Culture Engineering with Celine Williams

Celine Williams is the Founder and Chief Strategist at reVisionary. She is an entrepreneur, coach and keynote speaker on the subjects of innovation culture and change management. Celine also hosts two podcasts: @canadaspodcast and the Leading Through Crisis Podcast. In the great show you will learn about:

  • What a culture engineer does and why its central to success in any organization.
  • The things that could hold us back from developing a great culture.
  • What a culture of innovation is, and how to I create it.
  • How culture has changed though the pandemic.

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

Steve Rush: While mulling over my weekend coffee, it came to me and I wondered if we could do some research to find out which of the organizations across the globe had the most loyal and dedicated staff, and which of those that didn’t. Good employees are a valuable commodity for any business. Hiring training and cultivating top-notch workers takes an investment of time and money. So a loyal workforce is a big plus for employers. So how to companies with similar lines of businesses compare when it comes to typical employee tenure? Why do employees stick around at certain companies and then jumped ship at another, is it all about pay or is it about working conditions?Well, let’s dig into a few.

In the world of finance. We’re going to compare two companies, AIG and Visa. We’ve all seen the movie Wall Street and finance is cutthroat and fast-paced industry to work in, but even though they’ve had their share of bad press over the years, AIG boasts superb employee tenure, almost three times, as long as visa. The average employee tenure at AIG is five years where it’s 1.8 at Visa. And even though Visa employees report higher satisfaction rates and earn significantly more than their peers at AIG. Folk at AIG have less stress and are more satisfied. So let’s have a look at the healthcare sector. Tenet Healthcare Corporation, and Universal Health Services are two of biggest healthcare companies in the U.S. Each employee is around 60,000 employees, but those that work at Tenet genuinely spend 4.6 years with the company while the typical UHS employee only clocks in at around 1.8 years, stress levels at each company appear similar, but Tenet employees can earn more and report higher job satisfaction.

When we get to technology, the global powerhouses of Microsoft and Google battle out. The software developers and engineers at tech companies rely on are really in demand and always well compensated for their skills. And many of the jobs that are around in these organizations didn’t exist a handful of years ago. So it’s no surprise that the techies report short 10 years across both organizations. The average Microsoft employee sticks around for four years. A lifetime when you compare that to its archrival at Google, where the typical employee stays with the company for just 1.1 years, of course, Microsoft has been around since 1975, more than twice as long as Google. So they’ve had time to develop more long-term employees and develop a more refined attraction strategy. And when you look at the manufacturing sector, some really interesting stats come out, Eastman Kodak, boasts the most loyal employees on our list.

The typical worker spending 20 years on a job, given the bad press that came with Kodak’s massive drop in profits and revenue, those that stuck around continue to stick around, compare that to the folks that build trucks at PACCAR Corporation, where the median employee tender is only one year, even though employees seem to earn significantly more money and report lower stress levels. And so the leadership hack here is, it’s not about salary, it’s not about stress, it’s about your whole environment. And therefore the better the environment is, the more likely your employees will stick around and contribute to significant and better outcomes for you and your organization. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News. We’d love to hear whatever it is that’s on your mind. So please get in touch with us in your usual ways, by our social media channels.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Joining me on the show today is Celine Williams. She’s a founder and chief strategist at reVisionary. She is an entrepreneur, coach and keynote speaker on the subjects of innovation culture and change management. And she also helps two podcasts, Canada’s podcast and the Leading Through Crisis Podcast. Welcome to the other side of the mic Celine.

Celine Williams: Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here Steve.

Steve Rush: I’m super excited to have you on the show. I particularly love having other podcasters come and share their stories because you’ll know as I, we have the beautiful gift of speaking to so many people, it just gives us more context and more stories to share. So I’m looking forward to getting into it.

Celine Williams: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: Tell us a little bit about you and how you ended up doing what you’re doing?

Celine Williams: So, I always say it was a long and winding road to get to what I’m doing now. I did not follow any sort of linear path, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that because there are people who have a very linear path and there are those of us who don’t and both are equally as valid and important and interesting as far as I’m concerned. So both of my parents were immigrants and entrepreneurs. And so I grew up with parents who ran their own businesses, very different businesses but neither of them ever worked for someone else. And so when I was very young, that was kind of part and parcel. I didn’t necessarily think I had to work for someone else or be an entrepreneur. I had that kind of a lens on how life could be. And so my first job, if you like to call it outside of like teenage jobs was I actually ran my own tutoring company for a number of years. And which was fun and helped me build a business pre-internet days for those of us that remember that.

Steve Rush: Yeah, just about.

Celine Williams: Before all of the like internet marketing. It was such a different beast when I went back into the world of entrepreneurship. Because I did that for a few years, sold the IP that I’d created for that company. Because I created some programs and actually then went and worked in the corporate world for 11 years and stepped completely out of entrepreneurship into an organization in a very niche kind of area of focus and had a number of roles in my time there, I worked in five very different areas. So I worked in HR, I worked as a project manager, I always joke I was the world’s worst project manager, but legitimately I was the world’s worst project manager. I’m not detail oriented enough to be good at it. I was just good at the people side of it, like getting people to help me out.

Steve Rush: There should be almost a role for that!

Celine Williams: I know.

Steve Rush: Project manager/people sidekick role.

Celine Williams: Yup, that would have been my role because actual project management, I was not good at. And then I did change management, which I was better at because it was more people oriented. And then stakeholder engagement and communications roles. I kind of did a number of those things over the 11 years that I was in corporate. And at that time I was, you know, I was running teams and had people reporting into me and I started coach training and I was like, I like this. And I like working with people in this way and I’m fascinated by human brains and what people are up to. And I absolutely hated working in the company that I was in and the corporate environment I was in because of the culture, things that you learn in retrospect is understanding that I stayed as long as I did because I liked the managers, the leaders I had.

And I liked the people I worked with day to day, but the overall organizational culture was really toxic. And so I left and stepped into coaching and starting my own business and figuring out being an entrepreneur when the internet was a thing and everyone was throwing all of the different ways to be an entrepreneur at you and made one thousand mistakes and also managed to have some successes along the way. And now I get to have more fun than I’ve ever had in my life doing the work that I do. And I work with incredible organizations and leaders and we do culture design. And so we, you know, work with organizations around being very intentional and specific with their culture and how to put it into action and make it something that is tangible and real for the people in the organizations. And I work with, very people focused organizations. And I work with leaders who are very committed to being the best leaders that they can be in a meaningful way for the people around them. And yeah, and that is the journey to why I do what I do now and how I was one of those people who was an entrepreneur before I ever thought about working in corporate, just out of the way that I was raised and what I saw around me.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and did you realize that in your early days, that entrepreneurship was a thing or you just going with the flow of what felt right intuitively for you.

Celine Williams: I don’t think I really realized it. And parts of that is, that my parents would never have called themselves entrepreneurs. That’s not language that they used. It wasn’t popular language and the way we use it now in the seventies and eighties. So my parents weren’t saying, you know, I’m an entrepreneur. My dad owned a business and my mom owned business. And because they both did it, I didn’t really have the connection of parents who go out to an office to work every day, in that way. They both had, you know, businesses that were based in the house and went out to different. Like my dad had a very specific role in construction. And so he would go out to job sites and he would go out to other places, but his office was in the house. I didn’t really have an awareness of it. And it wasn’t the language that was being used. So when I started, you know, tutoring business, I’d worked for a tutoring company in University, because quite frankly, the money was better than anywhere else. So I was like, oh, I could make under $7 an hour working at any other place, or I can make 25 to $30 an hour working at a tutoring company.

Steve Rush: Yeah, not a tough call really.

Celine Williams: No, and then I realized that they were charging each child $50 an hour. And I was working with four kids at once and I was like, what am I doing? And that’s why I started my own business. To me, it was like, well, this makes more sense. And I just knew it was an option. Because my parents, without the language were running their own thing as well.

Steve Rush: And you share in that continued tutoring via the medium of podcasts, teaching and sharing goodwill and insights around the world, but you’ve run Canada’s Podcasts. But also if ever there was a time for one in the last two years, Leading Through Crisis Podcast.

Celine Williams: Yeah.

Steve Rush: Pretty timely, right?

Celine Williams: Yes, so Canada’s podcast, there’s a group of us who host for different parts of Canada because we have enough different parts of Canada that one person couldn’t do it all. It’s a network and I host for Ontario cause I’m based in Toronto which is a lot of fun and it’s a great, you know, it’s great to get to share the stories of Canadian entrepreneurs, but leading through crisis is really my baby in the sense that it started sort of at the beginning of the pandemic, unfortunately and fortunately I had another podcast idea and I kept getting requests from people I worked with or had worked with around where can we listen to conversations that, you know, are timely and about how we lead in these challenging times and what that looks like. And not just there’s one way of doing it, but how people have done it and their experiences.

And I thought, well, I know some awesome people. I’ll do this, like, you know, short-lived kind of timely podcasts and have some conversations and put it out there. And it just seemed to work and it connected with, you know, an audience and I’ve continued to do it. And it’s incredibly fun and interesting to get, to talk to people in different environments, in different ways, with different backgrounds who are sharing their stories of either how they have led through challenging moments and moments of crisis or how they have worked with people. Who’ve done it in different ways, and it’s fascinating and its lots of overlap and lots of different perspectives.

Steve Rush: And of course, crisis notionally is actually quite subjective, isn’t it?

Celine Williams: Yeah.

Steve Rush: So for some people, crisis can be “every day” just dealing with simple small tasks, whereas it doesn’t have to be a global pandemic.

Celine Williams: No, and I love that you said that Steve, cause it’s one of the things that I say is, that the tagline is leading, you know, leadership in challenging times because it doesn’t have to be my definition of crisis. My definition of crisis is, basically change because I think that when people think about, and by the way, I’m not opposed to change. I’m actually someone who has probably more capacity for change than the average person, and I think it’s great. And even with, for myself, I know that my initial reaction to change is often like, oh, what are we going to do about this? And that is that crisis moment. And I think it’s important that I allow people to define it for themselves and what it means to them. And we start from there, it’s not me saying it has to be one way because everyone is different and that is part and parcel of the conversation.

Steve Rush: It is, yeah, definitely so, so I remember when you and I first met, you described yourself to me as a culture engineer, which I love the concept of engineering culture, by the way. So a lot of our work that we have to do with is going to be centered to whether a culture is going to be enabling or holding back performance on people. So how would you go about firstly, just defining culture?

Celine Williams: So, you know, I think the briefest and most basic explanation and, you know, many people have heard this, as it’s the how we do things around here. And it really is the values and norms and expectations that are in practice. And I say that in practice is really important because a lot of organizations have culture, I’m air quoting, you can’t see me, air quote culture that are, you know, they’re words on a wall, right? They are, here’s what our values are. Here’s how we do things. Here’s what we think of, you know, showing up with each other, how we treat each other and that’s not actually in practice. And I see that, I wish I could say, I saw that less than I do, but I see that all the time, that the minute you start to talk to people in the organization, they’re like, that’s not how this works.

We don’t even see the leaders doing that. And so for me, the culture is yes, those things, the values, the norms, the expectations, and the behaviors. And most importantly, the behaviors, right? How this shows up in action, because the worst behavior that an organization is willing to accept, that’s the bar of their culture. If you accepted behavior, if you let it continue in one person, that’s the bar you’ve set for your culture. And if that’s not, what the words on your walls reflect, then you don’t have the culture you think you have.

Steve Rush: I love the way you call out the words on the wall, because most of us can associate when we see organizational culture in often things like Z cards or posters, things that are around us to demonstrate what the culture is. But actually there is often a lost translation between those imagery in the marketing collateral. Then the behaviors that go on inside an organization, and the wonder what you think the reason could be behind that?

Celine Williams: Well, I think there’s a few things. One, I think culture, it’s a buzzword in a lot of ways. And so organizations, you know, we’ll hire someone or do something themselves where it is designed to make them more appealing to potential employees, you know, in the world to competitors, whatever the case may be. And it becomes aspirational. So because it’s a buzzword, there’s an aspirational side to culture. And that’s the words on the wall is, we’re just going to put something together, that sounds good. And it’s like maybe loosely based on what we hope it will be, so aspirational as well. In my opinion is a big piece of it. One of the other things is that if leadership is involved in designing the culture or putting together that language. They are often, especially executive leadership, really disconnected from the actual lived organization and the actual lived culture. So, they genuinely think that their experience with the eight people that they interact with on a regular basis is everyone’s experience, and that’s just not the case. And we often find that you get to, you know, middle management, whatever it is, and that’s where the experience of culture shifts dramatically. So if leaders and organizations are not speaking to the people who are below, at and below that middle management level, then they don’t actually know what the lived experience of the culture is. And so, it’s well-meaning, it’s just not accurate.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I see that too, and the other aspect of that as well, I guess, is that if it’s not created bottom up, as well as meeting the top down aspirations, that’s also, I guess, where it gets a little bit lost in translation.

Celine Williams: Absolutely. It has to be, you know, when we go in and we do culture engineer, you know, engineer culture, we design a culture with a company. One of the things that I insist on, I’ve learned to insist on at this point is that yes, we will 100% talk to the senior leaders and get their perspective and hear what they want the culture to be, hearing what they think it is. And if there’s not an appetite for us to also survey and have conversations, not just a generic survey with people in the organization, different parts of the organization at different levels of leadership, individual contributors, if they’re distributed from different, you know, in office, out of office, whatever, if we are not getting an actual breadth of input, then we will not do the work because then it is words on walls. And I’m not interested in that.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and equally nor would be ironically yeah. Vast majority of the employees in the organization.

Celine Williams: Right.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Celine Williams: Right, and that’s just it, if it’s not serving them, then what is the purpose of it?

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Celine Williams: Because then it’s not really about, you don’t really care about culture and that’s okay, but then let’s just admit it.

Steve Rush: So what are the things, the traps if you like? That hold back organizations from truly developing a great culture that they seek?

Celine Williams: Well, I would say, I think one of the biggest ones, there’s two, I’m laughing because there’s two that immediately came to mind. One of the biggest ones is looking at a different organization and saying, we’re just going to copy their culture. You can’t copy another organization’s culture. And so that holds us back from actually designing a culture and creating a culture that works for our organization, our people, our team. Every organization’s culture is different because there are different people in every organization. So to look at, you know, in North America, it’s often Zappos or Google or Facebook, or, you know, one of many other big names that are known for their culture and companies say, I want to do that. And they try and copy it. You can’t copy it. And that really is a big detriment.

And it holds the leaders, the organization and the people back from stepping into what their culture could be because they get stuck in someone else’s idea of culture. And then it never is that, and they, you know, kind of spin out on the fact that they’re not getting what they want to get, or it’s not looking the way they think it should look because it looked that way for Google. The second thing I would say that’s really big is that people think that culture is events or a ping pong table or lunches or whatever. And they get stuck in the, these are the fun things we do that mean we have a great culture and miss entirely the day to day importance of how culture shows up. And that happens again, way more consistently than I wish I saw happening. But it’s real, right? People think it’s the fun stuff. It’s the event. It’s those moments that make the culture and it’s like, well, your culture is actually your day to day. And shows up when things go wrong. If when things go wrong, people aren’t behaving the way you want them to behave, things aren’t going the way you want, you know, you think you want them to go, then that ping pong table doesn’t make a difference.

Steve Rush: And I’ve been party to a number of different change programs where ping pong tables and other fun stuff were introduced, but it isn’t the materials or the processes that change culture, it’s behaviors, isn’t it?

Celine Williams: A hundred percent, but it’s a lot easier and a lot faster to buy a ping pong table or to have Friday lunches or, you know, whatever the case may be than it is to do the work on the behaviors.

Steve Rush: Particularly, if you buy a ping pong table and then shout at the people playing ping pong, because they’re making too much noise, that kind of stuff doesn’t work, does it?

Celine Williams: No, and it’s real. It’s definitely real.

Steve Rush: It’s happened in my space. Let’s put it that way.

Celine Williams: Yeah.

Steve Rush: So having some of those quirky themes and designing new ways of working are all part of innovation. And that’s definitely something that we need to tap into. Because actually that can sometimes change behaviors. But when it comes to innovation culture, how would you go about creating the space so that people can be innovative, that then can then inform the culture?

Celine Williams: So I think the two most important things are vulnerability and failure. You have to create space for people to be vulnerable and to be okay with them. And this is like, I’m going to use Brene Brown’s language for this, but that messy middle where it’s not going to be perfect. People are going to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing sometimes, step into awkward conversations, not know the results. That level of vulnerability has to be encouraged because without that, we can’t be comfortable failing. And the way that we step into cultures of innovation is being vulnerable with each other so that we are okay with failing and that we embrace those failures and failures, bigger or small, mistakes, missteps, all of that. That’s what I’m putting in the language of failure, but we have to talk about it. And we have to be very open about it, many, many individuals, but also organizations have a lot of shame around making mistakes and we try and cover them up and we try and hide them away.

And we try and, you know, blame other people, you know, we get defensive about them, whatever the case may be. Individually teams, cultures that is built into many, many, many organizations and without the encouragement of vulnerability and the ability to step into that meaningfully, that doesn’t change. And it’s not one or the other, because we can sit at a table and say, failure’s great. Let’s share failures and let’s be as open as possible. But if we haven’t created a safe space for people to be vulnerable and to really open up about it, it doesn’t happen. Or they bring things that aren’t the real failures and the real mistakes that matter. And, or they struggle to learn from it. And they struggle to reframe it into what the lesson is and what the possibility is. And they get stuck in the actual mistake or thing that hasn’t worked out the way they want it to work out.

And so I think those are the two most important things that organizations need to work on when it comes to creating cultures of innovation and in some parts of the world, as an example, in some parts of the world, some pieces of those are easier and some of them are harder and that’s real. And so it’s starting from where you are, where your organization is, where your leaders are and moving and taking the steps forward. You don’t have to go from an organization where no one’s connected to each other and no one’s open, and it’s very formal to, you know, everyone is weeping on each other’s shoulder and knows everything about each other overnight because now we’ve embraced vulnerability. There are steps to take along the way, and those steps move all of the innovation forward and they move everything forward and in a meaningful way, when we’re on that journey

Steve Rush: Can we go there, and how about explore around some of those steps? Because as you were talking, what I was thinking to myself was, “vulnerability is an integral part of shifting the culture”, but if the culture isn’t right, that doesn’t allow me to be vulnerable. How do I break that cycle?

Celine Williams: Well, I’m going to become….

Steve Rush: A bit of a deep question, right?

Celine Williams: No, it’s great. I’m going to be a bit of a Brene Brown pusher right now. Because I think this a lot of what she talks about is exactly in this space and that is, you know, it takes courage. It takes courage to be vulnerable. And I think the challenge or the struggle can be that courage, that vulnerability in a larger setting in bigger groups is what holds people back from doing it at all. And I think that the more we can create spaces of safety, spaces of vulnerability, even if it’s with one other person at a time, the more we can start to step into the vulnerability and the courage that it takes to be vulnerable. And it is a lot easier for senior leaders for executives to lead that charge and model it. I recognize that than it is for other people. So for any senior leaders and executives who are in organizations or in cultures, that don’t really feel that safe or don’t have that level of vulnerability, you know, this is a call to arms to be courageous and open it up and make that space for your people because it is a lot scarier for individual contributors or middle management to start and lead that charge.

Steve Rush: Yeah, you also need fast followers behind you, don’t you? So behind you is probably the wrong word, “with you” is probably the right word. So you demonstrate vulnerability. You want other people to do it super quick. So you create a movement of people that are helping others.

Celine Williams: Yeah.

Steve Rush: Feels safe.

Celine Williams: And I think that when we lead by example, we find that faster than we think we are going to. And the scary part is the stepping into leading by example when no one else is doing it.

Steve Rush: Right, yeah. So how do you think culture might have changed generally? And this is a big generalization through the pandemic and over there the kind of last 18 months, two years?

Celine Williams: Well, I think there’s a lot more awareness of the fact that the things that we thought were culture, a lot of things that a lot of people thought were culture like the ping pong tables don’t matter nearly as much as they thought they did.

Steve Rush: Or at all.

Celine Williams: Or, at all, exactly. And I think a lot of people and organizations and leaders realize that the realities. I’m going to put it this way. What they thought was their culture was not actually their culture because the minute that people were not in the same space, day to day, everything went awry to put it that way. And so I think that there is a, I think people are more interested in the realities of culture now, and they’re thinking about it in meaningful ways. I think that people realize that even the non-event parts of their culture was really dependent on being in person.

And the hybrid way of working where, you know, distributed, some people are remote. Some people are in office. So, you know, whatever the specific cases may be is here to stay. And I think that the idea of culture has changed dramatically because of that, because what you would do in person doesn’t necessarily work with people who are at home. So how do we help people feel connected and safe and like they belong when we’re all in different places. I think that the idea of belonging has become, you know, a much bigger topic of conversation in the past 18 months inside of the culture conversation, belonging and safety, because especially in North America, there has been, you know, if you remember to a year, last summer. Not the summer that just passed, but the previous summer, there was a lot that happened culturally.

And you know, in various parts of the United States and Canada, and that changed the conversation dramatically because it affected people at work. And so I think that the realities of mental health have become a bigger part of the conversation around culture. And I think that what people are willing to accept in the ways they work and in the cultures they’re looking for has changed. And it’s why, you know, people are talking about the great resignation, the language all over, you know, HBR and whatever you’re reading right now.

Steve Rush: Right.

Celine Williams: Because people want to work for organizations that care, people want to feel like they matter, people want flexibility. And that is part of culture, your culture can enable that, or disable that.

Steve Rush: And I suspect if we did a survey in a year or two’s time, and look back on the organizations who did not suffer as a result of the great resignation, they would have strong foundations of belonging as part of their culture.

Celine Williams: Absolutely, I would completely agree with that, and it’s belonging and flexibility where there meeting people, where they’re at and people know that they matter. And that they’re cared for. That is huge right now.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it certainly is. So I’m going to change tact a little bit now.

Celine Williams: Yeah.

Steve Rush: Going to hack into your leadership brain. So having led startups and other organizations, as well as the firm that you run now and having opportunities to hack into other’s minds, I’m going to try and distill your top three leadership tips now. So what would be your top three leadership hacks Celine?

Celine Williams: So I already said this one, I’m going to repeat it because it bears repeating. Lead by example, so it sounds so, so basic. And it’s so challenging when things are hard to actually lead by example. But I think a lot of people, and a lot of us do this, we read books, we consume information, we listen to podcasts. We think about the ways things should be, but we don’t actually put them into action and we don’t try them. So leading by example to me is probably the number one leadership hack. And that means you’re embracing failure. I joke all the time that I am the master of trying things out and they don’t work and being like, well, I did a thing. It didn’t work. Here’s what I learned from it. Let’s move on. And I share it because I think it’s really important to put things into action and to try and to lead by example, you can’t expect the people around you to do it if you’re not doing it.

So that would be my number one thing. The second thing I would say is to be positive, but not be toxic, not be toxically. I’m making a word up for you, positive, so avoid toxic positivity. Seeing the potential in things, seeing the lesson and things stepping into that space is really important. And we know that it matters for cultures, that there is a real lens of positivity in the leadership and in the culture itself. And let’s not overcompensate and not be real and vulnerable by being toxic about the positivity. Everything is not fine all the time. It’s not going to be fine all the time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is okay to acknowledge the reality of things while still holding in your mind, the potential that this could work out in all of these ways. And here’s the lessons inside of it.

So, you know, being positive, but not toxic about it would be my second thing. And the third thing, and this is the thing that has probably made the biggest difference to me over my life and is probably the thing that the leaders that, you know, the executives I coach now, they come to me for more than anything. And that is get perspectives that are not the same as yours and work those perspectives into your decisions and how you show up. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them when you get other people’s perspectives. Understanding another person’s perspective does not mean you agree with it. The more we can get different perspectives. The more we can think about how other people are thinking, how things are going to land differently, the better and more effective we are as leaders. And unfortunately, many of us who are leaders are surrounded by people who think the same way we do, and we create a confirmation bias and we create a cycle that is not actually balanced and is one perspective over and over again.

Steve Rush: I love that last hack. Confirmation bias plays out so much,  I’ve heard it called confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, we’re actually unconsciously just looking for endorsing our own mindset rather than flipping it and taking it other’s perspectives. Because that’s what we really learn and grow, isn’t it?

Celine Williams: Absolutely. And, that’s, you know, it’s really easy to work with people who think the same as us. To be surrounded by people who think the same of us, same as us to not be challenged about the things that we’re saying. So we look for it and healthy discomfort, healthy tension is where we often learn and where all the growth is.

Steve Rush: Right. Next part of the show, we call it Hack to Attack. This is typically where someone hasn’t worked out at all, maybe have gone wrong, but there is some learning there. And it’s now a positive in your life and work. If you had to call out one event, what would be your Hack to Attack?

Celine Williams: I have so many of these. I have so many of these, but here’s the one that I would say. And this is kind of an entrepreneurship and you know, questioning assumptions one. When I stepped back into the world of entrepreneurship and I left corporate and I started coaching, I was very focused. So I worked in healthcare slightly more technical than that, but I worked in version of health technology for 11 years. So when I left that world and I started coaching, I was like, well, I’m going to coach people who work in health care or health technology, because that’s where all my experiences is, and I know that world and that’s going to make sense. That did not go as planned. I hated every minute of it. I struggled to get clients to keep clients.

I was absolutely miserable and it wasn’t until I really, first of all, burned through all my savings. When I tell you, I have made every mistake in the book, I promise you I’ve made every mistake in the book. It wasn’t until I had burned through all my savings. And you know, was like, I just hate every minute of this, that I took a step back and was like, oh, I assumed that I needed to be doing it in this way. Cause I had all this experience. I assumed these are the only people who would actually work with me. I assumed all of these things. And when I reframed that and started differently and approach things differently and, you know, got rid of what I thought it should be and how it should look. And these were the steps I should take and did it differently. That’s where I found success. And that’s what I’ve learned from is that, leaving the shoulds behind, leaving what I assumed things were or what I think they should be. That holds me back, and there’s no lesson in that when I discard that, that’s where the opportunities have come from. And I continue to remind myself of that constantly.

Steve Rush: Brilliant. “Should”, really toxic word, isn’t it?

Celine Williams: Yep. Very, much so.

Steve Rush: Yeah, last part of the show is we get you to do a bit of time travel and you able to bump into Celine at 21 and give her some words of wisdom. What would your advice be do?

Celine Williams: Stop caring so much about what other people think.

Steve Rush: Nice.

Celine Williams: First and foremost cause that was definitely it. I’m going to go back to the shoulds, that things don’t have to look the way you think they should look in order to get you where you want to be and embracing the differences and embracing the unknown as early as possible is going to serve you well, because that was a challenge for me. Now, it feels easy because I have many years on that 21 year old. But at that point, you know, caring what people think and the shoulds has really held me back.

Steve Rush: Yeah, great advice. So Celine, if folk wanted to get hold of information and insights about the work you’re doing, maybe tap into your podcast, what’s the best for us to send them?

Celine Williams: Absolutely, is my website. It will be updated at some point soon. It’s a little out of date, but it’s a great place to connect with me or you can message me there and that’s where my podcast is hosted.

Steve Rush: You do quite a lot of promotion via LinkedIn as well. So we’ll make sure that those links as well as your podcast links are all in our show notes.

Celine Williams: Thank you. That would be perfect.

Steve Rush: I always enjoy chatting with you and you know, we share a lot of common interests around the whole concept of change in culture. And thank you for sharing some of your stories and some of your wisdom as part of The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Celine Williams: Thank you for having me, Steve. It was great chatting with you.

Steve Rush: Thanks Celine.


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 there: @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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