Lab Notes Connection Lab Podcast

Lab Notes with Russ Hamilton - Episode 1 - Practice

January 20, 2020 Russell Hamilton Season 1 Episode 1
Lab Notes Connection Lab Podcast
Lab Notes with Russ Hamilton - Episode 1 - Practice
Chapters
00:01:50
Guest Javier Careaga
00:24:20
Guest Mark Frein
00:42:24
Guest Rai-mon Barnes
Lab Notes Connection Lab Podcast
Lab Notes with Russ Hamilton - Episode 1 - Practice
Jan 20, 2020 Season 1 Episode 1
Russell Hamilton

Lab Notes - the Connection Lab Podcast - is an ongoing conversation with over 1000 graduates of the various Connection Lab programs about their practice in communication, presentation and leadership. This opening episode features interview with three executive from around the world who are each deep in the Connection Lab methodology and eager to discuss those practices and the nature of their own personal and professional development.

In this episode we talk to Javier Careaga - Director of Student Operations at UVM - University of Mexico Valley, Mark Frein - Chief People Officer at Lambda School and Rai Mon Barnes - Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Codeswitch Marketing. 

Each conversation revolves around their take on personal and professional development and how their Connection Lab experience is informing their practice.

Conversations will revolve around how they are practicing and what they are discovering based on the Connection Lab Six Box Model.

If you want to be a guest on an upcoming episode email us at guestplease@connectionlaboratory.com

More information is available on our website www.connectionlaboratory.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Lab Notes - the Connection Lab Podcast - is an ongoing conversation with over 1000 graduates of the various Connection Lab programs about their practice in communication, presentation and leadership. This opening episode features interview with three executive from around the world who are each deep in the Connection Lab methodology and eager to discuss those practices and the nature of their own personal and professional development.

In this episode we talk to Javier Careaga - Director of Student Operations at UVM - University of Mexico Valley, Mark Frein - Chief People Officer at Lambda School and Rai Mon Barnes - Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Codeswitch Marketing. 

Each conversation revolves around their take on personal and professional development and how their Connection Lab experience is informing their practice.

Conversations will revolve around how they are practicing and what they are discovering based on the Connection Lab Six Box Model.

If you want to be a guest on an upcoming episode email us at guestplease@connectionlaboratory.com

More information is available on our website www.connectionlaboratory.com

Host:

From little mountain sound in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is Lab Notes and here's your host, Russ Hamilton . Hello, welcome. Thank you for tuning in. This is Lab Notes - the Connection Lab Podcast. This show is for people who've been in a workshop. Have you been in a workshop? Have you been in a leadership development program, some kind of management training? Maybe you've been in a Connection lLab workshop. Maybe you've done executive development. Maybe you've done a leadership journey. You are somewhere on your leadership journey and chances are you've taken notes. Maybe just a few, maybe pages. Well , we want to encourage you to open up the book, review your notes, and then we want to help you establish a really conscious practice around what you're trying to get better at. That's what Lab Notes is all about. You're invited to participate. We're so glad you're here. You're going to get a chance to email us. You're going to get a chance to text us no matter what. Even in silence, you're a part of this. We really appreciate it. On this episode, we traveled the world. We go outside Mexico city and we talked to a friend and a participant in Cuernavaca, Mexico. We also go to Austin, Texas and talk to a gaming master, a musician and a heavyweight in the people development field. Then we swing over to Montclair, New Jersey and talk to someone who is deep into a connection lab executive development program and how they are experiencing that and what they're trying to get better at. But I'm going to let them speak to all of that stuff. One of the things I'm trying to get better at is not pontificating too much. So this whole podcast is a contradiction to what I'm trying to get better at. But you're going to bear with me because you're a good sport. I'm so glad you're here. Let's get started. Our first guest today is our first guest ever and I couldn't be more excited. Can you hear me? Javie Outstanding. Javier San Diego is a fast swimmer. Javie is a parent and a husband and a community builder and an administrator and a teacher. And you are currently at the university of Mexico, is that correct?

Javier Careaga:

In university of Mexico Valley. UBM , UVM . There you go. How do we know each other? Hobby? Well, we had the wonderful pleasure to meet each other working as consultants at the refinery leadership organization , when we were there it was very creative in terms of how we would help people get to know better themselves and from there lead to more consciousness, integrity and sense of purpose. We got to enjoy many different ideas and put them into practice. And, yeah, we had the opportunity to build a friendship and to know each other and to share life together. Fantastic.

Host:

You recently had a Connection Lab experience?

Javier Careaga:

That's correct. We have the opportunity to host you Cuernavaca with a small group of facilitators, consultants and entrepreneurs and CEOs. And it was just a wonderful to see how this opportunity engaged people from different perspectives and how each of them grew even in a matter of a few hours and how that experience has become something for them to reflect upon and to build upon.

Host:

So what do you remember about our morning in court Cuernavaca? What do you remember about the space, the people and your experience?

Javier Careaga:

It was very interesting because although I had been a part of a Connection Lab before, it hasn't been this way where we got together with people that had really no previous experience to you or or do your offering. It was very nice to see how they really revealed themselves or how they uncovered aspects of themselves that allow them to think bigger about what they can achieve to gain consciousness, to gain confidence and to see how that empowerment led them to think that they can lead differently in their organizations and in their family to have conversations from a deeper and personal space.

Host:

So you were a participant, you were sitting in chair number three and kind of looking at the whole experience from your chair. And of course everybody was there because you are such an honored member in the community and they had really very little idea what they were showing up for, but they trusted you. And that came up in the room, which I thought was fantastic. Do you remember the opening conversation? Actually, do you have the menu I sent you of the Six Box Model and some of the questions and distinctions we worked with? What do you remember about that conversation? And when I say, what do you remember? I mean, what stood out for you? What really landed in the Six Box Model---the three questions, the three relationships.

Javier Careaga:

The first thing that happened is that you created a very safe personal space. They were able take some challenges and that they could open up and be brave. Right? So you created it--what I would say is a safe space for things to occur. It was very beautiful how everyone showed a little bit of themselves. And, and you were mentioning these funny things about you know, who was a standup comedian who was shy speaking in public, who was a swimmer and things for everyone to remember.

Host:

What might we find surprising about you?

Javier Careaga:

Exactly. What is something we might find surprising about ourselves?

Host:

And did you find things surprising about the people you were sitting with?

Javier Careaga:

Yeah, I mean, for example, there's this one person who is very outgoing and goes to social events with a lot of self- confidence, and it was very surprising for him to share that he was very uncomfortable, shy,

Host:

Yeah. That was surprising. And what was yours? A swimmer? Oh , that's right. You're a competitive swimmer like ---Olympian.

Javier Careaga:

So , actually, no, what I said is that even though I work on many things, what I really would like to do is earn my life as a writer and to share my feelings and my thoughts and my ideas. I was 'the happy the writer'.

Host:

And, it was very generous of you to talk about that. And other people in the room were surprised because they've known you for a long time and they didn't know that about you. I thought that was very generous of you to talk about.

Javier Careaga:

Yes, yes it is.

Host:

What else do you take away? What else do you remember? And I asked this because the question I am always asking myself is how do I learn anything? How do I learn things? What do I remember about events, workshops, training programs? What do I remember about them? And can I remember it without judgment or correction? Can I say I don't remember a thing or I remember everything about it or somewhere in between. I'm always curious about how we learn anything. So this is why I'm so curious about what you remember about this experience?

Javier Careaga:

What I want to say is that I think that the way you have structured this experience is very simple, yet very powerful. It's as simple that has come out of complexity. So structuring it in these Six Box with the three primary questions and the three primary relationships is very, very easy for people to grasp and to understand. How do you show up under stress? How do I want to show up under stress? And then the part that was very interesting is what do I do to get better? And they said, you mean to show up under stress better? There is something that you will always need to get better at, right? So that was something very striking for people to be become aware of. And, then, this idea of how you relate to yourself, to your content and to your audience i s very simple yet very, very powerful. So I think that the structure, Russ is, mesmerizing. People didn't expect something so simple to be so powerful and that it was very easy to see at the end of the session.

Host:

Have you talked about your experience to other people since our experience together?

Javier Careaga:

Yes, I knew these people that I invited to share the experience with you. And, I got to know them a lot better. Afterwards I got all these thank you's , because this has had meant something for them. What I saw is that they connected to a place in themselves, to an authentic place in themselves that they know and that we all know it's there, but for some reason we are afraid to show up, stand there, connect to who we really are---to our power. And, it was very beautiful throughout the process that people trusted themselves enough to suddenly show up. Really not with disguises, not with their, I dunno, t hey're well known personality traits that keep them safe, but really kind of to open up and at the same time be vulnerable but be powerful. That was kind of the impression, especially with this gentleman that I told you about, that he's very outgoing in these social c ontexts, but now he is able to show up as a leader, from a place that he knows is there, but that it's difficult for him to actually get to stand up there.

Host:

How did they do that? How did they discover this thing that you're describing?

Javier Careaga:

I thought about it and I think Russ, that the fact that you asked us to create the content out of this question, 'what do I want my leadership legacy to be?'. The question 'What do I want my leadership legacy to be' makes it personal. So people wrote about personal things, things that matter to them. The first time we read what we wrote without looking or opening up for connection. And, then you would lead us through different exercises to deliver the same content, but with the idea of being aware of the relationship to yourself to your content and especially to your audience because without the audience then the content doesn't matter. So the reality was that they were able to show up well because it mattered to them and they trusted enough to share it with us from a point of 'I bring you good news' and I want to share it with you—and that was felt by the audience.

Host:

When I ask this what lands for me is that you talk about it is through relationship. You know that what if the best of me is available when I put the needs of the audience ahead of myself? What happens when my values are truly embodied, when I put connection with the audience, ahead of connection with content? And I think inverting that because normally, especially under stress, we tend to emphasize relationship with content. But under the stress of this contrived workshop, people really discovered that connection with the audience is what multiplies the power and effects the content. Does that resonate for you?

Javier Careaga:

Totally, at end of the day , the content matters in the sense that it is , relevant and delivered to an audience that is connected to you. I mean if you didn't have any content that's okay if you have relationship. But, if you just have content and you believe that that is the key part, but you don't understand that it only makes sense in connection to the audience, then the content is worthless. But if you have something that is a value to you and you go into relationship with someone, then you want to share it because it's valuable for you because I am bringing you a gift of what I feel, a gem that I have inside that I want to share with you. But it only makes sense if you receive it. Do you remember the exercises?

Host:

Yes beause you don't decide if your audience feels seen and heard.

Javier Careaga:

Exactly

Host:

Right, the audience decides. So this idea gives them authority to do what they want with my content. What do you remember about that?

Javier Careaga:

For example, one exercise was you'd have to get into relationship with one or several members of the audience at a time because that happened. You couldn't deliver a phrase until the person that you are seeking to connect with would raise his or her hand signaling that he or she felt seen by you. He would , he or she would raise his or her hand and then you can deliver a phrase or an idea to that person. Right? That was one of the exercises. And then also building on that, we would do an exercise that you cannot lead connection unless the person raises his or her hand until I'm satisfied with the connection. You can move to someone else and deliver that next idea or the next place . So in that way, the audience was kind of setting up the pace at which you can deliver because it would give you permission to, to deliver your content.

Host:

So when you talk about your experience to other people, what do you hear yourself say? What kind of conversations are you having after this workshop?

Javier Careaga:

One of the things that was very clear to me is that at my first was that their work would benefit from this experience—aiming more at people in leadership positions. But after the experience I realized that I could have invited a lot more people, even though they don't hold leadership positions in organizations, maybe they're even head of households. This work is important for relationships in general for relationship to your spouse, to your children, to your friends, like showing up and understanding that your message, your content has to come first from an authentic place. What I felt is that this was a lot broader in terms of who would benefit from this experience. And it's really open for everyone.

Host:

So how has your practice changed ? What are you trying to get better at now ?

Javier Careaga:

I'm trying to get better at projecting my ideas and those things that I care for that I want to see happening. For example, my first book, I want to make sure that it's published and to set up certain conferences that I want to do. I also want to get better at tennis and, I love that because that's relevant, right? Getting better at tennis is relevant of course, because it just keeps you aware of what it takes to be, in a vulnerable place, m eaning outside of your comfort zone. And this is how you grow in any a spect of your life. So it's important to have things that are fun, but that give you experience of uncomfortable feelingsto keep growing.

Host:

Is there a way to reduce discomfort?

Javier Careaga:

Well, I think yes in a way because you can have metacognition, right? An understanding of the process that you are going through, which includes feeling uncomfortable. As you are the holder of the space where where things are happening without you being completely immersing them in --- lost in the uncomfortableness to say in some way. If you know this process is going to make you feel uncomfortable because that's the way it happens, then it's less uncomfortable because you are prepared for that.

Host:

I resonate with getting lost in discomfort, getting absolutely paralyzed in discomfort--that when I'm uncomfortable, there is nothing else except my experience of not wanting to feel this way, not wanting to be here. Any escape, any escape from the way I'm feeling in the way I'm thinking in the way I'm experiencing life right now--is there a way to elevate myself out of that? And, I would say there is, and it's on one of my liner cards here, seek the answer in relationship, right? The answer is what color are the eyes of the person in front of me? And can I an answer in silence and just be curious. Does curiosity help me counterbalance discomfort?

Javier Careaga:

I think that makes a lot of sense because it breaks the egocentric of a perspective, right? And you suddenly realize that there is a broader world there and that you are part of an immense movement of energy and we are able to take yourself a little less seriously and keep playing at whatever you're trying to do. And, and you know what, something I learned from a dear friend ---- breathe.

Host:

That's a great reminder.

Javier Careaga:

And, anything else you're trying to get better at? Well, I'm always trying to get better at parenting. I think that's my greatest opportunity in life and keeps me on my toes and I keep learning, making mistakes, learning, making mistakes. I don't think there was any nobler , more fulfilling, more relevant role, at least for me. I am honored and always on my toes to keep trying to help my kids to become who they are and to find their way --- their path to find their voice. So all of this is very relevant. T hey are five year old twins and right now, little by little we help them to find their voice, to find their pa th.

Host:

What are the competencies of good parenting as you are experiencing it or bad parenting when a competency is missing? What I like to do is condense large principles into competencies as much as possible. So what's a competency inside of parenting that you want to get better at?

Javier Careaga:

I would say listening, and patience - and it can really be frustrating in many ways. Managing or handling discomfort and frustration and being able to tolerate frustration, I think, is a very important competency. And that's actually something we keep trying to teach our children, right? To be able to, to handle discomfort or frustration. I think that's true for us parents as well as for children. How do you handle failure? I love it when you say permission to fail, you know, that turns the knob two or three notches down in terms of intensity. How am I in terms of failure? I think I can grow a lot more. I think I be a lot better. I don't know if it's me or it's just general that, you try not to fail, you try to do it well, you try to achieve your goals, but then time and time again you miss them. And for a time I may feel angry or not too compassionate with myself. I think becoming more compassionate with myself in that process is very important.

Host:

So there are people around the world listening to you right now and I think grateful to hear your voice talk about this because, and, in fact, that's what this show is about, practice. There's a lot of room there for each of us to practice how we fail and what are the competencies to care of myself. How are you with success? How are you when you succeed wildly?

Javier Careaga:

Well, that , pumps my energy in terms of always seeking to keep growing, right? There's, there's this call of always finding more understanding more, uncovering. And so I think it's, it's always a balance, but it's always striving to, to know more. So I don't know, I would say that success for me is always personal. Even though I was a competitive swimmer, to me, competition towards the outside, I wouldn't say it's not meaningful. It is, but only in a very limited context. I really don't consider myself as competitive as I used to be or as many people think or feel that you have to be. Well maybe yes, but in another context, competitive towards yourself and and striving to achieve things that are meaningful to you is different than how you measure yourself against others in general.

Host:

I bring it up because permission to fail and permission to succeed are often bound together quite tightly. If I struggle with permission to fail, there's a good chance that I'm struggling with permission to succeed as well. I really appreciate you talking to me. This means a lot to me. Say hello to the family. Carry on and we'll talk again soon.

Javier Careaga:

I would just like to say one more thing. This that you're doing is, I mean it's a treasure. I commend you for that and I will be rooting for you because what you are doing changes and all the lives that you touch at the same time also touches many other lives. Congratulations my friend. I am honored to be your friend and I wish you the best of luck and I'm sure you're going to get the best of success. Thank you my friend.

Host:

Thank you. Javie I'll talk to you again soon. Okay. You're listening to these conversations and you want to jump in. That's a great instinct. We would love to hear from you. We would love to have you on the show. Do you want to be a guest on the show? You should totally be a guest on the show. Let me chat to you about your experience either in a connection lab workshop, a coaching program, maybe another type of workshop. We'd really like to hear your voice. Send us an email at g uestplease@connectionlaboratory. com Let me know what you think. Raise your hand if you want to join the conversation. We'd love to have you on the show. Please join us. We are live in Vancouver at G RP, Lttle Mountain Sound Studios---a very exciting location. and conversations. Right now we are going to stop in the connection lab network in Austin, Texas. Mark Frein is on the line with us. Hello Mark. How are you?

Mark Frein:

I'm doing well. I'm here in Austin, Texas at I would say Mark Frein Studios because I do have some recording equipment in my garage.

Host:

You are a guitar player, a musician, that is true. You're a parent, you're a husband, you're a community builder. You're a gamer. You're, I would say, a heavyweight in the people development community.

Mark Frein:

Oh, I thought you were talking about my body.

Host:

Yeah. No, but this is not an intervention Mark . We're not , not interested in that....And you're , a friend of mine. This is Lab Notes-that's the name of the podcast. This is a Connection Lab Podcast. It's for people who've experienced Connection Lab as a participant, whether they've done an executive program or a workshop or a three day intensive or it's folded into somebody else's program and you have a bunch of experience with all that is Connection Lab. Mark has helped this business and me grow dramatically and you've also recently been a participant and I'm really proud of you for that. Can you, can you speak about our last experience with you as a participant in Connection Lab?

Mark Frein:

Sure. I have been a participant previously but years ago and I have been an active facilitator multiple times, but it's always, it's always both nerve w racking and also energizing to put yourself into the vulnerability and diving into the experience by getting up in front of people and bringing what you have as best as you can. In my experience being a participant most recently was -- even when you know a lot about what you're doing -- there's always risks of overdoing it in the wrong way. And on my first go, I put on more of a show than probably was actually called for by the audience. And, I got that feedback, which w as very helpful. And the second time around, I just let loose a little bit and, and dwelled in myself in more authentic ways --and that improves things. No matter how many times you get up and speak and no matter how many you do the work of Connection Lab, there's always something to remind you and reground you. I guess it's like yoga or anything else that's p ractice b ased,

Host:

That really resonates for me. And, of course I have in my mind the image of you up there, which meant a ton to the group. The fact that a senior leader of the organization is happy to sit in a row with the chairs and the people shoulder to shoulder and then do all the exercises and then get up and take a swing at it -- it means a lot to the people in the room. And it's interesting because I get push back from time to time. What would you say about having a senior person in the room with people who report to that person? Do you think that's appropriate? What's your comment for that-especially in this context with Connection Lab?

Mark Frein:

I guess I would answer that in a maybe a very different way, which is I find I would find it remarkably odd if the senior person in the room didn't participate because that choice of sitting out while being in the room and being available to do the work does strike me as one where you are consciously putting yourself outside of an opportunity to develop with your team and that just wouldn't make any sense to me. I suppose probably what's going on reasonably for leaders is they're worried that they might be uncomfortable or they might not show up the way they want. They might make a fool of themselves. All of those are reasonable concerns with your team. But the fact of the matter is when you actually get in front of a room with your teammates and develop alongside them, even if you completely GAF it or flub it up or don't rise to the occasion that you're hoping to, it has a message. It creates meaning just simply being there with them. So it would strike me as odd not to do it that way, frankly.

Host:

So again, that totally resonates for me. And I have a lot of conversations with leaders who point no , no , they're the ones who need to get better. The ones over there need to get better. And I'm going, yeah, but how are you modeling that? How are you modeling getting better at anything? And that's we are all struggling with t hat question. What else do you remember about our experience? Paint a picture for us. Where are we when you were in the workshop?

Mark Frein:

Last I was in rural Germany and was working with a number of leaders of a small German based startup. We were in a big and hot room. It was summertime and there was no air conditioning. We made the best of it and it was very intimate in that way. We were all people showing up to do our best and to be vulnerable with each other , which I thought was very memorable.

Host:

It was also the end of a long day of meetings, big subjects being discussed that included the future and the vision of the organization. There was some debate whether there would be time and space to actually do Connection Lab. And, I think you helped lead the charge to say no we have to do this. I often find the exhausted are the easiest to work with because they just don't energy do resist. What else do you remember about the experience?

Mark Frein:

I was anxious in a way that I was self conscious about, but in a way that no matter how many times I've spoken in front of groups of a thousand and --- sometimes people talk about conquering and ultimately getting over one's anxiety --- I don't think you ever do. I think in some ways that if you are, if you'd have nothing going on in your belly before you're about to try to speak with people or connect with people and do that in a public in a way that that requires public presence....if you've lost any and all anxiety, you're at risk of actually losing some of your ability to show up your best.The anxiety tells you that something is important is going to happen and that's okay. I remember being anxious. I also remember being really eager and being very enthused about sharing content about myself with a number of other people. When we allow people to do a writing exercise and Connection Lab and especially make it about things that are important to them, it creates a lot of energy for the people who are about to present because there's something that you do want to share. Now it's also a little bit of a trap because then the content becomes very important for you as a presenter. And that can be problematic when it comes to staying connected. But it does bring the right energy. I remember feeling really enthused about what I had to share.

Host:

And I remember the gap between your first presentation and your second. Right? The first time you as you pointed our, it was kind of anxiety driven and performance related. You wanted to do a good job and that definition was kind of in your head and you let it rip. And there it was. And then you got some feedback from the audience and the second time was very different. What do you remember about the second time compared to the first?

Mark Frein:

Well, I do remember the first time very in a very particular way, almost like acting. And, your comment was, 'you know, you're acting and, and that's not the challenge here'. If we were acting, we would do something different and that's a hundred percent accurate and fair. So then the question is how do I step away from the tendency towards performance than to just be with the people who are there and, and make them an offer. And , it was a good reminder of how inauthenticity of any kind of gets in accidentally, even when you're not, even when you don't intend to have it. You don't want to show up i nauthentic, but you actually show up inauthentic more frequently when you are trying to be authentic as opposed to just not trying to do anything at all. So t here's a little bit of just be, I think Z en behind the advice. Lose the preconceptions and y ou're g onna end up showing better, which I think is very true in this case.

Host:

I would add that you needed permission to begin putting connection before content, I think was the portal. You're pretty good at both competencies--- putting connection with the audience ahead of your connection with the content and the process, the quality of, or the impact of the content multiplies dramatically.

Mark Frein:

100%.

Host:

Is authenticity a product or a byproduct?

Mark Frein:

Well, I think authenticity is something that your audience decides for you more than anything else. Right? So therefore, the risk of trying to be authentic is that you're already separating from yourself. One ends up being accepted as authentic by one's audience. When you are being you and the more you attempt to put on a show in certain ways, I think the more risk you have. The worst thing for someone who wants to have the impact of being seen to be authentic by the audience is to try to be authentic. Just try to be, try to be who you are and well , not even try just be who you are. It's very likely the audience is going to accept you in that way and then see you as authentic. Is it a product or a byproduct? Well , I'd say it's ultimately a reception. And by that I mean the audiences is gifting you with that or not? Yeah , it depends on your choices.

Host:

That works for me. I think what's important is the counter intuitive nature of it. To your point, the more I'm trying to be authentic or honest or in a way I'm trying to control my audience's experience of me. When the opposite is to surrender that control and say, I don't decide for you what you think of me. The only thing I can control is my offer and my invitation. The audience decides. And the more you honor the audience's autonomy and their right to decide, the more they're going to lean towards you and define you in a way that reflects your values and your morals, ethics, vision, and your ambition.

Mark Frein:

Absolutely. What do I have on retrospect about this? From my own experience and then seeing other people, I think at the end of the day, what we can do when we were trying to connect to an audience of some kind, especially in the world of business, is offer who we are with as little intent to impress as possible. I think of it this way --- if I'm walking on stage and I'm thinking about what do I need to do to be impressive, I've already lost the the audience. I'm in the hole . If I'm walking on stage, really interested and enthusiastic about making an offer and connecting with the people who are in front of me, at least I'm not going to get in my own way.There are all sorts of other things that could happen that could be good or bad, but at least I'm not gonna create an artificial barrier between myself and the audience because I'm not in my own head and I'm just there to inservice of the audience, which I think is the key

Host:

I can't be curious and judgmental at the same time. If I walk on stage in the spirit of curiosity --- what is this place, what's going on here? What would be useful? What would be fun? What would be interesting and not for nothing---I have a whole bunch of content lined up. But in the spirit of curiosity, because otherwise I'm in the spirit of judgment, which is, 'Oh boy, I wish I d id something different for slide 26 and I wish I 'd worn different shoes. A nd I don't know if this crowd likes me',---I'm already in my head. I'm in judgment. The reason I bring that up is b ecause curiosity is a competency I can practice. How did your practice change, if at all? We're after our event in August and I know you and I have done all kinds of stuff, but I'm curious if your practice changed or if your consciousness changed or if anything changed after the workshop.

Mark Frein:

For me the most important thing was a reminder of the preparation to show up best. How when one takes a stage, regardless if that's in front of a few people or a hundred or a thousand or on a television show or whatever it is, lose attachment to one's content in a way that's meaningful. That doesn't mean you just crumple it up on a ball and throw it out the window. It just means the content can be a crutch and then a focus. And the way I like to think about it, when I'm doing my best work when it wasn't in front of people is the content ultimately is co-created. So if I can approach in the spirit of cocreation with an audience what I'm about to say. I mean, they may not say anything, but they're still co-creating what happens, which is that I'm trying to get them involved and invested in what's happening by just being being as human as I c ould possibly can be and at greatest service and a t greatest connection with them. For me it was a reminder of how easy it is to get attached to the words that you think are really important for people to hear as opposed to the experience that people will ultimately enjoy or find meaning in, and walk away from whatever you've just done knowing you better or at least feeling like they know you better and, and feeling energized or inspired or challenged. If I actually want to have that impact on the people who are listening, I have to work in their service so I can't work in my own service. I have to be to some degree at the disposal of the audience. Even if unlike at a Connection Lab I'm never going to hear th at f eedback per se, but I still need to think of the whole situation is in service to the people who I'm about to address. What do I need to do here to be of service. For me it was a reminder of how important that is,

Host:

Well, I would stand up for that and over the heart, you know, I'm in the bag for that one. But what comes up for me is you talk about that is how do I show up under stress? Because it's easy. It is it for us to talk about this in our comfy chairs, butunder stress, I might make a choice where I assert my needs ahead of the audience, right? So that becomes a really powerful question is how do I show up under stress? Because I might be rehearsed and practiced and love the content and anticipate best things and then changes in the program and in the environment and in my life. And the next thing I know I'm on stage, but I'm under much more stress than I anticipated. And under stress, do I make different choices and can I notice that without judgment or correction? Can I just notice that I'm making different changes, which brings up permission to fail. Right. So all these things are connected. Absolutely amazing. Do you have any questions for me?

Mark Frein:

You've been doing this a long time. What do you like best about doing it still? They talk about professional sports people who play tennis or baseball for 10 15 years, the same thing over and over again. Likely there are events that you love that you think back on them with a lot of fondness and there's things that kind of blend in to everything. What do you enjoy most about doing the work that you're doing in this?

Host:

What I love is that moment when somebody is on stage in front of an audience and they are convinced that they are not good presenters, that they are shy, that their content is no good. They are convinced they are inadequate in a hundred ways and then that moment where they flourish and arrive and the audience just adores them and they feel the sensation of being adored, and that they so far surpass their wildest fantasies about what kind of communicator they are, what kind of presenter they are, what kind of human being they are. To be in the room and to help facilitate events and moments like that is just the best possible thing in the world. For me, this is what I want my leadership legacy to be is to show people how and invite them to practice because I want them to leave the room and have conversations that help others emerge as outstanding communicators and outstandingly impactful human beings in anything they choose to apply themselves to . So this never gets old. This never gets to that moment when the whole room gasps, including the presenter. And it can be very emotional or not, but when human beings achieve their potential in a moment, there are few feelings in the world as fantastic as that. That's why that's my thing.

Mark Frein:

It's good to speak that.

Host:

Yeah. Well yeah, you're right. It is good to speak that because words are actions. So I think you're exactly right. I'm going to let you go. Hey, my pleasure. So, so great. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for sharing everything and you and I will talk again soon. Awesome. Thank you Mark. Cheers. Bye. Oh, I can feel you have a reaction. You're reacting to these conversations, aren't you? First of all, thank you so much for listening and you should join us. Text me. That's a great idea. Text me (646) 780-9946 just send me a ping, a couple of notes , couple of whatever it is that you need to interject into these conversations we want to hear from you. Send me a text. That number again is (646) 780-9946 we're going to put you on the show. You should be here. We're going to continue our conversations now seeking the answer in relationship because I just don't want to sit here and Blab and I do want to talk to Rai-mon Barnes . Rai-mon, welcome. Thank you for joining us. You are in Montclair, New Jersey. Correct? And you are a member of the Connection Lab network and we're just so excited to have you on the show. Talk about just briefly what is Connection Lab? Where are you in the Connection Labs, what are you doing with us?

Rai-mon Barnes:

I am helping with marketing at large. And I think more importantly than than saying the word marketing is just helping us to articulate who we are authentically so that as we are talking with people about being in a relationship, about their relationship to their self and their audience and our content and all these wonderful things, we are also being mindful about how we communicate those things ourselves as a company, as a brand, as people--- all the different ways that we have to think about that stuff. So some people might call that marketing, but I think the way we talk about it is really just trying to make sure we're being authentic.

Host:

And you're in a Connection Lab program. Definitely, talk about that. What do you remember about our work so far? Oh my goodness. And when I say that, I know it's a pretty dense question, it's not very fair. But what's top of mind for you?

Rai-mon Barnes:

I'd say right now is it's the first module and being in a relationship because now that means something different. Even when people ask me about relationships broadly, it means something very different to me to be in relationship with a person. And I think what comes up for me right now is the way that relationships, if I'm to keep using the phrase, if you are in relationship, are so deep. And there's so much breadth to them if you let there be. And , I'd also add like if you know what to look for and how those things can affect your relationship. You know, I'm thinking about Atmosphere is coming up for me in the Atmosphere module and how when we talked about noticing your surroundings and just how those things affect the relationships that you have so much, whether it's in a particular instance at an event or a party and you're face to face, or just the general atmosphere of your relationship with that person. So I think that's what's coming up for me right now because it's the holidays and I've been in different contexts with different people and I see how those things have been affecting my interactions.

Host:

What are you noticing about relationship as you go to parties, as you go to different events, as you see people engage with each other as you engage with people, what are you noticing? I'm so glad you asked me that because we had an event, we had some people over our house and I felt like our entire get together was giving of permission. And I've noticed, I wouldn't say I 'd ever a ble t o articulate it before, but I noticed this in our e vent, people just talk to each other and everyone talks to everyone else. I know because I was going around and asking, have you t alked to so and s o have you talked to so-and-so and have you talked to so and so?

Rai-mon Barnes:

And everyone had already. And I know they live over there and I talked to them and I normally live over there....It was a great experience because not only did we want that to happen, I feel like whatever we put into our space gave people permission to do so. And, they did it and they kept doing it and they kept doing it. I kept doing it. There wasn't really anyone who was hiding in the corner or anyone who wasn't engaged. And I really felt a deep responsibility and noticed how taking that responsibility seriously can really make a difference. My wife and I literally talked about before it , Oh my gosh, we have so many cool people coming into our house. We just want them to all be in the same space together. Seeing what happened when all those people worked in the space, I say it was really eye opening and also just reminded me of the responsibility we all have to make sure we're giving permission by modeling and doing the best we can to put that into the space that we're in.

Host:

Well, that resonates profoundly for me. Have you had any experience recently in an environment where there wasn't so much permission?

Rai-mon Barnes:

Yes. And because it's you, you always have this way of like bringing it out of me, even when I don't know what's there what popped up into my mind immediately was client relationships and when the relationship can be contentious because maybe it's a bad execution or maybe the client does or does not understand everything that's happening and that causes certain breakdowns in communications to happen and all of a sudden there's just no permission to be yourself. There's no permission to be candid. There's no space for truth. Even when you trying to bring that, you feel like you're trying to bring that to the space and it doesn't really change anything. It can be extremely frustrating. I'll say when I have allowed myself to back away and reconnect to that situation from the space I want to be in, I guess what I'm doing is kind of just engaging so that I can bring it back to that space where it wasn't there b ecause I'm noticing it's not there and there's kind of nothing more I can do. I've learned that. The only thing I can do is disengage so that I can come back better because otherwise if I stay engaged, I'm not going to be who I want to be at that time.

Host:

Can I suggest that you're choosing how to show up under that stress?

Rai-mon Barnes:

Yes, you can. That is exactly right. Yeah.

Host:

I think that's exactly what you're doing is choosing how to show up because this idea that you can casually back away and just breathe is a choice about how to show up under that stress because the alternative is to try and drive an agenda or try and force a point or try and make somebody understand something, which I think we all know can be extremely difficult if not impossible.

Rai-mon Barnes:

Yeah. And to be fair, I have not always given myself permission to do that. I've definitely, I would always force the issue. I didn't want to leave a conversation with something unresolved ---especially if it was a client. I didn't want to seem as if I wasn't answering everything in that moment or like I didn't have an answer in that moment. Now I've learned better. It's better to not have the answer in that moment so that when I do have it or back away so that when I do have that feeling, I can respond from where that feeling is. Because otherwise, if I respond in that moment from a space that I didn't want to respond from or that isn't right for this situation, it always comes back to bite me. Every single time.

Host:

Do you see yourself in a challenged relationship like that when you're dealing with a client who's perhaps suffering from or doesn't quite give themselves permission or you permission or the situation permission? Do you see yourself in that moment or a version of yourself from years ago or even months ago? Can you relate to that person differently or no?

Rai-mon Barnes:

Do you know if this was the beginning of our journey? I would say no. I do not see that they're being misled and blah, blah, blah. Do you know there's no way that was me. Now I would say one of the big reasons that I can disengage is because I have empathy for that person being the way they are. I know what it's like to be in that space and I can disconnect it. For me, I know that if they're upset or if they're confused or whatever it is, I perceive them to be feeling, I know it's not about me. It's, it's not about how they feel about Rai-mon because I know for me it wasn't usually about that person. Even if they frustrated me, there was usually something even underlying that and that has allowed me to say, 'Oh, you know what? I'm going to give them their space'. But I'd say without that little piece of empathy, being able to go, I've seen myself do this, I think it was a lot harder to do what I'm doing now.

Host:

So the way you're describing it, empathy feels like a competency. I can practice. Well, I think there's a version of me that would've doubted that that empathy was in fact a value or an emotional flexibility that I either had or didn't have. This idea that it's a competency that I can practice. It's something that if I choose, if I want to get better at it, I can choose to get better at the competency of empathy. Does that make sense?

Rai-mon Barnes:

Yeah, for sure. With all this stuff, I feel like the more you practice, you flex these muscles a bit and stretch them and figure them out, the more they show up for you. I'd say, the same way a muscle does, so right?

Host:

The more they show up for you under stress, right? There's a moment where all of a sudden my consciousness shrinks too . Tunnel vision, but my body has a memory of showing up a certain way and all of a sudden I have more empathy in that moment.

Rai-mon Barnes:

Without a doubt. And , and it's important that I have learned over time that when you talk about under stress, it's super important. It is really important to always remember 'under stress'. I say that because especially in a client situation, when someone's giving you dollars to perform a service and whether or not you perceive whatever value they're looking for or they perceive the value you're bringing, makes for a very stressful situation. When you know they are not perceiving it and or you a re able to show them the value, whatever it may be---that's a very stressful s ituation. And so disengaging in some way, which could be an automatic perceived subtraction of value, ---from a client standpoint is pretty risky. There's a certain amount of confidence you have to have and it's not ego confidence, a t l east I don't think it comes from that place. It comes from what you just talked about in regards to, when I've disengaged before and I was awarded for it. I'm g oing t o just trust the process and hope that happens again here. Okay, I'm going to talk to them later. And over time, the more you do it, the more times you know you're rewarded for k inda helping yourself to choose what you know you should. I'd say the easier it gets. Like anything else, like you said, practicing the competency makes you more confident in u se.

Host:

I love that. You're on an executive program with us. You're doing the full pull. It's taking a while, but you're doing all eight modules and we're halfway through. Is that right?

Rai-mon Barnes:

Yeah, we are. I think we just got done with Storytelling.

Host:

No, we just did Atmosphere. We haven't done Storytelling yet. So first module's Relationship, discovering the audience. Second module is Demand, demand and call to action. Third module is Imagery and imagination. And then the fourth one is Atmosphere. You have a unique perspective. There are people listening right now who have been to a workshop who've done this for four hours. You've been audience for executives who are going through an individual program and an abbreviated program. You've got a lot of experience in the room with Connection Lab.

Rai-mon Barnes:

It's so rewarding. Like I feel like it's hard to get through all of the program without being audience. I say that because I feel like whenever I am an audience member, I'm going through the program, right? Like part of the program is being in an audience so that you can watch someone else experience something you've experienced similarly and it reinforces what you felt . It reinforces the different conclusions or the different things. You've come to the muscles you've been flexing, right? And, it reminds you of all of that stuff. It really comes flooding back to you when you watch someone else in, in relationship.. When you're feeling it with them. It's a pretty amazing thing. I will definitely say of all the workshops, classes , types of things I've ever taken, I don't think there's ever been one that builds on itself the way that these do in a way that strictly organic and can only be experienced when you are experiencing them in relationship. There's definitely something pretty magical about going through a module and then being audience,

Host:

Right!. I still remember that session on Atmosphere, that was a heavy one. That was super intense and I really, really enjoyed it. And not for nothing, you really throw yourself at this work. I mean, talk about modeling. You just, pull your hair back and dive in the deep end. And, I just think your relationship to the work speaks to the value that you're getting out of it. And, I think that that's really important. So what are you practicing now? What are you trying to get better at these days?

Rai-mon Barnes:

No , I've hit a place where I'm gliding, for lack of a better way to say it . What I can say is I'm working actively on content. I can say that right now it's my relationship to content. But all that said,I feel like I've shifted gears, b een t o a place where I'm doing a lot less of coming up with content and a lot more of letting the content come out of me and take form.

Host:

I'm just going to breathe into that. What I find as this work continues is that line between the relationship to self and relationship to content starts to blur.

Rai-mon Barnes:

Yes. Right.

Host:

What if I start to trust that in the fact I am my content, that even in silence I am the embodiment of what I value and my ambition and my vision and my hope and my fear. What if I am my content? I just find that an interesting dynamic and of course it's a framework we can dive down, but it's the result of practice that that question is the result of practice. Go ahead.

Rai-mon Barnes:

I wanted to jump in because what you're saying is what I'm experiencing right now at this moment and part of it is I've come to a certain amount of what I feel is hard won is confidence in my relationship to self. And because of that, I don't do a lot of doubting of me. And I've noticed because that is the case, all I have to do is know the context that I want my content to come from and talk. That's it. I don't have to think of the content so much. I just have to remember the context if I'm talking to a client. So for instance, today I was actually out of client call and I need to remember the context they're in so that I'm not just speaking and having a broad relationship to some audience who's out there. I'm having a relationship with the people/client that's in front of me. And once I do that, because I know my values now and I'm always pulling from those same values, all I have to do is apply those values to this context. And those values live inside me . They're with me all the time. And now that I'm trying to do my best to articulate those values on paper and putting them in spaces, putting them up on the wall, they're always in front of me. The values, right? Like not necessarily how, what to do with them and every situation, but what to do with them manifests from the time comes. And that's been a pretty amazing experience , I haven't experienced in this way before. I would say like most people, I was much more focused on the content before I would go into, it didn't matter what it was going into, it I c ould be g oing i n to a conversation with my wife about something. I know we might have issues about it -- I think I'm going to see this and I think I'm going to say that and I think I'm going to say...Or I'd be going to the client meeting and I'd be like, Oh, I got to study the deck and make sure I know everything that was in there. And, I find now that, no, I remember what my company values are and what we are here to practice. We actually wrote down our family values recently.How do I want to make sure I'm showing up in that space? What's the context and what does my heart speak . My brain can be in there some too of course . But it's been working tremendously. It's not even that it's working, it's that it's more rewarding to be my true and honest self in every situation and walk away and know that there's nothing I could've done better because all I had to do was be me .

Host:

Well it's energizing to talk to you as a member of your audience. Your relationship to self content and me is energizing. I find it's confidence building. I find that it's opportunity revealing and I don't want to separate that from when you and I first met because I think there was some controlling in play. Right? And I think that's fairly common is how to control people's experience of me, what I want to do is control the value of this conversation. I want to control the value of the relationship. I want people to have very specific takeaways when they talk to me and I want to decide what they are and the more committed I am to those outcomes, the further away they get from me.

Rai-mon Barnes:

Wow. Yes. Yes.

Host:

And I think that was some of the tension you were living in when we were first talking was you had an appetite and an instinct and an ambition, but you didn't quite know the, how. You didn't quite have a methodology that was going to get you to where something that was just felt so close to you. So it was right in your hand and yet so elusive.

Rai-mon Barnes:

Yes through and through. And I feel all of those things, what you're saying, and I can look back, we've done this in sessions before, looking back at that Rai-mon, now and back then. Who he was and it's amazing. I remember that Rai-mon. This keeps coming up for me right now, so I'm going to share it, that Rai-mon would always show up in a suit. I'd always have a vest. I'd make sure my best watch was on. I would be a little upset if I hadn't shaven just right and I didn't have a haircut. I mention that because today going into my pitch, I wore jeans. I still h ad t he vest on, but there was no tie. I used to always wear a tie. It's so foreign to me now. And it's because, it's just so funny, I was so caught up and making sure the experience of me, I was controlling as much as possible. And now the last, the very last meeting I had with them, I didn't even wear a button up shirt. I wore a polo and jeans-- and that was the very first pitch. I remember, cause I thought, Oh, should I wear this? And I was like, Hey, I'm just going to go and be myself. And I realized that part of what I'm bringing to any interaction is this is how I want you to experience me in all the ways that there are to experience me because that's going to make our total experience deeper.

Host:

And I would say what I'm going to be is curious about you, what I'm going to do is go into the meeting and be curious about you. I don't control your experience of me. I don't know what you see. I don't know what you're coming from. I don't know what your predispositions are. I cannot control your experience of me. I'm going to wear comfortable clothes and they might be a suit and tie and a vest or they might be a polo and jeans or whatever, but I'm not going to be able to control that. What I am going to control is the quality of my offer and the quality of my invitation. That's really all I can control. And I want to be so curious about you. You know, if you're a potential business client, if you're the bus driver, if you're serving my coffee, if your, you know, just a person in my community. I want to practice being curious about you.

Rai-mon Barnes:

I would be remiss if I did not mention part of the reason I know I was doing that here, especially when I moved to New York -- I wanted to make sure I was making a good impression because I've read articles about how specifically people of color know when they were going to a professional work environment, they always dress as best as possible because they know that's one way they can help someone to not judge them in some particular way. They think that is a way to help control that situation. As I have backed away from trying to control what someone's gonna think of me in general, I've found it a lot less need to do so. I can't control what you're going to think of me, no matter what I wear, no matter what I do. I may as well at least make sure I'm being comfortable, make sure that I am bringing my best self by being comfy and wearing whatever it is I feel is gonna help me show up. I already know that in order to really be who I want to be, I have to be able to know as you said, what's going on with you, I have to know your context. I'm going to have to know what you want.

Host:

What would be useful, what would be fun, what would be interesting, how can I be of service? I'm not promising to be a service. Do you have any questions for me?

Rai-mon Barnes:

Right. That's awesome. Oh, I always have questions for you. What I am curious about right now is leadership and authority. We've come back to this one quite a bit and it's because right now in this moment for me, I have a team now that I'm really, really happy about having, we were all drawn to each other and I am navigating this new space of when to lead from a place of authority and what does leadership mean in certain and different contexts. When you care about what others think and you want to make sure they feel ownership and you're not guiding them to conclusions, but you're looking for their conclusions and their thoughts on things.

Host:

What's your question?

Rai-mon Barnes:

This is why I think I'm hedging a little bit, it's because I'm looking for the combination of theory and practice with leadership and authority. The difference between theory and practice when you're trying to practice leadership versus authority.

Host:

Great. Excellent. Yes. So first of all, raise it to consciousness. Is there a difference between leadership and authority in this moment under stress? Is there a difference between leadership and authority? It's kind of a bell I cannot unring , right? Once a bell gets rung, it's really hard to unring a bell. That instinct and sometimes you can ask if the team is small, do we just need to call the play here? People have different opinions and different things they want to do. Do we just need to call the play? Think in terms of authority of calling the play. That's the action verb. Now we're into call to action and demand. Does the audience feel seen and heard? Does your team feel seen and heard? And they'll tell you if you ask and then get their input and then you know, you'll, your gut will tell you and you need permission to fail and you need permission to succeed. Right? So all these other things come into play. But here's my question. Is there some competency in this experience that you're trying to get better at? Because if there's something here you're trying to get better at, then you're leaning towards leadership because now you have the choice to be transparent about it. Right? What I'm trying to get better at is i s feedback. After a meeting, I'm going to ask you questions about are you being managed well? Is there anything you need more of from me? Is there anything you need less of? For me, leadership is vulnerability -- saying I'm not as good at this as I want to be. Whatever the competency is I'm trying to get better at I'm not as good at it as I want to be, which is when we talk about vulnerability, that's what we're talking about. I'm being transparent about not being as good at something as I want to be versus authority, which is if the building is on fire and you're the only one who knows to get us out, this is not a learning moment. You have got to call the play. You've got to tell us what to do, how to do it, where to go and be super clear and model for us what it looks like to get out of the building safely. I think you hit it. It's that piece of being vulnerable, but knowing what to do with that verbal space. Remembering it's about them and making sure. I'm curious about where they are. Is there anything you need from me? Is there any more, anything more that I can do for you or less? Is there anything I can do? Right? Which I think is a really vulnerable question for people in authority positions. And this goes back to what you first said when I asked you what do you remember about your Connection Lab program? And the first thing you said was relationship. Notice how all these modules are connected back to the base, which is, does my audience feel seen? Does my audience feel heard? Does my audience feel necessary? I love the breathing. Right ? So listen, we have to wrap up. Any other questions for me? Any questions, thoughts, needs or feelings? No, that was it. I'm feeling really good. It's just so great to chat with you.I really appreciate you helping me out with this and jumping on the call and we'll do it again soon. I'll see you soon, I'm sure.

Rai-mon Barnes:

Definitely. Thank you Russ . I appreciate the time. Always. Always. Cheers my friend more to come. Cheers to you. Okay . Bye.

Host:

So there we go. That's our show today. Thank you so much for tuning in and sticking through it. I hope it's been useful. I hope it's been interesting. I hope it's been inspiring. I'm hoping that it was so inspiring that you're going to send us a text, (646) 780-9946 or maybe an email. Maybe you want to be a guest on the show guestplease@connectionlaboratory.com we'd love to have you join us. The Connection Lab networks spreads around the world and our mission is to help the world become just the best communicator you can be. We want to cocreate a world of great communicators and I believe that includes you. You are so, so very good at this. Thank you again for tuning in and we'll see you next time. Thanks for listening to lab notes, the connection lab podcast. For more information about our workshops at executive development programs, you can email us@infoatconnectionlaboratorydotcomorgotoourwebsiteconnectionlaboratory.com.

Guest Javier Careaga
Guest Mark Frein
Guest Rai-mon Barnes