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Gail Reichert - leadership and people development consultant | S1E5

October 16, 2021

Gail Reichert - leadership and people development consultant | S1E5
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In this episode: Creating a safe and engaging learning space to participate freely, especially when some people may start out thinking ‘well this is going to be bullshit’. Examining the rules we carry around inside our heads, the importance of unlearning and what it means to have an ‘undeniable experience’. Why Gail gave the two-finger salute to professional teaching. A life journey that connects teaching to accounting, heavy industry and improv comedy. What it’s like to live without impostor syndrome. The difference between working with children and adults, the most satisfying lightbulb moments Gail has witnessed in her clients, what new leaders struggle with most, and what it means to be programmed with possibility.

About the Guest: Gail Reichert is Principal Consultant at Leader's Edge, a leadership and organisational development practice, based in Auckland, New Zealand. Leader's Edge specialises in designing and facilitating simply effective personal and organisational leadership development that raises the consciousness and develops emotional intelligence. [Leader's Edge website: https://leadersedge.co.nz/]

[Gail's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gailreichert/  Email: leader@leadersedge.co.nz]

Recorded 1 October 2021

Links:

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About the Host: Danu has been thinking hard about education, technology and society for 30 years. His ambition is to start a company that offers holistic learner-first experiences that set the soul on fire. He is based in Auckland, NZ and is currently working as a consultant on research information systems, academic performance and games for education. [Danu's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danupoyner/]

Music: Kleptotonic Swing by Tri-Tachyon

Transcript
Danu Poyner:

You're listening to the Still Curious podcast with me Danu Poyner. My guest today is Gail Reichert who has a consultancy practice called Leader's Edge, which specializes in designing and facilitating effective personal and organizational leadership development that raises consciousness and develops emotional intelligence. Gail is based in Auckland, New Zealand. I first met Gail when I went through one of her leadership development programs A few years ago, and found it to be one of the most personally rewarding experiences I've had in a structured learning environment. In this episode, we discuss what made that experience effective, and how to create a safe and engaging space to participate, especially when some people may start out thinking, well, this is going to be bullshit. We discuss how Gail gets us to examine the rules we carry around inside our heads, the importance of unlearning, and what it means to have an undeniable experience. We find out why Gail gave the two finger salute to professional teaching, discuss a life journey that connects teaching to accounting, heavy industry and improv comedy and what it's like to live without imposter syndrome. Gail also talks about the difference between working with children and adults, the most satisfying lightbulb moments she's witnessed in her clients, what new leaders struggle with most and what it means to be programmed with possibility. There's also a moment where I get 30 seconds of free therapy. It's another surprising conversation full of the usual endless tangents and memorable insights. I enjoyed reconnecting with Gail and I hope you enjoy the interaction to it scale rocket coming up right after the music break on today's episode of The still curious podcast. So hi, Gail, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. How are you?

Unknown:

I'm good. Thanks, Danu. Yeah, really good.

Danu Poyner:

That's That's good to hear. I guess you've you've had a rich history of partnering with people in organizations to evolve emotional intelligence and consciousness in leaders and aspiring leaders and team members. What does that involve?

Gail Reichert:

It's a big question. So at the moment, what I do is I design, develop and run leadership programs in organizations that help people increase their self insure insight and become better leaders. alongside of that, I sometimes get asked to take coaching assignments with individuals. In addition to that, but at the moment, I also help some colleagues with some stuff that I can do from my home office, which is some thinking and writing work

Danu Poyner:

are lovely. Yeah, that sounds like an interesting mix of things. Can I ask you a little bit about this idea of of people development? One thing I like to do is to ask people how they would explain these kinds of concepts to a 10 year old version of themselves. What what's How would you explain people development,

Gail Reichert:

people development, let's put a ring around that and say, people development and organizations, because I think you know, that's where that's where my life has been spent. That's been working with business organization, people in organizations. So what does that mean? It means helping them become aware of how they're thinking of how they're relating to themselves, how they're relating to others, how they get tasks done in an organization, but most of it is, I think most of the work that I do is centered around getting to know yourself understanding and being aware that you are the thinker of your thoughts, you're not your thoughts. No One No One Else gives gives them to you. You create your own thoughts and if you create your own thoughts, you can change them and a lot of you know what, what the role of a leader as being conscious of what they thinking and helping other people to I guess become more conscious of what they're thinking and the for what they're doing.

Danu Poyner:

That's a very powerful idea. I think the the idea of being able to take that awareness and then change the way that you're thinking your thoughts that's it can sometimes be a surprising idea. You know, part of the way you frame your approach, I understand is that no amount of intellect or courage or knowledge or even motivation, can Make Up For a lack of emotional intelligence. Why do you say that? And how did you arrive at that understanding?

Gail Reichert:

Well, I think that there's someone probably someone else wiser than me that said at first, but because I'm a voracious reader of other people's material and thinking, why, why do I say that as that emotions drive behavior, I mean, that's that that's the essence of it. And people can be, you know, as intellectually smart is, you know, is they can be really, really intellectually smart. But if they're not aware of the the emotional impact they're having on others, then they're, they won't be very effective as a leader, they won't be very effective. Even as a team member, as an individual contributor in the workplace, they're not aware of the of the impact that they are having on the emotions of other people. So emotions had such a huge impact on how our physiology operates. If you think about stress, you know, stress is just emotion on overload. It's, it's, it's nothing other than euro transmitters racing, read your body, that that are created from the emotions that you that you're creating in your body and your response to the environment.

Danu Poyner:

There's certainly a lot of emotional overload going on just at present. I think, I mean, this, this idea of, of having an awareness of how you're impacting others, emotionally is got to be really important for leadership, and particularly people who are new to leadership, one of the groups that you're working with, and I think one of the things you work on is helping new leaders learn about what leadership is. And, and often, I think these are people who've been promoted to leadership, because they were good at doing something, but now they have to shift shift to a mindset of getting things done. So that's a process through people. Exactly. And so that's a process you've seen many times ISIS, I assume? What can you share about that process? And what you notice about people going through that learning,

Gail Reichert:

the process of shifting from being an expert and to being a team leader?

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, that's, that's right. Yeah, yeah.

Gail Reichert:

Quite often, it's a bit of a it's an eye opener, when people come from that position of expertise. And they realize that they've got to stop getting their sense of self from these, the what they personally achieve, they've got to put the ego aside and develop a whole new skill set, which is about helping other people do the best that they can. And, you know, if I think if I think back to the way we you know, for instance, the leadership program running at the moment that that concept comes up, before they've even come into the room, it's pre work, you know, understanding that you've got to, you've got to stop that. Now, you don't have to stop the drive for achievement, but you've got to redirect the drive for achievement from self to helping others achieve. And then that quite often involves letting go of some ego stuff, you know, being the exclude. So, which is something that needs to be unlearned. And I suspect, you learn as much as Andrew and when you become a loop, become a leader. Yeah.

Danu Poyner:

That's a very interesting idea, that idea of unlearning. I'll come back to that I've got I've got a few things to ask you about your practice, actually, but, but let me zoom out for a bit and just ask you how you came to be interested in this line of work and how you became curious about that.

Gail Reichert:

About leader development?

Danu Poyner:

Mm hmm.

Gail Reichert:

I don't think it was a conscious effort. How did I actually get into it? Well, I wasn't you know, the first half of my working life was spent as a as an accountant and eventually a chartered accountant and which kind of seems a bit of an oxymoron with what I do at the moment.

Danu Poyner:

isn't going to say that but it's,

Gail Reichert:

it's fine. I was a good accountant and I and I liked it. I enjoyed it, but it didn't like my fire. But even if I backtrack, even before that, before I started studying accounting, I actually trained as a secondary school teacher. And as a result of that, when I was in the accounting profession, I got involved and doing staff training. I think that was where that sort of picked up my love of teaching and training and helping people develop. And so that that's where I first became exposed to the concept of leader development was when I was working with Ernst and Young, many years ago.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, very interesting. So I didn't know that there's lots of things I don't know, was, was being a secondary school teacher sort of plan A was was there, was there a plan A?

Gail Reichert:

No, there was just a random set of decisions that got made through my life, really, how I came to go to training college was that I came through commercial course at secondary school. And so I didn't have the academic background to go to university, but I did have the background to go to Teachers Training College, and I had two teachers husband, a wife, who kind of mentored me, they were commercial teachers. And they suggested that I might like to try teaching. So I applied and ridiculously I got on because I'd only just turned 16 years old. And so I did my two years at Teachers Training College. And at the end of that, I'd discovered how independently I thought, and I had come up against the, let's just call it the 1950s mindset of people at Training College in those in those years. And so we reached an amicable decision that I would not continue with teaching, even though I was, you know, I loved it, and I was really good at it. But I just couldn't stand to work in that system that was so constrained. And so so I left there, and at the same time, I'd started studying accounting, so I just carried on doing it. So that was kind of like, accidental, although it was a you know, it was a, it was a seminal moment in my mind. And my life, I guess, when I stood up against the system, and seeing, you know, two finger salute ain't going to work with the sort of stuff. Yeah. Yeah, because I could, I could see that the, the patronizing nature of education back in those days, which was teacher knows best. And, and, you know, the students weren't related to as human beings, they were related to kind of his units, and it was just such an antithesis to my value system that, yeah, we can't do this.

Danu Poyner:

That's a big moment. Do you? Do you remember when you made that decision, or had that realization that you are going to give the two fingered salute

Gail Reichert:

or? Yeah, was actually at the end of sort of a meeting, I'd been off on teaching section and there'd been something really weird happened in terms of when I was giving my critically some bit that pointed to a collusion between the teacher at the school and the, the observer from Training College, which set me up to fail. And when we debriefed on that, and I was told then, that they didn't see that they could award me my diploma, to graduate from Training College. That I thought, well, if I'm not going to get, I'm not going to get my diploma, what's the use of carrying on because I'm not, I'm not going to go back because I'm good enough as I am. And actually, that the moment that happened, and the classroom was one where I'd been given a topic to teach, when I introduced it to the classroom, the students in the classroom so you don't miss we've already done that about two months ago. And so it was impossible for me to follow my critically some my lesson plan. So I did what any good teacher would do, which was said, Okay, well, let's revise and see where you're at and get you on doing the activity. And then I, you know, I was marked down for that. So it was just, you know, it was just asinine, really. And I thought, it's like, never argue with a fool because people might not know the difference. So I just kind of wait I'll get out of this foolish place. Get under some way where I can, you know, be human. So accountancy Yeah, well, yeah, actually. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I enjoyed it. It was good. And I started working. And heavy industry was my first job at New Zealand glass manufacturers. So yeah, so it was it was it was really interesting. I found that interesting, because, you know, I was working with all sorts of professional and trades people and that environment and it was great. I loved it.

Danu Poyner:

Fantastic. This idea of finding things interesting is really I guess what curiosity is. And it's an interesting trait to have to be able to find things interesting Do you do what role do you think curiosity plays in your life? Do you do you think about is it an intentional thing? Or is it more of a an unconscious

Gail Reichert:

thing? I think it's I think, for me, it's an eight. I think, as a as a, as a family, myself and my brother were both raised in an environment where knowledge was valued. and encouraged and curiosity was encouraged. And you know that, I think it's just I'm just insanely curious about everything, and insanely optimistic about everything. Yeah, it's unconscious, more than anything.

Danu Poyner:

That's really interesting. Has that following that curiosity ever lead you to? Something really surprising? Or, or got you into trouble?

Gail Reichert:

Yes.

Danu Poyner:

Maybe you don't have to share?

Gail Reichert:

Yeah, it's just like, Yeah, because I, where my thoughts, thoughts are going is that, you know, there's a lot of conversation now about imposter syndrome. And I've never, ever been struck by imposter syndrome. I've only ever gone. I don't know if I can do it, let's say yes. And find out where it stops. And I found myself in life sort of tuning round and going, gosh, looking, you know, looking into the past and saying, I didn't know I could do that. And so I don't know where that came from. I don't know whether that's a night, I have an idea that from memories from, you know, like being a little child that I've been put on the suit, that is someone who has a really strong sense of self. And I could be barraged by people calling me names as a little kid, and I still just sort of look at them and go, well, you're stupid, you know, and I wouldn't, it would be like water off a duck's back. When Yeah, one of my earliest memories of being teased by kids, this is when I'm, you know, probably three or four, being teased by neighborhood kids and just thinking, well, this is stupid, and letting it roll off of me. So

Danu Poyner:

Wow, I guess a lot of people would give a lot to have that kind of confidence Do you mentioned being an independent thinker is is a term used before? Do you do remember the first time you kind of realized that and had that way of understanding yourself?

Gail Reichert:

I think it was, I think, probably that instance, I'm talking about if I reflect back over my life, as you know, that was me independently, thinking that I don't care what you say, you know, you can do whatever you want. But also, I think I just give sort of praise to my parents and the way we were brought up. My mother, particularly, please, Sue, she's still alive at 96. She just, you know, her role was to raise independent people who were capable of making their own decisions, and we were even, you know, even from the time, I think the first time I realized that I was going to have to make choices for myself in life was when I moved from primary school to secondary school. And I had to, you know, make the choice of what course I was going to do. And that was left that was left over to me, you know, it's like, my parents kind of went well, you know, more than we do. We don't know if that's, you know, we're not University educated. Both of them finish school around, you know, 14 or 15, something like that. So, you know, they kind of went, we don't know what, we don't know what you should do, you should do what you want to do. And so, yeah, so I yeah, and I didn't really have any problem with that. I think probably because of the way I'd been raised up until then. You know, making decisions for myself was good.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, I must say I've had a similar kind of experience. myself, my my parents always about letting me make my own decisions, which is mostly great. I've loved that sometimes gets into into trouble and means I take things slightly longer way than I need to possibly. But

Gail Reichert:

life, isn't it? Yeah, that's that's the rich variety of life. That's how you get the all the ins and outs of it. So,

Danu Poyner:

absolutely. So coming back to emotional intelligence, then which I placed at the center of a lot of things, do you see there's a connection between emotional intelligence and curiosity and learning?

Gail Reichert:

Well, well developed emotional intelligence, you know, someone, because of we just kind of placing emotional intelligence is a big blob in the middle, it's like, well, you know, you're talking about low or high emotional intelligence, I'd go, you know, the presence of reasonably well developed emotional intelligence makes, taking on new concepts and learning new things easier, I think. Because of, particularly in the US, I think, in the leader development area, because it's not it's, it's not not, it's what I want to say, it's not knowledge. Because anyone can read a book. And, you know, find the frameworks that I use, and, you know, and understand all of the theories behind it, and read the research behind it. But it's the experience of, of having to integrate that into your life. That creates good solid learning for a leader. It's the conversations they have in the room, it's the activities that we put them through that, you know, and learning what I call an undeniable experience, so you have an experience, and then we do a debrief and goes so you know, so what happened there? And what did you learn? And what would you do differently? So, the curiosity, yeah, if someone's not curious, the likelihood of them having a love of learning is pretty low, I guess. And maybe, you know, love of learning is curiosity.

Danu Poyner:

Yes, that's an interesting idea. I hadn't thought about them being in essence, the same thing, same

Gail Reichert:

thing. They are because, you know, a lifelong learner as a lifelong curious person, person who wants to know, how does that work? And you know, how is that person thinking? Why is that happening? You know, even just looking out the window and going, you know, why is it history gray when it rains? And getting curious about you know, how come society is leading that happen? You know, what are the what are the, whereas other people can just look at that and go oh, that's terrible. Huh? End of story.

Danu Poyner:

Is everyone curious? What naturally is curiosity? Something we have to know to a greater or lesser degree? How do you Is it something you can learn? If someone's not curious? Can Can they become curious through good facilitation?

Gail Reichert:

Yeah, and my thoughts are going to one of you if you think of little children, they are just, you know, little bundles of curiosity from the time we're become you know, I open little children we were curious about how does it work and you know, when kids get to two and they go why why why why why and they drive the appearance. I mean, it's so so where does that curiosity go would be one of the conversations I'd like to explore you know, people who who don't don't retain that sense of curiosity as they get older. What is it that is what is that is cooled or diminish that curiosity of childhood? I don't know. I don't know because I've only ever been curious you know, a seeker of a seeker of experiences and a seeker of knowledge and wisdom and you know, how could things be

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, I don't know the answer to this either. But this is partly why I'm I'm doing this podcast is to have lots of conversations and see what I can find out my working theory is that we all start curious and then experiences we have tend to beat it out of us in various ways. But I'd like to think that it can be reignited and that those who still have it needs to be treasured and and learned from but that's, that's my, my working idea. Would you like to share any examples of what you do in the room in those kinds of facilitated sessions ago?

Gail Reichert:

Well, that's interesting, because one of the questions you sent through to me and that I don't actually have right in front of me, but it was like You were talking about because you've been through a program that I've run and you were talking about how quickly you hopped on board. In terms of going, I think this is going to be okay as a learning experience. And you wonder how I did that?

Danu Poyner:

Or Yeah. Oh, maybe I can I can put some context around that then. So, yes, I have been through one of your leadership programs, and I guess, I'm someone who probably has some natural aptitude, I guess, for relating to other people and synthesizing things, which means that I gravitate naturally towards leadership type situations in the past without being a formal leader, that is, your workshops, really gave me an opportunity to bring a lot of that into a conscious level, like you were saying before, and you've given me concepts and vocabulary to think with. And that's really helped me to be more intentional in the way that I that I interact with other people. But to zoom out and go back, that's not what I would have expected to have. From a program like that, I've found that there's a lot of defensiveness and cynicism that people often bring to group work. Exercise is something certainly I do. And I know personally, when the when the butchers paper comes out in, in workshops, it's usually time to run for the hills. And I think that, you know, many people suspect that group workshops are going to be, you know, some invest some kind of well intentioned, bullshit. And certainly, when I facilitate workshops, I find that that's quite a palpable energy that that's coming off people that they're, they're defensive when they start. So I think it probably took about only 15 minutes in your workshop for me to drop that defensiveness and I actually can't remember why that was. But I guess I just wanted to ask you about that defensiveness and how you how people come to the space and just what your thoughts are about that.

Gail Reichert:

I think that's interesting because I, I like I wouldn't label defensiveness is something that I anticipate from people like I know, like my intention is to build trust and rapport, not just between me and participants, but between participants and the rooms so that because the learning doesn't just happen from me, it happens from the interactions and the conversations that people have with each other. And the Explorations they do especially in an adult learning situation. So my focus at the start of a session actually starts way before then so when I walk into the room I was thinking back, you know, I can I say I always do this, I almost always have a pretty good idea on who the people are in the room, what their backgrounds are. And you know, what they might be there for how, you know, how well prepared are they and if possible, there's been some connection with me before they, they actually walk in the room. So they're not walking into the room, meeting someone that they don't know, you know, they kind of feel like they know me so that they've had, they might have had some sort of email conversation or they've hid something from me so that they, you know, because there's a human to human connection there. And then my preparation starts before I get in the room that day and I actually call them the energy of everyone who's there and you know, kind of metaphysical sense and just try and connect with everyone so that in the in the wider field, I've actually got the group together before they walk in and then as they walk in the room especially pre COVID it was always eye contact say hello shake hands. And you know, have a big smile and genuinely be pleased to see people there because I wouldn't have a job if people didn't walk in the room. You know, so it is and I'm and I never know what is going to you know, never never know what magic they're going to bring in the room. But There always be something that you know, something special about every, every person that comes in there. So, and there's a lot of things that I do, you know, right at the start of the session that is about making sure everyone is connected with everyone else. Just skills of, you know, skills of my craft the facilitation. That's, that's what it's about. And I, you know, I mean I, I, I'm pretty fearless when it comes to being at the front of the room. And one of one of the trainings I've done that has allowed me to be as fearless as I can be his improv comedy. When I, when I studied with Wade Jackson, and his crew, improv comedy, which is about you know, being in the moment, and you just accept everything that comes your way, and you do something with it. And you move the story on. And so my experience of being in comedy faced with a whole group of people, young people that I didn't know, this is, when I was sort of like 20 or 30 years older than them being handed the storyline of a fairy tale and having no idea what the story of the of the fairy tale was about, but having to be a bit player in it and going, I'm not going to die. Just get on and do something. And so that's what I think enables me to be relatively unarmored at the front of the room. Like when I'm there, I'm just the end. There's no pretense I don't defend. If I mock up. You know, I go, sorry. I, you know, I did that bed. I don't pretend that I've got all the answers. Because I don't have a lot of questions, but I don't have all the answers.

Danu Poyner:

That's so interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Not having all the answers. So improv comedy, then yes. I'm now remembering some of the some of the things from the room. And yeah, people bring really surprising interpretations of what you've heard 30 people who've all gone through the same experience, but they've had 30 different experiences and interpretations. And I just I recall, if someone will say something about what they've experienced, and then I'm picturing the way that you respond to that, and you have questions, and it's like, now that you've mentioned improv comedy, I am thinking of it as receiving, like a ball that you've been thrown. And then it's like, okay, yes. And and what do I do with this now? Is that is that what's happening?

Gail Reichert:

That is kind of what's happening. But also, if you think back to the work that we do in the program on beliefs, you know, the beliefs that I bring, that are deeply embedded in me are that you know, every one What, what people say makes sense to them. Even if it's a complete curiosity, you know, or piece of weirdness To me, that's, that makes sense to them. And so I need to acknowledge and invalidate them. And, and, and that's really what I tried to do. And all of my interactions in the room is to be non judgmental, and be curious about how come they've got that position. How come they've had that experience? How come? They're saying those words? Isn't that really interesting? Yeah, that that's happened for them. Gosh, how did you know that? How did I What did I do that made that happen for them? or What did I not do? That made that you know, if it's a good or a bad thing is is something I need to change because that's happened for them. And sometimes it's true, and sometimes it's nothing to do with me, but you know, always kind of validating people's perspectives and going as far as I can to, to protect people's manner. And their sense of self. And so, you know, you'll never find me mocking someone in the room, you'll never find me. Never say never. I was gonna say making them wrong. Occasionally, occasionally I have and and it usually ends up badly for me and for them. But, you know, the best thing I can do is just make a space for people to play it.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, that that safe space of playfulness is really important. I think that's probably what loosened me up a bit in that space. As well as this. This is a safe space to play. But it's also not just accepting everyone's perspectives as being it's non judgmental, but it It's not accepting everything as being equally valid. You are pushing and probing a little bit on why people have that. It. Could you say anything about about that?

Gail Reichert:

Yeah, I do challenge I will challenge and a lot of the times I challenged by kind of reflecting back what they've said, or you know, some of the some of the questions that I'd learned through studying NLP, neuro linguistic programming, you know, who made that rule. But someone says you should do that. And that's like, you know, because what I'm hearing them as saying that they've got a rule inside of them that says, this is the right way and this is wrong way. But they would never have examined that. It's like, they don't even realize they've got that rule running. So by asking that question, Well, you know, who said that's the way though, it'll, it'll shake them into going? You know, they go well, but at least to me, you know, even, you know, even if I just sit with it and smile at them, they'll go away and think about it. I don't have to say anything more. Because you know, someone has, has gone. Because normally in a conversation, you'll either get people going, yes, yes, yes. Or they'll go, No, here's an opposing view. They won't get here's a mirror, have a look at yourself. And that's, that's kind of what I try and do.

Danu Poyner:

It's very powerful that it does make you think that you know, a lot of what you're saying might actually be more if you need to examine a lot

Gail Reichert:

of a lot of what we say to ourselves is just repetitive, dramatic story. And it's bullshit. It keeps us safe. And so we've got to be careful as facilitators, that we don't dismantle stuff that keeps people safe, because you know that, that belief, that rule for them, might keep them safe outside of the room. But it might not serve them as a leader. And so we've got to be really careful and really respectful about how we do that.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, that's a really important point, I think, I mean, just sticking with the improv, and then the performance idea, I guess, there's that talk of people having scripts. And sometimes the experience of being finding yourself scriptless can be really anxiety inducing. And so there's a tension between holding up the mirror, as you say, and then not yanking out the rug and mixing up all the metaphors. But did you have? Does that resonate with you? Do you have any thoughts about that?

Gail Reichert:

Yeah. I don't want to pull the rug out from someone. Because that just, you know, takes them off the Foundation, which is not what I'm trying to do, what I'm trying to do is to get them to go, how can how come on thinking that? And is this something else I can think? And not to? Because if I pulled the rug out from under them, that means that I've got a position of I'm right, you're wrong. And that is not the game I try and play. I don't always succeed, by the way. Sometimes I do hold firmly to you know, I'm right. But generally, what I'm trying to do is to have people reflect on how they thinking, what do you think? So it's more philosophy than anything else, I guess.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah. I mean, I'm picturing a couple of exercises that we did. And there was one where, you know, we had the room divided into sort of quadrants, and people had to go across to the opposing quadrant and connect and convince people have to do something, to join their team. And it was fascinating that exercise, because it really brought out everyone's scripts, I guess, all beliefs really, and traits quite quickly, and was really hard. And even though I know how this is going to go, it didn't and it didn't succeed. So I'm curious to hear just more about what that's like for you. But also, you mentioned before about the undeniable learning in those Apple experience, sorry, undeniable experience. Yeah. There's a temptation maybe for people in those exercises to dwell on what happened rather than what they can learn from that or take from it D How do you approach me Moving people from talking about what's happening to that learning and applying.

Gail Reichert:

He just asked the so what question really, you know, people need to go through the reflection before they can get to the sowhat. You know, like what happened. So, you know that I don't know if you know the debrief sequence, but it's so you know, what, what happens, so what, what now and, and so I just, and that, and that particular instance you're talking about, we do that activity. In the first workshop, and again, in the third workshop, so people have had an opportunity to kind of, they get an opportunity to replay it, if we do if we get to give them to somebody. And that's where they get to apply it. But what it's like, if you give them an undeniable experience, like, like you had standing around the circle, where, you know, the, even the different approaches of the different quadrants to the task at hand, becomes undeniably apparent that, you know, the types, the stereotypes, which is what they are approach the challenge differently. And they, you know, once people have seen that, and they've experienced it, they can't unknow it. And so, it takes time for people then to process it and go, so, you know, can I remember? how, you know, the other quadrants around the circle? Because they'll always remember their own stuff. But then, what can I do about it that that comes? That will come to them at different times, depending on how the relating and how many different styles they have around them? Hello, I'm trying to come back to your questions. How do I get them to get out of the knowing and into the doing, I think is what the question is, yeah. That the whole thing is just running so fast in my head. And so it's knowing bet, especially after the first workshop, when they come back to the second workshop, and people have to go, this is what I did with what I learned. And once that, once that ritual is set up, then people are thinking about that, and upcoming workshops, so they got to come back girls got to ask me, you know, what did I do with what I learned, I better either think of something I've learned or make it up. And I don't care which one it is because the brain can't tell the difference. So you can tell me a story about about what you did differently? Or tell me what actually happened, I actually don't care. But you've given thought to it. And once once that thought process is started, then things you know, your lenses through which you see the world have changed. So does that help?

Danu Poyner:

Yeah. I think we should talk about the the approaches, then because I think you use a you're working with a variety of approaches. There's there's the disc, and there's the emotional culture deck, and you're a narrative coach and neuro linguistic programming, you mentioned multiple brain integration techniques. How, what's your, what's your learning process? How do you decide what to take from these different things and put them together?

Gail Reichert:

Yeah, really good question. I, I kind of hoped you weren't going to ask me. Like I cannot, you know, how have I learned? You know, why have I learned some of those things? Why have I gone through those studies? It's because I've had an introduction of some sort. And it's rang true for me, like my, my learning process is quite deeply kinesthetic. So it's got to make sense to me, I've got to be able to imagine me doing something different and know what it feels like to be able to go wholeheartedly into a learning experience. And so, for instance, when I was when I said yes to learning about narrative coaching, for instance, then I listened to an example of a narrative coach conversation, and it just really resonated inside of me. And so I thought, yeah, I'll go and I'll go and learn that turns out I actually haven't used it that much. It's kind of one of those things that goes in the kit bag and might get pulled out every now and then. But

Danu Poyner:

I guess what's interesting about it is that there are they are so different, this some some of this sort of narrative stuff combined with neuroscience. And I guess the reason I'm asking is one of the it's early in the podcast, but one of the things that's already come up as a theme is how People take something they've learned from one area of life or experience and add it to another area. And what that's about that that synthesizing. So it just strikes me that there is a real diversity of approaches. And I'm just curious about how you came to find all those things and smashed them together. And why did that?

Gail Reichert:

Let me talk about the things in common. So I guess the first the first kind of level of knowledge or first coat that I put on was NLP neuro linguistic programming. And that is just talked about, kind of, euphemistically, is the study of excellence. So how do people do what they do? It's helping people understand how their their beliefs drive their behavior, how you take on process information and and what that means for you and how you can relate to other people that blah, blah, blah, that is very closely aligned to multiple brain integration techniques. Imbert came out of two NLP master practitioners wanting to dive a little bit deeper than two, the kinesthetic side of NLP processing information and so that those two are aligned, and multiple brains, Imbert is when it first started out is as a coaching approach in it his more of a therapeutic coaching approach, then, then, sort of an organizational coaching sense, although I have used it in an organizational sense very successfully. Narrative coaching is aligned with that, and that you're looking at storytelling and, and and in relation to time. And so if you check the theory of narrative coaching as if you change your story, you'll change your life. And narrative coaching is about taking the the stories from the past, finding a pivot point and creating a new story. So it's working with timelines that that in common with NLP. What else have I studied conversational intelligence, I think I was drawn to that because of the neuroscience aspect of it. And that kind of X for me as a backdrop to the kinesthetic sense, you know, I, I kind of cheek kinesthetically. Does this make sense? But my head is always wanting knowledge. And conversational intelligence gave me a lot more of the neuroscience behind what's happening in terms of emotions and conversations. What else? If I covered everything?

Danu Poyner:

So I think the emotional culture deck is the only thing we haven't touched on there. Yeah.

Gail Reichert:

Okay, emotional contradict. So that, that kind of kind of pulls everything together. So that works on the principle that emotions drive behavior in organizations, emotions are happening. People experience emotions at work every day. But the kind of you know, back of last century, emotions are meant to be left at the door. But we know that the current neuroscience coming out says that even that an emotional culture exists in an organization, even if it's one of suppression. And so, if you, if you want to impact behavior in an organization, then you need to be able to acknowledge emotions, because the emotions are what drive behavior. And so the emotional culture deck is a very simple tool. And it's a very easily adapted tool that helps people surface and talk about emotions, both desired and undesired emotions. And that helps leaders to connect better with the teams that helps teams connect better with themselves, help them create the culture in which they want to work.

Danu Poyner:

It's a very powerful idea. It's still it still feels like a slightly radical idea, even in 2021. And I'm thinking back to your comment about the 1950s mindset in teaching before. Have we ever we moved past the 1950s mindset in education. Do you think?

Gail Reichert:

I don't know whether I'm, I can? I'm qualified to answer that because let me let me frame it this way. So some of the some of the work I do currently is with a special school. And I work quite closely with the principal of a special school. She is she's older than me. So she's definitely out of the 1950s. But she's probably in the 2030s. Now in terms of where her thinking in her way, she's trying to take his scope, she won't be there for that long because she's, you know, way overdue for a time and shaped talks to me about the teachers that she is coming across now, who still have this mindset, that's that is they have to control the classroom. They have to control the students. And it's something that I could, you know, I found very hard to grasp. Although having a having a father who was in the military, and he was a military policeman, I actually hit command and control kind of, in my DNA, I found that very easy. But I also realized that if you make the environment exciting and motivating, that you all of your control issues, go out the window, you know, because people, people want to learn, children want to learn, they want to have a good time, for the most part, they want to be acknowledged and validated and in enjoy life. And so so I think, yeah, there are still I think, education, and this is an uninformed view. But I think education is probably on the cusp, at the moment, there are probably significant numbers of teachers coming through who kind of get the the the inspiring, motivating culture that they, that is possible to create an in a classroom, but there are others who are still fear driven. And think that if they lose control, children won't learn, which is, in my view, it's the complete opposite. So but there's a set uninformed in that.

Danu Poyner:

Have you had a workshop facilitation situation that where you lost control,

Gail Reichert:

where I've lost control of myself, or I've lost control of the environment,

Danu Poyner:

of the environment? And that may not be the right framing, given everything that you've just said, but I just, it's a it's a question that just came up for me.

Gail Reichert:

Yeah, you know, you know, I've got a few years on my menu. So many years ago, I was I was involved as a designer and one of the key facilitators of a teenage business program, where we used to have 80 students at sixth formers and a school hall for three days. For this chaos. It was chaos, but it was exciting. And it The, the afternoon of day three, these teams, I mean, it was it was highly, highly structured, and we knew kind of knew what we were doing. But we also it was chaos, teachers would come in, and they'd go, you know, what's happening here, kids would be going everywhere, the big lots of noise, be lots of music going. But at the end of lunchtime, on day three, what would happen is that these was a business program. And it was set up as an expo. So these Expo stands would start being built. And these school these 16 and 17 year olds would turn into little business people that turn up with the, with the suit, suit jackets from the OP shop, or from the big brother or whatever, the uncle down the road. They Polish themselves up and they would literally transform themselves into into business people and they would make the business case presentation to judges as they came around. Now that this is in relation to have I lost control, I don't think we were ever in control of what at teenagers did in a room, but they they knew that, you know, we kind of programmed them with music, more than anything to you know, when this music comes on. You do that when this music comes on, you do that. But we made it so exciting, and so possible for them and we believed in them that they created amazing presentations. And what used to really amaze us was that the products that they designed in their specific area of business that they were located didn't have to be realistic. But they didn't have to put a realistic business case for it. And what used to happen is that they would come up with these, you know, amazing concepts. Like, I remember one of them, designed this chair that this capsule that when you set on it, and at scan, jus, it diagnosed, anything that was wrong with you. And, you know, teachers in the school go, Well, that's ridiculous, that'll never happen. But, you know, two years down the track, something like that was invented. And these, these kids were just kind of tapping into the universe with their ideas of things that would happen. So did I, you know, did we ever lose control? Yeah, we, you know, we kind of, we kind of were in control, but we just excited them so much that they did what they needed to do, because they wanted to succeed, they wanted to have the moment and, you know, they were scared out of their brains to do their presentations to the judges at the end of the day, but they were so excited when they finished it, you know, they would have three or four present four or five presentations to do depending on how many judges they were. And a lot of them weren't like, they'd get to number five, and go Bring it on, where's the next one. And they wouldn't have ever experienced that degree of autonomy and that degree of success in school. So, you know, having worked in that environment, and you come into an organizational setting, like working with a senior leadership team or something, he just kind of go you guys don't scare me. Give me a give me a room of 8018 year olds.

Danu Poyner:

Like me real challenge. Yeah. So thank you for sharing that story. That sounds amazing. Is is? Is it different, exciting adults than than children? Or is the same?

Gail Reichert:

I think I do miss that working with teenagers. Because they have so much drive and so much energy and so much enthusiasm. And and if we can, you know, if if we could create the right environment, they had so much self belief. You know, and they would, they would just support each other, you know, and their team, they would support each other to the end of the ends of the earth. And I don't think I mean, you get that to a certain extent, but you know, adults are really inhibited. Teenagers are not. Teenagers are disinhibited. And so, yeah, unless they're about the about working with teenagers, but, you know, but I'm a bit past it now. I don't, I don't know whether that program is still running. It did run for about, I don't know, about 10 years after we finished running it. But

Danu Poyner:

anyway. Yeah. Well, my mind is racing with questions conscious. We've been I've been conscious, we've been talking for a little while. And I can't keep you too long. But I guess, come back to unlearning, then it's because that seems to be connected to being inhibited to me at least. What what? Can you tell me about unlearning? What is it? What What do people in the space spaces that you facilitate? Most commonly have to unlearn? And how does that work?

Gail Reichert:

I think they have to unlearn what they're saying to themselves. You know, a lot of you know, we've talked about imposter syndrome. I did not realize how prevalent imposter syndrome was, and which gives me a kind of I've really struggled to have empathy with people who have got imposter syndrome because I just can't imagine, you know, kind of what it's like. So what do people have to unlearn? They have to unlearn what they've been programmed with. Because a lot of it is bullshit. You know, if they could have been programmed with possibility, when I think of, you know, I've got Benjamin Sanders book here, the art of possibility. I don't know if you've seen his stuff. Let's

Danu Poyner:

put a link to it in the in the notes.

Gail Reichert:

Yeah. You know, if people can look he, he's a he. He's a professor. I think he's a professor anyhow, he is with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. And he does teach in universities and he sets his class. He says, everyone is going to get an A I want you to write yourself a letter. Thank, you know, at the end of the semester congratulating yourself on getting an A and telling me what you've done to get that to deserve that. And you need to show me that letter. That's what it is. So, you know, a see out of possibility of instead of people being brainwashed with, don't do this and don't do that. And it's not possible or you can't do this and you know, all of these unwritten rules that I'm always going, you know, whose rule is this? Then people can discover on their own what's possible, you know, I've discovered on my own, what I can and can't do. And I think you know, what, what do people have to unlearn? They have to unlearn that what other people think of them really doesn't matter. Unless it's someone that they love dearly. But, yeah, a lot of times our parenting is sub optimal, because it's constraining that, you know, parents and program to try and protect kids, which stops them from experimenting and finding out what are the boundaries? And what are the consequences? You know, that's you've got to unlearn that self talk. That isn't soothing. Yeah. And remain humble. It's the challenge.

Danu Poyner:

There. Yeah, that's, that's a lot. program with possibility. Yeah, I'm thinking about assessment says, you mentioned this, that the, you know, everyone's gonna get an A, and I'm, really, I'm really stuck on that. Because when I think about assessment, so much of it is, it turns an educational setting into a kind of risk based situation, where it's all about, you know, you end up with all these controls around making the assessment. Fair, there's extensions and special considerations, and people get so much anxiety about passing the test and getting the grade and they miss the, the content that they're learning at the moment. And it's sort of when I think about designing education, for excitement and possibility, I always come back to assessment and credentials as being one of the main barriers to that. So I hadn't heard of this, that you've mentioned that everyone gets, everyone's gonna get an A, it's a really interesting idea, I'm going to have to think about

Gail Reichert:

that, yeah, have a look at his video. He has, he's, he's done a TED talk, and he's got other ones on there. But that gets me on to the difference between knowledge and competence. You know, it's like, you can be knowledgeable, but incompetent. And I think, you know, if you think of formal education, someone coming through university, they're going to come out knowledgeable. If they're an engineer, or a doctor, I hope they're competent as well. But it doesn't necessarily follow and sort of the work that the work that I do, the competence is the, you know, you if I can give you some criteria around which to make some judgments and to be informed around how to adapt to situations and people, then that's the knowledge part of it the competences, you've got to get out there and practice it yourself. So people, people don't have to pass or fail. The programs that are run. You know, I could give you a little knowledge tests along the way. And every now and then I'll, you know, I'll pop in a little pop quiz. That's no, but yeah, I think formal education of which I have not been a huge fan, you know, I mean, I did go through and do my chartered accounting qualification. And, you know, and that was great, because I was unable to put myself out as an expert. And I think if you're going to do that, you need to prove your knowledge in some way. But, you know, there's far more to education than just formal education. But, you know, like your, you know, the world that we met in is the world of formal education, where assessment and evaluation is important.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, we would not have come together were it not for that, but none of it was about that so interesting. all by itself. Do you do you use anything from your accounting experience in your facilitation is that you take anything from that world

Gail Reichert:

to the other one experience. I'm quite strong left brained. And so I can do systematic stuff and planning stuff and doing all the timelines and stuff that you have to do when you're running programs. And that kind of comes naturally to me because I naturally account for time because I've worked for a chartered accountant. I can count this six minute increments. Very important. Yeah. So but in general, no, nothing. There's nothing. crossover. And I think I, Stover.

Danu Poyner:

Okay. Good to know. I guess I had to two more serious questions that. So you're fond of lightbulb moments, I think as you call, where people are actually taking the things and putting them in practice, if you got any examples of lightbulb moments that you've that you've people have shared with you or that you've seen that you're particularly proud or satisfied with.

Gail Reichert:

I think one of the most powerful parts, or pieces that I teach is listening. And I think there's been the biggest lightbulb moments that have led up not just the person's life, but the family's life is when people have come back into the program, after we've, you know, covered the listening module, or piece. And they'll sit in I like I've got, I've gone home, and my wife said, What's wrong, you're listening to me. And, you know, as a positive thing, once they've navigated that I said, make sure that if you're going to change it, you explain what's happening. But I've had, I think, over the years, several people have come in and said, that's made a real difference. You know, I'm now I think of one person actually down in Hamilton, who said, I've learned to listen to my teenage son. She used to drive him to school every day, because it was on her way to work. And she said previously, I used to spend that time telling him what he needed to do and how he needed to be. And now I shut up and just listen to what he's got to say. And she said, it's completely changed the dynamic in the, in the family. There are there are other examples like that, between where people have taken the learning and taken it out into the family setting, and that I just think it just resonates out around the world. Because that, you know, that teenager now is going to be feeling valued and respected as a family member, which is going to change the way he interacts with the world. So, you know, you drop a little, a little drop goes on a pond, and it ripples outwards. And you don't know, don't know where it stops. So

Danu Poyner:

yeah, that's, that's amazing. And again, that sort of speaks to the being curious about people enough to listen and shut up for a minute and pay attention to the person in the room and,

Gail Reichert:

and value them.

Danu Poyner:

Yeah. That's why I'll thank you for sharing that. That's a great example. But I guess then, if if there was a life changing learning experience that you could gift to someone, what would it be? And why?

Gail Reichert:

I think it will come back to that self talk. Because I see so much potential dampened down by lack of belief and lack of willingness to find out where your issues are. You know, it's just reminds me of talking to an I'm just trying to think of your last name. She used to be a professor, she wrote, she wrote a seminal article for have Harvard Business Review called ways women lead. Her name's Judy. And I can't remember her last name, but I remember I brought her in. Yeah, I brought her in to the University of Auckland to talk to the women's group there. And one of the things she said there was at the stage, she was probably in his early 70s. And she said, I believe in living at the edge said if you're not living at the edge, you're taking up too much space. And I think, you know, if I can continue living at the age if I can continue, you know, pushing myself and you know, nudging others, I've got a, you know, probably pull back a bit on nudging others and just take responsibility for myself. Then, you know, I've got the possibility of living a very full life and, you know, as I wrote somewhere on LinkedIn, the other day is scooting into the into the grave fully used up. I don't want to go I don't want to go out when I'm when I've still got some, you know, some fuel on the tank, I want to use it all up. So you know, life changing experience I could give to someone is be aware of the limitations you're putting on yourself. Be aware of the words that you're saying to yourself and speak to yourself as if you were speaking to your best friend or your closest dearest relative. Believe in yourself, test yourself. Find out where your edges are.

Danu Poyner:

People keep telling me I should stop apologizing in my, in my podcast and in my facilitation. It's an interesting comment I get a lot about self talk, I think.

Gail Reichert:

But do you really mean you're sorry? Or is it just a saying?

Danu Poyner:

I don't know.

Gail Reichert:

How could you find out?

Danu Poyner:

Oh, wow, this is gonna become a very public therapy session. Yeah, we could we could dig into that. I'm not sure that we will

Gail Reichert:

know I just say just examine it to go. Is that a real apology? Are you really sorry? Or is it just words that come out of your mouth?

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, I will. I will do that. So what are you are you doing in your in your time then when you're not working? How do you feed your curiosity? Have you got creative pursuits?

Gail Reichert:

Hey, I got creative pursuits. How much time do you hear?

Danu Poyner:

Well, as long as you want, what do you what are you doing living at the edge at the moment?

Gail Reichert:

Oh, well, I've got a I've got a large garden. And when I moved in to this place seven years ago, the bottom third of the property which was quite steep, was had vines growing on it that was above hit high. That's now gone. It's all taken care of we'll see cutters and cut and paste. So I think so being created from my garden, keeps me keeps me occupied and feeds my soul because you know, being in touch with the earth and being around greenery and seeing things grow and nurturing and designing nice things as important to me. I also dabble in art. And so I at the moment. My latest occupation is a practice called Zentangle. Okay, which is a meditative doodling, sort of sort of structured, but it I'm looking around to see if I have done have any up here. But that, you know, I sort of cycled through various areas of interest in art that I quite like making marks on paper. So interesting. Yeah, I just kind of do what makes me happy?

Danu Poyner:

Well, there's a nice summary of many things we've talked about today. Thank you for sharing that. It's the Is there something that you're working on at the moment that you'd like to give a plug for? or How can people get in touch with you if they'd like to speak to you.

Gail Reichert:

There's nothing specifically I want to plug because I am reducing the amount of client contact that I have. Mainly because of my age and stage in life is that I'm kind of running that down. I am interested in if anyone has got anything they want to do online, whether it's sort of in person coaching, or small group facilitation online, I've discovered the pleasures of doing that this year when we've had to sort of morph from person to online. And if anyone is interested, and just having a thinking partner, you know, like if you want to think with me, I'm really good. I'm really good to help you think things through because the world will open up when you're talking with me because of the questions I asked him because of the possibility I bring I think

Danu Poyner:

I can I can confirm that. Sometimes he just I wish her on for a long time. And then you say yeah, but what do you mean?

Gail Reichert:

Tell me what you're trying to what are you trying to achieve here?

Danu Poyner:

Yeah, it's very confronting. It's good. And the best way for people to get in touch with you.

Gail Reichert:

Probably through the leaders is tweet with Lee As each website is probably the best thing. Great,

Danu Poyner:

we'll put those details in in the notes then thank you for a fantastic chat. Gail wasn't at all where I expected it to go when we started but that's that's definitely another theme on the podcast. So I really appreciate your time and in the experience and again, a personal thank you from from me, it's the learning is something I use every day. So I really appreciate it. And thank you for coming on.

Gail Reichert:

Appreciate it. Appreciate the opportunity. Thanks very much.