OS 75: Amazing Workplace with Linda Ruhland
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, it’s Hugh Ballou. My guest today is a long-time friend and colleague, Linda Ruhland. Linda has a lot of superpowers. She’s got some unique gifts. Not alone from those gifts is her wonderful, pleasing personality and her wisdom for things that aren’t common in life. I have enjoyed working with Linda over the years and have enjoyed her insights into things that challenge other leaders. Linda, welcome to the podcast today.
Linda Ruhland: Thank you, Hugh. I am very honored to be here. It is a privilege to be among the people you have interviewed because I have been following your podcast for a while. There are some pretty impressive folks who have shared this stage.
My company, Spirit of Success, is something you are familiar with. We have worked together for a long time now.
Hugh: Yeah, yeah. I prefer not to do these dry introductions for people, so I’m going to let you go ahead with that track. Tell us about Spirit of Success, and tell us about Linda Ruhland and how you’ve developed this skill and got you to where you are now.
Linda: Okay. Spirit of Success was an inspiration a few years ago. Basically, we’re coming out of a tough economy back in 2010, and that continued. We slowly came out of what people are often now lovingly referring to as the new norm. From that, I wanted to see what could happen to really jumpstart us in terms of business and inspiration and, with all the change we have going on in society and in the workplace, what doesn’t change. From my point of view, the idea was that the spiritual drive, the commitment that we have, the energy we have within us, is the one unchanging factor. That is where the name came from.
Since that period of time, I and a group of colleagues, friends, and associates have put together ideas on a website or two, one of them being spiritofbusinesssuccess.com, where we discuss success stories, and solve or at least share ideas on solving problems of common issues with regards to business and workplace issues that advance business, based on where we go with those in the shoe tips.
Hugh: You have a new book out. I know something about this book.
Linda: You are in it.
Hugh: Yeah, I’m in it. What prompted you to want to put a book out? There are lots of books out. What’s the specific niche? What’s the title of the book? What’s it all about?
Linda: The title of the book is Amazing Workplace. And the workplace of course with business is where everything comes from. It’s where success is really evolving from. It’s no big secret. If you look at some of the Gallup findings, 70% of people are disengaged at work. You couple that with the fact that 51% of the people who are at work are looking for other jobs and contrast that with the fact that we are in a declining job market and new business start-ups are declining. We have horses going in the wrong direction.
Hugh: Wow. That’s not one problem; that’s a series of problems. Let me recap that. The Gallup poll, and they have been doing it for years, and they consistently come back to around 70% of the work force is disengaged or actively disengaged. They equate to the $500 billion in lost profits. You throw out another number. How many people are looking for another job?
Linda: 51% of everybody at work today right now is looking for a different job.
Hugh: Wow. And that’s primarily the business, the corporate sector, correct?
Linda: That’s business across. That’s another Gallup finding in the same report.
Hugh: Because the numbers are even higher in the nonprofit sector, but the business sector, that is pretty alarming. I don’t know if leaders really fully grasp the importance of that. We got this thing turned around, where we as leaders, CEOs, COOs, whatever, we think all those people depend on us. But really, we depend on them.
Hugh: We need to preserve our work force. You’re in business to help people solve problems, right?
Linda: Yes. I am in business to really create more of a positive- If it comes right down to it, I want to see people happy and healthy and really experiencing rewarding work lives because it relates to everything in life. We spend too much time at work not to be happy with it.
Hugh: Oh my word. A third of your life. Eight hours a day.
Hugh: Wow. So what is it that you have that helps people improve? What are they working on? What are they improving?
Linda: If we are talking about Amazing Workplace, which has been a focus right now with Spirit of Success, Amazing Workplace delves into what your colleague Dr. David Gruder had pointed out some of the less talked about nuances that really make a difference with workplace success. When you think about it, the things that happen at workplaces, the workplace is a canvas. That canvas is painted by what comes into the room, so the people, the mindsets, the attitudes that come into the room; the structure, the framework within which the business is created; the communication, so how is the focus, how is the rest of that business communicated; and then the ability, or lack thereof, of people to work together.
When I started interviewing friends, colleagues, professionals in this arena, I found there is so much that can be done, that should be done, to make a difference. In fact, you can just pick one that works for you. I interviewed 12 thought leaders or gurus on different subjects pertaining to work. As a result of those interviews, I divided the areas of concentration in the book into three separate sections or chapter leads. One section has to do with personal care and self-esteem. The second section has to do with culture and communication. The third has to do with collaboration and team-building. Within each of these is an overview of areas that you as a leader or as an individual, an employee can do. The employee, the person who comes to work, has so much more influence than I think any individual gives him/herself credit. That’s really what the first section of the book is all about.
We have Jean Bernet talking about nourishment. We deal with a lot of nutritional issues in this society. We talk about what are the right calorie amounts, avoiding that. But are we talking about nourishment? Her perspective is that the individual chemistry is a little bit different, and each of our bodies, if we start to learn to listen to them and pay attention to them, has a different set of chemistry that works in favor or against. The other thing that she mentions is that we are doing things to harm ourselves in the workplace. We are working so hard that we skip meals. We skip the opportunity to drink enough water. We are so focused on how we look that we forget about how we feel. That is the first avenue: What are you doing for your body? It doesn’t involve so much as complicated or physically athletic things, but just good self-care.
Another perspective that my friends have inspired my thinking about- Julie Hill, who used to work for Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda Institute, says that with all the supermodels she worked with over the years, she found one thing in common: They lacked personal self-esteem. They were always paranoid about how they looked and how they were received. She said it goes a long way to just have that feeling of accepting yourself. She goes into some details and examples about how that can work for you in the workforce.
You get to what our friend Jane Sanders talks about in regard to handing outs. Handing outs may be woo-woo, but when you consider the fact that a thumbprint or fingerprint contains a lot of data and information that is very commonly used to identify a person, now multiply that by all the fingers in the palm of the hand, and you realize there is a mapping system to the neural network of every individual’s brain. What she uses that information for is to ascertain, to tell people, what it is their strengths are, give them some positive feedback or affirmations of things they might know about themselves, or sever some details that may not have come to the forefront yet for them.
That is a very quick skimming of what the first section of this book is all about: self-care and self-esteem.
The next section is about communication and culture. My friend, are you there?
Hugh: I’m here. I’m just trying to tell people that we also record the podcast in video on YouTube. I put a cover of the book up for people to look at. It’s stunning. I don’t know what you call that image on the front, but it pulls you into the vortex there to get your interest. I’m really fascinated by how you have divided up the different sections in this book. Sorry to interrupt you. This is great. I want to give people a visual. You can find the video on the Hugh Ballou YouTube channel. Go ahead, Linda.
Linda: You bring up the cover. The cover is something that my designer and I worked on from the perspective of all the different things that go into making a workplace. We were looking for an image that represented that infusion or vortex where all these different ideas, colors, and personalities and factors combine into something that is utterly creative. As a result of those combinations, when you think about it, there is so much that can be changed or manipulated or made better. That is what we are looking for. That is what we are seeking in regard to Amazing Workplace.
We talk a little bit about the culture with regards to communication. There are so many entrepreneurs in particular who have a strong vision of where they want to be or where they want to go. Those who really laser focus on what they want to do, do it and have great success with it. But sometimes they miss their people in the process. They have to bring them with. That is what this section is all about. What are you communicating? How are you framing what you do as a company? This pertains to little companies and great big corporate entities. How do you frame what you do as an organization so as to empower the individuals to take part in that, to help that along? If they have to wing it, what are the chances of them getting it right? What are the chances of you organizing this into something that is really moving in a very specific direction? It’s not good.
Secondly, if you have those pieces in place, and somebody provides you with some contrast, we call it sometimes conflict resolution. Kit Welschland talks about the fact that you should look at it not necessarily as conflict confrontation, but an opportunity to create a new perspective, a new way, like the cover shows, to mix things up again and come up with different positive results.
Hugh: Give me the three sections again of the book. The first section is about…?
Linda: The first section is about self-care and confidence.
Hugh: The second one?
Linda: The second one is communication and culture. And the third section is team-building and collaboration.
Hugh: Now I know that you have formal education and extensive expertise and background in marketing.
Linda: I do.
Hugh: It would occur to me that there is some internal marketing that needs to happen from the visionary leader to market to the people so we really understand we don’t have a culture because people haven’t been tied into the vision. Marketing is acquainting people with the value that you have, letting them be aware of where you are going and the pieces that you offer. It just came to me in the middle of what you were saying. Reframing marketing internally. Am I off track yet, or is that part of your thing here?
Linda: Not at all. A couple of things on that topic. There is a section in the book by Ed Bogle about, as he puts it, writing for the brand. Getting people engaged in the idea with what this entity is and having some pride and ownership over it. Connected to that with what Spirit of Success is doing, we are making some observations here about what marketing looks like in our current scenario. We talked about the success platform. Success platforms, we are looking at the fact that marketing is no longer ready, aim, shoot. Target marketing and the scientific demographics and putting that value proposition out there is all well and good, but with the Internet having become the mainstay of people’s social communication and entertainment and everything else it seems, we have increased people’s decision-making capabilities exponentially. Those decisions are no longer just focused on the utility of an item or product; it’s more focused on how that makes them feel. The emotional value has gone way up in the scale of importance in terms of a decision. They want to know who you are, what you produce, why you produce it, why they should like you, and why they should buy from you; they want to feel connected to you. We just want to be connected.
This is so much again almost a copy of what is happening in the workplace. You are selling that whole system, that success platform within the organization to the people who work with you so they can communicate it and amplify it out to the public, to their friends and family and beyond. You as a company do the same thing. We are becoming more of the same really. That is what a business is after all. We call it all sorts of different things. It’s got that different kind of patience and movies and the news, but ultimately, business is and always has been an entity. It’s a brief reflection of our humanity.
Hugh: Ah, very well put. When we wrote this book, who were we writing it for?
Linda: We were writing it for mainly anybody who was in a leadership position to influence a team of people. That is where you came in, with regard to teamwork.
Hugh: You mentioned Ed Bogle. Ed is a master strategist and understands strategy. Ed and I work together in the integration of strategy and performance. People want to write a plan, and as Ed puts it, it becomes credenzaware until we make it come alive. There is an interaction there that must take place. Building the team around the strategic framework that Ed creates. You mentioned Dr. David Gruder. Both of them have been on my podcast. David and I are colleagues. I work with David as well on culture. We understand this.
I think you are bringing points up that most people I experience don’t recognize. They might give it some superficial thought here and there. They don’t bring it into, It’s real for me, and it’s really impacting my bottom line. As you know, this Orchestrating Success podcast, its subtitle is “Converting Passion to Profit.” Leadership as a pathway to profit. Profit may not be our main focus, but profit is our main product that we need to feed ourselves. We feed ourselves by helping people solve problems by bringing value to others. We really need to focus on how we are going to drive that value, and the reciprocal of that is bringing the value back to us, which is revenue that helps us create the lives that we want. Everybody in the system contributes to the system, whether it’s good or bad. You mentioned David Gruder. We deal with situations where there is conflict. What I have learned from him and from life and my studies of the work of Murray Bowen and Bowen leadership principles is that everybody in a culture contributes. If there is conflict, everybody contributes. If there is a wholesome culture, everybody contributes. Part of my journey is helping leaders reframe leadership because they have learned it wrong.
You have a goldmine of resources in this book and in programs that all of those authors offer, I’m sure. I know I have programs, and you probably have others. You not only have your programs, but you have the aggregate of all the value that all of your authors and all of the people you represent with Spirit of Success offer. What is your biggest challenge when you are talking to leaders in helping them be self-aware, helping them recognize there is something missing? What do you think is the biggest barrier for them understanding?
Linda: There is so much noise out there. As I mentioned earlier, as a lot of the authors, which is really an interesting phenomenon, because each of these authors has a different focus, there is definitely a correlation that happens as you read the book and see that it all strings together. The noise out there as far as what the solution is gets confusing. I believe particularly after composing this book, which I couldn’t have done without all the insights of all the authors, is that it really is unique the organization. Pick one. Pick the area of focus that you think could really make a difference for you, that you feel could make a difference for you, and then go there. Do that. Don’t worry about what everybody else is telling you to do. Don’t run after other people’s advice. You always miss because they don’t know you and your organization as well as you know your organization. But go out there, be selective, and you be the decision-maker as to where you are going to work. With all of these different things mixed into the pot that creates your workplace, there is a lot that can be done. If you try to take on too much, it is not going to do well for you.
Hugh: The book is sort of in my mind the tip of the iceberg. You have a lot of resources that are connected to the book, but the book is sort of your business card for each of us that are in there. It’s the tip of awareness. What do you hope people will gain by reading this book?
Linda: My hope is that people will wake up to all the opportunities that they have before them to make a difference. They feel and know that they have the power to do something. Like I mentioned earlier, you could be an individual on a team, or you could be leading the team. In either case, you have a great deal of influence over the success of what is happening for you. Furthermore, if you go back to those Gallup findings, realize that in looking elsewhere, if you spent a little bit of that time looking at yourself perhaps and realizing that there is something I can do here for myself now, that is empowering. A lot of people do realize there is so much they have available to them that they won’t need to feel overwhelmed. They will feel good in the organization they are already in and all of a sudden find themselves to be more highly valued. Sometimes that is hard to believe at first, but if you open your mind to the opportunity, you’d be surprised sometimes.
Hugh: That to me is the biggest barrier: an open mind. I do find that leaders that think they know it all are dangerous. They not only limit their own success, but they also limit the success of the organization. John Maxwell has in his 17 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership the law of the lid, which is your organization cannot develop any further than your own ability. My work as you know is around helping leaders develop the ability to lead the team. If you have a great time and can’t lead them, then they will get tired and leave, get frustrated and leave, turn against you and be angry.
Reading the book is a way to gain some self-awareness, would it not be?
Linda: Absolutely. Becoming aware of yourself and the details that happen, the wonderful things that can happen on your team if you pay attention.
Hugh: They can find the book on Amazon. Amazing Workplace. The subtitle is: Creating the Conditions that Inspire Success. I wanted to have you on this podcast because we resonate so much in the philosophies of how things work. You said there is a lot of noise out there, and there are a lot of quick-fix solutions. Do this and you will make money. It hadn’t really done anything to create sustainable revenue or create a sustainable enterprise or create more skill in the leader to create a sustainable team. We want to look for something now. I don’t have time to learn. Well, you ought to spend some time because you could do a major transformation of yourself and your organization if you plug into some of these themes.
I am fascinated with the nutrition piece because that is a hot button for me: to make sure I am doing my best. In order to do my best, I have to be on top of my game. If I eat crappy food, I am not on my game. I have eaten good food so long that when I have eaten a bad meal, my body tells me. No, no, Ballou, what are you doing to me?
Ed talks about strategy, and I talk about teamwork. It’s been such a long time that I forgot. You have been good at pre-doing the book way before launch and getting the content in. Mine is about creating the team. Is that what it was about?
Linda: Yours is about orchestrating the team. The whole section on teamwork is an interesting thing because a lot of it circles back. Within this section on teamwork, for example, Dan Nelson, who was a Heisman trophy nominee, he is now the athletic director at the University of California Irvine and was at Stanford for a number of years. He talks about three seminal concepts that the team section is all about. Be in good shape, steady, and learn.
Your section on teamwork has to do with being that leader, orchestrating that success, making sure that people are paying attention and listening to one another and are ready to act and respond in a very specific way.
Billy McLachlan brings in the fact that you have to be in tune first before you can listen to others. He brings another flavor to that if you will, but being in the set and listening to one another, or as you put it, being in the conductor seat and being sure that the people who are on your team are ready to perform. It is all fascinating combinations. Again, amazing correlation from different thought leaders from different perspectives.
Hugh: Very different areas. Billy and I are both musicians. He is a crazy dude, too. He is very gifted. He has a whole different schtick, but leadership shows up nevertheless in what we do. Music by the way is a right and left brain function. It is very structured, and we have to be creative in the structure.
What you are helping me realize is that creating the amazing workplace is understanding the elements of culture. How do we create the system that people can be creative in? A lot of leaders feel like if you create too much of a strategy and a system, then it stifles creativity. I say to them the antithesis of that is true. The system is a container for creativity. If you have this container, then you can put all the focus on your creativity. What Billy and I understand intuitively is you have this structure for music, which is very rigid and unforgiving, very mathematical and precise, then once you have that in place, you can make the magic happen and the creative part happen. I really admire the work of Ed Bogle, who has a chapter in here, and the gift of strategy. It’s really a gift if you have spent the time to clarify where you are going and how you are going to get there. My piece of putting the team together.
I was pleased when you asked me to do the book. I didn’t really get it, and you were very patient with me to help me to figure it out. You had it in your mind and got me on the path. I am grateful to be in the book. I am also grateful to be a collaborator with Spirit of Success. I have heard lots of nuggets in this podcast that have given me a reason to upgrade my thinking. My whole perspective on this podcast is yes, leadership is converting your passion to profit, leadership is that pathway to success. Profit has more meaning than money. Money is the commodity we must have when we are in business. We must have that quantifiable financial result.
You have given me some nuggets to think about. I really want to give you a final piece to give people a challenge, a tip, a closing thought as we close out this podcast. I’d like people to look at the book not only because I’m in there, but also because there are a lot of things I think are missing in the marketplace for leadership development. There are a lot of books on leadership out there, but there is not a book just like this one with the amount of resources.
Linda, as we end this podcast, you have given us some valuable nuggets today. What do you want to leave people with, as we are ending this podcast? What is your wish for people? What impression do you want to give people as you leave this?
Linda: You mentioned a couple times throughout our time here this morning that profit is an important thing, but these are important, too. I reflect back to some of the words that Ed had said in the strategic planning portion or human element of strategy portion of this book. That is: If you focus on these areas, if you get your people playing together correctly, if you have your vision in hand and people are writing for the brand, the profits will come. So we are not separate from profits. This is the foundation of surge in profits. It’s just another way of looking at it.
Hugh: Linda Ruhland, Spirit of Success. The book is Amazing Workplace: Creating the Conditions that Inspire Success. It’s on Amazon. You can pick up a paper version. What about Kindle?
Linda: Kindle is to come in the next week or so.
Hugh: By the time this podcast hits the street, it will be live. I love Kindle. Linda Ruhland, thank you for making time to share your wisdom with the world.
Linda: Thank you, Hugh.