204 MINISODE Erica Keswin: Value Your Values

Erica Keswin is on a mission to transform corporate culture and customer service by helping business leaders embrace their values to drive higher value in their businesses. A workplace strategist also self-described as a “professional dot.connector”, Erica works with many of the world’s biggest brands to create company cultures of connection and collaboration. We talk about the transformational power of mission-based values, what she’s discovered as founder of the Spaghetti Project, and her new book Bring Your Human to Work: Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Design a Workplace That is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World.

Melinda Wittstock:         Erica, welcome to Wings.

Erica Keswin:                     Thank you so much for having me.

Melinda Wittstock:         I'm excited to talk to you because of course we have so much in common, and I'm excited to find out what's inspiring you right now.

Erica Keswin:                     There's so much inspiring me right now. I was thinking about two different things, and they're very different. I would say the first is that more and more leaders of all kinds of businesses seem to really understand what I call the value of values in their organizations. And I'm sure in your world or the world of your listeners, most companies out there have a set of values, but if you dig a little deeper, which is what I've been doing over the last two years in writing this book, is that many times these values sit on a frame on somebody's desk. Or they're sort of on the walls and not in the halls.

And one of the things that's inspiring me is that in speaking to a number of leaders lately, there is more of an understanding of why these values are so important and why they really need to drive key decisions that are going on in business today. And also, without strong values, it's becoming very very difficult to attract and retain top talent. So to me, that is very inspiring.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, it really is. I love to see that. And you're so right about the talent, particularly Millenials. Money is not the only thing that they look for.

Erica Keswin:                     Yeah. It's funny when you said, “What's inspiring you,” my second part of that answer, which may be surprising to some, is that the Millenials are inspiring me. And many times when you talk about Millenials, and we write all the articles, and sometimes you get the eye rolls, and they're challenging to manage, to me they are inspiring because they are bringing things to the workplace that many of us, women in particular, always wanted, but there weren't enough of us to move the needle.

So now that millennials are going to make up 80% of the workforce by 2025, they're moving the needle. They want workplace flexibility. They want meaning in their jobs. They want to be learning on the job. And these are all things that we as people want, but they are so inspiring because they are making it known, and to your point, they are less motivated by money and they're bringing great things to the workplace.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh gosh. This is so true. So in any entrepreneurs life, there are always challenges. What are some of yours right now?

Erica Keswin:                     Oh my gosh. So many.

Melinda Wittstock:         I know we all have them, right?

Erica Keswin:                     We all do. So I just turned 50. I just had my birthday.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, Happy Birthday.

Erica Keswin:                     Thank you, thank you. And so I am finding myself in what some … So I'm right in that middle, where I am taking care of my parents, I have three teenagers, which is a challenge in and of itself, and trying to run a business. So one of my biggest challenges, which is similar to many women, and I haven't quite cracked the code on this, maybe that will be my next business, is that at the end of my workday, and I'm very lucky that my workday is however I define it because I get to work for myself, I'm still doing and am responsible for a lot of the mental organizing and all of the different aspects of my life. So that there are just not hours in the day, and I have strategies that I'm happy to share of how I manage that, but I do think for many women entrepreneurs and women working inside of companies, it is something that may of us struggle with.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh gosh, it's so true. We don't know how to ask for help. We try and do it all. I always joke that we confuse having it all with doing it all.

Erica Keswin:                     Yep, yep.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, I would like it, and what a great segue into the advice section of the Minisode, is because yes, please do share what are some … your top three go-to tips for how women can handle all this. Cause we're all so overloaded. What are your top three go-to pieces of advice?

Erica Keswin:                     I would say, and I can't take credit for this, but I've been reading a lot about it and I'm trying to adopt it, is that many of us want to do it all and we have the FOMO, the fear of missing out. I've been focusing a lot more this summer on what is called JOMO, the joy of missing out-

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh.

Erica Keswin:                     And being very … Yeah, isn't that great? I didn't come up with it.

Melinda Wittstock:         I love that.

Erica Keswin:                     But the joy of missing out. I am being very purposeful, this summer especially. With my book coming out in the fall and saying this is what I need to focus on right now. And instead of feeling badly about missing all of these other things or not doing them, I am going to celebrate missing these things because I feel so good about why I'm missing out on them and what my priorities are. So I would say that would be the first thing.

The second thing is that I strongly believe in the importance of making time for real connection. This may sound cheesy, but I see it all the time, left to our own devices, excusing the pun, we're not connecting. So we can sit in our offices all day and feel productive and get a hit of dopamine every time we send out an email and get through our entire inbox, but have we really moved our goals forward? So it's not only knowing what they are and saying no to certain things, but it's making sure that we make time for real connection.

And as women, we need that even more because I'm sure as you know and you've talked about with guests, when women connect our oxytocin, our feel good hormone goes up and our stress, our cortisol goes down. So I'd say that's really, really, important.

And I guess the third thing is if you're in a … And these are sort of opposite ends of the spectrum, but I think important for entrepreneurs and people juggling that there's never enough time is don't always volunteer for all of some of that office housekeeping stuff and planning an event and doing some of these things. I say to people, “You know what? Say no, not why.” It's that we don't have to give excuses why we can't do certain things, sometimes we can just say no.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, this is so important. To be able to have those boundaries. If it's not a, “Hell yeah,” it's got to be a, “No.”

Erica Keswin:                     Right. And we need to lose the guilt. And I think it's easier to say no when you've done this mental exercise, which many of us don't make time to do, but to say, “What is really important for me right now? Over the next month, over the next three months?” Once your goals are defined, it's much easier to figure out what to say yes to and what to say no to and really celebrate, and that's going back to that joy of missing out.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh gosh, this is such good advice. Erica, thank you so much. Where can people find you and work with you? Because I know also that you have a book coming out, so tell everybody about that as well.

Erica Keswin:                     Sure. So my book comes out in September. It's available as of now on Amazon. It's called Bring your Human to Work, and the subtitle is Ten Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace that's Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World. And it's very prescriptive. It gives people a roadmap on how to do some of these important things. How to leverage technology to move your life and your business forward, but also quote unquote put it in it's place. And I have key studies from well known companies to startups to all different industries. The feedback that I've gotten, and I hope that your listeners see this as well, is that a lot of it is not rocket science. Actually none of it's rocket science. It just takes intention and discipline to bring your human to work.

So, I'm really excited about the book and people can find me on my website, which is www.ericakeswin.com. Which is E-R-I-C-A-K-E-S, as in Sam, W-I-N dot com.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful. Erica, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.

Erica Keswin:                     You are welcome.

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