January 11

Stan Wyner on An Empathetic Approach to Problem Solving

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Stan is a principal and founder of Stanley A. Wyner & Associates, LLC, based in Williamsville, NY.

Stan’s career has consisted of both public and private company experiences. Public company experience includes working for such companies as AT&T, Cellular One, and CBS-Viacom. Private company experience includes running firms in staffing, home improvement manufacturing, and commercial lighting, including several multi-generational family businesses.

Stan has been a Vistage Chair with two Vistage groups since 2007, earning multiple Chair Excellence Awards and the prestigious Master Chair title in 2013.  Stan added Mental Fitness (Positive Intelligence) Coaching to his practice in 2020.  He has proven expertise  in Executive coaching, business consulting, strategic planning, sales and marketing planning and management, acquisitions and divestitures

Stan received his BS/BA from Temple University and his Certified Master Sales diploma from Certified Marketing Services International. He is a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Buffalo, and has served on the boards of several local charitable and business organizations. Mr. Wyner enjoys singing in his band, playing the guitar, ice hockey and motorcycling.  He lives in Williamsville, NY along with his two dogs and a cat.

Contact Stan:

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:41
Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of the No Limits Selling Podcast. I'm your host, Umar Hameed. And today we have Stan Wyner here with us. And he's going to talk about Positive Intelligence. And maybe you got a little bit of Positive Intelligence but tell me what that means. Stan, welcome to the show.

Stan Wyner 0:57
Thank you, Umar. At its most basic, Positive Intelligence involves, it's called mental fitness. And that simply is one's capacity to respond to various stimuli or things that happen in our life, from a positive mindset or a positive frame of mind, rather than a negative. And it's based on on extensive research, involving both neuroscience, linguistics and general coaching.

Umar Hameed 1:32
So Stan, it seems to me that there's another field that's very closely related is called Positive Psychology. What's the distinction between positive psychology and Positive Intelligence?

Stan Wyner 1:43
Well, I'm not very familiar with what positive psychology is, but Positive Intelligence as its applied, how I use it. And the program that was founded by a fellow named Shirzad Shameen. Think of it as an operating system, through which you can use mindfulness, any kind of Zen thinking, perhaps positive psychology, it's much like you might have an operating system Windows, or a Mac OS on your computer, you can use that operating system to make effective use of all the different applications that you might want to use. And the training involved with having a client use Positive Intelligence is that it gives us a framework by which to keep the negative thoughts that are inherent in our mind, from affecting how we respond to stimuli.

Umar Hameed 2:44
So it seems to me that you were talking about earlier experiences that human beings have meaning making machines, and when something bland is happening, we make no meaning about it whatsoever, so we don't care. But if there's a lot of emotions attached to an event, then we inherently make meaning out of that event. And if it was a negative event, there's negative emotions. And some of the meanings we make are I'm not good enough or I'm a failure, or I'm a fraud. And if the event was a positive event with lots of positive feelings, oftentimes will go, "Man, I'm fantabulous." So is that what we're talking about those pivotal moments in upbringing that sometimes set the tone for how we see the world?

Stan Wyner 3:24
Yes, that's a great summation of what it is. What Positive Intelligence enables us to do, however, is to compose our thinking, before the negative impact of an event can happen. The terms that we use in Positive Intelligence are the sage, which is that part of our brain that allows us to use positive thoughts and actions, and what we call the 10 saboteurs. And we're born with the 10 saboteurs. They reside in our brain in the reptilian part of our brain, and their original intention was to allow us to survive long enough to procreate.

Umar Hameed 4:08
Yes.

Stan Wyner 4:09
They were very helpful for that. And as newborns and as infants, we use those same tools to help us survive. They tell us how to attract the attention of our mother, it tells us how to do a lot of things that we need to do until we can become thinking ourselves.

Umar Hameed 4:27
Alright. So give me one of those sabotage strategies. What comes to mind first, and then let's take a look at how it helps us in evolution to actually get what we want.

Stan Wyner 4:38
Because to do that, let me go talk about the sage perspective, which is the foundation of all the stuff that we do. And the sage perspective says that any situation can be converted into a gift and an opportunity.

Umar Hameed 4:54
Okay.

Stan Wyner 4:55
My own experience, once I embrace that concept, it changed the way I dealt with everything in my life. And that's been the experience of my clients as well. Saboteurs tend to make us think of situations as this is hopeless. I'm never going to get this report done on time. Nobody else can do it as well as I can. And those are examples of the hypercritical, and perhaps the victim saboteurs, two of the 10.

Umar Hameed 5:27
Alright. So you said that, you know, those 10 Saboteurs helped us in evolution and survive. So how does that negative thing? How did that help us survive?

Stan Wyner 5:36
Well think back to when we were living in caves. And we had to venture out to find food. We had already discovered that a particular tree had food that was good for us as an individual and for our little family. But we also had to develop an awareness that if we saw the leaves of that tree moving, that it might be an animal looking to eat us, like, like it ate Uncle Harry three weeks ago,

Umar Hameed 6:07
Right.

Stan Wyner 6:09
So that awareness, the Saboteurs survival function is don't go near that tree, even though it might be good food and might might make you healthy and live better. Because there's a one in 100 chance that what's behind that tree is going to kill you.

Umar Hameed 6:27
Alright, so what are the other nine Saboteurs? One is victim that we covered.

Stan Wyner 6:32
Yeah. The master Saboteur is called we call it the judge. And examples of that sabot tour working are how well for instance, for me, I used to judge my colleagues as to what their value was to what I was trying to do.

Umar Hameed 6:51
Right.

Stan Wyner 6:51
This one, this one is no good, can't be organized. And most of the time, the judge beats up on ourselves. There are nine accomplice, saboteurs that work with the judge. One is the controller, another is the stickler, another is the avoider, one of my particularly strong ones, the Hyper achiever, there's the pleaser, victim, the restless Saboteur, and the hyper vigilant and the hyper rational. And each of those works within our mind with a series of lies. This, this, it helps with this concept to think of the saboteurs is actually living in our brain. Of course, they're not creatures, they just happen to be ways that we think and react to stimuli in our lives.

Umar Hameed 7:48
Right. So if I was, let's say I had the sage. And do you remember that movie Dumb and Dumber?

Stan Wyner 7:58
Yes.

Umar Hameed 7:59
So this is one scene where he's trying to hit on this woman. And she's basically saying, "I'm not going to date you," he goes, "Well, what are my chances?" You know, "One in a million," he goes, "Oh, my God, I've got a chance," like, that's the sage, right? Say hey, I'm looking at the positive rather than the negative.

Stan Wyner 8:14
Yes, exactly. So the gift and opportunity was in meeting her that he did have a one in whatever chance that she might go out with him.

Umar Hameed 8:26
So tell me about one of your clients don't name names, but tell me about the saboteurs they had and how you got them to like go that Saboteur.

Stan Wyner 8:36
I had a client that was a chief executive of business. And it was a fairly successful business, but recently had run into some situations, some headwinds, if you will, that was affecting the performance of the business. He succumb to the judge Saboteur who was telling him that he was an imposter. He wasn't really good enough to lead his company through these challenging times in the fact that he started the company, and got it to be a very successful company didn't matter, that was all a charade, it was, it was just luck.

Umar Hameed 9:17
Sooner or later, they can figure out I don't know what I'm talking about.

Stan Wyner 9:21
Yeah. And it really started to affect him not only in the work environment, but at home. And his daughter said to him one day, "Daddy, why are you so sad all the time now?" And he literally broke down crying. He and I talked about what was going on. And we applied some positive intelligence to looking at what really was getting in his way.

Umar Hameed 9:53
Right.

Stan Wyner 9:53
One of the Saboteurs getting in this way, is the one that we named the controller and that's an anxiety based saboteurs that says, "I have to take charge, I have to control the situation, I have to make people do what I tell them and what I want them to do." And clearly as a CEO, and as a successful CEO, that was not going to work for him. But the Saboteurs kept saying to him, without me, you can't get much done. So you need to push people. And if you, if you don't get the control, then things are terrible things are going to happen. As we talked about that, I questioned him. Well, if that controller were not quite as strong in this situation, what might be different about how you're dealing with this particular time in your business. And as he thought about it, he realized that the controller was lying to him, and telling him that his organization, the people that he had groomed all these years when the business was growing, were incapable of getting in past this particularly tough time. And when he stopped and thought about it just paused. He realized himself that that was absurd. Part of Positive Intelligence involves just pausing. And doing simple exercises, like rubbing the tips of your fingertips together. So you can feel the ridges, it takes maybe five seconds. But when one gets in the habit of using those little things, it breaks the power of the Sabbath tour. It lets our mind shift to the positive side. And he finally said to me, well, that's ridiculous. I know these people, they're brilliant. In fact, they're more capable than I am of getting through this situation. And he went on to say to his team, that I can't do this on my own, and I trust you people. That's why you're here. They figured out a way to get through it. They revised their marketing approach, they changed the way they were presenting the product, and went on to be even more successful than they ever had been before.

Umar Hameed 12:19
Nice. So in the past, how would you handle that situation when you weren't an expert in this field?

Stan Wyner 12:28
Well, thanks for the compliment. I don't know that I am an expert yet. But I probably would have continued to ask him, what was what was there in the project that made him feel so strongly that he couldn't count on anybody else. And we probably would have spent a lot of time going through his particular training his particular successes and failures. And I still did that. But the difference was getting him to look for the gift and the opportunity. And the opportunity in the situation was to discover just how good the team that he had built was, that how capable they were of handling the situation. He was denying them the chance to do what they were good at.

Umar Hameed 13:20
Not an uncommon thing. So Stan, you also run a Vistage group. How many groups do you run?

Stan Wyner 13:26
I run two Vistage groups. One is for chief executives, CEOs, owners of presidents. The other is called a key executive group, which is primarily made up of people that report directly to CEOs, presidents or owners.

Umar Hameed 13:42
So right now, you know, we're two years into this pandemic, kind of what's the vibe with your CEOs in terms of what the future looks like for them?

Stan Wyner 13:53
The vibe has changed since the spring of 2020. Back then the vibe was how do I keep my business afloat? Can I bring my employees in? Can I bring them in? Can they, can they do what they need to do from home? Fortunately, for a lot of my Vistage members, they were deemed to be essential businesses. So the vibe wasn't so much as well, how do I get my employees in but the concern was the tightening of money, the tightening of supplies, the fear of people about coming into work. As, as time passed with the pandemic, cashflow became the big vibe. And almost all of my members applied for and were given grants to the payroll protection plan that enabled them to keep the employees that they had invested so much in over the year. As time went on, and that kind of passed, the vibe became, I have to find some new customers because a lot of my customers didn't survive. I have a member whose business primarily was serving the hospitality business.

Umar Hameed 15:12
Oh, yeah, that got crushed.

Stan Wyner 15:14
Yeah, overnight, he lost 80% of his customers and had to reinvent his business. So in a Vistage group, which is a private peer Advisory Board, in a confidential environment, we meet and help one another, to answer questions, and we do it in a way without a hidden agenda. So when this member came and presented his his challenge, how do I keep my business going, when 80% of my customers were gone? There's a process that I use as a professional facilitator, that involves having the other members ask open ended questions. The kinds of questions that nobody else would ask a member, if it's your family, they don't want to hurt your feelings by asking a difficult question. If it's your employees, they don't want to ask a question that you might think is a stupid question.

Umar Hameed 16:13
Yup.

Stan Wyner 16:13
And we then use these open ended questions to get the person to think about the situation in different way. It's almost like in the cartoons, when you see a light bulb go off above somebody's head,

Umar Hameed 16:28
Right.

Stan Wyner 16:29
And the typical reaction is, you know, I never thought about it that way. And...

Umar Hameed 16:36
What's gonna interesting...

Stan Wyner 16:37
...suggestions to help that person.

Umar Hameed 16:39
One of the interesting things is a lot of times when people ask questions, they've got an embedded answer within the question. And they're trying to direct the thinking. And that's where your job comes in. as facilitators say, Ah, you need to ask purely open ended questions, not ones with agendas attached, because it's a human need to, especially for CEOs to tell people the solution. And the best gift you can give a member, a fellow member is to get them to get a different perspective on the situation. So they see the most strategic effective solution.

Stan Wyner 17:10
That's a great point. Yes, very often, someone will say, Well, Umar, did you ever try this? Well, that's a suggestion that just happens to have a question wrapped around it. But there's actually a brain science precise reason why open ended questions are much more effective in those types of situations. The minute you present the suggestion rather than a question, the other person's brain shuts down, and has to focus on the suggestion. If we can't avoid it, that's, that's just how our brains react. So I've disciplined and trained my members to only use open ended questions. Everybody once in a while will make the mistake. I do it sometimes. And boy, did they let me know? Ah, you broke your own rule.

Umar Hameed 18:03
Yep.

Stan Wyner 18:03
But the open ended question. Without the suggestion embedded in it is incredibly powerful, you're right.

Umar Hameed 18:09
What's kind of interesting is if you like, right now, I'm gonna ask you to do a thought experiment with me. Stan, are you in a relationship right now?

Stan Wyner 18:17
A personal relationship?

Umar Hameed 18:19
Yeah, like spouse or whatever?

Stan Wyner 18:22
Yes.

Umar Hameed 18:23
So when you think about that person that you're in relationship with, and how much you care about them, notice a picture pops up in your mind's eye that represents that caring.

Stan Wyner 18:33
Hmm. She's probably going to listen to this better.

Umar Hameed 18:38
Yeah, we're gonna we're not gonna do anything with it. controversial, but [garbled]

Stan Wyner 18:44
The picture in my mind is someone that asked me a lot of questions interesting that that you post that question? And that's what attracted me to her.

Umar Hameed 18:56
Brilliant.

Stan Wyner 18:57
Genuinely interested in what's going on with me.

Umar Hameed 19:00
So I've done this thing where you get a large group of people, and you get one person that has this one issue, like, I think all exes are a bunch of jerks, or I think vaccination is x, whatever that strong opinion is, and you get them to hold that opinion. And a picture pops up in their mind's eye that represents it, he said, "Okay." So people are going to give you suggestions. So this is not open ended questions. This is suggestions, what you should be doing, you're not allowed to say thank you, you're not allowed to respond in any way other than just accept what they said, you don't have to believe it or agree with it. And as people give different opinions, then at the end of the eight people giving opinions you asked me and when you think about this issue, how do you feel about it now? And the internal picture that represents it has changed. So just by hearing the opinions, it gives you the ability to let go of your grip on the reality as you know it, not that we want you to change but when you hold on to reality so tightly, oftentimes we can't allow for changes and great leaders, it's all about the flexibility of thinking that lets you transcend the problem. So human beings are fascinating, and how will we get them there is a gift and Vistage does a great job of that.

Stan Wyner 20:11
That's you've actually just described the second part of the process. The first part is all the open ended questions. And then I'll ask the group, "Okay, so Umar said, this was the situation they needed help with." After you've heard his answers to our questions, is that really what we're going to help him with? And invariably the answer's no, that was just at the surface, he really didn't see what he needed to see. And then we'll make suggestions. And your job, as you said, is just to listen, take notes. Nope. Yeah, but none of that. And it's a very helpful process. It's it's opening their their mind, as you said.

Umar Hameed 20:53
Absolutely. So Stan, what is the mind hack? Like a simple trick you used to be more effective or happier or more successful? Is there a mind hack you can share with our audiences?

Stan Wyner 21:04
Yes. The first is I used that sage perspective, I literally do one of these little Positive Intelligence exercises, which takes two, maybe five seconds. And during that time, I can stop my brain from thinking, Oh, this is only going to come up that which was my normal tendency. I'm a skeptic. I had a tendency to always look for the cracks in something. And instead, I just do that little mental pause. And I asked myself, literally, what is the gift or opportunity that's here? And invariably, that allows me to see whatever good might be there. And a part of that philosophy in Positive Intelligence is that no matter what the idea or situation, at least 10% of it probably has good value.

Umar Hameed 22:08
Absolutely. And even if you think this is total BS, just going through the exercise gives you another perspective. And I think that's one of the things leaders that are really effective do is they look at different perspectives before they go solve a problem.

Stan Wyner 22:21
Yeah. So another hack that I use, it doesn't happen quite as quickly. But I imagine myself, my older, wiser self will say 20 years from now, I'm no longer working...

Umar Hameed 22:37
So you're still alive 20 years from now? So please go off.

Stan Wyner 22:39
I'll say, Okay, how would the older wiser, Stan reacted this particular situation? And that almost always diffuses the explosiveness of the moment? Because I say, 20 years from now, I think, did it really matter that somebody should made the wrong package?

Umar Hameed 22:58
Yeah.

Stan Wyner 22:58
It's made me a much more calmer and happier person.

Umar Hameed 23:03
What's kind of interesting, Stan is like, I'm sure the older wiser version of you is, is more sage, but I suspect perhaps maybe a little bit that thorpy five year old Stan, who was like fun loving and saw the world in a different way, sometimes saying, how would the baby Stan see this? And sometimes wisdom comes from that useful place as well. And it just gives you another perspective. He'd go up, who cares? I'm going to go play or whatever.

Stan Wyner 23:28
Yeah, I know, you do a lot of work with sales organizations. And most people would tell you that the secret to being successful in selling more than anything else is to listen more than your talk.

Umar Hameed 23:44
Yes.

Stan Wyner 23:46
Being able to ask the right questions is the part that's often not trained. So imagine you're trying to sell to someone they've never done business with you. And what if you use that older, wiser self question to ask your customer?

Umar Hameed 24:04
Yep, brilliant.

Stan Wyner 24:06
I know, we're trying to solve this particular problem now. But think ahead, 15 years from now and you look back at this. How would you have liked this to turn out? That's a great and very disarming question to get George to really think in a different way.

Umar Hameed 24:26
Absolutely. If you can help your customers get an insight that they didn't have before, you build up trust, you build that relationship up. And Stan this was a great conversation. Thank you so much for being on the show, and I can't wait for our next conversation.

Stan Wyner 24:39
Thank you for having me, Umar. It was a pleasure. Have a great weekend.

Umar Hameed 24:42
Cheers.

Umar Hameed 24:48
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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