039: Annette Franz: Running into the same wall constantly
Annette Franz Show Notes
Annette Franz has experienced a series of humps that when strung together culminate into running into the same wall. Trying to do right by her staff and by her customers, Annette found the same people getting in the way. Listen and learn how Annette got over the hump to move onward and upward.
Annette grew up on a farm in West Salem, Ohio.
She is an animal lover through and through and, as a young girl, had dreams of becoming of a veterinarian. An intense dislike for Chemistry courses, of which six were required to get into vet school, and a serious fainting reaction to the sight of blood woke her up from that dream. After completing three years of Animal Science study at Ohio State University, she moved to southern California and completed her degree in management at California State University.
Her love of math and writing came into play when she saw a posting for a position with J.D. Power and Associates, and 20+ years of career progression through a variety of firms later, she continues to call this customer experience space home.
In 2011, she started her blog at CX Journey as a way to share her passion for all things customer experience, to help companies not only understand the importance of the employee experience and its role in delivering an exceptional customer experience but also transform their cultures to ensure the customer is at the center of every conversation. She was recently recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” by Business Insider and has been recognized by several organizations as a top influencer in Customer Experience. She is an active CXPA member, as a CX Expert, CX Mentor, and a SoCal Local Networking Team Lead; she also serves on the Board of Directors.
For fun, she loves writing, working out, running, going to the movies and to sporting events, playing at the beach, and hanging out with her boys, who are 10 and 13.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“Working out has instilled a lot of discipline in me.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“It’s all about prioritizing and making to-do lists.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“Actions speak louder than words.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“If you say you’re going to do something, do it.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“Don’t just tell me, show me.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“Leadership is about a lot of different things.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“If you don’t have any followers than you are not a leader.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“Leadership doesn’t mean you have to be in a role where people report to you.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“Speak your mind…your opinions matter” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“You can only blame yourself where you are today versus where you want to be.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“Do your homework and be prepared.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“Follow your head and not your heart.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
“In the end, everything turns out the way that it’s supposed to.” -Annette Franz Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Annette Franz has experienced a series of humps that when strung together culminate into running into the same wall. Trying to do right by her staff and by her customers, Annette found the same people getting in the way. Listen to what Annette ran into, that you probably run into, and how you can get over the hump to move onward and upward faster.
Advice for others
Speak your mind because your opinions matter.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Best Leadership Advice Received
When you come to a fork in the road, take.
Secret to Success
Being prepared. Reading, learning, always being in the know. I love having Google at my fingertips.
Best tools that helps in business or Life
Knowledge and awareness.
54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.Click to access edited transcript
Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
“Developing your company’s talent and leadership pipeline can be an overwhelming task but your burn is over with ResultPal you can use the power of practice to develop more leaders faster. Move onward and upward by going to resultpal.com/fast in getting a $750 performance package for free.”
Jim Rembach: Alright, Fast Leader Legion, we’re going to have a great show today because I have one of those folks that I’ve admired for a very long time, I think her wit is just as fantastic as her skill and expertise, her name is Annette Franz, she grew up on a farm on West Salem, Ohio. She’s an animal lover through and through, and as a young girl had dreams of becoming a veterinarian but an intense dislike for chemistry courses, and she six of those in vet school, and a serious fainting reaction to the sight of blood woke her up from that dream.
After completing three years of animal science study at the Ohio State University she moved to Southern California and completed her degree in Management at Cal State University. Her love of math and writing came into play when she saw a position for JD Power and Associates and 20 years of career progression through a variety of firms she continues to call customer experience home. In 2011 she started her blog at CX Journey as a way to share her passion for all things customer experience and to help companies not only understand the importance of the employee experience and its role in delivering exceptional concerts but also to transform their cultures to ensure the customer is the center of every conversation.
She was recently recognized as one of the 100 most influential tech women on Twitter by Business Insider and has been recognized by several organizations as a top influencer in customer experience. She is an active Customer Experience Professionals Association member and expert and mentor along with myself, and a SoCal local networking team lead and she also serves on the Board of Directors. For fun she loves writing, working out, running, going to the movies and sporting events, playing on the beach and hanging out with her boys who are 10 and 13. Annette Franz, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Annette Franz: I am ready. Yes, and that was quite a mouthful. Thank you very much. [Laugh]
Jim Rembach: I think it was all worth it. Because you have gained, not just high but loyal following, within the customer experience based and it’s well learned, so it’s been my pleasure. I’ve given our Legion a little bit of information about you but can you tell us of your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?
Annette Franz: My current passion continues to be customer experience, but you want me to tell you outside of customer experience? I am a fitness nut. I am all about working out, growing up I ran in track and cross-country. I competed in bodybuilding about 20 years ago and that instilled lots of discipline in me through life and in my career. I still work out every day until this days, so that is my passion outside of professional life.
Jim Rembach: I know one of the things when you start talking about that passion and that exercises that diet that comes into it, tell me what’s the deal with the sushi thing?
Annette Franz: I hate sushi. I hate sushi. I don’t eat fish actually, at all, I hate fish. [Laugh]But throw me a big steak and some potatoes and I’m good. [Laugh]
Jim Rembach: Okay, so, I know also that as a single mom all the things that you have to do in regards to work, home, exercise and all that, how do you find time to get all those of those things accomplish? Because for me, when I look at the proliferation of your writing, your social media activity and knowing all of those other things that you have to do and being a single parent, how do you do that?
Annette Franz: I’m a workaholic. [Laugh]Hello, my name is Annette, and I’m a workaholic, yes, that’s it. I get up early prioritize, it’s all about prioritizing and making yourself to do less. And I’ve done—my kids are 10 and 13 and, by the way, they’re absolutely my passion as well, but I say that fitness is my passion because it gives me sanity so I can deal with everything else that happens throughout the day. [Laugh] But, yeah, realty it’s all about prioritizing and that discipline that I mentioned carries over into my life. I am very discipline person, I have this schedule and the structure that I go by every day and every week. I know when I need to write, I live by deadlines and I live by my calendars, so that’s how I get through the day.
Jim Rembach: I’ve also noticed here, I don’t know if it’s just been a recent epiphany but it’s seems to me, especially on guest on the show, when they have mentioned that they grew up on a farm, all have that kind of discipline, how is that?
Annette Franz: It’s a crazy—first of all, I come from German parents, so I’ve got this amazing work ethic that is in my genes, it comes from them. But growing up on a farm, it’s hard work, we had beef-cows, we had sheep, we had chickens, and we had all of it. We had to get up in the morning and feed them –dirge, horse and at the end of the day you’ve got to come back and do the same thing. You’ve got crop out in the field, and I’ve learned how to drive a truck when I was 12 [Laugh] so, it is a hard life, it’s a lot of hard work and it really that alone instills great work ethic into you.
Jim Rembach: And it sure seems that it has and it’s so much like a brotherhood, so to speak, that everybody kind of have that discipline when it comes to a farm. For me it’s like, uhm, do I need to move to a farm to have my kids work so that their discipline would be instilled in them?
Annette Franz: I wouldn’t trade it for the world. People ask me about it all the time. I think about how would my life be different had I grown up in the city? It would have completely different, I wouldn’t trade for the world that I grew up on a farm, did all the things that I did, saw all the things that I saw that most people would never see in their lifetime, so that’s pretty amazing. Maybe, yes, you should move to a farm.
Jim Rembach: I think I might do that.
Annette Franz: Get the kids out there now, it’s a good time to get them out there now.
Jim Rembach: Definitely.
Annette Franz: I’ve taken my kids back to visit my parents who still have the farms back in Ohio and we come back here and they’re just completely different kids one we’re there [6:35] come back here.
Jim Rembach: When you start talking about discipline, when you start talking about drive, when you start talking about structure we often have to continually remind ourselves to focus and execute, and one of the things that we do on the shows is we look at leadership quotes because they seem to help a lot of us in a lot of different ways, do have quote or two that helps you?
Annette Franz: My absolute favorite quote is, “Action speaks louder than words.” It’s the mantra that I live by it’s something that I tell my kids all the time. In my professional it’s the same way, with my staff it’s the same way. If you say you’re going to do something, do it right, don’t just tell me, show me, that kind of thing. I think that’s probably my number one of my favorite quote.
Jim Rembach: There’s also a piece in there that I think for me in the past year or two that I’ve really been focusing on and that’s the word, “Integrity.” A lot of people don’t, including myself, I’m not saying that’s someone’s issue it’s mine as well. Not really certain what that word means because when you ask folks, “Do you consider yourself to be a person of high integrity?” Their natural response is, “Yes, of course, absolutely I am.” [Laugh]However they don’t tell the truth, they backstab, they say they’ll call you back they won’t call you back, they say that they’re a person who you can trust and then they’re untrustworthy, so it seems to me like it’s really interesting how that word has so much importance for folks but they don’t know how to execute upon it.
Annette Franz: Yeah, absolutely. I absolutely agree with you. That doesn’t just apply to leadership but applies to the world that you and I come from as well. The customer experience space and talking about all the things that they’re going to do—their advertising or their marketing, but what comes down to it, the experience is what you actually do for the customer do for your employees that really matters. And yeah, that all wrap up in integrity, absolutely I agree with you.
There’s a slide it has five different things that starts with I on it that I like to use as a conversation piece. It has things like, of course integrity, but it has innovation, ignition and a couple of other things I can think about, it’s on the top of my head right now, and so I ask people, “From this five things that are sitting out here, they all start with I, which one is most important to you? For me, I work with a lot of contact center leaders, and apps that are responsible for customer care and contact centers, and 90% of those folks say, integrity. It’s just overwhelming but then when there’s a situation where you start talking about what they do as far as interacting with customers and interacting with employees and how everybody gets treated things like that, that integrity piece falls apart really fast.
And I think that’s why it’s easy to—rather than saying integrity because I think people don’t always get what that means, like you said. When you say, action speaks louder than word, they pause and think about it for a second but then they say, “Oh, okay. Yeah, I get it, okay.”[Laugh]
It’s a great point, thanks for sharing it. When you start thinking about that transition and even when you had the dream of going and being a vet and then having the harsh realization that couldn’t make it through chemistry, that’s a big hump to get over. And also you made a huge shift from the farm and move to Southern California and, I know just because of a lot of the conversations that we had in the past that you’ve had humps, we’ve all had humps. Can you think of one that you’ve had to get over that defined you?
It’s interesting and I like that you add that defined you because I wouldn’t call it just one hump, I would say it’s a series of humps. [Laugh] I’ve had some challenges in my career and the interesting thing is, obviously they made the person that I am today, the leader that I am today. I won’t tell you the story of each hump, just that we can protect the not so innocent, but I feel like each of them strung together really culminates in running into the same wall constantly, hitting the same wall constantly. Trying to do right by my staff, trying to do right by customers and that hump, that wall that I kept running into was the leadership above me.
I was running various departments at different companies and it was really about the actual leadership above me, so we’re talking about CEO’s, and the C-suite, and sort of getting in the way and thinking that they’re doing the right thing or have the right approach to it or not supporting what I believe is what’s best for my staff or what’s best for my clients, and that’s something that I’ve run into so many times. And I would go back and then refer to them as “leadership” because leadership is about a lot of different things. It’s about caring about your people, it’s about being accountable for you it’s about inspiring others to do great things and being inspirational. And when you’re not that, “are you really a leader?” In order to be a leader you have to have somebody who’s going to follow you. And if you’re not willing to follow, if you don’t have any followers then you’re not a leader. There’s got to be those people in line who want to be part of what you’re doing. And so, that’s one of the struggle that I’ve had in my career, is the leadership.
You might say, “Hey, maybe that’s your problem then, not the people above you.”
But if you went back to look at my history, you would probably agree with me that there were some leadership issues there in some of the organizations I worked for. I think what it really reminded me of is that leadership doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in a role where you got people reporting to you. I think leadership also means that you have people, like I just said, who are willing to follow you because you inspired them, because you do great things, because you’re doing things other want to do because they like what they’re seeing in what you’re doing or when you’re role playing being a good model for them. I know it doesn’t necessarily fall into your hump story, but it’s sort of like I’ve had string of events that made me who I am today.
Jim Rembach: What you’re talking about is a common thing. It isn’t a scenario where you’re unique from the perspective of having that difficulty in trying to get the agenda as well as maybe even calling people out and getting all of those things moving forward. Because of some of those experiences that you’ve have had, have you found that there is something that seems to help move things a little bit better than others?
Annette Franz: I think the best thing is don’t be afraid to speak your mind and say what you’re thinking. And your opinion matters whether it makes a difference at the moment or not, thing might come back around and somebody later down the line may say, “Hey, you’re right” or “Hey, you know what, I’m glad you spoke your mind because that was an important part of where are we now, where we’re headed now in terms of”—those kinds of things. I firmly believe that making sure that you speak you mind, don’t let people walk all over you. You’re opinions matter always be true to yourself. And leave knowing that you said and did everything that you could to hopefully leave things in a good place and like you said, “I have something to come back later, and you know what, we thought about it and that was right.”
Jim Rembach: I know even for myself that when I was younger I’m known for being blunt at times, and if you have a glass of wine or two and gets that way pretty easily—when I was younger you used to just be, Boom! This is the way it is. And I’ve tried to do a better job of that, of course with family it’s a little bit different. A professional situation and you haven’t met people a lot, you soften a little bit—have you seen that there’s been, like I use to do this and I do this now and seen that there’s some kind of different effect that happens with that an executive buy-in?
Annette Franz: Yeah. Absolutely. Coming from the background that I come from, and we’ve talked about it, the German, we sit and we listen—we’re not, maybe some Germans are but I’m not it wasn’t brought up that way, we are a little bit more reserved and I’m always been the kind of person who gives my opinion when I’m asked or a situation has gotten so bad that something needs to be said. That’s where I’m coming from, ironically in the position that I’m in right not it’s a 180, I’m in a position now where I’ve been hired for very specific reason and I been told, “You’re the expert, don’t wait for somebody to ask you. What you’re thinking or if you hear something say it don’t be afraid to put your opinion out there just say it.” Which is great, I love it. I love to be in that—it’s hard for me though because they have to keep reminding me so. It’s a transition but I’m getting there. [Laugh]
Jim Rembach: I would also say too that—it seems like has been earned.
Annette Franz: Thank you, I hope so. After 20+ years in this field and knowing the things that I know and have learned—I’m never the kind of person that take that as being arrogant or anything like that I’m a very humble person. So to me—yes, thank you, I think it has been earned. And finally it’s great to be working with somebody who appreciates, it’s awesome.
Jim Rembach: I think that’s a great point. I know for me, when I was a youth it wasn’t appreciated even though I have had some skills and I didn’t know better to keep quiet. [Laugh] You know that it did serve me well but now –started to fall apart [Laugh] There’s a little bit more a recognition that, “Hey, May I know what the heck you’re talking about?” and so I can appreciate that. If you’re to look at—with all that you have on your plate right now, what is that one thing that’s really giving you a lot of excitement?
Annette Franz: Wow! There are a lot of things on my plate right now. The thing that always excites me the most and I think I can wrap it into a nutshell because it encompasses or embodies a lot of things that I’m doing right now is, teaching. Teaching others, sharing with others what I’ve learned. And I think that’s why I like being in a leadership position. I like being—I been a department head a couple of ties and I like being in that role because I can step in and help other people be successful, I think that’s the goal of mine.
Jim Rembach: The Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now, before we move on let’s get a quick words from our sponsor.
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Jim Rembach: Alright, here we go Fast Leader Legion, it’s time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Annette the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Annette Franz, are you ready to hoedown?
Annette Franz: I am ready. I feel like I should have had my red bull this morning but I am ready.
Jim Rembach: What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Annette Franz: Myself. You can only blame yourself where you are today versus where you want to be—myself.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Annette Franz: When you come to a fork in the road take it.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe that contributes to your success?
Annette Franz: Being prepared. Reading, learning, always being in the know, just being prepared. I love having Google at my fingertips. Just like the greatest thing, I can be in a conversation, I can be in a meeting and somebody said something and I’m like, “Oh, I can look that up, see what I can find out about it” It’s always been, always, always been, do your homework and be prepared.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Annette Franz: Other than my calendar because if it’s not on my calendar it doesn’t happen. I would say just knowledge and awareness in general.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book the you would recommend to our listeners?
Annette Franz: I’m in the middle of reading this book. I’m almost done but I think it’s a fabulous book, it’s the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader listeners, you can find links to that book and other bonus material from today’s show and quotes that you can tweet, by going to fastleader.net/Annette franz. Okay Annette, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you’ve been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one, so what piece of skill or knowledge would you take back with you and why?
There’s so many things. [Laugh] You don’t get to this age and, go man if I was 25 and knew what I knew today but I would say, I would go with, follow your head not your heart. This one is a tough one for me because I’m a big softie, I’m a very caring and a very giving person and there are times when I should have followed my head and it would have been a whole lot less painful. [Laugh] but in the end everything turns out the way that it’s supposed to and not—it’s a great advice from my dad. My dad has always said, “Things happen the way that they’re supposed to.” So, listen to your head not your heart.
Annette it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
First of all, I’d like to say, thank you Jim, I really appreciate you for inviting me to participate, this has been a lot of fun it’s been great. I’m always happy to catch up with you and chat with you. Couple of different ways, my blog is www.cx-journey.com or on Twitter@annettefranz or Twitter@cxjourney.
Annette Franz, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot! thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, the Fast Leader legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump.
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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