03In our Hot Topic this week we have Whitney Nelson on the program to discuss what the root cause of people problems within an organization is as well as explain why connection and community in the workplace are important and how do you achieve it.
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It is good to have you with us. It is Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 17th, 2022. I want to honor Martin Luther King and what he did in the Civil Rights Movement. He did his best to write many wrongs. We sometimes look over the headlines and go like, “Did we accomplish that?” It is something that every generation has to step up and do. For those that are continuing the cause, Martin Luther King Day is a good day to bind ourselves. What can we do to honor him and all that he did?
His I Have A Dream Speech is one of the most studied amazing speeches, and one of the guys that I pay attention to, the author and speaker, is Simon Sinek. He talked about this speech. He didn’t say, “I have a plan.” He didn’t talk about other ways he could frame it up. He said, “I have a dream.” That is important in each of our lives when we are looking at as, “What is our dream?”
If you don’t have a dream, I would suggest you are not living to your fullest. You got to have a dream. I had a dream that we could provide a blog format where we can bring mortgage bankers’ information in reading-only mode. I learn best when I’m reading. That is why we created this show. This show is created by mortgage professionals. It is for mortgage professionals, and we are grateful to have you as our reader. Our commitment is to bring you timely information in a blog format that you can read anytime and anywhere. We got on our hot topic Special guest is Whitney Nelson. She is the Founder and CEO of Brilliant People. I like being around brilliant people.
That is why Alice, Jack and Allen, Matt, and everyone else were on the show. I love being around brilliant people. I love the name of our company. We are going to be discussing the root cause of people problems. It is the number one reoccurring thing that we all got to deal with, and it is one of the most complex aspects of every organization. We are going to be talking about that.
Talking about connection and community in the workplace, how important we achieve it, how important it is, and what are some tools and tips. It is one of my favorite topics. I love looking at personality. I’m looking at different communication styles, learning styles, and love languages, also known as the Five Languages Appreciation in the Workplace. I love all of that. We are focusing on aspects of people problems, and I’m looking forward to that.
It is time to get a special thank you to our sponsors and partners. We are partnered with IndustrySyndicate.com. I love what they do. Check out all the shows at IndustrySyndicate.com. They do a good job promoting shows. Check out Josh Pitts over there and what he does. I love Josh, and we are going to be doing some things together.
Special thank you to our sponsors, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. We also have the Finastra Fusion Mortgagebot Solution product experiencing the power of a fully integrated solution. I like this part. It is an open architecture. Check out what Karen Jenkins talked about in our October 4th, 2021, interview with us. Closed technology and closed architecture are not good things. They have made a conscious decision. Maybe that is what promoted them or made them become the number one fintech company in the world. They have many solutions across banking platforms and many aspects of it. One of them is Mortgagebot Solutions. Check them out.
Lenders One as well as The Mortgage Collaborative, both of these are co-ops. Why mean by co-op? It is where we get to gather in smaller groups and connect with our peers. It is important as you are looking at our organization. Are you talking to others about what you are going through? It is meaningful to have a membership in both of these organizations. Does that replace the Mortgage Bankers Association of America? They don’t replace that. What it does do is brings you together in a smaller, more intimate way, in which you communicate and connect with other lenders and vendors.
Josh Friend does a great job over at Insellerate. They help lenders close more loans by engaging better with borrowers, prospects, and past customers. Check it out. We also had Josh on June 21st, 2021. Check out, Knowledge Coop. It is a great learning management system. Ken Perry does a great job with that product.
Mobility MMI and Modex are both sponsors. We are grateful for our partnership with them. Snapdocs have an eVault solution that will make it simple to get started with eNotes. It is easy to transact across many partners. It will make the loans close more quickly. As we deal more with all the various phases, variations, and mutations of COVID, the mortgage is important.
We have SuccessKit. Check out the episode we did with Julian Lumpkin on January 10th, 2022. Check it out. What thing can you do to have your customer testimonies shared on your show or in your emails? We are working with him closely. It is powerful. We are pleased to have Brent and Brett in Lender Toolkit as a partner. A final thank you goes out to Rob, Alice, Allen, Matt, and Jack for their contributions.
It is the hot topic segment, and we have as our special guest Whitney Nelson. She is the Founder and CEO of Brilliant People. We are going to be talking about the root causes of people problems within an organization, as well as explaining why connection in the community. We are talking about that in the workplace, how important it is to achieve it, and what are some of the ways to do so.
I’m excited to have Whitney. She is a new friend. We are going to be starting to work together. She is going to be working in and through part of our organization, our consulting firm, Transformational Mortgage Solutions, because it is one of the biggest things we failed to transform. Are we transforming technology, processes, and people? Let’s get Whitney Nelson on. Whitney, it s good to have you joining us. Welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me on.
I love the name of your company, Brilliant People. I could not name my company that. We are surrounded by brilliant people company. That is what I do. I love your passion. It is one of my passions. You sit and look at the value of any company that goes out the doors at the end of work every day. We got to figure out a way to do this better. I’m excited to have you share your thoughts with us. Before we go there, let’s get a chance for our readers to get to know you a little bit.
I’m from Austin. I was born and raised here. I know that is not a common thing these days, but I have been here for a long time, and many people are moving in. I have been here for a long time. It has been amazing and nuts to see the growth.
We went to dinner. Alice, it is like you, and I are going to dinner. It is so much fun. We had such a great conversation. We had the intention of talking about the show and what she was doing. I found out what Whitney is passionate about. It is a special topic. I want to get into that at some point in time down the road. You are a delightful human being who is trying to make a difference in the world in many areas. Let’s start with what we could do in the workplace. The first question is, what is the root cause of people problems within an organization? What are you seeing?
We like to sum that up by saying, “People differences trigger people problems.” It is a simple statement, but when you think about it, it does come down to that. In a lot of situations and problems that we are seeing, the bottom line is there is some way someone is showing up and some way they are talking to others. That is the problem. The other side does not understand it.People differences trigger people problems. Click To Tweet
There are many factors that go into that. Let’s get over to Jack. You were talking, Jack, about connection in the community. We will let you go there with that.
David and Whitney, the root cause of people problems in an organization. I have always felt the organization expects a commitment from their people, but seldom do they return that commitment. Do they make a commitment to the people? Educate me, help me grow. No, the company wants you to do your job. I look at people and the organization. It is got to be a two-way street.
One of the problems that happen a lot, and we have all heard this is we got issues with managers, people that are being moved up into a management position because they were amazing individual contributors. They move them up into having the ability to manage other people, but they have never managed anybody else necessarily successfully. They have managed themselves. The organizations that are doing that are almost like they are setting them up for failure instead of supporting them through the process and making sure that they have been developed to a place where they can get up into that position and then successfully lead not only themselves but also a team.
All the various things that go into that. There is no better to talk about that than Alice, who does a lot of training on all of that topic. Alice, I’m going to you.
We offer mandatory team leadership training for that exact reason. We have a team leadership community, future leaders, and multiple leadership community training because we recognize that need that not everyone is cut out for that. I have a question for you. That is a whole lot of different personalities. Is there one personality in the workplace that you find is better than another for this growth?
No. I believe that we need them all. If I use myself as an example, I got a strong personality. I’m passionate about whatever it is I’m passionate about. I might completely blow somebody out of the water, which is a more reserved person, or someone who maybe needs to process a little longer when we are sitting in a meeting, and I’m throwing out ideas.
When we can help people understand who we are in the mix, who other people are, personality-wise, and how people perceive us, we start to understand what our strengths and challenges are. We can figure out where the gaps are. We start to be able to dig into how you might be able to fill a gap in an area that I don’t have the knack for. I don’t feel like there is one type of personality that is the best in every situation. We need them all.
There are the sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic. We talked about this at dinner briefly because one of my passions is to learn how we communicate with each other and the various differences in how we are wired. As a sanguine, which I am, I thought you were for sure when I first met you because you are outgoing. When we look at personality types, it is a point. Jack wants to go back to question number two. Let’s go there. Jack, go ahead and jump on that.
We talked about working from home, and I posed a question about creating a culture of community and the challenges that a remote workforce gives in that effort to create the community that we all want. How do you see that and contrast that to creating community when everybody is in the workplace? Are the two going to be different approaches to achieving the level of community that we want?
It is such a hard question with the way that work is going and the remote work and hybrid structures. It is harder to connect with somebody through a Zoom conference versus being in person with them, but that is what we got to work with now. I loved the conversation earlier about having mentor programs for new employees and onboarding people into the mix. Personally speaking, that is such a great opportunity for anyone, whether they are a brand new employee and have never been in the workforce or a new employee to the organization and is creating mentor programs with someone who has been there for a lot longer that can show them the ropes.
There has been a lot of research behind the importance of a sense of belonging. Speaking of it being Martin Luther King Day. We were talking earlier about Simon Sinek’s thoughts on I Have a Dream. He talked about how as human beings, we are tribal animals. One of the things that ensure the success of the tribe is that sense of belonging. There has been a lot of research done around that and how when there is a sense of belonging.
There is a 56% increase in job performance and a 75% decrease in employee sick days, which is huge. It is harder to create that sense of belonging when you are remote, but it can still be done. It could be little things. It could be things that have to do with making sure everybody has a voice. If decisions are being made and it is a decision where you can allow people to weigh in. You will get their buy-in even if it is not the decision they would have made because they had a voice in that discussion.
The importance of having people feel heard and listened to coming back. It is called a tuman. It is tuning in to what someone is saying, which oftentimes requires us to repeat back to them. What I thought I heard you say, Whitney, is this, “Am I correct?” That goes another step. I wonder how many of us do that and do that well. It does create connections and improves the community.
When you think about how we have gone digital, and we need to on a lot of levels. There are many surveys that companies are sending out to their people now, and they are all digital. They are putting their thoughts in the mix. When you can do a one-on-one with someone, and yes, it takes extra time to do that, but when you can have a human-to-human conversation around the answers they are giving in those surveys, that goes a long way.
I’m getting back to the four personality types or the various price of personalities. That is such an important part of learning how to communicate. Allen, your thoughts on communication. You are a good communicator, Allen. I know you care about your people, and you are always respectful. What are your thoughts?
I always try my best, but there are a lot of personalities. When you work over Zoom and systems like Slack and Microsoft Teams, the true voice of your question or the communication is lacking. People get easily frustrated. I had a number of calls with employees where they misunderstood something or didn’t understand the tone of how somebody was asking or talking to them. That is a common thing that happens. I’m wondering what your thoughts around that. Going digital is not the easiest thing, especially when it comes to someone’s expectation of doing a good job or not or how they are collaborating.
My origin story for why I launched Brilliant People in the first place was that I used to have a manager who, in essence, I was a remote employee years ago, and a manager was in Colorado. The company I worked for was in California. All of my conversations with this manager were over the phone. I had worked for her for several years. She was a person that is good at her job. I had a lot of respect for her at her level. She would say things like, “You are never going to get that. You are not wired that way.” I’m a hard-charging worker.
After several years of having someone talk to me like that, it crushed me. That’s where that whole communication piece becomes important. People don’t understand how the other side perceives them. I thought, “I’m going to get fired.” For several years, I kept thinking I was going to get fired. I finally realized, like, “How do I bring a different person to the table that connects with her on the level she needs, not in the way I’m used to showing up?”People don't understand how the other side is perceiving them. Click To Tweet
When I started digging into personalities, that was the impetus for me. I started digging into personalities. I realized how she needed me to show up and talk to her based on her personality style. It completely transformed our relationship over the next several years. Communication is huge. If I could use myself and I throw myself on the fire all the time because I can come across forcefully sometimes. I try to be careful watching. I like to watch the body language and see people’s facial expressions to know if I have said something that didn’t come across. That is hard to do when you are on Zoom.
While they may be more subtle and intentionality has to go into that, there are clues you can pick up. Text is good for getting quick responses of the word out to someone. Text messaging can be such a challenge. It comes back to communication and knowing your audience. You and I talked a lot about the four personality types. I want to touch on this because I read you as an outgoing, extroverted person. How is it that someone can project themselves as one way we can pick it up, and therefore, we may get a communication style going when it may not be the most effective without an individual?
Not that I’m the only person out there like this. I have been told for those of you that weren’t in that conversation. I have been told I’m an introvert with social skills. I can walk into a meeting, a party, or whatever and be perfectly at home if I have set the intention. I’m here for this reason to meet some people. Most people that meet me think, “You are outgoing. You got a lot to say.” I got a lot of words. My family is a big, loud, and loving family. It is a learned behavior, but in order to rejuvenate and get my energy back, I could be by myself and be in silence.
When I go out and facilitate for an organization, I’m excited to be there, meet people, and see the a-ha moments that they have when we are in this discussion. It is exhausting. When I leave and go home, sometimes on the drive home, I can barely keep my eyes open because it is exhausting for me. You might not be able to peg somebody for who they are in the way that they are showing up. I feel that is a concern. I’m showing up in a happy and excited way because I’m genuinely interested in the conversation we are having. It is okay for you to show up that way because you are mirroring how I’m showing up. The main thing is you pay attention to the audience at the moment that you are with them.
You hit on something that is such a good point and gets into emotional intelligence. It is when someone is exhausted after what you thought was, “They crushed it,” watching you perform. You would think, “This must be giving you life.” It is not the case. That is such an important thing to make sure people get into the proper roles. It is like yourself. You have overcome the introverted side of you to project because you are passionate about what you do. There are motivations there to cause someone to overcome that for the cause they believe in and speak out about.
It would be interesting to know if Martin Luther King, seeing as this is Martin Luther King Day. If he was an introvert or an extrovert, he certainly was a good communicator, especially when it came to that. I suspect he might have been more of an introvert, but he has a passion for his cause, Civil Rights, which was such an important one. It is what drove him out there and put him out there in front. How does emotional intelligence play into all of this?
In any given situation, there are going to be emotional and interpersonal needs that we have to be able to respond to accordingly, where I might be able to show up in a certain way on a given day, I’m having a great day, whatever it is. The next day maybe something heavy is going on, and I’m showing up with a way lower energy. I’m hopeful that the people that I’m connecting and working with day to day are going to be able to read that. That is not always going to be the case. We are training sometimes about the fact that we are not mind readers. You can’t expect that somebody is going to be able to recognize your facial expressions for that given day.
The idea is we have to learn how to stretch across the map. If you think about the four basic personalities, you have to be able to stretch across the map into the other personalities and comfort zone. That is where you get drained. It is more of a stretch, but for us to be able to have these great relationships and be able to connect with all types, we have to learn how to do that. We have to figure out what it is for those other personalities that they need in a given situation. When we are working with them, we are able to stretch into that other area.
I got a question from one of our readers. It happens to be a client of mine. I’m always talking with them. We were talking about the book Good to Great, where Jim Collins says, “Get the right people on the bus with the wrong people off the bus and get the right people in the right seats.” It goes to the point of this. If you are asking someone to do something that causes them to go home at the end of the day exhausted, are they in the right place? Should we encourage that? Should we refocus them? I want to get your response, and let’s get around to Alice, Jack, and Allen to get their thoughts on it because one of the key things is getting the right people on the bus in the right seat. There are some people who go, “No, I know this is difficult for me, but I’m passionate. I want to do it.” Your thoughts.
Patrick Lencioni, who wrote The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, has a lot of work that he has done around our working genius. That is a key point to consider. This thing that I’m having to do, is it draining me, or is it giving me energy? All of us have areas of our work that are going to drain us. We don’t necessarily have the ability to say, “I’m not going to do that thing.”
It is a part of the job.
To your point of when you are a manager or the owner, and you are trying to figure out, is that the right person for this job? It is something to consider what is their zone of genius. Are they the right person? It is a consideration that needs to be had. If you are a small company, you may not have the luxury of pulling somebody off a job that isn’t their genius, but if you pay attention to that, you can start guiding them in the direction where they are going to get a lot more joy out of the work that they are doing. You are going to get a lot more from that.It's definitely something to consider: what's their zone of genius and are they the right person? Click To Tweet
Alice, when you are training people, would you see square pegs going into a round hole? Someone that is in a job sucks the life out of them. What are your thoughts on this important topic?
We do a lot upfront to make sure we don’t have that happen. We rely heavily on the DiSC assessment and a thorough interview process that anything can happen once somebody comes on board, and maybe the job evolves into something that they weren’t cut out for. What we do is spend a lot of time talking to that person and looking at their motivators and skills. We are trying to see if there is another fit for that person.
You are asking a lot of hard questions because you have to get to the bottom of it. Do they still want to work there, and can they be successful? I don’t want to move somebody out and move them to another role to have them. It is still not successful. Is that success something that can even be found in the mortgage space? We are unique. We are always changing. Things can happen at any time. For someone who likes a lot of stability, it may be coaching them into maybe they are not even in the right career.
Jack, what are your thoughts?
Alice touched on it, but I will expand. Before you can make that assessment, you have to know the people. When I manage people, I do what I call Waltzing Matilda every day. I know we are all busy, but we are never too busy to connect with our team and get to know them and what motivates them. I would walk my floors for an hour every day. I would talk to the people. I would ask them how it is going. Are we doing this right? Can we do it better?
When you go to the airport, and you get on an airplane, would you get on an airplane and you don’t know where it is going? Of course not, David. You are leaving Austin, and you are headed to Phoenix. No one gets on an airplane, it is leaving Austin, and you don’t know where it is going. You, as a leader in an organization, have to communicate the vision and strategy. What are we doing? Why is it important? What is it going to take for us to be successful as a team? What does that mean to everybody on the team that we achieve our success? Get out of your chair and get to know your staff. Know them personally as they feel comfortable letting them. It helps you understand, what are their strengths, what is their weaknesses and helps them find the best seat for them on the bus.
Whitney, what are your thoughts on that?
It goes back to that sense of belonging, and they feel like they matter. They are not a cog in the machine.
Jack, you did this when you were in a virtual world. How is that successfully done? The examples that you have seen, Whitney, this being done in a virtual world. You are getting around a set of walking tours. Are you getting on a lot of phone calls?
Yes, you have to get on the phone or Zoom. Make an effort to show people that you care. We have gotten to such a place with a lot of these Zoom calls. When companies are having meetings, people’s videos are off.
One of our clients went in and said, “Your camera will be on, or you will not be on this call.” Unless there is an extenuating circumstance, you got a black eye or some physical issue going on. Let’s get over to Allen.
The only thing I would say is it is difficult to manage people when you are not in person in this new digital world. Understanding what someone maybe meets from you is important, and trying to sit back and think about that. The same type of tone and message doesn’t apply to everybody, which is unique and difficult to do.
If you want to get to know Whitney better, you can go to our website. How would you recommend Whitney for people to connect with you?
They can go to our website at MyBrilliantPeople.com.
We are going to have you on our website because we are partnering together. I’m excited about this. This is one of those topics that I have such a passion for. Marcus Lemonis says in The Profit, which is one of my favorite CNBC shows. He says, “It is people, process, and product.” People are the most important ones and also the most challenging.
If you are reading this and you are getting something out of this, please get a hold of Whitney and at least have a conversation with her. She will give you some great tools. You will not be disappointed. Alice, Allen, and Jack, thanks so much for joining us for the interview. I appreciate it very much. Whitney, it is great to have you as a guest. I look forward to having you back.
Thank you so much
That wraps up this hot topic segment, and we are grateful to have you as our readers. Next episode, we are going to have Cathleen of SimpleNexus. She is the new CEO. She is doing a great job. Follow Simple Nexus. They acquired LBA, and SimpleNexus got acquired the week after. It is so much going on in the M&A space. I’m looking forward to having Cathleen on.
I want to focus on her leadership, and when I sat at a SimpleNexus open house and got a chance to meet her, David Bolin introduced us, and we started talking. I was impressed as I was waiting my turn to go talk to her about how many of her ex-employees she used to work at. They came up, talked to her, and said, “How much we miss your leadership.”
You want to tune in next episode, as we are going to be talking to Cathleen. She does a great job. We are going to be hearing a lot more from SimpleNexus. We are getting them as a sponsor. I’m excited about that. Special thank you to our sponsors, Finastra, Lenders One, Insellerate, Mobility MMI, Modex, the MBA, Knowledge Coop, The Mortgage Collaborative, Snapdocs, SuccessKit, and Lender Toolkit. I appreciate you for being here. Have a great week. I look forward to having you back here next episode.
- Brilliant People
- Mortgage Bankers Association of America
- Finastra Fusion Mortgagebot Solution
- October 4th, 2021 – Past Episode
- Lenders One
- The Mortgage Collaborative
- June 21st, 2021 – Past Episode
- Knowledge Coop
- Mobility MMI
- January 10th, 2022 – Past Episode
- Lender Toolkit
- Transformational Mortgage Solutions
- Good to Great
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
About Whitney Nelson
Whitney Nelson is the founder and CEO of Brilliant People. She’s a dynamic leader with a background in marketing, team leading, and leadership development. Her corporate experience combined with her mantra ‘say no to status quo’, empowered her to create a better way to develop leadership in individuals. This became the catalyst for Brilliant People, whose sole focus is to improve connection and collaboration in organizations through leadership development. When not inspiring organizations to transform workplace culture, you’ll find her mountain biking or running the trails in and around Austin, TX.