UNCHARTED with David Leopold & Jess Dewell

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UNCHARTED: Build Resilience by Practicing Vision and Disciplined Action

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Starting the conversation:

You can only respond to threats and take advantage of opportunities from the amount of resilience you have. The actions you take build our habits. In this interview Jess Dewell, Business Advisor and David Leopold, Facilitator, dig into elements of resilience: necessary skills, visioning, written strategy, and a commitment to discipline.

You can only respond to threats and take advantage of opportunities based upon the amount of resilience you have in reserve, cultivated over time. The actions you take build habits. In this interview, Business Advisor Jess Dewell and Facilitator David Leopold dig into elements of resilience: necessary skills, visioning, written strategy, and a commitment to discipline.

Host: Jess Dewell

Guest: David Leopold


This is Uncharted, a series of candid conversations about facing uncertainty. When we are called upon to be courageous the strength of our leadership is tested, Red Direction has developed a library of resources to help you stay aligned, and in particular to develop your True North. Now, here’s Jess.

Jess Dewell 00:31
Hello, and welcome back. listeners and watchers of the Bold Business Podcast. We’re here with an uncharted program and in uncharted, we talk about things that are timely, that are relevant, and that are necessary for how we do business today. Sometimes we wish we knew what it was from before. So we can apply it today. And sometimes we have to take today’s learnings and apply it to what’s next. And here’s the scoop. By listening in hearing these conversations, we have the ability to learn from each other. Because if somebody else has gone through it, and they made a mistake, or they had a bump along the way, why not learn from them, so you can make a different mistake and learn from it. It’s our collective learning that allows us to move forward to

David Leopold 01:18
Use me collective learning magic words, what collective learning is collaboration.

Jess Dewell 01:26
So everybody, the voice you just heard jumping right in, and I was wondering how long I could get before he did jump in. He has a show of his own. This is Smallbizdavid. He’s here today to talk to me about the importance of resilience, and that we all need more of it. David, I want you to introduce yourselves to our viewers and our listeners.

David Leopold 01:49
Earlier today. I had gotten an email from the Kauffman Foundation. Well, in today’s email, they stressed the importance of podcasting. In today’s pandemic world, it was interesting, because most folks are saying, well, you got to do a video, you have new videos. And yeah, they were taking a very strong position. You know what I gotta tell you to just, I read a list of the 100, top podcasters in the United States, your name is not on the list, I know we need to change that, while I am charging you 12 months from now get you on that top 100 list.

Jess Dewell 02:25
I would like that very much. I mean for your collaborative effort to make it. So

David Leopold 02:30
We just got through two weeks ago, Global Entrepreneurship Week, it was my 10th year participating as a partner with the Kauffman Foundation, I wanted to do something special. So I created a series of eight videos. If you go to small biz david.com or four videos, and Jess is the number four video down in big video. You have to see that video upstairs. Because she took the entrepreneurs flags, and we just had so much fun with it. But that again was the first time that I ever asked anybody to take the pledge with me.

Jess Dewell 03:10
Holy cow, you and I we have so many firsts together, David,

David Leopold 03:14
It’s unbelievable.

Jess Dewell 03:15
I want to jump into this because I’m thinking about resilience. Let’s get this conversation out of our heads and into something that other people can learn from too, and be able to join in our conversation afterwards, through engagement across any of the social platforms in either of our audience groups. I was thinking about resilience in the fact that we all want it. But we don’t know how much we have until we actually fall until we actually make that mistake. Have you ever thought about that? How do you measure resilience until you fail or have a mistake,

David Leopold 03:44
I don’t think about resilience. Just like I don’t think about risk. It’s a way of life. We do what we have to do to get the job done. I consider myself just very patient. Oh, to do whatever it is that we want to do. Mm-hmm. We’re asking people to change their behavior to do what we’re hoping that they will do work with us to whatever it might be listen to us, follow us, here us and asking us to change your behavior. We have to be patient because people don’t change their behavior overnight. And I would have to think that resilience definitely plays into that formula.

Jess Dewell 04:20
Unfortunately, our nature is we’ve got these awesome pathways in our brains, these neurons, they make these grooves. I’m thinking of a movie. They had bobsleds in it from Jamaica, I can’t remember the title or anything like that. But the more that you do this, the more you get into a groove and we are wired as people to shortcut and find the most efficient way. Let’s discern so we can make quicker decisions. Let’s just act because we need to know for safer not most of the time we are but it doesn’t matter we’re doing that and to change those pathways require so much effort. I’ve also heard it as like a rubber band where the rubber band is a certain size at rest and if you stretch it out because you want to change it For something, you can stretch it out for a really long time. But as soon as you relax at all, it’s going to go back to its original shape. So that’s what we’re up against, which is why I think we don’t understand how much resilience we have. And if we’re going to thud, if we’re going to bounce, if we’re gonna find ourselves stuck in quicksand until we make a mistake.

David Leopold 05:24
And we all make mistakes, we have to make mistakes, because we don’t know what the right thing is. So we’ve made the mistake.

Jess Dewell 05:29
So there are ways that we could say, yes, maybe we might be resilient. And we might be able to measure that in a lot of ways. Until the rubber hits the road, though we don’t know, the practices that we do in our business are going to be the ones that really support what patterns are we creating, so that when we do need to rely on them, we know that whatever those patterns are, are going to be the ones that stick, and they’ll help us out. And so there’s a lot of trust, in that. You started talking about resilience, let me share a statement I was making to you, and then you got into resilience. And this is starting to make more sense now.

David Leopold 06:04
Why to have melted, I created a description of entrepreneur is the visionary.

Jess Dewell 06:10
I’m gonna say, you don’t have to be a visionary, but it sure does help.

David Leopold 06:15
The visionary creative direction creates the purpose.

Jess Dewell 06:18
I think you could have a really good manager create a purpose, there are people who buy franchises, and there are people who like sales, and there are people who like operations, I think that they all have different levels of visionary.

David Leopold 06:31
An entrepreneur has to facilitate, you surround yourself with folks who say, yes, you’re doing the right thing, or need to make a little change here, the entrepreneur cannot do it by themselves.

Jess Dewell 06:44
Who does that for the entrepreneur, if the entrepreneur is the visionary and says, Hey, people, you’ve hitched your mission to the mission of this company with me, my personal mission is attached to this company to I’m setting the direction, I understand why we’re doing this, you understand why we’re doing this. So who holds that visionary accountable, to make course corrections?

David Leopold 07:03
Shareholders, if you have a company that are investors, shareholders, absolutely will take you accountable.

Jess Dewell 07:10
And a board and their boards look all different shapes and sizes. These days. A peer advisory group could also be part of that. I am learning. There are different versions of peer advisories that happen out there just like there are different masterminds mastermind is another good one. Okay, so keep going.

David Leopold 07:28
An entrepreneur has to be a good listener. How come? You just surround yourself with folks? So you can nod your head? Yes. But you’re gonna do what you want to do anyways, then why surround yourself with the folks. It’s about a team and the inputs, you’re getting different perspectives, different ideas, you have to listen, if you don’t listen, well, you all know what’s going on. But what was your answer to that?

Jess Dewell 07:51
We can hold ourselves accountable by having that time to reflect through listening. And so in accountability, all of the examples we started with were external accountability for visionaries, because visionaries are always looking to the outside. Part of the skill of accountability from the inside out is the ability to be able to listen and hear and really seek to understand what somebody else is saying, with the least amount of our own filters on as possible.

David Leopold 08:18
It’s an important concept to grasp, I believe, in this new world, new American business plan that I’ve been talking about the Kauffman Foundation, I believe solopreneurs, kitsy expression, a solo entrepreneur is a solopreneur. Now, I believe, because of the pandemic, and the way that business has shifted, it came into the homes, the solopreneur, for the most part, never really leaves the home, they don’t have to technology allows them to be wherever they want to be. And technology gets us there faster, and more efficiently than we had a big organization and travel or whatever. Yeah, we live in a new world. We have to collaborate, there’s going to be millions upon millions of solopreneurs. They’re going to create a new revenue stream idea for themselves, that’s going to expand and maybe create another one. What difference does it make? This is getting done, the job is getting done. solutions to challenges to business challenges are being found.

Jess Dewell 09:23
How do you shift from vision to solution?

David Leopold 09:25
I have this thing in my life that I’ve held to it for 50 years before I will ever ask anybody to do something for me for the organization for the business for the concept. I have to try it myself. So I know what the challenges are. We have our strengths. We have our weaknesses. Why continue to work with our weaknesses, why not we collaborate with someone who can supplement that weakness with a strength. I don’t want to be a technician. I want to be a content provider. That’s what I want to do. But the solopreneur has to have that understanding.

Jess Dewell 10:03
You know, there’s a team element to that. And sometimes we hire out what we need. And sometimes we build a team to do that, that there’s an exchange of value, whether it’s a contractor or whether it’s an employee, but there’s very different relationships that we can leverage provided, we’re willing, I could take us down whole path about all of the things that could go with that. But I’m going to keep us right here with resilience if we’re able to listen without our own filters getting in the way.

David Leopold 10:29
That’s where the entrepreneurs facilitator comes in.

Jess Dewell 10:33
So I was saying, our egos can get in our own way, when we choose to listen to have that internal accountability and build that skill. It takes time, it takes practice. And boy, does it take patience to be able to go What am I reacting to here? What am I automatically sifting out? Why am I sifting this out? What is below that? Because we’ve got to find our own places where we’re not willing to be vulnerable, and we’re not willing to hear so that we can actually execute on that vision and decide what is the action plan to go through that execution process with the most information possible.

We here at Red Direction can only fund programming with the financial help of our supporter listeners, to learn more about the additional benefits and value support our listeners receive, go to Red direction.com. Now, back to Jess,

Jess Dewell 11:36
The simplest thing, there’s so many things, but the simplest thing that gets in our own way that trips us up the most is our own brain between our own ears and what we choose to believe, versus what we choose to be curious about.

David Leopold 11:49
Just listen to your you’re validating all the things that I’ve been thinking about. And the one thing I was going to say, yeah, with accountability, it’s extremely important that as you work on your strategy, whatever it might be, that you write it down, and you keep it close to you, where you can look at it and say, Wow, that was my strategy. Well, maybe I need to change it now. That’s okay. It’s okay. But you write it down, instead of going into your brain where there’s 90 billion other things going on, write it down and be able to focus on what that action plan is. And never leave a meeting without asking what are the next steps?

Jess Dewell 12:28
Yeah, two great tips. And that helps, because you’re right, when we’re surrounded in uncertainty, and we might have to change quickly, we might have to fall back on our old patterns. And by the way, under stress, we do fall back on old patterns. If we haven’t been building the patterns we want, we’re going to be using patterns in stressful situations that might not serve us well, that might not serve our employees, well, that might not serve our vision. Well. So that’s the purpose of building resilience, and being able to use that and to my point earlier of, it’s really hard to measure until the rubber meets the road. That’s it a time when we have to go okay, how are we showing up to this? And how far back do we go? Do we go to the skills we actively practice every day, like understanding what the vision is having a written strategy, making sure that we’re making decisions around that strategy without forgetting the vision and the values of where we’re going? You know, what that requires discipline, there is a discipline that is required to build resilience. Because if we’re not willing to build the habits, if we’re not willing to fully explore and be curious about what’s coming our way, we’re not making the best decisions, which means we probably don’t have an accurate strengths, opportunities and threats analysis thing, which by the way, I use a dynamic one. So to your point about writing down strategy, also have strengths, weaknesses, because then I can look at them all the time. So when I’m in the moment, I don’t have to think too much about it, because I’ve been checking in that. But it’s a discipline to check-in. It’s a discipline to really listen, it’s a discipline to build our accountability. And all of those things allow us to have more resilience.

David Leopold 14:07
I think our discussion is just created an interesting infographic. Probably, while we’ve got on the outside, we have the visionary, the leader, the listener, the facilitator, and on the inside of there someplace, we’ve got resilience, and we have discipline, didn’t we just create an infographic? Maybe I’d switch them. But yes, back to the point. What does the infographic show you? It’s a diagram. So you can see if you’re following the strategy, if you’re in the right place at the right time.

Jess Dewell 14:39
We need that true north we need the things that we know to be true in our business right now. That we can hold up to time and time again, that continued to be true over time, like our values, the way they look and they sound and practice, like our mission. Do we still have products and is our focus on delivering the mission then being able to have all of these other conversations about execution. And then we get to think about what skills do we need. And the discipline to build those skills is going to separate and make a big difference between a company that fails. And a company that succeeds. And one of us dreams and one of us has Red Direction, I think, here’s the solution, we started that this urgent problem, this thing that we’re facing is that we need more resilience, we always need more resilience. And the more complex our organization, the more resilience, focus and attention and energy it takes to make sure that we have it when we need it. That’s it. But here’s the thing. That’s it. That’s the problem. So what’s the solution? The solution is the discipline to practice your vision with purposeful action.

David Leopold 15:45
Think about all this decisions that you have made in your lifetime, good, bad or indifferent. It takes discipline to get to the right decision. That’s exactly right. The entrepreneur has to be very, very discipline.

Jess Dewell 15:59
And if they’re not getting outside help, an outside set of eyes never hurts anybody. And it usually helps immensely. Yeah, that’s true. I call it the, you know, we’re in the forest, and we’re doing the things in the forest. And we’re on our journey. And sometimes we have to, like get out of the forest and crawl up to the top and actually survey the whole forest. So that we have a better sense of what’s actually happening before we come back down. And we’re in the day-to-day. And by the way, part of discipline is, can’t do that. Well, that’s not true. You can do that every day, come in survey and get in the day-to-day, but it might not work for everybody. And so I know for me, that works by once a week, come out, and I’m looking up and I’m surveying everything, the lay of the land, where am I? What’s going on? Am I still where I want to be? Are we still on the track for where I want the company to go? What are obstacles ahead? And then I take all that information, my written strategy, my dynamic SWOT, and a whole bunch of other data to come back down, and I get to work. And I execute that purposeful action. And if it doesn’t align has two choices, it goes in a bid, or goes on a sticky note, or electronic note, something to evaluate later. Because if it doesn’t work right now, it either out forever, already know that right away, I can make that decision. If it’s not out forever, but it’s not right for right this moment? Save it.

David Leopold 17:23
I do projects in life, that’s what I do. I will achieve those goals and objectives. I will. I’m resilient, I hold change. And then I go on to another project. It’s about discipline. It’s about patience. It’s about listening. And you’re absolutely right. Just because it didn’t work today does not mean it won’t work tomorrow.

Jess Dewell 17:45
So with this information, what is the cadence the rhythm, with which you would suggest, David that we look at that written strategy, and we look at that vision, mission values, and our SWOT and all the other data that a company will collect? What is the cadence to bring it all together and look at it, how often should that happen?

David Leopold 18:08
You have to do it at least once a month, I like to do it on a more regular basis. I like to stay on track. And part of it is to I’ve got so many things going on in my mind. And my mind is not as strong as it used to be because I’m getting or I have to write them down.

Jess Dewell 18:23
Did you know writing actually solidifies things in your brain, your brain is connected all the way down to your fingertips? So the more that we do with our fingertips, the more we activate different parts of our brain.

David Leopold 18:37
And to your point, also Jess, the last 12 months of my life have been the most productive 12 months I’ve ever had.

Jess Dewell 18:45
So there’s a lot that we have talked about and within the realm of what we’ve talked about, because you and I could talk about this stuff forever, within the context of resilience as the problem we need more resilience and how do we build it? And this illusion is that we’re practicing our vision with actionable items that are purposeful and disciplined. Do you have any final thoughts around that little bubble that haven’t been said that you’d like to say?

David Leopold 19:12
Last Saturday was Small Business Saturday, and I encourage folks to call at least one neighborhood merchants and place an order for the holiday season.

Jess Dewell 19:24
Thank you for listening. Thank you for watching, I appreciate you joining us for this Uncharted program. And guess what? You know you’ll see us again so until next time,

We here at Red Direction can only fund programming with financial help from our supporter listeners. To learn more about the additional benefits and value-added support our listeners receive, go to reddirection.com. Chart your own course by taking advantage of Red Direction’s Unstuck Quick consulting services and our vast library of events, information on the website, visit reddirection.com. Remember, preparedness and the right perspective is absolutely necessary when you find yourself somewhere Uncharted.