Success Through Strength

Rob FazioSeason 1Episode 8


Our next guest, Dr. Rob Fazio, managing partner of OnPoint Advising and president of the 9/11 inspired nonprofit, Hold the Door Open for Others, discusses his book, Simple Is the New Smart, as well as insights on what drives people and finding ways to grow through adverse experiences, trauma and loss.


Rob Fazio

Rob Fazio

Dr. Rob Fazio is the Managing Partner at OnPoint Advising specializing in global leadership and organizational success. His approach to advising combines original research on power, influence, conversations, and motivation as well as over 20 years of consulting to elite performers.

During the Covid 19 crisis Dr. Fazio has been advising hospitals and conducting presentations on Growth Leadership in Times of Crisis to support front line health professionals and executive leadership. His work on Flattening the Anxiety Curve has been featured on Fox News and in The Hill.

Based on his experiences in sport psychology and executive development, he teaches clients how to remove barriers to function at optimal levels. He has worked with executive teams and coached executives throughout organizations including the C-Suite, surgeons, and emerging leaders.

Dr.Fazio has contributed to Forbes, NBC News, NY Daily News, HER Magazine, CEO Magazine, Philadelphia Business Journal, and American Management Association. His advice on navigating turbulent times and politics has been featured in the NY Times and on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and local networks.

His book, Simple is the New Smart (foreword by Neil Cavuto), features success strategies he has gleaned from over a decade and a half of working with athletes, executives, and people driven toward excellence.

Recently, he developed the Motivational Currency® Calculator. This self-assessment reveals what drives people, how well someone can read another person’s motivators, and how effective someone is at using the best approach to tap into someone’s motivators.

He has developed significant expertise in advising Fortune 500 organizations globally develop, advise, and retain employees based on a future-oriented strategy, organizational values, culture, and person/position fit. He has worked internationally in a variety of industries including finance/banking, private equity, accounting, media, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, telecommunications, chemicals, retail, sports, public utilities, and nonprofits. Rob is often asked to be a keynote speaker or facilitator at executive offsites.

Dr. Fazio has served as a performance excellence consultant to a variety of organizations and athletic teams. He participated in the development and facilitation of the life-skills portion of the NFL’s Coaching Academy and the PGA’s 1st Tee programs.

He is the founder and President of a September 11th inspired nonprofit organization, Hold The Door For Others. The organization’s mission is to empower people to grow through any type of loss and adversity and achieve their dreams,

Prior to starting OnPoint Advising, he worked at Leadership Research Institute and Hay Group. Rob completed his B.A. in Psychology at The Pennsylvania State University. He earned an M.Ed. in Athletic Counseling from Springfield College and a MS in Counseling Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Fazio earned his PhD in Counseling Psychology, with a subspecialty in consulting, and completed his clinical rotation at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Fazio is a Licensed Psychologist in the state of Pennsylvania.


Troy Blaser (00:01):
Hello! Welcome to another episode of Simply Feedback. The podcast hosted by LearningBridge. Our guest today is Dr. Rob Fazio. Rob has worked with Fortune 500 companies from around the globe for more than 15 years. He's the managing partner of OnPoint Advising Inc., and president of the nonprofit, Hold the Door for Others. A 9/11 inspired nonprofit that helps people grow through adversity. He created the Motivational Currency Calculator, which is an assessment of what drives people and how they can better lead. Dr. Fazio is the author of Simple Is the New Smart. He's often sought out to share his point of view on CNN, Fox News channel and MSNBC and in Forbes and the CEO Magazine. Rob, welcome to the Simply Feedback podcast today. It's good to have you with us.
Rob Fazio (00:58):
Troy, it's great to hear your voice and having a conversation with you again,
Troy Blaser (01:03):
The podcast is Simply Feedback. We like to talk a lot about feedback, but one of the questions that I find very fascinating to ask our guests is to have you tell us about a time that somebody gave you feedback and what kind of an impact that feedback might've had on your life, if it marked a turning point or a particular change in direction because of the feedback that you received. Have you got a time when that happened?
Rob Fazio (01:24):
Yes. This first story that comes to mind for me is when I was in grad school and just like any good psychology program, you get tons of feedback and back then it was via either cassette recordings or VHS tapes. And you would bring your recordings of therapy sessions to your supervisor and advisor and they would go through it with you. So the first thing was, I remember going into one of my supervisor's offices with a stack of tapes and I had a big smile on my face and it was all ready and I put one in, I hit play and he goes, "Go back to your office and get the other tapes." I'm like, "What are you, what are you talking about?" And he's like, "I don't want Rob Fazio's highlight reels. Like I want the real stuff. Like I want to see when you're struggling and what you're doing."
Rob Fazio (02:11):
So that was my first experience, which I did everything I could to try to avoid feedback, right? And then when I started getting into a groove, same supervisor. His name is Dr. McCreary. He's looking at my tapes and doing therapy and this is probably maybe like a year or so in. And he goes, "Fazio, what in the world are you doing?" And then it's like, "What, what do you mean? I'm making sure I'm linking cognitive behavioral theories to the psycho dynamic process and I'm making sure I'm being a scientist practitioner." And he's like, "You're, you're terrible." He's like, "You are not having a human conversation. From now on start off, like you're Rob Fazio like how you talk to people. It made so much sense because I was so much time in my head. I was losing what I really enjoyed, which was the helping people and having that connection. So that really changed my perspective on how I work with people.
Troy Blaser (03:12):
I love it when every once in a while that happens where you're just in the right moment, the right mindset, where feedback just sort of clicks in your head and it's like, Oh yeah, I wasn't doing it that way before, but I can see that I should be. And so you can just sort of shift over to a new direction.
Rob Fazio (03:29):
Troy Blaser (03:29):
That's cool. So you talked a little bit about your background, but maybe tell us some of your background, you know, where did you come from? How did you get started? Why did you go into the field that you're in?
Rob Fazio (03:41):
I went into the field I was in because growing up, I was very anxious as a kid and I didn't have a lot of confidence and I didn't want to live that way. So I just got really interested in this idea of psychology and trying to better oneself and really take some ownership of my own growth and development. So I had interest in psychology real, real, early on, probably before high school. And I remember when I was watching the Olympics with my mom, this was right during when the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan incident happened. And Nancy Kerrigan was seeing a sports psychologist to help get her through. And my mom said, you know, you really love sports and you also love psychology. Why not go into sports psychology? And so that was what I initially went into was this idea of building mental toughness and focus and working with teams and helping people be elite performers, and then went on to traditional psychology and while there just realize I also appreciated business.
Rob Fazio (04:45):
And as we know, there's a lot of performances in business that's much like sports, so it was a good, a good fit. And it was really important to me. A lot of the programs are based in physical education or kinesiology. It was really important to me to go to a program that looked at the whole person. So it was based in counseling, it's called athletic counseling at Springfield college. And it really took into the whole, how does someone perform, looking at them from perspective as an athlete on the field, as well as their lives off the field and how much those two interplay much like performing at work and your home life.
Troy Blaser (05:21):
I'm guessing, or assuming that there's feedback involved in that?
Rob Fazio (05:25):
Yes, the beauty of sport, Troy, is it's feedback is an expectation and it's part of the game. So it's not this loaded term or loaded thing it's called coaching. And when it's called coaching in sports, you're expected to get some feedback on what you're doing and people aren't defensive about it. That's what I love about it. Sport gives you instant feedback and people coach you, and it's part of the culture. And I think there's a lot less resistance there as when we get into the business world, it becomes a little more difficult and messy.
Troy Blaser (06:00):
Yeah, I like that insight, you know, they're literally is a coach there whose job is to give you feedback when you're in sports and it really doesn't happen as often inside of a business. Are there ways that as you approach perhaps an engagement with a company that you can overcome some of that resistance to hearing the feedback?
Rob Fazio (06:21):
Yes, the first thing is I don't use the word feedback. I try to as much as possible call it something different and be transparent about it. So I talk a lot about it being advice, it being something that is designed to be helpful, but I try to stay away from the word feedback because so many of us had traumatizing experiences with giving or receiving it. There's a great book called Thank You For The Feedback. And the whole philosophy is around teaching someone how to receive feedback. And once someone really knows how to receive it, they become better at giving it. So I try to take that as well, and also, Troy, just letting people know that it's not as easy as we make it sound because there's something called emotion that gets involved. And if we look at what, what is feedback really it's, someone's preference based on their priorities. They're seeing things to their perception and lens, and then giving you some piece of information. So I think we can offset a lot of that by putting on the table how difficult it can be and trying to shift the mindset around it.
Troy Blaser (07:28):
That makes sense to take away some of that negative emotion or the anticipation or the anxiety that's there just by calling it what it is and saying, you know, you may experience this and that's okay. And everybody kind of feels that way or feels that anxiety as the feedback starts to come or the advice, and that can help people be ready to receive that feedback a little bit more. So I'm familiar with the Motivational Currency Calculator, but for our listeners, will you tell us about the Motivational Currency Calculator, the MCC, what it is, why you created it, how do you use it? Things like that.
Rob Fazio (08:01):
So just some live feedback for you and your team choice. So I had worked with a lot of vendors and by far working with your team helped me be more strategic and have confidence in the product and service around Motivational Currency. That was so, so helpful. And I hope that more people get to have that experience . Creating an assessment is no, no easy thing. In the spirit of feedback, I always kid around. My wife and I developed this together. She is a professor and teaches research and communication. And I say, if you really want to know your true social style, creating an assessment with your spouse or partner, it'll teach you.
Troy Blaser (08:42):
One of those kinds of experiences to go through with your spouse for sure.
Rob Fazio (08:45):
Yes. So Motivational Currency is based on David McClelland, who was at Harvard and did all this research on social motives which is internally what drives you? And the whole idea is that there are things that get formed through our experiences that in any given situation are likely to get pulled out of us. So for example, if you're very achievement oriented in situations, you're going to be results focused. And so what I wanted to do is take his years and years of research and simplify an approach that can be used in different ways. And so his approach was really focused on the unconscious and I wanted a very simple and practical approach that was business focused. So motivational currencies is about three things: Recognition, which is realizing what your motivators are and yourself, and then Reading, which is picking up on cues and motivators in other people, and then Leading, which is adapting your leadership style.
Rob Fazio (09:50):
It's got a self evaluation aspect and then also a skill aspect. So I think of it as we're situational leadership meets motivation because we want people to be aware and how to adapt, but we also want to get them better at understanding others. And I was using this mostly around and creating engagement clients, coaching, so really around influence, right, and motivating people. What I found was people have started using it around diversity and inclusion initiatives. So communicating that people and the way that they want to be communicating to uncover what's really, truly important to a person using consistent language that really connects to people.
Troy Blaser (10:37):
It's interesting to see how, you know, you created it for one intended purpose, but it ends up working as a tool for, for lots of different things. So you'll use it at the beginning of an engagement to help people start to think about those concepts. Is that how you would apply the MCC?
Rob Fazio (10:53):
So a few different ways. One is I use it in an executive coaching engagement to increase awareness and help a person diversify their approach to communication influence. I use it in keynote presentations, so everyone can have a consistent language and then use it organizationally as a way, a lens through which see things that are happening and making sure that people are diversifying their approach to leadership and influence.
Troy Blaser (11:17):
Cool. You've shared a fantastic time here at the beginning of the interview, about a time when somebody gave you feedback, but is there an experience or a time when you've seen feedback cause a point of inflection in someone else's career or their life, as you've engaged with different clients over the years?
Rob Fazio (11:34):
I have, I've not by design, but I've developed a niche in working with really strong personalities. So your executives, surgeons, all different types of people with strong personalities. And I was working with a doc and the feedback for him was it was all command control and didn't listen to people and didn't have any interpersonal effectiveness. Let's say not all that uncommon. And I did some shadowing with him and I remember him saying, you're not gonna learn anything from watching me. I said, okay, that's fine. Let me just, let me just see here. I watched him interact with a patient's family and talk to them about a postop procedure and around adherence and what to do. And after the conversation, I said, "Doc, what did you do there?" He's like, "Oh, I like, I want to make sure that things go well." And I was like, "Do you realize how much kind you are? How patient you were, how empathetic you were and how you just listened to their concerns and try to be helpful?" He was like, "Yeah." I said, "How can you do that there? But when you're talking to your team and the nurse practitioners or PAs or anesthesiologists, it's completely different?" And he said, "Well, that's because that's part of my business. Patients have to adhere. They have to see that side of me so they come back." And I said, "Well, what about for your team? Will they function more effectively? Will they stick with you if you take that approach?" And that just one moment, one conversation helped him shift his perspective on how he was going to communicate with his team and work with his team.
Troy Blaser (13:04):
I have to say, Rob, as I hear you talk about this, the thought that comes to my mind is, gosh, Rob really likes to play in the deep end of the pool. We're not gonna, we're not going to work with the ones that are easy to work with. We're going to go find the guys that are set in their ways and know exactly what they think they want and trying to give them advice and help them be better. That takes real skill, real talent.
Rob Fazio (13:28):
You know, Troy, it's funny, you said it. I recently went through a strength-based coaching training and the feedback that came from me and my profile was I enjoy diffusing the bomb, which is just a weird way to pick it. But I guess if you think about it, I do enjoy the high stakes stuff where you can really make some, some impact that had that ripple effect, where if you help someone be more effective, that way they're happy with themselves, home lives are better for the people below them, more engagement, all that good stuff.
Troy Blaser (13:58):
You mentioned success through strength. Will you tell us a little bit more about what that means and how you use that principle in the work that you do?
Rob Fazio (14:05):
Yes. So I think that the foundation for all success is strength, starting with yourself. So it takes so much strength to get through transitions and to have the right mindset where you believe the success pie is big enough and you can help others. So I see strength as that foundation and in some of the work that I have the opportunity to do is, is helping people realize that there's a continuum from weakness to subtle strength, to overt strength, to dominance. And oftentimes when we're stressed and under pressure, we play in either weakness and being very passive or replaying dominance where we have to take control. And if we become the master of the way we interact with people and stick with subtle strength, which is intentional influence, demonstrating backbone and respect, and then there's overt strength, which is being assertive. If we can stay in those two aspects of strength, we become more successful and we help others become more successful. The stronger we are, the less likely crises like COVID-19 are going to have negative impact on us. And we're almost expecting and prepared for those. And just knowing that that's part of life and making sure we're weaving that strength for ourselves and building up others in the process.
Troy Blaser (15:25):
I really love doing these podcasts, these interviews, because I end up hearing things like what you just said, talking about that continuum from weakness through subtle strength, to overt strength to dominance. I started thinking, well, gosh, how does that apply in my own life or in the lives of people that I know, are there things that I can tweak for myself personally, in terms of how I interact with others or how I lead or, you know, in different situations. That's fantastic, I appreciate that.
Troy Blaser (15:53):
I wanted to talk for just a minute about your nonprofit, Hold the Door For Others. It was a joyful experience for me to learn more about that nonprofit as I've prepped to talk to you today. It seems like a wonderful organization helping people to grow through adversity, to achieve their dreams. But I understand also that there's really some incredible personal meaning behind its inception and its mission. Will you tell us more about Hold the Door For Others?
Rob Fazio (16:20):
Absolutely. We are grateful to have a story about my dad. So my dad grew up in the Bronx and worked in New York City pretty much his whole life. And he was in the towers on September 11th. And we were convinced that he was fine because he called my mom twice. And what we found out was he didn't make it, but the last moments of his life, he made the decision to help others. And when people kept saying, when they'd call the house and said, Hey, Rob, you know, is your dad home? I said no, we haven't heard yet. But they said we saw him, he was holding the door, he was helping us out and he held the door for us and helped get us out. And so we know when the last moments of his life, he was holding a door to help people get home to their loved ones.
Rob Fazio (17:10):
And it's really been an inspiration to us. And we decided right after September 11th, we were going to do something to keep his legacy alive and to keep it loud. And we keyed in on this whole idea of taking adverse experiences, trauma, and loss, and finding a way to create growth through those experiences. And my whole thing was that I wanted to match the level of grief we felt on 9/11 with growth for our country and beyond. And so it's, you know, taken on a life of its own. And I'm grateful for all the people that we do help during COVID-19. We had so many resources in place and we started doing these growth conversations where we would take on different topics and help people. And we focused on this whole idea of, as we were flattening the curve related to the pandemic, as an organization, we were trying to flatten the anxiety curve and increase the growth, and just trying to give people some hope and strength and practical ways to take ownership of their growth and help each other out. Thanks for asking that, Troy. I love talking about it.
Troy Blaser (18:21):
That's a great story, a great motivation for starting the nonprofit to really, like you say grow through adversity because obviously you and your family experienced some adversity after 9/11 with the loss of your dad, and to really be able to turn that into something positive, that's fantastic. So what are some of the activities that the nonprofit that Hold the Door is doing?
Rob Fazio (18:44):
So the main thing that we do is we have what's called a Hold the Door Day, whereas we bring in people who have faced some type of adversity. It can be anything. You know, it can be a loss of a loved one. It can be a trauma and our whole foundation, the way we approach things is connect, care, and challenge. And so we teach people to how to connect with one another, share their story, develop some self awareness. We practice and teach them some self care techniques and then our differentiators, the challenge. And so the rule is you leave stronger than when you came in. So we challenged them to grow in some area, we have several different resources, a growth guide, and a workbook on living with loss. And the whole idea is you can take this self-awareness tool to see in these eight areas that we found in the research and our work that buffer the negative impact of trauma and how people grow.
Rob Fazio (19:39):
You kind of create your own development plan related to those areas, building up on your strengths. And now we're also doing more of these growth conversations, and we're thinking about what's, what's next? What's the next resource? We have a vision for a Hold the Door homeroom program where we teach children social, emotional learning, and strength. So we're pursuing that right now and trying to navigate the challenges of teachers being overburdened and whatnot, but really interested in doing some youth development as well.
Troy Blaser (20:08):
That's cool.
Rob Fazio (20:09):
All of our resources and everything we do, articles for professionals on the approach for psychologists is all on and they're all free. So our hope is we want more and more people using these things in different settings. So it's readily available resources. So it doesn't necessarily have to be a quote unquote event to leverage the resources.
Troy Blaser (20:32):
It makes sense. So check out the website, it's kind of what you're saying to learn more about the resources to see what's available no matter where you're located.
Rob Fazio (20:39):
Yup. Absolutely. Everything is free for public taking and can be downloaded.
Troy Blaser (20:42):
Cool. Will you tell us a little bit about your book, Simple Is the New Smart?
Rob Fazio (20:46):
As you know about me, Troy, is I really appreciate the simplicity of things and doing trainings, you know, for 20 years or so. You realize that if the things aren't appetizing, digestible and memorable, people don't use them. So I put together a book that had underlying sophistication, but was very simple in its approach. So there's basically 26 chapters and all practical tips on leadership and influence and something that you can pick up, read one chapter on how to have a conversation and influence someone that's a certain style or how to create a vision. And so it's based in a diverse range of different pieces of research. Then putting a really simple format so people can use it the second they put down the book,
Troy Blaser (21:41):
Rob, are there any other projects you're working on right now that you want to share with us? Things that are in the works?
Rob Fazio (21:46):
The main thing is around Motivational Currency. I've just decided over the last couple of weeks that I'm actually going to do a certification because I want to create a community of people that can support one another in their approaches to Motivational Currency. So that'll probably be coming up in late October. We're doing that. I've been doing a lot with hospitals just around the aspect of staying strong during this COVID crisis. It's very rewarding. I got a lot out of that and then really flushing out this idea of influencing alpha personalities. We've got some original research on alpha personalities and communicating influence. I'm excited to just start talking about getting out there.
Troy Blaser (22:33):
It's really great. You've been doing this for 20 plus years. It's nice that there are new areas still to explore, new takes on the work to say, well, I haven't gone down that direction yet. Let me explore that for a little bit.
Rob Fazio (22:46):
I get it. I get to talk to really smart people that have a lot of problems, right? In the work world and then it inspires me to take a deep dive and try to become an expert in those areas.
Troy Blaser (23:01):
That makes sense. Well, Rob, if people want to know more, if they want to continue the conversation with you, is that something that you would be open to?
Rob Fazio (23:10):
Yes, absolutely matter of fact, you know, you mentioned the one take Wednesday. I really enjoy communicating with people on LinkedIn, getting different perspectives and being able to dialogue and getting feedback, or if there are different topics people are interested in, I welcome those pieces of information.
Troy Blaser (23:27):
That's awesome. So they can find you on LinkedIn. Any other ways that are easy to get ahold of you, what's the best way?
Rob Fazio (23:35):
Yup. There's a lot of free resources there. Blogs, video blogs. That's the best way to kind of see what I'm up to and LinkedIn.
Troy Blaser (23:43):
Fantastic. Rob Fazio, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today. It has been a real pleasure for me to catch up with you a little bit. I've enjoyed the conversation. Thank you so much.
Rob Fazio (23:54):
My pleasure, Troy, it's always great to talk with you and I look forward to our next project.