Embarking on a transformative journey, the THRIVE IMPACT team dives into the concept of “10X” – a bold approach to organizational and personal growth. The 10X concept challenges conventional norms, advocating for a radical shift from incremental progress to exponential growth.
But exponential growth doesn’t mean hyper action—it’s actually about radically doing less in order to focus on quality over quantity. It’s about letting the future inform the present, rather than being constrained by the past.
This episode provides a unique opportunity to witness the learning process, the friction of aligning actions with a visionary future, and the implementation of practical insights on the journey toward identifying and creating an organization’s most important impact.
Throughout the conversation, the team uncovers the profound impact of embracing a 10X mindset. They discuss the delicate interplay of present actions with future aspirations, the power of relinquishing control, and the synergy of aligning each team member with the organization’s overarching vision.
This episode is an essential listen for anyone eager to explore the potential of a 10X future. It offers a candid look at the realities of implementing a visionary strategy and serves as an inspiring guide for those ready to embark on a similar path.
10x Is Easier Than 2x: https://10xeasierbook.com/#Order
Working Genius: https://www.workinggenius.com/
Need to create a strategic plan (or breathe life into your existing one)? Schedule a free Design Session and we’ll explore the areas of opportunity and co-create a plan that fits your organization’s needs and budget.
Welcome to Thrivers, impact driven leadership for the next normal. I’m your host, Tucker Wannamaker, the CEO of Thrive Impact.
And if you’re listening to this, you’re probably someone who doesn’t just want to do nice things in the world, but you actually want to create positive change in people’s lives and not burnout while doing it. Well, how do you do that? Well, our mission is to redefine what normal is for workplace leadership, to be about creating impact from the inside out. Burnout is the enemy of creating positive change, and we want to connect you with impact driven leaders and ideas so that you can learn to thrive in today’s landscape.
Now, today is a really special episode for me and for our team. In fact, what’s so exciting is that we have our whole, what we call, our A Team on the… And don’t worry, it’s not a Mr T reference, I promise, although maybe we should start wearing gold chains. But we have our whole A Team, which are really some of the heads of different parts of our organization, all on this podcast today.
This is the first time we’ve ever done it. And it’s a really special moment for me because what it is it’s commemorating and speaking into us drawing a line in the sand around our, what we’re going to call and we’ll explain a little bit more about this in a minute, our 10 X version of Thrive Impact.
We’ve been going through a journey over the last really six months almost really, I personally, and then it really started to come into the organization around what is our 10 X future? A lot of this was based upon the work of Dr. Benjamin Hardy and his book 10 X is Easier Than 2 X. It’s been a very influential book for me personally as well as for our organization.
And really thinking into how do we be our best selves? What is our 10 X self versus our 2 X self? What is our transformational self versus just our incremental change self? Who are we really meant to be? And how do we let our future drive our present instead of our past drive our present? And so we have our whole team, our whole A Team on this podcast today.
I want to introduce all of them. Many of one of them already, of course, which is my beloved co-host, Sarah Fanslau, who is our Chief of Impact. Sarah, good to have you on the podcast here today.
Great to be here.
It’s so good. We also have Aaron Cohen. He is our Head of Relationships on our revenue side. Aaron, it is good to be on here with you today, my friend. [inaudible 00:02:32].
Yeah, great to be here.
Yeah. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I know, I’m like, “This is my team. It’s so special. It feels so interesting.” I know.
We also have Julie Wannamaker, who is not only my wife, yes, I will freely share that with the world, but also our Director of Operations, and she’s our A over ops over here at Thrive Impact. Julie, so wonderful to be with you on the podcast today.
And we also have Allen Stone, he is our Head of Story at Thrive Impact. And he has been a lot of the mastermind behind getting this podcast out in the first place, and the distribution, and the editing, and you working with the team to be able to make that happen.
So Allen, this is great to have you on the podcast, one that you’ve been listening to for so long and editing for so long.
I know, man. And I’m pumped to be here on this side of the thing. I actually know what’s going to happen before it gets edited, so.
Well, before we pop into this, for anybody, I’m just curious to hear what are you most excited about this episode, about us talking about our 10 X? About even just being on the podcast together as an A Team? I’m curious just what any of you are excited about or maybe even nervous about. Maybe it’s a both, and. I’d love to invite your voices in for a little bit and hear that.
Well, I can tell we’re going to have our problem, it’s who’s going to go first? We’re going to have to start raising hands or something.
I’m just going to start calling [inaudible 00:03:54]. Yeah.
I think you should. But I am excited because my guess is I’m going to hear some things today that I haven’t heard before, and they’re going to be surprises for me about your stories around 10 X, everyone’s stories.
And one of the things we know from our workshops is that what’s so powerful is people who do the same thing every day together often don’t know what the other one is thinking or feeling, or what they’ve been through. And it’s that sharing that is so powerful, so I’m excited to hear some of those surprises today.
Yeah, that’s great. Hey, pass the baton, Sarah. How about that, pass the baton.
I’m going to pass the baton to Aaron.
Okay. Well, long time listener, first time caller. So it’s exciting to be on the side, right?
I guess what I’ve loved about listening is the way you guys get into flow and see where it goes. And I feel like some of the most powerful moments are the personal storytelling and those moments of vulnerability. I’m a huge Brené Brown fan, and so the power in our vulnerability, and I’m excited to see where the flow goes and where we end up uncovering and sharing.
And like a couple of you, I’m a verbal processor, so I don’t even know what’s going to come up, is going to get opened in the sharing and where you all take it. So I’m pretty excited about that.
I’ll pass it to Julie.
I’m probably most excited to kind of hear everybody’s unique perspective on what this 10 X journey has been like. We’ve all come at it from different angles and it’s impacted us in different ways, because of the seats that we sit in.
And while we’ve had a lot of internal calls around what our 10 X journey looks like, it’ll be fun to hear which stories stuck out the most to each of us based on our role, and maybe what things shifted that maybe greatly impacted our role more. So it’s probably what I’m most looking forward to.
And I will pass to… Who hasn’t gone?
Yeah, I mean, similar to you guys, I’m super excited to hear what everybody has to say, because we didn’t plan or script this, and so we’re just going to run with it.
Not at all.
I’m most curious to hear if on the back end of this, if there’s a meeting needed about what was or wasn’t 10 X on this episode itself. So we’ll see.
[inaudible 00:06:16] the next meetings. That’s great, Allen. I love that.
Well, let me give a little preamble. I already did a minute ago, but really, again, this started to come forward, I remember I was actually on a vacation out in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and I did pick up Benjamin Hardy’s book, 10 X is Easier Than 2 X, by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy.
And he’s an organizational psychologist and has done a lot of research around how to really create exponential positive change inside of yourself and your organizations. And it typically is for an entrepreneurial audience, that’s who he’s writing to, but I very quickly saw how important this was for the entire space that we exist in, which is primarily nonprofits but also in those who are trying to create impact in the world. And I saw a lot of resonance with what he was sharing.
And what’s fascinating about what he shared is, and he even speaks to this, he’s like, “In the world of entrepreneurism the word 10 X has kind of like come on…” Has its own brand in some ways. And really popularized by a guy named Grant Cardone. And in some ways, 10 X is seen as hyper action, it’s seen as doing more, doing more, doing more.
And Benjamin Hardy, and he literally says this in one of his videos, is that, “This 10 X is actually the exact opposite.” And it’s really deeply grounded in what he’s done in his research around psychology, that it’s not about hyper action, it’s actually about radically doing less and focusing in and doubling down on quality and not going for quantity.
And that really was speaking to my soul, and what I knew I needed to lean into and have struggled to lean into, and really unlearn some of the old ways that I’ve had of trying to do all the things all the time. I’m not great at saying no to things, as the team very well knows. I’m a yes person, I have FOMO, and I’m still healing from that.
There’s a lot of things that it really was speaking to me, because I was feeling this call for not only myself, but also the team, to we need to let go of stuff. And even though I’m not great at saying no, I was feeling the burden of having too many yeses.
And a lot of that, Sarah, was due to you and your language that you’ve had, your now immortal words. I keep upping the ante on your quote, which is, “Our nos give power to our most important yeses.” And we were doing this with nonprofits in strategic planning processes and things like that. This book really hit me in a very powerful way of, how do we go on this journey?
But the last thing I want to say in this is one of our core values is co-creation. And the last thing I wanted to do was feel like my job was to come up with all the answers of what our 10 X was. And I have some inkling, I do have some vision around what that could be, but I was like, “How do we turn this into a co-creative journey of let’s all co-create our 10 X?”
And the analogy I kept using and was thinking about was we have this blank canvas that we have right in front of us together, and this was back in around July, August timeframe. And I just said to the team, “Hey, we have this blank canvas and we don’t fully have clarity of what that 10 X is, but what if we over the next four to five months start to paint the brush strokes of like, oh, that’s 10 X, that feels like 10 X?”
Or of course the opposite side of that, which is, “Let’s erase things that don’t feel 10 X. Did that feel not 10 X?” And so that’s really the journey that we’re going to be unpacking for you.
Again, we didn’t script this out, as Allen said, we’ve just been… Allen, you presented a question, which is bringing a story of an example of something that you went through over the course of really understanding our 10 X.
So that’s a little bit of the preamble. Any other context that you all feel like would be helpful before we get into some of the stories of what this may have been for each one of us? Any other context that would be helpful?
Tucker, I wonder if you might unpack a little bit about 10 X. And how it really centers around starting with the end in mind versus the paths from now to the future, and reversing that in the paths from the future to now.
Yeah, yeah. Well, a lot of what Benjamin Hardy says is that our 10 X future is a little bit of this slightly scary future. It’s a little bit bigger than we even feel like is possible. It should conjure up some feelings of, okay, a little bit of nervousness around it.
Another thing that he mentioned is our 10 X future, because it’s so transformational, there’s not a whole lot of pathways to it. It creates a clarity of sorts. Versus if we’re just sitting in 2 X, it’s just like adding incremental things.
It’s like one of the things we notice in nonprofits all the time is we tend to just keep adding things. We’re like, “Hey, we work with middle schoolers,” I’m thinking of your story, Sarah, right?
“We work with middle schoolers, why don’t we work with high schoolers? Well, now we work with high schoolers. And oh, we work with high schoolers, now let’s do a different piece with high schoolers.” But we never actually went back to look and see, “Well, but now we’re adding all these things. We didn’t subtract anything and now we’re doing too much, and now we don’t even know what we’re here for.”
And that’s the 2 X journey, is incremental change. And many times what we’ve noticed in a lot of the work that we’ve done with organizations is that incremental change doesn’t typically come with subtraction on the backend. And so they keep adding quantity, but don’t let go of things so they can be in quality.
And one of the examples he uses in his book is about Michelangelo, and he had multiple 10 X leaps in his life. And he goes into that end of the book, I totally recommend getting it. But Michelangelo was the one who sculpted the famous David statue, and it took two plus years for him to actually do the whole thing from a piece of marble that was actually a throwaway that nobody even wanted. And he’s like, “I can do something with that.”
And he comes out with, of course, one of the most famous sculptures ever, really. And the pope came up to him and said, “Michelangelo, how did you do this?” This is the story, “How did you do this?” And he said, “Well, it was easy, I stripped away everything but the David.”
And that sense of radical focus, which is, again, what Benjamin Hardy gets into, hits into a variety of different things. And you can go look up a lot of this, but one of that really hit me pretty hard was around it’s really a shift in our whole identity. It’s a shift in the stories we tell about ourselves and the standards that we hold for ourselves.
And I was realizing that I was holding, even for myself, lower standards because of old baggage and past behaviors, and frankly fear of missing out and fear of people leaving. And I was holding onto that past so hard that it actually created lower standards for myself in the first place that was not allowing me personally to step into my 10 X.
So anyway, that’s a little bit about what Benjamin Hardy speaks to. And I think what our stories are going to be today is there’s an organizational 10 X that we’ve all been working towards, but there’s also the journey of us individually and within our own individual 10 X living into that organizational 10 X.
And to me, that’s also one of the fascinating parts of this story, is how we’ve been co-creating our collective 10 X, but also I’m curious to hear from you all where you’ve been noticing your own individual 10 X coming forward too, as your 10 X as an individual person as a part of this team. So hopefully that-
Well, and Tucker… Yeah, I think one of the other things that for me about this book is so important, and now we use this frame with clients, and so I think one of the things we’ve seen resonate is this idea about the future driving your present rather than the present driving your future.
And the question being, what is the best 20% or 30% of now that we want to bring forward into our future, but not taking the whole thing? Which is I think what you were saying when you were meaning baggage, but this idea that we get to create the present based on the future rather than the other way around.
And I think this shift for people is so cognitively powerful, because all of a sudden, instead of having to take the weight of the past with them, they’re allowed to put it down for a minute as they think about the future.
Yeah. And even today we had a meeting with one of our nonprofits we’re working with, and they’re going through a rebranding process. And they are using some of this language, but in a way of, “What is this future organization?” Which they already have a name for it. They’re like, “What would this organization do?” They were already going into that future of saying, “What would this organization do?” Not the past organization, but they’re going through a rebranding whole shift, but they already have both names and the new name they’re using of, “What would this organization do?” And using that as a way of thinking about into their 10 X.
And you’re right, it’s a really powerful shift of thinking into. And to that shift point, Benjamin speaks to our brains work on whatever challenge we give it. So if we give it a 2 X challenge, our brains are going to work on it. If we give it a 10 X frame and a 10 X challenge, our brains are going to go there, and so we might as well go into that.
That’s why I love that they were already using that language essentially in their organization, because now it’s giving their brains a different way of thinking to go into that transformational side.
One of the interesting things, Tucker, that jumps out to me about the story you were telling about Michelangelo and then bringing that into the work that we’re doing with impact driven organizations. One of the key differences that I see, and I think this is what our story in this is going to tell, is while Michelangelo was a solo artist, we’re co-creating this together.
And so that process of stripping away everything that’s not the David, we’re figuring out together what the David is in our situation, and we’re figuring out creating that together on the fly.
And so I think your analogy of brushstrokes that we leaned into last quarter, figuring out like, “Oh, this was a 10 X brushstroke, that felt really on point. Oh, that was not a 10 X brushstroke, that was off the canvas, not 10 X brushstroke.” So I think that this conversation is going to highlight a lot of those.
Well, I kind of wanted to jump in there as well, if that’s okay?
Because I had a similar kind of take on your story about Michelangelo and the David, and, “Well, I just took away everything but the David.” What that required was vision, leaders have to be able to see something that is yet to be brought into our existence.
And the belief in faith in the things we work on, and the role of leaders to do that, and the role that that has on human beings, really powerful emotions like hope and inspiration and motivation, and the things that move us towards those end goals. And when we can get really clear on what the possibility of a vision is, not only does it kind of move us in that shortest distance between two points is a straight line… And we’ll wiggle a bit, because everything exists in waves, and so we’ll do that no matter what, but it keeps us much tighter towards our goal.
And what it does, kind of like you were saying, it leaves the baggage of the past behind and let’s go, and allows us as humans to let go of all the reasons why not. Because we’re moving towards something bigger, more powerful, more exciting.
And it strikes those chords across human history. And it’s the difference between maybe moving one or two people and movements that shift generations, like the Renaissance. It was an entire movement of lots of humanity moving towards and shifting, and how do we do that?
And I guess personally I sort of believe we’re in a 10 X moment in our world, where we need to have big fundamental shifts to inspire and motivate to take on some of these big challenges. And all of us as parents, I feel like the question around what are our kids going to inherit? What are their kids going to… And what does that look like?
And being impacted in people, which is part of the work that we do. But one of the reasons I love being part of this organization is we walk the talk, we do this ourselves. How do we help others to move towards that impact on that vision through inspiration and motivation that is bigger than the sum of our parts?
If we’re going to move and shift and transform movements, lots of people, we can help our clients and other organizations who then touch more organizations. So this ripple effect of change is something I think about a lot and it takes 10 X.
Yeah, that’s great. Love that, Aaron. And you’re right, we’re in a time. I mean, we were just in Rochester, New York, literally yesterday, and we were speaking to the whole board and the staff of this community foundation up there. And this was coming up, we’re in a shift of operating systems altogether. The speed of change is happening at an exponential rate, and we are struggling to adapt. And we need to shift our whole way of thinking and our whole way of operating.
So with that being said, I’d love to unpack what has our learning journey been? Because I think that, to me, the richness is in what we’ve learned along the way. Where has it been clunky? Where is it really spoken to us? What is a story, an example that we’re like, “Oh man, that felt 10 X”? And we were like, “Oh, what are we doing here?” Or where it was like, “That does not feel 10 X at all”?
So I’d love to just invite your voices from a story and a lived experience perspective. What has been going on in our organization, from your vantage point, since really July, August timeframe around this 10 X journey?
Well, okay, so I’ve been thinking about this. And interestingly, I’d say we were on this 10 X journey before we had the language to put to it. We’ve been talking a lot about alignment and aligning things, and how do we live into what our best is so we can be sustainable and have the greatest impact. And in many ways, I saw the churnings of this even long before August.
And then interestingly, the book just really put language to it, and we just started basically continuing our conversations just with this language to coincide with it. And I think having the language and then some of the frameworks from within the book helped take what had been a lot of talking and churning and gave us real direction in how do we go about co-creating this for our own organization?
And it’s funny, a side story is when we first started talking about 10 X and putting the words to it, I got a little nervous that we were not living into our 10 X without knowing the words to put to it. And that we were going to have another idea for something that we had to do, and it was going to keep us from aligning and just add another siloed thing.
And I was so grateful when we really got into the process to see that it wasn’t that. And in fact, it kind of enveloped the things we had been talking through, and helped us take things that had been siloed and really put them together and align on what we’re doing and how we’re moving forward.
And yeah, it’s been a really wonderful journey that has helped guide us. And I’m looking forward to what 2024 means as we live into the things that we’ve brainstormed and thought about since August.
Yeah. Julie, I appreciate you bringing out the point especially… And you’re in such an operational role, which is so vital to the organization, and the nervousness about, “Oh crap, this is just going to be more that we’re added to our plate.” It’s, again, going back to that 2 X, it’s additive versus transformational, it’s incremental versus transformational.
And there was that nervousness going into it, you’re like, “Oh, great, here’s just another thing. We’re not going to subtract anything, we’re just going to add more. And that’s not great.” And so I appreciate you bringing that forward, because I think that’s a real fear with a lot of people. I know when we do strategic planning processes, I mean that’s all the time.
All the time. Yeah.
“Oh, great. Not only do we have to do this strategic planning process, which is additive, we have to add that now. But then on top of it, now we’re just going to add more on top of the other things we’re doing.”
And so I appreciate you bringing that nuance in of being explicit about this is not about adding, this is actually about letting go and saying no, and actually doing that then. Yeah. Thanks, Julie. I love that story.
What else is coming up for you all around over the last four months or so?
When this whole thing first came up, so if we paint the picture, like you said, Tucker, it’s kind of late July, early August, we’re about to start settling back into fall routines and kicking off the next quarter. And so in my mind, I’m kind of like, “Okay, my mind’s in the future, this quarter, what’s coming ahead?”
And Tucker, you brought this up in one of our weekly check-ins. And in all the best ways, it was like whiplash for me, it was like a car accident. Because you were like, “Okay, so 10 X,” and I was immediately like, “Oh no, oh no. What does this mean? 2 X is adding, 10 X is multiplying. Oh man, okay, I don’t know what this means.”
And then you started explaining, “No, the future shapes the present and it limits the paths that we take to get where we actually want to go.” And I was like, “Oh, this is great. This is amazing. This really helps dial in the quarter ahead.” And so it was just this whiplash for me of figuring out, “Oh no, this is bad news,” to, “Oh, this is the best news that we could probably possibly have.”
And it was really interesting too, one of the things I think that stands out to me, Tucker, early on you had mentioned this like, “Hey, how do we each individually also lean into our own 10 X?” And I’ll be honest, and you guys already know this, I was a little gun shy about this part of the process. I’m like, “Okay, sure. As an organization, yes, this makes a ton of sense. I don’t know how the personal part of this really plays in.”
And the thing that stands out to me is really bridging that gap was the work that we did with Working Genius. And for anybody who isn’t familiar, Working Genius is it’s a framework about… Julie, you spearheaded this, you could probably explain this much, much better than I. But ultimately allowing people to work within their strengths in the workplace, more than simply personality differences and preferences and style, truly leaning into how each of us works differently. And then being able to see at any given moment where the strengths are and where the gaps are.
And Tucker, within Working Genius, for example, I think you and I share wonder, which is like, “Hey, what is the world of possibility ahead?” And to me, this is where the, “It’s hard to say no to things, we just want to say yes to all the things. And what else can we do and add and make awesome?”
And so seeing like, “Oh, yes, this is a strength. It has to be balanced with somebody who can take this across the finish line, otherwise we just run a bunch of different directions and go nowhere.” So it was a cool experience for me to see that gap bridged in that way, from both organizational and personal 10 X leaning into that.
Oh, that’s cool, Allen. Well, and before Julie pops in here about Working Genius, Julie, I think we need to do a whole podcast on Working Genius with you being on it because there is so much under there. And we’re not even certified in it, Julie, you just kind ran with it.
And it is been really useful. You can just look it up, Working Genius, I don’t even know if it’s dot com, just Google it, Working Genius. And it’s a Patrick Lencioni thing, but totally recommend.
But Allen, I didn’t realize that, that that was so helpful around your own individual 10 X and what does that look like. That’s cool.
Yeah. I appreciated the Working Genius a lot too, because I mean, for one, I just geek out on all personality type things and I love to see how they work together, especially when you blend them with strengths finders and different things.
But I’d say not realizing when we were in it, the Working Genius did help us live into our 10 X because I think it was really level setting for everyone of being able to see where people’s strengths were. But then on the flip side of that, really being able to see where people’s struggles and frustrations, is what the Working Genius calls it, were.
And it allows you to be able to see, “Oh, this person naturally lives at these strengths,” which means of course their brain naturally goes there in conversation or brainstorming or detail work, but then they get frustrated easily living too long in these lower other things that are their frustrations. And sometimes we can expect somebody to be as proficient or energized by something that comes naturally to us when it’s actually a frustration for them.
And it allows as a team from a culture perspective to really offer grace and empathy to somebody, that when they’re living or working in something that is in a frustration, trying not to make them feel bad for maybe not doing as efficiently on something or not lasting as long living in a higher level of strategy if that’s not where their strength lies.
And I think it really helped bridge our culture in a way, that, I mean, we already had a great culture, but I think it gave it that extra layer. And then allows us to live into who we are and what our 10 X is based on our altitude of thinking and where our strengths lie.
Well, and figure out then based on that, what are the best roles based on our strengths? And I think that’s been the other part, and continuing to be another really important part of our 10 X that we’re still living into.
And I think as a small team, sometimes it can be… We did a podcast before on being A’s. And A is from DARCI, the DARCI model of project management, A is for accountable. It’s the person ultimately in charge of making sure an area of work happens. They may not always be the R pushing the buttons, but they’re accountable.
And so we already had that language, but I think what we didn’t realize necessarily until we did Working Genius was then what does that mean for our roles, our highest and best? And then, and this is something we’re still really working on, what does that mean for how we spend our time? And I think that that is really a vital and a vital piece that we’re continuing to live into. But I agree, it’s been extraordinarily helpful language in many ways.
And so I’ll tell my story now, since I guess I’m talking anyway. But I think, for me, one of the cool things was 10 X… I agree with Julie, I agree completely. I think this was a movement that was already underway and then we had new language for it.
And quite frankly, that’s kind of the story of Thrive. A lot of people want to shift in the ways that they’re working and they don’t have the language. And so when we talk about co-creation and we talk about conscious leadership, a lot of times folks stop and say, “I’ve been feeling it, I didn’t have the words or the frames.” And so I just want to point that out, because I think that’s part of our journey as an organization, is giving language to things people know but don’t have words for.
And so I think one of the things, that this felt like a natural progression on a conversation for me. And we did a visioning exercise that, Aaron, you helped lead the team through. And as we were thinking about what our 10 X visions looked like, and now we’ve kind of repeated this vision exercise with folks, this idea of the vision being 10 X instead of 2 X is, one, really important. And giving that language around putting down the present.
But I was really excited to see what I thought was a convergence around where we’re going as an organization that was different than what we had been doing. And so I thought that was really fascinating. We used EasyRetro, which we always do, to bring in our ideas, and so it wasn’t all verbal processing. But it was this idea of the next normal of impact driven work, and really about the workplace itself being this organization or entity that was in need of shifting and change, was in need of new models, was in need of really different operating systems.
And so it was really kind of at the level of work, of shifting work, of changing what it means to work that I saw us kind of all putting up there in different ways. And that for me felt really exciting, because I think before it had felt kind of an open bag. We had all of these pieces and they were kind of in this bag, but it didn’t necessarily point in one direction. And all of a sudden it felt like, “Oh, things are lined up and they’re stacking like an arrow.” And that was really exciting for me.
And now we’re continuing to live into it. It’s not a one-way street and it’s not a straight arrow. But I think that idea that we’re literally trying to change the world of work is, one, both really exciting. And secondly, really focusing for the organization and for us as individuals, or at least for me.
Yeah. Sarah, it sounds like the experience that we had where we all were putting our voices in a written way up in a tool we use called EasyRetro, which if you haven’t used, it’s awesome for gathering voices in an anonymous way across the… In fact, we just did this in person in Rochester. We had 70 people in the room and we had them come on their phones and they could all see each other’s voices all right there. It was beautiful.
But it sounds like being able to co-create this was really unlocking by having all the voices up there, being able to look at that, and starting to see where the sentiments of the group was.
That’s partially co-creation. But I think also, and more importantly, it was that there was an alignment around the future, which was different than what the past had been.
Yeah, yeah. And you saw that in the voices being brought up.
That’s cool. Yeah, Aaron, go for it.
Well, so two things are just sort of hitting for me as we’re talking. One is to come back to the Working Genius, and this is really kind of acknowledgement of you, Tucker and Sarah, in being a product of the work. It wasn’t just how do we spend our time, but when we think about org charts and growth, you have to add new people. And we added a program person and you guys added a program person.
And a huge part of that conversation was, “Well, what’s their resume? And how do they show up? And what’s the interviews?” But where’s the gap in the skillsets and where they get energy from a Working Genius that as a team, we now, knowing where we are from the Working Genius, and what are we missing, and who do we need to add as a critical function of an organization.
To me, first of all living the work as a 10 X thing, because if we’re going to go out and talk about this and try and teach people, we’ve got our own little incubator here and we can be products of the work, which I fundamentally believe is absolutely necessary.
And that kind of leads me to the second point about the question around 10 X, and to be a learning organization and something the whole team, but Tucker and Sarah, you talk a ton about and build into our programs and then how we model it here, there’s inherent friction and tension. Because to come from a place to a place requires, “What got us here isn’t going to get us there.”
And so this fundamental question about, “Well, if we want to get there, start the future, like we talked about 10 X and create that, and where are we now? How do we use tension and friction as learning to quickly iterate and move through to get to that future state?” And as a human being it’s uncomfortable and I don’t like it, and sometimes I’m triggered, and I will say and do things, and it pulls that path. So there’s this constant kind of like… I’m imagining I have twins on the teeter-totter, and it’s this back and forth of past future, past future.
And hinged at this middle of where being intentional, having these conversations, uncovering, processing in a learning environment and co-creatively, and we get to choose and say, “No, I’m not going to fall back into this past.” I see you, I learned from you, and then we move forward into this future state.
And I feel like some of the ways we’ve seen that come about is how are we implementing? So one of the areas where I feel like we got a little bit stuck, particularly in some of our work, Tucker, was we got really excited in August about 10 X, and then while we were working on the business we weren’t working in the business. And so where’s the balance of building these future states while incorporating that into the day-to-day and living into? Because action only happens in the present.
So it’s great to be strategic and it’s awesome to have these ideas, but unless we are actively working towards them, we aren’t bringing them to life. And so that’s been a little bit of this tension and balance too, how do we wonder and create? But then how do we distinctly, like we’ve talked about, activate and implement with the nos and the yeses, and get to work and do the things to bring that to life?
And so that’s been some of the tension in the learning. And I think we’re still figuring it out. It’s definitely getting clearer and faster and better. And every time we up level, every time it’s new and we expand when we grow, those old challenges kind of get pulled back and asked more of the learning. And I think that’s where we are.
Yeah. You kind of brought up to me, Aaron, what you’re sharing, was the state of emergence that we were in. We still had work that we were doing, we had clients that we were working with, we had 10 X-y things and not so 10 X-y things that we were currently in the process of needing to finish, all the while taking four months to say, “We have a blank canvas, let’s paint the strokes.”
But we still got to get the work done. We have commitments that we’ve made, we can’t let go of those commitments because we made a commitment. We need to do it.
And I’m curious to speak to this space of what was it like to have months of pre-10 X almost? I mean, by the beginning of 2024 that was my goal, it was beginning of 2024 we’re really stepping into our 10 X. But in the meantime, it’s this space of emergence, which is like, we don’t fully know what this is going to look like, but we need to unpack the learnings while we’re doing the work to be able to paint like, “Oh, that felt 10 X.”
Or, again, all every single one of you asking me the question of, “Tucker, was that really 10 X?” How many times does that happen? I’m curious to hear from you all, what was that emergence oriented space like of unsure? What is it?
In a word? Frustrating, I think is probably the right word. I mean, learning often is frustrating.
In fact, I was thinking about, Aaron, what you were just saying about this process that we’re in has tension. And I remember one specific part of this process where in this journey towards, “Okay, what is 10 X?” Which we’re working on, “Okay, how do we put together offerings for impact driven organizations and leaders to help them move to that next step and reduce their friction and their points of entry? And how do we make this easily graspable?”
And these aren’t small questions or things that we’re tackling. And on more than one occasion we would all come to the table, and we had vastly different ideas and sometimes we were able-
Yeah, and frustrations. And sometimes we were able to take those and make something really awesome, and other times we didn’t. Sometimes they were just like, “Well, that was a really frustrating conversation.”
Here’s what I will say though, which I think even in those moments of peak frustration on all fronts, that I think I can confidently say that all of us had as a foundation is the culture of this team appreciates the learning process and understands that this tension is part of the process.
And so sure, is it frustrating in this moment? Yes. Is somebody calling your baby ugly when you bring an idea to the table? Maybe. At the same time, we all know that once we get to the other side and we’ve co-created this buy-in together to help deliver the best experience that impact-driven leaders and organizations can have to help them move their organizations forward is worth it along the way.
Yeah. I mean, the one that cracks me up, Allen, because we’ve definitely had a few meetings that have been a little rough. And one of the things, though, I think that’s interesting that I think sometimes at work, and Tucker, you and I had a podcast about this but I forget which one it was, but it’s like we’re not supposed to be human or get upset and it’s like a bad thing if you do.
And it’s like this is life, y’all. We’re allowed to be mad at each other. And I think that is also, I don’t know, something I often struggle with in the workplace, and I think the next normal of workplaces is partially about being like, “Y’all, life is about conflict intention.” And the minute we try to not make that be part of life is the minute we stop telling each other the truth.
And that is a bigger issue than people being pissed off at each other for a few days. But so often we are scared of that being pissed off that we don’t let it happen, because, whatever, we’re afraid of something on the other side.
And so I really appreciate that, Allen, because I think that is part of both our 10 X and 10 X period, is that you have to be okay with some conflict and some tension. And in some ways let it be part of the journey instead of trying to close it down.
Yeah. Can I follow up on that?
Yeah. I’m reminded of a Joseph Campbell quote that says, “If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” Trailblazing is not easy. I mean, when we’re innovating and creating-
Say that again. You got to say it again.
“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” And I do feel really strongly that as we think about 10 X for ourselves and the world, this word authenticity keeps coming up.
And I watch young people and my children, and this sense of, “Look, at the end of the day, if we are more happy, fulfilled people, then the whole world’s going to be better. Our children are going to be better.” And to be our authentic selves is necessary to do that.
And so this sense of telling the truth, of stepping into authenticity requires us to trailblaze. And it is uncomfortable. Or we settle, and we sacrifice, and we put down the things that make us uniquely ourselves, and the things that as we come together make us unique in our organizations, which are all created by humans. We are products, every company and organization is a product of the humans that make it.
So either we’re on someone else’s path and we’re being inauthentic to ourselves, or we’re trailblazing a path, being authentic and doing the work. And I appreciate that about what we’re up to, and how we help other organizations by modeling that and teaching that, do that for themselves to create what they want. So yeah, the path is not clear and it makes sense why it’s not.
Mm-hmm. Yeah, that’s so true. What a great quote too, man. I love that.
And Julie, I’m really curious what you’re thinking. To the point around some of these tensions, you have been a salve of grace and support. And I’m curious, what has this process been for you when the tensions have arisen in this state of emergence?
You see me, obviously you’re my wife, so we talk all the time as well, so you’ve seen my struggles with myself and with others. I’m just curious, what has been your experience through this as well?
Wait, but I have to say before you start, Julie, that you have also emerged as your 10 X recently. So tell us what it feels like to support others, but I want to hear about your emergence too.
Oh gosh. Okay. So I would say the thing that I’ve enjoyed about watching this process and people leaning more into it is really feeling proud of the team that we’re creating, and that it’s a team that living in these frameworks and these methodologies… I mean, it’s like this is how all teams should be.
I mean, it’s just to be able to be your genuine self, which means that you come to work sometimes having a bad day, you get in a fight because somebody pushed your buttons, you cry, or you’re hormonal or you’re whatever, or you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re able to verbalize that. Being able to be human on a team and not fear rejection, it’s a beautiful thing. And I feel like we’ve lived into a lot of that. And Working Genius has been a big factor in that too, I would say.
But yeah, if anything, it’s just I get very proud when I watch the team lean into their authentic self. And even through tension, which I get to sit on calls where I witness tension sometimes, and being able to try and, I don’t know, see where each person was able to show up as their genuine selves and help the team see the other person in that way.
And how have I lived into my genuine self lately? Yeah, that was one of my stories I was thinking about is that I didn’t see it coming at all, but in living into the 10 X stuff, really analyzing, what do I want in my future? What does my future look like? And what role do I want to be playing? And is the role I’m currently on really hitting the mark for me? Or am I settled? Am I just staying in something because comfortable, or because I know I can do it, or have a strength around certain parts of it?
And ended up choosing to resign from my position on program, which really came out of left field. But I think had we not been going through this journey, it wouldn’t have been on my radar to do so. And I think it’s really huge, because I think it’s opening up our team to be better positioned. And I’m super excited about the new program person we hired. And just really looking forward to what the blossoming is of what this next iteration of our roles and of our company is, organization.
But Julie, I just have to say, I’m so proud of you because you decided and found for yourself in this journey what your C needed to be. And it wasn’t linear, and it was through a lot of heartache and conversation and challenge.
And so I think that is emblematic of this 10 X journey, is the personal wrestling with, “Am I in a spot that I’m supposed to be in, even at a place that I love so much?” And you just did that so beautifully in a way that I think is going to just reap huge rewards for Thrive.
Thanks. I’m super excited and nervous, which is why Aaron’s quote’s so perfect.
I’m particularly noticing too, just from my own lived experience, it was tough to let go of idea that I needed to hold the whole vision. But I was like, “What am I doing?” This has been my learning of co-creation.
I remember talking to somebody about this, about the book actually, and she’s the CEO of an organization as well, and I felt some of her tension that I was feeling too. And she was like, earlier on when I was in that tension, I had now gone through that and then opened it up more to co-creation, which was so helpful for me.
And I was just encouraging her, “No, don’t go into your cave and come up with your own 10 X for the organization, co-create it with the team. Let them paint the brushstrokes, and you paint the brushstrokes too. Create a collective canvas and picture of this 10 X.”
But then as I was going into my own internal individual 10 X, I think there was one frame from the book that was so helpful. He actually wrote a whole book on this frame but it’s also in the 10 X book, which is who, not how. And I think that, for me, I’ve been an entrepreneur or a social entrepreneur for a good chunk of my life. And a lot of that in these scrappy situations, which a lot of nonprofit leaders are scrappy nonprofit leaders, which is we hunker down, we put it on our back and we figure it out.
And I have been doing that for decades, and that is not my 10 X. That is not my 10 X. And it’s been this wrestling journey of trying to using some of our conscious leadership practices of pausing and noticing, literally sometimes in the room, of like, “Oh, I just jumped right into how, and that was somebody else’s ho. Your how is your 10 X, I have my own how, but you’re the who for that how.” So Sarah… It’s a little confusing with the learning, but if you’re the A in the program-
Yeah, I know. [inaudible 00:50:02] a great Dr. Seuss story about this one. But if, Sarah, you’re the A on program, that means you’re the who for the program. Now I have obviously a lot of role in that, but no, what would you do? How would you do this?
And I’m trying to learn, I think that’s been one of the hardest parts for me, of unlearning, just going into the how and starting to speak to it, versus just stopping and asking the question. And I’m definitely imperfect at this, but I think on every one of you, I’ve had conversations where I’m like, “Oh no, Aaron, you’re the A on revenue. Oh no, Allen, you’re the A on story. Let me back up a little bit and be like, okay.”
And a lot of that’s been through all of your feedback, all of you have really come to me, that have said, “Hey, I’ve felt a little bit squashed, frankly, in some way, shape or form. I’ve felt a little bit like not empowered. Or I really had energy towards this but I wasn’t really able to go there, because you just took us in these directions.”
And so just that for me has been a lot of learning for me, of the more that I’ve been able to get into, “Okay, my 10 X is my… This is the how I need to focus on for me,” that’s facilitation, as an example. That is a huge how for my work is to be one of our key facilitators on all of the things. So that’s speaking, facilitating. That also means some of these concepts and continuing to podcast. And we’re working on a book, right, Sarah? We got it, we’re doing it.
We’re doing it. It’s in the impact pyramid, it’s happening.
Yes, it is in our impact pyramid. We together our own strategic plan at the end of the year last year, which is another part of the process.
But the other thing I think that’s been helping me go into that space is realizing if I… is kind of the negative opposite of, “If I don’t live into my 10 X, what does that now mean?”
And for me, when I connect in with empathy, and this is just for me personally, I realize that the work that we’re doing, if I don’t live into my 10 X and then let others live into their 10 X and we be 10 X together, that’s stealing from other people being able to find the future that they need, that’s stealing from…
And I use that word very intentionally, because I was feeling that. I was like, “This is stealing from organizations being able to create impact from the inside out.” Because I wanted to be involved in all the hows of the story, and the program, and the revenue, and the operations.
And so, anyway, that’s just been the ongoing learning of trying to be aware of when I’m not living into my 10 X self. And obviously as a CEO I hold a little bit of a different role, that I’m trying to let go of as much as possible and realize that I don’t need to do all the things. We have an incredible team here and we have an extended team, we have other people on this team, that they need to live into their 10 X too. And if I’m here to squash it, that’s a pain, that’s a problem.
So anyway, I just want to share a little bit about mine on the individual front, that that who not how frame has been really rocking my world in a good way of just staying focused on, “What is my 10 X within our 10 X?” And letting go of the rest, letting go of control. Still being involved, being a part of the doing, but letting go. So that’s a little bit about what I’ve been going through.
Yeah. I think it’s, as a fellow wanderer, I feel like, and longtime entrepreneur, those two things, you get into that groove, and you get real good at just figuring things out and taking them on and making it happen.
And then this 10 X thing of letting things go and focus, that vacuum at first feels wrong. Because, you know what I mean, you feel so… Honestly, you’re just so conditioned at that point that it has to be this frenetic thing that’s always happening. You’ve always got to be doing something, or making something happen, or pushing some ball forward.
And that vacuum feels scary in a lot of ways, it feels wrong. It feels like, “Oh no, I’m not doing my job in my role. I’m not fulfilling what this role is, quote unquote, supposed to be.” When in reality it’s the exact opposite is what’s actually happening. By letting those things go and leaning into what that 10 X is, it couldn’t be more aligned with where things need to go in moving the organization forward.
Well, and Allen, I appreciate the permission you gave when you shared that with me a couple months ago of, “This is a good vacuum.” I mean, you hit the nail on the head. I was feeling so insecure and so guilty about like, “Wait…” I mean, I felt clunky, I felt awkward. I’m like, “Wait, I feel like I’m maybe not even doing anything right now.” It was so weird.
We have A reports on a monthly basis and I was like, “Do I have a report?” And I just felt so awkward, and it was, it was awkward for a little while. But you really helped me to not spend so much emotional energy on feeling guilty, and more emotional energy on letting the vacuum be the vacuum and being curious about what needs to emerge, hence the emergence. That was so instrumental for me, Allen, I really appreciated you bringing that out. That was so helpful.
Well, hey, I want us to wrap up in a little bit of a rapid round from all of you. For any organization out there that’s like we’ve been saying the words, “The process,” I just want to throw it out there to everybody, we didn’t exactly have some clearly lined out plan and process. It was literally the process was, “Over the next four months, what’s our 10 X and what’s not?” I mean, that was the process. But it started painting and then the process itself started emerging.
But with those people who want to step into this 10 X journey as an organization and as an individual, what recommendation would you give to them? What advice would you give to people as they’re hoping to step into a journey like that? Maybe somebody who maybe in a similar seat that you hold inside of the organization. I’m curious, any rapid round responses to advice?
Mine would be start by starting. Just get the book, start reading it. If you’ve got somebody that loves to read more than other people, like that is Tucker compared to me, just start sharing what you read and start by starting.
We hadn’t been on the journey very long when we started implementing 10 X is Easier Than 2 X into our work with our clients, and it’s fresh to us and we added it in. And I think for me it was really unclear exactly what 10 X even really meant, but we leaned into it anyway and it became more clear as the time went on.
And just lean into the process, and be able to ask questions, and co-create and verbalize, and just start by starting. Don’t wait until it feels clear and you know exactly what step-by-step process to do, just jump in.
That’s great. That’s great advice, Julie.
I have two quick ones. One is start with vision. We do this with appreciative inquiry, but not with what are you going to do, but what do you want? Start with painting the vision of the future.
And the second is that getting there doesn’t happen overnight. And so give yourself grace as you’re continuing to do 2 X things on your path to 10 X.
Yeah. Love it. That’s great, Sarah. What else?
Yeah. I would add that in addition to giving yourself grace, giving everybody grace. If you’re co-creating this together, it’s a process, it’s a journey that everybody is on. And it’s going to be clear as mud to start and it’s going to be difficult to figure it out. It’s going to be frustrating at times.
And so if you expect that to happen, it helps in those moments. And then realizing that a little bit of empathy goes a long ways when you’re bringing other people in this process with you.
That’s great. A little bit of empathy goes a long way.
I guess mine is related to some stuff I’m reading and exploring right now, and that is to ask, “Does the path have heart? Is your heart really in it?” And to this vision point, I would say, “Is your dream with heart?” Allow yourself to dream. And then the ones that really have heart are the ones to follow. But just this question, does the path have heart, has just been really fundamental.
Mm-hmm, yeah. Noticing where your energy is and where your heart is. That’s great.
Well, and I would say somewhat of what you all said. I think, Allen, you said this earlier of just appreciate that it’s all learning. It’s all learning.
We have a joke inside of Thrive, which is, “Is it all learning?” Sometimes when we’re feeling that learning frustration, just like if a kid’s learning how to walk, and the kid falls down and scrapes his knee and that hurt a little bit, and then he gets back up and he walks again. Learning is very similar and just appreciate that this is a learning journey.
In fact, all of it’s really arguably a learning journey, and so appreciate that it is a learning journey. And have fun with it. Joke to yourself, “Is it all learning? Maybe it’s all just learning.” Maybe we’re just learning right now. Yep, we all are. Aren’t we? Yeah, we bring levity-
We usually can only go there though after we’ve gotten done with being frustrated. It takes a while to joke about it, [inaudible 00:59:48].
Awesome. Well, hey, team, it is a joy and an honor to serve with you, and to be with you, and to bring positive change out into the world with all of you around impact driven leadership.
And 10 X is around impact driven leadership for the next normal. And those who are wanting to be impact driven leaders, whether you’re a nonprofit leader and you want to be impact driven… I know plenty of nonprofit leaders who are not impact driven, by the way. I also know plenty of for-profit leaders who are impact driven.
And there are a lot of impact driven leaders who want to create impact from the inside out on the individual level, on the team level, and all the way through the organization that allows us to have the real impact that we’re meant to have in the world. And so hopefully you’ll be able to hear more about this in our podcasts to come, around our 10 X and what we’re leaning into, learning into in the future of impact driven work.
So thanks team for being on, thanks for being a part. And listeners, thanks for listening in. We’ll have all the things that we talked about in the show notes, so click links there. And we’ll see you all in the next episode. Bye, everyone.
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