April 28

Ira Wolfe on Why Adaptability Is A Critical Skill For Leadership


Ira S Wolfe is a “Millennial trapped in a Baby Boomer body” and the world’s first Chief Googlization Officer. He is president of Poised for the Future Company (DBA Success Performance Solutions.)

Fueled by his fierce passion for technology and its impact on people, Ira S. Wolfe has emerged as one of HR’s most visionary thinkers and influencers on the future of work, jobs, and talent acquisition. Thinkers360 has recognized Ira as the #1 Thought Leader on Future of Work and #3 on Human Resources.

Ira is an accomplished speaker/author. He has presented on the prestigious red carpet of TEDx and stages of DisruptHR.  Ira is a frequent presenter at events including SHRM’s Talent and Annual Conference, HR Southwest, and many regional and state events.  He is the author of several books including his most recent, the 2nd edition of Recruiting in the Age of Googlization, which was selected by Book Authority as one of the all-time best HR and Recruiting books.

Ira is the host of the popular weekly Geeks Geezers and Googlization Show, a contributor to CornerstoneOnDemand’s ReWork, and frequent expert guest on podcasts, TV, and radio.

[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 0:39
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of the No Limit Selling podcast where we interview amazing guests and trying to figure out how they do what they do, how they grow their people, how they grow their revenue, and more importantly, how they grow themselves. Because one of the things that leaders do is they're always improving. So other people in the organization can lean on their brilliance, their confidence, and their trust. And one of the projects that I'm working on is project happiness. And project happiness is designed to bring more happiness in the world. And one of the ways we're doing it as a very simple technique. We're inviting people to share videos with us for about 15 seconds in length and is basically someone saying, Hi, my name is I'm gonna pretend be windy. This was somebody who actually interviewed Hi, my name is Wendy, what makes me happy is making music because it allows me to express my soul. I mean, that's frickin beautiful. And the idea is someone who's struggling to find happiness can watch one of these videos, and one of those videos because we've got hundreds of them. All of them are simple, achievable things you can do today. And the hope is someone will watch one of those videos and go you know what, I could do that. And one of the things that makes me happy is talking to really smart people. And today, I have the privilege of having Ira wolf with us today. He's the head honcho at success, performance solutions. Ira. Welcome to the program.

Ira Wolfe 2:00
Hey, thanks, Umar. It's a pleasure to be here. Appreciate it and love this conversation.

Umar Hameed 2:04
So one of the things that just happened, we tried recording this, and the Internet gods are the computer Gods struck the laptop down. And one of the things great leaders do is is adaptability, right? Stuff happens. What's that old saying, you know, if you want to hear God laugh, tell him you got a plan. And some people get crushed by failure when things go wrong. And other people take failure as feedback and other people take failure as inspiration to keep going. So what is adaptability to you, Ira? How do you define it?

Ira Wolfe 2:35
Yeah, thanks very much. And that's a favorite subject I've I've I taught my TED Talk, which was that five years ago, was focused on making change work for you. And it took me down this rabbit hole of trying to research how does that happen? And then when 2020 hit, I was introduced to an adaptability model. It's called ACE, and we can get into the specifics of that. But it was really about, you know, people were bantering around grit and resilience, growth, mindset, engagement, experience all these things.

Umar Hameed 3:10
And it's really, once I'm married, they're brilliant.

Ira Wolfe 3:15
Yeah, I won't go into that. That's fine. I had to repeat that a couple times. But we went through which is adaptability, right? We, we all learned two years ago, how resilient and gritty and opportunities that are bounded because of the pandemic Now unfortunately, there was a lot of people who didn't adapt. It was a lot of, you know, there's certainly a lot of people who fell ill or people who passed away.

Umar Hameed 3:41
So let me just interject there just for a moment, one of the industries that was hit the hardest and it was going to be screwed, and just be destroyed totally was real estate for two months. And then it came back. It's the strongest market they've had in 30 years. Like the first two months, everyone was crying was all lost. And then all of a sudden, people wanted to buy houses and there wasn't enough supply and house prices went skyrocketing and realtors that was the place to be during the pandemic because they made gobs of money. So it's a really good example of how many people quit the industry in the first few months and didn't stick with it to see something fricking amazing on the other side. So please go on adaptability How do you take a situation where you got punched and not crumpled to the floor or go I give up on and go somewhere else? What is the methodology you recommend people use to kind of go Alright, let me take a breath and take it away Ira be brilliant.

Ira Wolfe 4:37
We need the one thing that we need to put in perspective here is is that grit and resilience for decades for Millennium worked? It was if you got knocked down you got backed up and you just stayed focused on on the on your goal on that future. You just kept going down and we've rewarded that we have a whole work system that's have that hard work that American capitalism, that work ethic is just be gritty, you people went to work day after day after day, they hated their jobs, you're talking about happiness. They didn't like the jobs, they they basically lived to work. And we got down to that end of the rainbow, they retire. If they reach retirement, they live for a handful of years, and then they passed away. And we had, you know, all those things going on the challenge, that's a challenge. But in those times change happened relatively slowly, it evolved. And it took a long time for things to happen if you and I go back and, and even look at some of the technology that that arrived on the scene, you know, a fax machine, you know, arrived, and you could use the same fax machine for 20 years, or even 30 years. I mean, it was just the same old thing over and over again. Now, if you buy a phone, if you buy a smartphone, it's out of date in six months. And...

Umar Hameed 5:54
It's true, but let's not, let's kind of go back to the earlier generation, the baby boomers, what they accomplished in the US, you know, the US went from like, a country to like a superpower in all capitals, and so that grit and determination and work ethic people did that for their families. And that's what you were supposed to do. That was the box you were in. And that's what you did. So they changed the world. But I agree, changes happening really, really quickly. And even those guys would have been freaked out by change, because just human nature is change means I gotta go out of my comfort zone. And people don't like doing that. So please go on. I just wanted to give a salute to the baby boomers.

Ira Wolfe 6:32
Yeah, absolutely. Well, each generation. I mean, Gen, you know, Gen X has done really well. I mean, they helped us get there. The millennials gets bashed, you know, I'm a recovering millennial basher. And the millennials are, you know, really, the reality is they're now in their 40s, the oldest Millennials are now in their 40s. And there's some of the people leading the charge. And now, you know, they're attacking Gen X and Gen Z. But that's a whole other story. But what behind the scenes, what we didn't realize was the rate of exponential change how quickly things were happening. And then there were multiple events where in the past, there might have been one event, we were also weren't connected. So connected by the Internet and globalization, our economies weren't so connected. Our supply chains, just just think about that. Supply chains weren't connected, because our challenge was getting things from Nebraska or California to the east coast. So it's getting things from China, and India and Russia and [garbled]

Umar Hameed 7:29
And not only that, the butterfly effect is, you know, if a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the world, you get a typhoon. And that's true when it comes to supply chain, because everything is interlinked. If there's one chip manufacturer that can't do what they do, like what's happening right now, the auto industry, all kinds of things just grind to a halt. So yeah, now everything is super connected and super fragile as well.

Ira Wolfe 7:52
So going back to our the that model that we talked about, where grit and resilience, and those were the two words of the year either every meeting every consultant said the word of the year is grit, the word of the year is resilience and absolutely true. What we didn't experience what we what people didn't take into account was the speed of change. Okay, and literally overnight, march 11, I believe was the date, which we just celebrated that two year anniversary, when everybody said go home and don't come back, we'll be back in two weeks. No, it'd be four weeks. No, it'd be three months. No, it may be never. And and we may not, you may never come back to work, you're gonna have a job, but jobs going to be different. So all these change things changes so quickly, the the missing piece there and we look at our ACE model, which the A is ADAPT is abilities, its personal abilities, grit and resilience are still key factors. We didn't take into account this growth, this thing called growth mindset. And for the listeners who aren't out there, fixed mind if you have a growth mindset is just as you introduce the show, is you seize opportunity. It's what what mistake what happened. And you know what, you and I will probably both reflect on that. What can we do differently next time, or we've been through something like that already. Right. And we look at that as a challenge. If it wasn't a roadblock, it was a stepping stone into doing something different. So we actually, based on that, we actually changed the tone of our conversation. We seized on that moment. Fixed Mindset is, oh my goodness, I'm just not cut out to do technology. I hate the zooming stuff. I I'm just not very good at figuring this stuff out. I just wish it could go back to the way it was. So fixed mindset is really challenged by while they're challenged by challenges. Growth Mindset looks at these as opportunities. They seize upon that they grow, they learn what can I do differently next time if this happens, and that's the path. We many, many people have this fixed mindset. I'm too old. I'm not very good at math. I'm not very good at technology. I don't like the way I look on Zoom. I can't I can't can't possibly talk go on stage, I can't talk to other people, you know, speak up, basically speaking, public speaking, which is, this is just another variation of that. There's people that are terrified by that. And the reality is, is people have to come out of their comfort zone. With all the changes, with all the strategies with this, even talking about going to hybrid and remote work, companies get stuck on the strategy, the technical side of that, and they don't take into account the challenge that people have implemented, even if people want to stay. If they I love my life, I love spending time with my kids. I don't have to do a two hour commute every day, I can do all these things. That's all the technical stuff. Those are the challenges having that mindset.

Umar Hameed 10:48
Ira, you said adaptability was really important. And one of the elements of that you said, you know, grit and resilience were important. And that's almost like the foundation, you need to be adaptable. Because a lot of people when something goes wrong, and we fail, and God knows I've failed a lot of times, then it's like, you pack up your bags and you go home, or it's like, Oh, what is this happened to me? So explain the relationship of grit and resilience, like the illusion is, and they may be the truth that we were grittier in the past? And we're not as gritty now. So address that first. I'm not sure that's true or not. And then if you don't have grit, how do you get grit? So you can be adaptable?

Ira Wolfe 11:25
Yeah, great question. So are we grittier or less gritty? You know, every generation says the next generation is not as gritty as their generation. The circumstances have changed. If you look at the millennials, who certainly have been bashed, as, as you know, I've said earlier, I was a recovering millennial basher is for for their adult life. They've been through 911. Yeah, they've been through 2008. They've been through a pandemic. They're pretty gritty, to come out of this, and many of them are thriving. They're, you know, in their late 30s, early 40s, many of them, they're the successful business owners. They're the entrepreneurs, they've done really, really well. So grit is really that perseverance. And, you know, Angela Duckworth, who really made that mainstream. Yes. No talks about that a lot. And you know, part of it, it's really difficult to say, what do you need to do for grit, because it's so contingent upon resilience, because if you get knocked down, you have to get back up to keep going. And the other components, you know, things like, mental flexibility and growth mindset.

Umar Hameed 12:33
So one of the things you mentioned was, you know, what they've been through 911 911, they were really young, but I was interviewing the head of sales training at one of the universities, they've got a university course to kind of fish should be a lot more of those, by the way. And he was talking about his current crop of graduates. And he goes, you know, like current students are, and I was thinking, lazy, no, good, terrible. And he's didn't say that. He said, they're the most driven people I've come across in a real long time. And I said, Hey, timeout, what do you mean, why did this happen? He says, When they were seven or eight years old, the 2008 financial crisis happened, their parents were losing their homes, there was food insecurity. And they're basically Depression era kids. And they're the most driven. They got to do it themselves. And so you're right. Going through those circumstances is where you get it. You can't get it in a workshop, it's you need to live through it and realize there was a book from Marcus Aurelius. And his main point on the entire book, depending on whichever chapter whether it was family politics, finance, the end of the chapter was, at least you're not dead. So don't worry about it. Keep going. So So I would talk about your ACE model, we got adaptability, what's the C?

Ira Wolfe 13:43
So we have? Well, the A app is abilities. So there's five abilities that individuals need, and they all inter connect. So it's grit resilience, growth mindset. It is mental flexibility, which is the ability to digest conflicting messages, which we have a lot ambiguities uncertainty. And it's also unlearning, because we're in a situation now, it's not just what do I need to learn, but what worked in the past isn't gonna work in the future. And we need to also say, Hey, that was interesting and helped me get here, but I can't keep doing that. And I've got to push that back. I gotta file it away in my brain somewhere, or just do a brain dump. So the A is abilities, the C is character. Now abilities, we can change their cognitive skills, we can learn how to do that better. The character is our personality. And it's not that we're looking to change somebody's personality. But it is important to know how it impacts our outlook, our our perspective, to adaptability to change to change readiness, and we look at things like extraversion you know, if I'm if I'm an extrovert, I need to talk to you I've the pandemic was really tough on me I needed to go out and socialize or we just had these big zoom calls. In introvert is I want to hide behind the screen I don't want to be here I need to process this. I'm okay being a alone. Some introverts thrive during the pandemic, because they were left alone. And but it's not universal. But we look at that we look at our ability to deal with emotions, the fate, are we excitable? Or are we also somewhat reserved, but we look at Hope how hopeful someone is. Right. And that has a lot to do with growth mindset. If you're a fixed mindset, if you tend to be less hopeful, less happy, if your growth mindset you look at the world as a future, we look at motivating style, motivating style is do we play to win? Or do we play to protect and thinking style? is, you know, basically, the ability? What type of risks are we willing to take? And do we see the big picture? Or do we are we get buried in the details? So it looks at that? And it just says, here's our personal approach, how we deal with this stuff? And is that going to help us grow thrive, be successful? Or is it going to lead to our unhappiness and our burnout in our end and pile on to distress.

Umar Hameed 16:00
In the work that I've been doing for decades. So let's take hopefulness. So you could have a human being that is not hopeful. But usually there's a belief in their unconscious that's causing that hopelessness. And we've got the ability now to go in and figure out what's causing that belief and transform it. So you'd be surprised how many times I've heard this, somebody is in grade four, and the teacher in the class says, you know, you're not going to amount to anything. And it's like, what kind of evil psychotic teacher would do that to a kid in the classroom in a public setting. But in that moment, it creates a belief that I'm not good enough. And if you've got a belief, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. But you've got the ability now to go in, identify what happened, change the belief around it, and you can take someone that was hopeless, and make them hopeful. So there's hope for everybody to show up in your best self.

Ira Wolfe 16:52
And you think about that, and you know, Carol, will go back to mindset because that's my passion. And that's where I look and I think that's the root of all a lot of this evil, you know, coming down, it's certainly neurosciences and what we learned about it as much so much deeper, but..

Umar Hameed 17:04
And [garbled] And also our blessing and allows us to blossom. So mindset is just like a knife. It could be useful in a surgeon's hand and harmful in in my head, no might please come along.

Ira Wolfe 17:18
And I was on the other side of that first career, I had a lot of knives in my hands, and dangerous instruments, but that we use older or what was the dentist? Oh, my first career as a dentist.

Umar Hameed 17:32
Alright, when I hang it up, click, I saw please go.

Ira Wolfe 17:36
So when we when we go back to this, this route, this hope what you're talking about? When you think about if somebody says you'll never be good enough? You're not smart enough. You're you're you know, look at your color. Look at there was all these things amount to that. And you start to believe those in lifted that. But if you look through our educational system, and this is where Carol directs work started, is why do really, really smart people fail in life? Why do they become successful? And part of it is because you start to believe your own press, I'm really smart. So I don't have to work hard. I don't have to put any effort in, which then leads to the grit story. You know, why don't people push things forward? Because they were told from early on, you're just smart. It's just easy for you. But when you go to college, where even high school use the fixed mindset stops taking courses that are challenging, because what if I don't get that A? What if I don't get that 4.0 I will look stupid, I won't live up to my own press. So all of a sudden you stop challenging yourself. And you just fall into this abyss of normal what we used to call normal, this abyss. This is what it is that worked. When the pace of change was slower when you can get away with it. When there was such a thing as a 40 year career today. There was a study from Australia that came out and they looked at young people 17 careers, or 17 jobs, five careers. Wow. over their lifetime used to be that Oh, millennials young people can't keep their jobs. They'll have a jobs over the career of most baby boomers had eight or 10 jobs over the career but they the last the last 30 years they had one or two different jobs. Now we're not just switching jobs. We're literally switching careers, all that's changed in the background. We need. People are gonna need grit and resilience and a growth mindset and be able to be able to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty. Those are skills we haven't taught McKenzie just came out. Number one skill for employability career satisfaction, life satisfaction and making money looking hot. But that wasn't on the list. But it that was sort of it was self confidence. Yes, self confidence was adaptability was the number one driver. Now there were variations of that dealing with uncertainty and things. But basically it all had to do with adaptability. So we have the A, and then we have the sea. And then if you look at the environment, and the environment is going back to what we were talking about is what our parents said, what our school what our teachers said, what the government says, what what the environment in which we live in. We're talking about business, let's talk about, let's talk about the culture, the company culture. And that's really a terrible word it should be community should be much broader than just having that culture because if culture, you just do the same thing over and over again, yeah, you hire people who look like yourself and set the mold. Right, we talked about company support. That's one of the dimensions in the EA company support? Do the employees feel like management has their back? And I gotta tell you, it's obviously from the great resignation and everything else. It's no, no clear, clearly, it's no. The next part is team support. And that goes back to a lot of the work that Gallup did. Does a supervisor have my back? Do my co workers have my back? Can I trust them? So it's company support, team support, and then it's work environment and work environment? Is that psychologically safe space? Can I introduce a new idea, if I make a mistake Am I fired, which goes back to the growth and fixed mindset of a manager to so we have company support, team support, work environment. And then we also have the emotional health. You know, I just a study just came by this morning, HR leaders 97% 97% said they are burnt out and stressed more than they've ever been before, that you can't be happy if you're burnt out and stressed. And that goes through, you know, most of the workforce, that the numbers are, it's really a crisis. And it's astonishing. So what's their what's their state right now. And then we look at the stress of the job. Now, there's some jobs that are just stressful. You know, right now, accountant, accountants are having a real stress, because we got the deadline coming up. Working in a healthcare system is very, very stressful, being a teacher can be very, very stressful, but there's other there's jobs that inherently have more stress than others. But if you have no company support, no team support, and it's not a psychologically safe space, and you're low, and you're not really a gritty person, and you don't have a strong mindset. It just piles on, it just dumps it on. So the the environment, you know, basically, primarily the things you can change this company support team support and a work environment, some companies are doing it really well. Most are not.

Umar Hameed 22:24
Yeah, it's an rarely you'll find somebody that screwed up in all those areas. But all it takes is one area that's not working well. And it depends on the human being, because we're meaning making machines. And the environment may be more important than others. But it just takes that little bit. But ultimately, at the end of the day, I don't think anything's changed in terms of this human contract that we have is built on trust. Can I trust my leader? Can I trust my peers? Can I trust in the processes? Can I trust myself? Because there's so many people have this notion that sooner or later people are going to figure out that I am a fraud? And people looking around them are saying no, you're a freaking genius. But we still feel it.

Ira Wolfe 23:02
When you're when Congress, which makes our laws has an approval rating of what 13% 12% 11%? I mean, it's atrocious. Yeah, there's not even trust there. So even if you didn't trust your coworker, you trusted, maybe management are you trusted, the local leaders, there was some trust, there was at least some pillar, you can go and hug on to tag on to that and you go, well, at least that's the same, at least that I still have trust in that. And we've lost people, when I say we collectively have lost trust in a lot of institutions that we really didn't even think about before. But it's pretty fragile, just seem to leave going back to the financial part, the seem to leave talked about, and anti fragile and anti fragile. And I love that concept. And the idea of fragility is something so rigid, it's some it's so structured, it's so there. And that's what we grew up being is that there were these finite structures that we can always depend on. The problem with with fragility is eventually cracks under pressure. And we need to be when he calls anti fragile, we need to be able to bet I talked about anti fragility in the terms of what Bruce Lee talked about the water is we live in a series of different containers, we don't know what that container is going to be. But maybe we started out in a water bottle. And then all of a sudden, in the last couple years, that container became a martini glass, and we got poured in there and there was way more water and it spilled on over the place, but at least we found our container and then all of a sudden somebody says oops, new container, we're gonna go into a juice class or we're gonna go into a different type of a container.

Umar Hameed 24:41
Class container would go into his the toilet, but we won't go there. I just wanted to share so I was kidding around years ago. So you know what? I wish the Martians attacked Earth and here's why I wanted it is that we would come together as a human race or Republicans and Democrats and say, oh my god, we got a common enemy and we need to come together to fix is and then the pandemic came. And I thought it would bring everybody together, but it did not. And it comes back to that trust piece. So we'll leave that for another show. But before we part company today, this has been a fascinating conversation how I started the show off Ira. Ira, what makes you happy?

Ira Wolfe 25:17
That's changed a lot. I love being around my grandchildren love spending time with them. You know that that changes a lot. I you know, the pandemic, for me was a huge shift. I'm a workaholic. I work all the time and I really enjoyed doing it, except when I did dentistry, and I left. I love everything about dentistry, but dentistry, so I left. But you know, I love being with my wife, I love being with my kids. I love writing, I love creating. I love all the new opportunity. I am an older baby boomer, I should be retired, I should be on a golf course I should be doing something like that hobby gardening. I'm starting I have two new businesses, starting new projects. And that's, you know, that's what makes me happy is seizing opportunity and helping other people. You know, I love working with my grandma, my granddaughter who's 22 and seeing the new opportunities that she's found and the excitement she has about what she's gonna do with her life and those things. And then I have a two year old grandson and an eight month old grandson and just watching them explore the time that you're looking at them.

Umar Hameed 26:22
What's one piece of advice a mind hack, you could share with our listeners and viewers that they could implement today and get better results.

Ira Wolfe 26:30
Be water, be like water be be fluid, multiple states, it depending on the environment, you can be solid, you can be gas, you can be liquid, you can take different forms, be water.

Umar Hameed 26:43
Brilliant. Ira, thank you so much for coming on the program. I really enjoyed this. We're going to have to do a part two next time because there's more ground to cover.

Ira Wolfe 26:52
And everything will be different and we are living in what we didn't talk about this but living in the never normal and so will will continue to talk about it.

Umar Hameed 27:01
That will be the new normal. Take care bye now.

Ira Wolfe 27:04
Thank you

Umar Hameed 27:09
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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