Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Andy Molinsky
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Introducing Andy Molinsky
He is a Professor at Brandeis University’s International Business School, with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology.
He received his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and M.A. in Psychology from Harvard University.
He also holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.
And a B.A. in International Affairs from Brown University.
Which is all very impressive of course.
But what we love about our guest, and why we are about to talk to him on the show is his personal mission.
When The Dots Showed The Way For Andy
He helps people develop the insights and courage necessary to act outside their personal and cultural comfort zones.
H shows them why doing important, but challenging, tasks in work and life.
He is the author of the new book Reach with Penguin Random House about acting outside your comfort zone.
Why it’s so hard, how we avoid doing it, and how to be more successful at it.
So why is it that the world is willing to dream big, but then unwilling to take the kind of action that makes it happen?
And are there small steps that we can all take to achieve the kind of life we want, or do we have to just jump and hope for the best?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Professor Andy Molinsky
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Andy Molinsky such as:
Why we are generally frightened to do the things that then start to interest us the most.
We can work our way around the fear by increasing our knowledge in that subject.
Andy explains how most people will have a roadblock in their lives that can be overcome by finding the benefit within the task.
How so many people will struggle with transferring their personal skills across borders due to their upbringing.
What they are totally comfortable with can suddenly seem very different in another country.
Books By Andy Molinsky
How To Connect With Andy Molinsky
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of Andy Molinsky Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:24]
Yes. Hello, everybody. And welcome to a join up dots coming live. From the back of the garden in the United Kingdom, my my kind of comfort zone, the place I hang out, and I blast my words across the world. But today’s episode is all about getting out of your comfort zone and, and really shaking things free and becoming a bigger version of yourself and what you were born to be. And today’s guest is, is quite brainy to say the least he’s a professor at brandies University International Business School, we have a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology. Now he received his PhD organizational behavior, and an MA in psychology from Harvard University. He also holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University, and a BA in international affairs from Brown University, which is all very impressive, of course. But what we love about our guest is why we’re about to talk to him on the show is his personal mission. He helps people develop the insights and courage necessary to act outside their personal and cultural comfort zones when doing important but challenging tasks in work in life. He’s the author of the new book reach we’re Penguin Random House about acting outside your comfort zone, why it’s so hard how we avoid doing it, and how to be more successful at it. So why is it that the world is willing to dream big, but then I’m willing to take the kind of action that makes it happen? And are there small steps that we can all take to achieve the kind of life we want? Or do we just have to jump and hope for the best? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show to start join up dots with the one and only Professor Andy Molinsky. How are you sir?
Andy Molinsky [2:01]
I’m great. How are you? Thanks for having me on.
David Ralph [2:03]
Its great to have you on you are the kind of guests that I have been waiting for on join up dots because all the time we talk about doing the unexpected doing the things but you were born to do but yes scaredy cat to do. And you are an expert on this. So being an expert in this getting straight to the chase, does it mean that you you’re not scared on anything, or you’re not the Indiana Jones of the professor department.
Andy Molinsky [2:27]
I think pretty much the opposite. I think I am scared of a lot of things. And that’s why it gives me insight into it. So my whole life I’ve been, I mean, that was part of the inspiration for me wanting to do this I you know, when I was in university, I was the kid in the back of the class, who would never say anything, my heart would feel like it’s beating out of my chest. After I left University and started working or being in a professional setting, I’d sit in a meeting and I would just be terrified to say anything, you know, worrying like I was such an imposter, what would I possibly have to add to this conversation that could be worthwhile. I was afraid to speak in public, which is a real problem. If you’re a professor and a speaker. In like, 2020 years ago, I was just terrified. I was avoiding opportunities and and really kind of limiting myself. And so I mean, my whole life have struggled stepping outside my comfort zone, but I’ve I haven’t given up I’ve kind of kind of stuck with it. And it’s always I think what people often say is that is that is that what what people struggle with is what they’re often interested in and what they often have some unique insight into. And so yeah, no, I’m definitely not the Indiana Jones whatever the opposite is, I am.
David Ralph [3:38]
So what Wonder Woman I suppose the opposite is I’d go I’d go with that one. Um, she’s pretty
Andy Molinsky [3:42]
She’s pretty. She’s pretty fierce, though. I do wonder woman.
David Ralph [3:46]
That’s not the word that I would say. I would say fault. I would say Yeah. But face. Yeah, I could go with that as well. So we thing. I was interested when you were saying most people are interested in the thing, but they’re most scared about what what what do you mean by that?
Andy Molinsky [4:01]
Well, I think that whether it’s scared or that they struggle with so I remember my PhD advisor in graduate school, he always hated working in groups. His name was Richard Hackman, he is a very well known psychologist passed away a couple of years ago, sort of in an untimely way. He hated working in groups, there was something about them that just frustrated him to no end. And in that kind of basically spurred him to want to study groups, understand groups, improve groups, and he became one of the world’s experts on groups and teams and organizations. So I mean, that’s an example. I do think that, that that people, whether it’s writers, artists, professors, researchers, they’re often captivated by things that, that that they that they lack, that they struggle with sort of their pain points. And so that’s certainly true for me.
David Ralph [4:54]
The thing? Isn’t that just part of obsession, Mo, because I am fascinated with into viewers, and I spend so much time watching YouTube and watching who I think other legends of the real, deep, precise questions and how they phrase it, just so that I can get better and better. I wouldn’t say I was scared on it, but I am obsessed with it is that same kind of thing that you’re talking about?
Andy Molinsky [5:19]
Well, I mean, I don’t think it’s I don’t think the only reason you might be sort of deeply interested in something is because you’re afraid of it, or you’re uncomfortable with it. I think people have their passions as well, right? People are just very, very interested in things at a deep level. And so for you interviewing, you’re practicing your craft, you’re, you know, you’re you enjoy and appreciate other people who are excellent at it. Same with me, you know, there’s certain things that I like to, to look at and observe. Like, for example, I love listening to podcasts, not even business podcast, but I like listening to all sorts of podcasts. And I really appreciate the art of doing it. And I even started doing it a bit myself. So, you know, I don’t think it all comes out of fear. Sometimes it comes out eventually. But I do think that people who are creatives oftentimes are captivated by things that they struggle with, not always, but often. Give us
David Ralph [6:10]
give us some examples. Give us some big old examples, because you’re a clever guy, and I’m not. So I’m talking talking layman’s terms.
Andy Molinsky [6:19]
Um, let me see. So, in terms of things that people struggle with, but are interested in so I gave you that one example, I gave you that, that example.
Gosh, I’m drawing a blank here.
I have a friend, let me let me let me let me think of another one, I’ve got a I’ve got a good friend here, where I live in Boston, who has a couple of children who have Asperger’s and an autism actually are there on the spectrum in some in some place, and in she has been wanting to try to figure out a way to have, like, a rich family life, and to be able to do everything that she would be able to do with with these kids. And, and sort of like train them to be able to step into the world and be independent, and so on and so forth. And she, I think the in part became so inspired by that experience that, that she’s now written a book about helping other parents with this challenge. So, you know, I don’t think I guess that’s not a case of fear. I guess that’s the case of, you know, Necessity is the mother of invention in a way. But, you know, I guess I’m drawing a blank in terms of the in terms of the fear element, but I do I do know that it’s, it’s something that that does really captivate a lot of people, certainly, in my case, my advisors case that I told you about before. And I know there are other side, maybe it’s early in the morning here, I need a little more coffee.
David Ralph [7:54]
Now, don’t worry, don’t worry, I don’t understand the IBO I don’t understand why. When you are on top of the cliff, you feel like you want to push each other off. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand why. That there’s that element of fear. because something’s going to do damage to us where we are drawn to we’re drawn to that’s why people are going down in shark tanks. What are they doing bad sharks, I mean, the sea, we’re on the land, keep away from it. I once had a lady actually Andy many, many years ago who said to me, and I was a manager up in the City of London, and she said, David, can I can I speak to you please? And I said yes. And she said in private, and I thought, Okay, here we go. So I went into the room, and she said, you won’t know this, but I’ve got a phobia, but I really have to tackle and I need to have some time off immediately. And I went, right, okay, what is the phobia, and she said, sharks, I’m terrified of sharks. So I’m going to go down in a tank and swim with sharks, and I just couldn’t understand it. If you’re scared of buses, or birds or something, or, or McDonald’s, that would be things to be afraid of. But she actually had to tackle something, but she had the option of never going anywhere near Does that make sense? You because I still can’t get that to today.
Andy Molinsky [9:05]
It’s true. You know, it is true that you know, I think and I think that is a tough nut to crack. It’s interesting, you know, I, I know a guy who, who started a nonprofit scarf called scare your soul. And it’s about helping people try to step outside their comfort zones. And he announced on social media a few days ago, that he is jumping out of a plane, hopefully with a parachute for the first time ever. And, and, and, and I was thinking myself, gosh, this guy. And that’s an example. That’s an example of what we’re talking about before someone who struggles stepping outside his comfort zone his whole life. And he’s now started a nonprofit trying to help people do the same because it’s just captivated him so much. Now, he’s kind of going to the extreme, the shark version that you’re talking about before, when he absolutely does not, you know, he’s he’s not in the military. He’s not a he know, he doesn’t need to jump out of planes, but but he’s choosing to do so. You know, I think that, um, you know, I can’t tell you why people why people do that, you know, they’re, they’re there. I think that that we do have a lot of leeway to kind of craft our lives to avoid things that we’re afraid of, sometimes, is I read about in my book, and as I work on their situations, that kind of that that you can avoid if you if you want to, like selling things, or networking, or public speaking, and so on and so forth. But you might end up limiting yourself professionally. And those are the types of situations that I really work on where I try to help people learn to step outside their comfort zone, because they’re real outcomes, goals, you know, ambitions that they have. And if were they to crack that nut, they might be more successful, happier and live the life they want to lead. But but but then you get into the realm of sharks and skydiving, and you know, I’m not sure I don’t know, maybe maybe it’s adrenaline
David Ralph [10:51]
is madness is total madness, because I remember when he was talking very beginning about being in board meetings and presentations and not willing to say in, I always wanted to say stuff, I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say, but I could not sit in a room without opening my mouth. And more often than not, I always admired the people that said nothing. But when they did, they said something genius, where I was just willing to open my mouth at every opportunity and just sort of blast my way through any subject. Now, I think in the office environment, I think that’s a good place for us to take this discussion on comfort zone, because most people do have to do that public speaking, they do have to do that presentation. And I’ve seen it myself where managers have said, what I want you to do a 15 minute presentation on something, and the person is just absolutely dying. It’s the worst thing that they could possibly hope to do. But the manager still thinks it’s a way of developing boom, but it’s not. It’s just a way of crippling them somehow, and putting them into a situation that they just haven’t got the skills at that moment to get around in that kind of situation, because I bet everyone’s listening here has been pushed into that, Oh, I just want you to do that they minute PowerPoint presentation, are there steps that we can sort of take personally that can help us ease into that instead of just standing there quaking with our hands getting wet, and the mouth going dry, and all the kinds of things that we struggle with.
Andy Molinsky [12:16]
There are many people who struggle with public speaking me included. I remember early on in my career, I mentioned it was just absolutely terrifying. I would get offers to give keynote speeches, because I was I was a professor at a well known school in Los Angeles when I first started out and people would ask me, companies would ask me not because I was great, particularly but I think just because I was a professor at this university. And in I was just, I was I was exactly like you’re describing I was terrified. And it wasn’t like in my small company, it was to this, this massive group of really important, impressive people. And this is 20 years ago. And so I get it, I get it. And I work with a lot of people who struggle with this. I think that, um, you know, I think in terms of public speaking or in terms of anything, there, there are a series of things that you can do you know, that the first thing that I have people do, whether it’s public speaking or something else is to try to understand their their roadblocks, their their psychological roadblocks. their pain points, why it’s hard, like, what, what’s the reason that the palms are sweating, that the hearts racing and so on, and so forth. And we could talk about that, in the in the realm of public speaking, for example, it might be that you’re afraid that you’ll look like a fool. Like it’s, it’s, it’s the competence challenge that I that I talked about. In other cases, stepping outside your comfort zone, its authenticity, and you don’t feel like yourself, you know, you’re maybe in the public speaking arena, you, you feel for some reason that you can’t, you can’t be yourself, because if you were just trying to be yourself, you wouldn’t be an effective speaker. So you have to kind of put on airs, be someone you’re not in that feels quite inauthentic, awkward, uncomfortable, and sort of adds to the, to the discomfort, there are variety of sort of psychological roadblocks I talked about. And I find the very first step is to actually kind of reflect and try to understand what those are for you. Because once you can identify them, you feel like kept just a little bit more control over the situation. So that’s, that’s kind of step one. Step two, is is to is to, is to embrace what I call conviction, like, like, yeah, your boss asked you to do it, but but there must be a reason why you accepted maybe just because you want to keep your job, but maybe you have ambitions to become the boss, maybe you have ambitions to, to build this, this skill in your skill set. Because you know, even after you leave this company, you know, you want to make a mark, you want to be successful. And you know that giving presentations is a key skill to have in your in your toolkit, that would be maybe a professional source of conviction. You know, for other people, for me, I can tell you my source of conviction for pretty much anything outside my comfort zone is often very personal, I’ve got a I’ve got a couple of kids, I have an 11 and a 13 year old and I’m often you know, coaxing them outside their comfort zones in an age appropriate way, you know, and so then I will I’m doing that, and then I sort of, you know, look, look at myself and if I were then to say to my boss, you know, I don’t think I’m able to do this or to avoid the situation. I think you know, what kind of role model Am I you know, what kind of what kind of data my and that’s that’s a really important thing to me. So
David Ralph [15:13]
I’m gonna jump in now, Andy, you, Robbie, stat. Like I’ma Robbie said, I’m basically a motivational speaker. And as soon as I do any of my speeches to my kids, they just basically roll their eyes. I’ve heard it all before. Yeah. But they don’t want you to be pushing them out of their comfort zone, do they? They just want you to be dead. They want you to be the boring person that most alone and just walks around, moaning that you’ve left all the lights on. But they don’t want you to do that today?
Andy Molinsky [15:40]
I don’t know. I’m not sure about that. I think, you know, it depends on their age, too. I think there are a lot of times when kids, you know, depends on their personalities and their ages as well. So for example, you know, for some kids in an earlier age, it might be, you know, trying an activity that they’ve never tried before and that they don’t think they’re quote unquote good at, right. Or it might be trying something an activity where they don’t know anyone, you know, for some, some kids can just sort of walk waltz into anything, no problem. But a lot of kids have a hard time joining an activity, whether it’s an extracurricular activity or a sports team, even where they don’t know anyone that might be outside their comfort zone. Yeah.
David Ralph [16:21]
But But your kids at 12 and 13, and 12, and 13, I’ve already started making up their minds, you know, I’ve got a 12 year old, I got 16 year old, I got 30 year old, and the 12 and 13 year olds are totally different people to who they were four years ago, I could basically just tell them what to do. Now, you know, they they fight back every opportunity. I’ll be amazed. If professor and demon Lynskey can get their 12 and 13 year old kids to do stuff if I don’t want to.
Andy Molinsky [16:50]
Right, I mean, I think you you kind of have to use different strategies than you would with a seven, eight year old. But still, you know, I think I think kids, kids at that age 12 and 13 are definitely experimenting and trying new activities, they’re discovering their, what they like, what they don’t like, they might sort of narrow in very quickly and decide that it’s not safe or comfortable for them to try things outside their sort of like current skill set, when the reality is that they’re so young, they should be trying lots of different things, you know, so so I think that there are ways that you can sort of like, nudge them, I, you know, in an age appropriate way, that’s I’m saying, like at eight at age six, you literally sign them up for it, bring them in the car, kind of like, you know, kind of push them in there. But it is 12. You’re not doing that. So anyways, but my point, though, is like is is I’m going back to the public speaking is that is that, that that you want to find your source of conviction? What’s in it for you, if you find out that there is you sort of reflect and say, You know what, there’s nothing in this for me, you know, maybe that’s not a situation that you want to pursue. So that’s, that’s, I mean, I could keep talking about different tools and strategies, but that’s one,
David Ralph [18:02]
but I’m fascinated by that one. So what you’re saying is, if somebody is standing there thinking, I don’t know why I’m being told how to do this, I don’t know why I’m being told why I’ve got to do this, I don’t want to do this presentation. You know, there’s, I just answered the phone every day, I don’t need to do this, then the fear will increase. But if they think to themselves, okay, this is a stepping stone to where I want to go, then people will generally try and find a way around it. Is that what we’re saying?
Andy Molinsky [18:28]
I think that sort of i think that you know, you’re the fear of being fired and losing your job and losing your income may Trump the fear of public speaking. So in that case, you still might do it, even if you don’t realize there’s anything in it for you. But you know what I’m saying? So, so but I think that it’s it’s doubly important, though, to try to figure out and own it for yourself in terms of Yeah, my boss told me to do this, this is a pain in the ass. I don’t want to do this. I’m afraid to do it. Frankly, if I’m being honest with myself. But but but you know what, let me think about this for a second. You know, public speaking is something that, you know, is important to a lot of our a lot of our careers, you know, no matter what you’re doing, oftentimes, especially when you get into more of a managerial or even a leadership role, that’s something you’re going to need to do it maybe this is important for me, maybe this is an opportunity in disguise. And so why don’t I embrace it? Why don’t I embrace this as a career challenge? You know, you don’t I mean, like, so it’s kind of just thinking about it in a different way. So that yet it might not conquer your fear. But it might give you a source of motivation that can help you push through that fear.
David Ralph [19:38]
Because I have a fear is very mild fear. But when I have to do is I feel myself tensing up, or going into parties. I don’t like going into parties. If you asked me to bound on stage in front of 300 people and present something no problem. If you asked me to turn his microphone on, no problem, but actually going into the sort of the small talk arena. I don’t like it. So I don’t like it at all. Why would you think that is Andy Molinsky? I said to me with your professor brain. You know,
Andy Molinsky [20:08]
a lot of people struggle with small talk even someone that you’re like, like you who sort of an on a wide stage feels comfortable presenting? You I feel that too, sometimes walking into a group of people that I don’t know. And, you know, it’s it’s an interesting question about like a sort of, you could call it you could talk about introversion and extraversion, though it sounds like you’re in a lot of ways you’re quite extroverted, given given the description of what you do, but maybe not maybe maybe your maybe your it’s a bit more of a complicated situation for you where you feel comfortable on stage, but you don’t feel comfortable in the more intimate one on ones with people you don’t know. Right? A lot of people struggle with that. It’s actually quite interesting. There’s a cultural dimension to this too. So my first book, so the book reach that we’re talking about stepping outside your comfort zone. First Book was called Global dexterity. And so for years, I’ve worked with people from different countries and cultures, and learning to adapt their behavior, it’s doubly difficult to make small talk, if you come from a culture where it was kind of inappropriate to make small talk with people you don’t know, in the first place, right? In the United States, it’s very common to make small talk, you know, you go to the grocery store, you’re buying your potatoes, and you’re in your milk, and you’re standing in line. And then you know, two minutes later, you’ve learned that the person in front of you is recently divorced, and you know, their their grandkids are, are coming to visit. And in they have to go to the doctor on Thursday to have a really critical medical test, do you find that about the stranger in two minutes in front of you at the grocery store? in other cultures, that would just be like, implausible, like it would never possibly happen. But what happens when you come from one of those cultures and then come to the United States, let’s say, and I mean, this, that’s an extreme example, but you do have to make to chat with people that you don’t know. It can be doubly difficult, right? So this
David Ralph [22:04]
is a we getting more and more into this kind of vibe of being unable to connect, because of the way that we use social media. We’re all sitting behind Facebook, and tweets and stuff, and we’re not really connecting, but we’re connecting with everyone at the same time. Is this going to become a problem that’s going to get heightened as we proceed?
Andy Molinsky [22:25]
I think that’s possible. You know, I hope not judging from how much social media and how much screen time my own kids do in all the kids these days. But it’s a it’s a good question. I don’t I don’t know. It’s true that that that something like small talk requires practice in a way there’s a script, there, there, there are certain there are certain sort of strategies even for small talk, like, you know, looking for common areas of interest, just asking open ended questions instead of closed ended questions. In other words, like, like, was your was your trip up north? Good. That’s a closed and ended question, which is not going to generate much information. However, if you say, you know, hey, how was your trip up north? And they say, Oh, it was really good. I went to the, you know, I went to the fjords in Norway, and then and then and then that then connects to the fact that you’ve been to Norway before, and you say, Oh, yeah, I was in Norway last summer. And then the conversation goes, and you’re sort of engaged in a small conversation? That’s an open ended question. If you had done the prior and said, you know, was your trip, you know, it’s sort of a stilted way to ask it. But if you ask more of a closed ended question that can easily have a yes or no answer, you’re never going to get that additional information, it’s never going to sort of increase the opportunity for an extended small talk conversation. That’s a little example of a of a strategy of a tool. And I think that comes intuitively and naturally to people who are comfortable in practice and making small talk. But, you know, it’s possible that if you’re sitting in front your screen all the time, and you’re not engaged with folks, or at least the way that you’re engaged is, is it a sort of an asynchronous way? Meaning that that you’re, you’re emailing or you’re texting, and it’s not live? You know, maybe maybe, maybe that affects it? It’s a good question. I know,
David Ralph [24:19]
we pay some motivational words roundabout this time, but I don’t mean that conversation is going to lead that way. So I’m just gonna come straight in with another question. Now, the people that you coach, is there is there a common fear isn’t like a number one fear? Because certainly in our house is spiders. And I don’t get that at all. You know, spiders are just doing this by do anything. But all hell breaks loose. Is that like a common fear? Or is there something far more subtle, like the public speaking one that we’ve been talking about?
Andy Molinsky [24:47]
Yeah, my house, a lot of people are afraid of spiders as well. And I’m the same way I picked them up by tossing outside problem with spiders. No, I, you know, I think so the top the top concerns for your worries that I find among people that I work with, are making small talk with strangers, people, they don’t know starting conversations, trying to build connections relationships, I find networking is a big one, pitching and promoting yourself, you know, sort of tooting your own horn, is is a big one. public speaking, again, of course, is a big one. Participating in meetings, and we sort of alluded to before is another another one. Delivering bad news is another one standing up for yourself being assertive when you’re not much of an assertive person, you’re may be kind of a timid person, and standing up for your needs, and potentially saying something that could provoke conflict, or at least a conversation, when it is so much easier just to avoid it. These I think are good are very, very common ones. But there, of course, are others. But these are the ones that I keep keep keep hearing time and time again. And this is people, either within their own culture, like this has nothing to do with crossing cultures. This is just you know, English people in England, Americans in America, but it is often exacerbated when you’re crossing national cultural boundaries. So if you’re an Indian MBA student in the United States, you’ve been taught your whole life, to be modest, to speak very differentially to elders and so on and so forth. And then you’re, you’re sitting at a networking event in Boston, and you have to somehow talk about how you’re going to add value to this to this much more senior persons firm and a networking event and sort of look them in the eye and sort of pitch yourself and it it, it it is unbelievably uncomfortable. For many people, I can
David Ralph [26:48]
see that totally, I can see this even running this show. I’m very aware that the terminology but I would just naturally us which is like local, by just just the way that we speak locally colloquialisms. Don’t fly on this, you know, I find myself now talking in a kind of half English half American hybrid, which I would never have said soccer, I would have always said football. But now I say soccer, modern football, and it just kind of blends in movies. Over here. We call it going to the pictures, and all that kind of stuff. So it’s not just the way we talk, there is actually a cultural way of how we have raised I find that fascinating. And unless certain countries that struggle more than the Asians struggle more with the Americans and the American struggle with the North Koreans, I think they are at the moment. What How does he work?
Andy Molinsky [27:39]
Yeah, there I mean, you know, like, for instance, Americans and Brits, I think there are certainly our differences. I wrote an article in Harvard Business Review about some of them, like self promotion, I think is a big one. You know, I think in England, you know, I’m not an expert, but my sense is that it’s more self facing self. Exactly. This self promotion. But I think so that’s an example of two cultures that are, they’re not tremendously different. But there are enough differences that that that there can be some, you know, some challenges, but then when you start to expand it, and and you look at the East Asian countries, and then like compared to the United States or Canada, let’s say, that’s a pretty strong difference. It also depends on what specific area or dimension you’re talking about. So you know, in some cases, it’s about how much emotion you express, or that’s okay to express. In some cases, it’s about how polite or formal you’re expected to be, or south, self promotional, and so on and so forth. And then it depends on the situation. Oh, I forgot to mention another situation, outside people’s comfort zones is interviewing, which sort of combined small talk and self promotion in a way with often with quite high stakes. So so so yeah, in my book, global dexterity, I interviewed in I’ve also worked with many, many people across cultures, adapting their behavior. And then from my new book reach, I interviewed people stepping outside their comfort zone, but not culturally, I interviewed managers and doctors and police officers. And I even did a ride along with police officers watching them perform evictions and a tough part of town, which was outside their comfort zone students, priests, rabbis, even a goat farmer, all sorts of people. So I, I sort of feel like I’ve come at this. And then of course, I reflect on my own experience. So I, I’ve tried to take like, what I know and what I’ve learned from so many different circumstances and really boil it down to something concrete and usable.
David Ralph [29:38]
And did you find that a struggle yourself interviewing these people? Did you actually feel that you was, you know, coming out of your own comfort zone to do these things?
Andy Molinsky [29:48]
No, I actually am, it’s very much in my comfort zone to interview people. You know, it’d be it’s interesting, because I think making small talk in sort of an uncertain structured way, might be more uncomfortable, potentially, you know, I’m fine making small talk, but slightly, at least, like, you probably wouldn’t know that I feel uncomfortable. But I but I probably feel a little bit uncomfortable making small talk with people, I don’t know. But when you’re interviewing, it’s a little bit different. You’ve got a role, you’ve got a task, you’ve got a job, you’re simultaneously kind of doing some sense making and making sense and strategically thinking, the next question you’re going to ask and so on, when you’re doing a research style interview. So so so it’s a little bit different. And it’s it’s absolutely fully, you know, right, dead on in my comfort zone. I’ve no, no, no problem at all with that.
David Ralph [30:38]
And what the kind of stories Did you get from interviewing these people, you give us a couple of examples, why people will come across and buy your book, first of all the good stuff.
Andy Molinsky [30:49]
Gosh, so many examples, I opened my book with the story, by book reach with a story of a young woman who had a startup. And she ended up having to fire her best friend from that startup after a couple of months. That that was a pretty poignant story. I also tell the story in the book of a woman who worked for a investment company, it was it was for high net worth people. So really rich people. And her job was to get these people to invest in the firm turned out she had to bring is sort of the company rule was that she and everyone else needed to bring a portfolio manager someone in charge of the portfolio who understood the stocks and bonds and so on, on these meetings to meet these high net worth people. The problem was that this portfolio manager was a complete jerk, he would undermine her Her name is Annie, in these meetings, he would, you know, and he might tell to tell him that, that that taxes are really important to these potential clients. And then, you know, this guy would dismiss that and then go in the meeting and kind of dismiss taxes even make fun of her and I mean, she was livid as you can imagine, like so mad, but but she was but but she was a pretty timid person. She was she was kind of a people pleaser. She was not assertive, and she had to learn, ultimately, basically tell this guy off to really confront him. And it took a while, but she was able to do it. I have stories of priests walking into a room and delivering last rites. And you know, when you think about it, oftentimes the clergy in our lives, the priests, the reverence the rabbi’s, whatever it is, now we don’t necessarily think about them as people but but they are and in this particular priest was telling me she’s an Episcopal priest telling me how incredibly uncomfortable it was for her and has been until she really grew into the role to step into a room like that and deliver last rites to a family like she she said to me, like, you know, she, she thinks like, Who Who am I to be doing this? Who am I like, as she turns that, that that door, that in walks into the room and just feels unbelievably like almost like an imposter. I have all sorts of stories of famous people as well, who has struggled stepping outside their comfort zone from, from Warren Buffett to Adele, to Natalie Portman, Gandhi, Richard Branson, all sorts of people. So So there’s all sorts of stories and examples. But the book really focuses on the tips and the tools and the insights and what what kind of the regular folks can do to kind of understand their pain points, and then, you know, build up the courage to step outside their comfort zones, you know, in situations that matter to them. So that’s, that’s what that’s what I focus on.
David Ralph [33:28]
He’s, he’s amazing with these, these celebrities, and really get out there because I saw a documentary on Adele, and I know exactly what you’re saying when she started to use to write songs in a bedroom. And then she used to sort of play in local pubs and literally just look at the floor, she couldn’t look up. And almost she would perform with a back to the audience just to get through it. And you think to yourself, why peace and through that now. Now, she’s Adele now. And she’s playing Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium, and all those kind of things, anything? Well, that that’s because that was your dream, and that’s what you went for. But he’s gonna be difficult, and it’s trying to find out that thing, what makes them do that? Why do they want to go through that discomfort? What drags them out? Are you close to the secret on that?
Andy Molinsky [34:13]
Well, that’s what we talked about before this, that source of conviction, what you know, and I could not, I cannot tell you what it is for Adele, like, what, what, what drives her to do that, despite the intense discomfort, she’s felt, and there must be something in it for her, maybe it’s about moving people, a lot of artists want to kind of make an impact on people. I mean, it could be about earning money, and getting fame, which is a motivation for some people as well. I should also mention another thing that I that I we haven’t talked about, but I think it’s super important, I’d love to just mention is because it your story of Adele kind of sparked it for me is is that one of the biggest tools that I found that people use to cross all these situations to, to kind of make it a little bit easier, a little bit more authentic, a little bit more comfortable to step outside their comfort zone is what I call customization. And it’s basically the idea that, that none of these situations are standard, you know, there’s no one size fits all version of really, really anything. And you can find even even subtle ways to kind of tweak a situation, almost like you buy a pair of pants, you bring it to the tailor to kind of make it fit a little bit better for you. Same thing with a situation. And I found it pretty powerful. You know, lots of people describe to me sort of subtle and sometimes very creative ways they did that. And I just, I felt like I wanted to mention that because I felt that was such a powerful tool for people.
David Ralph [35:36]
But let’s play some words. Now, I’ve been wondering whether to play these, but I’m going to play these anyway. So here we go rocky to
Rocky Balboa [35:42]
me, and nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward, how much you can take it keep moving forward. That’s how when it is done.
David Ralph [35:58]
And if we listen to that in a different way, what he’s saying is you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail, you’re going to feel really uncomfortable, you’ve got to get back up, you’ve got to do that. It’s just saying you’ve got to battle your way out of your comfort zone. And that’s how winners are made. But it’s really fascinating to me why people do this? And I know we haven’t come up with a conclusive answer. But there’s got to be something that’s made me want to turn on the microphone and blast my words across the world. You know, some people say to me, are you was always a show off in training environment. But I said no, I’m not show up. I was just doing what I had to do at that time, you wouldn’t have wanted me to stand up in front of people and just be out of everybody open your book at pager, you know, you had to sort of perform? Is it the performance that forces you to get out? Is it something that in you that you feel like you’ve got to be a bigger version of yourself?
Andy Molinsky [36:53]
It’s a good question. I wonder, you know, like for for you outside your comfort zone to do what you’re doing right now, it sounds like it’s actually very well within your comfort zone earlier, you said that you have no problem, you know, standing on stage and speaking to 300 people, but making small talk with someone you don’t know might be a little bit more uncomfortable. So, you know, it sounds like for you this is this is actually more of a fit than a steno stretch, if I’m not mistaken.
David Ralph [37:16]
So when is your sweet spot? Andy, where do you sit in your absolute spot on the comfort zone that’s made for you?
Andy Molinsky [37:24]
Gosh, I think probably sitting on my couch with my dog. working on a book working on some materials, maybe being on a podcast I love by the way we’re doing now I love doing this. You know, something like that, I guess with my nice cup of coffee. That’s that’s that’s perfect for me,
Unknown Speaker [37:43]
David Ralph [37:44]
I’m now getting to a point where all the scariness of creating a show is becoming a bit humdrum. And I’m realizing that it’s time to come out of the shadows. And people say to me, I don’t know how you do this. And I don’t know how you do that. But I’ve been doing it for three years now. And it’s just become never boring. As I say, you know, as you say, doing the shows absolutely love, it can’t get enough of it. But there’s a lot that’s all around the side that has just become normal. And I’m feeling like there’s got to be something else now, but I’m not really sure what I need to do.
Andy Molinsky [38:14]
Yeah, I mean, I, the way I often think about this is that we’ve got, we’ve got a bunch of situation, lots of situations in our life. It’s sort of like a portfolio. So you know, we all many of us have 401, K’s and the United States, stocks and bonds for retirement or whatever it is, we’ve got, you know, I’ve got a portfolio of different things. And you can think about the same thing in terms of your life, you got a portfolio of situations in your life. And so for you doing the podcast is an example of a situation, sometimes these situations are are dead on and our comfort zone in it. And by the way, when something so much in your comfort zone, sometimes it can actually become a little routine bit boring. Then there’s the stretch zone, a different zone, which is a stretch zone, where it’s a little bit more exciting, a little but more uncomfortable, a little bit newer, a bit of a stretch, but not quite in the third zone, which would be your panic zone, which is something that it might be absolutely terrifying. That’s your example before when that timid person at work was asked to give that presentation that you talked about in there, you know that that’s that’s moving from the cup that’s moving, basically right into the panic zone. And so you know, maybe for you, you know, podcasting is in your comfort zone, fantastic. But if you’re if that’s that’s what you’re spending most of your time doing. Maybe you gotta mix in a little stretch zone activity to kind of spice things up.
David Ralph [39:37]
I want spicy my life. Yeah, that spice up my life. There’s the Spice Girls song that and I had to be right. And they it was all girl power.
Andy Molinsky [39:45]
David Ralph [39:46]
You’re too young to remember the Spice Girls. Andy, you’re just trying to be cool with me.
Andy Molinsky [39:52]
Now I remember there. Yeah.
David Ralph [39:55]
Yeah. You say you say we’re Kindred. We’re kindred spirits, our kids one parent tension to us. And we’re secret spy skills bands. He is a I knew we would find that connection between the two of us. So just before we send you back on the Sermon on the mic, is there going to be a third book? We’ve got global dexterity, we’ve got reach? Is there something else that you’re planning?
Andy Molinsky [40:16]
Ah, yeah, I love I love writing. I love writing books. I’m thinking of book number three don’t know what it is yet. But my my current activity, which is my current stretch, just as we talked about before, is that I’m creating some online training based on my books and helping people step outside their comfort zone. And I’m about Gosh, I’d say 80 90% done with it. And that’s a stretch for me. You know, starting a little company, being an entrepreneur, it’s sort of an obvious and a great next step to try to reach even more people but but that’s that’s what’s really captivating me so so that’s, that’s, that’s sort of my pause between book two and three.
David Ralph [40:55]
I’ll be fascinated to see what you come up with, because I’m sure both of those books are going to great reads, I’m gonna by myself, and and check them out, get out of my comfort zone. Well, this is the part of the show that we’ve been building up to that we call the Sermon on the mic, when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Andy, what age would you choose? And what advice you’re going to give? Well, we will find out cuz I’m going to play to fame. And when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Andy Molinsky [41:50]
What would I say? In what age would I choose? I think I think I would choose age 2120 22, somewhere in there. And after I graduated from college, I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had three of my best friends from high school. And they all had decided to rent a car or buy a car, forget whatever it was, and drive. So I’m in Boston, and drive to the west coast out to San Francisco and just move there No, no, no major plans, you know, there are some ideas about what people might do, but simply just go. Now, for those of you who don’t know, the geography, that would be, like 3000 miles away pretty far. And quite an adventure. You know, the me of today? Well, actually, I have a kids and a job and so on that that makes it a bit more challenging. But you know, putting that aside to me if today would say let’s go for it. You know what, let’s go for it. The me of age 21 was pretty scared. I you know, I just left left college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. That was very, very much outside my comfort zone. And I and I said I said no, I didn’t do it. I actually went back to school to get a masters degree, which wasn’t bad. For sure. And you know, I’m very happy where I’ve landed in terms of my my work and my job. But now I kind of wish I had done that. So so that would be that’s, that’s that’s my sermon on the mic.
David Ralph [43:25]
Right advice. And yeah, do road trips. road trips are just fun, cheap hotels all the time, few bars every now and again. You can’t want for more. So Andy, what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you?
Andy Molinsky [43:38]
Yeah, so I’ve got my website, which is www dot Andy Molinsky calm and d y, Mo l i n, Sky calm I love hearing from from people. I’ve got social links up there on LinkedIn, and Twitter. And I have a Facebook page. And I basically created the website to be the kind of website I would want to visit. So there’s like tons of free articles and, and I write for Harvard Business Review and Psychology Today, and inc.com, and lots of videos and kind of quizzes, fun stuff there. So so so please connect in. And I’d love to hear from you. And I’d be honored if you’d if you check out global dexterity or reach or both.
David Ralph [44:18]
And I’ll tell you, when I was doing my research, I came over to your website, and I can confirm everything you said I spent more time and I needed to on your website, reading things and clicking on things and stuff. It’s great resource. So Andy, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Andy Molinsky. Thank you so much.
Andy Molinsky [44:45]
Thanks for having this is fun.
David Ralph [44:49]
Professor Andy Molinsky. So do you feel scared? Do you feel scared when you’re standing up, or you’re going into a situation that you don’t understand? Why you feel that way? We all do. Every single one of us no matter who sounds and looks the most competent in the world, they’re still scared and certain things. I used to have a terrible phobia about commitment and actually getting married, used to literally make me pass out just thinking about it. Fortunately, I found a way around that. And that was my wife actually asking me to marry her. And me saying yes, and just getting it out of the way and it was the best thing I ever did. But I just couldn’t do it. I could not bring myself to it. And there was no reason why I hadn’t been in any sort of bad relationships or whatever there was just something that literally would have me sweating just thinking about it. So all of us all of us have got situations in our life, which are scared a scaredy cat moments, but just look at it and try to work out why and then find that thing in it that will benefit you going forward it will make it so much easier. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of join up dots and until next time, I’m gonna be waiting for you
say yeah David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on join up dots.