas, and being a leader means that we bring that out in people and we create that culture and environment and we don't need to. I make it this. Maybe just day to day tasks a lot of us just jump right into our one on ones and we start talking about progress and where we are with things and we get more negative feedback than positive and leadership requires that we do all of those things. But first, we just have to stop and see people and understand in what ways we can motivate them, right?
Clinton Larson: And you also mentioned, you know, that there's, you know, we're this pandemic has brought up a lot of topics that we really didn't talk about in the workplace before. And you're also just mentioned, you know, creating a culture that people feel like they know they want to belong. And so to me, that brings up, you know, a lot of the movement lately with, you know, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and how this is becoming much more commonplace and something you know we're talking about on a level that, you know, we've never talked about this kind of stuff in the workplace. So I guess I'm curious, how have you seen this movement for DEI? How have you seen this influence leaders in terms of, you know, practicing that authenticity that you brought up before?
Bethany Berkeley: Yeah, you know, it really has changed the game. You're right, it's brought to the surface so many topics that we would never bring up or think to, or maybe we would be scared to bring into the workplace. What I've seen with diversity, equity and inclusion, it's really allowed leaders to one, understand their own blind spots and some of the things that they've been based on life experience conditioned to believe, whether that's right or wrong, right? It's not that black and white, but it also allows leaders once they recognize those things to truly innovate. Because we can't innovate without a diverse, equitable workforce, we cannot move forward if we're not surrounding ourselves with people and embracing their differences because that's the world, right? And that's come to the surface. More and more people are showing up as themselves. More and more leaders are demonstrating more authenticity. And that's hard to do because our environment has not cultivated that in the past.
Clinton Larson: I totally agree. I think the DEI conversations are long overdue in the workplace, and it's a great opportunity, as you just said, for leaders to think about where are the blind spots, where the things they've they haven't thought about before. You know, they just, you know, have been conditioned to believe is true. And this also, I think, reflects on what kind of skill sets are going to be critical for leaders in the future. You know, we're going to just be always improving our technology. We're going to be always sort of evolving our systems. So when you look to the future, what kind of skill sets do you think leaders are going to need in order to stay successful as we continue to evolve in the business landscape?
Bethany Berkeley: You know, as we continue to evolve in the marketplace globally, the automation of technology, the automation of workflow process is definitely having an impact on what's the most relevant and important. And that blend of human skills and automation, all of the ways that businesses are being forced to innovate are incredibly important to understand because you can't have one without the other and no human being is replaceable. We can't recreate the human elements that are incredibly complex because of those different life experiences.
So we need that open minded approach and awareness of blind spots that can be limiting the opportunity for any business to really propel forward and disrupt the marketplace. Because that's what we're all having to do right now is if you're not, you're staying where you were will not survive as a business. Your people won't stay right. It's the time to unleash in the agile and to be disruptors. And that means we have to take care of people and to see that and understand that blend.
Clinton Larson: Disruption is something we've talked about a lot in the podcast actually with, you know, how things have changed, you know, not just with the pandemic, but as we just mentioned, technology just the need to always, constantly be innovating. And which brings up in terms of the people that we have in our organizations, change management and how we handle that. Can you give us some tips for how leaders should address change management and make sure that, you know, employees feel like their voices are heard and that when we do these sort of, you know, big changes, you know, whether it's a big digital overhaul or something like that you know, that everyone feels like they're on board and that the company is moving in the same direction?
Bethany Berkeley: Absolutely. Change management is a very prominent topic right now based on, you know, just our discussion today. We know that the marketplace is different and we do have to disrupt and we do have to make changes. The first thing that I will mention is there's a process. For change management, there are many different ways that people can go about implementing change. Sometimes these processes regret to include the people element and we need people to come with us right when we're creating these changes and to have buy-in.
And if we're employing people and we've hired them for their talent, they should have the opportunity to also say their thoughts right and provide input. And every company is different. That's not always feasible. It is overlooked. And it's especially the why. A lot of times people are hearing things from leadership or new initiatives, and it's being explained what they're going to do or what they need to do, but they don't understand the purpose. So explaining the why and really pausing and reflecting on as a leader before we communicate these changes are what we need.
Do we one, have any hesitations ourselves about that change. What can we do to have all of our answers, our answers prepared by asking them first and reflecting if we're feeling negative and we're not bought in, we certainly can't expect our teams to. And then to understand the why in the future and the big picture. Actually taking a step back to see how it fits so that that strategy can be explained along with the value of the people who are going to be part of the implementation and growth process moving forward. If the trust, credibility and respect with leadership is not there, change management is incredibly difficult.
If there's not loyalty, that's an incredibly expensive thing for organizations. Turnover costs associated with recruiting and training and lower productivity, lost expertise and all of that. We know that these things happen, but without trust, credibility, respect, relationships and loyalty, it's significantly expensive. Those costs go up over 20 percent when we have to replace someone. And oftentimes when we see people leave, it's because of change and the way that change is managed.
Clinton Larson: So obviously, you're talking to a lot of business leaders right now about how they're adapting to this business landscape we're in and all the change management we just discussed. So what are some of the things that they're talking about right now in 2022? What are what are the positives they're seeing? What are some of the concerns they have? What's the general feel that you get from the business leaders that you talk to?
Bethany Berkeley: So we have been working with a number of very large clients across industries throughout this entire process before the pandemic and throughout the pandemic. And now where we are right in the current status of the world. I, you know, the first concern that I hear all the time that we're all aware of is workforce being able to find the talent and the incredible competitive market that it is to do that. Beyond that, it's keeping people. Turnover is still extremely high because people believe they have options. The grass is always greener, right? But if anyone is even considering leaving, what I'm also hearing from leaders is they don't always know, right? They're often taken by surprise or they thought somebody would stay. We tend to make it about money. And when the conversation is about money, it's not about the money, right?
So that's something that I continue to talk about with leaders. Another thing is the stress that leaders are carrying right now. Whether you're an executive, a business owner or managing a team or a leader in any sense, you're working with people. The stress is intense that, you know, we're being forced to completely disrupt the way we're doing business restructuring business. To your point about change and what are the support mechanisms in place for those leaders within the organizations that are tasked with or given the opportunity to propel the business forward? How are we thinking about their current psychological states, their levels of stress? Are they taking care of themselves and not being burnt out because it can be lonely, right?
Leadership being lonely and lonely at the top. Sometimes it's hard to figure out how to talk to people about what we have on our minds, and we want to set a good example, at least for everybody else. So that's the other thing, right? I'm seeing a lot of very stressed leaders who are trying to balance so much more than they hunt you and think differently about the ways of communicating with people. I've seen businesses do some remarkable things related to retaining their employees and propelling positive change.
It's required that they're, you know, first looking at their own blind spots and their own hesitations about the way the world is moving and what they need to do to stay competitive in the marketplace. We spend a lot of time on building that self-awareness first, because it doesn't matter what stage we are in our career, how seasoned or inexperienced we are, we can all continue to develop and grow. I, you know, I'm seeing that leaders are not just restructuring business, but thinking about strategy more and changing.
You know, I had one client the other day just ripped off their strategic plan in front of me and said I got to start over. And I said we all do right to some extent. We all do. And whatever strategic plans have been in place prior to all of this happening are no longer relevant. There are things that are that can be elevated, expanded upon with the focus, then shifts. I'm seeing primarily it's what can people do to be more efficient, to enhance process, to not duplicate efforts to create unity among remote workers or dispersed locations.
The people have really upped not just salary and we're all paying a little bit more because of the current market, which just makes things harder for all of us as employers, because there's that competition. And then there's the what else can we do? And we usually think of the tangible stuff. But what I'm seeing in organizations that are having really positive momentum in change is the intangible things that they're taking on and prioritizing, like what can they do to truly appreciate their team and make that a part of their culture? What are they doing to show and demonstrate the values? And they're not just on the wall, they're bringing their teams into that.
And I'm not talking like, Yes, let's put in a ping pong table. It's really about creating psychological safety and an opportunity for everyone to thrive. And that means that we have to recognize that we are different and that's a good thing. And then actually asking questions, bringing more people into the mix, investing in people because everything that we do as businesses is not going to happen without people. And there seems to be a disconnect sometimes around that. I've seen some companies move towards completely eliminating PTO and just demonstrating that they trust their teams to take time off when they need to and they want to. And providing that flexibility because, you know, we have PTO.
And then if someone's feeling really burnt out, maybe they're out of PTO or whatever the case may be, but they need to have the time to breathe and rest. So demonstrating trust for things like that. There's so many other ways that we can really make people feel appreciated, and it doesn't again always have to be about salary. There is an immense amount to be said about giving as an organization matching donations. I've seen a lot of companies start to do that more and more because people love to give and giving makes us feel positive.
And I've seen more and more businesses create committees around increasing engagement and a healthier, stronger culture, really making sure that those little things that are easy to miss are recognized as being things like celebrating the wins as a business. Does the organization know about these successes and challenges? And can we create a dialog in an environment where we pause and actually recognize that even what we may consider a failure isn't because we're learning.
I was just doing a training, was it last week, and it was with a customer service team and we talked about how, you know, any time someone I, you know, gets upset or a customer makes a complaint or they get a bad review, we take that so personally and so negatively. And yet it's an opportunity. A customer's complaint is that one of our greatest gifts. So just re focusing on people in general because we know that not just our employees, but the marketplace, the people that are doing business with us consumers are, you know, 70 percent are making decisions based on how they purchase, how much they purchase and who they work with based on who they trust and respect. The same goes for people that are working for organizations. They want to be trusted.
Clinton Larson: You mentioned earlier in your intro that you became the sole owner of the Dale Carnegie practice for North Dakota and Minnesota, you know, and you obviously did it right in the middle of all these things we've been talking about all these, all these decisions and all these changes that have been coming down the pike for business leaders. So what's your journey been like? How have you been navigating this, this new business landscape that we're in?
Bethany Berkeley: Yes. You know, I started with honestly completely restructuring the business to be prepared for an economic crisis at any time. I started with asking myself the question what can I do to ensure that this business is positioned for sale at any time, meaning it is healthy? I'm not trying to sell it right now. I'm saying I want it to be in a healthy space so that it's always ready to take on whatever may occur.
We can't always guarantee that our teams are going to stay or that we ourselves are going to be. Anything can happen in life, right? And so that was the first step I took is really looking at the structure and processes that were in place. The vendors we're working with, the relationships we have. And what can we do to be the most effective and efficient and move towards partnerships that have shared values and just supporting community doing business with people who do business with us because they believe in people and we believe in people.
So that's something that I did. There were a lot of vendors that were changed and that takes time. It's a process sometimes very annoying but worthwhile. I had to take a really hard look at all of that, and the next thing I did is made a decision to not create a predetermined job descriptions, but to really broaden the scope and have people on our team that can help create that with me. And if we find the right fit from a culture perspective and values perspective, I make an offer.
And when we figure out that their talents can meet the business needs or gaps, we create that position together. A good example of that would be one of our team members, Erica Johnsrud, who is the first person to join us full time on this journey. Her whole role is based on what she's great at and loves to do, what makes her happy, and that's client experience and brand.
What can we do to make people feel incredibly special and the most important person in the world when they're working with us. And that's our entire function, right. And that's what she's figured out and loves. So that position and even titles are crafted together. I believe that job descriptions are trying to put people in a box when we put them out there, right? And we're trying to hire. There's so much that we're missing because we're focused primarily on the tasks that we need executing rather than finding the right people to propel us forward. And they're not always the people that we think or expect. I would be the best fit, and that's because we have to change the conversation.
So I shifted the way that we're hiring. We had a quickly growing team of people that have all been collaborators in this process. I was just having a conversation last night with someone, and I basically just said on the spot, I would love to work with you. What would your dream position look like within Dale Carnegie? Where do you feel that you can leverage the talents that you have? Because I can think of many. And then we come back and we continue to talk about it. The other I shifted the way that we are even working with our clients and knowing that they need our support.
We need to walk the walk even more. We are a people business. We train and develop people, workforces, entire workforces. In some cases, in very large companies, in some cases very small ESOP. But publicly traded doesn't matter. We see everything and we needed to evolve and shift the way that we're communicating, knowing that research shows right. If people like trust and respect you, they're going to want to work with you. And it's not even really about price more. You just like with employees, you're talking about raising salaries and you're feeling strong armed to continue to give someone a raise. It's not about the money, right? That person wants to feel valued. They're not feeling valued. And the same goes for our clients. Whatever we're doing internally as a culture should showcase and be demonstrated externally. And the other way around.
So that's something that we take very seriously here, and I change the way that we do on just one on ones check ins and measure performance because a lot of that performance is related to how people are feeling. And we create goals around how people want to feel, and each person has a different explanation for that. I talked about how people want to show up earlier and knowing what those characteristics are as a leader. That's how we start our meetings, and I want to measure performance in part by their contribution to positive culture. So that's something that we do as well.
We've really had to disrupt the way that we are again, hiring and retaining people and me asking what's most important for people when you look at their life because we can create job offers and they're very transactional, but no one wants to feel like they're a transaction, our customers or our people. I'm just remembering that that it's not all transaction and really beyond all of those things, I can't create necessarily a five year strategic plan. What I can do is create different plans based on different scenarios and be prepared to the best of my ability and always be willing to listen to other people's ideas. So my ideas are not always the best ones, and having a new team that I fully trust, I want them to be part of this process.
Explain the why, and I've really taken the time to do that in the past. We get stuck in the day to day, and as everything is happening around us, it can be so easy to just feel like we need to control the momentum with the business from a profitability perspective. And sometimes that means we don't see the people right in front of us, right? So that's another piece of it.
So we change the way that we are delivering programs. We've been forced as a company a training company, especially to evolve as well new leveraging different formats for training blended options only online, interactive, online or in-person. We've had to get creative about the way we facilitate to create psychologically safe environments for people. Some people still want to wear masks, some people don't, vaccinated or not.
It's a complex world, and so we've had to grow as facilitators and as trainers to meet companies and people where they are. And sometimes that means that we are delivering a program. I'm about to start a program where there's going to be half of the cohort that's remote around the country. It's going to be, you know, they're all going to have their own tablets and a face on the tablet like they're there and the other half of the cohort are in person. And that's new. But it requires that we're ready to level up and get the skills that we need to continue to deliver phenomenal solutions.
Clinton Larson: It sounds like you guys have really had you guys have really embraced the nimbleness and innovation that has just marked the last couple of years and what other businesses have had to go through.
Bethany Berkeley: We are certainly trying. We've had no choice but to embrace it. If we don't innovate or embrace it, we're no longer relevant.
Clinton Larson: So much to think about Bethany. If you're a business owner right now and so much that you can use to learn and catapult your business right now, I feel like it's just, as you said, it's a complex and strange and wonderful time to be a business owner. So I really appreciate the insights that you've given us today. And I thank you so much for being on the podcast.
Bethany Berkeley: Thank you so much for having me for all you do. We love working with Eide Bailly. It's been a phenomenal and agile partner with us throughout this journey, so thank you for sharing more insight and wisdom as you continue your podcast.