286: Exploring Human-Centric Leadership and Self-Worth with Tiffany Houser

November 7, 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 I have with me Tiffany Houser, who is an expert at working with leaders who are, and she's going to explain this human centric to help them develop and sustain their top talent and build thriving team cultures. Tiffany, how are you doing today?

Tiffany Houser: 

I am wonderful, thank you.

Dr. Pelè: 

Well, you know what? That was a mouthful for me, because I really wanted to know what human centric means, and we talked about that earlier. But before we get to that, give me a sense of what kind of challenges you deal with in organizations and why they need this help so much that you bring to the table what problems are they experiencing?

Tiffany Houser: 

Yeah, it's interesting because the pandemic just kind of opened up a Pandora's box of either new ones or nuances of the existing ones. So, really, when a company or a team is looking for someone like us and you know I love that you brought the human centric to the table as well when they're looking for someone like us, there's usually something going on with change. Either we're embracing the change and we've now moved into new territory, or somebody is resisting the change, or multiple people or the whole team is resisting change, and when that tends to happen, when we're resisting change, our relationships start to have breakdowns or the breakdowns in our relationships amplify, and so when I'm dealing with human centric leaders, this doesn't align with their values if there's a breakdown with relationships, because the human centric side of it is, you know, I care about the people, and the humans not only in my organization or on my team, but the customers as well, which is beautiful, beautiful especially in the state of the world we're in now, and so the biggest challenges are usually something to do with change, and I think you can agree, dr Pillai we've all experienced a lot of change over the last three years. And then really, this dynamic of our relationships, which is why we introduced our new body of work called the self-worth advantage. And we call it a body of work because that piece of self-worth is rarely, if ever, talked about in a corporate setting or some sort of professional environment. But we talk about that because when we're going through change, when we're outside of our comfort zone, we start making up all these stories. Most likely aren't true, but they're the way we protect ourselves so that we feel comfortable enough to navigate through or comfortable to comprehend and come together as a team. So those are some of the bigger areas. So we work on soft skill training, emotional intelligence coaching, growth mindset coaching, things of that nature for senior leaders, and we also work with hyper growth founders. So people who are running their own company are looking at themselves and all of a sudden, what started with just them? they turn around and now there are 60 people in their company, and that's massive change massive change and especially when they're at that level, there's investors involved which opens up a whole other box of discomfort.

Dr. Pelè: 

Thank you for explaining this idea of being a human centric leader, because when we talked about the challenge of change, for example, what occurs to me is that far too many leaders want to address the issues or the change that's happening by running straight to business profitability how do we make everything successful around here? And I think far too many of them forget about the humans who are actually making that happen and their well-being and their happiness. So that really means a lot to me. But there was something you showed me you actually taught me this earlier and I want to bring it up. You shared the idea that this is personal. These leaders have to dig inside of themselves. They have to start from there. No one else can determine your self-worth better than you. Tell me a little bit about that part of your body of knowledge.

Tiffany Houser: 

Ooh, that is one of my favorite nuggets of wisdom. Yes, within the self-worth advantage, one of the key things is knowing that no one can compromise your self-worth except you. No one can do anything to your self-worth except you. So anytime you are feeling bad or you're not good enough smart enough, talented enough, seasoned enough you haven't XYZed, fill in the gap there. That's you doing that to you. And again, as I mentioned, I do work with senior leaders and hypergrowth founders, and it's at first. It was extremely shocking to me that people at that level are still questioning and doubting themselves. They aren't fully trusting themselves and I always go back and I remind them the key the first word of self-worth, the first word in it is self. No one's doing it to you. Your worth your value. Now we are not discounting or disregarding people, being disrespectful or people letting you down. That's different. That does not have anything to do with how worthy and how valuable you are, and we could talk about that another time. Yet the key is, when you are not feeling worthy or valuable, doubting yourself, second guessing, needing that external validation, that's you not trusting you and you going back to those stories, making up some sort of story that you look bad or you need to look good, so you need to have all the answers. And that's a problem for leaders and for founders to think and assume you have to have all the answers. That's not how you run an organization, that's not how you create team and culture, because then you're saying just me, just I. When a team, a culture, an organization, it's all of us, we all are working together towards X. And so I like to debunk that myth or that piece of someone's belief system thinking, because I'm the leader on the CXO of this company, I have to have all the answers and I need to sound good, look good. And that piece that they miss is the honesty, the authenticity, the vulnerability to say, hey, I don't know. That's a great question. I am unsure of the moment. Let me go consult with my team and I'll get back to you. Or hey, what do you think I'm not? I don't think I have everything. I need to make an answer or a guess.

Dr. Pelè: 

What do?

Tiffany Houser: 

you think, and instead what they do is they take all of that weight and they put it on themselves and think they need to have all the answers. And that's where that tricky imposter comes from. It's like they're gonna find out. I don't know everything. No, you don't know everything, and nor should you Even experts. They're an expert in their domain, not on everything or every aspect of whatever it is we're working toward.

Dr. Pelè: 

As a founder and CEO yourself, and you've worn many hats. You're a board member, you've been in the speaker and instructor. You've done a lot of these different things. I would love to know your story and how you became passionate about this particular topic around leadership.

Tiffany Houser: 

What's your?

Dr. Pelè: 

story.

Tiffany Houser: 

Yeah, the story's still being written, doctor. Yeah, it's not over, come on, but it's interesting because this is my evolve, is my company. It's the fourth or fifth company I started, so I guess I'm a serial entrepreneur. Yet I worked in corporate for about 14 years before I took this leap multiple times and clearly the first three or four were they were lots of lessons, lots of failure, lots of mistakes, lots of stuff. And so, as I'm a 48 year old woman now and going from really excelling in high school and college going into the workplace excelling right away but then being unhappy because I wasn't in my lane, I wasn't following my purpose. I was following the money and the status. I needed to have the title and work, and I don't. This was, I think this is still true but back in like the nineties, you wanted to work for like MTV or Cosmopolitan or like Vogue. You know at least people that I it was like one of those things, like you needed like a, you know, a flashy job, and so I just I never took a look at what I really really wanted and what I was really really passionate about, until I got all the way up to where I am now and when I became a coach. I was a health and lifestyle coach at first and you know, because I am very passionate about my wellbeing, and it was every, every one of my clients, except for two in the beginning all the roads even if they wanted to lose weight, you know, have more energy, get better sleep, you know, whatever it was, all the roads kept leading back to their job or what their career was. There was some sort of unhappiness or unfulfillment there and so and all of it was leading into I'm overworking, I'm too busy, I never have had enough time. There was all these reoccurring stories and that's when I decided I was like I'm just focusing on. You know, I became a leadership coach before I moved up into being an executive coach, and so when I started attracting executives and when they started, you know, when I started finding out what they really wanted to work on I mean, I know they would come to me saying X, but it was really Y that they really wanted to focus on I started to understand the parts of ourself that were hiding and were not accepting, because we're either judging them, which means we probably have shame around them and when this started to become clear to me, I was introduced to a body of work that it's just called transformational leadership. But I did this work back in 2018, when we could go do things in person, and man, was this confrontational and I thought it was about becoming a better business leader. And boy was I mistake. It was all about me, my life, all the stories, all the trauma, all the things, all my family issues, and what I realized is I was afraid of success. So those first three or four companies I can't remember now because so many things have transpired they failed because I was unwilling to succeed. I was afraid of being a success. I was never afraid of failing. That that's what never clicked for me. I was like I take risks all the time, let's do this, let's go. But what I was afraid of was really succeeding in having this company. What would that mean if I was wealthy Like wealthy wealthy? Or what would it mean if I'm now responsible for 100 plus people? What would it mean if I'm responsible for millions or eight figure revenue every year? What would that mean about me? Who would I need to be to show up to do that? And my mindset, my belief, was not there. I had too much shame and, as a black woman in America, I didn't see the examples or the role models and I knew I could do all these things, but I had a glass ceiling that I gave to myself and that's really what this work that I do is about Breakthrough the first. I mean there's so many glass ceilings out there for a lot of us. But, there really is also one that you're generating for yourself and you get to break through that Again. Going back to the self-worth piece, it is self-inflicted. We're doing these things to ourselves. The imposter only comes up because you think something about you. No one told you you weren't good enough or not smart enough, not seasoned enough. If you're a leader in the company, you made it to be a vice president or a director or a CXO. Because you did it, you created the results. You're talented, you're competent, clearly. Yet you create your glass ceiling because you don't believe in something. And that's really the body of work that my team and I really play in with our clients, whether it's an individual or a team. We don't necessarily do organization-wide because that's too big of a lift.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, you start somewhere. Yeah, oh, my goodness, okay. So I told you that your approach with the self-worth thing really touched me personally, and now you've got me going. I'm gonna just have to tell you how or why it touched me so much. See, like you, I think from what I'm hearing about your story I grew up achieving all the physical excellence, things like coming first in class, getting in any and everything and just being that smart quote smart guy, and I thought that was gonna be my success in life. Guess what you grow up and you realize? No, it's not about your technical skills, your knowledge, it's about your relationships. And so I had no preparation for relationships and I imposed upon myself and my self-worth that area of lack. So I'm sitting here going, man, I think I need. You got it. I need to come listen and learn more, because this is a problem I'm sure so many people have, because our story just leads us to this place where we've given ourselves a glass ceiling. What a powerful metaphor. Let's get into how you solve these challenges, cause anyone listening might be saying, okay, well, that's me too. Here's my glass ceiling, or here's the problem, here's my self-worth issue. But how do you help a leader, move that boat of an organization or a team to row in the right direction for everybody to feel like, yes, we are now doing this right. How do you get this to actually work?

Tiffany Houser: 

What's the how I want to say. I give them a big hug and that is very like a great remedy. Well, I can tell you one thing.

Dr. Pelè: 

You have a very calming way of sharing your information, so I can see how that would help, because you know you don't come in with you. Got to change, come on, no no, no, suck it. You come in with a very sort of your voice is soft and that that would work for someone like me and I'm sure most leaders would want that. But go ahead.

Tiffany Houser: 

Yeah, well, there's a few things. I mean there's a whole body. This is a body of work, it's a whole framework. Yet there's a few things I do like to share. First, I bring myself. I am authentic and vulnerable and honest with all of my clients, and it's mainly to let them know they're not alone. And really, the research shows over 80% of senior leaders feel this way. They feel like an imposter, they feel like they're not smart enough, good enough, they don't trust themselves or feel like people don't like them or don't trust them. And so one of the first things we share is we talk about, we look at the language you're using. How are you talking, reading, writing and actually internalizing, like, what are the words, what are the phrases, what are you saying to yourself? So that we go in and we support them with reframing that? Because the way we talk to ourselves and I really want to highlight that relationship piece, dr Pelle, that you said- earlier. Because the first thing we do is look at the relationship you have with yourself. That is the foundation for all your relationships. How are you treating yourself? And the first tool or resource we do is we look at your language. So one of the big things we look at is so many people say things are hard or that was hard. It's hard, don't want to do that, because that's hard work. And that word right there we could spend a little we do like a 20 minute training on just that word and notice the energy around that word. When something's hard, do you want to create it, cause it? Do it Not really?

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah, no, I'm done. Yeah, Go to something easy, exactly so.

Tiffany Houser: 

We either procrastinate on it or we do it, but with a heaviness, because our energy is focused on how hard this is. So language is one of the big things and, quite frankly, one of the first things we support people with. Because then if you see that, if you're using that in your communications, you're reading it from your team, you get to see the compounding effect of that, and then you also get to ripple out the reframe on that as well and not just tell people don't say hard, we're not the language or word police over here, you get to also. So we support leaders with how to reframe it and introduce it to their team. The other piece we support people with is really understanding where this imposter is coming from, where that sense of I'm not good enough is coming from. So our framework is identify what it is. What are you doing to yourself? Let's really identify it, because most leaders in our culture we're used to suppressing all that and no way are we talking about I don't feel smart enough, or I don't feel like I deserve to be on this team, or I just moved into this company. Are they going to like my vision? It's like they hired you. Let's start collecting the evidence, so really identifying what it is, what the imposter is for you. It's not the same for all of us Because we're all different. We all had different conditioning when we were younger Because and here's the secret everyone it's coming from your childhood. Now, my team in Iowa are not therapists. You're not going to go digging Yet. We support you in understanding this is not because of you missed a deadline or because you weren't prepared for the presentation or the investors. You didn't hit your mark. It's not that. It's something from your childhood, because of what your parents, your teachers, your coaches, somebody told you things and you started believing you weren't good enough, smart enough, fast enough if it was sports. The next piece is understanding that. So once you identify something, you get to understand it. What is that? What am I making up about that? What does it mean to me and what does it not mean, because I've just been so fearful and so anxious about it. And then the final. Well, there's two final pieces, but if you can get to the first piece, woo, you are cooking with gas. The final part one is to reconcile it. What is the truth of that now, and how do you support and regulate and coach yourself through that? So when that pops up again because here's the thing it's going to pop up again you walk into a new room, a new company, a new meeting, a new investor a new something is going to happen, because that's life, and especially in your business. If we keep building iPhone ones, are we still going to be in business?

Dr. Pelè: 

No.

Tiffany Houser: 

No, so something new is always coming our way, so that same thing is going to keep popping up. So instead of you whack-a-moling, it pushing it down, suppressing it, ignoring it. Now you have the tools to regulate and coach yourself through reconciling it and the two to that. I'll give you guys the real I'm letting you almost all the way into the self-worth advantage. Yeah, yeah, the part two to that is resolving it. Reconciling it is a beautiful piece because you could do that immediately. Resolving it is completely transforming it. I broke through, I'm free of that, and that takes your practice and your consistent reconciling of it as it pops up again. And so that's pretty much it. I mean, there are dozens of tools. Layers yeah, and strategies I can give you, but first the language piece and then our self-worth advantage framework of identify, understand, reconcile, which will lead you to resolving.

Dr. Pelè: 

See, just to prove to you that I can be a good student, I'm going to tell you what you just said. No, no, I love the model. You start with language and then I wrote down here. You identify the imposter, then you understand, you reconcile and then you resolve it. Beautiful. I love that there's something you said earlier. You said that many times you meet a leader who wants X, that after you do some assessment and I'm sure you go through your model you discover it was Y, and I'm wondering if the solution shows up as Z, it's like whoa oh, all the time.

Tiffany Houser: 

All the time, because that's life, that's reality, like as much as we can plan and set our eyes on a target. We also get to consider life, energy. Things are just moving. I mean, just look at you know things that are like three. Did anyone predict a pandemic would shut the world down? You can't. You definitely pivoted, shifted something new, change, something happened to you.

Dr. Pelè: 

No, no doubt, no, no, no, no even two year olds were like what the heck just happened. In fact, another thing you said that's actually kind of in line with what you're saying now, I wrote in one of my books actually my current book, which is called Profitable Happiness, same as this podcast I wrote that a lot of people like to say life is hard, but I like to tell them that life is hard. H-a-r-d. How adversity reveals destiny.

Tiffany Houser: 

So we all went through yeah, we're having fun.

Dr. Pelè: 

We all went through this pandemic, the adversity of it. What could it reveal? That's positive for us, and I think that's where many of us are now, isn't it? Oh my gosh, lots to unpack and so little time. Let me ask you probably my favorite question, which is how do we bring this down from the leaders to the employees? You know, I believe, that employee happiness is a great driver for everything the leaders want, but I think you and I would probably agree that a lot of leaders could do more to focus on employee well-being, and they want that profitability. We got that. But to focus on the employee well-being, how do you bring the two together, the needs of the leader and the needs of the employees, so that we can create this successful team or larger organization? How do you reconcile those two groups?

Tiffany Houser: 

Yeah, I'm just going to go back to the language piece again and really, because it's interesting, my partner's company just went through an acquisition and this is like a very big tech company and another very big tech company bought it and yet they were doing such a great job with the communication until they stopped communicating and left everybody high and dry. And then, of course, when that happens, when there's lack of transparency, lack of communication, what happens to your mindset is you can call it your imposter, but we call it your ego comes out and starts making up all these stories. They don't care about us, they're going to screw us over, they lied, and really nine times out of 10, in my experience I mean, everyone's experience is different it's usually the organization just doesn't know what to say, or they don't you know there's a delay, or they don't have all the puzzle pieces aren't fitting exactly the together the way they. You know to make sense to communicate and instead of just saying I know we said we would have more information on you for you on this date. It looks like it's going to be another two weeks, or we are asking for your flexibility for another two weeks, and instead this company just chose to not say anything, while behind the scenes they scrambled to you know whatever happened. You know whatever was happening, like work their way through it. And that's the thing about change, because that's clearly a design of change. Something was happening and things were changing and even if we agreed on the exit turned into why no big deal changes, not bad, and things move around. All the time, just communicated hey, there was a small curveball or hey, new information came in. We're going to need another two weeks to go through it and make sense of it or to unpack, whatever their language is. And so, going back to your question, communicating with honesty, you don't have to tell them all the the whole story. Just, I know, I know we said X and we missed that. You don't even need to apologize. Like I, we acknowledge the breakdown that we missed, that. We are asking for another two weeks to you know, get our ducks in a row and that's what people want, that's what our and that's unfortunately what we do externally with our worth. We place our worth on other people words. They ghosted us, they didn't get back to us, they weren't clear with us, it, and so we don't have to compromise our self worth in that. I know I'm valuable, I know I'm worth something, I know I'll either keep my job here or I'll get another, you know whatever your scenario is. Yet ambiguity is what I'm really getting at here. When we are ambiguous or lack which, in my experience, is a lack of communication and a lack of transparency is what gets in the way of us creating and keeping what you call that happiness factor, because the more you don't share, we go off into our ego world and make stuff up. That is 99%, not even true.

Dr. Pelè: 

And probably destructive not just untrue but potentially really hurtful. You know, you've got a LinkedIn banner or background that says something. I'm just making it out here. You're doing a speech somewhere and you have the word possibilities. Above and below that, you have the word limitations canceled out. Explain what you were explaining when you put that up there, because I think that's very. It's got to have a deep story behind it. What were you doing there?

Tiffany Houser: 

Well, first of all, I was in your state, that was, in Dallas. Oh, you were in Texas okay. Yes, so that plays right into the ego. So our ego and what we're doing to our self, remember self worth, we're doing it to our self. We have two choices, and this really goes into the growth and fix mindset. You can either and you have the freedom, the autonomy, the sovereignty to make this choice. No one is telling you. No matter what information is coming your way, you can look at all the limitations in it, or you can consider all the possibilities that may not be like visible to you in the moment, and there's a really awesome book and concept that really like extrapolates on that. Wow, I don't think I've ever used that word and I'll, you know this year. You just did. I know I was like whoa where am I coming from? The book is called the Gap and the Gain and I believe it's by Dan Goldman. Dan Sullivan, one of those two Dan Goldman wrote something about. One of those fellows wrote something about the growth mindset. The other one wrote the Gap and the Gain. But it's like the way you are looking at the information coming into you. So let's go back to that example Companies getting acquired. They're all waiting on whether or not they're keeping their job or not. You get the news. Let's just say you lost your job. Are you going to go into the gap of that or in the gain of that? And you can do both. You can absolutely do both. But when we're in that fixed mindset and we're not standing excuse me, we're not grounded in our self-worth we will absolutely go into all the limitations. We will go into the gap of all that and look at what was me. I'm going to be destitute, poor on the street, which is not true. Or can we look at the gap of it, or you know, valid. Ok, those feelings are real. I feel scared, I'm upset. You know those are all. Acknowledge those feelings and then make the next choice to go into the gain, into the possibilities of it all. Ok, great, now I can put my name in the hat for something else. I can take time off to spend with my family. I can, you know, start that side hustle. I can go take that trip that I kept putting. There's so many, and I can keep going with that list. And in this particular example, they've known for over a year. They've known for over a year that this was brewing. So you've also had over a year to take care of yourself and to set yourself up. You did not need to wait. That's the limitation. You did not need to wait until someone told you what you're worth and what you're valued. You could have went out and been like, ok, something's about to change here. I have all the power, all the sovereignty to go make new choices. Now, I'm not considering people with like dire life predicaments. That's a very small exception to some of this, but most people it's just a matter OK, do I want to wait this out or do I want to make a move? And that's a very, very specific example. But the limitation is really you only seeing what's wrong. But you remember Debbie Downer from Saturday Night Live.

Dr. Pelè: 

Yeah yeah, hello, that's, I'm Dr Debbie myself.

Tiffany Houser: 

Oh, you don't seem that way.

Dr. Pelè: 

Oh, I have a high negativity bias. I look at the world and the first thing I look for is what can I fix what's wrong? Oh, OK, ok, good to know that's why I told you your message is personal for me. It's so powerful for me because I am that person who needs to let go of some of these limitations and focus on the possibilities that you were talking about. We could talk for hours and then you're going to have to charge me money, so let me just let me ask you a question, Tiffany, to wrap up what are you currently excited about? What are you working on, or maybe promoting, that we can put out there, and what's the best way for people to get a hold of you online?

Tiffany Houser: 

Yeah, thank you for asking. Well, the self-worth advantage we just launched it. It's available as an online self-based paste course. We also offer it as one-on-one coaching. It can be done through a workshop, a retreat, you could also. We could also do the course live or virtual with a team. You could find me on LinkedIn, just Tiffany Houser, all together, and I'm also on Instagram, Tiffany Houser, and our website is selfadvantagecom Self-advantage. You said, oh, I am sorry, self, excuse me, self-worthadvantagecom. It's very new. We just launched it.

Dr. Pelè: 

OK self-worthadvantagecom. Yep, I'll have all of those links below and, by the way, I did just a quick editorial thing for those of you who heard about the Gap and the Game book you were talking about it is. You were correct, it is by Dan Sullivan, Great. So for anybody looking for that, you can either look on Tiffany's LinkedIn thing where she says possibilities and limitations, or you can go check out the book the Gap and the Game Same concept. Tiffany Houser, thank you so much for being a very valuable and great teacher. Guest on the Profitable Happiness Podcast.

Tiffany Houser: 

Thank you so much for having me here today.

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.