277: Breaking Free from Patterns and Fostering Grounded Leadership, with Tony Martignetti

August 29, 2023

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Dr. Pelè: 

Hello happy people, welcome to the Profitable Happiness Podcast. Hello everyone, this is Dr. Pelè with the Profitable Happiness Podcast, and today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Tony Martignetti, who is a chief inspiration officer. He's actually a leadership coach, a leadership development facilitator, but you know, something that he brings to the world that I really find fascinating is this idea of grounded leadership. So, tony, you're going to have to tell us all about that. How are you doing today?

Tony Martignetti: 

I'm doing great. Your energy is just making me feel so like excited. I'm thrilled.

Dr. Pelè: 

Absolutely so excited to meet you and to get to talk about your approaches, your points of view and your book, which is titled Climbing the Right Mountain Right. So before we get started, I have one big question for you, tony. If you look at the work that you've done, the body of knowledge that you've amassed I mean the book that you've written, all the interactions you've had in organizations, if you were to boil it all down to the one challenge that you see over and over I know that's a big question what would that challenge be? What do you see? That's kind of troubling organizations so much that they have to bring in a Tony Martignetti to help them solve it.

Tony Martignetti: 

Yeah, I'm going to say it in a way that will really resonate with a lot of people people getting stuck in patterns that they think that what they're doing is working, but in reality it's that they need to break out of that pattern that is not serving them any longer. And let me explain a bit more. They've got leaders who have stepped into these seats and what's happened is they've used what has gotten them into that role and they continue to use that same tried and true method and then realize that it's not working any longer. They have to sometimes take a step away and say, hey, there's another way of approaching this and I need to maybe change things up, adjust my approach, be more aligned with how this organization works and how my people are wired.

Dr. Pelè: 

What I find so fascinating about that is the first thing you alluded to, which is this propensity for people to be blind a little bit, to have these blind spots, almost like an ostrich that has its head in the sand. Why can't we see everything that we're doing and it's happening around us? I think that's a fascinating thing. I'd like to see how you approach that challenge, Tony. Tell us how you got here. How did you become the guy who's opening up these doors and helping people see the reality that they live in so they can be the great grounded leaders that they need to be? How'd you get? here, what's your story?

Tony Martignetti: 

Oh, I'm happy to share. So I'm going to start a little ways back and I'm going to go relatively fast to bring you more in the present. My journey started as a child who loved to paint and draw. The accent there wasn't quite right, but I was an artist and I spent a lot of time creating environments and worlds that were all about the emotional experience that people would create. And this is weird for a child because you usually think like stick figures and dogs and cats and what have you.

Dr. Pelè: 

Superman.

Tony Martignetti: 

Yeah, exactly. But no, I was a very different type of art that I created and I was celebrated for it. I won awards and all that and eventually I thought I'd be an architect. But as I got to this point where people said, hey, you got to think about where you're going to make some money. We don't want to see me the starving artist if you will, and so. So I changed gears, went and became a pre-med major. That made sense, right. But that didn't work out. So because I'd you know I had this, didn't really want to cut people open and go into business. So shifted into business and then ended up working for most of my career and first on high-tech and then eventually in biotech, which was an amazing journey and an amazing career to be part of, working in finance and strategy roles and, you know, eventually doing really amazing work in rare diseases, in oncology and in many different disease areas. I had a chance to meet patients. It was really powerful stuff and I also had the sense of like what good leadership is and what bad leadership is, especially when the things are most challenging. So here I am, 25 years, you know, working in this industry. That is changing lives. But what I along the way, I started to feel the sense of like I'm just working so hard to be something that I don't think I was meant for and would tell me that all the time they said you know, you're not the typical, you know finance person and I'd be like, well, this is what I do and this is how I'm, you know, this is who I define myself to be, until I realized one day that I was burning myself out to be something that I'm not. And and I said about breaking patterns, you know, we we put ourselves in these patterns because we think this is what defines me, this is who I am and therefore I need to continue to to fit that mold. But I had to break out of that box and say I'm more than this I'm, I can do more, and that's what broke. That's what is my, where my story said it to evolve. I decided to leave the corporate world to become something completely different In the minds of everyone else who knew me, and that was become a coach and advisor and all the things I do now, which has me being more creative again, mmm.

Dr. Pelè: 

Mmm, oh, what a story. You know you may not realize this what we just met, so you wouldn't know this, but you and I are almost precisely alike in that story, because I also started out as an artist. I also went. I went to architecture school. I also decided I couldn't be a starving architect or starving artist. I also went into the corporate world. On and on and on. And here here we both are, you know, still designing, though, still helping people create new realities. That's, that's really what it's always been, isn't it for you?

Tony Martignetti: 

You are a creative spirit at heart 100%, and I think everyone has a has this inside of them to an extent that they but they need to tap into it in their own unique way, and you know it's the medium changes, like how you actually create is is Unique to you, but you have to figure out how you want to express yourself and and also make sure that you're not holding yourself back and Defining yourself based on what everyone else wants to find you in. I talk about this box idea because we do end up putting ourselves into boxes Because it's so convenient and everyone else wants to define us.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, yeah, no, no, that's, that's so true. I have something on my wall here. I look at it every day and that is a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. And you, my friend, you embody that, because you know all this, all the things that you've experienced have really brought you to this concept that you talked about with me earlier, this idea of grounded leadership. Yeah, maybe you could lead us into how you're shaping. Your own historical shaping Brought you to this idea of grounded leadership, and then let's talk about how we apply that to, to these organizational challenges.

Tony Martignetti: 

Absolutely yeah, and this idea of grounded leadership really is something that is. It was something that people were reflecting back to me and then I realized, wait a minute, that is what I meant to give, and so let me give you some, some context to that as I started to show up in the world in a different way. I started to really connect with who I really was and I I'll say this in a way that is saying that when I started my business as a coach and as an advisor, I had this quote that I worked with, that it was Inspiration through honest conversations. The first honest conversation was with myself and this idea that I had to really understand who I was and what, what I was out, what I was all about. And when I did Kind of explore deeper to understand who I am, I realized that that's you know, the part that I need to start with, this awareness of how I show up and how people will receive me. And that awareness allowed me to to have more conversations that were a little more bold, a little more courageous and and also Without any ego, because here I am, showing up in a world that I really didn't know much about but I had to like learn. So, as I was having these conversations, people would reflect back to me and saying, every time I have a conversation with you, I had the sense of like, calmness and groundedness in the sense that you, you, you never get, you know, un, unflacked if you're, or kind of like Moved in a way that feels like you're not able to see past. You know the present moment. I won't say like I'm some guru or anything like that. It's just a sense of like how I showed up and like that, those moments that kept on showing up where people would say, my god, I feel so much more possibility. But I also feel a sense of like, calmness every time I have this conversation with you. It led me down this path of exploring that deeper and that's what grounded leadership it is. It's a sense of creating that calm space for the people around you and also being able to lean into the future and know that whatever we're gonna be creating, we're gonna be, we're gonna be connected to an intentional actions. So we're gonna take that are coming from a place of knowing where we're headed, but also not letting the uncertainty of what might show up Throw us off balance. Mmm, mmm.

Dr. Pelè: 

Wow, you know you share quite a bit on LinkedIn. I even follow you and you know you do. You do project that sort of calm, you know, in difficult seas, and sort of that reliable voice that people can, can, can hold on to. Let's talk a little bit about the, the details of that, and maybe this is where you could bring in some ideas from your, your body of knowledge, your book. How exactly do we help leaders find that calm space, that grounded leadership approach? I mean, do you have a three-step process, a 12-step plan? How do you actually get it done for organizations?

Tony Martignetti: 

Yeah, I'm gonna. I'm gonna start by saying we already know all the things we need to know to be able to do that. Yeah, the things that we we think that all the answers are outside of us, but the realities are all inside of us. We just need to unearth them and we have to be able to, to listen to those and those things that are inside of us and let them come to the surface. And so how do we do that? Right, the reason why I say this is because there is a sense of like you know where the? You know how do I move forward from here? What are the? What's the path forward, how to be resilient, that kind of thing. The reality is that we've done a lot of things in our past that tell us how to move forward, but we're always thinking that the answer must be some new answer, you. So here's how we do this. It's called it's like a time traveling exercise. So the first thing you wanna do is you wanna look back and look at. You know what are the things that have brought me to this place, where I'm maybe questioning or, you know, maybe challenged with where to move forward. So look back to what are the challenges that brought me here, what are the what's, the inventory of strengths and the things that have brought me to come to this spot where I am today. When you reflect back and you collect those moments, you start to build strength from that. You get to see that, wait a minute, I've survived all the things that have got me here. Yeah, so that's not too bad.

Dr. Pelè: 

That is so powerful. You know so many people. In fact. There's a song by Stevie Wonder, I think it's called Pastime Paradise. Yeah, I hope that's one. I hope that's what it's called. But you know he talks about the idea of so many people being stuck in a future paradise of worries and they don't know, they're unhappy about tomorrow and they're afraid of yesterday and all the things that yesterday, the failures and all the things, and they forget to live in the present. And I know you said you're not a guru, but I have to tell you the things you're talking about are guru level, powerful stuff. So I wanna know more about this idea that the past has a positive power, not a negative one, not something that we should be afraid of and regret. How do we get the positive power out of the past?

Tony Martignetti: 

Yeah, I mean, even if there's been traumatic events, there's learnings from that that will allow us to kind of guide forward. And it starts with just kind of saying what was it about that situation that I wanna take with me and I call it about? This comes from Ken Wilber transcend and include. You wanna include things that you've done in the past, but you're also in this moment of how can I use that to transcend that past and use it as a force of good into the future, which we'll get to that because, we're said time traveling, there's more steps to be taken, but the idea is that you're really looking at what was it about me in those moments that I had to that made me get through those dark times? What was it about me that I utilize, what tools, strengths, capacities that I was able to tap into that got me through challenging periods of my past life?

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, yeah, take us deeper. So now you sort of opened up the premise where to start, right, I know that you shared with me some of your methodologies, like the connection and the compassion and things like that. Take us deeper into that, now that we've maybe examined our past and we have a sense of okay, now what Like? How do I achieve grounded leadership so I can get happy employees, productive and profitable companies? How do we bring it all together?

Tony Martignetti: 

Yeah, and so I wanna jump right fast forward a little bit and just say there are really three big Cs that I think about, three Cs that are the foundation of grounded leadership, and they are connection, compassion and curiosity. And when you tap into these three Cs, they're a big part of making sure that you're showing up in the most powerful way for your employees and for yourself. The curiosity part of this is a sense of how can I get curious about what this event, this moment, this period in time that we're going through, if it's a challenging period, what does it mean and how can I learn from it? How can a potential obstacle become an opportunity? And that's where the curiosity allows you to not freak out in the moment, react instead, think of it as this could be fuel. And if I'm lean into this and get curious, I might find that Compassion is that, hey, we may make a mistake, I have to be okay with dealing with things, that we might stumble the failures, things like that, and being able to own that and also guide other people through that process and check in with them, because they're not necessarily on the same journey as I am, but I wanna be able to support them in that process of guiding them through a challenging period of work in the company. And then connection is realizing that if you're not connecting with other people on a deeper level and showing them who you are in this process, and it's hard for them to follow along with you because they may not understand your full intentions. So connection is something that's an ongoing journey, but it's really important for you to really connect deeply with your employees and with the other people on your journey so that they understand that where is this all coming from? Where are we going? Can I trust this person? Well, if you're revealing more of who you are in this process, they'll reveal more of how they feel about you. Connection is the best way to build trust powerful, powerful stuff.

Dr. Pelè: 

And I love the whole three C's thing because now I can remember it. You know, tony, tell us about climbing the right mountain. I can't tell you how many things I've tried in my life and done and someday you wake up and you're like wait a second, all this hard work, is this the right thing to do? Yeah, you wrote a whole book about that. You know you talk about this journey. Tell us what you mean by climbing the right mountain.

Tony Martignetti: 

Yeah, absolutely. This was a book that I wrote because I was hearing so many people who had come to me and sharing these stories. But, like man, I don't know like I've done all the work I've worked really hard, but I feel so unfulfilled.

Dr. Pelè: 

I feel so unsatisfied.

Tony Martignetti: 

And I, you know, feel so burnt out. And I started to reflect back on that and said, you know, I kind of feel the same way. That was my experience and you know this sense of working so hard and sacrificing a lot to get to this place and then realizing I didn't really like the view that I was experiencing. And so, you know, the book is really this idea of how can we change the way we look at things so that we do do things in a different way, and realizing that it's never too late to change the course you're on. Change the mountain if you will. And so at the core of all of what the book's about. It's really defining success on your own terms, not by based on what other people think success looks like and that's the mountain that you're climbing is that it's going to be based on what you truly want, not what others want for you, and not what society says success should look like and we're going to talk about this a bit about. You know, happiness, but I'm I think of this idea that fulfillment is actually a much more. It's a lasting effect of happiness. It's like coming from a place of, of seeing that I'm fulfilled, not happy, not saying that it's like bad to be happy, but just saying filming is even a deeper sense of happiness and it's a place to come from, not a place to go to.

Dr. Pelè: 

Ooh, I like that. Yeah, we're gonna have to, you're gonna have to copyright that one. You know, tony, you've actually brought us to one of my favorite topics, which is happiness. But before I ask you a question about it, I love what you just said, which is there are actually competing definitions of happiness out there and we have to clarify what we mean by happiness if we're going to have a real conversation. So, for example, a lot of people sort of defaults to thinking about happiness as the pleasure seeking type of happiness, the kind of happiness where it's like rah, rah, got office parties, we got, we got a ping pong table in the foyer. You know that's happy, but that's actually not the kind of happiness that promotes deeper engagement and fulfillment and and you know that sense of flow and doing what you love. I think that's what you're talking about and that's actually how I define profitable happiness. So, if you think about the standard definitions of hedonic happiness, which is what we just talked about, the rah rah versus eudaimonic happiness, which is the more engagement focused happiness, that's what we mean by profitable happiness. By the way, eudaimonic happiness is a big mouthful, I didn't want to use that. So, I coined profitable happiness to replace the idea of eudaimonic happiness. So tell us, now that we've sort of I think we agree on these definitions, tell us how, in your work with grounded leadership and in your work with organizations, how have you found it possible to help leaders build both happy employees and profitable companies at the same time, which we know can be a tough, a tough thing to do.

Tony Martignetti: 

Yeah, I mean it comes down to really getting to know people at a more, I'd say a deeper level, and it starts by sharing at a deeper level. I have this methodology which I just recently shared in a TED talk. That hasn't been released yet, but it'll be released soon. It's called the core method and it really comes from this idea that we need to be able to be curious, open and release. I won't get into the full gist of how this works, but release any kind of tension about sharing who we are and then expand. This core methodology is really about sharing more of ourselves in the workplace so that we can create deeper connections with other people. When we do that, it creates an environment where people want to bring more themselves into the workplace.

Dr. Pelè: 

What does that do?

Tony Martignetti: 

It creates happy employees, it creates more engagement and actually something even more than engagement it encrates a sense of enrichment and how people feel about the organization. I think that's something that I've been toying with for a while, which is this idea that we want to create workplaces where people don't just come to work because they're like, oh, I feel engaged, but they feel like when they come to work, they're going to be better off because of it. They may leave eventually, which is fine, but they're going to leave feeling like I feel much better off having worked here.

Dr. Pelè: 

Deep, Deep stuff. I've always been concerned that organizations' leaders tend to be more focused on the organization, On the profit side of the equation than on the happy employees. How do we help leaders really make that connection, to know in their hearts and minds, of course that by helping employees find what they want, which is well-being, happiness, engagement, fulfillment, these fuzzy soft things that will lead to business profit? How do we help them see that link?

Tony Martignetti: 

Yeah, I mean it starts with our own understanding of what it means to us that if we're showing up and we're feeling connected to the fact that we're doing work that's meaningful and we feel connected to the people around us I know we use that a lot that it will make an impact. I could show you countless studies. Microsoft is a classic example of this. When Satya Nadella came into the CEO role, he had this shift that he made, where he basically got into this mindset of let's create a more connected organization, let's create a more learn-it-all organization, where everyone learns instead of knows everything. Because of that, the employee engagement went through the roof and innovation went through the roof. If you need a better example than that, there's countless other ones out there, but that's a great example to show you the bottom line is improved as soon as you start to engage people on this level. That is about connection and not all about competition. When people are competing against each other, which seems on the surface like oh, we're going to compete against each other, then we end up getting the best out of everyone. But no, that's not the case. The best thing you can do is how people get to know each other on a level that's much deeper than just hey, we work on the same team.

Dr. Pelè: 

Powerful stuff, powerful stuff. Tony, tell us what are you excited about right now. What are you working on. Do you have a project coming up, something new that's got you all buzzed up? Let us know how people can actually find you online so that they can learn more about these things that you're working on right now.

Tony Martignetti: 

Absolutely so. first of all, the thing I'm working on right now is I'm working on my next book and it's called the Campfire Lessons for Leaders and that'll be released in 2024, most likely Still going to the publishers and all that. But the idea behind the book is it's based on my podcast, the Virtual Campfire, and it's a book that shares some key lessons that I've learned through interviewing over 200 people on the podcast about their journeys of transformation, and some powerful lessons from people from all walks of life that have shared some really powerful stories. But what are the key things that were common to all of them? So that's one thing that I'm really excited about and I can't wait to get that out in the world. And then the best place to find me is on my website. It's inspired. It's inspired purpose partners, but the website is ipurposepartnerscom. Got that Definitely.

Dr. Pelè: 

And so obviously I'm also going to add the LinkedIn link, because that's where we met, on LinkedIn, and I hope that this powerful new approach that you're bringing into the world, the idea of grounded leadership, sort of that calm in the storm I hope that that gets out there because I think I find it to be very powerful. There's too much chaos in our world and it just seems like the way to go. So thank you for being a part of this podcast.

Tony Martignetti: 

I appreciate it. Thank you so much. I've really had fun, absolutely.

Dr. Pelè: 

Thanks for tuning in to the profitable happiness podcast. For more episodes, visit DrPalletcom. And remember get happy first and success will follow.