25 Aug August 25, 2020 – Leadership Nomad Kyle Hegarty and Confident Connector Christy Conner
Great businesses start in times of absolute chaos and uncertainty. We are certainly in one those times now.
Kyle Hegarty, an expert on cross-cultural leadership who has been called “the Indiana Jones of International Business,” is the Managing Director of Leadership Nomad, a Division of TSL Marketing Singapore that was launched to help companies and teams evolve to face global communication and collaboration challenges. Leadership Nomad offers training and consulting services, as well as keynote addresses that focus on the skills and mindsets needed to help navigate across polarized and complex business environments. In his role as Asia-Pacific Managing Director at TSL Marketing, Kyle continues to help create new products and offerings, diversify channel sales partnerships, and grow and train his sales and operations teams across the globe. Kyle’s first book on cross-cultural communication, The Accidental Business Nomad: A Survival Guide for Working Across a Shrinking Planet, features real stories of companies going global and highlights the realities of doing business overseas in a post-globalization world. Due to Covid-19, he argues, globalization has just accelerated rapidly and these skills are needed now more than ever while Americans face entirely new challenges of doing business digitally at an unprecedented rate with cultures around the world.
Christy Conner – Business Coach and Best-Selling Author of The Confident Connector™ – Read interview highlights here
Listening is at the center of everything. After the first exchange (with a new person), I try to hear what they are trying to say without trying to say.
Christy Conner is a business coach, speaker, and a #1 bestselling author. She earned her private pilot’s license and went on to obtain a BS in Aviation Business Administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Christy is the co-organizer of Friday Coffee Meetup, the largest active entrepreneurial and tech innovation group in Los Angeles, with 7,000 members. Christy’s professional experience, global interests, and a light backpack have taken her to over fifty countries. Her career spans six business sectors, fourteen companies, and eighteen roles in nine departments. She has taught as an instructor of change management on five continents. It is from this unique vantage point that her grit and empathic leadership has been oned. Utilizing this global perspective coupled with local insights, she writes on leading-edge business topics that help companies work smarter and drive revenue. Her latest book, The Confident Connector™: How to Build Your Must-Have Professional Network in an Era of Job Insecurity, is a hands-on approach, complete with real-world strategies to inspire those who are new to networking and those who are looking to up their networking game.
Highlights from Christy’s Interview
I think in these unprecendented times, it’s all about being adaptable. I actually spent a lot of my life living outside of U.S. I was a charity worker for eight years and hostile contact. So for me, this is like a return to my previous life. So for me, it’s not that bad. I have food, water, a house, nobody’s being killed right next to me except for when it has to do with COVID. So I’m feeling pretty grateful.
Confident Connecter is definitely not something I was born as, I am an introvert. I lived outside of the U.S., I came back, I needed to build a new network from scratch, and that was a very difficult process for me. So after I went through it for myself, I wanted to help others be able to get out there and network and build a network in an easier way. Then I went through with it. I am an introvert who has worked very hard to have extroverted characteristics because I see the benefit of connecting with others. Introverts can connect too, but it’s a little bit harder. I could choose to come home and just hang out with myself and my closest loved ones, which I’ve been known to do, but that limits the things that we can create, an innovation that we can make, relationships that we can build. So for me, it’s being an introvert who is well-practiced and can interact with people and create relationships. For that, I needed some extroverted tendencies that I needed to cultivate.
Finding that confident piece is what’s scariest for an introvert especially, but just for everybody. So I used to do a few things, especially when I started out. One was that I had a canned list of questions and answers, so that when I went into the room and my blood started draining from my head to my feet and I would freeze, I would have a list of questions that I could ask and responses to similar questions, so that I could respond and it would give me a moment to be able to interact with them, to get my bodily reactions together to allow me to interact.
I’ve actually changed my questions, but the question that I really love right now is what are you interested in and passionate about? I like that question for a few reasons. One is that when I started connecting with others, people would ask me what I felt like were really hard questions, and I would have to scramble in my mind to think of something to say. So I want to give people a really broad playing field to answer me anything they like. Some of those responses have probably been more appropriate than others, but it’s a really broad question. Then also, I get to get inspired because you’re talking about something that you’re passionate about. I start you off on a really positive foot, we’re both being inspired, and you’re talking about a really softball topic for yourself.
As far as what I’m interested in, I love connecting people. I’ve organized the Friday coffee meetup, so I love building that community of innovation. Then outside of my life, I love to salsa dance and swing dance. So I have a lot of things, my family and friends, my work. I’m actually a pilot too, I got my pilot’s license a long long time ago. I’m not current right now but once you’re a pilot, you’re always a pilot. So I started out my career actually wanting to fly, and then I realized I was using aviation and flying as a means to actually connect with people and culture. So I switched over to international relations for my grad to focus a little more on that. It is a weird switch, it was a subject I had never taken a course in. But I looked at the catalog and thought, let’s give this a try, it’s listing all the things that I want to do. So we tried it out.
There are also times when I’m faking confidence. I think, fake it till you make it is a real thing for me personally. I’ve had to go into situations time and time again where I’ve had to put on a little bit of a shield and be brave and courageous, and there is an element of faking it. It’s become easier over time. Now, because I’ve been exposed so much to this same interaction with meeting new people and being able to speak with them, it becomes easier each time I do it.
Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about the book, The Confident Connector. So I talk about three pillars of career development because what I realized as I went through my career is that we actually have three things that we need to focus on. One is our career strategy, that’s like our ladder and where we’re heading to. One is our career development, those are skills and tools that we need to be effective in our job. The third is actually network development. That was a piece that I hadn’t been paying attention to, but by focusing on the network, it brings you the next opportunity that you might be looking for, but it also exposes you to what’s going on in the marketplace and new innovation that you can use in your job today.
Now, balancing all three of these pillars is the main challenge. I myself was a workaholic, the 60 to 80-hour weeks, I was working all the time, focused only on my career strategy. I got like a million professional certifications and well, so I was doing pretty good in those two. I actually had to shift and work less so I could do some networking because it all goes together. So I had to create a new balance for me. It’s something I still struggle with, I enjoy working if it’s something that I like to do. Sometimes I have to rein myself back in and just refocus myself. It’s a different type of work, but it helps with the overall career as a whole.
But now that we’re stuck at home and the work is right there, having those boundaries can be even more challenging. I’ve been helping with my parents while COVID has been happening, so it’s been a great time actually to reconnect with them in a new way. I worked from home for eight years before, so I kind of have figured out how to make my boundaries around things. It’s always tempting to be on the laptop, but I also feel like this is a special time to be with family; my mom and I do some puzzles. So, trying to take advantage of a challenging situation and make the best of it has put a new light into my work at this point.
So the real question is, after these standard pre-defined questions, how do you turn that conversation into a connection? For me, listening is at the center of everything. So after that first exchange, I try and listen to hear what they’re trying to say that they might not be trying to say or listen to see what the next question is. I let it be more organic. Maybe, in the beginning, I would go question-by-question. But now what I try and do is after the initial one, I try and listen to see what the next step in the conversation is. So I build it through listening to them and trying to encourage them. I try to make it a two-way conversation and just be a little bit of light in their day, and get to know about them as a person, what they’re saying and what they’re not saying to me.
Then turning that into an actual relationship is somewhat of a process. It’s through the follow-up. We put ourselves out there, we meet somebody, and then we follow up. But a lot of times we go out, we fight traffic for two hours, we get ready to go meet some people, and then we put the business cards in a drawer and we never follow-up with people. So that step is key to us being successful. It’s writing the email after, setting up a follow-up call, if you let them know there’s some information that might be helpful to them, that you send it over, or you can send something else that you think might be helpful to them. It’s starting the relationship by following up and with a spirit of generosity, seeing how you can help them along their path.
Through the way, I’ve learned to also politely excuse myself if the person I’m talking to is way too boring. After that brief conversation where I find out about them, I go, “Excuse me, I need to see my friend over there. I wanted to catch up with them before the event ended. It was lovely to meet you, I wish you all the best.” Or if it’s like a bar situation, “Oh, I needed to get another drink. Thank you so much for sharing.” It is a challenge though. I was at a networking event, so people were doing Q&A. Then right after it finished, two people came up to me asked me that same exact question, how do I get away from people? So a man’s hitting on them and they’re like, how do I get away? It is a very relevant question and it’s something that people are very interested in, especially women.
So I have 12 Super Connectors in the book that I interviewed, and one of them I call him the powerhouse, Chris Lord. There was this one thing his father taught him, it was like, have three subjects that are diverse enough that it can affect anyone. His father’s subjects were like Redwine, vehicles, and diamonds. So have a few things that you have some knowledge around that you can throw into the conversation to keep it going.
One other thing is if someone asks you about your passion, you don’t necessarily have to come back with a business answer, just be real and truthful. If somebody asks you that question, I’m giving you free rein. So feel free to talk about the thing that you’re passionate about. You never know, it’s those types of things that turn into questions and conversations.
The people that I meet in general, I have a few things that I try and give them. I have a list of networking in LA in Orange County, and I have a networking checklist packet. So I try and give the things, but there are times people come across my experience where I meet them and we don’t have maybe something in common or there isn’t a way that I can help them. But I try and be open about connecting people, I try not to think of it as like I’m going to use up my tickets with them. I try and think of it as if I have someone amazing and you both are going to benefit from it, I want to do that as many times as I can. I don’t want to connect them if they’re not going to be beneficial, but maybe there’s some other way I can help them, I’ll just deflect from that.
With the bigger contacts that I have, I try and get a few sentences from the person that wants me to introduce them. If I think they’re actually a fit, then I’ll send that to the person and say, are you interested in making this connection? Sometimes it’s a yes, sometimes it’s a no. So for certain people, I will do that, but there are certain people that I have just built enough relationship and reputation with that I will send them over people as they come through. I tend to focus on the executive and transition areas at the executive level. So that’s already kind of a weeding out point, but I occasionally get a person who’s not going to work. Normally, after I have a few conversations with them, they’re also seeing that some of the contacts that they’re looking at aren’t going to work as well. So I can handle it with sensitivity. The pen salesman is just as valuable as the CEO, we just have to treat people with respect, no matter who they are and what they’re trying to do, and maybe help them in the process of what they’re trying to achieve; maybe there are some better ways they could go about that.
So for people who are coming to meet with me, I’m okay with it if they’ve done pre-study, I’m honestly flattered by it. I’m a person who has come up from the bottom. So if anybody knows my name, I’m like, wow, that’s really flattering. I think it only goes wrong when you act inappropriately around that pre-study. I don’t think pre-study is ever wrong, I think it’s when you maybe take behaviors that aren’t appropriate, like asking me out or something; that’s when it crosses the line.
You can connect with me online. I’m on LinkedIn. I’m also on Twitter @ConfidentCnectr. Then my book, you can get on Amazon. It’s $24.95, but we are also trying to help people during this COVID period where there is a lot of changes in working environments. So we’re offering it on the website. It’s free, you just pay $7.95 for the shipping and we get it out to you, for the US-based customers.