Tamara Ghandour Show Notes Page
Tamara Ghandour was faced with a business challenge that needed the perspective of others. Focused on the outcome, Tamara was unable to generate a lot of ideas from the team members. She instead focused on rewarding the behavior of giving ideas, no matter how ridiculous the ideas were, and was able to come up with more innovative solutions.
Tamara was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, and moved to Berkely, California, when she was five. Tamara and her family moved every four years, so she grew up all over the Bay Area. She is very close with her younger sister, by four years, Naomi and her parents Adi and Anna. Yes, they still take family vacations together and talk on the phone almost daily.
As a child, Tamara was always questioning and breaking the rules. In school, if the teacher told the class that they had to always write their name on the top right of the paper, she would put it on the left. Long lines are just a reason to find another way in the door. Her parents still joke about the fact that Tamara knows there are rules out there but doesn’t believe they apply to her. That innate questioning of the rules has is part of the reason she is successful because she almost always finds an alternate way around the obstacles she faces and doesn’t buy into the bureaucracy that slows innovation and progress.
Tamara started her career in New York City in advertising on the infamous Madison avenue. From there, she went into brand strategy and innovation, where she built new products and services for Fortune 500 companies ranging from Procter and Gamble to IBM. After giving people innovative ideas for almost 20 years, Tamara realized the real impact isn’t in giving innovation but in unlocking innovation inside them. That is why she founded LaunchStreet and the Innovation Quotient Edge Assessment, pioneering a human-centered innovation method.
She’s a keynote speaker, podcaster, and author of Innovation is Everybody’s Business: How to Ignite, Scale, and Sustain Innovation for Competitive Edge. Tamara’s goal and legacy is to change the narrative around innovation from being siloed to the select, magical few to it being for everyone. Her mission is to unleash ONE MILLION plus innovators into the world, solving our biggest challenges, unearthing opportunities, and elevating happiness globally.
Tamara lives in Denver, Colorado, with her two crazy and amazing boys, Liam and Ari, and her 100lb Mastiff named Zoey.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“We all have the structures of innovation in our brain, and the structures for intelligence and innovation are not the same.” – Click to Tweet
“Being innovative is universal, we all do it.” – Click to Tweet
“People-first innovation scales, ignites, and sustains innovation.” – Click to Tweet
“If you understand how people innovate, the culture and the process will come out naturally.” – Click to Tweet
“Ideas that come from a birds of a feather tend to die. Ideas that come from diversity of thinking tend to thrive.” – Click to Tweet
“One of the worst things we can do in innovation is have one thing we have to fall in love with.” – Click to Tweet
“If we give ourselves a little bit of permission, we’ll get to an incredible amount of quantity of ideas.” – Click to Tweet
“Innovation first, judging later.” – Click to Tweet
“If you want innovation, you got to figure out the behaviors that are going to get you there. The outcomes are going to happen no matter what.” – Click to Tweet
“Figure out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Click to Tweet
“Innovation is survival. We don’t have a choice.” – Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Tamara was faced with a business challenge that needed the perspective of others. Focused on the outcome, Tamara was unable to generate a lot of ideas from the team members. She instead focused on rewarding the behavior of giving ideas, no matter how ridiculous the ideas were, and was able to come up with more innovative solutions.
Advice for others
Be confident and be willing to take more risk.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Mental energy and staying focused.
Best Leadership Advice
Tap the power of the diversity on your team. Don’t try to make them be like you.
Secret to Success
I don’t strictly follow the rules.
Best tools in business or life
Basecamp. It helps us stay connected and organized.
Contacting Tamara Ghandour
Show TranscriptClick to access edited transcript
Jim Rembach (00:00):
Okay fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because I have somebody on the show today who is really gonna give us some tactical capabilities into doing something that we all need to do, especially now more than ever. Tamara Ghandour was born in Remont GaN Israel and moved to Berkeley, California when she was five tomorrow and her family moved every four years. So she grew up all over the Bay area. She is very close to her younger sister by four years. Naomi and her parents, ADI and Ana. Yes. They still take family vacations together and talk on the phone almost daily as a child. Tomorrow was always questioning and breaking the rules in school. If the teacher told her, uh, in the class that she always had to write her name at the right side of the top of the paper, she, she’d put it on the left. Long lines are just a reason to find another way in the door.
Jim Rembach (00:50):
Her parents still joke about the fact that tomorrow knows there are rules out there, but doesn’t believe they applied to her. That in a questioning of the rules is part of the reason she is successful because she almost always finds an alternate alternate way around the obstacles she faces and doesn’t buy into the bureaucracy that slows innovation and progress. Tamara started her career in New York city in advertising on the infinite miss Madison Avenue. From there, she went into brand strategy and innovation where she built new products and services for fortune 500 companies ranging from Proctor and gamble to IBM after giving people innovative ideas for almost 20 years tomorrow. Realize the real impact isn’t in giving innovation, but in unlocking innovation inside them. That is why she founded launch streak and the innovation quotient quotion edge assessment, pioneering a human centered innovation method. She’s a keynote speaker, podcaster, and author of innovation is everybody’s business. How to ignite, scale, and sustain innovation for competitive edge. Tomorrow’s goal and legacy is to change the narrative around innovation from being siloed to the select magical few to it being for everyone. For mission is to unleash 1 million plus innovators into the world. Solving our biggest challenges, unearthing opportunities and elevating happiness globally. Tomorrow lives in Denver, Colorado with our two crazy and amazing boys, Liam and Ari and her hundred pound Mastiffs Zoe, Tamara Ghandour. Are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Tamara Ghandour (02:22):
I am so ready. Today is the perfect day to be having this conversation.
Jim Rembach (02:26):
Oh, it’s definitely now I’m glad you’re here. Now I’ve given my Legion a little bit about you, but can you talk with your current passion is so that we can get to know you even [inaudible]
Tamara Ghandour (02:34):
even better. Yeah. Well, do you want a personal or professional or both? Both. Okay. So I’ll give you the personal first cause it’s in the background, whether I like it or not, cause we’re all working from home right now and my little nook is by my other area. But, um, I have a huge passion for fitness, not just because I’m one of those crazy fit nuts. I love CrossFit. I love Peloton. Not some of my back, but I’m also, because it helps keep me sane and keeps the energy going and gives me, I think helps me have the energy I need to do all the things I want to do. Um, and that kind of leads to my next passion, my big passion in the work, which is really unlocking human potential. So we all have this ability to innovate, but we have been trained out of, or taught not to innovate, that it’s not for us in our work, in research over dozens of years has shown the opposite to be true. Um, so I’m really passionate about getting out there and helping people realize that potential.
Jim Rembach (03:31):
Well, and with that you talk about a lot of myths and this information about creative thinking, which is really that foundational element, innovation and innovation in our society. Um, and a lot of people will say, well, I’m just not creative. Right? And we know that’s just not true. Yes. But if you could please share the fast leader Legion, some of the common myths that we must bust.
Tamara Ghandour (03:52):
Yeah. So I call them the traps of certainty because they’re the things that we have bought into but are actually completely, not only untrue, but they have a detrimental side effect and that they sabotage our own ability to innovate as individuals, as leaders and as teams. So the first one is, and you kind of alluded to it, it’s for certain people and Jim, you know that guy, right? It’s the guy with the blue streak in his hair and the funky glasses and like he’s the innovative one, but not me. I just do my job or you know, look at software all day. And that’s totally untrue. And I think in doing that, we limit our own ability because we abdicate that to somebody else. So that’s the first one. The second one is it’s for certain times only and that time is usually a 3:00 PM brainstorm with a scented marker and a blank easel pad.
Tamara Ghandour (04:41):
And if you’ve been in those meetings and someone warms you up without a horrible question of like, if you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be? And then you’re supposed to launch into ideas, right? And the reality is like that’s great to get together, but the best innovation happens when we’re actually doing the work and our sleeves are rolled up and we’re in it. It’s actually not in the conference room. And don’t get me wrong, I love scented markers. There’s so much fun. I love them at every workshop that we do. But that’s not the only time innovation happens. Um, the third one is that it’s for certain segments, meaning
Tamara Ghandour (05:12):
it’s the R and D team, the marketing team, right? Cause they’re the ones who have permission to innovate, but not for the rest of us. And the forest myth is it’s certain outcomes, meaning it’s like it has to be the latest and greatest disruptive technology and breakthrough thing to be considered innovative or innovation. And I will tell you that time and time again, what I am constantly in awe of is the clients who I work with who are none of the above, right? They’re not the innovation team. They are not putting out something like wildly disruptive into the marketplace. But the innovation they created, what they unlock in themselves is way more powerful and has just as much impact on business. So when you think about those traps, traps of certainty, I think they matter because number one, we, we squelch our own ability to innovate. And number two, we then accidentally set up cultures that don’t allow others to innovate. So if we’re, whether we’re frontline staff or leaders, we accidentally create this environment that actually doesn’t support us
Jim Rembach (06:15):
well. And so ultimately what you’re talking about here, and this goes back to what I was reading in your bio, is that all of us have the opportunity and we need to be very intentional, intentional about improving our IQ E so please share with us what IQ is and what that entails.
Tamara Ghandour (06:32):
Yeah. And can I give you a little bit of science? So it kind of, it makes sense of how it all works together. So over 25 years we dug into the neuroscience, behavioral psychology, like all of that behind it, as well as our work and experience to understand how we as humans innovate. Um, and it started for a lot of reasons. And interestingly enough, one, one of the reasons is because someone came up to me after a conference where I was speaking and said, God, tomorrow, that’s all great. What you share that Southwest airlines does this and Google does that, right? But what am I supposed to do with that? And in my head I’m thinking, well, you’re innovative, right? So that’s what you do. But it was in that moment that I realized, Oh, wait a minute, we need a test and assessment that helps us actually see how we innovate in real life.
Tamara Ghandour (07:16):
So I used to believe like everybody else that, you know, in order to be innovative, you had to step outside your comfort zone and dare to be fearless, right? That’s what made you innovative. And I used to think it was like this left or right brain thing. So either I was, you know, in the zone and being innovative and that was a cool task, or I was doing my to do list, but the two shall not meet. Um, and what research came to help me understand was that I was totally wrong. So basically the awesome part is we all have the structures of innovation in our brain. And in fact, the structures for intelligence and innovation are not the same. And that’s awesome for people like me who are not book smart because one doesn’t rely on the other. So intelligence is super highways in your brain and novation is loose side roads across your brain.
Tamara Ghandour (08:04):
And the beauty is we all have it. But as you alluded to in the intro, a lot of us have been trained out of using it and the brain actually works like a muscle while it’s not technically one. So the more you use it, the more intentional you are, the stronger it gets. So the real difference between someone who’s innovative and wouldn’t consider themselves innovative isn’t truly if they’re innovative or not. It is how much they’re using it. So what we came to realize in all this research is that it’s not, if it’s how it being innovative as universal, we all do it. However, how we do it is unique to each of us. And there’s actually nine styles of innovation and we call them triggers actually because they unlock and activate that part in your brain. And all of us have this unique, really cool combination of power triggers to power triggers and a dormant trigger and our two power triggers.
Tamara Ghandour (08:52):
If we tap into that intentionally, that’s wellspring of innovation. That’s where we provide tremendous value and have a stronger voice in the world. That’s where we find those innovative solutions. And I think what’s really exciting about that finding in that research is a, we can all do it, right? All of us have it. We just got to figure out which ones are right for us. So we’re actually doing it in a way that works for us and when we unlock it, we can apply it to anything. So we don’t need to wait for the 3:00 PM brainstorm or that super sticky challenge. You can apply that innovative mindset to everything.
Jim Rembach (09:26):
Well, and as you’re talking, I started thinking about and why we’re, why we’re talking about this, the need that at all levels, like even say it’s everybody’s business at all levels frontline, all the way up to the top is that all of us need to improve our skills and abilities in this. And there’s, you’re creating that culture is an important part like you had talked about, but really being very intentional about the overall skill development and, and building, you know, those side roads, paving those side roads to have everybody use them. But you know, you often talk about, um, you know, really how all of these work in concert with one another. Uh, because oftentimes I say, okay, if we’re talking about collaborative, experimental, fluid, futuristic, imaginative, inquisitive, and instinctual risk taking and tweaker which are the nine, um, I’ll say, Hey, which ones are most important? But really you talk about a wheel of embrace innovation. So explain that.
Tamara Ghandour (10:20):
Yeah. So let me back up for one second before we get to the wheel and then I’ll explain all of that. So, um, let me just say, cause you made a really important point when you said that it’s about the skill development. Like you know, the culture matters, but actually it started with the skill. So what we’ve seen, I think you’ve seen in your work too from our kind of pre-conversation is that people first innovation is how you actually scale, ignite and sustain innovation. Um, we get a lot of calls from clients who say, uh, so we had just spent a lot of time and money implementing the latest innovation process tool, right? Fill in the blank. Whatever it is, doesn’t even matter which one it is and they’re good. It’s not that they’re not good, but by the time they call me, they’re frustrated because their people aren’t doing it and they’re not doing it for two reasons.
Tamara Ghandour (11:02):
One is square peg, round hole. That process may or may not work for them or they haven’t found the tool in the process. It does. But the other thing is if your people don’t believe that they’re innovative, why are they going to use your innovative tool is just initiative fatigue. It’s like another process. I have to follow. And when we do these innovation audits, we find that with teams in the front lines who go, well, they mandated this, we do this new process and now I’m like, I’ve got another box to check. Are you kidding me? Like is that what you find too? It’s so frustrating.
Jim Rembach (11:32):
Most definitely because, well, that’s the whole, I mean, when we, when we, there’s been all lot of research as far as change and when what changed works and, and, and anytime it’s, you know, that top down like you’re talking about, I mean, you’re doomed.
Tamara Ghandour (11:46):
So doomed. And you know, the, the reality is we, we should be investing in the skills of our people, the culture in the process. If you understand how your people innovate and more importantly, they understand it, the culture of the process will actually come out of it more naturally. Um, and I think the key is right. So I’m an experiential risk takers, so we’re tell us, kind of move over to the wheel. So that’s my two power triggers and my dorm. It is collaborative. So what that means for me is the way I innovate the risk taker in me. I innovate in the uncomfortable. I need to leap and be in that place. And when I am, I thrive. Like not everybody does. But for me that leaping really works right? I am really good at being in that unknown place and because of that I tend to drive bold innovation.
Tamara Ghandour (12:31):
I tend to be able to move forward when other people get stuck. The experiential innovator in me is all about innovation in motion. So I have to get it out of my head and onto paper. The reason that matters to go to the wheel is if I understand that about me and Jimmy, you understand that you actually are an instinctual tweaker. So you’re all about connecting dots and new and different ways and kind of circuitous patterns and the tweakers all about editing and evolving. We actually together create stronger innovation for a couple reasons. One is you and I know how to leverage each other. I understand you. You understand me? So I’m not thinking, and I’ve made this mistake by the way. I’m not thinking, why isn’t Jim just fricking leap and do it? Like why doesn’t he just get on it? Well, cause that’s not how you innovate.
Tamara Ghandour (13:18):
So you’re going to do it in different ways. And I’m like, why is he always mentioning these random stories and connecting them to what we’re talking about? Well that’s because that’s how you innovate. So when I look at teams, what I try to understand is do they have a somewhat balanced wheel of all the different, different styles of innovators? Because when you do, you create incredibly strong thinking. You tap the power of the diversity of thinking. The reality is ideas that come from a birds of a feather tend to die, right? Ideas have come from diversity of thinking tend to thrive. But it comes, when you think about that, it’s not just checking off the boxes of who you have. It goes back to exactly what you were talking about, which is understanding your people and how they do their best and how they contribute.
Jim Rembach (14:01):
You know, as you’re talking, I start thinking about that child. I mean, think about it from this perspective. Um, is that that young child that is not captured, uh, the vocabulary yet, they know what they want but they can’t verbalize it. And so for me, when I start thinking about these skills and all of what you’re talking about, I think one of our frustrations with the ability to creative athlete and really think and innovate is that we’re unable to, to understand this in scope as well as stress. You know, how do we apply it? And so therefore it just comes out as frustration just to keep it.
Tamara Ghandour (14:43):
And when they do it differently, we don’t recognize it as innovation. That’s the other, and I have without a doubt in my early years fallen into that when they didn’t present it to me in or do it in a way that I, I recognize as innovation in my brain. I get even more frustrated. Cause I’m like, well, why don’t you just do it the way this is how I would do it. Um, and what our research and what all this, the IQ we understanding that really helps us realize is how to recognize that and have that it’s a common language. Right. And a communication that you can have. Um, and, and I think, you know, you had mentioned earlier, I’m going to take a little bit of a tangent. I think it relates about like, change is hard a lot in our book and innovations, everybody’s business, we dedicate a lot of time to understanding our primal brain and our reticular activating system because it really is important to not just understand that your team innovate, but understand us ourselves and why sometimes we have this innovative tool. We also sometimes resisted on the subconscious level and don’t even realize,
Jim Rembach (15:44):
yeah, so what we can for me and we see that into when we flip it into it’s, it’s not that I, you know, uh, won’t do it. I see. I can’t do it. Tempted. Yeah. Very different. Okay. So when you, you know, when you start talking about, um, you know, there’s actually multiple paths and pathways and viewpoints that we need to take or when we innovate. And you talk about five, uh, me first of all, this framework that you have, this system that you have, the IQ, he, I, I mean to me I think it brings this so much closer to reality for everybody. You know, you talk about everybody’s business, you have the ability to make that happen. And I really appreciate your work. I want to make sure I get that out. Um, but you talk about these five things that we have to look at. If you could please talk about those and why that’s important.
Tamara Ghandour (16:35):
So, and let me preface this by with a story and tell you that, um, this is an exercise I often do with clients and I have a client. Uh, there’s a visual that goes with it. And I had a client that emailed me, I don’t know, three months later, excuse me, and said, I just want you to let you let you know tomorrow. I kept that PowerPoint slide where you had the visual, this exercise on the wall of my office. Oh my God. Excuse me. I have this visual on the, on my wall in my office because I just want to always be reminded to look more than one way. So the challenge we face and we’ve all been there, is we want to solve a problem. We want to find an opportunity, whatever it is, and we take one path, right? One lane. The reality is that leads to one answer.
Tamara Ghandour (17:18):
And I think I know you’re really big on that kind of divergent thinking and then bringing it back. That’s what this allows us to do. So let me talk a little bit about them. Um, and one of them’s actually surprising, which I love. So there’s like, let’s use an example. Um, let’s use a bottle of water as our example. So we’ve got a problem. We need, we need to, um, create new products for this bottle of water to be in the marketplace. So the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to improve that bottle of water, right? What could we do to make it better? Um, maybe it is self controlled temperature or maybe it has a no spill lid, right? Like something that’s just an incremental improvement. So we’re going to get all that captured. Then we’re going to move to create meaning.
Tamara Ghandour (18:02):
What else could we do with that bottle of water if it wasn’t for drinking? What else could we do? Uh, we could water plants, we could use it as a prism through the window and the sun comes in. I’m making this up as I go. So some of them might sound a little weird, but you get the point, right? So now we’ve got improved ideas. We’ve got create ideas. Now we’re going to go to transform. Meaning what else could be a bottle of water if you didn’t have your structure? What else could do that? A wine bottle could act as that. I’m a spoon. I’m like, so now you’re bringing those ideas and then we’re going to, where am I? I’m on. We’re on on the fifth one, right? Yes. Um, Oh, disrupt. So wild. Yeah. So that’s like, what is the wildest, craziest possible thing you could do with this bottle of water?
Tamara Ghandour (18:48):
Right? Um, it could have, uh, it could have some kind of thing in it where you turn it upside down. It never, ever, ever spills. Like it is the safest bottle out there. It can go to space. It’s got space, dust inside of it. It’s amazing. The last one, and this is the one that surprises people is make it worse. And here’s why. So let’s say we made a ball of water worse. Well, what would we do? The water would be dirty, right? Like if something that we couldn’t drink, it would have toxins in it. Um, it would have holes in the bottom, but then you say, okay, well now that it’s worse, what would I do with it? Oh, that would be an amazing waterfall structure. I could use that to water my plants. I could actually grow strawberries with a drip system in my yard.
Tamara Ghandour (19:29):
So that is kind of a wild example across. But the point of all that is is now I’m not just down one lane, but I’ve gone down five different lanes and I’ve got a wealth of ideas. And what we find with clients is when they do this, it allows them to then pull the best of the best. So one of the worst things we can do in innovation when we’re trying to come up with some new solution idea and whether that’s for internal workflow or a product or service is have one thing that we have to fall in love with, right? We want 50, we want a hundred, we want quantity first and then quality. The beauty is now I’m like, all right, I’m going to take a piece of this, I’m going to take a little bit of this, no spill, a little bit of this tighter cap over here and a little bit of this, um, water changing colors over here, put them together and have an even better idea.
Tamara Ghandour (20:12):
So I’ve seen it time and time again. And on top of that, the last thing I’ll say about it is as you can probably already guess, the improve exercise really gets the tweakers out because they’re like, Oh, I know how to do that. The disrupt the people who are imaginative, who planned the gaps, it really resonates with them. So not only you’re going down multiple paths but you’re tapping all the different types of people in the room or yourself too. So this is the thing where you talk about even in positive psychology, they talk about being able to be matched up with unlikely pairs to be be able to
Jim Rembach (20:47):
bring out those different perspectives and you have to do it in an environment that’s safe. That’s part of the culture. And I don’t want to go down that path. I mean, because I think your foundational elements that we’re talking about here are more important. Those other things can be communicated by anybody who’s doing the type of work you’re doing. I mean, I think what you have is so unique and you talked about the whole divergent and convergent thinking thing and those who’ve actually been on listen to the fast leader Legion, um, uh, that they’ve heard me talk about that a lot. But I, I like the way that you put it because you, I mean it’s just really simple layman’s terms. It’s that you have to separate the activities of creation and innovation from the analysis. And that’s to me, I think you and I had talked before we got on the show and I think that’s where 99% of failure happens. It’s right there.
Tamara Ghandour (21:35):
Totally. Yeah, it’s right at. So here’s what happens. We try to judge as we try to innovate and the minute we do that, we shut ourselves down. Right? We’re not giving ourselves permission. It sounds too crazy. That little primal lizard brain on your shoulder, you know, speaks up and is like, don’t do it. That’s not a good idea. There’s a reason that’s never been done. Right. So I call mine Bernard, by the way. I like to name him because then I can talk to him. And be like, get away Bernard. Not today, but, but that’s what happens. So here’s the deal. Our brain actually, and I talked to some neuroscientists about this, our brain cannot innovate and analyze or judge at the same time and wa yeah, it’s impossible. And that’s why we end up with this kind of BS, incremental results when we try to innovate.
Tamara Ghandour (22:23):
But here’s the thing, it’s actually really easy to get over this hurdle. So let me just share one simple way that you could do by yourself with a team in 10 minutes, in five hours. It is so easy. All you have to do, say to yourself or the group, Hey guys, let’s say we have an hour. Hey guys, we’re going to spend 40 minutes being wild and free. We’re just, we’re going to innovate. I’m not saying we’re getting rid of our realities that we face, but we’re just gonna. Anything goes, no judgment. We’re getting it all out there. Then we’re going to spend the last 20 minutes analyzing, voting, assessing, and figuring it out. It does two things. One is it puts people at ease, right? Gives them permission to be more innovative, but it also shuts down the primal brain, which is over there wanting to judge and keep you safe and shut you down because that little Bernard on my shoulder goes, Oh, okay, we’re going to get to that.
Tamara Ghandour (23:11):
I’m not going to worry now. I’m not going to judge too much now. I’ll worry about that. It’ll the last 20 minutes. So it gives us an incredible permission. But it’s fascinating to me because you’ll hear it all the time, right? I’m sure you see it. People go, well, what if we did this? Nevermind. That’s actually, now that I say that out loud, it’s horrible and you’re thinking, well, hold on. There’s a nugget there. Like let’s, it may not be the right idea and not every idea is the right idea, but let’s explore that. But people get shut themselves down. It’s incredible. And I used to do it too, like I get it, but I think the research shows that if we just give ourselves a little bit of permission, we’ll get to an incredible amount of quantity. There was this really interesting study I recently read about, about a photography class.
Tamara Ghandour (23:49):
Have you seen this? So it’s really cool. So the professor, um, split the class in half, half the class got graded on quantity, like just number of photos submitted, the other half got graded on quality, the perfect photo. So as you can imagine, the group that was given, the quantity came, came up with the most brilliant photos actually got higher grades than the ones that were super worried about the right photo, right? Cause they were analyzing and judging all the time where this group was free to experiment and play and test. So quantity first, innovation first, judging later, you know, talking about game of fire and game gamification of this whole process. You even talk about, you know, playing around with words, having word games. Tell us a little bit about that. So this is why I’d say one of our, um, our communities and everyday innovators as we call them, cause for us, right, it’s everyday people like you and me.
Tamara Ghandour (24:43):
It’s not just the Steve jobs. In fact, I’ll just tell you in the book, we don’t even talk about Steve jobs. Elon Musk, like I referenced them to say that I’m not talking about them and that’s it because they’re amazing. They’re genius, but they’re not us. I want us to have innovation. So here’s the beauty of word games and it it’s the same. Um, it has the same kind of philosophy as the look always. We were just talking about here’s what happens. So Jim, give me a, give me a challenge to solve. Like just give me a question like how do I whatever, like something you, our listeners would be thinking about how do I move to remote, how do I move from, okay, something we are all thinking about right now and hopefully we can have a chance to talk about innovation and crisis because we are all on lockdown in the middle level.
Tamara Ghandour (25:29):
I’m, I’m, how do I move to remote? So great question. Here’s the thing though, if that’s the only question we try to answer again, we’re going to go down one path and answer it one way. So I like to play Madlibs with the questions I asked and I like to answer all the questions. So instead of how do I move to remote, I might say, how do I leverage remote? That takes me to a whole different path of thinking, right? Again, it opens up that lens to give you more ideas and more thinking. How do I minimize remote? Like you can flip it in a lot of different ways. What we find is that when we do that right, we expand our thinking so much. I mean we always start, um, a little narrow and that’s okay, right? That’s human nature. And then we go expanding span.
Tamara Ghandour (26:18):
And I think it is unrealistic to think that we’re going to suddenly leap into the disruptive solution, right? We’ve got to start here and work our way out and that’s okay. Um, but playing word games, simple Madlibs can give you whole new ways of thinking about things and all you have to do is change one, maybe two words in a sentence. And you get there because you know, the thing I always found frustrating is innovation experts would say, you know, your, your solutions are only good as your questions. And I was in the audience like, well what questions am I supposed to ask? Like how am I supposed to ask the right questions? This gives you an easy way to get to those questions because you’re just changing
Jim Rembach (26:55):
the perspective a little bit every time. So for me, when I started thinking about those word plays, those uh, examples, I mean to me I start thinking that, okay, I need to start doing or running list and create and have a bunch of these that I just continue to cycle through and continually refer back to and grow. Because just like you were saying is, I mean we get a in a, in a particular habit and if we ask a particular question, we get an answer and that leads to success. That’s the only answer to the question we keep asking.
Tamara Ghandour (27:25):
Right? That’s right. And you know, just like the other exercise exercises, you can imagine certain words resonate with certain types of innovators and styles. So for me like how do I move? How do I leap? I’m like, yes, let’s figure that out. Right? So for me that resonates. But for someone who’s a, um, instinctual, it might be like, how do I flow into, right? The words can actually help unlock different people. But to your point, like, so we have a toolkit online and innovation toolkit that’s actually a connection to the assessment. So you can put it into practice and we have a whole list of words for you to play with on there because you just got to get the brain going a little bit. And to your point, like just have a running list of words that you can always kind of move in and out of.
Jim Rembach (28:09):
Yeah, we’ll definitely make sure that we put a link to that on your show notes page. Okay. So we talked about the individual impact, the individual doing different hustle, us leading them in a different way. Uh, you know, again, this is everybody’s responsibility to all this is why we’re talking about and it’s so important and you make it. To me, it’s just like, Hey, I think everybody can grasp on to what you’re talking about and get this con, you know, turn this from a concept and a theory into a practical application, which is so vital because most people talk about, Oh, Hey, you need to innovate and this is how you go about, this is how the brain works. This is how team dynamics work. This is how I mean this, that and the other. But it’s like, Oh no, no, no, no.
Tamara Ghandour (28:48):
I did some debate, like fluffy subjective thing and you’re like, well how am I supposed to do that?
Jim Rembach (28:53):
Exactly. But we need to have the right environment needs to thrive. Right? So what are some of the behaviors? We do talk a lot about behaviors. Um, is that we need to make sure that our vitally important that we have in place.
Tamara Ghandour (29:04):
So let me share with you an experience I had, um, that really brings this part to life about how to think about behaviors. Because I’m a big fan of and, and what I’ve seen in my experience is that rewarding behaviors that you want to drive innovation. That’s how you drive culture and innovation, not the outcomes. Cause we get stuck on the outcomes, don’t we? Like it’s success on you know, cake on Friday or the failure shelf. That’s kind of what we do. So, um, a while back I was running this innovation consulting team is about 25 of us and I was the vice president and I needed to figure out how to solve some business challenges and, but I knew that my perspective was not the only perspective I needed to figure this out. What I really needed was to get everybody’s opinion right from our frontline receptionist who are junior consultants.
Tamara Ghandour (29:48):
I needed everybody. So I went out, we had an open office space and most of them, and I said, Hey, I really need some help. I’m gonna, this is the challenge I’m going to put up on the wall. And this was before, you know, cool collaboration technology. So, you know, just give me a sticky note with your ID on it. Just stick it in the box and my desk or just email me, whatever. So, of course the three people who are always going to give me the ideas, give me ideas, and I’m reading through them and I’m like, okay, these are great, but I still need, I need more, I need more for more people. So I’m thinking to myself, how do I do this? So I walk out and at first I walk out and I go, Hey everyone, um, I just want to thank Mindy.
Tamara Ghandour (30:25):
She gave me this idea to blah blah, blah. That was a really great idea. Thank you. Looking forward to the rest. Same result the next week. And I’m like, well, but I said something, but I said something about the outcome, right? Not the behavior I was looking for. So I was getting really frustrated. So I was like, alright, I gotta change gears. So I went to the coffee shop, I got a bunch of gift cards and the next day I went into the pit in the office and I loudly said about this guy ed, who had submitted some ideas like two minutes prior. I mean, I came running out of my office, I must look crazy. And I said the top of my lungs so everybody could hear me. Hey everyone. I just wanted to say thank you to ed for submitting ideas. I’ve got a gift card for you.
Tamara Ghandour (31:08):
I don’t even know what you wrote. I haven’t even looked yet. I’m just so thrilled that you took the time and were thoughtful enough to give me your feedback. So thank you. Gave him the card and walked away. Sure enough, over the next week everybody participated and gave me multiple ideas and we solved the challenge. And what I learned in that experience was if you want innovation, you got to figure out the behaviors they’re going to get you there. The outcomes are going to happen no matter what. So things like submitting ideas, things like I’m one of the ones that we reward heavily. My company is conflict disagreeing because we know that leads to innovation done in a healthy way of course. But that’s a big part of innovation, right? So we reward that. Um, for the people on my team who are inquisitive by the way, which are people who, um, in a way by asking questions, they tend to dig deep and pull back the layers of the onion.
Tamara Ghandour (32:01):
I reward them for asking those questions so you can reward people based on their style of innovation. But I’d say the overall takeaway that’s important to understand is figured out the top five behaviors that are going to drive innovation with your team and reward them regardless of the outcome before the outcome even happens. So if collaboration is big, you know, I’m going to reward you Jim, for collaborating with someone when you got nothing out of it, right? Just helping the other team member, I’m going to reward you for taking a risk or speaking up with a new idea. When we reward behaviors, we get more of what we’re looking for. I mean it’s like dogs and kids, right? I both your were more behaviors. Same thing with adults. We’re no different.
Jim Rembach (32:41):
Well, so normally on the show we ask people about their hump story, but I think you just gave a talk about going through transition. So thank you. Uh, however, when we start looking at all of this, it can be so daunting that we need, you know, really inspiration and we look forward a lot of different ways. But on the show we absolutely put a spotlight on quotes because they can do that for us. Is there a quote or two that you liked that you can share?
Tamara Ghandour (33:06):
Yes. So I’m the one that I love the most, it’s too long to say is the man in the arena. Like that to me is probably, I mean I know everybody, like everybody loves it, right? And to me that is, it’s all my wall actually. I just, I, that’s the thing I look to and I’m like, Oh, I’m just so not in it. I’m not in it, you know, or I’m feeling like I might doing enough or am I really, you know, going after it. I love that quote. The one that I put in a book that I love is Dolly Parton, who is the bomb diggity and she said, figure out who you are and do it on purpose. And I thought that was brilliant. And obviously it relates to like understand how you innovate. That’s your greatest value contribution and do it on purpose. And I just, to me that was amazing,
Jim Rembach (33:49):
you know, and with that quote and what you just said in that, again, I want to emphasize the VA. I mean just the enormity of need in regards to people understanding and improving their IQ [inaudible] how important that is in today’s world. So to me it was a situation with this whole coven 19 is that people were thrust, you know, into change, uh, that they may have thought about, um, and say, Oh yeah, well we’re working on it and we’ll get to it. It’s like, boom, I don’t have a choice, you know, it’s now or die. Um, and then also having to innovate in ways that they never even imagined. However, there’s a lot of risks when you get thrust into the need. Um, and we talked about, you know, the whole crisis issue and innovating and crisis and potential pitfalls. And I think that’s important for us to explore. So can you give us some of your perspectives and you know, innovating during times of crisis and what we need to be aware of?
Tamara Ghandour (34:50):
Yeah. And let me just say, I mean it is what we are dealing with right now is unprecedented because not, not only has our economy come to a screeching halt and the rug being pulled out from under us for a lot of us in business, I mean it has for me as well, but we’re also dealing with this health scare too, right? Like all kind of wrapped into one. And I’d say that people are, um, their mental bandwidth is stretched thinner than it’s ever been. So you know, if your bandwidth is like your, I like to think of it, your energy is like the wifi in your house, right? And when every devices on everything slows down. So I think that’s what we’re dealing with it, you know, it was interesting, I was having a conversation with someone the other day and they said, Tamara, I don’t understand.
Tamara Ghandour (35:31):
Like how am I supposed to innovate when all I can think is survival and getting through the day. And I get it. And my response back is right now more than ever, and I think you kind of said in a different way, innovation is survival. We don’t have a choice. So, and that’s not just from a business perspective, not just if you own a restaurant, but also if you’re an employee, right? Um, you have to figure out how you add value and how you contribute and how you can look at your job in a different way. How to solve problems in a different way, how to unearth new opportunities that maybe didn’t exist before. Um, and I think we really get stuck into this trap of just keep my head down. Just get into survival mode. Just get through this. Or the other trap that I see a lot of is, and I just wrote a blog about this is um, I can’t wait for us to get back to normal.
Tamara Ghandour (36:20):
There’s no normal coming back. Like this is not about when the porn teens over, we’re all gonna run out of our houses and it’s going to be business as usual. This is going to shift everything. I was having a conversation with a gentleman owns a company, they have three floors in a building in San Francisco. And I said, how’s remote working going? And he said, you know, tomorrow, here’s the interesting part. He said it’s frustrating. There’s some things that we’re learning. He said, but I’ve also realized I don’t know that I need three floors of real estate. There’s bloat in my people, in my real estate, in our workflow that we’ve stripped away because we’ve been forced to, but it’s actually been an opportunity. So I’m hearing that and I’m going, you know my innovation, I’m like salivating cause that’s what I do for a living.
Tamara Ghandour (37:00):
But I’m also thinking, hold on, if I’m an employee, I better make sure that I am vital, that I am providing innovative solutions because all business owners right now at fortune 100 or small mom and pop are going, what do I really need to be successful here? And how is this going to shift how we do things? So I mean it is, it is frightening and it’s scary on one hand. Yet, on the other hand, it is an incredible opportunity to turn uncertainty into innovation, but we’ve really gotta be focused on doing that and leading in that way and giving our people permission to be innovative. Because here’s the other thing I’d say for those of us that are leaders, we have permission to change and innovate. Now in a way we didn’t have before with our employees and our customers. They will give us more Slack and forgiveness for getting it wrong because they’re going through it too.
Tamara Ghandour (37:48):
And we should absolutely take advantage of that right now and try and adjust and fail and succeed because we’re all in this together. Um, but now’s the time, right? And I think what we’ll see in, let’s call it six, eight weeks, who knows, right? I mean, I can’t predict when this is really gonna lift and we’re gonna kind of go back to work. But it’ll be interesting to see. I think the ones that get stuck in survival and inaction from a person perspective leader in a, in a company perspective are the ones that are gonna have a real problem on the other side. I think the ones that are in the trenches, innovating and figuring it out are the ones that we’re going to see stronger on the other side. Well, and I appreciate you helping us through all of those positive transitions and wishes you the very best. Now before we move on, let’s get a quick one from our,
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Jim Rembach (38:54):
four slash better. All right, here we go fast and the Legion, it’s time for the home. Okay. Tomorrow. The hook they hold on is our show where you give us good insights fast. So I’m gonna ask you several questions and you’re Chuck, just give us a robust yet rapid responses are going to help them onward and upward past tomorrow. Granddaughter, are you ready to hold down? I think so. I’m a little nervous, but I’m there. I’m ready. All right. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today? Oh, I think what’s holding
Tamara Ghandour (39:25):
the back is actually mental energy and making sure that I stay focused on the right things versus feeling like I need to get stretched when there’s so much I could be doing right now.
Jim Rembach (39:34):
What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Tamara Ghandour (39:39):
Tap the power of the diversity on your team. Don’t try to make them be like you.
Jim Rembach (39:43):
And what is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Tamara Ghandour (39:47):
Oh, well I think you said in my intro, I have this funny thing about the rules you can follow on, but I’m not going to.
Jim Rembach (39:54):
And what do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life
Tamara Ghandour (39:58):
but like a resource? Sure. Yeah. So base camp [inaudible] we love base camp at our company. It helps us stay just connected and organized.
Jim Rembach (40:08):
And what would be one book that you’d recommend to our Legion? It can be from any genre. Of course we’re going to put a link to innovation. Is everybody’s business on your shown off page as well.
Tamara Ghandour (40:17):
So, um, one of my MFA is called, um, the big leap by I think it’s guy. Uh Oh God, now I can’t, sorry, I can’t remember his last name but I love it. It’s all about breaking through your upper limits and this fantastic. I’m sure we’ll get the link right in the show notes, but yeah.
Jim Rembach (40:32):
Yes, we will. And okay. Fast leader lead and you can find links to that and other bonus information from today’s show by going to fast leader.net/tomorrow grand Allen. Okay. Tomorrow, this is my last someplace I would own question. Imagine you’ve been given the opportunity to go back to the age 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. Can only take one. So what scale or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Tamara Ghandour (40:55):
Hmm. Um, I would take back confidence. I think in my early twenties I was, uh, hesitant to take some of the risks I could have taken or speak up when I should’ve spoken up because I was junior. I didn’t know I was in my twenties. I didn’t have the experience. But the truth is at all ages and all different types of people, we all have something really valuable to give. And I wish I’d known that then
Jim Rembach (41:20):
tomorrow. I had fun with you today. Can you please share the Fast Leader Legion, how they can connect with you?
Tamara Ghandour (41:24):
Yeah. So you can buy the book on Amazon. Of course, Innovation is Everybody’s Business. Um, and you can take the assessment and find everything else at our website. Gotolaunchstreet.com all one word,
Jim Rembach (41:36):
Tamara Ghandour. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. And wisdom, the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.