How to be a better leader by being yourself with Minter Dial | Thoughtleader

How to be a better leader by being yourself with Minter Dial | Thoughtleader

In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli speaks with Minter Dial, a keynote speaker, storyteller, book author, and award-winning film producer.  Minter Dial shares lessons learned in leading brands, building communities, and about his latest book: You Lead: How Being Yourself Makes You a Better Leader.



Some Highlights:

-Minter Dial talks about the need for constant learning. 

-How to lead with greater authenticity. 

-Self-awareness is key to authenticity and leadership.

-Minter Dial on why clarity of purpose matters.

-The why and how of building community.



Also mentioned in this episode:


Johann Hari – Author of Lost Connections

Victor Frankl – Author of Man’s Search for Meaning

Dr. Atul Gawande – Author of Being Mortal


. . . . .

Connect with Minter Dial:

Minter Dial on LinkedIn

Minter Dial on Twitter

Minter Dial on Facebook

Minter Dial on Instagram

Minter Dial podcast

Minter Dial website




Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

MahanTavakoli.com

More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 

PartneringLeadership.com



Transcript

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Welcome to partnering Leadership. I am really excited this week to be welcoming Minter Dial. Minter, for 16 years had a long career at L’Oréal, where he eventually became head of Redken worldwide and served on the organizations, the executive committee, and he has been an author, a thought leader.

 

He made a documentary about his father's legacy called the Last Ring Home in 2016. Wrote Future-proof, 2017. Heart Official Empathy 2018. And in 2020, he wrote "You Lead: How Being Yourself Makes You a Better Leader". And we spend most of our time on that book, but there is so much to learn from Minter, which is why I truly enjoyed this episode and hope you will too.

 

Now I love hearing from all of you, keep the feedback coming mahantavakoli.com. There's a microphone icon on partneringleadership.com. Love hearing those voice messages. Don't forget to follow and or subscribe to the podcast depending on your platform of choice. That way, you will be first to be notified of new episodes.

 

And finally, for those of you that enjoy these episodes on Apple, would really appreciate a rating and review, that way more people will find these conversations and benefit from them, as they become more purpose driven and more effective and authentic leaders. Now, here is my conversation with Minter Dial.

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Minter Dial, welcome to Partnering Leadership. Really excited to have you with me today. 

 

Minter Dial: 

It's such a pleasure, Mahan. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Love your book, your podcast, and the documentary. But before we get to those, would love to know about your upbringing and how that impacted the kind of, person and leader you became. 

 

Minter Dial: 

I think the best word I have is zigzag.

 

I was born in Belgium to American parents. My first language was French. My second, tryingly was Spanish. And then the third was English. Moved to France when I was three, then to England. And I went to boarding school in England for 10 years. I learned how to play cricket and rugby and I learned history and British humor.

 

And then all of a sudden, I said, well, but I have a US passport by gum. And so, I ended up going to America. I went to university there and then I worked on Wall Street. I did a couple of startups. I failed flamingly well, both cases, one in New York and one in Washington, DC, and then worked in a zoo and aquarium, top tennis again, and wrote a novel unpublished, ended up going to Business School to straighten myself out.

 

Cause I was zigging and zagging a lot. Then I worked at L’Oréal for 16 years. Five different countries and then left L’Oréal in 2009 to chart my own path and try to spread the word of how to make the world a better place with my own wings. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

You have been working on making the world a better place. But I'm sure, changing countries 15 times, homes 30 times must have given you an understanding of different people, different cultures that has helped with the empathy that you talk a lot about both in this book and just in general. 

 

Minter Dial: 

A friend of mine, I worked with at L’Oréal guy called Felipe and he wrote a book about the five types of Expats, it's not because you've changed that necessarily you're picking up the good things. And two of his prototypes in these Expat categories tend to make always the reference back to home. Oh, this place isn't as good as at home. Food, isn't as good. Everything's more complicated and it's just impossible for those two profiles to really integrate and enjoy.

 

Only the last level really, the big categories where you completely embedded in the society. You don't live in the Expat community. You totally know the language, have the culture, the habits, the customs, all under your skin and you embrace them. That's the fifth level. And I can't say, I always did that, but certainly having learned more or less eight languages and along the way tried to embrace the different cultures, learn the different sports, the different histories, different cultures, certainly the different foods.

 

This has been my greatest journey and I've always enjoyed being in an “and” mode. This is good and this is good. Everyone says, where's your favorite place? Wait a second. I have a little bit of favoritism everywhere. And the only thing is because I wanted to look for them. I've gone out and found them. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

That is beautifully put whether with cultures or whether with people in relationships. Looking for that beauty and finding it. 

 

Minter Dial: 

It's like when you sit at the dinner table and the person beside you says, okay, It just looks boring, you know, monotone accent, but you're sitting at the dinner table.

 

And so, you've got one and a half hours, unless you got sort of friend who can call you an emergency SOS. No president's calling you emergency exit. You got one and a half hours. Make the most of it. Find out what makes that person tick. And you will find out, even whether it's ball-bearing manufacturers or the stupidest wood widgets in the world.

 

There's something interesting to learn. And that's the glory of constant learning and intrigue. And, and of course, you know, not every time a successful, I, you know, there's dogma and, and, and being too purist in this approach, but that's the general idea. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And in doing that, you also need to learn to find yourself, which is a key element of your book on leadership "You Lead". Now in doing that for yourself, you ended up making an award-winning documentary, which I absolutely loved about your grandfather and his journey. 

 

Minter Dial: 

Thank you very much. Well, I can say that obviously it's been a big piece of my life. A little story, big piece, the 27 minute 42 second film. I can't say I knew that that's what I was doing.

 

In other words, I didn't say I didn't embark on the journey with this intention of Oh, Minter's going to discover Minter but retrospectively, of course, that's what was going on. The key thing, I just wanted to point out that I wasn't quite as intentional as I would like to have been, or as smart as I thought I might be.

But obviously I was discovering who my grandfather was after whom I was named, but he'd been killed 20 odd years before I was born. And in the process of discovering his life, I leaned into understanding my family history, obviously. But I also interviewed 130 people who knew him, served for him, were prisoners with him in the prison camps.

 

And what that made me feel was what I'm not, and gave me an idea of what's important in life and through those conversations and then started to dig in on, Oh my gosh, first world problems galore. Let's get real about what matters. And I can't say took off my cloak of wealth and, and all the things that you go for big titles and all that.

 

But little by little, I started unraveling these pieces and moving into what was intrinsically important to me, finding out who that person was and what really mattered. And for example, really it's about being strategic with your life, instead of sort of just going with the flow all the time. Cause I'm a very much a yeah yes. Yeah. I'd love to do that. Open, right? But you, you can't do yes to everything. There are 75 values out there. All of them are beautiful. All of them, you can justify. All of them you might even think you have or are, but you need to be strategic about that. So I zeroed down and I buckled down. I did the work to knuckle down on three core values that are important to me.

 

And then not only did it take those words, I made them come alive with some kind of behaviors that made me feel that's the version of this value that I want to live. That really, that whole work happens through 25 years of research. And the making of the film and the writing of the book and all that time, thinking about how it was to be a prisoner, how was to be killed, how it was to be a wife, whose husband had come back, what is important in life.

 

And I made the, I took the time to discover who I was. Really lean into it and of course, by the way, I don't have 100% perfect vision of it. That's an ideal, we never get it, it's just a journey, but I have a such a stronger grip on it. And, and the beauty of that is that it allows me to bounce out of bed even as a 56 year old, because I feel like I'm on a path and I'm enjoying it.

 

And it's fulfilling rewarding in a very deep sense. Because I feel aligned, obviously not everything I do. There's plenty of parts. Yeah. My to make one, but in general, I'm very content and satisfied. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Well, that's part of authenticity, Minter, right? Where you are willing to admit that you are far from perfect, but aligning more with your values along the way. And again, with your grandfather, I loved the story part, his love for your grandmother, part obviously the sense of honor and duty, and even seeing the documentary, I was not aware of the kind of starvation and brutal treatment that some of the prisoners of war went through.

 

This was in Philippines, Japanese prisoners of war, some of the pictures seemed like they had come right out of some of the concentration camps in Europe. So he had to endure a lot in that process. Now, there is a sense of responsibility. It sounds like that comes from that. Your mom and dad also mentioned that in the documentary. Is there a sense of responsibility that you got from understanding your grandfather's story?

 

Minter Dial: 

Yeah. Well, there was this awakening that life can be so much worse and then they fought and sacrificed in order for us to have what we have. So thank you, gratitude. Be grateful, add more gratitude into your lives. And then certainly with my parents, they felt a responsibility. My responsibility was to make the story accurate.

 

I did not want to over-exaggerate and certainly in the film treatment, I wanted to dial back the pathos. I wanted to get as honest, a version of the truth that I could knowing that I'm of course bias, right? You know, it's my perfect grandfather after whom I'm named and all this, but I wanted to have imperfections layered in, and I did a lot more of that in the book, much to the questioning of other members of my family.

 

Do you need to talk about the bad things? This is a biography, and I can tell whatever narrative I want and I could have chosen to gloss over some of these other elements. But the interesting thing of course is to have the responsibility for the living people as one of those dead people. To say the best version of the truth that I could. So that was a responsibility that I felt 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And that again, underlines the authenticity of all of your content and what you talk about with respect to leadership, where it isn't this fake image of perfection. This hero worship that we tend to have, whether in the entrepreneurs that we celebrate or leaders in organizations, but authenticity, which is part of what we need to strive for, which is also, you had a long career and successful one at L’Oréal.

 

And you talk about the inauthentic model pictures and then extended and sincere hugs that you had at Redken that conflict of authenticity and inauthenticity in the same environment. 

 

Minter Dial:  

While the beauty industry is part and parcel of the guilty party of projecting these perfect images, the Instagram culture. That's really, that's what it's about is having the perfect hair because you're worth it. Beautiful makeup. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Hey, don't go there now. 

 

Minter Dial:

And the retouched photographs. And, and so we're, we're presenting a dream and we do need to dream. We do need imagination, so it's not all bad. And an absolutely I subscribed to the idea of how makeup can make you feel better.

 

And that's absolutely wonderful. Just like, you know, a cup of coffee can make me feel better. It's okay. You know, not everything has to be a hundred percent natural, a hundred percent organic. You can do other things. I mean, I wear a tie dye a lot, so you can imagine I do lots of other things to enjoy. I don't want to be a purist about it, but I think that this notion of being in business and being authentic, there's so many reasons why it's important.

 

And the odd thing was I wrote the book before the pandemic. Then the publisher had to furlough. And then for basically three, four months, I had to sit on my manuscript and as it was underneath, like stewing in my desk, on my desktop to be more accurate, I was wondering, well, do I need to change? What do I need to change?

 

And I was like, ah, I need to make it more contextually relevant. I need to reinforce certain points. I mean, I had started something I could go further. I pushed the door open further and I plunged into it. And I, I recently was rereading Karl Marx, you know, that communist and he in 1844, talked about the alienation that we experienced at work.

 

The guy is a fricking genius because that's exactly what we've been experiencing. And if there have been a million leadership books already written, I still wanted to write one it's because 70% of people feel disengaged at work. So, someone's not got the plot yet. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Yeah. 

 

Minter Dial: 

And I think that this alienation component where not only do we feel alienated from the products and services, the brand that we belong to, we feel alienated from ourselves.

And that disconnect that entropy that's caused by being disconnected with myself is now the call for authenticity and it's for the individual to have the permission to go seek him or herself. Go find it and then bring that to work. Don't bring the mask. Don't listen to what everyone else wants. Who do you want to be? And then go after that. 

 

So, this is a book as a cry and a call to go do the work, find yourself. And then along the way, you'll be a better leader because you won't have so many bloody chips on your shoulder. And trying to fix your childhood problems with the way you treat other people. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Well, Minter, one of the challenges I see in working with leaders is that, I can imagine most will hear you say that, will nod and will say, absolutely, that's it.

And a 70% is I pity to 70%. My 30% are fully engaged. And really with it, you even mentioned in the book that 73% of us think we have above average empathy, right? I would imagine the higher up you go in organizations 97% probably think they have. 

 

Minter Dial: 

The better I am!  Yeah 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

So how would leaders be able to really embrace that authenticity that you talk about and understand themselves better?

 

Minter Dial: 

The big picture is self-awareness. Breaking it down to be a little bit less abstract. I consider there are three parts to our personality and, and this is for adults as we face life work and so on. And we have the professional thing you got to perform. If you don't have goods and services, screw the purpose, you know, I mean the big purpose and all that, you don't have good products and services and then you've got to get the basics.

 

Professionally, you have to perform. Okay, fine. Then you have your intimate self. This is your private life. This is your secret garden. This is things you don't need to share with everybody. This should be exempt from the laws of transparency. This is my private self, and we all should have that and cultivate it. I like to say that there is beauty in mystery. There's also love and mystery. Then you have the personal self and this is where you need to lean into with that self-awareness. How much of you do you want to bring beyond the professional self? And not because you have a private self that you can't bring your personal, you just need to know where the line is.

Then how comfortable are you bringing that into work? The more prosaic image that I have, is that in the professional life, we tend to wear a proverbial tie. Women and men just imagine the vision of going to work and being seriously serious. What I like to do is think about if I run off after work and I would take off, I'd rip off my tie because that's what I literally did when I was a 20 year old at DLJ investment bank.

 

And I'd run off to go see the grateful dead. So I'd strip off my tie, my Hermes, you know, existence, my sheet Gullah, and I'd put on a tie dye. I put on a bandana and I would dance and sweat to the Grateful Dead. And then I'd come home next morning, shower and shave, put back on the tie and play the corporate role.

 

Well, all the energy spent moving from the tie dye world to the tie, back to the tie dye. Why didn't just make it one? And obviously you don't bring everything secret garden, but just bring more of it and allow yourself to least wear the tie dye within your work. And the other example I have, it should be speaking to individuals who are, "Yeah Yeah Yeah" authentic is great .

 

Question I have for you, sir or Madam, is, are you prepared to allocate a piece of your skin to tattoo the company you're working for? I'm not asking whether you tattoo or not, but would you do that for the company you're working for? If the answer is no, then you need to think why no? Is it because you don't like the place where you are or is it because you're not sure what they stand for or maybe you're not sure what you stand for?

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

That is a real thought-provoking question. And I love the way you frame it. There is the secret garden. That's not the challenge for most leaders. It's the balance within the tie and the tie dye and bringing more of the tie dye into the work environment. Now with work from home, for some people, a lot of people working virtually, they have been forced to bring some of that tie dye into the work environment, which in some instances employee engagement has gone up when they've seen the humanity of the leaders they deal with. 

 

But I think part of what you do in this book relatively is urge people and leaders to discover their own authentic selves and bring more of that into the work environment, which for a long time, I think we were told, or we assumed that we shouldn't, we should separate the two. 

 

Minter Dial: 

That's essentially how I was brought up. And what happens with people my age, who are running big companies is that will, I've been successful to date. The way I've been doing. So that's what I should continue to model. We, right now are in a very different time, but I also think it's not necessarily true even before. Well, before the pandemic came around, this was an interesting question. And part of it is also the way that branding has evolved. 

 

Brand used to be a kind of thing where you could put a double-page spread in Vogue and say, Mahan, you're worth it. Let's hope you have hair.

 

 And you could communicate your brand in, in a one way, one to many type of approach. Now, the issue is that your brand, everyone has great products and services. You have to hope, anyway. However, there are so many more ways to interact with a company. So actually the brand comes alive through the humanity. The people who are manning the keyboards, digital though, they may be, to make the brand come alive, the services rendered.

 

And therefore you really need to think about the values, behaviors and attachment of your employees to the brand. Far more than just the marketing dude, everybody needs to involve. And so now, if that's to be the case, everyone needs to feel like they belong. Part of the bigger tribe of the brand.

And the only way that that happens is, if you create trust. And the only way you're trusting of somebody is when it's personal. You can trust somebody to be good at something. I trust a hundred meter runner to be a good hundred meter runner, but does that mean I trust them with my kids? Does that mean? I trust them with that ephemeral idea of this person has my back.

 

So it's got to be personal. That helps make the people within the company fit together, feel together, be real. And then that's going to create the better service environment for the customers facing outwards. So I call that the Inside Out model. You as the leader, where on your body are you going to put the tattoo?

 

Why are you gonna put that tattoo on you? How are you going to encourage other members of your company to metaphorically want to have that tattoo on their body? And then you're talking about creating an authentic, bigger reaching vibrant, and hopefully long term successful brand. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And in creating that authentic brand, you mentioned what stories we tell and how we tell them is critical to leadership.

 

So how do leaders go about telling the stories and telling them well, in a way for their teams to be able to embrace that brand? 

 

Minter Dial: 

Well, let's start by how they shouldn't tell my brand. I, we have the best product, sir. This one's going to give you 30% less wrinkles. We're number one. We're number one. Oh no, we've been around since 1832. You can trust us.

 

So we have this great tendency to want to throw around numbers. They're very reassuring. Facts. That's really what counts I'm going to give you the facts. Scientifically proven to reduce your wrinkles by 30%. I forgot to tell you the small print. They need to be 20 years old. Okay.

 

So the stories, lean into the personal side of the stories and find the emotion within it. And when you tell the story, the where it really kicks in is when you have a personal attachment to the story that you're telling. So let me give you an example. When I ran Redken I was just a hired gun. I was, came from L'Oreal was bought into this new experience and I didn't really know it, obviously, until I came into it.

 

And then I started opening it up with like, Oh my gosh, this is brilliant. And by the way, I would definitely have a piece of my body. If I believe in tattoos with a piece of writing, even though I left the company. Where do you see Redken in 2004? So I'd feel very comfortable with that dying with a piece of writing on my body.

 

What did I do as I went to, and I, I had the fortune to be able to get in touch with the founder. One of the two founders, a woman called Paula Kent Meehanand. I got to hear her stories. For example, she said, and this is interesting with regard to the first story that she felt in a prior life that she was Japanese and it was so important for her- Japan.

 

So for three years, I went to Tokyo every three months. I did everything I could to sort of, move into her skin. If you will understand her story, the relationships that she had. And then of course I have the story of discovering our grandfather was killed by the Japanese. So there I was reconciling my personal and professional lives together and living them.

 

And I didn't hide away from it, even though probably wasn't always comfortable for some of my Japanese clients and customers distributors to want to hear about this. But I was being me and I did it in a, an elegant enough way that I was being whole. 

 

And anyway, so there's an example of me telling a story about something that was really important for Paula Kent, the founder of the brand. Living it, even though it was a mercenary quote, unquote, head of the company, I say mercenary, because it's a difference of an entrepreneur or let's say a founder family. 

 

I think it's very important to understand the governance models within which you work and the freedoms that you have, because if you're the entrepreneur with your company, 10 people, that's one story. If you are the son or the Dorsa of the founder, ushered in to become the CEO, that's another story. So at 25% maybe ownership, perhaps it's publicly traded, maybe it's still privately held, your father or your mother owns the rest different liberties.

 

And then when you're a hired gun, even if you've been working within the company for a long time, It's a different thing. Your skin is different in the game. And hence this notion of tattooing. If you're an entrepreneur, it's obvious if you're a hired gun, it's a lot less obvious. And so your role as the head, is to own the story and the best way to own the story is to have a personal and emotional link into the story is that you tell.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

And you obviously have that all throughout the book. You also mentioned Redken, which shows so many years later, you have that connection with the organization and the brand. The other thing that you both use Redken for, and the Grateful dead. You went to 200 plus Grateful Dead shows.

 

Harley Davidson is the community building that all of these organizations and groups have been able to do. And we'd love to get your perspective on community building. How can leaders build community within their organizations and then beyond their organizations? 

 

Minter Dial: 

Well, it starts with why you exist. And I certainly don't know if it's easy to intentionally create it.

 

Sometimes you just need to let it go a little bit. Have create some experiences and little by little forge, that community. It's not necessarily something you can do from the get, go, like have a blueprint and write out, here's the community that I am going to build because that, I guess too artificial. And it certainly describes nicely the way that the Grateful Dead created their community.

 

They didn't go out to like, as a band and say, well, we're going to create this amorphous group of millions of people who are going to be fans of ours, around the world. And love to dance like lunatics for five. That's, they didn't know that. I mean, they didn't know they were going to succeed. You know, one day they were out of money, you know, they, they lived hand to foot or foot to mouth, whatever it is, the expression.

So when you want to create this community, obviously, there are less easy ways to go about it. Where there's absolutely no rules. And that, that seems a little bit a anarchic in a business context. When you want to create a community? Why do you want to create a community? A lot of people have run off to our community because that equals fans.

 

That equals clients. That equals likes on my Facebook page. My goodness. And so we run off the community for the wrong reason. So if your company does not have a strong purpose, I think it's going to be unlikely you're going to create a strong community. And the idea of a community has to rally everybody.

 

And everybody needs to feel like they're part of it. So that means from the inside of your company, through to the outside, the stakeholders. And one of the things we did at Redken, which is quite cool, and I can't take credit for it, which is we, we put a limitation to how far we were going to really build community.

 

Cause you might imagine Redken shampoos and so on. Are things that women and sometimes men buy for their homes, right? There's a consumer brand. We, we advertise, but so that you could include the consumers as part of the community. That could be a choice. You could circumvent all the people, the middle layers to get to the community of the customer and make them feel like this huge group, because there's so many of them. We'd have millions of fans. My goodness.

 

But what we were, what our mission was, earn a better living, live a better life. To whom was that going to be appropriate? Well, it meant from the employees all the way out to the hairdressers. That's where we stopped pushing our mission. Didn't mean that earning, living a better life against giving to the consumer. We knew that the real core had to be, earn a better living, live a better life.

 

If you were an employee, if you were a distributor, if you are a distributor salesperson, a salon owner, Or a stylist in that salon. Each of these people, we wanted them to feel in their way, earn a better living, live a better life. And when we had consistency and congruency in this mission, then when we united each other, once a year, 10,000 hairdressers and distributors from around the world. Biggest event in the hairdressing industry, by a brand, by a long shot. It's because we all felt part of this game and we were all were wanting to live a better life.

 

That's what united us in our way. That was our tribal feeling. And, and if so many constantly paid to come listen to their suppliers' speak, something was happening. And this is a really interesting point. Are you able to make your customers pay to come? To hear you speak? Do you have such value, beyond your product that people will want to hear you because you are a credible source, a credible influence in that space?

 

And then if you can make them pay for it, then you know that they should have high expectations and then you should measure whether they wish to come back or not. That's, that's the better metric to be looking at. Not whether they paid the first time, but if they came back and we had over 90% of every time people had already been to a Redken symposium before.

 

So we knew that we had a sustainable model, like the grateful Dead. When you go see the dead (Grateful Dead), I don't know what the number is, but 98% of concerts were filled with people who've been to a dead show before. That was our community. And the dead, what they did is, they had a system that bypass the ticket holder, typical ticket master circuit to ensure that the Deadheads would get the tickets.

 

Not corporate customers wanting to do a song and dance for some kind of show off thing where you get you come in and get a box and listen to the dead. No, no, no, no. They insured through their system, inside out that the biggest fans always got tickets. And it close to you words that kernel of the inside core vans, the more likely you were to get a ticket.

 

So when you're thinking through your idea of a community, why do you want to do it? What are the bonding tissues to make that community come alive and then slowly build it. And afterwards, be aware that it's no longer yours, it's a shared community. And that means, let go. Anyway, that's the tall order that I'm leaving for people who want to build a committee Mahan.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

It is absolutely brilliant because from what I hear you say, Minter and your book, there has to be clarity of purpose. And then there has to be clarity of who this purpose is for, what that group is, and then the willingness to give power to that community. So to let go, they become owners of the brand. They become owners of the purpose. 

 

Minter Dial:

And one of the things is interesting. I mean, we used to fight about this quite a lot internally, which is, it's okay not to be liked. In fact, hallelujah, you don't like us. You don't like our mojo, right. There are plenty of other great competitors. Go, go to town, creating that almost a barrier to entry isn't such a bad idea.

 

 Asking the tough questions before you marry is a much better idea. To create a longer lasting relationship because it's a relationship. And by the way, it's going to be messy. It's never going to be always perfect. There are going to be feuds and fights and disconnects and imperfections.

 

But once you get that strong purpose and you get that feeling, well, that's, that's how it is. It's messy. It's not always great, but as long as the intentions are good and you have a unifying force to get through, then that is what's your community will live through it. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

That's beautifully stated. And it's important as we are going through faster and faster cycles of disruption. You also, Minter, mentioned, mindset being important in handling disruption. And you flipped CRM for the kind of mindset that it takes for leaders to be able to handle and lead through disruption. 

 

Minter Dial: 

Yeah, because most people get CRM wrong. They do it bass ackwards. 

My mindset story that I like to focus on is the first one really but increasing meaningfulness and here for any business people. When you talk about purpose, the challenge is "yeah, yeah" I have a great purpose written down. I was making it come alive. And part of the challenge is making it big enough that it's got imagination in it, but small enough that it's realistic.

 

And, and also if your intention, your ambition, isn't, I want to finish or fix famine in the world. That's fine. Realize your ambitions, lean into it. And there's a scale of purpose, I like to say. And at the lower end of the scale of purpose is meaningfulness. Just increase meaningfulness in your job. If 70% of your employees are disengaged, you're not going to get them all on board. But if you can help them understand that they are contributing, that some things they're doing are meaningful, which can include, for example, some fun rewards, recognition, making them feel like they exist, that they're heard, just this alone is adding meaningfulness into your organization.

 

The stronger purpose it's for another cause for a higher community, a greater community than just your immediate stakeholders. And then you can rally everybody around that. And that's what helps you break down the silos and understand all the other kerfuffles that you might have internally because you're organizing everything around something bigger.

 

And when you're jumping out of bed, to go make your little widgets, but you know, that that little widget is contributing to, example, making an ocean liner, which is transporting people to do voyages that they've imagined all their lives, while your widget, all of a sudden is important, tied into that bigger idea.

And then people have that energy to go through it. So meaningfulness is the topic and there's a scale of meaningfulness, if you will. So look at where you sit. How meaningful are all the jobs of the people in your organization? How can you make it feel more meaningful? And there are five different ways of doing that, which I explain.

 

And then if you were going to be more daring, go ahead and, and look for purpose. And look for a purpose that speaks to you. That's got some ambition and yet is realistic. And then dial in things you're doing. Your decisions you're making every day towards that North, that purpose. And by gum, life could be so much better.

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Absolutely, and again, that meaningfulness needs to exist in every one of the roles and it can, when done well. And that's a big part of increasing engagement. You also mentioned responsibility and collaboration as being key in having the kind of mindset that's important for handling disruption. 

 

Minter Dial:  

Yeah, well, so real responsibility. The story there, is take personal responsibility. So we have the CSR responsibility for the planet or that beautiful, sure. A hundred percent. And so it's a key theme within you lead, which is you need to, you lead you and to take responsibility. And the key concept within that responsibility is for yourself awareness.

 

You mentioned the 73%, how we rate ourselves on being empathic. We need to be hugely aware of who we are. And in the work, I, I mentioned this other, the professional, personal and intimate breakdown of who we are. The issue that we have and the thing that really blocks us all, actually is our ability to accept our imperfections and our dark side.

 

The stuff we're not so happy. The stuff that the black box, we don't want to explore. The stuff we feel, if we told other people, we be looked at strangely. That's the hardest part of understanding who we are. And once you accept that and the easiest route for me to start doing that, is embrace your death.

Embrace your finality. It is for sure. Don't look it away as if it's never going to happen to me. You need to dial into it, lean into it. And I would say that within the, the, the, my image of it, I'm no philosopher at this level, but in, in our approach to death, is our approach to time. And in our approach to time, is our understanding of ourselves.

 

And we have a very short life, make the most of it. Don't wait for a life-changing event to take the time, to figure out who you are and start looking in those other corners that you've kind of brushed aside, look down. I don't want any of those hanging out in my corner. Embrace them bring them to work in you.

 

And then of course, you're not going to go if you're an ax murderer, it's unlikely. That's a good idea to bring that out in the public. Then again, you probably have other things to deal with. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

But that's also why even I love the cover of your book. You lead you and the lead points back at the you and that is absolutely critical for great leadership.

 

You lead you, and it does start with you and that discovery and understanding of yourself, your own purpose and then the broader organization and community. So I absolutely love the book. Now, when leaders ask you for resources or their own self-improvement, are there go-to references or recommendations that you give to them, obviously, in addition to your own books and podcasts?

 

Minter Dial: 

Well, I much prefer to speak about other people in this regard or other ideas. So the first one I'm going to couch it in a literary context and Marcel Proust.  Marcel Proust, I read his book, it's called a Swann's Way. And they're in it, they're a lot of swans. The word for Swan and French is senior, senior, which also happens to be the word for a sign.

 

The senior "signes sont dans le cygne" the signs are in the swans. So this is the point. You don't necessarily need to read a book, just open your eyes and look for the signs. These signs can happen in elastic bands that you find as you're walking across the street, they can be found in the shape of a leaf that fell from a tree.

 

What is it? What is it saying to you? Be open to those and this is not a woo woo story. This is just listen to yourself. See how things happen. Allow you explore. Be creative. So the first thing is go out for a walk and just open your eyes, smell the roses. However, if you want to read a book, I have a couple of recommendations for you.

 

The first is book by English journalist called Johann Hari books called lost connections. He has seven different ways to reconnect. Boy, could we do with reconnecting? It's not because we have gazillions of connections on Facebook and everywhere else that we are connected. In fact, we are totally disconnected.

 

Johann Hari points out how disconnected we are. And his book is brilliant. It's a very worthwhile read for us as leaders of our lives, as well as that business. The second one is in a similar kind of vein it's Victor Frankl's Meaning of life. And we have it easy. We need to remember how easy we have, let's get over these first world problems that we tend to Whoa on about ,moan on about.

 

We have so many other bigger issues and then it's the journey within that suffering. So it becomes the meaningfulness for you. And the last one is, and maybe not so far fetched, if you think that I am a fan of the Grateful Dead is being mortal by a doctor called Dr. Atul Gawande. And in it is amazing because he recognizes how poorly he did. In the journey as he accompanied his father in his last journey to his death. And he explored in his book, how we should embrace our death. And in fact, be more open about talking about it. Because if we have such challenges facing up to our imperfections, it's because we have so many fears and the biggest one of them all really is this fear of death.

 

And yet, if you can embrace that and understand that we are mortal, first of all, I think we'll in a country in so many countries where we have so many people who are aging, where this is going to be the situation and that quality of life question towards that final moment. We need to be able to talk about it in a way that's different, not a sanitized way, like we've been doing in this, in this pandemic, by the way. We need to really dial in and figure out our mortality. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli:

Wonderful recommendations and beautiful perspective, Minter, most, especially at a time when I find so many of us just stare at technology and ignore both our surroundings and finding patterns and opportunities and the beauty in our surroundings or recognizing the meaning of life.

 

And as you're saying, the issues, whether being mortal or other things that we have to really have deep thinking and deep thought about rather than surface conversations. Which is why I really appreciate the kind of thinking that you share in your book, you lead and also on your podcasts. Now, how would you recommend for our community and our listeners to find out more about you and connect with you, Minter.

 

Minter Dial: 

Well, first, I want to thank you so much for having me on, it's a great pleasure.

I enjoy your self-awareness and your good questions. As far as finding me, I have a parentally given- googly- friendly name, which presumably you do too. I didn't Google you, but I'm sure you're a pretty find-able. minterdial.com. Minter Dial- mdial is my handle on many different social media in,  including on Strava and and Peloton mdial on Instagram and, and Twitter.

 

My podcast is called minterdialogue. And, otherwise I have my newsletter. It's biweekly comes out and I'm always trying to provide some kind of a spark inspiration to the people who subscribe. It's easy to unsubscribe, of course. Let it be if you wish. Keep the energy and yeah, come and engage.

 

If you enjoy my books, please let me know. If you don't like my books, please let me know. And there you go. You can see my film, The Last Ring Home. It's on so I have a site for thelastringhome.com, but it's also out on YouTube, iTunes, Google play, and occasionally on PBS. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Thank you so much for joining me in this conversation 

 

Minter Dial: 

And Mahan may we meet? 'Cause I'll be coming to visit my sister and my brother-in-law in Baltimore shortly enough. I hope, therefore come too far to go down DC and offer. 

 

Mahan Tavakoli: 

Absolutely look forward to it. Thank you, Minter.