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Effective Communication: Skills to Help Your Club Thrive (Kevin MacDonald) [Episode 8]

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When things go wrong, we like to point the finger at people or policies, putting the blame on individual personalities or misguided plans. But more often than not, problems arise simply because of a breakdown in communication. Within a private club, effective communication is critical for achieving shared goals and developing a productive and respectful culture amongst members and leadership. By taking simple steps, leaders can enhance their communication skills and improve operations for the entire club.

In today's episode, we're joined by Kevin MacDonald. Kevin is a coach and facilitator, a communicator, a storyteller, and a teacher. He partners with people who are passionate about performing at a high level and achieving great clarity about who they are and what they want. He spent over 20 years as a manager in the hospitality industry, including management roles at two prestigious clubs, before turning to coaching.

In this episode:

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1:40 — Changing Lives Through Communications

ED: Kevin, thanks so much for joining us today.

KEVIN: It's great to be here, Ed, thank you.

ED: The whole idea of changing your lives with the way you communicate is something that you do regularly. Do you ever get bored of the idea of this? I mean, the challenge is just immense.

KEVIN: Oh my goodness, it's such a privilege because it's part of every life and part of every organization. I'm quite flattered and honored and privileged to be the person that gets to help people make organizations better, but more importantly, make themselves and the people they lead better. So, communication comes to the core of that and if there is one thing that my partner Shelly and I could help people with when we go to clubs or organizations or individually, it's their level of communication. It changes their game.

ED: Yeah it's amazing how poorly some of us communicate. I'm a total leadership junkie, I read everything. I'm reading a book called Brave Leadership right now as part of a book club. 

For you listening, I should just tell you that Kevin and I met at PCMA's annual conference last summer in Nashville, so the summer of 2017 in Nashville, and I instantly developed this man crush on him partly because he's buddies with Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, and Neil Peart. If you know who they are, then you know that they're the trio also known as Rush. Instantly I was like, 'Wow, you've got to be kidding me.' Which is really, really cool, too. Not pertinent to today's discussion, but it's cool stuff. How are they as communicators?

KEVIN: I do get to know a lot of great people, no question.

3:28 — Barriers to Effective Communication

ED: Yeah, that is really cool. Alright, so we're going to dive into some communication challenges that you see on a regular basis, Kevin, with your clients and see if we can help you, the listener, better manage up. We'll talk about managing up, but also just I think that good communication doesn't matter if you're managing up, managing down, I think you'd probably agree, Kevin.

But if you are a marketing coordinator, how do you express important thoughts and perspective to your marketing director? And if you're a marketing director, how do you communicate to your GM effectively? I know one of the big challenges that general managers have is communicating with a board, especially when they change so frequently. Hopefully, we'll uncover some tips for those.

So, let's start with this, Kevin. In your client work, how frequently do you find yourself in conversation with people who are trying to figure out how to communicate more effectively with their supervisors or boards?

KEVIN: Well, frequently, I work with the Club Managers Association of America, so a lot of my work is working with people who are at the top of the club organization. They are the top executive and then they answer to the board, or I guess the users of the club, the owners of the club, which in many cases are the members of the club. A lot of times I'm working with people that are communicating up, laterally, and down. But I think whatever direction you're communicating, some of the same issues are prevalent with each.

5:06 — Effective Communication Starts with Intention

KEVIN: Here is what I would say to people in terms of communication: it starts with intention. No matter which direction or whom you're communicating with, it's important to have an intention when you're communicating. And I think so many times we just communicate and we don't even know why we're doing it. We don't know what the motive is. Sometimes we want to be right, sometimes we want to make sure that we're talking so somebody else isn't. I think sometimes what happens in communication, whether we're talking to someone above or below, is that they're spending their time trying to figure out what our intention is and they're not really listening to the message.

So, one of the things that we teach people is to be very clear on what your intention is and tell the person that you're going to communicate with what your intention is upfront and then they don't have to guess. In our communication before this interview, Ed, you were very clear on what your intention is, what you wanted to get from me, what kinds of things you saw happening, and so then that really makes it easier for me not to second guess and not to make assumptions about what it is you really want.

I think that simple idea can make such a difference in marriages and in communicating up in organizations, or communicating with our people, or our members, is what do we want for them? What do we want for the organization? What do we want in this conversation? What outcome would we like to have happen in this conversation? So, I would really suggest that everybody think about that. When you go into a conversation, what is your intention, and does the other person know what the intention is?

6:57 — Achieve Alignment Through Listening

ED: So, assuming your intent is that you have the right intent, that the people you're working with have the right intent, then it's oftentimes, I'm assuming, there's an issue or a matter of trying to get people aligned with that intent. Because your intent might be to drive more members. But as a client member services person, mine is to make sure people are more engaged and what you want to do is different than what I want to do, then maybe we just have an alignment issue. Is that accurate?

KEVIN: If I'm thinking of a membership marketing director at a club who has a great plan or has a great idea, or may even have people on the membership committee that just have another idea, they want to go in a different direction. I think we have to check ourselves, first of all, are we just trying to be right here?

A big part of communication is listening and I think when we get in the way, if we stop listening and we are not really hearing what the members say, and maybe they're not hearing us too. But I really think that we need to develop our listening skills to make sure that we are hearing what is really important to the club and important to those people.

8:21 — Suspending Memory, Judgment, and Desire

KEVIN: Now there's one thing about listening to throw in here is that there's a quote that we love by a guy named Mike Nichols who says that "genuine listening means suspending memory, judgment, and desire, and for a moment, at least, existing entirely for the other person." So, whoever the listener is, whether it's the person, if you're talking to your membership marketing committee or you're talking to the board of directors with a plan, if we can listen without memory, judgment, and desire, if you can listen to them without memory, judgment, and desire.

So, what does that mean? If we are not being heard or if we're not hearing, and one of the things that's foundational to coaching is the idea that we are accountable. We can look at the other person as the problem in communication but we can't control the other person. We truly can control ourselves.

I will say this, if you want to improve communication, then be a better communicator. Look at your role in it and look at what you're not doing well. And as you improve, I truly believe you'll see other people improving too. Because you don't know how you're getting in the way of the conversation, and you are going to now start to model what great communication is.

9:58 — The Four Agreements

ED: That's so great and I think that typically people are not used to being accountable to how they show up in conversation and communication, and boy, that's terrific.

Let's talk about, you've done quite a bit of speaking about, and I know you and I have talked about this, and you enlightened me with Don Miguel Ruiz and his four agreements. I know that you apply those to some of the work that you do with your clients as well. Can we dive into that a little bit?

KEVIN: Yeah, I'd love to. It is something that I talk to each of my clients about at some point foundationally. I think it's a great foundational piece. When we go to organizations and we're talking to a leadership team, a board or a staff of people, we teach the four agreements because we truly believe that if you can employ these agreements in your life, in your organization, in your business, that life just becomes a lot less complicated. Again, I'll give credit. The author is Don Miguel Ruiz. And I really admire him I've met Don Miguel, I've met his son Don Miguel Jr., and these are extraordinary people. But I'm a big fan of their work so I'm just going to tout it a little bit now.

There are four agreements and they sound quite simple or maybe they don't even sound all that impressive when you just hear them without explanation. But here they are:

  • Number one is to be impeccable with your word.
  • Number two, don't take anything personally. A membership marketing director, a club manager, or people in this industry, we take things personally, we care deeply. And when we take things personally, I think that gets in the way of our success, and I'll explain how.
  • Number three, don't make assumptions.
  • And number four, always do your best.

So, let's go into it in a little more detail. Let me start out with the first one is be impeccable with your word. The word "impeccable" comes from the Latin meaning "without sin," and it comes from the Greek meaning "hitting the mark." So impeccable, if you're shooting an arrow at a target and you hit the bullseye, then it is on target. It's flawless. It's on point, it's precise. I think that those words can be something that we use in communication. Our words are powerful and if we understood how powerful our words are, we would be very careful with what we say. But the truth is we are not careful with what we say and we live in a society where people spew things out of their mouth as if there is no consequence to it. And we truly believe there's a huge consequence to everything we say.

13:18 — The Poison in Language

ED: You talk about poison, the poison in language, right?

KEVIN: Exactly. Don Miguel says that you need to be precise with your words, and so he says your words can be magic or poison. Think about that. The words that come out of your mouth can be magic or poison. The truth is we have a lot of poison in our language and we hear it on the news. We hear that with our friends. It shows up in organizations. It shows up in organizations in the form of gossip. We get together as a group of people and we knock somebody down. We criticize them, we'll talk about how terrible they are. And we don't think it's a big deal, but really what we're doing is we're not feeling good about ourselves, so we have to knock someone else down. It's sort of a pathetic position to come from is that it's easy if all we do is look at somebody else as the problem.

That is poisonous and we truly believe you can't give poison if you're gossiping with somebody, then if I gossip about someone else with you, then I'm poisoning you towards that person. I'm poisoning that person, but the truth is I'm poisoning myself. You can't give poison to others without getting some on yourself. And then there's a good chance that you're going to get some back. So, gossip is a form of poison. Sarcasm is a form of poison where we say something to someone, we say the opposite of what we mean and we veil it in humor. You know, 'Hey, Ed, I think you're doing a great job. I don't care what the boss says I think you're fine.' That's funny, oh yeah, that's hilarious.

ED: Never heard that one before.

KEVIN: (laughs) Funny. Or the person gets upset and the other person says, 'Hey, I was just joking.' Well, if you're going to say the opposite of what you mean, don't be surprised if you're not understood.

And then finally, the last piece is just mean-spirited things we say to each other. It's poison. You know, 'You're the worst chef we've ever had. You're a terrible manager.' That's just poison. There's nothing constructive about it. And so, the point of this is don't poison people. Notice if you're poisoning people. Certainly, don't poison your spouse or your children. But a lot of leaders poison the people that are working for them and then they wonder why they're not getting great results. They wonder why they're not motivated and excited at work.

Number one is to be very careful about poisoning other people. More importantly, as your coach, Ed, I would say this: be very careful about poisoning yourself. If I say you're not very good at what you do, that's just my opinion. But if you start to say you're not good at something, you believe it to be true even if it's not. So, probably more often than not, we're the worst people poisoning ourselves and our poison is probably more powerful than the poison that comes from others.

As a coach, I just really listen to people's words and when they are saying things that are poisoning themselves, I try to step in and make sure they hear it. I provide the mirror because you wouldn't intentionally hurt yourself and yet we do it on a daily basis.

16:57 — Are You Giving Magic or Poison?

ED: I've heard you say that words are powerful and you said it today, in fact. But words are powerful, even the words that you tell yourself about those things. That's one of the things that you're talking about.

KEVIN: Especially the words you tell yourself, for sure. The other side of this, of being impeccable, is magic, that our words can be magic. And poison sucks the energy out of people and it sucks the energy of ourselves. Magic energizes people. When we are thankful, when we are encouraging, when we acknowledge people's performance, when we see who they are and we validate that they're good people, when we give people magic, they want to do more. They're energized, they're enthusiastic about life. If you listen to the words you speak to the people that are important to your life, are you giving magic or poison. Are people giving you magic or poison?

In that context of speaking and communicating with people above you, one thing I would say is whatever you want in life, give it away. Whatever you want in life, give it away. If you're looking for encouragement, if you're looking for respect, if you're looking for trust from the people above you, then encourage, be respectful, and trust them. Because you're mirroring, in fact, what they do with you and what you do with them. Be careful. You have an accountability in your communication. If you're being more poisonous than magical, then don't be surprised by how the communication is not working at the level you'd like it to. That's the first agreement. Be impeccable with your word.

ED: Yeah and let me just ask you a question around that before we move on to "Don't take anything personally." Today, in the electronic age that we're in, e-mail is one of those places. You talk about being impeccable with your word, oh my goodness. Whether you intend to or you don't intend to, or your intentions are not there, clarity and being precise in your language in an e-mail is, boy, I mean it's critical these days. Because you hear it all the time, 'I sent that e-mail, but I didn't mean anything by it.' Well maybe you did or maybe you didn't, but whoever receives it may read into that, they may see something that wasn't there or something that was there. But it seems as though things like e-mail, and even social media to that extent, has given people a "permission" to be vague, or at least some level of understanding. Do you see that?

KEVIN: I do. One of the things we teach in our leadership program, The Extraordinary Leader, is that in communication, what's really important is how it lands. So, you could say, 'Well, I said this.' But what's really important is: what did they hear? And as you really improve as a communicator, you become more and more aware of how your message lands, and that's really important.

But going back to what you said about Stephen M. Covey, if trust is there, you can say something that misses the mark a little bit and people still trust that you mean well. But if they don't trust you, you can try to be so precise with your words and they'll still figure out how it's wrong.

ED: Yeah, absolutely.

KEVIN: That trust is such a key part.

20:36 — Don't Take Anything Personally

ED: Yeah, so don't take anything personally, hard for a lot of people to do, yet so important.

KEVIN: OK, well and there you go. If you say, 'It's hard,' be impeccable with your words because then it's hard. That's a perfect example right there. Most people would say, 'Well, it's hard.' Well, you know why it seems hard is because we've been trained to do it. We've been trained to take things personally. We've been doing it for so long. If you if you've been doing something for 20, 30, 50, 60 years, then yes, you become so good at it that it may be a difficult thing to change. But I think the thing that makes it easier to change is awareness.

Don't take anything personally. I always use this illustration that if everyone listening has a glass of water in front of them, I'd like them to imagine that before they came into the room and when they were not aware of it, we came in and we put poison in that glass of water. And on the count of three, we'd like everyone to drink the glass of water. And when I go to audiences around North America and I give them that challenge to drink the glass of water with the poison in it, I have a very, very small number of people that have actually said that they would drink it. Most people realize this would be a bad thing to drink the water because it has poison in it, and if you drink poison, you could be sick or you could die depending on the type and quantity of poison.

If I give you that choice, that's exactly what it is, it's a choice. You're given a choice to drink the water or not. I think that's the key is that when we take things personally, when somebody says something to us, and someone could say something very mean to us, we have the choice to drink the poison or not. Because that's what it is. Someone is saying, 'Here, drink my poison. I think you're a terrible person. Drink it.' And we just do and we have in the past.

What I'm saying today is: you have a choice. If you drink their poison, you're going to get sick. If you drink their poison, you might lay awake tonight thinking about what they said and it may affect your attitude and your energy. It may affect your life if you drink enough of it, so be very careful about drinking other people's poison.

23:02 — A 10-Year-Old's Wisdom

You know, I taught the four agreements to a 10-year-old in California and at the end, he said, 'Mr. McDonald, may I give you my life philosophy?' I said, 'Yes, please do.' And he said, 'Here's what I think: other people's opinions of me are none of my business.'

ED: Oh wow, that's pretty good.

KEVIN: That's pretty profound for a 10-year-old. But that's in essence what we're saying is that it doesn't mean we don't care. It doesn't mean we don't want to make our members or the people we serve or the people our lives happy. It just means that everything they say is their opinion and we will accept their opinion, but that doesn't mean we drink their poison. I think that is so key.

Like some people like chocolate, some people don't like chocolate. It's hard for me to understand how someone wouldn't like chocolate but that's their prerogative. They have every right to not like chocolate. And quite frankly, in a service industry like the club industry, there are some people whose greatest happiness comes from being unhappy. And you have to allow them to be who they are. But we have to be careful not to drink the poison because when we do, it affects us. It affects our quality, it affects our lives, it affects our productivity and our ability to convince and to motivate and to teach and to lead. So, be very careful about taking other people's poison. Allow them to have their opinion.

It doesn't mean we don't care. It just means we allow them to have the opinion that they have. A chef can make a meal, ten people could think it's the best meal they've ever had, one person says, 'I hated it.' And it's got nothing to do, really, with the meal. It's about personal preference.

So, we have to allow, without being hurt by someone's personal preference, we have to allow them to have their opinion. When you can start to do this in communication, it changes the game because so many times when we when we drink the poison, that's where the worst of us comes out. That's where the worst of our communication arrives. So, be very careful about taking things personally.

25:24 — Trained to Drink Poison

ED: But what do you say to people that say, 'Well, how do I not feel bad, though, Kevin? They just told me that I suck at my job and that I'm the worst person they've ever had in this role. How do I not take that personally? That makes me feel really, really bad. I mean, doesn't that tap into someone's insecurities and their fears and that's where I say, that can be really hard to do.

KEVIN: The reason it is that you've been trained to do it. You know, we've been trained to focus on the negative. We've been trained, doesn't mean we should do it, it just means we've been trained. We've been trained by churches and teachers and parents that when we tell you that you're a bad boy, then you should believe it.

At this stage of your life, I don't think you're seven or nine or five anymore, you're an adult, so you now can have the opportunity to look at this differently. Are you going to decide who you will be and how effective you will be and what kind of life you're going to live? Are you fragile enough that every person's opinion is going to let you affect how you believe in yourself? I'm just saying to you that if you've had a habit of doing it for 40 years or 50 years or 20 years, it may not change in a heartbeat, but more and more aware, the more practice you have.

I just had somebody who was talking to me this past weekend who was a tour manager, and the person, the artist got upset and reamed them out in front of a whole bunch of people. And he said, 'I channeled my inner Kevin MacDonald' and he said, 'I listened to them.' And what he said wasn't true. I mean, it wasn't right.

He had done a really good job and the person was saying it wasn't good enough for him. But he did the best he could with what he had to work with, and he said he did an amazing job with it. He was very proud and the person still wanted to make him feel bad and he wasn't successful. And he said it's funny because he started treating me so much better when I didn't get upset about it.

ED: He didn't drink his poison.

KEVIN: He didn't drink it and he could see it for what it was. This person is just trying to make me feel bad so he can control me in the way I feel, and I'm not buying in. Like, that's not happening. So, anybody that wants some support with that, I can teach them more about that. But in essence, and for the sake of this call, I want to keep it moving, but it's a decision. Will you or will you not drink poison? And 'Hey. You know what? I've been drinking it for so long, I sort of get something from drinking it.' OK, well keep drinking it, but be careful with what poison you drink. You don't have to, that's the message I'm saying.

ED: Awesome.

28:19 — Don't Make Assumptions

KEVIN: OK, assumptions.

ED: Yeah, never do that.

KEVIN: We are assumption-making machines. People make assumptions about you or me or other people, or assumptions about the board member or assumptions about the complainer, or assumptions about this or about that.

ED: Everything!

KEVIN: Everything we make assumptions. And we've been taught the same thing as the poison. We've sort of been taught to make assumptions. Don Miguel Ruiz would say an assumption is one or two questions short of complete communication.

ED: That is so good.

KEVIN: So, if you assume something about me, Ed, you're one or two questions away from knowing what the truth is. And yet we're afraid to ask the questions or we've been taught not to ask the questions because people will think we're stupid if we ask the questions, or we seem like we're trying to get too personal or whatever. But I always say to young leaders, the person asking the questions is in charge. I would say that to marketing directors, the person asking the questions is in charge. For salespeople, the person asking the questions is in charge. If you're just telling people benefits and about your product or whatever and you're not listening to what they want and need, good luck.

The person asking the questions is in charge and so we tend to assume things. The problem is we think we're really good at it and we think that what we assume is true. And that doesn't mean it's true just because we assume it. Yet a lot of people truly believe that if I assume it to be true, then it must be true. And we make future assumptions based on the one that was not true in the first place. And we wonder why communication gets mixed up. We wonder why we're not successful with it.

So, ask questions. Ask people what it is they want, ask them what they're thinking. Ask them how they received, you know, I just told you something, what did you hear? Did you get it? Do you have any questions or things that are confusing about what I said? Don't assume they understand. Don't assume that you know what they meant.

I love it when we're interviewing great leaders and people ask them a question, there's a good chance the leader's going to ask a question or two before they answer the question so they're really clear, trying to clarify what they want. So, we again, like drinking poison, we are so good at assumptions, we don't even think twice about it.

ED: Right.

30:55 — Ask Questions!

KEVIN: And I guess after this call today I would just love people to think twice about it: do I know that or do I assume that? And if I assume that, why don't I just ask?

ED: Right.

KEVIN: Why don't I just ask? If the boss says, 'I want you to do something' and you say, 'Well that could have meant A, B, or C. I think I'll do B.' You're one question away from knowing if it was A, B, or C, but we're hesitant to ask the question.

ED: There's so much poison that can live in those assumptions too. Brene Brown did that whole big thing on shame, and one of the things we always say around here is, basically saying you're making assumptions, but we will say, 'The story I'm telling myself about that is this.' And I would say 80 percent, 90 percent, or maybe more than 90 percent of the time we're wrong. We made up some big story about something, just dead wrong about the whole thing.

KEVIN: Exactly. Exactly, because that's what it is. It's a story. And in your family, if you had five people in your family, you have five stories and they all would probably be surprised at each other's stories. They all see it differently.

ED: 'I know what he was doing. I'll tell you exactly what he was thinking.' Really? How do you know these things?

KEVIN: 'I don't think that's the way it was at all.' Exactly.

ED: Yeah, assumptions are powerful.

32:15 — Always Do Your Best

KEVIN: So, don't make assumptions, and then the last one is: always do your best. Now, that seems pretty obvious. Always do your best. No less and no more. No less and no more. We don't want to do less than our best, I mean, everybody on this call, I think, wants to do the best they can.

We wrote an article for the Club Managers Association that we asked the question, we used of club language here, but does your club deserve your best? Most people, when we ask that question to an audience, they say, "Well, yes, my club deserves my best." Does your family deserve your best? "Yes, my family deserves it." How about your spouse? Your wife? Your husband? Do they deserve your best? "Yes." How about your health? Does it deserve your best? "Yes, it deserves my best." How about your passions and the things that ignite you and inspire you and energize you? "Yes, they deserve my best." There's an illusion in our industry, the service industry, that the club, the members deserve our all.

And I would argue that our "all" is not as good as our best. But people get, they get caught in this trap that they believe that their "all" must be better than their best. That's not true at all. If you don't take care of your health, if you are working 12, 14 hours a day and you think your cognitive skills are good, you think your communication skills are good in the 14th hour of your sixth or seventh day of your week, if you think that your patience is there, I mean, you start to perform at an inferior level than you should be. It's not even close to being your best. I think part of it for us is we need to consider how to give our best.

34:14 — Your Best Changes Day-to-Day

KEVIN: And the thing that's key for everybody on this call is that your best changes from day to day. Your best on a day when you've had one hour of sleep is different than your best on a day when you've had eight hours of sleep. Your best on a day when you're fully staffed is better than your best on a day when you're three people short.

I was in Florida last fall. I can tell you that your best three days or a week before the hurricane is very different than your best a week after the hurricane. Because under the circumstances you might say, 'Well, when we're three people short, we didn't give great service.' You have to give the best service you can give under those circumstances. And you avoid the sort of habit of beating yourself up because under the circumstances you gave your best and we should feel good about that.

But the problem is we poison ourselves and we don't feel good. 'Oh my goodness, it wasn't as good as people expect.' Well, they couldn't under those circumstances. Let's celebrate what we did. We survived it. We got everybody their food. It wasn't the kind of service we would have loved to have given, but under the circumstances, we did our best. I think that goes back to not poisoning ourselves and that goes right back to the top of being impeccable with our words.

So, Ed, in an organization, in a marriage, in a professional relationship of communication, if we cut down or cut out the poison, if we encourage, if we're magical with our words, we're building, we're constructive instead of being destructive with our words, it's going to make a difference. If we can hear people talking and we can hear concerns and we hear things without taking it personally, and we can truly listen without memory, judgment, or desire, we are going to be able to operate on such a higher level.

The third one is really about communication, communication, communication is questions, questions, questions. Be very clear. Do not make assumptions. Do not, you know, that's where we get ourselves in trouble, when we think we know instead of knowing and then we wonder why. When we don't really know what people want and we don't really know what they meant, but we assume we know what they meant, that's where we get ourselves into trouble with communication. That's where it starts to fall apart. And do your best.

You're put on this planet, you're put in this position, you're put in this job title and this role to bring the best of you to it. We lose sight of that, I think, sometimes and we give less than our best because we are trying to do more than our best. I'm not saying slack off and don't do as much work as other people do. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying figure out what your best is.

37:23 — Stop the Glorification of Busy

ED: Yeah, absolutely. It reminds me that when you were just talking about a moment ago, one of my favorite memes that I've seen online over the last several years is, it says, "Stop the glorification of busy."

And I thought, there's something to that, isn't there? It's this idea that, like, we wear this like a badge of honor. You hear people at clubs, like you said, 'I've worked the last 13 days in a row and they're 14 hour days.' And it's like, wow, that sounds like a lot of work and it's being glorified in some sort of distorted way, and it may not be their best but they've given a lot of their time.

KEVIN: Busyness can hurt your business.

ED: Ah, very good. I like it.

KEVIN: Really, I mean, we get so busy doing the unimportant stuff and we're not focused on what's really important. You're really putting the emphasis on people's communication here and our ability to get ideas across to each other, to listen to each other, to care, I guess, is a big piece of it all. When I said earlier it's important to know how it lands, most people don't care how it lands. 'I don't care. I told them this and they didn't do it.' Well, they didn't even hear it. The way it was communicated, you sounded like you're angry at them instead of coaching them and trying to encourage them.

How it lands is key and if you don't care about how it lands and you don't care that your message is received, I mean, we're not just radio transmitters putting out a signal and hoping people are going to tune into it. If we want them to tune in, we've got to care about them getting the message.

ED: Yeah, absolutely, and whether it resonates with the audience that you're trying to reach.

KEVIN: Yeah.

39:24 — Be Authentic, Be You

ED: Hey, just a couple things and I'll set you on your way here. But you meet with so many general managers, and your work with CMAA as has gone on for a long time and I know how busy you were at their conferences. If there is one common theme that you see as far as challenges that general managers have that, boy, I think a lot of times people will come to you and think they're the only person in the world with that challenge. What is that and what is the, boy, I'd love for you to have some sort of magic tip, but what are the most common challenges that people have when they come see you?

KEVIN: I don't know that anybody's asked me that question ever. But, you know, and it may be an odd answer, but I'm going to say it anyway. I think one of the challenges I see for people is their reluctance, maybe one word, inability, or unaware, being unaware that it's OK. But I think they try, you know, a club manager, for instance, I think tries to be so many things to so many different people.

If there's one thing I've learned at my ripe old age is that, you know, I think the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and to the world is to be authentic and stop trying to be who other people think we ought to be, but be the person that we truly are. I think that gets in the way of us sometimes is just taking everything personally.

This person thinks I should be more this, that person thinks I should be more this. That person thinks I should do it this way and I should be here at this time and all this stuff. And when we can truly be, you know, when you can truly be Ed and give your genius and your brilliance in your way, even if that's not somebody else's way, I think that's the greatest contribution you can make. I think that gets in the way of almost, you know, most people that I get to work with. When we can help them get clear on who they are, how they operate at their best and give them permission to operate that way, then they can really shine.

I think what we do as leaders sometimes and what boards do to managers is that we want people to be us. If I was leading you, I would not want you to be me. I would want you to be Ed because you bring your own talents and gifts to the table that I don't have or that are different than mine. To me, whether it's what people are feeling that they can't do, or whether they're leading people in a way that their people can't be authentic and at their best, bring out their best, I think that's what gets in the way. That's probably not what most people would answer, but that's mine.

ED: No, I love it. What a perfect way to wrap it up and thank you for your friendship, for the work that you do as a leadership coach, and for your time today.

KEVIN: Thank you for having us. But I want to just say to everybody on this audience that we have a leadership program and we have asked you to come to talk to us about communications and clubs and how leaders can communicate to their members better so we can hardly wait for that special call.

ED: I love it. I look forward to it. And Kevin, for people who want to reach out to you and work with you, or have you come speak to them or to their club, how should they get in touch with you?

KEVIN: Well, I'd be pleased to give out a toll-free number. I'm in Vancouver, Canada. So, for a toll-free number, it's 1-866-822-3481. My email address is kmacdonald@dccnet.com. Thanks, Ed, I appreciate that and love to help anybody that is interested and please feel free to ask me for some time, I'd be pleased to give it to you.

ED: Awesome. We know you're sought after and we know it's hard to get time with you so thanks for yours today.

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