CX Top Tips

020: Karl Sharicz: Perseverance can pay off

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Karl Sharicz Show Notes

Karl was told no. But he didn’t stop there. He was a new training director for a company but he didn’t have any education in the art and science of adult education. Not wanting to wing it, he found Boston University offered a master’s degree that only took nine months to complete. Karl asked his organization to allow him the time off to go to classes and to pay for the program. He was told no. Not stopping there, Karl eventually got his organization to agree to the time off and pay for the program in a creative and collaborative way. Listen to this episode to learn how Karl’s story can help you move onward and upward faster.

Karl Sharicz was born in Somerville, Massachusetts (just outside of Boston) but he lost his Boston accent as a result of being in the United States Air Force. When Karl was three, his parents moved from the city to the suburbs and he lived near a small farm. He instantly fell in love with the farming life and worked there from age 10 to 15. On the farm, he fed cows, cared for horses and collected eggs from angry chickens who pecked my hands for stealing their future chicks from under them. He also became steeped in the art of shoveling pig manure into a spreader during corn season.

Karl was attracted to music at an early age. Just about everyone in my family played an instrument from his grandparents on down. Music was all around him. His family wanted him to become a classical pianist but his rebellious nature led him to the guitar sounds of the Ventures, Chet Atkins, Link Wray, Dick Dale, and Duane Eddy.

Vietnam was raging by 1968 and Karl was drafted into the military. While some of his friends sought shelter in the university or ran off to Canada, he wasn’t ready for either of those and so he took his draft notice to the Air Force Recruiter and said “Sir, can you help me with this?” and he said “sure” and that was the last he ever saw of his draft notice. Karl served for four years.

After serving his country, he went to work in a chemistry lab. During the interview he could recite the periodic table of the elements so they hired him on the spot. Listening carefully to that science teacher in high school really paid off.

Working in a laboratory got Karl even more interested science and so he went for other lab work and studied chemistry at night. Over eight short years of intense study he graduated cum laude from Suffolk University with a Chemistry Degree in 1982. All was fine in the lab for several years until he discovered he liked dealing with customers more than molecules and atoms. So out of the lab and into the world of marketing, robotics, and training & development he went. That led him to going for a Master’s Degree in Adult Education.

Karl’s education degree served him well and in 1997 he joined a company called Simplex Time Recorder Company and went immediately on the road as a traveling instructor. He spent several years inside developing a training curriculum for a group of certified professional customer service experts. In 2001, Simplex Time Recorder was sold to Tyco, merged with Grinnell, and that became Tyco SimplexGrinnell.

After 17 years there, the last 11 in the customer experience discipline, Karl now is the Founder of his own consulting practice called CX Partners.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen and @ksharicz will help you get over the hump on @FastLeaderShow Click to Tweet

“Give everybody a little bit of attention every now and then.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Live the legacy you want to leave.” John Maxwell by Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“You need to demonstrate in actions what you believe.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Teams can come up with more creative solutions than you can as an individual.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Don’t give up and don’t try to go it alone.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Everything has a solution.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to think through it all on your own.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Every day we’re faced with a problem we need to solve.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“It’s a lonely process if you try to do it on your own.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Whatever holds you back is self-imposed.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“If you’re not trying and failing, you’re not learning.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet 

“You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get into the action.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet 

“When they see that you care they’re willing to be part of the team solution.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“Motivation fails when problems don’t have that obvious solution.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

“If people are disengaged that means their voice isn’t being heard.” Karl Sharicz Click to Tweet

Hump to Get Over

Karl was a new training director for a company but he didn’t have any education in the art and science of adult education. He found Boston University offered a master’s degree that only took nine months to complete. Karl asked his organization for the time off and to pay for the program. He was told no. Karl didn’t stop there and ultimately they agreed to the time off and paid for the program. Listen to this episode to learn about the creative and collaborative way Karl got over the hump.

Advice for others

Don’t give up and try to go it alone. There’s a way to just about everything. Everything has a solution.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Not a damn thing.

Best Leadership Advice Received

Being honest with yourself and integrity goes a long way.

Secret to Success

Getting down in the trenches with people I am leading.

Best Resources in business or Life

Reading lots of books.

Recommended Reading

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Contacting Karl

Email: karl [at] cxpartners.us
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ksharicz
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karlsharicz
CX Partners: http://www.cxpartners.us/

More Resources

Interview with co-founder of Synectics George M. Prince

Click to access edited transcript
020: Karl Sharicz: Perseverance can pay off

Intro: Welcome to the Fast Leader Podcast, where we uncover the leadership like hat that help you to experience, break out performance faster and rocket to success. And now here’s your host, customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligent practitioner, Jim Rembach.
Jim Rembach: Thanks Kimberly. Okay Fast Leader legion, I have the opportunity to share with you somebody who I admire in a lot of different ways. He is multitalented and also has a sense of humour that just seems to be never ending, it comes out like, ‘that’s pretty darn witty.’ And it’s not everything that he may have said before, his name is Karl Sharicz.
Karl is a native of Summerfield, Massachusetts just north of Boston. He prides himself in losing his Boston accent as result of serving our country in United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in the south and was ridiculed as a Yankee, which is no surprise there, but now he can say, I can park my car rather than I can than “I can pak my cah”.
When he was three his parents moved from the city to the burbs and he lived near a small farm. He instantly fell in love with the farm life and work there from the age of 10 to 15 until he can get a job so the government could take his taxes. On the farm, he fed cows, care for horses, and collected eggs from chickens, who peck his hands for stealing their future chicks from under them.
He also learned a lot of wisdom by gaining knowledge shoveling pig manure into a spreader during corn season. Karl is also an avid musician and was affected by it at a young age. Ultimately, Karl received a Master’s degree from Boston University. And he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and is on several CXPA committees.
He also served in past leadership positions within the American Society of Training and Development. Karl is well published, two most recent articles which appeared in two prominent customer experience management journals. In addition to his professional customer experience persona he doubles as a singer-songwriter musician and has recorded two CD’s of his original music today.
Karl currently resides in Quincy, Massachusetts with his wife Carol who’s a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston in systems thinking, He has two kids that live in the area Andrew and Aaron and one grandchild and two stepchildren in California. Okay, Karl, I’ve shared with our listeners a little bit about you, can you share what your current passion is so that we can get to know you better?
Karl Sharicz: Well, everything you mentioned is my passion and if I could work on a farm today I probably still be doing it. If I could be a rock ‘n roll musician and tour the globe I think I’ll do that too, it’s all my passion. And thank you for that introduction, you made me sound like a real renaissance down here.
Jim Rembach: I think you kind of are. You can even hear the energy in your voice when you talk about those things it’s kind of like, unending, un-bounding, where does which come from?
Karl Sharicz: I don’t know. I’ve always had a pretty optimistic and positive attitude towards life and it’s my downfall too because I enjoy so many things, sometimes I think I spend myself too thin. But it’s all out there, it’s all there to experience, I love to do it.
Jim Rembach: I find myself having some of the same issues and I say that a lot time I chase shining object. My word for this year was focus cause I need to do a better job of that. And so, for you, how do you stay on track?
Karl Sharicz: It’s not easy sometimes. You indicated I do a lot of things and a lot of committees and I’m trying to run a business and I’m trying to keep up with all of my colleagues, friends and family and it’s just a matter of time sharing, it’s just making sure that you give everybody a little bit of attention every now and then. We have a lot of friends, my wife and I, we managed to see everybody on an intervals that is acceptable to everybody, so we just do our best to doing that. It’s not easy but you have to want to do that, I think is the real key.
Jim Rembach: I think what you just hit on is a really important point and doing those things and kind of being methodical in having structure around that while you continue to move a lot of things forward, you can’t just sit back and wait from that to happen you’ve got a be active and engaged within it, I think that’s where your energy kind of helps.
Karl Sharicz: And it comes from spontaneity to, so, I’m not a big planning person. You would think I have the spreadsheets on all these, no. [Laugh] or project plans, no I don’t.
Jim Rembach: That’s awesome that you can keep moving forward. I know that you being a musician and someone who’s focused in on people and passion, you’re very passionate man I appreciate that in you, is there not a quote or a passage or something that kind of drives you, I know you know a lot of lyrics from different music…
Karl Sharicz: Song lyrics always resonate with me and there’s one bit of a lyric from a song by Spandau Ballet, and the lyric goes: “Tears turns to rust that fall on steel hearts.” When I first heard that it didn’t quite grab me then I started picturing that and I thought to myself, “Yeah, there’s a lot of steel hearts around and that’s what happens tears turned to rust. I don’t know how that kind of relates to a driving energy but it’s an inspirational phrase, I guess it’s what I’d say. But if we want to bring it back to a leadership quote, the one that kind of resonates with me and it comes from a gentleman, an author by the name of John C. Maxwell, and this is it:”Live the legacy you want to live” and it has a lot of significance to credibility as a leader cause it’s really saying you need to demonstrate an action on what you believe. And this comes from a book of his called “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. He also said: “Our ability as leaders will not be measured by the buildings we build rebuilt or the institutions we’ve established but by how well the people we invested in carried on after we’re gone.”
And you know, I have a personal example of that, because in my days as a training instructor for prior organizations, I had an opportunity to work with a lot of customers in trying to impart knowledge and skills that they needed to be able to do their work. And I must have had a profound impact on some of them because even to this day when I reconnect with some of them I still received comments from former students that say, “Gee, what a great learning experience you created there”, back in 1984. And that’s the experience they had in the classroom, and that’s a very rewarding feeling for me to hear that from them, after all these years it sticks with people.
Jim Rembach: I want to go back to the quote that you had mentioned about the tears and the steel hearts and the rust because I do think there is a lot of inspiration when you said that it connected for me when I think about you and that positivity piece that you were talking about. Oftentimes, the positivity piece and also know be hit with some resistance, it could be the tears, so to speak, sometimes it’s a tear of joy, oftentimes it’s a tear of frustration. We talk about getting over the humps on the Fast Leader show in the onset of challenge, can think about a time when you had a hump to get over that may have generated some tears, something that is stuck with you and hope move it to a right direction?
Karl Sharicz: Yeah. The one that comes to mind the most, and this has occurred over and over again, was when I was leading a training function that sounds like, I’m going back into the past year but this was a really… one that really stuck with me for a long time. It was back there in the 80’s and I was in the Sciences, I had a challenge because I was brand-new training director for a company and I really didn’t have any real education in the art and science of adult education, suppose I could have gone ahead and just as they say, “Wing it” but for me it’s not my style, so I looked into it and I said: “Is there way that I can get here fast?” And it turned out that Boston University offered a program on adult education, a Masters degree that you could get in nine months, that’s essentially a school year. It sounded great, I look into it, I knew it was the right program for me but the only hitch was you have to attend class on Friday and Saturday all day, so, try to sell that to your spouse at home and then you try to sell that your organization to say, I need every Friday off for the next nine months and get paid for it and also to my full-time job, it meant going to my organization and having to ask them to support me in doing this. The initial answer was, no, but not being one to take no for an answer, I thought, “How do I get to yes?” So, make a long story short, I got a group of colleagues together while I was on a business trip and we sat around full one day and I decided that this is the way to get DS I’ve got a bunch of people here, they’re all smart people, teams can really work together and come up with ideas, we start doodling on this and what we came up was the idea of creating an employment contract, in a way, if you sent me to school and you pay this money, the tuition had to paid upfront cause there was no tuition reimbursement opportunity here for this program because it was a bunch of money that has to be paid upfront. So, we put this idea together, I went to the HR department and kind of ranted by them to say to say what do you think? My boss at that time was the VP of Marketing, I brought this plan to him and he bought it and I sold them the plans but to me they had to pay 2/3rd of the tuition upfront and 1/3rd…after that you have signed up to the course and they did that and I had a contract with them that allowed me to continue working, and of course, I have to pay them back if I left the organization cause they invested in me. I mean it’s a creative way of trying to get yes and I always thought that was one of my more significant sales opportunities, let’s put it that way. Perseverance can pay off and what it said to me was, teams can often do and come up with more creative solutions than you can as an individual. And basically focusing on the customer because I’ve really counts the benefits to the organization rather than what was going on within me. I knew I needed this education but I’m not surely they realize this much but the benefit of it to them, I think it’s what sold it. Basically, I ask for the order and I got it, name your sale.
Jim Rembach: We’re telling that story to others something that’s kind of really stood out to me, and that, oftentimes, folks when they are told no they won’t do what you did from a very methodical, you say you don’t did checklists and all that stuff but I hate to tell you that that was very methodical. [Laugh] So, you’re doing the computations and the framing and all that stuff within your head, obviously because going through the process, gaining that commitment and consensus that social buying and proof, a going through and in building the business case, and taking time doing it not getting aggressive and ugly in the process, staying positive, really there was several factors that got you to the point of yes. So, if you think about today, where we are today what you see most people do of that story, what was one piece of advice you would give to our listeners?
Karl Sharicz: Don’t give up and don’t try to go it alone, very simple. There is a way around just about everything. Everything has a solution. I think a lot of times we want to give up on it because we think we can’t see it, and it could be it’s just lurking out there. There’s a barrier and that barrier has to be removed in order for you to see it. And I think that whole approach to bringing in and working with other people is real key element to that because a lot of times you could drive yourself crazy trying to do it all and trying to think through it all on your own.
Jim Rembach: It’s a great point that you mentioned that. Myself, I found that I was getting a little bit stagnated in regards to being able to expand some of the things that I was wanting to think about. I knew there was more wanted to talk to early think about media. I knew there was more, I knew I had to get a different perspective and so I just reached out to strangers and said, “Hey, would you be interested in participating in this small group of folks so that we can coach each other, and help each other, and support each other. And the first question that people were asking me was, “Okay, what does it cost me?” It’s like no I’m not asking for money I needed to seek out that that mastermind or hunt group to be part of, so that I could get the coaching that otherwise would not be getting on my own and sometimes it’s not so easy to find. I think you bring up a really good point, is that, don’t sit in isolation. And you know, and sometimes that isolation isn’t necessarily very visible. You have to realize the environment you’re in and to expand yourself you have to be the first one to do the experience.
Karl Sharicz: Can I share with you, there was a piece of this that came out of my experience at Boston University and I think it’s relevant, and now you’re going to say, Oh, Karl you’re really an organized person, after you hear this. Problem solving—every day we’re faced with problem we need to solve, you wake in the morning and the theory doesn’t work. Okay, so, I put less technical problems aside and make it a humanistic problem but it’s a long process if you try to do it on your own. When I was at Boston University, I learn the concept called Synectics, it’s a long story but I’ll give you essentially the summary of it, problems can be solved in methodical ways by first when you look at a problem and you say, “What are the three most positive things that I can say about this issue that I’m facing here?” So, let’s say it’s not raining today here but it could be and if it was, and I’d say, “I’m not particularly fond of a rainy day but what three things can I say about a rainy day that would be positive?” I could say, “Well, you know, we needed the water it’s pretty dry and if you’re in Southern California you might say, ‘Finally we got rain’ or you can say, ‘Rain helps the garden grow’ so, that’s another positive side on it. Or you could say, “I am into a project that I needed to do, it’s good that it’s raining so I don’t feel the need to be outside in that warm sunshine that I like to be out at.”
So what you do there, you’ll look at the other side of the spectrum and so, there’s always the problem has some negative aspects of it. So, what you do is you helps them in opportunities that you are trying to overcome. So for example, on a rainy day you could say, “Rainy days are gloomy so all I need to do is find something that would cheer me up like maybe listening to those 1,250 CD’s there in my cabinets upstairs.” So, you get the idea, you focus on three positives followed by three challenges that if they were overcome this would lead you towards the possible outcome. So, there’s a lot more to it than that but that’s the general concept. I’ve used that in number of times since those days at Boston University and it served me well.
Jim Rembach: I thank you for sharing that. That is something that we all could look into to see if they can help us over the hump faster. I know that you’re going through some transitions, you’re doing some things a little bit differently you even became a content curator for the CX-PA, you’re doing some really exciting things right now, but of all things that you are currently looking at it have on your plate, what is one just really excites you the most?
Karl Sharicz: The big thing that’s happening right now since I left my former organization, Tyco, last fall, is building a consulting business and that is CX Partners, that’s what I’m called. I had been thinking about that for several years, I started developing the business plan, there I go again in my organization in my mind, a couple of years ago but I put it aside because I’m working full time and nothing really prompted me to leave and start my own business. But then last summer the organization in their creative approach to downsizing started offering packages to keep the 15 plus years in the organization, and I had the opportunity to say yes or no and I said yes. So, I left the really good program that I’ve built over 11 years in good hands and that gave
I also do some teaching. I did some teaching at Boston University, my alma mater, and taught some courses or classes I say in customer experience. But it’s amazing to see the young minds of people who are about to graduate in college and they earn a graduate degree, get enlightened with customer experience and I enjoy bringing them into the fold if you are bringing them into the process.
Jim Rembach: The Fast Leader legion wishes you the very best. Alright, here we go Fast Leader listeners it is time for the—Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Karl, the Hump Day Hoedown is the part of our show where you give us good insights fast. I’m going to ask you several questions and your jobs is to give us a robust, yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Karl Sharicz, are you ready to hoedown?
Karl Sharicz: Hoedown then.
Jim Rembach: Alright. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Karl Sharicz: I don’t think a damn thing. [Laugh] Whatever holds you back is self imposed, go for it. Try new things. If you’re not trying and failing you’re not learning.
Jim Rembach: I love it. What is the best leadership advice you had ever received?
Karl Sharicz: Well, I’m not going to put it in the terms of advice, but I would say being honest with yourself, integrity and being honest with yourself goes a long way. I can’t make this in short; I have to tell them a little bit of a story. My uncle, he passed away some years ago in Canada, thought me a valuable integrity lesson when I was in my teens. I use to spend summers in Nova Scotia and he made a living, in part out of up breaking moss, Irish moss, off rocks in a boat at low tide.
So, he had to get up in some early mornings and so you’d rake these moss off of the rock you bring it back, you’d spread it out on the side of the road and you’d let it dry because it had to be soiled dry, it was sold by weight. He was a stickler for that moss being dry, he would not pick it up and put it in the knapsack when the burlap stuck until that was dry, that was integrity because he could have left it damp and he could gotten a higher weight, and he could have made more money, people didn’t have a lot of money but he was stickler for that honesty and integrity in making sure that product was completely dried so that he could sell an honest product to the buyer year after year, and to me that was a valuable lesson at a young age.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Karl Sharicz: As a leader, I’ve always been one that gets down in the trenches of time with people that I’m leading. I’m a natural doer, you can tell, and that comes from having been there and done that, probably derived from the farm years ago. When you’re in a leadership position you have to willing to roll up your sleeves and get into the action when it’s necessary to show people you not just talk you’re part of the action, you’re part of the team. When they see that they know you care they’re willing to be part of the team’s solution and people respect you more. What’s that saying, People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best resources that helps you lead in business or life?
Karl Sharicz: I read a lot of books. I think you know, let’s see which one of the more recent ones, I think it was Drive by Dan Pink. This one’s about motivation, what’s gets people to do things, this is the influence of partner, it turns out in research shows that it’s intrinsic motivation that helps fire up businesses because problems are complex they’re not linear problems it’s not a carrot stick model in leadership and motivation sales when problems don’t have that obvious solution. In fact, Dan Pink, if you look him up on YouTube, you’ll see a 20 minutes Ted talk and he does a real good job of summarizing that book. I’m a reader. I like the slower pace of reading and highlighting, underlining, and be reading sentences because I like the way they’re written, writing notes in the margins and making it personalized, that’s how I engage in books. But I would say, continuously keeping up with your profession, whatever aspects that takes on leadership or otherwise.
Karl Sharicz: Well, I was going to ask you about a book, we’re going to make that connection with drive on our show notes page and you’ll be able to find that at fastleader.net/Karl Sharicz. Okay, Karl this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you were 25 years old again and you’re supposed to begin a new job as a manager of a team that is underperforming and disengaged but you have retained all the wisdom and skill that you currently have, your job, of course, is to turn the team around, so you get up, you get ready and you head out to work, what do you do now?
Karl Sharicz: [Laugh] Well, if people are disengaged that means they’re probably their voices aren’t being heard, I’d sit down with each member of the team individually and let them tell me from their perspective what’s going on, what’s working, what’s not working. And I’ll also use that as an opportunity to give them insights on me. What I’m all about, how I lead, how I manage, how I make decisions. There may be some people that are on the team that aren’t onboard cause they don’t want to be part of the team, and that’s fine too. And it’s right and proper to help people get to where they want to be even if that means leaving the team neither that’s by their choice or my choice.
And then I’ll probably start having some team dialogue sessions with the full team, provide everyone with an open forum to bring out and discuss and dialogue and issues and share ideas or resolutions and I’d use that Synectics tactic that I’ve described earlier. And once speak about these issues that are on the table and clearly understood, delineated, and I’ll write it I’ll put it in written form so everybody can see it and think about it just as the teams’ project we all have a part in this. And I think that gets you on the pathways towards engagement and improved performance.
Jim Rembach: Karl, it was an honor to spend time with you today. Please share with the Fast Leader listeners how they can connect with you?
Karl Sharicz: Email me at Karl@cxpartners.us that’s my website. They can go to www.cxpartners.us which is my website, there’s contact information there. Or they can reach out to me through the CXPA.
Jim Rembach: Karl Sharicz, 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 shows, special offers, 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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