The Unexpected Gift with Barbara Dalle Pezze

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze is an internationally recognized coach, leadership development expert, and author of The Unexpected Gift. In this really authentic and wonderful conversation, you can learn:

  • What is expected gift?
  • The 7 steps to the gift 
  • Why when Barbara starts coaching, people have been known to do crazy things
  • How to find inner focus and inner leadership

Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze is a special guest on today’s show. She’s an internationally recognized coach leadership development expert, an author of The Unexpected Gift. Before we get a chance to speak with Barbara, it’s The Leadership Hacker News. 

Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore the notion of productivity and how you can knock out those two minute tasks super quick. In a super busy world, we all have to pay attention to getting the right things done at the right times. Blocking out time in our calendar is great for deep dives and specific tasks, but you might be thinking what about the many tasks that are on our plates each day? The ones that require a few minutes, the ones you can get the quickly done and put to bed. How do we focus on making sure that we prioritize him the right way? Author and productivity consultant David Allen is famous for his Two Minute Rule.

And the rule is, if it takes less than two minutes, then do it now. And the reason for this is dead simple, many of these tasks like replying to an email or calling someone back. The effort needed to keep remembering them is even harder and takes up more time. Just think about it for a minute. How many times have you thought about that quick to do, but I’ll get round to it moment and then you get distracted or carried away only to find by the end of the day, it’s turning to a number of tasks that might take a lot of time. And there are other benefits of knocking out this two minute task rule. One reason is it helps you build momentum while you’ve enhancing your mood. And studies have shown that crossing off even small tasks from your to-do list or to don’t list gives you a boost of momentum and boosts your mood.

So by simply recognizing it is a two minute task that we can get done quickly, we stop planning. We engage in the activity and it’s gone and we’re training our brains to think less and do more, but in a responsible and focused way. The two minute rule is also helpful to declutter your mind as well as your workspace. So instead of holding onto those potential tasks that you might need to do at some point, you clear them out the way so you can focus on what really matters, which is helpful to stop procrastination and improve productivity. Sounds simple enough, but there’s one obvious problem. What if the two minute task is completely unrelated to what I need to be doing right now? Worse if something interrupts you or you simply choose to attack it and it takes longer than two minutes. So for Allen two minute rules to work, we need to set some limits.

Number one, only work on two minute tasks if they relate to a larger assignment, you are working on, not distracting you. Number two, set aside larger time blocks in your calendar for your two minute tasks, which might be a half an hour section in a day where you can bundle your or two minute tasks together. Number three, immediately decide on your next steps. This might include designing a time in your calendar to do those tasks, or is it something you do now? And my leadership hack on this is dead simple. We all know every day, there are things that we don’t know are going to happen, but do. So plan for it, plan for the unexpected and plan for your two minute tasks. So the response is, do it now or do it in my two minute task window. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News. We’d love to hear any quirky stories, insights, or news you have from around the world, so please get in touch. 

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Joining me on the show today is Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze. She’s an international recognized coach, leadership development expert and author of her book, The Unexpected Gift, Barbara, welcome to The Leadership Podcast.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Thank you, Steve. It is an honor to be here with you today. 

Steve Rush: It’s my pleasure, and hey, how was my Italian pronunciation of your name?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: That was awesome. You could be Italian. 

Steve Rush: Right? 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Yes

Steve Rush: Good. So how’s Verona today?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: It’s beautiful, it’s sunny, we have autumn coming in and the colors are amazing. So I would say perfect day to day. 

Steve Rush: Great. And as our audience listening from around the world, I can imagine that there is a bit of envy to want to be in Italy with you today.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: It is indeed beautiful these days, so I have to admit.

Steve Rush: So we’d love to get into a little bit about your back story, because you came from a very academic perspective and then turned that on its head to do what you do now, but just tell us a little bit about the story.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Yes, so I am Italian and as you say, I do have a background in academia and I have it also in business and actually the two path kind of went together because I started by loving doing research and it was research into understanding more the dynamics that are between human beings and behaviors and understanding more what the human being is about. And while I was doing these, I was researching, I was studying at the same time. I was passionate about crossing over to the corporate world and do training and coaching in corporations because it seemed to me that what I was researching and discovering within my university and academic world could have benefited so much. The business world, and at the time I was in Hong Kong, so a melting pot in a very eclectic place. And it was the perfect situation where I could tap into both worlds.

And so, and so I did. And so I did, and it seems strange, but my research was in in philosophy and was also in what is called medical humanities researching on pain and suffering and what I was discovering actually it seems very appropriate to bridge into the corporate world where there were a lot of frustration, difficulties, in managing relationship and managing themselves and sometimes very demanding and painful situation. So I love mix and match. And so I tried to bring everything together and it worked.

Steve Rush: Yeah, awesome. And I love the fact that what you studied from an academic perspective is actually the kind of foundations for what you do now in the work that you do now. But I also know from having met with you before that the learning that you were experiencing, the research you were gathering and the work that you were doing was all also going to have to be a really foundational crutch in your personal life, which kind of created that bit of a pivot for you. Just tell us a little bit about that journey.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Yes, you’re absolutely right because when all of the above what was happening, I actually moved from my country to Asian, particularly to Hong Kong and at the same time it just happened that my marriage collapsed. And so I found myself in a position where I had to rebuild basically everything, my sense of identity and my future. And I had to do it by being in the midst of a different culture in a different country with different culture. And really what I needed to find out is how can I rebuild myself? How do I find myself again? And how do I imagine my future again? And that was a call to be leader of myself and leading myself into a new territory that was unknown. And I untapped into, I didn’t know what I was going towards.

And so I decided that I needed tools that at the time I knew I did not have. And so I started studying counseling. I dug deep into psychology and the branch of philosophy that actually helps you to clarify concept, like, what does it mean to be? What does it mean to become? What are the structures of the human being? And by I doing that, that helped me actually to find a way for me to reinvent myself and my life, a new beyond. What I have always believed in and what the culture I was brought in, the frame of references I had, everything was new and I needed to find a way to navigate that newness with new tools. And so that’s why I decided, you know what, let’s me get some tools and learn.

Steve Rush: Do you know what? I particularly like though, is that you actually used yourself as the research method at the time. So you were using your own experiences to kind of heal and to rebuild, and now all of those experiences, you reframe it as an unexpected gift.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Steve Rush: So, as people are listening to this, I suspect they might be thinking. Here’s a strong, independent woman who’s great in her career. And then she goes to all of this personal tragedy and learning, how do you end up calling it a gift?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Well, you know, at the beginning it was not at all a gift. At the beginning actually, as you probably imagine, they tell you, well, you will see that this is for your own good. And you are better off like this. I used to get very angry because at the time I did not want at all, [laugh] the divorce to happen. I wanted my marriage to work and I still wanted to be in that marriage. So didn’t feel like a gift at all. And however, because my decision was to face what was happening to me and to my life. And as I just said before, trying to find a way to move forward, I allowed for new perspectives, new way feelings, new people coming into my life, new opportunities. And actually in time, I discovered that actually, and that’s why I called my book The Unexpected Gift. 

The Unexpected Gift actually was not the divorce, [Laugh] the unexpected gift was the journey that single event took me on. And the path I walked that was actually paved with what at the time I did not recognize as gifts, but as my emotional state got better, as I quieted down from the inside, as I got back a little bit of peace and harmony, and I was able to kind of turn and look back a little bit on this new path, I could see that actually so many gifts were there and they were in the form of people that I barely knew offering me opportunities. Situation that were created and that were independent. From me, it was not my doing and yet they were there and they gave me opportunities. It was in the form of being in a country like it was at the time Hong Kong that presented lots of opportunities and many, many unexpected situations.

People circumstances that in time showed up and became actual gifts and opportunities. Let me give you a very simple example. When this happened, I just finished my PhD and literally it happened the same day I was awarded my PhD that my husband delivered the news, and so that was a shock. And I was in no position to find a job or cultivate my career at the University because I was heartbroken. And what happened is that a person that I just met and then knew about my situation and what happened, introduced to me what I call three angels, because they were three ladies from the British Aristocracy that in order to help me, and look, I did not know these ladies, but wanted to help me. And so they kind of invented that they wanted to learn and speak about Italian culture and philosophy and doing it in Italian.

And so they offered to pay me to entertain conversations them about art, politics, culture, all these kind of things in Italian. And so they were like angels because I was like, is it even real that you have people that wants to pay and offer you a job for speaking about these things? And it did happen to me. And so they were my first three angel that helped me to get back on my feet. I had people that I barely know that offered me to stay in their apartment in the center of Hong Kong. And just because they could do that and they had that apartment available. So I didn’t have to make an immediate decision on where to move in or where to stay when at a time that I had no clue. So tiny little things like this, they just kept happening. And so if in time I could see how many of these expression I now say of love, and they are those invisible gifts that happen. And you don’t recognize them that they are gift when they happen, but then if you pay attention, they are really there. And they are always going on. They are constantly happening. And so that’s, why there was a gift, that there was a long answer. 

Steve Rush: That’s a great answer. The thing that’s really quite nice is that the whole human spirit can always kick in, in adversity, can’t it? And there’s always great stories of that. And I wonder how much of that experience early experience for you kind of set you again on that path discovery?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: If you mean the attitude and the disposition I learned to have towards what was happening. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Definitely it has been the greatest discovery and the greatest gift because it really created disposition so that you are open to receiving. And you really never know what is coming your way. And it is my experience that often what we expect is so much smaller than what actually happens and comes your way. 

Steve Rush: Right. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: And so I think it was for me a great lesson to always be open to what’s seemingly impossible because that actually can happen in both ways, right? 

Steve Rush: Sure.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: In a positive sense and in a negative sense, but yeah. 

Steve Rush: Yeah, and as a result of that, do you think that, and I’m generalizing here across the global population, as a species, how much of that lack of awareness or lack of opportunity is because we’ve just got comfortable and in control? 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: I think that a large of it comes down to what you just said. We tend to choose to be comfortable, and we forget that, yes, that comfort is the one that we have managed to achieve to the point where we are comfortable, but there is so much more than what we have experienced already. There is so much more about us, about our life, about possibilities and opportunities. And it is really, I think it really depends on what you eventually want and how ready. And I would say open you are to actually explore and expand yours sense of who you are, and therefore the reality you can create and can be open to. 

Steve Rush: Whole notion, isn’t it? Of the more open you are to opportunities and coincidences, the more coincidences happen.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Yes, and let’s say the most difficult part is probably to learn, how do I open up to possibilities? What do I need to transform about myself? What do I need to change in order to allow for opportunities to actually show up? And I say show up, but in fact, they are already there and they are already shining in front of us. It’s us that hope, and often we are not refined enough in our ability to be aware of those opportunities, because as we just said, we tend to protect yourself and look for safety instead of actually look closely and be more attentive to what is already there.

Steve Rush: And you chronicled all of your experiences into your book, The Unexpected Gift, and you actually created seven steps to the gift to help people on that journey. And I thought it would be really great for us to just spin through those seven steps and maybe get into a few of them. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Absolutely, absolutely. These seven steps are those that actually allowed me to overcome and transform my situation. And very briefly, the first step is of course, to awaken to your own story and actually owning your story. Because as you just said, I was very comfortable [laugh], it was out of a blue that this situation happened. I thought that I was on top of my game. And so it was a shock and clearly I was not really conscious of what was going on in my life and in my then husband’s life. So be really conscious in making an effort to be honest, as much as possible as to what is going on in your life and what your reality is about, because then you can expand as we just said before, right.

And you can notice what’s at the edge and that maybe is not just in front of you, but nonetheless it’s there and needs to be taken into account. I am a philosopher and I was a philosopher. And so, my inclination is to be curious and ask questions, somehow that was not enough because clearly there was something that I was not. 

Steve Rush: Right.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Paying enough attention too, right. Those things at the edge. So first step, be conscious and own your own story. So the second step is building radical relationships. And that was for me, was a key element in the experience and in the traumatic experience I went through. And first of all, radical relationships, when I say radical, I mean, those relationships that actually are solid and grounded, and they are unshakable, they can be relationship that you have built in time.

I was blessed with very long time relationship of more than 30, 40 years, even which dates me a little bit [laugh], but could be also relationship that you have built in the past year, just one year old relationship. But those people with whom you’d really connect, you are aligned and they actually care and build radical relationship are those is key because when these events traumatic difficult happens and they always happen sometimes. And at the certain point in our life, for me, the key of this radical relationship was that they were able to remind me of who I was and what I was about when I was in no position to remind for myself. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: And that for me was key. And it was key in this very difficult moment. And it was also key when I succeeded and I needed somebody to celebrate with it that I actually was going to be happy for me. So spending time, energy resources to look for relationship that can be transforming to radical relationships and actually build those relationships. It’s like really putting a treasure into a bank. And then when the time comes, you can go and get your resources out as radical relationship. 

Steve Rush: Love it. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: The third step that was for me, very important was finding clarity of mind because when situations like the one I experienced happened to me, there was a lot of confusion in me because what I felt, the way I have thought till that moment, my thoughts. They did not make sense and did not match reality at all in that very moment. And so for me, it was very important to clarify what is actually is going on here, where do I stand? And what can I believe? What can I trust? Because all of these became confused and reality did not make sense for me. I did take a lot of time to find a new level of clarity. That was actually just up to me because in my particular story, unfortunately, then my still husband was not offering me any perspective or any clarity, any reasons for what was happening. And so I had to find somehow clarity within myself. And so I discovered that there is a level of depth at which we can have clarity, no matter what’s going on around us. And I have learned to live my life at that level of depth, where clarity was up to me and when it came to others that would bring their elements if they were not willing to do that, that I needed to be okay with that. And so, the third step is finding clarity and distinctions about what was going on that worked for me at the time. And that gave me the minimum level of peace of mind really. The fourth step is what I call enlisting the body. 

Steve Rush: That sounds nice and deep. Enlist the body. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Yes, it is. And that was an amazing discovery, Steve, because my mind was racing to find a truth that was nowhere to be found. And so the clarity was just talking about, and my body became kind of a night for me because I realized that I needed energy. I needed positive energy, and my mind was not able to provide that. And so in the very difficult situation where I was in this traumatic experience, I did not have a full-time job, that was difficult, but it was also a blessing because I had lots of time to take care of my health and mental health and also physical health.

So my body, I actually decided to literally leverage my body and the energy could produce. So I would spend hours hiking because I realized that the more I was hiking, the more I was sweating, the more the pain was residing a little bit and the endorphins were produced. And so a sense of normalcy started to appear again within me. And it was amazing because, as an author would say, traditionally built. So I’m not a petite woman. And so I do have a lot of energy and using the energy of my body and my muscles to actually work for me in this case. It was amazing, and just to give you an example. I would really walk for four to five hours a day. That was how much I needed to walk in order to get a sense of a relief a little bit.

And I had found a job after the three angels experience ended, in the evening, teaching in the evening. And so during day I would walk, in the evening, I would go and teach for three or four hours. And by the time I would go home, that was the most painful time when you are alone and you go back into an empty apartment and you realize the life you had is no more there. And every night was a reminder of it. The fact that I used my body so much, I worked out so much and it kept me awake all day. At night, basically the body will drag all of us to sleep. My mind wanted to still ask the questions. No, the body’s too tired. Let’s go to sleep. My heart was in pain, no way, the body would drag us to sleep. And so it was an amazing blessing to discover this body of mine. And still to today, I keep going with this routine, not five hours a day, but keep the body in the picture is very important. 

Steve Rush: It fuels so much other things as well, like sleep. So you just said that, you know, rather than having those things stew over, your body goes now is time to sleep and therefore you get double recovery don’t you from that?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Absolutely. Absolutely. And there was no way that my mind could contradict the body. No, we are going to sleep. The body would say. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: [laugh] and I would just collapse because I was too tired. So that was a blessing in itself. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: [Laugh], so at the last three steps, I will be quick. So the number five is partnering with mentors. Mentors to me, they were unexpected mentors and they are what I called the giant of the soul. And I found mentors in books and the books that tell the story of survivors and particularly survivors of the Second World War in concentration camps. And the reason I found in them, my mentors is, because people around me, my friends, my families, my colleagues, although they wanted to be close to me and help me, they did not go through such a profound painful situation.

And so somehow they could not reach me and help me and be close to me at that level of depth. And I needed to feel like I belonged to a group of people that actually understood really what I was going through because I felt I was at war when all of these happened. And so I discovered that reading about the story of people at survive, the atrocity of war or genocides in Africa, for example, those were the people that were actually helping me a lot. And so I started reading all those kinds of books and I started learning from them. How they were they thinking during their experiences were? What did they do? What did they rely upon? And I learned from them and I felt that I belong to that community. Not that I am comparing my painful situation with theirs, not at all, but exactly because theirs was so much more painful and more tragic and more difficult if they made it, if they succeeded, they were the voice from the future I wanted to listen to and I wanted to learn from, and so I did. In fact, after going through their stories and reading and learning from them, that’s when then eventually the shift happened in me because I was looking at their stories as voices from the future. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: And I was learning and they taught me how to look differently at my life and myself and the future. And that was an authoritative voice, [laugh]. It was great, I was so grateful that I was able to learn from that in that manner. Giant, giant of the soul. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: That’s what they were. Number six is forward in the future because at that point I was free to look at a future that I did not want at first, I did not know what it was. It was completely different from what I’ve always imagined and until that point, it was very scary for me to look at my future and imagine what it could have been like, because I had no clue what it could look like. I’ve always thought I will be married, I will have kids, I will have my career, and that would be it. And now, here I am, not married, I don’t have kids. And my career is in the making. And so I needed to learn how to be in a new world as a new person. But by then, I was able to make the step into that new future. And I started to imagine in a new way. And therefore I started to forward the future and started to make it happen and bring it to life because then I was ready and step seven, which is a crown to all of these is what I call paying it forward to complete a healing process. To complete this path of renewal and transformation essential is that I could pay it forward.

So all people that have helped me throughout this journey, and they have done it just out of share love and willingness to make me feel better or contribute. I needed to pay it back. And so part of what I do now, and my life is always having this very clear in front of me that I need to pay it forward. And so when the opportunity comes, I want to do it. So, what these people have done for me, I am going to do it to somebody else that it might be in need, and there is something I can do to help. And that is actually the crown, as I said, of these path and all of this become a gift.

Steve Rush: And you’re paying it forward that gift, by the way, you’re paying forward by just sharing that story with us today. So it’s just amazing. And I love the way that you’ve kind of been able to create that almost flow of activity to get you to the state and space you’re in now. So well then you

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I could not, not do it,


Steve Rush: Yeah, and that paying forward is also now a huge part of the work that you do through coaching and supporting other people. And ironically, I remember when we spoke last, you were telling me that you often come with a bit of a health warning when people get to coach with you, because, you know, I remember you telling me that one person said to you at one stage. When Barbara starts coaching, people start resigning, be careful. Is that part of that kind of unlocking people? And is that part of that process? 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Actually, I think it is because after going through my story actually, [laugh], and my story made me who I am. For me, it is essential that the people I work with, in order for them to fulfill and to feel that they are living their purpose, they do need to be aligning. They need to own their stories. They need to be connected to who they are at that moment in time when I meet them and be authentically who they are and align with their core values. And often if this is not the case, and for example, in the situation they are in, and the job they are in, they are not aligned. Then they are not in alignment with who they are really. And that’s also what caused them to be frustrated or not being fulfilled or being actually in pain, because it often happens.

If you want to regain efficiency, a level of wellbeing that you do need to function and to be creative and generative in your work and the people you lead, you do need to be connected with who you are at a very deep level. And when these happens, situation shifts and change. I don’t know if I mentioned to you, but I mention it now because it is a beautiful story. I was working in China with a top executive. She was heading the sales of a big chain company in China. And she has been doing that for many years. She was financially free by then and still very young, but she was not happy, she was a woman. And we started working together and we worked together for one year, bit less than one year.

And eventually what ended up being for her is that I don’t to work in this position in this company anymore. What I actually I want to do, that I’ve always postponed it. And that is something that I really care about. And now I am in a position of doing, but she didn’t have the courage to do. She wanted to go and spend time with penguin and research on penguin in Antarctica. And so, that’s what she decided to, that it was time to do. And so she decided to quit her job and to transform completely her life following what she did not have the courage to follow with before. And that was the result of just helping her reconnect with what she really wanted to do and who she really wanted to be.

Steve Rush: Awesome. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: And that she did not have the opportunity, the courage, and it was perhaps not the right moment before, but it became the right moment. So this is kind of an extreme situation. Not saying that it’s always happening

Steve Rush: Just for anybody who’s considering hiring Barbara as a coach, your team are safe. Nobody’s going to be, you know, leaving in droves.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Thank you, Steve. 

Steve Rush: You’re welcome. I just thought it was worthwhile putting a little bit of a public warning message out there just in case everybody’s thinking, blimey, I’m not hiring Barbara. On the contrary, what you are talking about with Barbara is purpose, right. Finding people’s purpose, and we all need that in our lives and our work.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Yes. 

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Absolutely, that is what motivates us, right? 

Steve Rush: Absolutely. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: And even if we are not connected with our purpose, we can push our self. We can strive to obtain results and we do, but the cost and the energy and actual, the actual results are not as well rounded and as great as they could be if we were connected to our purpose. 

Steve Rush: Yeah. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: So, yeah.

Steve Rush: So you’ve been doing some traveling, taking some time out, but what’s next for you and your work?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Well more and more, well, hopefully I will resume the traveling as soon as the situation settles a little bit more. And that continues to be important because for me is a source of creativity and learning from diversity for me, it’s key. So I always am in a curious and in a learning. I want to help the other, you wanted to keep learning from others, right? So traveling is there for me and more and more working to help people and my client overcome and transform relationship conflict. And when I say relationship conflict is also because what I mean, and I tell you in a minute. Due to the fact that the situation we have been living has put a lot of pressure into relationships, all kinds of relationship. Relationship that we have at work, relationship that we have at home and in family and all relationship become core in the way we live our life and we can achieve results. So more and more, even because of my experience, I want to help people overcome and transform relationship conflicts into opportunities, opportunities for change, to reconnect with a purpose that people might be scared to look at. And from there actually working towards developing the leadership, I don’t know even makes sense all of this, but starting from a relationship.

Steve Rush: Everything is a relationship, isn’t it? Whether you’re at work or at home. And they’re so connected that if your relationships at home are not great, then you are not going to perform at work. If your relationships are home are great, but they’re not at work. You’re going to take that back. And then one in impacts the other, doesn’t it?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Yes, and particularly now that, the hybrid kind of working, right, we might be working remotely more than before. We don’t go to the office as we used to before. Become expert and capable of mastering, actually relationship at a distance. It is an art and we need to learn it more and more because it is too important. As you say, everything is relationship, and the means to which we relate to each other and connect, and the way we interact has changed. And we need to learn the art of relating to ourselves and others, I believe.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I concur. So, you know, Barbara, at this stage, the cadences of the show is, we get to turn the lens a little bit, and I’m going to tap into your leadership mind and try and get all of the life’s lessons and work lessons into your top three leadership hacks. What would they be?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Wow, condensing it into three.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it’s a tough gig. I know that.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: So I would say, first, do the inner work, do really the inner work and discover all that influences who you are and how you behave and how you feel. I call it the inner work of leadership. The second is collaboration, collaboration beyond differences. So cultural differences, gender differences, age differences, learn to collaborate in all kinds of possible directions, because I believe that’s the future as well. Given that differences are many and are there, and at the same time it is as if they’re are, the differences are, don’t play a role because we need to connect and relate beyond differences and collaborate beyond differences. And the third, I would say humility, we need to relearn to be humble. And by saying humble, I don’t mean that we need to be hesitant in doing things or don’t need to be aggressive or this kind of thing. When I say humility and learn to be humble, it means to recognize that in order to move forward, in order to make situations better, we do need the help of others and from many different others. And so we cannot be arrogant anymore and pretend that’s all up to me, but become aware and conscious that actually everything I do is supported and is made possible, but the contribution of others even if I’m not aware of it. So I think that these three, inner work, collaboration beyond differences and humility would be the three top tips ideas.

Steve Rush: So next part share, we call it Hack to Attack. Now you’ve already had the head start on this one because your unexpected gift is undoubtedly a Hack to Attack, but we kind of frame this in where something in our life and work hasn’t worked out well, but that event has now created a positive in our life and our work. So outside of your unexpected gift, there any other gifts that have become Hack to Attack for you?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: I don’t know if this is a gift, but I think it’s a funny story, [Laugh] that I like to say. When I was deciding what I would become, right. And starting at the university and what would I be? Architect was a possibility because my family business, my father is an architect and he has always had a very, successful practice. And so I was supposed to become an architect. And at a certain point, I started for a couple of years, architecture. And then I decided, you know what? I cannot build houses and studying the materials, the mathematics of building houses or buildings, if I don’t know how a human being is built. So the people that will inhabits the house [laugh]. And so, I just decided to leave the studies I was doing at the university. So I stopped studying architecture and I moved to philosophy. And when that happened, it was kind of a tragedy because [laugh], what would Barbara do given that the business here was already set up and successful and the rest was to be built and fast forward. Now everybody is saying, we are so lucky that Barbara didn’t study architecture [laugh] because the houses that would come up will be very strange because my sense of the measurement are really funny. And so now it is a joke around here that luckily Barbara stand up for what she believed in, [laugh]. 

Steve Rush: Managed to preserve the architecture of her own. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: [Laugh] exactly. It would’ve been at risk, so [laugh]. 

Steve Rush: Awesome. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: And I say this, which means that I learned that really what you need to stand up for, what you believe in, and trust your intuition, even if people around you are against you and don’t understand it because eventually time [laugh] showed me that was the right thing to do. 

Steve Rush: And that’s the hack right there, isn’t it? Listen to that intuition.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Exactly. 

Steve Rush: Yeah, and the last part of the show, we get to give you an opportunity to do some time travel and you can bump in to Barbara at 21 and give her any advice in the world. What would it be?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Wow, I think that it goes back to what I said at the beginning of this conversation. I would tell Barbara at 21 to be open to the seemingly impossible because it does happen. It can happen and you better be open to it both in the positive sense as well as in the negative, but be open to what is seemingly impossible and don’t limit yourself to what you can imagine, but really learn to go beyond your imagination. I think that I would say that to Barbara at 21. 

Steve Rush: And I think she would think that would be great advice as well. So how can we connect our audience with the work you are doing? And maybe let them get a copy of The Unexpected Gift. Where’s the best place to send them?

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: They can connect with me on LinkedIn. I am quite active there and they can write to me and I will be happy to send them my book or if they prefer the Kindle version it is available on Amazon, the Kindle version, or they can connect with me through my website, my name,

Steve Rush: You sound so much better than when I pronounced it earlier.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Oh, no, you pronounce it very well actually, Steve. 

Steve Rush: And we’ll make sure that we put those links in our show notes as well for you.

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Thank you very much 

Steve Rush: Barbara, it’s been wonderful talking to you. I love the fact that you’ve taken your life’s lessons and it is now created a great and successful future for you. And I just wanted to say grazie for being on our show. 

Dr. Barbara Dalle Pezze: Oh, that’s amazing, prego. It was really an honor and a pleasure, Steve. Thank you for having me and really you have a great show here. 

Steve Rush: Thanks Barbara.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers. 

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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