36 The Currency of Success - Kindness with Elizabeth Gist
Release Date: 04/07/2021
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That's crazy. I, first of all, I appreciate you admitting your work through your self-awareness because that's all part of the process here. But as we all are, especially me, but, you know, with kindness. A my take on that is, you can be kind all day long but if you're not aware of how you come across people read through that kindness perhaps as manipulative or a little bit of, it's not sincere. And you may be kind, but you're truly unkind, in the eyes of others and Tate's gets kind of cool and we've got Elizabeth guests with us here today and she is. Got a quote or a motto that is just phenomenal. It's, it's basically genuine kindness is tested and proven method and leaving people better than when you met them. And that's just, that's extraordinary and I used to say that about safety at work in a manufacturing environment. We want people to leave as good or better than they were when they came here but, Elizabeth, put a different twist on this relative to kindness, and we're going to jump in with Elizabeth today on this topic in many others I'm sure as we go but welcome Elizabeth, how are you doing today?
I'm doing well, thank you so very much Dave and Trevor for having me I am super excited and stoked to be here with you all today.
Good deal. Good deal. Well, you know, from Queens, New York as a native of Queens, New York. With this migration south, you know, as I understand from back in oh six of kindness was not a part of your experience in one of the reasons that you moved to South Carolina. Right, I go in there and ask you to unpack that for us because you've got a great story there.
You see, in 2006 I didn't understand kindness. I was actually… I am a survivor of domestic violence and uprooted my family my three boys at the time and moved to South Carolina barely knew anyone here had some family here and I really just was looking for that fresh start. And you know, being from Queens, New York. Kindness is not really the thing that's associated with the New York, uh you know you've got the, you know I'm looking here kind of thing going on. And, you know, so I always felt that, yes, I was born and raised in New York but I believe I'm, I've always been a Southern belle but, you know, at heart, but kindness is just, to me it is just the most important thing to me it is the currency of success. It is what I have used it is tested and proven, and more than likely people will understand, you know how your interactions have impacted them and they'll want to experience those things over and over again, and the method that has to be included in that is going to be kind and how you continue to treat others and how you know that is reciprocated through relationship.
Well, Trevor. I mean, don't ask me about kindness I mean you set me up in the beginning, but that's why I'm so glad Elizabeth is here today. Yeah, Elizabeth.
So what do you think about kindness then, you believe like everyone is naturally kind, and then our brains are kind of hardwired, and take stealing from Brene Brown a bit there, you know, we'd love to judge, and for some reason our, our brains if we're not intentional, just turn to that judgment, and it's not a good feeling and I catch myself doing it sometimes and it's kind of like, why did that unkind thought, Where did that come from because I don't want that. Where do you think that comes from or what are your thoughts on that?
I believe it's the understanding of kindness. Kindness is not the absence of judgment, it's not the absence of error, I think it is intentionality, it is you're making an intentional decision to treat someone better, you know than maybe they would expect to go above and beyond what's expected and kindness sometimes has this, I guess misperception of being weak, or you know just being you know no place in the workplace or, you know, I've got to be aggressive or you don't have to, you can have such significant present presence, and leave a kind, you know, I guess feeling with someone and just really just have an exchange that is pleasant. So, I can still have great influence I can still have great negotiating skills, but you may want to do business with me more because of the experience you have with me. I am all about experience, every experience, every interaction with someone should be five stars, or very close to it, where we should be striving to do it.
So how did you, like that's beautiful what you said, and how did you get from like that New York State to that. How well you articulate that, and I can just feel the passion in your voice when you say that. Was there something? How did you get there?
I think, if I may use just the experience of being a domestic violence victim, of course, you don't have a voice, you don't really know how to advocate for yourself, you know you're receiving things that are not kind or unkind and as he mentioned earlier. So I really had to learn first to be kind to myself, and one, and then I also had to learn to be kind to others because I was so suspicious of everyone, every interaction I figured this would bring some form of hurt, and there was a defense mechanism that was up, so I felt like you know, maybe I'm not going to show my kind side because I don't want you to take advantage and I started realizing I was running into these brick walls because I had such a tough exterior. And when I learned this key skill and actually transferred it over into my professional world. I'm telling you like my success with people just skyrocketed through the roof, because I was able to be vulnerable, and that's why I'm so transparent with my journey messy says everything that I've accomplished Hey, whatever I know I'm willing to share with you because I believe it'll help make you better.
Well, so when you know when I think of the best compliment I've ever received is “Dave, you're one of the kindest people I've ever met!” And I'm not sure that I've heard that. But once or twice in my life. Right. And it's like, you know, why is that not. Why do I not hold that with greater regard? Why is that not a higher priority for me? Well, the bottom line is it doesn't sound or feel that ‘manly’. Right, living in a manufacturing environment it's about being tough it's about delivering it's about hitting the home, and, you know man-made, but I'll also tell you that I have fired people with the utmost kindness to where when they walked out of the room, they either shook my hand hugged me, smiled and said, thank you. In the end, I think that's just a real demonstration of kindness, kindness like you had said earlier is not a weakness. It's not something that shows the sign, you know, shows vulnerability, it's something that basically commands. The situation or commands the circumstance, and a kind person, can be kind in whatever it is that they’re doing. And that's, this is, this is awesome it's a great conversation.
But I want to change it up just a hair. I want to talk a little bit about something that I know about you, where you believe that you've got to have this mindset where average, and, you know, the average is average but breaking through this glass ceiling is like. You can do this, I can do this regardless of who you are and from your background, your, your life story, to where you are today. You know glass ceiling. Right? I know glass ceilings, believe it or not as a white guy. Right, I know a glass ceiling. I know when I see it I know when I feel it I know I’ve experienced it, but what's your take on the trick, other than kindness, right, which is in there, where what? Where's this coming from that this mindset of we can break this glass ceiling? Take us down that path.
So, I'm back to your analogy of glass ceilings, which is one of my favorite sounds, the sound of glass, hitting the floor after you have shattered the ceiling. I love it. I love being perceived as the underdog, and then just coming in and just kind of walking and leading the pack that's me. And I only learn that by taking advantage of all of the opportunities. So, for example, moving to South Carolina. I didn't really have any employment, um, when I first got here it was almost like you needed to know someone to get in here I knew I had skills but you needed to know someone. So I ended up traveling back and forth to New York for a year. The brain now might be. And so having to go back and forth, until I was able to find a position here. Once I landed a position here, I knew in my mind, I'm not going to waste this opportunity. I have been given a second chance. And so I'm going to take every opportunity given to me and just run with it. So, the first step is to really believe that you can be something other than what you've been so it does start with a mindset. It starts with something of saying, Okay, what I've done to this date, I want it to be different from what I do tomorrow. So even now if you look at my story now, it is so uncommon. I didn't graduate from college until I was in my 30s. I'm now a director of human resources I own a consulting agency I'm a Director of Human Resources for five branches at Carolina Foothills Federal Credit Union, which I absolutely love working there because it gives me an opportunity to get into the community, but all of that aside, all of that couldn't have been done without a renewed and retrained mindset. So all of those things would just allow me to say hey I'm just going to keep breaking barriers and just shattering glass ceilings, and that wasn't done by anything that I've done, it's not that I'm that great, that I was able to do it. It's a renewed mind that transforms you and kindness, helps more people take chances on me than rudeness. So being unkind, it's what allowed people to say hey I want to take a gamble on her, and they - they're winning.
They say I've got a whole, whole concept of you look externally to things but never trust someone that gives you a shirt that isn't wearing one. So it's that same thing of, you know, you, you got to look inside yourself. So, for the listeners then Elizabeth, how do they know or are they being kind to themselves and you have to do those things that those accomplishments that you've, you had to work on yourself first, and then note that because you got yourself in that right mindset. You were able to do anything you did anything you want to do, and how about for someone, when you talk to people, I know you've helped others, how do you help someone that's maybe stuck, and right now they're trying to touch that glass ceiling, they're not breaking through. What can they do listening and maybe driving into work right now?
One of the biggest things I believe is understanding your expectations. If we understand the frustration. Frustration is the unmet expectation, it means that I haven't clearly communicated my expectations to you and therefore, you can't meet them, I never told you what I was looking for. So, I think if that person understands truly what it is they're expecting from whether it's the organization, they're in, whether it's the business they're trying to launch the book they're trying to write whatever it is they're trying to do, they have to have that vision and goal.
Once you have that vision and goal in place, then you can begin to command the response that you're looking for, and I use Command very loosely because I don't use it in a way to where you have to come in a brace it and aggressive. You don't have to do that. I think if you're very clear in advocating for yourself. Also, giving out what you expect to receive.
So, if you're looking for support. If you're looking for genuine leadership, you've got to put those out there, you can't hoard all of your kindness to yourself and expect everyone else to divvy out their areas of kindness, it's just not fair. So, I think you have to be positioned in that to show the world what it is you're expecting for them and be okay to actually receive it and do something with it, and then be okay to give it out. You don't keep it, you give it. So hopefully that answers your question.
Yeah, I think that ties into that whole transformational aspect that, that I know that you have experience in your space, how does that tell you that that whole transformation. I think it is about transforming the area, most people, you can transform two areas. One internally, you can transform what's happening within you and within your mind. You also have the power to influence your environment. And that is really what I specialize in with leadership development is really teaching the leaders or whether it's emerging leaders or leaders that have been doing this for 15 plus years, you have the authority and ability to transform your environment, if you're willing and open to change.
If you keep giving out the words seven expensive words ‘we've always done it that way'. If you keep giving out those words you're never going to experience transformation is an intentional change. Change is disruptive, you have to be willing to disrupt your normalcy. So even in organizations. That's why I say relationships are so key and being intentional and building those relationships because it's going to require your change it's going to require you to do something different than you've always done.
So listen, if you did something that you had never done before, in making the transition from New York to South Carolina but let's bring it up, maybe more recently and share with us I'm putting you on the spot here, but again, share with us a transformation that you've made recently that really took a, an intentional effort in checking your mindset.
So for me, um, and I'll talk about joining the credit union, if I may join the credit union, a whole new industry I came from a large retailer. And so I came from a large sports retailer and so going into the credit union was a totally different new industry. So I was coming in, brand new to an organization that never had an HR person at all, they've always kind of operated on their own. And I was tasked with, you know, having all these policies and procedures and things and, and, and I was fine with that. But what I asked for my seat, CEO is May I have time to just go sit with the employees. And he kind of, you know, looked at me a little perplexed and he said well, you know, do you want to start there and I said yes because I need their buy-in. I need to build relational equity with the employees. So my first two weeks I believe I went around to all the branches and I sat down one on one with all employees, and I went in thinking that I had to find out the problems to solve the problems, I didn't. All I had to do was sit down and listen to them, and influence them and make them aware that they were the solutions to the problems that they had. And there were some things of course that they that were out of their scope of control that I needed to take, take care of cool we can do that. But for some of these things, they're in your wheelhouse, you can do this, you can fix these things, and it was so amazing because it took me out of the mindset of a problem solver to a part of the solution that was already in place, so I was coming in thinking I needed to wear a cape and fix all these things, they already had what they needed, I just needed to help influence the change.
Wow. And then so that transformation was not transactional, it was a process, it was relational.
It was relational. Too many times, you know, I remember and think about where, in order for me to transform to change, to take it to the next level, it's like, what box, do I need to check right from a performance basis, you know, what can I do as opposed to making that investment in overtime. In, with the relationships of the people, and look at it more of as a process.
Absolutely. I mean it, even and I'll add this to it if I may, it was a matter of just creating those just because moments, and I ended up and I still do these to this day where I just send a Skype, how are you, you know how's the family, what's going on with you and it's to the point where now, not only am I having conversations with the employees about HR issues and topics, but they're telling me, hey I just bought a house, I want you to see my daughter's you know dance recital, I'm so I'm ingrained in their life, and I think it's so important because they spend so much time at work, why would you want to spend time at a place where no one cares about what you have going on. So it's so important to build those relationship blocks and just continue to build upon them and they just kind of serve itself because now employees want to work. Now they want to come here now they want to share their successes so it's a give and take.
That's pretty cool how you're able to come in as a fresh set of eyes and. And they always say, you know the answers aren't within the four walls. Law those answers are there, you have every, every employee’s an engineer. And you, you have to have that give and take and the fact of, if you don't care about me personally. How can I trust and if I can't trust, how do I engage and it's just that whole circle that always comes back and forth and it's like the answer is right in front of us and it's like, and I was guilty of that of just getting so much on the task. And really it's kind of like as, especially as leaders. It's sometimes less effort we put in the greater results we can get and that ties into the whole coach approach right and just the fact of, hey, what's, what's going on, counts want to get to know you want to have that. If I want to help transform you and then I think that ties back into the whole, you know, kindness and not judging and just, Hey, I'm just curious, that's interesting, how you feel that way. Tell me more. And just, it just comes out and then all sudden and what, how can we didn't talk about this before I don't know where we are now, that's good.
Exactly. Well, Trevor, I mean that was even, you know just such a great point that you just made, and even in that it is understanding, even as leaders, you know, this is not to beat up on leaders at all at all at all because a lot of times we are tasked with getting the targets done getting the goals that making sure we meet our goals is, you know, production up and a lot of times those things that noise crowds out the fact that hey I actually have I even checked on my people today have I even asked how to do it, you know, so a lot of times, it depends on what the noise frequency is of the organization. If it's goals, then that's fine. Let it be goals but let there be a section where you have a people strategy, where maybe you're tasked with keeping an eye on your people. So that could be something that that could be, you know, a fix to that too if you don't really have yourself finding the time to check on some kind of ties right back what you said earlier about just being intentional doesn't just happen. There's enough noise in the day and enough wind that it won't happen but if you're intentional and like you said there's some type of strategy, whatever that looks like for you, for you personally for your company.
Elizabeth you're, you and I had, we don't go back years. Okay, but I can tell you, every interaction I have ever had with you, you're like, what is it a that's different, and it's clear to me now this, this woman is kind. She is like the epitome of kindness, that's what. Now I'm not saying that I'm saying that only to help me differentiate one person to the next on what is, what the attraction is right and, but for our listeners and for me, right, maybe it's no one else but you've got a husband and four sons.
Surely you are not kind, all the time in that environment. And we need to know, right, your listeners want to know at what point do you lose your kindness and say, enough's enough, you know, enough of the kindness guys, I mean it's time for us, what I mean, we're at breaking point, I just, I'm dying to know.
So I will let you in, I am from Queens, New York, don't get me wrong, so there is a thug, in here, I promise you.
I’m five feet tall. On a good day, so my oldest son is pushing six feet somewhere around in there. However, they know I've mastered the Mom stare, so I don't have to do a lot of talking. They say that I'm HR even in the house, so I’m HR, even in the house. But for them, I talk to them. I'm very intentional about it.
My husband is an amazing man he really is. He is my biggest cheerleader. He's the one that keeps me grounded and pushes me to do all these amazing things that I never knew I can do but he's, he's one of my clients actually I'm teaching him patience so even that kindness that I'm talking to you about today he's learning that. And don't get me wrong, I lose my cool, I get frustrated, I do. Sometimes I want to go off in a corner and scream that happens. But it is coming back to just being center, and understanding, you know, hey, let's go ahead and regroup, get yourself to get together, or with what I have to do.
Love that Elizabeth, you I can feel your passion through there, I get the whole act what Dave's been talking about, and what a great story to share with so many people. And I, for me I kind of take away this whole thing of just that reminder that one is, of course, being good to yourself and then looking at others, but I also take away today in our discussion is just that whole intentions thing and, and a portion of his vulnerability but a portion of it is, I know that when we say our emotions.
Even if like you know I'm nervous right now on this podcast if I say that, we know the cortisol will drop right and that will actually decrease, you know how much stress you have when you say hey you know what I noticed that I'm all nervous to approach you on this but my intentions are, I feel like I got this glass ceiling. And I just want to talk about that, and I think that is just such great advice just to start to break down some of those barriers and just so many things to take away from being so grateful to have you on here today, it was awesome.