EPISODE 63: Chad Littlefield of We & Me, joins John Locke and Bob Kunkle to discuss strengthening human connections and the importance of establishing a connection between leadership and the entire group.
[00:00:09] JL: Welcome to today’s edition of DHG’s GrowthCast. I’m your host, John Locke. At DHG, our strength relies on our technical knowledge, our industry intelligence and our future focus. We understand business needs and are laser-focused on company goals. In this ever-changing world, DHG’s GrowthCast provides insights and thought-provoking conversations on topics and trends that address growth opportunities and challenges in the current and future marketplace.
Thanks for joining us as we discuss tomorrow’s needs today.
[00:00:42] ANNOUNCER: The views and concepts expressed by today’s panelists are their own and not those of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. Always consult the advice of your legal and financial professional before taking any action.
[00:00:58] JL: Well, today is a very special day as I welcome DHG’s Director Of Coaching And Development, Bob Kunkle as my co-host. We’re excited to explore a topic I know everyone in our audience will find fascinating. It’s how to make virtual engagement easy. Bob, thanks for joining me today with this very special topic.
[00:01:17] BK: It’s really exciting. It’s so appropriate and relevant for what we’re doing right now in the practice, and thanks for having us.
[00:01:25] JL: Well, Bob, part of the reason I’m so excited about this topic is because of the individual we’ve got to chat with. Joining me is Chad Littlefield, and Chad is the co-founder and Chief Experience Officer We and Me, Inc. You can find that website at www.weand.me and we’ll talk more about that later. It’s an organization whose mission is to create conversations that matter. Leaders call Chad when they want to amplify connection, belonging and trust in their organization. Forbes even calls Chad a global expert on asking questions that build trust and connection in teams. He’s a TEDx speaker and author of the Pocket Guide to Facilitating Human Connections and creator of We! Connect Cards, which are now being used to create conversations that matter around 80 countries throughout the world. Chad and his partner, Will Wise, also authored Ask Powerful Questions: Create Conversations that Matter, which has been number one Amazon bestseller.
Welcome, Chad. Great to have you here today.
[00:02:32] CL: Thanks for having me. I should have recorded that or something so I could have sent it to my mom. Thanks for the generous intro.
[00:02:41] JL: Well, I know you and your partner Will have really carved out a great niche over the years, traveling around the world to help people understand how to better connect with each. Tell our audience how you got started in this incredible work?
[00:02:57] CL: Yeah. If any of you have seen the movie, Patch Adams with Robin Williams, where Robin Williams got to become a doctor to really promote the quality of life over quantity. He has just this really magical way of connecting with patients and reaching people. Even the best clinicians can’t reach. I saw that movie and I had my whole life figured out. I was just going to be patched out. So I was going to be pre-med, I was thinking maybe pediatrician. Then I took a chemistry class in college and it was like, “”Ugh! Maybe not. Maybe 10 more years of this isn’t going to work.” But what I realized was, I still had a strong desire to heal the world through human connection. I just didn’t want to use a scalpel in the process.
For me, that was the story. From the time I was young, I saw this movie and I was like, “Okay. Is this Hollywood, is there actually something to this, and it turns out there is a heap and a boatload of neuroscience, and really practical things that point toward the way that we connect at work, online, offline, at home online, offline matters immensely to our health and actually, our life expectancy and our own enjoyment of life. For me, that’s been a constant curiosity that’s turned into a constant passion, that also happened to turn into a thriving practice in business as well.
[00:04:25] JL: That’s really cool. Bob, hearing that, do you have any questions for Chad?
[00:04:32] BK: Yeah, Chad, John and I work with leaders that are always looking for ways to connect at work better, and also ways to deepen the connections that they have when they do connect. Part of our job is to make sure that they’re connected to every way they can to be able to do that. How would you say you focused your work or refocused your work recently to address those kinds of needs?
[00:04:58] CL: Yeah. One of things in that context, as I’m working also with lots of busy leaders and educators around the planet, I’ve never met one person who hasn’t said something to the effect of, I have too much to do in too little time. Because of that, my aim is to help make connection and engagement easy. In an online context, it’s just to make connection engagement easy online. There are some added barriers and elements of friction with that, but a lot of the principles are the same, so the way that you would connect in person.
Kids between the age of three to five ask 300 to 400 a day. Adults ask 6 to 12 questions a day. If you want to connect more at work, whether you’re online or off, double your question count. I wouldn’t recommend going back to 300 to 400. That will create some interrogations rather than some conversations. But the point is, if you double your question count, you follow your natural curiosity and you can do that really well on Zoom, or Webex, or whatever platform you’re meeting on. Maybe even better actually, especially in a work from home context.
No other time in history have we been invited into all of our colleagues’ homes. Maybe you go to the boss’s house for Christmas party or something one year, but you never get to go to into everybody’s home. Almost every day you’re on a video call, and there’s so much curiosity. Bob, because we’re on video, as well as audio, I’m curious about the little thing that I can see that says, “Dad” in the background, and the story behind the globe sitting on the top of yourself. Each one of those, each one of those little questions if I were to turn that into a question could open up into a little window into who you are in your world in a very safe context. Whereas, if I just went in cold in a blank room and asked you, “Hey, Bob! What is life teaching you right now.” Like, whoa! That’s a pretty intense starter question. But because the globe is in the background, because the things in the background is just safe access to be able to start that conversations. In terms of making that work, I think same principle, just adopted slightly in a context. There’s an example for that.
[00:07:21] BK: That’s awesome, because when we meet partners that we’re coaching or partnering with for the first time, you’ll see things in the background in their home office or their office that tell you something about the individual. If we notice, it’s pretty amazing some of the stories that you hear and you also learn more about the values of the person and what really matters to them and likely, the way that they show up for others. Especially when they’re in leadership role, they have a lens that they’re looking through. It’s just really neat to notice that so you can be personal making connection and understand the person quickly, at least at the beginning —
[00:07:59] CL: John, can you we go off script for a second.
[00:08:03] JL: Absolutely.
[00:08:03] CL: I want to do a little experiment. Bob, if you’re willing.
[00:08:07] BK: Sure.
[00:08:07] CL: What is your connection to the globe on your shelf, or what’s the story behind the —
[00:08:12] BK: Yeah. The dad one is pretty obvious. The globe, actually, I’ve lived in China three times. Went to live in Mexico in 1995 for a summer, and then the next year, went to China for the first time. Spent, I don’t know, a month and a half or two months there. I’ve been back to China to work and to live two more times after that. For me, the world opened up a whole new life that I didn’t have many ideas. A guy that lived and grew up in North Georgia here in the states, opened me up to a whole life, so it’s very significant.
[00:08:50] CL: Okay. Pause that. John, I know that you work with Bob, but what did you just learn about Bob hearing that, just from that little snippet have you just learned?
[00:09:02] JL: I think the impact that international living and the impact of different cultures as head on Bob and who he is.
[00:09:13] CL: Yeah. We learned that he went to China. If you were to fire out handful of things, what else do we pick up?
[00:09:21] JL: Well, that it just broadened his world. He made the comparison between someone who grew up in Northern Georgia and someone who’s lived these international incredible places and interacted with those cultures and it’s had just a huge impact on his life, the way he views life.
[00:09:39] CL: Totally. So world has broaden, which — as we continue to play this game, as I continue to ask myself, what did I learn about Bob from that one answer. What I’m doing is, on my hand, I’m holding up fingers. From one question, we could probably keep going. I might travel a little bit into the land of assumptions, but I could probably come up with seven or eight things. Some are very obvious, you lived in Mexico, you lived in China. Some are a little bit less obvious. You value expanding your world’s view. A little bit of assumption, you didn’t say that directly. For me, this is the illustration of why questions are so powerful, is conversation is exponential. You ask one question that unlocks seven learnings, and each one of those seven learnings can become a question.
When we think, I don’t know how to continue this conversation or we’ve ran out of things to say, or awkward pause, or we go back to where you’re from, how was your weekend, what do you do. I think when curiosity is present, there is no requirement to go back to those conversation routes, because there are so many possible avenues in conversation. When we’re following curiosity, especially with the other centric mindset, the way that conversations can go can become very meaningful, very quickly. I don’t believe that it takes 10 years to develop trust. I think that it can actually take about 90 seconds with some really strategic conversations.
[00:11:07] JL: I love that authentic way you approach that, Chad. I mean, it’s a real genuine curiosity.
End of Interview
[00:11:15] JL: You’ve been listening to DHG GrowthCast today with DHG’s Director of Executive Coaching, Bob Kunkle and our special guest, Chad Littlefield, co-founder of We and Me. We hope that you have learned a few practical tips on how to create meaningful, memorable, and productive virtual meetings. I’m your host, John Locke, and I look forward to reconnecting with you again soon on another episode of DHG GrowthCast.
End of Episode