Look Inside with Rasha Hasaneen

Rasha Hasaneen is the Vice President of Innovation and Product Excellence for Trane Technologies. A former executive with global businesses, Rasha also leads the Center for Healthy & Efficient Spaces as Executive Director. In this show learn about:

  • Why, when the world is diving into ESG and Climate measures we are not normally drawn to consider inside spaces, – why is that?
  • Why is how we live indoors so crucial to a sustainable future?
  • What is the impact on productivity loss due to unhealthy indoor spaces?
  • Covid 19 is not the first pandemic and not likely to be the last, learn about the “extra layer.”

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

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore whether or not organizations and leaders are taking ESG seriously. And if they do, how it can directly correlate to great results. The letters ESG of course stand for Environmental, Social and Governance, and are typically how organizations structure activities and commitments to each be it greenhouse gases and emissions and waste, that’s E. Staff, labor, relations, employee safety, that’s the S or board diversity in supply chain management, that’s the G and while most organizations will have a view and a lens. Having tactical and focused activities can be really relevant to the business world and more and more shareholders and stakeholders, as well as customers, staff and consumers are starting to take more notice around ESG and ESG ratings.

The momentum towards ESG has not slowed with the pandemic. The crisis has intensified and reinforced the important issues of ESG. George Serafeim, a Harvard Business School Professor and ESG expert said COVID 19 has caused us to dive deeper and integrate our ESG inside organizations around them management and their strategy. And it’s no longer just about feel-good issues. We’re talking about even more important value drivers. So, let’s have a look at how ESG can really drive shareholder return and maximize value for the organization. In one HBR Study, they found that $1 investment yielded $28 return over 20 years for companies that focused on ESG. And those that didn’t focus on ESG measures only returned $14. In a recent study by McKinsey’s, they explained executing ESG effectively can help combat rising operating expenses. Affecting operating profits as much as 60%. For leaders who want to reap such reports, they should immediately begin measuring ESG metrics alongside other KPIs.

Of course, companies can then demonstrate what they measure and the impact that has to returns, and ESG helps with talent too. According to Wharton, Professor Peter Cappelli. Most hiring is a result of drastically poor retention. This issue has only been compounded in recent years with Mercer Global Talent Trends, 2020, calling the great recession. Revealing that nearly half, that’s 46% of C-suites believe that their organization is ill equipped to attain, attract, the right talent. Though ESG and talent may seem unrelated, they are deeply correlated. A study from Marsha McLean & McLennan found employers with an attractive ESG strategy, attract, and retained the best talent in the marketplace. In addition, saw performance roughly 25% higher than average employers. There’s enormous amount of evidence pointing that ESG is a value driver and will be even more of when moving forward. So, if leaders want to win, they should be putting those three letters, ESG at the heart of their strategies. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News, as always please get in touch, in news, stories or insights that you might have.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Rasha Hasaneen is our special guest on today’s show. She’s the Vice President of Innovation and product excellence for Trane Technologies, a former executive with Global Businesses. Rasha now leads the Center for Healthy & Efficient Spaces as Executive Director for Trane Technologies, Rasha welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Rasha Hasaneen: Thank you, Steve. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Steve Rush: So, you and I have taken an absolute age to try and get together, right? With the moving schedules, global pandemic but we are finally here at last.

Rasha Hasaneen: Yes, agreed. It’s been a little crazy. I mean, every time we think there’s, you know, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, there’s more to come. And so, I think we’re all trying to navigate it as best we can

Steve Rush: Indeed. And the first time you and I met, we were talking around climate change and the role that Trane Technologies plays in that. And if anything, timing’s perfect because the world has just really grab hold of the whole climate change initiative, hasn’t it?

Rasha Hasaneen: You bet, absolutely.

Steve Rush: Yeah. I’m looking forward to getting into that in a moment before we do, though, we love our guests to give our audience the opportunity to share their backstory and understand a little bit about how they’ve arrived to do what they do. Tell us a little bit about Rasha?

Rasha Hasaneen: You bet. So, I’m originally Egyptian. I moved to the United States very young. My mom came here to study. And then, you know, I spent my formative years between sort of the U.S. and the Middle East. Came back to do University, actually in Canada. So, I am also Canadian. Then worked for a few years, came back to the U.S., did a Masters, then sort of dug in on the digital side of things. So, I worked in Silicon Valley for a number of years. Decided I was really interested in sustainability with a big S, versus sort of sustainability with a little less S. Sort of doing stuff at home and composting and doing all the cool stuff. I wanted to really understand how I could impact climate change at the time.

I will not date myself by telling you when the time was, but it was before climate change was cool. But I realized that sort of the combination of digital technologies with actually the industrial world was going to have a much bigger impact than the combination of digital technologies with the consumer world, which was kind of all the rage at the time. This was the early days of Amazon, again, dating myself. The early days of Amazon. You know, I had an iPod before the iPhone came out, which a lot of listeners may not remember.

Steve Rush: Yep.

Rasha Hasaneen: But it became clear to me that actually the integration of digital and industrial was really where it was going to be. And so, I went back and did the Doctorate, focusing on sustainability, but really focusing on industrial businesses. Made my change from Silicon Valley to sort of oil and gas and power. Finished my Doctorate. And then I was really on the supply side, I would say of climate change. So, power generation, you know, fossils versus renewables, et cetera. And then at the time Ingersol Rand, which then became Trane Technologies, came to me and said, hey, how would you like to be on the demand side? And they presented a very compelling argument about what it means to be on the demand side of climate change and really understanding how to reduce consumption through efficiency and so on. And so, they convinced me, and I joined the company to do product excellence and innovation and have never looked back since.

Steve Rush: Awesome. So where did the bug come from? Because the whole career so far for you has been around sustainability.

Rasha Hasaneen: Yes.

Steve Rush: And where did that kind of a little S turn into a big S?

Rasha Hasaneen: For me, you know, I’ll share a very personal story. When I was working in Silicon Valley, I got really sick. I was in the hospital for about nine days in the intensive care unit. I was very young. And until that point I was kind of invincible and so was the world. And then you kind of examine your own vulnerabilities at that point. And then, for me, it was more about what, you know, you get to a point where it was like, what do you want to do with your life? And you want to do something that matters, right? And you also want to do something you’re good at, and that you enjoy. So, I knew I enjoyed building things. I enjoyed, you know, building teams from scratch, doing things that were completely new and what I loved to do.

And so, when it came to where I could apply my skillset in a way that would really help, sustainability became sort of part of the narrative for me personally, right. It was like, you know, how do we make businesses more sustainable? How do we make it better for people all over the world? Not just people in certain economic situations or in certain countries. And how does that the ubiquity of climate, how do you impact that? It was a big problem to solve, and it seems really overwhelming. And that was kind of, you know, it became a big puzzle for me, like, it’s overwhelming, how do you break it down into kind of bite size pieces? And so, I started to understand it more and I wanted to really work on something that would really like change the world.

And, you know, at the time, you know, apps were growing in popularity. And so, people would make apps for everything, right. I think at one point there was an iFart app. I was like, that’s not what I want to work on. And so, I started to really sort of get the bug back for, you know, industrial businesses, I’m Mechanical Engineer by trade. My Masters is in Industrial Engineering, so I kind of missed that sort of the tangibility of being part of a business that builds things. But I also knew that it was that combination of my digital experience, bringing it to sort of the heavy metal type industry that was really going to make a difference. And every time I looked at something that was made better by digital, it was like the gains were humongous. And, so for me, it was really about doing something of import with sort of your superpowers. And that’s kind of how I landed here. Some of it was serendipity of course. But a lot of it was really just having an internal sort of self-reflection over a period where your kind of most vulnerable, I think.

Steve Rush: It’s a great reflection. So, when it comes to climate change, our listeners are probably thinking, you know, traditional ESG measures. It’s unlikely that when they do think of climate measures that they think of indoors.

Rasha Hasaneen: Yeah.

Steve Rush: And being drawn to consider indoor spaces, what’s the reason it doesn’t get the same profile, maybe as some of the other more explicit things that folk are undertaking right now?

Rasha Hasaneen: Absolutely. Great question. And it’s a question I think about a lot. So historically it has taken a very long time, even for climate measures to become acknowledged as quote unquote real or something that we need to pay attention to. It took focused effort by science and researchers. It took, you know seasons and seasons of intense weather for sort of this very deliberate approach to take hold among the population. Indoor climates are very similar. They’re intangible, right. Like your indoor climate is fine until it’s not.

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: And it has to be really bad for you to want to do something. Like, just think about your own home, right? Like you’re in your home, if you’re a little cold, you put on a blanket, right. You know, if it’s a little stuffy, you open a window or you kind of deal with it. And it’s not until like somebody burns something that you’re like, okay, I got to turn on the hood vent. I’ve got to clear out the smoke and it’s got to really be irritating. And humans tend to go to the bad, like I want to make the bad better. I rarely want to make the good, better if it’s good, it’s fine. And indoor spaces are no different. The impact of negative indoor environments is chronic. It’s not acute. So, it happens over time, and it could be so many factors. And like, is it genetic? Is it this? Is it that? Why do I have asthma? And so, in the south here, in the United States, we call it the boiling frog syndrome, right. If you put a frog in really hot water, it jumps right out. But if you put a frog in cold water and you heat up the water slowly, it can boil to death. I know it’s very gruesome, but without realizing that that’s what’s happening to it. And that’s kind of how indoor environments are. You can’t see it. Most of the times, you can’t smell it. You can’t feel it. And so, these indoor environments are not given as much attention by individuals.

Steve Rush: Mm, and also. People perceive climate change to be an outside thing. They don’t actually make the association that it’s everything around us.

Rasha Hasaneen: Inside, exactly. And so, were so focused on planetary health and sort of, you know, our very existence that we won’t always then come back and think about human health. And if you just think about ESG metrics, the E gets a lot of attention. The S gets a little bit of attention, but not nearly as much. And human health is really a part of that social piece, right?

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: So, if you think about, you know, environmental, social, and governance, that social piece, that human health, the health of employees. The health of communities, it’s something that’s very big. It’s very nebulous, very much a like climate change, but hasn’t gotten the same attention. And people don’t realize that, you know, you experience 90% of the outdoors in indoors, right. Because that’s where you spent most of your time. And if you’re bringing outdoor air in, if you’re bringing in, you know, outdoor lights, you’re bringing that in, but you don’t think about it that way, because those walls are up and it feels very safe inside and you could be creating some negative health effects or maybe not negative health effects, but they’re not super positive, right?

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: They’re okay.

Steve Rush: Yeah. What are the things that contribute to inside sustainability? The things that are around us at work and at home we can be thought full about.

Rasha Hasaneen: That’s another really great question. So, I think that what people most associate with is thermal comfort, right. Am I too hot? Am I too cold? If I’m too warm, you know, I can’t sleep. I can’t work. I can’t get creative. I have to sort of get to the right temperature and that’s absolutely part of it, but you also have a number of other factors. Air quality is one of the main one’s. Different levels of what we’ve historically measured as a proxy, CO2 can improve or decrease productivity and the amount of CO2 in a space can make you sleepy, but it can also make it very hard for you to think and process information and complete tasks. In addition, you know, with respect to air, you know, there’s compounds that are generated all the time, either by the materials in your room or by activities of people, we call them volatile organic compounds.

Those can be pretty harmful. They can be irritants. You hear about allergen, so air quality is a huge part of it. Lighting is another part of it. We’ve seen a lot of focus on lighting recently with the capability that LED gives you. So, when you had incandescent bulbs, you know, it was just one temperature, it was on or off, and so, you took it for granted. The productivity that came with the introduction of electricity and indoor lighting will far outweighed any potential issues with lighting. But as we started to have more access to light emitting diodes, now you could vary dimness, so light intensity, you could vary the temperature of the light. Is it white? Is it yellow? Is it sort of darker or lighter? You see daylight bulbs come out; does it simulate daylight?

So, lighting has a huge component on our circadian rhythm, but it also plays a huge part in how well we also process information and so on. So, the third one here is lighting. And that’s part of a bigger sort of piece around visual comfort. And that includes things like outside views. It includes things like, is there enough greenery? You know, our bodies are programmed to feel better when we are exposed to things that are good around us. And we’re programmed to love plants and love outside views and so on. So, lighting and visual comfort is really important. And so, the last part of this is really acoustics. So, acoustics is really about sound and noise and really poor acoustics that you get from either equipment in a building or even externally coming in. So outside noise pollution can have a huge impact on how productive you are, how well you sleep. So, you might be able to sleep. You might be able to work, but the quality of that sleep and that work matters. And that has a lot to do with ambient noise, whether it’s noise intensity, or noise frequency.

Steve Rush: That’s really insightful actually. And as you were spinning through those different themes, I’m putting myself in that scenario in my office and thinking about, oh, I’m not got enough light here or you know, I know how frustrated I get when I hear some outside noise and I get distracted easily.

Rasha Hasaneen: Right.

Steve Rush: They’re all things that contribute to that. So not only is that sustainable, but absolutely has a direct correlation to people’s wellbeing, doesn’t it?

Rasha Hasaneen: Exactly. That’s exactly right, right. So, we think about LED lights, for example, we use the lighting example as being a phenomenal way to reduce energy intensity in the home or in the office, right? So, you see all these sort of LED projects where I’m like I’m going out and replacing all of the lighting in a skyscraper, all of the lighting in a mall. But what you don’t understand is, what we are starting to understand is that that also improves wellbeing. So, that technology has enabled us to vary lighting temperature in a way to make, you know, and commercial organizations have known this for a very long time, right. The type of lighting you have changes, you’re buying behavior. So, if I want to buy something, it’s got to have the right lighting around it in order for me to be attracted, to buying that. Or if I’m at a restaurant, I have to have the right ambiance in order for me to feel relaxed or romantic or whatever it is you’re aspiring to do in terms of the restaurant.

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: LED lights have turbocharged that, right. So, in an effort to reduce energy intensity and improve outdoor kind of sustainability or the carbon footprint of the built environment, we’ve also introduced a tool that can improve human health indoors, but you have to use that tool. So even though for example, LED lighting is very dimmable, most switches are still on, off. The dimmability of light is very important, right. You need to reduce light intensity throughout the day so that you can sleep at night, so you can be healthy the next day, so you can be productive. And, we’re still learning in the built environment, how to do that. Air quality is no different, acoustics are no different, right. And so, as we’re starting to learn about the impact of these different elements on human health, we can start to change how we build things, how we implement these systems in a way to take full advantage of not only their impact on sustainability, on climate, the big climate, but also their impact of the indoor climate on human health and start to tune these environments in a way that allow you to have different environments for different situations.

Steve Rush: It’s far more scientific than most people give this credit, right?

Rasha Hasaneen: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: You are talking about it in almost a forensic way, which I love by the way. I think it’s really insightful, but I wonder how many people have to struggle with getting as thoughtful about that?

Rasha Hasaneen: You’re absolutely right. And we did a survey recently of just homeowners, right. So commercial spaces are a little bit different because a lot of times, you know, facility managers and building owners are really focused on employees, but the home tends to be where kind of your average consumer is. And when we talk about indoor air quality, for example, it’s like, so what are the types of things you would do to improve your air quality? It’s like, we light a candle. And you’re like, oh my, right. Because it’s like that fantastic. Except you know, there’s so much more to air chemistry, you know, than lighting a candle and you could be making it worse.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Rasha Hasaneen: Funny story, we’re doing a project with a company in India and it’s an indoor air quality sensor. And they had put it in these locations and every day and around the same time, they would see these particulates go up, right. And particulates are not great for a lot of reasons. They kind of get into your lungs and they cause asthma. But they also kind of carry viruses, bacteria, et cetera. And some particulates would go up and they would spike around the sensor. And so, they went to this place, and it turns out they were like lighting incense to worship. And it’s like, okay, well, you might not want to get too close to God right now, right. Or in this way, there’s other ways. But they were lighting incense right around this sensor. And the incense was creating, you know, this really crazy indoor environment. Now, again, in the grand scheme of things, right.

Huge space, little stick of incense, not a big deal, but that’s how people think about this kind of air quality. It’s very unspecific, unscientific, but really the impacts on human health, super scientific, lots of studies out there that show the impacts of different elements of air and light and acoustics on productivity and health. And so, there’s a lot out. And the challenge we’re going to have through the pandemic have been sensitized to this is really bringing that science to the average consumer in a way that they can understand it and that they can digest it, right. And then really developing solutions where I don’t have to have the consumer know every scientific detail to implement those solutions where they can just say, hey, I want a room for an asthmatic child. Can you please dial that in for me?

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Rasha Hasaneen: Right, and somebody else who understands the science, who understands the situation can help them really get the best indoor environment.

Steve Rush: And it’s like anything with, if you take the whole climate or journey to net zero, whatever your focus is right now.

Rasha Hasaneen: Yeah.

Steve Rush: It’s everybody taking personal responsibility to do their bit, that will make the big difference overall, right?

Rasha Hasaneen: Absolutely. And there are definitely strategies just like with anything else that could give you a really fantastic indoor environment that could have a really devastating impact on the climate, which then creates a poorer outdoor environment, which makes you have to work harder to create this really good indoor environment. So, I’ll give you an example of that. If you in an urban environment, a lot of times the immediate microclimate around where you live or where you work is not fantastic, right. So, then you get the indoor environment, and you know, guidance that says, hey, you need to ventilate. The easiest way to ventilate is to open a window. Well, if you’re out in the country, or if you’re in a suburban environment, chances are your outdoor air is fantastic. And if you open up a window, you’re going to create a really great indoor environment.

However, if you have an HVAC System, if you’ve got your air conditioner on, summer, you have your air conditioner on. It’s going to have to work harder because your kind of air conditioning, the world, right. All of that cool air sort of goes out your window, and the hot air comes in. So, it’s going to work harder. It’s going to use more energy. A lot of that energy is still very much fossils, and you’re going to start to get a degrading outdoor environment. So even when you now open the window, you’re not going to get the environment you want. If you’re in an urban environment, you’re already there.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Rasha Hasaneen: When you open a window in an urban environment, a lot the COand all of those things that are accumulated inside, they dilute, that’s great. But what you’re bringing in could have different things going on, right. You could have different pollutants coming in, allergen, smoke, VOCs, et cetera, depending on where you are in an urban environment. So, it’s not easy, right. It’s not easy. And your actions as an individual have a direct impact on climate. So, if you do one of these things and you have to use more energy to do it, multiply that by 7 billion people.

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: Right, so if everybody, and not 7 billion, not all 7 billion people have air conditioning systems, but a billion, let’s talk about a billion, right. If everybody opens their windows and keeps their air conditioner on, or if everybody opens their windows, turns it off, then everything gets hot or everything gets cold depending on whether or not summer or winter or where you are in the world. Then you have to bring down the temperature again or bring up the temperature again, if it’s cold, that air conditioning unit is working so much harder, multiplied by a billion.

Steve Rush: Yeah, exactly

Rasha Hasaneen: Right. And so that’s the issue, and that’s just homes, right. Now, let’s talk about industrial environments or commercial environments and so on. And so, there are things that if you do them, could give you a negative environment on climate and give you a positive outcome when it comes to indoor environments. And the key is to get those indoor environments in a way that also reduces your greenhouse gas footprint, because you don’t want to do one at the expense of the other. And that’s why, you know, we call it The Center for Healthy & Efficient Spaces. It’s because we want to make sure that the actions we’re recommending to our clients, we want to make sure that the actions that I recommend in these podcasts are actions that will have a positive impact on both indoor and outdoor climates.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it’s all about pulling levers and getting balances. Isn’t it?

Rasha Hasaneen: Exactly. That’s exactly right.

Steve Rush: Yeah. Now you mentioned this a little earlier on, as you were talking through the different things that we could be thinking about, and you mentioned productivity, and there’s a real business case that sits behind this, alongside that sustainability case, isn’t there?

Rasha Hasaneen: There absolutely is. So, if you look at a given building, right, let’s say you’re renting a space in a building or you’ve got a building and you’ve got a small business, you’re an entrepreneur. The amount of money you spend on energy is a 10th of maybe the amount of money you’re going to spend on people. It could be as much as the hundredth, right? So, it’s a much smaller amount of money that you’re going to spend on things like utilities and that’s sort of our proxy for energy consumption, right. But your people are probably going to be one of your biggest assets and the health of those people becomes a huge economic lever for you as a business owner. We know, for example, that indoor air quality can have a productivity. So, let’s just take indoor air quality as an example, and we can do this.

We have studies on lighting. We study on acoustics, but I like air for a couple of reasons, you know. It’s not just about sort of direct productivity every day, cognitive function, et cetera, but think about airborne pathogen transmission, which is still, I think, top of mind for a lot of people with the pandemic kind of still raging. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year is lost in productivity due to absenteeism.

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: Same with schools, then you combine both, absenteeism as a result of kids being sick from school. And then there’s hundreds of billions more of loss productivity as a result of employees working while sick. Now think about that. I don’t even have to make everybody perfectly safe from pathogen transmission. Like, I don’t need to reduce a hundred percent of pathogen transmission in a building to improve this. If I can just improve the air quality in a building such that I reduce transmission of cold or flu, or COVID in this particular case by 10%, tens of billions, right. 20%, like, just think about that. Those are not big numbers, but if I create these environments in such a way that I can just reduce absenteeism, that’s hundreds of billions of dollars.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Rasha Hasaneen: And that’s, just one part of the productivity. We know that air quality impacts asthma, chronic illnesses, which reduce productivity without creating absenteeism, right. If you’re a chronic sufferer asthma or upper respiratory disease that has an impact on your productivity, but also impact cognitive function, right, as much as 30%. You can have poor indoor air quality and just your ability to process things and do tasks at work goes down dramatically.

Steve Rush: That’s a significant amount of time too, isn’t it?

Rasha Hasaneen: Absolutely, and learning, right. So, we think about school systems and the measures they have with student learning. Let’s take out absenteeism for a second, right. Like just kids being sick. We found that, not we, researchers have found that the indoor environment can have as significant and impact on test scores as grades. So just think about public test. You want to predict how well a student is going to do on a test, okay. On a public test. There’s a number of factors that can give you an indication of how well that student is going to do. The most common one we think about is, are they a good student? Do they get good grades? That has a really strong correlation with how well they’re going to do on these tests. As strong a correlation, how good is their indoor environment?

Steve Rush: Wow.

Rasha Hasaneen: As strong a correlation on how well they’re going to do on this test is whether or not while taking that test, do they have a good indoor environment? And that includes acoustics, it includes lighting and includes air, and it includes temperature. And so, you’re thinking about this and you’re like that child’s ability to score on a test is that dramatically impacted by indoor environments. Like it boggles the mind, right. And these are, I mean, these are scientific studies. They’re peer reviewed, they’re out there. You can kind of see them, but I mean, these are, you know, they’ve done control groups and testing doing these things on days where it’s good indoor environments, days on bad indoor environments, it’s amazing to me and that’s the type of productivity we’re talking about. And so again, there’s so many people on the earth, right. Multiply that by hundreds or millions or billions. And you’re talking about a huge sort of impact, not just on human health, but also on sort of economic productivity.

Steve Rush: Yeah. It’s amazing when you start to just think of the tiny little changes we could make and then multiplication across the globe, we can make a massive difference, not just for sustainability, but also productivity and wellbeing.

Rasha Hasaneen: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: Really fascinating.

Rasha Hasaneen: And then when you think about, just to close this up, when you think about the places that have poor indoor environmental quality, it’s typically those places that don’t have a lot of investment.

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: And therefore, they’re in disadvantaged communities and disadvantaged areas. So, it exacerbates any equity issues we have, right. So, you just think about social equity and having sort of high-quality indoor environments as a human right almost, right. To say, look guys, like kids in school and disadvantaged communities, have the card stacked up against them already. And this is yet another card that’s kind of stacked up against those who are less fortunate. And so, you start to look at the equity impacts of this and how much this exacerbates that. And you start to realize that a lot of where we think about human health and social equity, it comes right down to, you know, can I create these indoor environments for people in different economic situations, in such a way that I’m leveling the scales a little bit as it relates to social equity.

Steve Rush: So, ponding, how many of our listeners right now are thinking about their environment as they listen to this? Very interesting to get some feedback from our listeners about that, wouldn’t it?

Rasha Hasaneen: Oh, you bet.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Rasha Hasaneen: Absolutely would love to hear from listeners on that.

Steve Rush: So, we’re going to flip it a little now, and this is where I get to hack into your leadership brain.

Rasha Hasaneen: Awesome.

Steve Rush: But before I do that, I just wanted to get a sense from you that if I was a listener listening to this and I was a leader or an entrepreneur, where’s the first place I should really start to think? What’s the immediate kind of win I can make?

Rasha Hasaneen: When it comes to indoor environmental quality, it depends on your situation, right. If you’re working, you know, from home, if you have control over the environment, definitely you can start by doing things as simple as improving your lighting, right. You can get LED lights pretty much from any hardware store, you can get dimmers. You can improve of your lighting. You can connect with your HVAC provider, make sure you have the right number of air changes that you’re getting enough ventilation, that you’ve got filters, right. The simplest thing is make sure your filters are changed on a regular basis. You know, there’s a lot you can do when it comes to acoustics, to insulate things like window coverings and in fact, now there’s actual window coverings that say on them, how much energy they save. You know, there’s a lot you can do when it comes to your own space or the space for your employees. And then you can also consider in room type solutions. If you don’t have access to those broader systems, right? So, we carry an in-room air purification solution, you just plug it in and run it and away it goes, and you do a little bit of maintenance. You can do an in room HEPA. You can think about opening windows on a regular basis to make sure there’s enough ventilation. So, there is a lot that can be done by the individual, by a small business, an entrepreneur just by being conscious of this, if you want to do things that are more sophisticated, definitely, you know, you would need to connect with a professional. And I would say, if you do have a larger business or a larger building, it’s not a do it yourself.

Steve Rush: No.

Rasha Hasaneen: Right.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Rasha Hasaneen: It’s definitely not, because you want to make sure you’re balancing energy or make sure you’re balancing the different elements of indoor environmental quality. So definitely if you’re a listener, and you’re a building owner or you’ve got multiple buildings, you’re a real estate investor, or you’ve got sort of a number of opportunities to improve people’s and their environments. Don’t try to tackle it yourself, definitely reach out to a professional and have them come in, do an indoor air quality assessment or indoor environmental quality assessment, understand where some of the gaps are. There are fantastic certifications, right. Out there for building performance. So, whether it’s wealth certification, fit well certification, there’s a number of certifications out there that can be done to ensure, and to communicate to your tenants, that these buildings are optimized for indoor environmental quality,

Steve Rush: Great advice, good hacks too. So, leadership hacks time.

Rasha Hasaneen: Awesome.

Steve Rush: I want to dive into your experience. You’ve led businesses all over the world, different types of businesses and different types of teams. And I want to try and get into your top three leadership hacks. What would they be?

Rasha Hasaneen: That’s a really good question. So, my leadership hacks, or I think there are things that I do deliberately that if I were to say them, you would be like, of course, but most people probably wouldn’t do subconsciously. I know I wouldn’t do subconsciously. So, the first thing I do is, you know, so most of the teams that I lead are innovative high performing teams. And I think there’s a leadership approach that says you have to have a vision and the strategy, and you have to have the answer as a leader. And the answer is you don’t. And it’s very jarring for employee or for team members that are used to kind of having a more autocratic approach. So, I take collaborative to the sort of, to the extreme and I work with my teams and have for years to build strategies, to build visions. I don’t expect to, you know, I don’t expect to come up with the vision and kind of have everyone follow. So, for me, it’s really around early and often with the team. Talking about the team’s vision and the mission and how we want to be seen. And so, that sort of extreme collaboration, I’m not going to call it delegation, but really working with your team and giving them ownership of not just the tactical execution, but also of the strategy. Really for me, has worked exceptionally well. The outcome is a lot better. It’s scratchier, and so that’s my second sort of leadership hack, which is, don’t be afraid if people are uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable because that’s when kind the best outcomes are. And I always feel like afterwards people really appreciate discomfort.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Rasha Hasaneen: I’ve had a couple of team members that are just, oh my gosh, I never want to do that again. But most of the time people start to get it and they’re like, oh, I get it now, right. And it’s like, there’s no epiphany there. It’s a really uncomfortable place when there’s a lot of disagreement about where to go and feels very chaotic, I think at first. So that’s the second one, is to really get comfortable with other people’s discomfort and your own discomfort, right. Of not having the answers and maybe being seen as vulnerable. And that leads me into my third one, which is really sort of leaning into the vulnerability piece with teams. And again, a lot of times there is this view that the leader has to be a strong leader and you have to kind of carry the burden. And I don’t actually think you do, you know, being comfortable with not having the answer, being vulnerable with your team, being very authentic. Like I tend to hear on the side of being transparent.

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: And again, for some people that’s very uncomfortable, but for a lot of people, I think having that context and transparency, even if it takes a little bit more time matters. And what that then leads me to do is I actually have unstructured time even during the pandemic. I have a lot of unstructured time with people I interact with. And I feel like people really appreciate that. So, by unstructured time, I mean, like we’re in a meeting, it’s 30 minutes. It may only take 10 minutes to get the work done. But you know, taking that extra 20 minutes to get to know people, having them get to know me. Being really transparent about what’s going on just in your life, just creates this sense of empathy with others and with yourself that gives sort of, and I may use a very Southern term here, that allows people to give and get grace, right. Like there’s so much of business interaction that is very businessy.

Steve Rush: Right.

Rasha Hasaneen: Get the work done. Don’t waste my time. And it’s like, no, no, there’s grace too. Like no one is perfect. And so, if you know people’s circumstances, you can give them grace, if you know people’s circumstances, you can be empathetic. And so, when they do make mistakes or if deadlines are missed, there’s a very sort of collaborative approach to it versus being very adversarial. And I think that comes with really getting to know people and showing them that kind of grace in interaction. I know they’re very wishy washy, but those are my top three.

Steve Rush: Awesome advice. No, not wishy washy at all. The next part of the show, we call it Hack to Attack. This is typically where something in your life or your work hasn’t worked out, but there’s a real learning that come from that, and it serves you well, what would be your Hack to Attack?

Rasha Hasaneen: I thought, didn’t I already share the time I almost died. Like that was my thing in life that didn’t work out well. But you know, that to me is probably the standout one. I’ve had many sorts of things that haven’t worked out well. In Innovation you tend to have something called a pipeline conversion, which is, how many things have to fail, fail is a bad word, but how many things don’t turn out the way you expect it before you kind of have something succeed, right. And for me, I look at it like, if things don’t break when you’re doing them, you’re probably not taking enough risk.

Steve Rush: Yeah, exactly right.

Rasha Hasaneen: And so, things go wrong around me all the time, right. And the question just is, what are you learning from that? And how are you turning that kind of into a positive experience? And I feel like I do that all the time. I’ve had a couple of big ones, or probably the biggest is when, you know, you expect your body to do something, and it doesn’t want to comply. I like if you expect your body to breathe and it doesn’t want to breathe, that’s not a good thing, but I did learn a lot around sort of work life balance or work life management, whatever you want to call it, making choices about who to work for, where to work and being sort of an understanding that you’re blessed enough to be able to make those choices, because that again, leads to a lot of grace when it comes to working with others. So, for me, it’s hard to point to one thing outside of almost dying.

Steve Rush: Yeah, maybe dying kind of does it though, doesn’t it?

Rasha Hasaneen: Yeah. That kind of trumps everything you possibly could do.

Steve Rush: So now, the last thing we get to do. You get to do some time travel, bump into Rasha at 21, give her some advice. What would it be?

Rasha Hasaneen: Don’t color your hair. That’s the advice.

Steve Rush: If you have hair, of course.

Rasha Hasaneen: If you have hair, of course. But me at 21, I did, and I had a lot of it, and it was starting to turn gray. I remember at 21, I was started to get gray, and I was obsessed with coloring the gray and it led to about 20 years of hair damage, which I have now thankfully reversed.

Steve Rush: On a serious note, though. That’s really serious advice. If it starts to happen to you, it can change your future outcomes for sure.

Rasha Hasaneen: Yeah. Well, that’s it, I mean, for me, it does come down to sort of being really authentic as a leader. Don’t color your hair is just a euphemism for that, you know, at 21, man, I had just graduated college. It was my first kind of job. I was still a competitive martial artist and appearances really mattered and they kind of don’t anymore.

Steve Rush: Talking of which, little bird tells me, you were actually national karate champion, is that right?

Rasha Hasaneen: I was, I was. And so, I will tell you at 21, I was pretty oblivious to a lot of stuff going on around me and I grew up in a very sheltered sort of, high school. It was a small girl finishing school in the Middle East. And you know, my graduating class was like 10 people. I was very sheltered, when I went to college, I didn’t have the same college experience as everyone else, but I will say, you know, at 21 that would be the one thing is, sort of, you know, while I would say at 21, I was definitely judged differently because I didn’t have a lot of the credibility I have now. I do feel like I spent an inordinate amount of time sort of maintaining appearances and I was very naive. And I feel like, one. I trusted people too much, but at the same time I felt like I only trusted them so far, which was kind of the worst of both worlds, right?

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Rasha Hasaneen: So, you’re either all in, like you’re all in, on being kind of your authentic self and your kind of over the top or you’re sort of super reserved and it’s kind of in the middle that confuses people a lot. And I was definitely in the middle for a long time before I embraced being all in on authenticity. So, I’m glad I did that, but that would be the one thing. Negotiate your salary. That would be another thing like, yes, you can negotiate and no, that’s not enough. And the third thing I would say, would be, definitely look at work relationships differently than I did. I would say, I probably didn’t understand the role of sponsors and mentors and sort of those work, call it friendships. I didn’t understand how important they were at 21. And I made some sort of real mistakes in terms of getting that kind of sponsorship early on. And so, it took me some time to get there, but that’s it. That’s what I would say.

Steve Rush: It’s some great advice for people listening to this, for sure.

Rasha Hasaneen: Yes.

Steve Rush: So how do we get people who are listening to this to connect with you and Trane Technologies? Where’s the best place to send them?

Rasha Hasaneen: So, couple of things. Definitely they can reach out. We know tranetechnologies.com I think, is what it is now. The Center for Health Efficient Spaces has a spot under sustainability there. And you can definitely connect via the inbox. In fact, that likely get a faster response since the team definitely monitors that and there’s a lot of great resources on The Center for Healthy Efficient Spaces. All of those numbers, I quoted about productivity. We have a primer on indoor environmental quality if people want to learn more. I would definitely recommend they go to the Trane Technologies website and look us up at Center for Healthy & Efficient Spaces.

Steve Rush: We’ll drop those links into our show notes as well.

Rasha Hasaneen: Absolutely. Thank you.

Steve Rush: Rasha, thanks ever so much for taking time out and I know you have a really, really busy schedule, so I am super grateful that we’ve been able to connect and get you on the show. Thanks for being part of the community.

Rasha Hasaneen: I appreciate it as well. You’ve got a lot of fantastic guests, and this is a great podcast. So, thank you for having me and help helping us tell our story.

Steve Rush: Thank you, Rasha.


Steve Rush: I want to sign off by saying thank you to you for joining us on the show too. We recognize without you, there is no show. So please continue to share, subscribe, and like, and continue to get in touch with us with the great new stories that we share every week. And so that we can continue to bring you great stories, please make sure you give us a five-star review where you can and share this podcast with your friends, your teams, and communities. You want to find us on social media. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter @leadershiphacker, @LeadershipHacker on YouTube and on Instagram, the_leadership_hacker and if that wasn’t enough, you can also find us on our website https://leadership-hacker.com. Tune into next episode to find out what great hacks and stories are coming your way. That’s me signing off. I’m Steve Rush, and I’ve been your Leadership Hacker.

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