CX Top Tips

079: Curtis Kopf: It takes time to get over that

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Curtis Kopf Show Notes

This episode was recorded on location at the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Member Insight Exchange.

Curtis Kopf has a point of view on what he wants to do and he just wants to go do it. But when Curtis encounters someone with differing opinions he has had to learn how to prevent himself from dismissing them and pushing them out of the way. Listen to Curtis as he shares how he gets over this hump.

Curtis was born and raised with his younger sister in Narragansett Rhode Island, surrounded by ocean, fishing boats and clapboard houses.

Curtis Spent spend much of his teenage years working on his uncle’s offshore lobster boat in southern Rhode Island. In the summers, they went more than 100 miles offshore on a 75-foot steel lobster boat for three to four days at a time. He learned early what it meant to do hard work, to depend on the people around you and to build strong teams.

Curtis has held a variety of leadership roles in his career – from serving as Amazon’s first General Manager in the UK to developing curriculum and teaching at the University of Washington’s Mobile Business Strategy Certificate Program. He has an undergraduate degree in English from Brown University and a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins.

Curtis is a visionary leader and digital innovator who has built industry-leading customer experiences at Alaska Airlines, Microsoft and Amazon.com. As Vice President of Customer Innovation for Alaska Airlines, Curtis built award-winning mobile apps and customer feedback programs, as well as pioneered such innovations as online bag-tags and the use of biometrics. Future Travel Experience named Curtis as one of 25 global innovation leaders in the airline industry and Alaska’s mobile app was named by Fortune as the best travel app in America in 2015.

Curtis is currently the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience for Premera Blue Cross where he is working to transform healthcare and he serves as the vice chairman of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Puget Sound.

Curtis is a transplanted East Coaster living in Seattle, Washington with his wife Abbe and daughter Ellie. His son Sam is attending college at the Naval Academy, where he also plays lacrosse.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @ckopf1 and get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Culture beats everything else; it’s the single most important thing.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet

“Embed the Voice of the Customer in everything the company does.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“There are companies that are turning entire industries upside down overnight.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“Innovate, the world is changing quickly.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“People want to be part of a bigger mission; you have to start with the why.” -Curtis Kopf Click toTweet 

“For all of us trying to drive change it’s about getting everyone else on board.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“You have to be curious because sometimes you’re wrong.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“Change has to come from us.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“I’m going to be curious because maybe there’s something I need to learn.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“If you want to have impact you have to bring other people with you.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“Sometimes it’s less important to be right and more important to get everyone aligned.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“Worry less; 98% of the things you worry about don’t happen.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

“Be in the moment, spend less time worrying.” -Curtis Kopf Click to Tweet 

Hump to Get Over

Curtis Kopf has a point of view on what he wants to do and he just wants to go do it. But when Curtis encounters someone with differing opinions he has had to learn how to prevent himself from dismissing them and pushing them out of the way. Listen to Curtis as he shares how he gets over this hump.

Advice for others

Be curious and remember that of you want to have impact you have to bring other people with you.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Being a better listener.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Believe in yourself.

Secret to Success

There’s a lot I have learned from running that helps me in my life – focus, discipline, and maybe the biggest one of all is preparation.

Recommended Reading

Discover Your True North

Contacting Curtis

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/curtis-kopf-a99903

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ckopf1

Resources

Simon Sinek Power of Why

Empathy Mapping

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.


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Click to access edited transcript

079: Curtis Kopf: It takes time to get over that

 

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.

 

Need a powerful and entertaining way to ignite your next conference, retreat or team-building session? My keynotes don’t include magic but they do have the power to help your attendees take a leap forward by putting emotional intelligence into their employee engagement, customer engagement and customer centric leadership practices. So bring the infotainment creativity the Fast Leader show to your next event and I’ll help your attendees get over the hump now. Go to beyondmorale.com/speaking to learn more. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay, Fast Leader legion this episode that I’m going to share with you today was an interview that was recorded on location at the Customer Experience Professionals Associations Member Insight Exchange. I had the opportunity to interview Curtis Kopf who was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. Curtis was born and raise with his younger sister in Narragansett Rhode Island surrounded by the ocean, fishing boats and clapboard houses. Curtis spend much of his teenage years working on his uncle’s offshore lobster boat in southern Rhode Island. In the summers they went more than 100 miles offshore on a 75 foot steel lobster boat for three to four days at a time. 

 

He learned early what it meant to do hard work, to depend on the people around you and to build strong teams. Curtis has held a variety of leadership roles in his career from serving as Amazon’s first general manager in the UK to developing curriculum and teaching at the University of Washington’s Mobile Business Strategy Certificate program. He has an undergraduate degree in English from Brown University and a Master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins. Curtis is a visionary leader and digital innovator who was built industry-leading customer experiences at Alaska Airlines, Microsoft and Amazon.com. As vice president of customer innervation for Alaska Airlines Curtis built award-winning mobile apps and customer feedback programs as well as pioneers such innovations as online back tax and the use of biometrics. Future travel experience name Curtis as one of the 25 global innovation leaders in the airline industry and Alaska’s mobile app was named by Fortune as the best business travel app in America in 2015.

 

Curtis is currently the senior vice president of customer experience for Premera Blue Cross where he is working to transform healthcare and he serves as the vice chairman of Big Brothers Big sisters of Puget Sound. Curtis is a transplanted East Coast live in Seattle, Washington with his wife Abby and daughter Ellie. His son Sam is attending college at the Naval Academy where he also plays across. So now on to the interview with Curtis.

 

Okay Fast Leader Legion today we have a special guest on the show from the Member Insight Exchange which is the Customer Experience Professionals annual member meeting. I’m blessed to have on the show today Curtis Kopf. Born and raised in Narragansett, Rhode Island with his younger sister in a lobster fishing family. Curtis is the vice president of customer experience for Premera Blue Cross which is located in Seattle, Washington. Curtis Kopf, are you ready to help us get over the hump?

 

Curtis Kopf:    I am ready to help you get over the hump. 

 

Jim Rembach:    I’ve given our listeners a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Yes sir, my passion professionally is to make health care better for people. To literally make people’s lives better by making health care better. My personal passion is my family. I have a son who is in college, a daughter in high school, I’m married I have a few dogs that comes before everything else. 

 

Jim Rembach:    You had mentioned something a moment ago off mic where you said that your son is actually in the Naval Academy.

 

Curtis Kopf:    Years at the Naval Academy, He’s in his first year at the Academy and it is very challenging. 

 

Jim Rembach:     Now I know that you spend summers on a lobster fishing boat but I don’t think it’s anything like —

 

Curtis Kopf:    No. You don’t have to wear uniform at a lobster fishing boat. You don’t have to march and shine your shoes, make your beds—so, no. I think he’s got a little tougher.

 

Jim Rembach:     I think you also had mention something—are you really in many parts of your family didn’t come from a military family?

 

Curtis Kopf:    No. 

 

Jim Rembach:     So, when you start talking about passion there has to be a lot of passion inside of folks in order to take, let’s just say the military route?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Yeah. 

 

Jim Rembach:     So, what do you think that you instilled at home that caused him to have that kind of passion?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Yeah. I think a desire to serve others. A desire to be part of a bigger mission and wanting to be a leader, wanting to really have a purpose in life, I think is very, very important.

 

Jim Rembach:    You just shared also during your keynote that you’ve had the opportunity to work with some very large brands who are on the forefront of customer experience. The one that you’re in now is wanting to do that, there’s many aspirations. But when you started talking about that care component I started thinking about all those brands that you were with how they’ve operationalized the caring for others. Can you talk about those three things that you covered in the keynote which were so important that you see these companies differentiate with amongst all others?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Yeah, absolutely. I think having worked at companies like Amazon.com, Alaska Airlines, really accomplish and do a great job with the customer, I think there’s three things. One is the culture, I think the culture beats everything else it’s the single most important thing. Having a culture where every single employee is focused on the customer. Number two is embedding the voice of the customer in everything that the company does. And then thirdly is innovation, we’re in the times when there’s a lot of change. There are companies like Uber and Air BnB and others that are turning entire industries upside down overnight. So it’s really incumbent that all of us with more established companies to innovate because the word is changing quickly. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Very true. And you also had mentioned something I think which is happening form an innovative perspective is this whole idea around inspiration. I think you mentioned it a couple of times within your keynote. One of the things that we do on the Fast Leader show is we look at leadership quotes or quotes I should say in general to help us with inspiration cause sometimes we just need to buckle down and we need that reminder. Is there a quote or two that stands out for you that you can share?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Yeah. I’ll give a couple. I think one, what I was thinking when you said that there’s a TED talk by a guy named Simon Sinek called the Power of Why and I think that really resonates with a lot of what we’re talking about in terms of inspiring employees and companies, it’s really important people want to be part of a bigger mission you have to start with the why, and I find Simon Sinek is very inspirational. Just in terms of the basic leadership quotes, I’m a big Winston Churchill fan and just the, Never, Never give up is something that sticks in my mind all the time, this is a very iconic quote. There’s another one by Margaret Mead which is something to the effect of—Great things in the world are always accomplished by small groups of passionate people. I like that as well.

 

Jim Rembach:     You had talked about a couple things associated with passion and persistence even within your keynote. And sometimes we had to get over humps and sometimes we have to be persistent in order to be able to get over those humps. Can you think of a time where you’ve had to get over the hump where we can learn? 

 

Curtis Kopf:    Yes. I’ll give you one and we’ll see if this fits the definition. Like a lot of people I’ve done this assessments that people on corporations where they assess your personality type and they indicate where you strengths are, what your weaknesses are. So, when I think of a hump that’s a hump that you need to get over. Specifically like a lot of people one of my strengths is that I’m Type A I have appointed you on what I want to do and I just want to go do it. And a hump for me is when encounter someone who has a different point of view and who maybe thinks I’m focusing on the customer in certain cases isn’t the right thing to do. And so one of the humps for me is when I encounter someone who actually has a differing opinion rather than being dismissive or just trying to push that out of the away, being more curious rather than getting immediately jumping to wanting to be argumentative to take a step back and try to hearing lesson and be curious, maybe there’s something to that person’s point of view because in large corporations I think for all of us who are trying to drive change it’s about getting everyone else on board and you absolutely you’re going to encounter people who have a different point of view. And you have to be curious because sometimes you’re wrong, sometimes I’m wrong. So, hump for me is being more curious when someone doesn’t have the same view as I do. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Can you think about time where you’ve had the most challenging person where you’ve been able to connect with? What happened? 

 

Curtis Kopf:    Yeah. My belief is that change has to come from us. And I think for me the changes in being in a situation and instead of feeling my blood pressure go up in and lean forward and start to argue just to take us so literally maybe slide the chair back and just say, before I get argumentative I’m going to listen. I’m going to ask more questions. I’m going to be curious because maybe there’s something here that I need to learn from it. And so I’ve noticed a change just by doing that work, it helps me to be more effective. But that’s a hump it takes time to get over that. 

 

Jim Rembach:    We have also talked off mic a little bit is that sometimes those humps they always present themselves, it’s like they never ever go away, they make it smaller with time but it seems like we always have to address this humps sooner or later. And the one you’re talking about I didn’t found that as one that I’ve had to get over to be able to do a better job of active listening, being mindful, being curious, asking more questions. But if you were to say there was one piece of advice you’d give somebody that was having struggles with opposing views or different views with somebody what would you tell them?

 

Curtis Kopf:    I would give them the same advice I give myself which is be curious. Be curious and remember that if you want to have impact in a large organization you have to bring other people with you. I think a lot of us grow up with the tendency to want to be right sometimes it’s less important to be right and it’s more important to get everyone aligned and moving forward. So that would be my best 

 

Jim Rembach:    I know you’re working on doing transformation, let’s just say, with a company who has been established for many years and then the industry it’s very tough. However, when you start thinking about one of the things that really excites you about the work you’re doing today, what is it?

 

Curtis Kopf:    I think a couple of things. The mission is exciting because health plan if we can do a better job we can actually help people to be healthier, we could help a cancer patient recover or help a diabetic person take better care of themselves so I think that’s the number one thing. I think the number two thing for me it’s about people and team. What gets me the most excited is when I’m part of a team of like-minded people who are passionate and excited about what they’re doing and they’re having success that’s sends me home with a smile on my face. 

 

Jim Rembach:    And the Fast leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.

 

The number one thing that contributes to customer loyalty is emotions. So move onward and upward faster by gaining significantly deeper insight and understanding of your customer journey and personas with emotional intelligence. With your entity mapping workshop you’ll learn how to evoke and influence the right customer emotions that generate improved customer loyalty and reduce your cost to operate. Get over your emotional hump now by going to empathymapping.com to learn more.

 

Okay, Curtis now’s it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you a few questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster.  Curtis Kopf, are you ready to hoedown?

 

Curtis Kopf:    I am. Yes sir. 

 

Jim Rembach:    What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today? 

 

Curtis Kopf:    Be a better listener. None of us do that on purpose but sometimes our minds are so filled with what we want to say, being a better listener that’s number one.

 

Jim Rembach:    What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Man, that’s a hard one, you know probably something to the effect of believe in yourself.

 

Jim Rembach:    What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Here’s one. I’m a runner, I love to run and there’s a lot that I’ve learned from running that helps me in my life focus, discipline, persistence maybe the biggest one of all preparation, it’s all about—I had a big presentation last week and in the end of my views I’m walking into that presentation confident if I’m prepared, if I’ve done the preparation.

 

Jim Rembach:    What would be one book that you recommend to our listeners, it could be from any genre?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Yeah. Because we’re talking about leadership the first thing that came to mind is True North by Bill George. It’s been around for a while, he just revised it’s the greatest book on leadership I’ve ever read. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Okay Fast Leader listeners, you can find links to that and other bonus information from today show by going to fastleader.net/Curtis Kopf. Now, just be aware that you spell Kopf. Okay Curtis this 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 knowledge and skill that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything you can only choose one, so what skills or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?

 

Curtis Kopf:    Worriless. You think back on all the things you lie awake and worrying about, 98% of them don’t happen. Worriless, be in the moment, spend less time worrying.

 

Jim Rembach:    Curtis it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect with you?

 

Curtis Kopf:    They can follow me on Twitter, ckopf1, you can look me up on Linkedin as well. 

 

Jim Rembach:    Perfect. Curtis Kopf, 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 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. 

 

END OF AUDIO 

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