0:00:05 - Betsy Jordyn
Welcome everybody to this week's episode of the Enough Ready Podcast. This is the show for consultants and coaches who want to forge their own paths to success in their careers and in their lives. And, as I always say, I have a very special guest today. But this one is really special, I promise. Or maybe the art of fine, they're all special, but today I have on the show Meg Crofton, and Meg was the president of Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts when I was an OD consultant, back a thousand years ago, it feels like.
And Meg came to my mind I was working with an HR team and I was training them on influence skills and I was trying to remember, like where did I learn my influence skills or how did I develop them? And I remembered this talk that Meg had given years ago. I still have the notes from her talk on shaping thinking. And so then I went out and I pursued her and I begged her and begged her and begged her to please come on my show, and she was gracious enough to say yes. So I'm so grateful to have her here.
She's got so much to share about leadership. You know the real, the real essence of leadership, what it means to be a woman to ascend to the top spot in an organization, but, more importantly, how consultants and coaches can hone their influence skills and how honing those skills will not only benefit them in their effectiveness within the organization but also help them from a marketing standpoint. So there's so much going to be. We're going to be going over here together today. You're going to love it. I'm so excited. So, without further ado, welcome to the show, Meg. Thanks.
0:01:38 - Meg Crofton
So much, Betsy. I appreciate that wonderful introduction and I'm and I'm honored to have passed on some of the learnings to you and others. So thank you for inviting me.
0:01:48 - Betsy Jordyn
I'm thrilled to be here today. So if I fangirl out too much while we're on the show, you'll just forgive me because of the impact. But before we get into the concept of shaping thinking, I'd love to go back in time and talk a little bit about your career. And how did you land as the president role, you know, of an organization like Walt Disney World? I mean, that was a huge feat and, if I recall correctly, you were the first woman who landed in that particular role. Is that correct?
0:02:18 - Meg Crofton
That's correct, and only the fourth president there in 35 years. So I'm often asked is that a job you aspire to? And I say no, I mean the job didn't come open very often, so I didn't have that particular job as something that was I thought I would achieve. I suppose I always try very hard to progress in the organization, not about a specific job, but about being closer and closer to the senior leadership tables. Where the dialogue was really happening. I could sit in the room and hear it firsthand, I could give input, realizing that my input wasn't always going to be taken, but I would have a seat at that senior leadership table and that was really my goal.
By way of background, how just my career in a nutshell I was a marketing major undergraduate and staying got my MBA, and marketing really shaped how I look at the world, how I look at leadership certainly about the topic that we're going to speak about today for sure. When I got out of grad school I started in a marketing research shop for a telecom company that was. The industry was just being deregulated and I reasoned they really needed marketing help so I went to work for them. It was a great job, great company. They treated me really well. It was in a very undesirable location, especially if you're single and right out of school, and so I stuck it out. My sense of responsibility is pretty strong. I stuck it out for about two and a half years. Then I wrote to Disney back in the days when there was no automated resume collection or anything and also during a time in the history where they only hide, they would not hire directly from the outside into a leadership position. But, as fate would have it, my resume hit the desk of the recruiter who had the assignment to find somebody to start a marketing department for Disney's telecom company that they had in time. So it was really magic and fate and I love that I started. I loved it. I was absolutely so happy.
It was before we built Epcot and AT&T was a sponsor for Spaceship Earth lead pavilion there at Spaceship Earth, I mean at Epcot. So I toured some executives from AT&T around my day and when they were leaving they gave me the card and said if you ever are looking for a job, please give us a call. I literally threw away the card and about three days later they called me and offered me the opportunity to get hired directly into AT&T marketing. I thought my career was in telecom marketing and so I took the job. This was back in the days when if you left Disney, even if you were in good standing, you were given a no rehire status. So my husband now my boyfriend at the time drove me up to New York to work at AT&T headquarters and I cried all the way there and he kept pulling the car over and saying are you sure about this, are you sure? And again, I really thought that was my career path. But the reason that I had so many tears was because I thought I could never go back to Disney With AT&T.
For several years they treated me well. I learned a lot, rich and I decided to get married. My old boss called me and said I've gone to the president of Walt Disney World. This was the first president there and I've gotten special dispensation to hire you back. You know you left your heart here and you want to have P&L responsibility and manage a team. So how about coming back and being the general manager of our telecom company?
So you know, rich was a wonderful sport about it all. He knew how much I loved Disney. So we came back to Orlando. He made that, required him to commute. He was a commercial airline pilot that required him to commute his whole career.
So I came back I knew on my worst day I never wanted to be anywhere else and I wanted to learn everything I could about Disney. So I was open to every opportunity that kind of came my way. So I spent half my career in operations roles. I spent half my current staff roles that range from hotel operations to convention sales and service to HR, to opening parks and resorts in Hong Kong and Paris, and it was a wonderful e-ticket ride. It was absolutely fabulous. The job at Walt Disney World was my dream job. The president there was my dream job. It was all the different things that I'd done in my career came together in that job as president there. And when I left Disney I found a wonderful quote by Winnie the Pooh that really captured how I was feeling and that quote goes how lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?
0:07:37 - Betsy Jordyn
Wow, what a beautiful story and I love the description of calling it like your e-ticket ride. Like for those who are not Disney people, internal Disney people will know how meaningful that is. The e-ticket rides are like the really cool thrill rides and that seems to be exactly what your career was like Just a total thrill ride. And I just love like that sense of fate and faith that you had at each juncture, like your gut told you to go and do this and you followed it. And your gut told you to do that and you followed it. Do you feel like that? That's been a consistent theme in your career, even up to the point where you decided it was time to leave, that you just always had your gut sense of like this is what I'm supposed to do.
0:08:19 - Meg Crofton
Yeah, I'm grateful for that. I listen to that inner voice. I collect great quotes and one of them I have engraved on a charm and a necklace that I wear and it says treat your inner voice like a needle on a compass, and it will always point you in the right direction.
0:08:36 - Betsy Jordyn
Ooh, I gotta get that one, that's good.
0:08:39 - Meg Crofton
So I think so many times. We receive so much input from everybody in our trusted circle, and that's great to get all that input, but in the end you have to be quiet and listen to what your heart really wants to do, and I believe that that will always be your true north.
0:08:59 - Betsy Jordyn
So, and what it's also interesting too, is like in your, as you progressed up all the way to the top of the organization. It wasn't like you were just there like, okay, I want the perks, I want the power. It just seemed like I want to be in the room where the interesting conversations are happening and I just want to contribute to the interesting conversations. I don't know if I'm reading between the lines, but that seems to be your yearning to get to that top for all you said it better than I did.
0:09:26 - Meg Crofton
That's that's exactly what always motivated me and and you know people ask. You know, sometimes I think we get so focused on the next job or the title of the job or the and and I think we have to be open, open to different outcomes and and take the journey and see. I'm not sure we can sit. Even when I was coming up in my in my career, in my career, I don't think it was really possible to lay out okay, here's my total career path. I definitely don't think that's possible in today's environment. So I think I often said I think it's important to set up what I call environmental conditions. What are those things that are important to you, that need to exist for you to do your best work and for you to be happy? And I think staying true to those environmental conditions are really important. But the actual job titles and the path that you take to get there can be very different.
0:10:28 - Betsy Jordyn
So I think I kind of remember you were the head of HR. I think you were my leader when I was there. So I got to Disney around 1999. And I think you were the head of HR by that point, or you just am I remembering that accurately?
0:10:40 - Meg Crofton
No, that's right. I actually did a couple of tours of duty in HR one in the world and one at the segment parks and resort segment level.
0:10:49 - Betsy Jordyn
So then, but where was them? You were also the head of marketing, so which came first? Did you wind up at the top spot of marketing or did you wind up at the top spot of HR first?
0:10:59 - Meg Crofton
Now I started in marketing in the services division of Disney, so the telecom company, and then I left my marketing, pure marketing function roots behind and then went to lead. My first job out of the general manager of the telecom company was to be a general manager of a hotel and that was huge. I mean huge career change, different industry, all that and that pretty much was my pattern. I took leaps of faith in terms of what I could learn if I listened and asked for help and what I could contribute. So I count my marketing education and my marketing roots as probably the single biggest influencer of my career, but didn't stay in it and practice it for very long.
0:12:00 - Betsy Jordyn
So you were in operations and you were in HR. So, as you mentioned, you were in staff groups and you were in the line groups as well. How did that help you, as the president, who's overseeing all of those different areas?
0:12:17 - Meg Crofton
Well, I mentioned that I took a lot of roles that I didn't have the background or experience for all through my career. And when I got the president of Walt Disney World Job, it all came together and for the first time people would ask me aren't you scared? It's such a huge job. And I said for the first time in my career, I'm really not scared. I have done a lot of these jobs. I've proven to myself over time that it's not about me, it's about what a whole team can do, and I have a gut about all of these areas.
The area that I was honestly afraid of and scared about was the external facing role, because I had studiously avoided any kind of external media or external community leadership roles or anything like that. And I think in the first year I was in the job I had 75 speaking engagements, 15 media interviews. I'm like, oh my gosh, this is a whole new world. And that was really interesting too, Betsy, because that was something that I didn't have any background in and I was frankly very nervous about and again asked for help, got training and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. It was a real honor to be out in the community to represent our cast members and our brand. I loved it and I really appreciated that growth opportunity. I think we just I was always motivated to learn and grow and that job gave me that opportunity as well.
0:14:09 - Betsy Jordyn
It is what I love about Disney. Sometimes I feel like people would ask well, what's the best way to develop executives? And I think what Disney did is the best is that we move the leaders around all the time, or at least when I was there, that seemed to be the path. Like no executive stated a particular line of business for too long, in contrast to when I was an external consultant and I worked with a lot of companies that there are so many presidents who just came up through one business line and that's all they saw the organization. Through that one business line. It seems like it's not just the expertise and the trust that I could learn all of it, but it seems like it just gave you that holistic picture, like I know how all of these pieces work together to create the magic. And with that in mind, now I can go out into the community and I could speak about all the cast members, not just the operations cast members or not just the HR cast members, but all of them and how they all work together.
0:15:02 - Meg Crofton
Yeah, exactly, I will say that I think you know, going back and forth in different functions and taking these kind of leaps into areas where you don't really have the technical background, is it for everybody, it's not for everybody to go back and forth between operations and staff roles. They each have their set of conditions that might not be right. So, for example, I say to people you know what I would never have, is it kind of stayed in marketing and gone up a vertical channel of leadership and marketing. I would be a functional expert in marketing. Right, I have a perspective about marketing, it's part of my grounding. But I will never have that expertise to walk in a room and say let me tell you from a marketing standpoint the way that it is.
So for many people they want that vertical depth in a function and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think knowing early on sort of that would be an environmental condition, for example, that I'm talking about. I want a diverse portfolio of different functional experiences, or I want to be an expert in finance or expert marketing. So those are choices that I think we make, that are examples of those environmental conditions and there's not a right or wrong. It's a matter of figuring out for yourself which is for you.
0:16:36 - Betsy Jordyn
So I wonder if this has anything to do with your. The talk that I want to ask you about is the shaping. Thinking is like being able to have that influence skills. Did it? You know, would you be able to have it as strong if you were just in one single vertical and you only saw the world through like marketing?
0:16:56 - Meg Crofton
That's a great question. I don't think I've ever been asked that before. I think yes. I think you might have to work at it harder if you had only experienced your career in one functional area. You just have to work harder on your listening posts and work harder to get the perspectives of the other parts of the operations. That's the thing that I think was I valued the most. By the time I got the president role at Walt Disney World, I really understood how different groups operations staff, how you know how they thought about things, how they did their work, and so it was easier for me to sometimes make the translation between them and to drive the work through the organization. But that's not to say that I believe that if you were a functional expert that you're, you know you can't develop those shaping, thinking and influencing skills across the organization because I certainly think you can. You just have to work at it.
0:18:09 - Betsy Jordyn
So I'd love to delve in a little bit more into the shaping thinking concept and I think what's interesting that I would want to pull out from what you said about what you did learn is you didn't say I learned what every department did as the primary thing.
You said I learned or you have to learn how a different department or the people in the departments and how they think, and that seems like a very I don't know if you said that on purpose or if that's just the like you know, or I'm just picking up on it, but you didn't say I didn't learn about. You know here's finance. So finance people are all about like you know credits and devets and you know operations is all about like three times and you know. You didn't say that. You said I understand how a finance person thinks and how a operator maybe thinks, and I wonder if there's something about that like, because you didn't say influence skills is shaping thinking is the talk. So I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not, but I thought that was interesting so I thought I just wanted to.
0:19:07 - Meg Crofton
Yeah no, that's a great observation. I do think that's it isn't about the what. It's about the how. You know how do people get their work done, how do they think about things, when are they, what's their environment, what's the lens with which they look through everything? And if you understand that, you can. You know, going back to a basic marketing concept, you understand your target audience. You know where are they, what do they know? You know, often, when you're giving a presentation, it's always interesting to me that people don't spend enough time thinking about where is their audience on the continuum of. They know nothing about this topic. They know as much as you do about this topic, or they're somewhere in between. And how are you going to tailor your presentation so that you meet them where they are and bring them to where you you want to go?
0:20:11 - Betsy Jordyn
So it's a great observation. I love what you just said because that's exactly what my business model is all about. I feel like one of my superpowers is I could be a great shape shifter. I could get into somebody else's head and tailor the messages and it's like what is their awareness of it?
Too many consultants and coaches we spend so much time talking about me, me, me, and this is my methodology and this is my philosophy, or whatever it is. We don't think about the person on the other end, like who are you talking to? They don't care about your methodology, they care about what are you going to do for them, and I love that. I love this whole idea of shaping thinking because it feels so different to me energetically than even just the word influence or persuasion. So I'd love to talk a little bit more about how did you come up with this idea of shaping thinking? And I don't know how I wound up in your audience for this talk, but I was so or maybe you've given it many, many times and I just happened to be lucky enough to be in one of your talks.
0:21:14 - Meg Crofton
You know, when I think about it, it really started when I was growing up. So I grew up, my father was involved in the space program and that was back when President Kennedy gave what seemed to be mission impossible, which was put a man on the moon within the decade. So everybody worked really hard and I used to go to work with my dad on weekends and I watched him interact with his team and I watched the power of what happens when people have are inspired by a mission. They lock arms and they say you know, we can do this, they're capable of doing mission impossible and in fact I saw it happen and was there when the from the front yard of my house to watch this, watch the launch happen. So I think the roots of this shaping thinking go back to watching my dad and his team work.
The second huge influence for me was my education in marketing and my undergraduate grade, my early work experience, and I believe that there are five column marketing 101 principles that translate exactly almost to leadership and to shaping thinking. We've already talked about one. Who is your target audience? The second is, in advertising, reaching frequency and engagement. Who are you reaching with your message? How many times are they hearing it and are they engaged with it? Product positioning how does your idea that you're trying to shape people's thinking on fit with everything else? How is it positioned? Brand charter is what you're trying to get people to do consistent with what they believe in about the company and the brand? And last, marketing research what data and information and credible and objective data are you bringing to the table To influence how people are thinking about something? That was the second.
The third thing that influenced me on shaping thinking was early in my career with Disney. I was given a very difficult change management project with a tiny team. We had done the research and the research was very I mean, it flew in the face of what most people thought at Disney about how guests thought about things, and so we kept going out to give this presentation and show the information and we were just getting nowhere. And I sat down and talked to an external communication consultant about it, about the experience, and he said oh, I have a name for what you're experiencing. He said I call it the babble theory. And he said just about the time you've said something so many times that you feel like you're babbling is just the moment that it's breaking through and that other people are getting it. So that helped me with this concept of shaping thinking. And, last but not least, I have to tell you I was working with a team and we were in a staff role and we were trying to get work done in the organization.
It was the HR team at Walt Disney World, and one of the members of the team sat down one day. She was particularly frustrated with something going slow in the organization and she said oh, would you just please tell us how you do it? And I said do what? And she said how you shape thinking. And honestly, Betsy, I had never thought about it consciously and I didn't even know what that term actually meant.
So the first thing that I did was I went and I searched for is that, is that defined somewhere? Does somebody have a definition for that? And I found that, yes, there was this international consulting firm that had the best definition of shaping thinking. I loved it then and I love it now. They said shaping thinking is translating a company's vision and mission into meaningful activity in ways that help people develop conviction for what they do and why they are performing their work. That is absolutely so powerful and energizing right? I mean, at the end of the day, isn't that, in essence, the role of leadership? I mean that's the definition of it. So, to wrap up, how did I get started with this shaping thinking? Her challenge to me to try to teach my team how I did it resulted in a class that I taught at the Disney University under our Leaders as Teachers program, and I would teach shaping thinking minds and hearts for the next 20 years.
0:26:13 - Betsy Jordyn
Oh, wow, so okay. So I was not special being in that audience.
0:26:20 - Meg Crofton
I was. But one of the things I hear from people frequently who say I mean still today, I've been gone from Disney seven years. I still get people who reach out and say you know those tips, I still use them, I still pass them, pay them forward.
0:26:39 - Betsy Jordyn
So I'm curious, though how is it different? Because I still go back energetically. It just feels different than influence or persuasion, you know, like what do you think is like just at an energetic level? Like why is it feel so much more powerful? Like it just like to shape someone's thinking, to shape a mind and a perspective in a way that creates conviction, versus I'm going to influence them, I'm going to persuade them. What's, what do you see? Is the difference between? Between them.
0:27:09 - Meg Crofton
There's certainly similarities but, as you said, I do think there are differences, and I think when we set out to influence others, we have a pretty set agenda right. We have a goal. We might not be as flexible and as open as I believe we need to be when we're shaping the thinking. I also think if we have shaped thinking and I put in parentheses minds and hearts we have done something more than shape their thinking on a specific issue. We have shaped how they tell they, how they think for the future.
I think shaping thinking generally requires more time and just influencing others, and I think, at the end of the day, shaping thinking is more about very, very sharp communication skills and leadership. That is a way that you lead. It's a way that you lead and it's not one of those things where you go in. And this is how I think and this is what I want you to do and this is I'm going to influence you to do it. It's being open to one of the most underutilized communication skills and, I think, the most valuable, and that's listening.
When you're shaping thinking, you have to really listen to what your audience thinks and feels, and that means listening to not only what's said, but listening to what is not said, probing, making sure that you create, especially as a senior leader, making sure you create a safe space for people to tell you the truth. I think the bigger the title and the bigger the office, the harder it is to hear the truth, because people don't want to give you bad news. It's filtered a million times before it gets to you, and so I think really listening to the truth and how people really feel and pulling it out of them, making sure they feel safe to tell you, is really important, and I think often when we set out to influence others, we don't do that.
0:29:34 - Betsy Jordyn
So it sounds like the difference is that there's a heart and there's not just a head. Persuasion is I can agree with you, but the shaping thinking is I agree with you, I have a conviction level. It seems to be one differentiation. It seems like a second differentiation is the heart behind it is I'm not trying to just come in here and get a pitch and get to the sale, this is a longer game I'm playing is that we're trying to work together in some ways and I don't know if you said this, but I don't know if I'm intuiting this correctly or not it feels like shaping thinking is not just a one-way thing. It's like I shape your thinking, you shape my thinking. Together, we're shaping the thinking of whatever it is that we're trying to accomplish together.
0:30:21 - Meg Crofton
Now you said it exactly right. I ended every shaping thinking workshop with my last tip was don't forget to allow your own thing to be shaped.
0:30:36 - Betsy Jordyn
And it's really about the idea. So it's almost like it makes whatever it is that we're talking about. So let's say I'm an HR person and I want to pitch a total rewards program to the company. And it's like so, here's what it is and I'm doing my pitch. So people like say I want to be an influencer and I want everybody in the senior team to buy off on it, rather than we take a step back and say, well, what is it that we're trying to accomplish? Go back to the mission, go back to our values, say what's important. Now let's shape this idea together, let's co-create it to be something that actually delivers what we both ultimately want Exactly.
0:31:08 - Meg Crofton
Exactly, and that way it's sustainable in the organization, and that's something I feel really strongly about. You know, we can push through a project based on position, power or influence, skills, or we can we can for a short period of time, we can make something happen with ourselves or a small group, but for it to really live and exist after we're not in that position anymore, not even in that organization, for it to inform for people the next time something like this comes along, here's maybe how we think about it. That requires that requires everyone's participation and their heads and their hearts.
0:31:52 - Betsy Jordyn
So and it's validating to someone who's there that I'm not just here as a position, I have a voice. I think what you said earlier is I wanted a seat at the table, I wanted to have a voice in the conversations. Similarly, you, as a leader, wanted to give everybody else a voice and it's and it's together. It's really that whole thing. Like we say it like oh, together we're doing so much better, but it's like, but a lot of times people don't believe it, especially when you get into an organization, especially when you have leaders who like to set things up, where their direct reports are in competition with one another and they don't really want to collaborate. They said it opposite.
So what is it about? Like, as we're talking about, like this is a superpower, you know. Like this is a powerful skill to be able to influence. Why do so many companies just totally forget about this? Like you taught this for 20 years. I don't know if Disney still continues on with the influence skills or not. I haven't been there, but I know in other organizations they don't. Why do they overlook it? This is such. It seems like such an important nuts and bolts like this is more important than nuts and bolts of operations.
0:32:58 - Meg Crofton
You're. You're touching on probably one of the things that has been the most frustrating to me in my career about why people really don't get the concept of leaders. Leadership I used to always bristle at the term, the soft skills of leadership. Soft skills meaning empathy, communication, transparency, and and I'm like, okay, that's the hard stuff, that that is really hard to do day in and day out. I believe you can find the analytical capabilities and and hire for that and have that much easier than you can find these, these other skills that are so essential for leaders to to really to be great.
And I think I've often thought about what we, what the world's been through with this pandemic, and I think maybe the silver lining out of a horrible situation is that I don't think the workforce of today is going to tolerate working for leaders who don't have these soft skills, if you will, and so I think that hopefully there will be more and more and more emphasis placed on it, and the distinction often is anybody can gear up and and be a good communicator for a short period of time and that's, you know. I mean most people can do that. I'm talking about day in and day out showing up as a leader that that team members, peers and those who work directly for you can count on you to have these, these communication skills. And that is hard showing up and not letting a bad day that you have roll downhill in the organization. Showing up to be inspiring and empowering to a team. That's really hard to do Right and and but. Yet that's that's the essence of great leadership to me, and that's the essence of great culture and great leaders.
0:35:19 - Betsy Jordyn
So it's like it's a lot of like the feminine type of leadership style, where it's like I'm going to actually listen and show empathy, like that is the leadership style. It's not like we're going to not get anything done, because I could tell you the leaders that I worked at as an OD consultant at Disney, who I worked with the best ones I could tell you. I could start naming him off, I could brag about him. Jim McPhee, one of the best leaders ever. He's a guy, but he's all about influence, knowledge and credibility and that man knows how to get things done, but he does it slow, in a relationship type of way. Beth Stevens is one of the best leaders out there. Aaron Wallace I can go on and on and on.
They can get a lot of stuff done, but they don't do it like they're not playing it for tomorrow, they're playing it for the longer game and they have those skill sets and I think it's just. It's an interesting phenomenon, like we should probably come up with a new name for these soft skills, because they're not soft skills and they're major transformational skills. Yeah, exactly. So let's talk about a little bit more around just how, like so you work with a ton of consultants and coaches. So I want to help. I want to take advantage of your expertise here and help you to tap into you and help you be like I'll be, via me, coaching my clients who are consultants and coaches.
You know what role do you feel like? Because my people, they don't have a place on the org chart and they have a really hard time with it. You know they're used to. They've been in a corporate job. They've always had PNL responsibilities. They've always had direct reports. Now they're going into a new role and they got none of that and they're like oh my gosh, I have no sense of expertise. Where do I go from here? How would you talk to that person about that and the role of developing these shaping, shaping thinking skills, just in journey and for their entire success, from marketing to sales to actually delivering results in an organization working with an executive like you?
0:37:18 - Meg Crofton
Well, I would say the short answer is I believe it's everything to their success in terms of not only getting the work but also making sure that that work that they did with the organization is sustainable after they go on to the next job with that company or another one. I think that if you can, if your audience can, turn the dial and realize how much, have confidence, to realize how much they really can contribute in the organization, that the hardest leadership but the most powerful leadership is that one of where you don't have position power. They have the ability to see across all of the organization. They have the ability to look through the unintentional or intentional silos that exist everywhere in every organization. They have the capability to be objective and to give the leaders of that organization window into themselves that they cannot get from themselves. I think what I see sometimes, and advice I would pay forward, is that it's for consultants trying to get the job, I think, and then working with the client past it. It's all about striking the balance of listening and learning and influencing. Sometimes I sit and I listen to a consultant pitching the organization and it feels like a canned presentation. This is my model. This is how I do things A lot of big OD words, if you will, around their process. I think the more that it's taken out of that very lovely, beautiful boxes and models on a page presentation and the more you can really talk to the organization in terms of in their language and know your audience in their language. I think the more effective.
Reading the room so often I see not just consultants but all of us as we're making a presentation and we just don't read the room the body language is not positive. Maybe we've made one of my shaping thinking tips is get out of the water. What I mean by that is if you were at a beach and you were in the water and somebody yells shark, what would you do? You would get out of the water. What I see often the equivalent of being in the water with sharks is when, as a consultant or a leader in an organization, you're giving a pitch or a presentation, trying to influence people. Somebody asks a question you can't answer, or they bring a data point out that shoots a hole in what you're saying. People stay in the water and they flail about. In this presentation it would be so easy to just get out of the water and just say the equivalent of you know what? That's a really good question, or that's a really good point. Well, let me just stop today and come back next week and we'll talk this again when I've got the answer to your question or I've got the data analyzed differently. You know, no senior leader, no client is ever going to attack you as there's a shark once you've gotten out of the water. I mean they're going to, but I don't know why. We just can.
We and consultants are pretty pretty bad at it because I think you get okay, I've got a three o'clock pitch to Meg on Friday afternoon and I've got to do it. I've got to do it. I've got to get through all of my pages. That's my only shot and I think it's really often gets us all in trouble.
Last but not least, I think my personal passion point I love using consultants. I have already said you bring an objectivity to the organization that I think is really important a truth teller, truth seeker, all of those things. But I think often the part of the truth that a consultant might be somewhat reluctant to share with the organization is that I know you all want to do this, but you are not going to be successful because your senior leader, the top of the organization or the C-suite around them are not enrolled to make this happen. So and it's a hard truth, but that's where most of the mistakes that I've seen happen when I've contracted with consultants and organization to get something done happen because we all left the gate ignoring that major principle that you know, if senior leadership isn't going to get behind it, it might have a short life, but it's not going to be sustainable work in the organization.
0:42:50 - Betsy Jordyn
I could tell you some of the reasons why they do it and I would love for you to speak to those. So some of the reasons why a consultant gets very committed to their methodology and they talk about like, and they get very committed to their pitch, is they feel really intimidated by the differential, like the power differential in the room. So one of the things that you just described is the power. You know the power balancer is the outside perspective. You know, is there other things that you would speak to that? And they think, like I'll sound more credible.
You know that like and I know when I was a new consultant it was one of my great opportunities when I was a brand new consultant is I was assigned to the animal kingdom and back at that time there was a my boss was the consultant there before me and they had warned me because he liked to talk in a lot of OD theory and they told how they took his tie off and like they tied him up during an executive retreat and they warned me I don't want to hear any of your OD speak. And it was like oh, you know, and I'm like, you know, 30. So it's like I have like I had to figure out, like you know how to you know how to really show up, because it was like that part was taken away. So I had a force into or not force into, but really lean into that facilitator role. So how would you know?
For others don't have that experience, where people are that explicit to say you better not say your OD language or else we're going to tie you up like we did that last guy. They didn't do it in a mean way, it was kind of kidding, but you know, how would you, how would you address that insecurity for that person to say, well, if I don't talk about my methodology or if I don't have the positional authority, how am I credible outside of my outside perspective? How am I credible? Why would they want to work with me? If they don't see all of all of these models in this credential and this coaching certification, why would they want to work with me?
0:44:37 - Meg Crofton
Well, I'd say I'm kind of familiar with the concept of imposter syndrome, you know, and that's what you're talking about a little bit. I would say, turn the dial a little bit on how you think about yourself. So, first of all, any company is going to, if you're in there, make it a pitch, taking the company's senior leadership time to listen to you. They already know your credentials, they already know that you're somebody that could do the work in the organization, someone who has a functional expertise to do the work. Those are the tickets to entry, right? So you want to establish yourself as who are you, how are you going to do this work and what relationship are you going to build with them? And and you want to put it in their language, so Disney's a great storytelling organization, right? So I think stories are very, very powerful.
Concrete examples, you know, without divulging confidential information from other organizations, you can say let me give you some examples of major change efforts that involved you know this topic and this many departments and how we did that. Just take it. Try to again. Going back to knowing your audience when are they? They're, they don't. They're never going to know what you know, what you know about OD models. They don't care, they don't, they don't care.
0:46:14 - Betsy Jordyn
And they don't care about your coaching certifications. Did you ever like demand that? If you were you know? When you wanted to learn media, when you were getting media coached, did you say, oh well, you know, do you have this credential or that credential, or did you look for you know? Was that you know? Like that's the part where people get caught in that loop.
0:46:34 - Meg Crofton
Yeah, I mean, I think I, I said, look, I, I want you to find people who are really good at this and have a track record of working for other people and companies that are good at it. And I want somebody who I will fit with right, someone who, I mean, we all have different styles and I needed someone who, you know, could re band it off and tell me the brutal truth, but in a way that still left me with enough confidence that I could build on and develop strengths or competencies that I didn't, that I didn't really have. So again, I think you know, most of the time, whoever brought you to the table to give this presentation to leadership had the responsibility to vet your credentials. Right, I've somebody, I mean somebody wants all that information, right, and they've got it, and they and they had it. Or you would have never been invited to sit in the room with the senior leadership team and make the pitch. But I've seen we do this. It's not just consultants, it's executives and their leadership roles.
You put together a presentation and you, you do a couple of things. Number one you've rehearsed it. You have, you love every word, you love every picture, or you've got to give it in the way that you have practiced it. And you, you get the day of the presentation and you absolutely go into transmit mode and you are transmitting this beautiful presentation that you've made instead of in receive mode. To go. Where are they? What kind of questions are they asking?
I've seen senior leaders do things like when asked a question Well, if you'll just hold on to that thought, we're going to cover it on page 15. And, as I would say in my shaping thinking class, what about that? In any way, shape or form moved your audience along with you. Number one, it gave a loud and clear signal to everybody in the room don't ask her any questions. And secondly, they you didn't answer the question, so that person at least sat there and couldn't move forward with you at all Because they didn't have that right. So, being willing to go anywhere, your audience wants to go, if you never get to page all your beautiful pages and all your models, go into that room and establish a connection with that audience and start building your relationship with them.
0:49:20 - Betsy Jordyn
At that pitch, that initial pitch, so it's almost like you need to go into these meetings with the idea of Idris, I'm going to be present for this. I know my outcomes, I'm going to attach to my outcomes and I'm going to detach from my process and be able to let things go on Like if I were in that meeting and you could tell me if this would have been a good strategy or not. I probably would have said, like if that person said I have a question, I would probably first like validated, like oh my gosh, that is an amazing question. I'm so glad you asked that I'm going to go write it over here on the flip chart here and then, like group I definitely I have stuff I'm going to get you know.
I do have this question answered later on. Do you all want to stop here Because this is something that we need to talk about, or is it something that you think we can? You know we'll get to later and if you all have any other questions, let's just continue to add it here and I'll for sure get to all of them. Those are great questions.
0:50:17 - Meg Crofton
Well, okay, I'm going to answer that candidly. I think it depends. I think it depends. I think that technique works Well. That's a facilitation, a beautiful facilitation technique, right, and you use it a lot, especially once you've got the job and you're in these workshops with people and you've got to get a lot of people through a lot of, a lot of work. I think that works well. I don't think it works well at all. You know, initial pitch, that's good. And or developing relationships. I think it feels, oh my gosh, I'm being managed, I'm being handled, I'm being OD.
0:50:57 - Betsy Jordyn
So so we need to separate out how we influence or shape thinking in the pitch versus when we're trying to get like large groups of people to come do some sort of outcome. I think so. At the pitch, it's about relationships.
0:51:10 - Meg Crofton
It's about making sure they feel heard and they want to hear how do you think, how do you work, how is it going to be with you? And I will tell you, senior leaders are allergic to anybody who doesn't answer the question when they ask it, right? So yeah, so that's a nuance there. It's a beautiful. It's a beautiful way to handle things and facilitate a workshop. I just would be careful where you use it, where you use that particular tactic.
0:51:47 - Betsy Jordyn
I love the whole idea, though, is that you read the room Like you could tell, like if this is a burning question and somebody asks it and everyone's like nodding their head, it's like you better answer the question, and I think you're right about that one. Especially as a consultant or a coach, they want to see somebody who can adapt on their feet, because they don't want somebody who's just going to go through the presentation. They want to be able to say like well, we want to go in a different direction. My facilitation technique on the whole is basically, I get the senior leader who I'm working with to get very, very clear on the outcomes. I put my agenda together at Nauseam and go in there, and every time I go into a meeting, I say I have an agenda, I put it all together.
It may not work, it may work, it may not. If it doesn't work or if the way I'm going about doing it, please raise your hand and I will rip it up and we will go in a different direction, because we're only here to go after this outcome and I have no attachment, and it goes back to. I'm attached to the goals, I'm detached to my process and I'm detached to my perceived like I have to establish my credibility, because maybe I'll establish my credibility more by being a really good listener and somebody who could bring out what everybody's thinking. That's probably stronger than even what I might have in my PowerPoint Well said, great. So I think there's something else that's involved in this situation that you mentioned as apology energy, and I definitely don't want to end this conversation without talking about apology energy, because I think that is something that, especially as leaders in all levels consultants, coaches we all have this apology energy.
0:53:30 - Meg Crofton
Yeah. So I thought maybe the best way to talk about this is give you a couple of examples. So I do a lot of mentoring for people who want to get on boards to do board work for profit companies and they're very, very talented and capable people. And they start out telling me well, I only have experience with not-for-profit boards and it's it's. That statement is absolutely completely charged with apology energy, meaning I don't have the experience you're looking for, I only have this other. And instead of okay, turn the lens on that and first of all, don't wait to be asked like you're. You know it's a, it's a fault that you're waiting for them to dig up. Bring it up and say as I'm interviewing for for-profit boards, I have a great deal of experience in non-profit boards. I've learned the following things top three, top five lessons from my work in non-profit boards that I believe translates well to for-profit boards. I mean again, a positive affirming no, apologies about it, you've got great experience.
Another example is someone who is interviewing for a job within an organization that's for it's a bigger scale job in terms of the number of people that they would have a responsibility for. And and I hear I hear them say to me well, I don't know if I should really even apply for that job because I've only led a small team. Okay, well, again full, full of apology energy, instead of reframing it and say, while I have a relatively small team today, with that I have direct responsibility for I lead big work across horizontally, across the organization, I influence peers and you know, you, you talk about it in a way that you, you have to reframe it in your mind. What is your, what is your insecurity? What are you worried about? What do you have apology energy for? And reframe it in your mind.
0:55:56 - Betsy Jordyn
So it seems like that is the same secret that we talked about. What got you to the role that you have now is, with every job and every opportunity, you listen to the voice and you led with curiosity, not over attachment to it, has to look like this specific thing yeah, yeah.
0:56:15 - Meg Crofton
And, and I had help along the way too, Betsy, and I had people. I was very fortunate back in back in my day. We didn't have the word sponsor, but I had wonderful sponsors who, when I said things like well, I don't know if I am qualified to do that job, they would help me reframe it. What are you kidding me? Yes, you are, and here's how I think about you. So I had help on the way. This wasn't something that I you know that I was born with, and I and I faced the, the imposter syndrome challenges, just like certainly most women do. I catch myself with that apology energy as well, and I just but now, but being alert for it. You can hear it in yourself or you can hear it in other people, and so I think, just being aware of the concept, you'll catch yourself sooner doing it and you'll make the course correction that you need to.
0:57:17 - Betsy Jordyn
Yeah, and I think that that's the big message is is that if you are, if you have a vision for something that you want to do, let go of the apology energy. Look at what your expertise is from maybe a different angle. Move away from the tactical, look at it more of a holistic, strategic, and really own if your consultant and coach, really own the superpower that you have, which is your outside perspective, your ability to listen and corral a group of executives, that's really different and just as valuable. That's your, that's your power balancer. Your outside perspective balances positional authority. Just own it. Stop apologizing for it. Go for it. You have something to say. Yeah, so what have you been up since Disney? So I've, we've been, I haven't, I don't, I don't know what you're up to nowadays. So what are you doing now?
0:58:04 - Meg Crofton
So when I, when I left Disney and I and I say you know, I I retired, but I didn't. I hate that term, I, I, I really don't like the term. I much prefer Kim Blanchard's refire, don't retire. So I'm kind of barred that. Or or either I say I don't, I no longer work full time, but I really wanted to continue to be in a learning environment but honestly it scared me not to be around tables where I listened to you and leaders of today on what issues are. So I wanted to do board service.
To do that, so I serve on three public for profit boards and I serve on a couple of non-profit boards and that keeps me in that learning environment. And then I wanted to do a lot of pro bono, mentoring and so and helping women especially have a better chance to to make it to those senior leadership tables in the C suite and boardroom. So I do a lot of a lot of coaching. And then I wanted time to do things that were about my own learning and self development that had nothing to do with the business world. So whether it's walking the Camino or going to a silent prairie tree, going on a world wildlife trip to understand how to bring the buffalo, how they brought buffaloes back to the reservations on the plains, and, probably last but not least, having more time to be really fully present with my family and friends. That's what I've been up to.
0:59:41 - Betsy Jordyn
It's amazing. Okay, I'm glad you didn't tell me about the Camino, because I'm desperate to go on the Camino and I would have taken all the time Like just tell me all about it. I love, I love the diversity of what you have here is like you're you're having your own, it's like it's a really it's a legacy type of thing that you're creating, but also the lifestyle, like all the mindfulness that you're doing in your life and your personal life. But really passing on these leadership lessons, like do you have a book, do you have a, do you have a course or do you have something? Has anybody sat with you and draw out of you your leadership principles outside of the shaping thinking Cause? There's a lot in here. We could do a whole chapter on apology energy. We could do another one about senior expertise sideways. The other one would be around how to do a pitch by focusing on your ideal. You know who your target audience is. There's lots in here.
1:00:29 - Meg Crofton
Well, thank you for that. Um, I, I actually did a lot of other classes, if you will, in Disney to try to pay forward leadership lessons. Um, I called it, um, uh, it would. I. I wrote a lot in journals, uh, about key life and leadership lessons and I would, um, I would, pass those along. So that will be the foundation of maybe a book someday. Um, I don't know what my, my holdup is, Betsy, except that I think I'm, I still feel like I'm in a learning mode and I want to make sure that I am, that I'm open to that Uh and uh and not quite have it. Haven't stopped long enough to say, okay, I'm ready, I'm going to put the pen to paper now, but, um, thank you for the. I get that challenge A lot, I get it. I get it, I'll spend a lot. So someday I think it's on the, I think it's on the plan.
1:01:27 - Betsy Jordyn
That's awesome. Um, how could people find you? Are you on LinkedIn or where can people find you?
1:01:32 - Meg Crofton
I am on LinkedIn. I, uh, I don't do a lot on, uh, on social media, but I, I that's probably my Disney training but um, but I am on on LinkedIn and people reach out, you know, all the time and I and I, nothing makes me happier. I mean to to me, um, the lasting impact that we have, uh, our, our legacy really is how we paid it forward. You know how, how there'll be a different way to do the projects or the things. How have we paid for these life and leadership lessons, um, to others. So I'm always well motivated to do that. So I, I hear from a lot of people and I try really hard to write it back, or given something to think about, or, or, uh, and, and nothing makes me happier. It brings me greater joy than to say, than how you started this podcast, which is wow, something you said really helped me in in my journey, so thank you for that.
1:02:32 - Betsy Jordyn
That's wonderful, Thank you for saying that. So anything else that you want to tell me about the influence, leadership, consulting, coaching, anything and I just haven't asked you the right question.
1:02:44 - Meg Crofton
I think you've asked great questions.
Um, I think I would go back to something you you brought up and I put the exclamation point on which is shaping thinking is, um, is shaping minds and hearts is really dependent on always being open to your to allow your own thinking to be shaped, to have a lot of listening posts.
Um, one of the things that I think, going back to your audience, that you should feel really you all should feel really good about, is when you think about the window that you have in the listening posts that you have from all the different clients you've worked with, and the power that's there to gel and to pay forward some of those learnings and help organizations move faster, because of something you learned over here. Um, I think that's that's really important. So, um, and I'm a huge fan of, of OD, um, and and the work that you all do I could have never done my job or move the work that we did in the organization without people with your skill set. So, um, I wish you all you know go out there and keep doing what you're doing. We need you.
1:04:07 - Betsy Jordyn
We need you to be able to do that without the apology energy you know like. Let go of the apology energy you know really own that there's a lateral or shifting dial to look at what you do, find the words to describe what it is that you do. That's special. Get yourself in the room, lead with curiosity, be present and your credibility will come. That seems to be like the essence and people in it's, and together your clients will shape them. It's a two-way process. It's really powerful.
I'm so grateful for you have. It's just an honor, like I, it's just such an honor to have this opportunity to talk to you, to get to know you better. I wish I would have known all of this amazing stuff, like you know, all those years ago, but it was so, so amazing. So thank you so much for being on the show and for all of you who are listening. Thank you all for listening and I'll see you all next time. Thank you for tuning in. If today's episode lit a fire on you, please rate and review. Enough already on Apple Podcasts or subscribe wherever you listen, and if you're looking for your next step, visit me on my website at BetsyJordyn.com and it's Betsy Jordyn with a Y and you'll learn all about our end-to-end services that are custom designed to accelerate your success. Wait start today.