Troy Blaser (00:05):
Hello! Welcome to another episode of Simply Feedback, the podcast brought to you by LearningBridge. Our guest today on Simply Feedback is Robb Holman, CEO of Holman International, a global leadership consultancy revolutionizing the way business leaders operate. Robb is an internationally recognized leadership expert, executive coach, keynote speaker, podcast co-host and best-selling author. With passion and exuberance, Robb's dynamic teaching style has successfully led thousands of business owners, executives, and leaders through his exclusive and proprietary method of Inside Out Leadership coaching. Rob's books Lead the Way and All In guide readers into their hearts to lead both themselves and their teams from a place of authenticity. Rob, welcome to the podcast today. It's so great to have you with us.
Robb Holman (00:54):
Troy, great to be with you. I'm honored to be on the show and definitely looking forward to our conversation.
Troy Blaser (00:59):
You bet, I guess I should mention, you know, the Founder of LearningBridge is Glade Holman, but as far as we can tell, there's no relation, right?
Robb Holman (01:07):
No relation as of yet, I'll do some deeper digging and I'll let you guys know. You'll be at the top of the line if I find out any really important information on the connection, but now I'm really intrigued.
Troy Blaser (01:16):
Yeah. That would be interesting to find that going way back maybe came over on the Mayflower or something like that. Well, Rob, the podcast is titled Simply Feedback. We like to talk about feedback and how it affects our lives, ways that it can help others' lives as well. One of the things that I love to start with, one of my favorite questions is, is to ask you to tell us about a time that somebody gave you feedback, some feedback, hopefully that you know, that had an impact on your life. Have you got a story that you can share with us?
Robb Holman (01:48):
Oh my goodness. Stories. Plural. Let me just tell you, but there's one that jumps out to me very recently. I gave a double keynote to a community in a very similar geographical area. And I did the opening keynote, closing keynote and the individual who was a connection and inviting me in, I debrief with her after both of those keynotes and I just was explicit with her. And I said, I would love to get some, some feedback because at the end of the day, it's not about me, it's about those that I have an opportunity to serve through my speaking and content. And she said, Oh, that's nice. And so I said, what are a couple of things that you really enjoyed? You know, you were present in those keynote talks and you, and she went on Troy. And she said, Rob, you know, cause now a lot of my live speaking opportunities have gone virtual because of COVID and she said, Rob, the way that you engaged, you use chat room, you use video, you use meeting rooms, you use all these different methods in which to engage.
Robb Holman (02:53):
So it wasn't just you speaking, you know, this content, this content that literally changes lives, but you want it to ignite people and inspire them right on the spot. She said, job well done. But then she went on and she said, Rob, if you want to grow in that area a little bit more, get to know the culture, the group of people that you're speaking to, even that much more now, surely she said, you brought up certain cultural things. You brought up certain things about that community, but you could have dug a little deeper. You could have used more words and phrases and expressions that are going to further invite them in to who you are and the content that you have. And let me just tell you, I took that feedback, the good, the constructive feedback, all of it. And then I had another about two weeks later, another, uh, this time it was a webinar, but an hour and a half long to a very similar community in that geographical area. And I put to practice what she shared with me and the feedback overwhelmingly was positive in the engagement and going deeper in the engagement. So, so grateful for it.
Troy Blaser (04:02):
I love how you took a moment to seek out that feedback and got to hear lots of great feedback about how fantastic it was and all the good things that you did. And then there was the piece of feedback there that, that allowed you to grow and to improve. But I think it's fantastic that you actually spent that time to debrief and to seek out the feedback a little bit.
Robb Holman (04:22):
Well, I appreciate that. And you know, I've just realized it's less about me and it's more about everyone else. So the less I take things personal and I realize I want to be the best steward of who I am. What's been entrusted in my care, the wisdom, the life experience, my Inside Out Leadership philosophy, all of it, then people are going to benefit because of it. And that for me at the end of the day is what it's all about.
Troy Blaser (04:46):
Sure. So at the beginning here, I read through your bio, but I wanted to ask a little bit about how you got started. What was it that inspired you to go down this path in the very beginning of your career?
Robb Holman (04:59):
Yeah. I have to go to a milestone moment. I was heading into my senior year of college, 21 years old and Troy, I was a basketball player. So I was, co-captain the basketball team, going into my senior year. Of course it's supposed to be the best year of your life. You know, 21 years old, senior year of college. However, one problem the summer before my senior year, I had a mass in my abdomen that was extremely painful. And I mean, getting in and out of cars, I mean, the pain scale, one to 10, 10 being like this is beyond bearable. It was probably like an eight or a nine. And I remember telling my mom at the time, mom, I, I gotta do something about this. And I was about ready to head back to the college campus to get my basketball physical, short time after this.
Robb Holman (05:46):
I started feeling this pain and this mass. I didn't go to my primary doctor here. I waited till I went on the college campus and I got checked out by the doctor. And this doctor, this doctor looked like a ghost. He said, Rob, we need to get you in right away to get some tests done. And I walked out of that doctor's office about a half mile across campus to my college apartment. And it was the loneliest walk of my entire life because age 21 with my whole life ahead of me, I was thinking the worst I, what do I have cancer at 21? And I, am I going to die? You know, these thoughts just bombarded my mind in my heart. Long story short, I got cat scans, MRIs, ultrasounds. I mean, if I had a test, I probably got it done multiple times.
Robb Holman (06:36):
The doctors were confused. They were not ruling out cancer. The mass was so abnormal that they didn't know exactly what it was thus they didn't know how to treat it until I walk into an ultrasound specialist at University of Pennsylvania hospital. And I clearly have pain. I clearly have a mass for about a month and a half at this particular time. And the doctor begins to check me out on the ultrasound screen and says, Rob, I cannot even find adequate words to describe what I'm about to tell you. I said, what do you mean? He said, you no longer have a mass in your abdomen any longer. And it was the most awakening time of my entire life. It was literally doctors still say this to this day. It was a modern day miracle, purpose for me leading up to this point was quite frankly, winning the next basketball game, hanging out with my friends throughout the course of the week and just having fun. But now with this modern day miracle, I come out of this experience asking a whole different set of questions that I had not asked previously. Why am I here? Who am I? And what's the influence I've been given apart from at the time six and a half billion people on the planet. And little did I know now over about 23 years later, I'd be helping leaders discover, rediscover their personal purpose only to see that infused into what they do as a profession. And that really ignited my journey.
Troy Blaser (08:07):
Wow. That is a, that's a fantastic story. I'm you know, of course, I'm so glad to hear that it has turned out well for you, but what a great motivation and a great turning point in your life to say, okay, let's, let's refocus from the next basketball game. Let's broaden the perspective, right.
Robb Holman (08:28):
That's right. And that really jump started after I graduated, I had a professional basketball career that spanned about seven years. As I was pursuing a professional basketball career, I started my first company at age 21, had two companies by age 23. I look back Troy. And honestly, I feel like I'm talking about someone else, because now I've had just the honor and joy of starting nine different organizations in the last 23 years, six for profit three nonprofit. And I'm just so thankful for my wife, because she's always asking me, Rob, what's the next thing you're going to do. So it's just, but, but I'll tell you, I have so much energy and I've learned so much in my short 45 years that I just want to serve and help as many people and as many leaders as I possibly can.
Troy Blaser (09:15):
What a great way to approach your career as, as a way to, you know, it's focused on the people, how can I help somebody change their life for the better? We try to do a lot of the same thing here at LearningBridge through feedback, feedback that we can facilitate and make happen and help people understand. Here's a way to accept some feedback into your life that can be generative. That can be positive for you. I wanted to ask you, you mentioned your Inside Out Leadership philosophy. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Robb Holman (09:46):
You know, I've just observed over the years through experience, as well as to a lot of statistical data to back it up that the average worker is really disengaged and no surprise. I like a Deloitte university press article I read back in 2014, a handful of years ago that at that particular time, and it really hasn't changed a whole lot. A matter of fact, it's probably gone up because of COVID. But with that said that over 90%, nearly 90% of the average working professional is disengaged, but what's even more alarming than that is nearly 80% are the leaders of those working professionals. Now with COVID the added stress of COVID. If people aren't burnt out, they're certainly on the verge of it, many working professionals. So I've just realized a lot of money's being spent prior to COVID, now with COVID trying to help people better engage, help leaders, help their team members, et cetera.
Robb Holman (10:38):
But what I found is that these things aren't all bad. But many of the different techniques and strategies they're trying to apply and all the money being thrown at that problem trying to solve it are more what I consider outside techniques and strategies, trying to get into the heart and the mind of the worker, like incentives and different things. Now they have a place there's no doubt about it, but I have found that they tend to be temporary motivators and not inspirational sustainers. And so for me, I have devoted my life on let's try to really enter into the heart of the worker and the leader into their mind and begin to see them inspired on the inside, only to see it work itself out within their sphere of influence. And so, for me, it's all about let's get into the heart, let's get into the mind of the worker, the professional, the leader, find out where, what makes them come alive?
Robb Holman (11:36):
What impassions them, what empowers them? What is something they love to talk about all day long? And maybe they have for, for quite so many years. And it be as though, the first time they're ever really, truly speaking about it. And I found when you can tap into that really deep place in any human being any leader for that matter, now they're compelled to action. You don't have to twist their arm. You don't have to come up with all these, you know, different things, trying to get them or tame them to actually be about productivity. So Inside Out Leadership is all about inspiring people from the inside out
Troy Blaser (12:11):
Finding that internal motivation, like you said and then like you said, you don't have to twist arms anymore. As you were talking about that, I thought, I wonder if during this time here with the COVID pandemic, is it even more difficult to be aware of the level of engagement with your employees because they are remote and maybe you're not interacting with them on a more informal basis as you pass in the hallway at work, or, you know, in the office building, it could be very difficult to gauge the level of engagement with those folks that are working remotely.
Robb Holman (12:49):
It's true. I could not agree more. I think the need for one-to-one, you know, now zoom calls virtual meetings have never been more timely. We get used to in business, whether it's small, medium, or large, we get used to the weekly monthly meetings and the huddles, et cetera. And sometimes we certainly will have the one-to-one meetings, but to your point, I think the value of spending intentional one-to-one time with our team members could not be any more relevant. And I'll tell you what I'm finding personally is I'm spending more one-to-one time with my own family, let alone my own team members and those consulting relationships that I have to see the productivity that's coming out of it. Absolutely amazing.
Troy Blaser (13:33):
So you talked a little bit about the challenges as you talked about Inside Out Leadership, you talked about how the importance of finding what that internal motivation is. But as, as you work with different organizations, that the ones that you've started yourself or clients that you engage with, what are some of the biggest difficulties that you see as you engage with those clients?
Robb Holman (13:55):
Yeah. Wonderful question. I, I think helping retrain the brain is a necessity. And here's what I mean by that, as it relates to feedback is I think it's one thing to receive feedback. You get it, you know, some people ask for it, some people are given it. It's another thing to be receptive to feedback, and we need to learn how the brain works. And so I don't know if you've you've ever come across, um, it's called the Velcro and Teflon effect. I find it fascinating Velcro Teflon effect, meaning that there's a reason why we naturally gravitate towards, let's say your boss, you know, sends an email to two team members and they just finished a project. And the boss says to both of them, a great job on these nine areas of the project and nine very specific things provides all these positive feedback and just one constructive thing to work on. Why is it that usually a vast, vast majority of people will hone in on the one the constructive thing right away and obsess about it. And forget all the important, positive things, you know, and I've just found the Velcro Teflon effect is huge. I think if we can help people understand how the brain works. For instance, if you know, our brains are hardwired with neuroscience tells us that, you know, it's like Velcro, we get a negative, something to happen in our life, a negative comment, even if it's constructive criticism and all of a sudden, we stick right to it. And it really it's an evolutionary thing because survival, like for instance, back in the day that what our lives depended on it, we were being chased down and, and we had to all of a sudden the adrenaline gets pumping and all of a sudden anxiousness and fear can actually save our life.
Robb Holman (15:54):
We can go and hide. We can go and do this. The adrenaline flowing and everything. Here's the problem though, day in and day out in today's day and age, we're not being chased down on a consistent basis by someone who wants our life. And so we are not meant to just survive. We are meant to thrive. And when in thinking about things, having a proper and healthy perspective on ourselves, on others, on circumstances and the feedback we're given. And so for us, that's why the, the Velcro there's negative things tend to stick to us and with us and the positive things, because of how we're hardwired is, they tend to be like Teflon, they slide off. So if we can begin to understand and retrain the brain to think about the truths about our self and positive things about our self, then I think we're going to have a much healthier and what I call a higher perspective. So we're actually given constructive feedback. We don't obsess about it in a negative way and let it completely ruin our day in our week and our month, and then start questioning our job and our responsibilities, but we can put it in its proper place. And now we can actually be the change agent that people truly want and need us to be.
Troy Blaser (17:10):
That's fantastic. That's something that I've even seen in my own work experience. Even just this morning, I had written a draft of an article and I asked my colleagues to critique the draft and to help me edit it. And so, you know, I come sit down at the desk this morning and there's a whole list of comments at different points in the article. And I found myself starting down that path, that's almost like a fight or flight response where, you know, you see this feedback and it's like, why would they say that? I can't believe they would, you know, as like, okay, step back. They're being helpful. Don't need to let that adrenaline start flowing, but rather this feedback and ultimately focus on a better article, that's going to come out of that because of that feedback.
Robb Holman (17:56):
Yeah. So just to even push the pause button, if you allow me to for a minute sure. And get practical with that, I think the next time that we get that email or we get that document, and it has a lot of, you know, at least some constructive criticism, but certainly some wonderful points about who you are about the work you've done. And I'm not speaking specifically just to you, but really to the overall audience is your pause, pause on those a couple of really positive things first. And, and really like, you know, honestly, not to sound corny or anything like that, but like close your eyes if you have to, you know, appreciate who you are and the gift that you are to this world. And, and in that, just allowing 20 seconds, because in that study, in the Velcro Teflon effect, a lot of neuroscientists and stuff like that, they'll say, if you just take 20 seconds to hone in on the positive things first 20 seconds, now all of a sudden it leaves space and room for you to really digest it. When you get into some of the constructive things, again, it's going to be out of a very different place that you're going to be taking that in and then responding accordingly.
Troy Blaser (19:14):
That makes sense. Yep. Absolutely. I probably could have done it better this morning, but I've done it before. And it really does make a difference when you, when you allow that space, um, like you said, even close your eyes, but allow some time and space for that to happen. That really does make a difference.
Troy Blaser (19:33):
I wanted to ask as you have worked with people over the course of your career, is there a specific experience or a time when you've seen feedback cause a point of inflection in someone's career or in someone's life?
Robb Holman (20:51):
I had the amazing opportunity. This was about three years ago, I did some consulting work for a company in the greater Philadelphia area. And one of the executive team members, she headed out the financial area more or less the CFO company. And she contacted me outside the group, outside the company and said, will you get together with my daughter, she's the valedictorian of her high school? And I said, well, what can I do? How could it be a service story? You know, this is, this is getting interesting. And she said, Rob, she's got to prepare a speech, her valedictorian speech for her entire class at her graduation. And I thought of you, I thought of how you deliver how much passion you have. And Troy, I remember getting together with her and her mom the first time.
Robb Holman (21:48):
And it was that initial kind of discovery meeting to see, Hey, would this even make sense for me to kind of coach her through some different things? And I remember saying to her, do you know, she struggled with comparing herself to others, which I know she's not alone. I know she's not alone in that world. And, and I looked at her and I said, do you know, apart from seven and a half billion people on the earth today, there's not one other person like you, I said, no one else has the mind like yours. No one else has a heart that beats just like yours. No one else thinks the way that you think no one else loves and serves people exactly the same way you do. Troy. When I said that to her in some different way, shapes and forms throughout a period of about 10 to 15, the minutes something registered very deeply in her.
Robb Holman (22:47):
And I saw maybe some fragile self-esteem things kind of going on in her, not to say that they were completely resolved, but I noticed a shift beginning to take place. And basically we came to terms her mom and I, and her and said, Hey, let's get together consistently leading up to the the graduating speech. And we did that. And from that point forward, it started change the trajectory of her life that she in fact has made uniquely apart from everyone else that she in fact has a message that not only her class, but the entire world needs to hear. And I just kept enforcing, reinforcing that. And I'll tell you, her mom texted me at the graduation, like during the graduation and said, Rob, she she's nailing it. She's nailing it. She's coming completely alive. There's this competence in my baby girl. I didn't even think was possible. And I just, now I'm not present at the physical graduation. I'm getting a text from her mom a couple of different times. And I was beaming as though I was right there present with her and her family and her entire class.
Troy Blaser (23:59):
That's fantastic. That's great. And you know what I love about the two things I like about that. Number one, it seems like a classic or a great application of Inside Out Leadership. You didn't talk to her about her speech, but you talked to her about what's inside of her that is so unique and allowed for the speech to come out and be full of confidence and be a unique representation of her. The second thing I love about that story Rob, is that I also spoke at my own high school graduation. I wasn't the valedictorian, but I gave an address. I feel much better about it myself after hearing what you just said. Maybe I had something unique to say to, you know, to my high school class, when I spoke at my graduation. So, so there you go.
Robb Holman (24:46):
Well, I'll tell you, every person has a story to share and you could be the most technical person and have all the, I found this. There's nothing in matter with it. I think, um, having your points are important, right? It's being a good steward of your contents, being a good steward of the delivery of that content. But what I believe supersedes that is when you're comfortable in your own skin. And I'll tell you when you can know who you are and begin to communicate and live out of that place and then work on some of the tactical aspects. Now it has vibrancy with sustainability and I'll tell you, people are impacted greater than we can ever even ask her think.
Troy Blaser (25:26):
Yeah. Yeah. So I wanted to ask about your books. You've written two books Lead the Way and All In. What was the motivation for the books?
Robb Holman (25:37):
Yeah, I think it gets back to at the end of the day, my big idea really, there's a series I'm working on my third right now. The big idea is really, I just keep beating this drum. And it's the, it's the thing you just alluded to. The story I shared about the valedictorian gets into my Inside Out Leadership philosophy. The more that we discover or rediscover who we are, we're going to live life and lead out of a place of passion and purpose. That's just the bottom line. And the more purposeful and passionate we are, guess what we start attracting other like-minded like-hearted people. And if we want to have a greater influence around us, it begins in us. So I always say it like this. It's like if we want to see revival around us, revival begins in us because we can only give what we got.
Robb Holman (26:28):
And so really the premise of Lead the Way that's more of the personal leadership, I lay out all my Inside Out leadership principles and there's reflection questions. And then on the coattails of that with All In I deal with the area of within team member relationships. So at the end of the day, we can be on point with who we are, you know, with a personal leadership, but we also need to know we're there to serve and to be present with our team members. And so I continue to reinforce Inside Out Leadership principles through the area of trust and then the third book, which I'm not going to give the title out right now, but that's going to be more about how we can influence organizational culture from the inside out. And so I'm really I'm down the home stretch of that book. It should be completed at least the initial draft by January 1, 2021. And hopefully in the next year, it'll be out, uh, for all to read.
Troy Blaser (27:27):
So that's exciting. I'm glad to know that it's going to be a trilogy that feels somehow a little bit more complete when you're talking about a trilogy that way. But, uh, no, that that's definitely worth keeping an eye out for. Any other projects besides the book that you're working on, that you want to share with us?
Robb Holman (27:45):
So yeah, I have a few different ones. I had mentioned the book. I also have a cohort right now of people in this public speaking space, people that want to refine and then broaden the message on their heart. And I am literally, and it's a revolving kind of cohort. People can jump in at any month and they just basically commit for six months. And these are serious people that want to get paid to speak and influence people all over the world through their message. And so that's called Get Paid to Speak Bootcamp. So that's currently going on. And in addition to that, I have a mission that I'm personally going on in 2021. And it is to interview 12 of the top Inside Out leaders in the world. And I'm going to be interviewing one per month for the 12 months in 2021.
Troy Blaser (28:41):
That sounds like quite an adventure.
Robb Holman (28:43):
Yeah, thank goodness. I can actually do it remotely because that would really be an adventure if I couldn't do it remotely.
Troy Blaser (28:49):
That does sound like a lot of fun. And again, something for us to keep our eyes out for as you start to put that together. Well, Rob, we've talked about a few different pieces of advice you might say. We've talked about Velcro and Teflon. We've talked about your inside out leadership philosophy. Is there any other advice that you want to give our listeners today?
Robb Holman (29:12):
Well, I think I want to get real practical maybe as we close, as it relates to some could be listening and like, okay, Robb I gotcha. I want to, I'm at a point in my life. I either want to discover or rediscover my personal purpose, my big why, why am I here? But how do I do it? And there's five things that I just wanna encourage people. I want to leave with them. If you want to discover why you're here, discover, rediscover who you are first. Okay. The first thing is, is discover, rediscover your personal core values. What are their things, the deep convictions of your heart that you're making decisions out of all day long, but may not even fully realize it. Like for me, one of my personal core values is commitment. It's either you're in, or you're out. There's no life in between, but what are your, what are your second?
Robb Holman (30:03):
What are your top strengths? What are your natural talents? The things that come more easily to you, that there's an abundance of positive fruit that comes from it. Matter of fact, when you're engaging in those things, they're not really, it's not really work. There's a lot of life there. Third passion. What are the primary passion areas of your life? The things that literally have you leaping out of bed in the morning in which to do, accomplish, or maybe hang with some specific individuals in the midst of that journey too. Fourth is what are your personal life milestones? The things throughout the course of your life, that when you went through them, it maybe it was a, it was a mile marker. It was a milestone market where a stake was put in the ground. It could be something that was really, really challenging and difficult, like the divorce of your parents or the birth of your first child.
Robb Holman (30:51):
Some tremendous blessing in that way. But what are these things? What are your top five life milestones that helped shape you to become the person you are today? Listening to this really highly energetic person, talk about life and purpose. And the fifth and final I'd say is, what do you think one of your biggest gifts in life are like, like you are gifts. So if something are you like just a gifted leader, are you one who's filled with empathy? Are you a person that has a lot of mercy and you don't argue, you know, whatever that is, but, but really your gift, you becoming a gift in that specific way that the world begins to unwrap while you're living. And then when you're no longer here on this earth, it's a legacy you leave behind. And I've just found Troy, when you begin to do a deeper dive in those five areas that I just shared on the coattails of that, you could begin asking the question, okay, now that I better understand who I am, why am I here?
Robb Holman (31:53):
And I think it's going to make much more sense beginning to dive into that question, because now you can begin to head into, okay, what's a problem in the world that when I hear about it, I see it. I read it, whatever it is, right. When I come across this problem, there's something deep on the inside of me that begins to just churn. And I begin to come more alive. And in the deepest place of who we are, we begin to cry out, not on my watch. I've got to do something to be a solution to that problem. So I would just leave that with your audience.
Troy Blaser (32:22):
I really appreciate that. As I'm listening to those five things, tasks, you might say things to look at. And I think to myself, gosh, the, the end of the year is coming up. That sounds like a great exercise to sort of do towards the end of the year. And then the new year's coming. And it really can be a fresh start or a fresh look. You've talked about discover or rediscover, right? What is it that I'm passionate about? How am I going to act, what am I going to do in the coming year as I take a look at these, these valuable questions, I love that.
Troy Blaser (32:57):
Well, Rob, thanks so much for this conversation today. It's been really enjoyable. I've loved the thoughts that I've been able to have and hearing some of your stories and your passion. And I believe that our listeners kind of feel the same way, but I wanted to ask you if people want to know more, if they, if they want to experience more, is that something that you're open to? And if so, what, what should people do if they want to get in touch with you?
Robb Holman (33:23):
First of all, I just want to say thank you, Troy. I mean, honestly, it's been a joy to be with you. I love the work that you and your team members are doing in the area of feedback. As I shared before, I think before we hit the record button, the work that the extraordinary work that you all are doing could not be more timely, more relevant and has lasting impact in people, in leaders' lives. So thank you. And thanks for having me on because it's been incredible honor to do that. I think people want to do a little bit more of their homework on me, or find me feel free to go to RobbHolman.com. And that's Robb with two b's, R O B B H O L M A N.com. And then I'm all over social media so whether that be LinkedIn or Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, feel free to reach out to me, message me in any one of those points of connection. And I'd love to answer any questions or help you in any way that I can.
Troy Blaser (34:15):
Fantastic. Rob, it's been a delight today. Thanks so much for joining our conversation on Simply Feedback.
Robb Holman (34:21):
Okay. Thank you once again. And I look forward to continuing the dialogue.