038: Jana Sedivy: That was really demoralizing
Jana Sedivy Show Notes
Jana Sedivy volunteered to run a group that collected old computers to send to developing countries. First, she tried to send the computers to Bolivia. That failed. Then she tried to send the computers to Afghanistan. And that was met with much difficulty. Listen to Jana tell her story of how she was able to persevere and get over the hump.
Jana was born and raised in Montreal, Canada and was the fifth out of six kids. Conditioned to be a mediator, Jana is also a self-professed data nerd and people nerd.
Jana spent her early life and career crossing back and forth from a people-centered path, to a science-centered path, and back again.
She started out studying acting, then marketing, then switched to computer science and physics. Paradoxically, working with technology all day got her interested in people again. She was fascinated with how people interact with technology, and how they use it to accomplish their goals.
After getting her Masters in Human Computer Interaction she went on to work as a researcher at Xerox PARC where she worked on a precursor to the Internet of Things. Then later at Adobe, she discovered to her surprise that she had a passion for creating better experiences for enterprise software
She has 21 patents, has published peer reviewed articles on semiconductor lasers and human computer interaction, writes for online customer experience and user experience journals, and is a conference speaker.
These days, she has found the perfect blend of people and science for her split personality.
She has an award-winning consulting practice that helps B2B technology companies take the guesswork out of product decisions. She has worked with Fortune 50 companies, startups, and everything in between. If you are tired of making product decisions based on the loudest engineer in the room, she can help! Her passion is using data to help companies give their customers a better experience.
She loves Bollywood, making pickles, and many other deeply uncool activities.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“B2B technology is the dark matter that holds our society together.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“It’s really easy to get bogged down…and end up majoring in minor things.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“Even though you feel demoralized…you have to keep your people focused.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“Sometimes stuff just happens…and you need to roll with it.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“Focus on the positive and remember what’s working well.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“It helps to have someone show you and tell you…so that you’re doing the right things.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“You have to just know where you’re going and just keep showing up and do the work.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“The questions are actually not as important as how you listen to them.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“Give people what they’re asking for so you can give them what they need.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“They don’t really care about the solution, they care about the symptom.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“Our humanity is what connects us.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“Everybody has got something that they do just naturally and effortlessly.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
“Find that thing that comes really effortlessly to you…leverage that.” -Jana Sedivy Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Jana Sedivy volunteered to run a group that collected old computers to send to developing countries. First, she tried to send the computers to Bolivia. A new president cause her donors to pull out. Then she tried to send the computers to Afghanistan. And a closed border stopped her container. Listen to Jana tell her story of how she was able to persevere and get over the hump and move onward and upward.
Advice for others
Find that thing that comes really effortlessly to you and somehow figure out how you can leverage that and make that your career.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Not carving out enough time to make sure I am focusing on the main thing.
Best Leadership Advice Received
We are all connected by our humanity.
Secret to Success
I am able to make connections with a wide variety of people.
Best tools that helps in business or Life
The ability to learn.
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.
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I think today will going to have an awesome show because the guest that I have today, I listen to on another podcast, and she fascinated me so much I just had to reach out and ask her to be a guest on the Fast Leader show and she accepted. Jana Sedivy was born and raised in Montréal, Canada 5 out of 6 kids, so she considers herself the mediator of the group. She is also a self-professed data nerd and people nerd. She spent her early life and career crossing back and forth from a people centered path to a science centered path and back again.
She started out studying acting, then marketing, and then switch to computer science and physics, paradoxically working with technology all day long, got her interested in people again. She was fascinated with how people interact with technology and how they use it to accomplish their goals. After getting her Masters in Human Computer Interaction she went on to work as a researcher at Xerox where she worked on a precursor to the Internet of things. Then later at Adobe she discovered to her surprised that she had a passion for creating better experiences for enterprise software.
She has 21 patents, has published peer review articles on semiconductor laser in Human Computer Interaction, rights for online, customer experience, and user experience journals and is a conference speaker. These days she has found the perfect blend of people and science for her split personality. She has an award-winning consulting practice that helps B2B technology companies take the guesswork out of product decisions. Her passion is using data to help companies give their customers a better experience. She loves Bollywood, making pickles, and many other deeply on collectivities but believe me she is cool. Jana Sedivy, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Jana Sedivy: I am so ready. Thanks for having me.
Jim Rembach: Oh men, this is going to be good. Okay, so I’ve given our Legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we get to know you better?
Jana Sedivy: Right. So, these days I’m really interested in B2B technology and making those experiences better and here’s why, because B2B technology is kind of the dark matter that holds our society together, right. It’s the stuff that’s make sure trucks arrive on time, shelves are stocked, your passport application gets processed, your voting gets registered, it’s all these stuff that you kind of don’t even think about until it goes wrong and so I just love to help improve that hidden stuff.
Jim Rembach: And listening to you say that and that does make so much sense is that especially these days when we have so many things on our plate, we have so many things that we need to do and then it’s one ride after the others that once one of those B2B technologies just doesn’t work right, man, it can throw everything out of whack and you spend 3, 4 hours or 3, 4 days trying to fix something that a company cannot fix for themselves and it can be so frustrating.
Jana Sedivy: Exactly, exactly. And what’s interesting about that technology is often the people buying it or not the people using it, so that creates a whole other level of challenges in terms of creating a better experience for the customers as well as for the users and then the people that are interacting with that organization.
Jim Rembach: Well, I can imagine being 5 of 6 kids that there is a whole lot mediating that goes on within organizations as well as with the developers of the software to be able to do just that. When you think about that mediation pace and being able to get closer to the customer, what do you think would be like the number one barrier for people improving the user experience when they’re a tool creator?
Jana Sedivy: To think more about the people using it and to interact with users as much as possible. When you’re developing the tool you’re so many levels removed from it that it just doesn’t even enter into your world at all. So that’s one of the things that I often try to do is get people to somehow interact or observe or get to know the people that are going to be using the tool.
Jim Rembach: You know, I think that’s a really important point is that you can’t even really become your own customer or just even say if you could, you have such a piece of expertise, knowledge, and understanding of the product that there’s no way you can assume or read the mind of your user.
Jana Sedivy: Yeah, exactly. So, it’s really a lot about exposure and education.
Jim Rembach: Well and like you said, it’s interacting with the folks that are actually using the product in order to get over that hump.
Jana Sedivy: That’s right.
Jim Rembach: It’s not just using it, it’s actually interacting and connecting with the users, that’s really I think a very key point to take away. Well I know, that when you start talking about this issue, I mean, it’s unfortunately nobody’s immune from it. I mean everybody has to deal with it even the organizations that are building the best B2B tools and do connect with customers, it’s still a constant battle for them because things change so much and I know they need a lot of inspiration. Here on the show we focus on quotes, cause goodness, we need the inspiration from those things. Do you have one or two quotes that you could share with us?
Jana Sedivy: Yeah. So I’m not usually a big quotes person but one thing that has always stayed with me since I’ve seen it is a quote by Steven Covey, he wrote: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I find that so important because when you’re leading people or when you’re running your own business like I am, it’s really easy to get bogged down into little details and the minutia and the little fires that keep coming up and you end up majoring in minor things and you don’t really focus on doing the important stuff that’s really going to move you forward.
Jim Rembach: That’s another good point. I recently wrote an article that’s getting a lot of attention called “Got it” putting culture before CX. But we often get very sidetracked and forget the fact that if we don’t have a strong positive company culture that in order be able to improve the customer experience you have now a crutch, you have the liability and it’s going to prevent you from doing it. So, you always have to—that has to be the one thing that you’re focusing on at all time and really everything else falls after that.
Jana Sedivy: I agree.
Jim Rembach: So, I can imagine that you have had the opportunity to really get in some serious scenarios and situations both personally as well as with your business, being able to get people to move forward, and I know for myself, sometimes, it’s unfortunate but the walking away is really what happens but we don’t only want to focus on the walking way please, we need help getting over the humps. Can you remember a time that you’ve had to get over the hump so that you accelerated the path to success?
Jana Sedivy: Yeah. I had a situation a while back. This was when I was in a volunteer role. I was running a group of people that was collecting old computers, but that were working, and sending them to developing countries. Now it turns out that getting computers is not a problem, getting the money to ship a big shipping container of 250 computers, that’s the real problem. So I worked hard, I set up a fundraising, we we’re going to set a bunch of computers to Bolivia, and we set up a fundraising session at Parliament Hill, which is the Canadian equivalent of the White house, we had the special guest a former the Minister of Foreign Affairs and we had a mining company that have interest in Bolivia, they said at that meeting that they were going to commit $10,000 to sending the shipment to Bolivia. So we were all excited but then a week later Evo Morales was elected in Bolivia and he kicked out all the mining company in his first week so they said, we’re not going to give that money anymore. So we had to regroup, think about, well what are we going to do now? We have the computers, we’re ready to go we just need to figure out where to send them. So, we’re going to send it to Afghanistan, so I got the Department of Foreign Affairs involved, got Rotary Clubs to give us some money, they do matching grants, we got people to pack the container, got local media to come out and I’m kidding you not the day we pack the container, Pakistan declared a state of emergency and nothing was moving through Pakistan. And if you look at a map the only way to get to Afghanistan is through Pakistan or through Iran, so that container sat there for months. And so, that was really demoralizing but what I really learnt from that is even though you as the leader feel demoralized you have to try to keep the people that you’re leading focused and positive and stay focused on the main thing. So, the main thing is, the computers are going to go to people who need it. It might take longer than we expect it but it will get there. Also the other thing is sometimes stuff just happens that’s outside your control and you need to roll with it and you need to be able to adapt and to pivot and to change and stay positive and keep moving.
Jim Rembach: There’s so many things that you brought up in there, I’m reflecting on times that I failed to do that. And even think to yourself that, well it was just one little slip, where that frustration just kind of comes out, even facial expressions, you have to be really careful. I know that it’s really, really hard to not slip up and show that frustration, reveal that frustration. Have you found something that works for you to keep that from happening?
Jana Sedivy: I just try to always focus on the positive and remember what’s working well because our human brain is really wired to focus on the negative, that’s just biology. I try to develop a practice where every day I’m thinking about what something positive, what are the three things I’m grateful about, what are three good things that happened today, and I find that just puts me, in general, in a more positive mindset. So, when something bad happens it tends to not seem like such a big deal because I have the broader perspective.
Jim Rembach: I think that in Itself Is a great practice and it’s a good framework, is that three things that I’m grateful for, three things that are positive and that’s what you start your day with and you continue to focus on that throughout the day, so thanks for that tip. I know you have a lot of things going on you’ve had some experience with some extraordinary organizations, both working for them as well as consulting for them, but when you start thinking about one thing that’s really giving you an excitement and energy right now, what would it be?
Jana Sedivy: Well, on the business side I’m starting to develop some online learning content. So, I’m working on developing some webinars and some online training, so I’m really excited about that. On the personal front, I’ve started doing a lot of gymnastics training, so I’m building some pretty crazy core strength and upper body strength to do handstands and pull-ups and so those are my fitness goals these days, which is always fun.
Jim Rembach: So what have you found as a benefit from doing that gymnastics work?
Jana Sedivy: Well it’s the best exercise as you get older, I’m starting to head into middle age. And what’s really great about that is there’s very little risk of injury as supposed to lifting heavy weights and it really focuses on overall fitness. So, you have to work on your mobility to keep flexible, to do a handstand you don’t need just strength in your arms or shoulders but you need to be flexible in your wrist and you need to be flexible in your shoulders and that’s just really great for overall strength and health as you age.
Jim Rembach: What do you think that doing that work has benefited your impact in regards to some of the content in the online learning and the things that you’re doing with that?
Jana Sedivy: That’s an interesting question. The thing that I’m really learning from doing that training is that you have to just keep showing up and doing the work. The increment are really small so to get to doing one pull-up you have to work really hard, show up to the gym 3, 4 days a week, work hard and if you do it consistently for 6-8 weeks you’ll get one pull-up. Then if you do it consistently for another 6-8 weeks you’ll get two pull-ups right, so it’s really, really incremental but you need to be consistent and just show up and do what you committed to do. It also helps to have someone show you and tell you what you’re supposed to be doing so that you’re doing the right things. I’m a big believer in coaches that helped me on my business side because in terms of the business you have to just know where you’re going and then just keep showing up and doing the work. On any given day it might feel like you haven’t made a lot of progress, you might feel like you had a bad day, you kind of slipped, it wasn’t such a great day today, but very slowly incrementally you’re going to move yourself towards the goal you want to reach.
Jim Rembach: So, it was awesome to me to see how that particular learning that you went through with the gymnastics also impacted the hump you had to get over, talking about the incremental changes and trying to get those containers, and those computers, to people who could actually benefit from them, it seems like it’s all really interrelated and synergistic, so thank you for sharing that. it’s interesting that you talk about also creating some online learning and we’re doing that as well as the fast leader show through the high-performing leader academy and so what we want to ensure is that we’re actually creating content that is most beneficial for folks and one of the things that were trying to capture information on is what’s you’re what, meaning what are you struggling with.
Jana Sedivy: Yes.
Jim Rembach: So when you started thinking about creating your online content, how did you go about determining what to create?
Jana Sedivy: That is such a great question cause so many people just goes away into their back cave and start creating some stuff that they think is really awesome and then they put it out there and then nobody buys it, nobody wants it, because it’s not really speaking to their need. One of the things that I’m working on is, before I go away to my back cave is it’s just talking with as many people as possible and really listening very closely to what their problems are. As an example, something that I’ve noticed that people ask me a lot about they say, “Well, part of the reason we hire you is because we don’t know what questions to ask.” To me the questions actually are not as important as how you listen to them, because sometimes people can ask okay questions, the questions are fine but they’re not listening to what people are saying because they have so much confirmation bias.
But sometimes you have to give people what they’re asking for so that you can give them what they need. What I really want to do is to teach people how to listen effectively. But if I say, “Hey, I’m going to teach you how to listen effectively everyone think they listen well, but if I say, “Hey, I’m going to teach you what questions to ask and then in there I slip in and you also really need to listen and here’s how you do it, here’s some concrete strategies that you can take. So you have to listen to when people describe their problems, what are the words that their using—and the other thing is, when you’re providing learning, you’re providing a solution but they don’t really care about the solution, they care about the symptom that they’re experiencing.
So, for the people that I deal with the big symptom is they’re in endless meetings and decisions are getting made in this really weird way, depends on who’s the loudest engineer in the room or who’s pounding their fist on the table the most and that’s how decisions get made, that’s the symptom, and the cause is because they don’t understand their customers well enough. So I the solution is to listen to your customers better, but that’s kind of far removed from the problem that they’re experiencing in their everyday life. So I’m trying to figure out how to learn to speak to that.
Jim Rembach: That’s a great point for all of us, is that I know a lot of times we want to go straight to the heart, straight to the point. And most often the wrong thing to do is that you have to do a cultivation in order to really get to the main point and that cultivation could be something else and you really have to look for that as both your indicator and your motivator. So, thanks for sharing that point, and the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on, let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Alright! Here we go listeners, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay Jana, 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. Jana Sedivy are you ready to Hoedown?
Jana Sedivy: I am so ready to Hoedown.
Jim Rembach: Alright. So what do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Jana Sedivy: Not carving out enough time to make sure that I’m focusing on the main thing.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Jana Sedivy: Early in my career, I was part of a team that had to give a big presentation to the CTO of Sony. I was still in my 20’s, we were all pretty young, this was the biggest thing we had ever done and we were all kind of freaking out about it and our manager’s said to us: “You know what, the CTO of Sony he’s just a person, he’s just a human being he wakes up in the morning, he goes to the bathroom, he brushes his teeth, he’s mom tells embarrassing stories about him and he probably wishes he could lose some weight, so what your job is to figure out what he cares about and speak to that. I just found that such a fantastic piece of advice because our humanity is what connects us, whether it’s the CEO of a fortune 50 corporation or your bus driver or a refugee from Syria, we all are connected by our humanity.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Jana Sedivy: I am able to make connections with a wide variety of people. So, I can talk to factory floor workers, administrative assistants, bankers, engineers, and I can always find a common ground and be able to relate to them.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Jana Sedivy: The ability to learn. I love learning, I just can’t get enough of it and that’s what keeps me going.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book that you would recommend to our listeners?
Jana Sedivy: I really like “Give and Take” by Adam Grant. It’s about how the most successful people are the ones who give a lot more than they take. And I find that’s just such a great way to live your life and it’s the way that I behave naturally, and I always thought that I was a bit of a champ for that but when I read this book I realize, actually this can be a fantastic path to success and it’s a win for everybody, win for you and it actually is a win for all the people around you because you’re helping people.
Jim Rembach: Yeah, that’s one of my favorites too, and you’ll be able to find a link to that as well as other tools and resources and notable quotes from Jana on the show notes page which you’ll be able to find at FastLeader.net/JanaSedivy. Okay Jana, 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 right now back with you but you can’t take it all, you can only take one thing back, so what one piece of knowledge or skill would you take back with you and why?
Jana Sedivy: When I was in my 20’s I really wish I had known this. `I wish I had known that everybody has got something that they do just naturally and effortlessly without thinking and it’s that stuff that you do that when you do it people turn to you and say: “Wow, how did you manage to do that? How did you do?” and then you think: “That was impressive? “I just did blah, blah, blah” and so I had always thought that work had to be hard, it had to be hard work. I come from an immigrant family so hard work was really important. But if you can find that thing that comes really effortlessly to you and somehow figure out how to leverage that and make that your career then it doesn’t feel like work, it can be easy and it can be fun and I wish I had known that a lot earlier.
Jim Rembach: Jana Sedivy it was an honor to spend time with you today. Can you tell the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
Jana Sedivy: So you can connect with me on my website which is “Authentic Insight” I guess I should spell that, authenticinsights.com and I’m on Twitter@jana Sedivy.
Jim Rembach: Jana Sedivy, 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.