Chasing Financial Freedom

Ep 270 | Engineering Your Path to Leadership with Effective Communication Strategies

March 06, 2024 Ryan DeMent Episode 270
Chasing Financial Freedom
Ep 270 | Engineering Your Path to Leadership with Effective Communication Strategies
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Unlock the secrets to transforming your leadership and communication skills with Jeremy Doran, a seasoned leadership trainer with a unique blend of engineering and psychology expertise. Our engaging conversation traverses Jeremy's evolution from a talented contributor to an inspiring leader, revealing the nuanced communication barriers engineers often grapple with in the business sphere. You'll gain an insider's perspective on the delicate dance between managing and leading. You'll discover how melding technical savvy with interpersonal finesse can forge a path to effective team leadership and enriched personal connections.

Dive deep into time management and productivity, where I share gems from the "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" and the life-changing impact of a meticulously crafted weekly planner. Learn how to prioritize like a pro, why sidestepping the early morning email trap could revolutionize your routine, and the benefits of disabling those pesky notifications. A tale of triumph from one of my clients illustrates the profound effect these strategies can have on honing your focus and amplifying your leadership presence.

As we wrap up, our exploration shifts to the vital improvement of communication skills for engineers stepping into managerial roles and the continuous support they require. Jeremy sheds light on the transformative potential of personality assessments and the significance of embracing the team's achievements over individual accolades. We also dissect the challenge of email overload and the quest for hyper-focus in an era brimming with digital distractions. To help you navigate this complex landscape, contact details for further learning from our esteemed guests are neatly tucked away in the show notes. Join us for an inspiring journey towards a more productive, focused, and connected professional life.

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Speaker 1:

Hey guys, ryan Diment from Chasing Financial Freedom Podcast. Hope you guys are having a great day. Today on the podcast, we have Jeremy, doran, and Jeremy is this is going to be really. I got a sidetrack. This is going to be really cool, because some of the stuff he's doing is something that we've not discussed on the podcast, but it's about leadership, about better communication. But could that translate into more than just our jobs? Could it be personal, could it be more? I don't know, but I think Jeremy is going to lead us down that path. Sir, welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here. You're more than welcome. Thank you for a short notice. I had a guest cancel and I'm very honored that you could jump on. It worked out perfectly Awesome. So, before we get into what you're doing, how about a little background on who Jeremy is and what you've got going on?

Speaker 2:

I'll start all the way back in the beginning. I'm the youngest of 10 kids and I got to tell you I learned a lot of life lessons from that. I went to school for both engineering and psychology, and then for the past 18 years, I've been doing leadership training, and everybody has a hard transition from being a great producer to being a great manager, and a lot of my clients have ended up being engineers. Engineers have the extra challenge of not communicating the way most other people like to communicate, and so I've really started digging into what makes for good communication. What are a lot of the assumptions we all make that cause us to miscommunicate, and some people recognize when it's happening, but most people don't even recognize when communication is going wrong, and then they just walk away bewildered.

Speaker 1:

Can I ask a question? I'm going to ask a question. I should say you said manager. Is there a difference between manager and leader?

Speaker 2:

To me there is a manager is someone who gets people to do things, and a leader is someone who gets people to want to do things, so that they are choosing to do more.

Speaker 1:

So that's huge and I'm sure we're going to talk about it. So what got you into this space? What drove you? Let's just start there and we'll whittle our way down the rabbit hole.

Speaker 2:

It started when I was working in corporate America. I took some training on leadership and it just resonated so strong, so strongly. And then it was probably 10 years later, when the person who had given me that training needed someone to take over his business, and he just thought that I was a fit. And once I started doing it, it felt like being home. I'm like, oh, this is what I'm supposed to be doing in my life, not all the other things I've been doing up until now. So I love it. I love helping people reach their potential and more.

Speaker 1:

So being an engineer, I know that's a whole mindset. I get all that. I guess I've got to ask. The question is how do you take that mindset and switch it into being a leader in the business world?

Speaker 2:

People would ask me. Sometimes they say I'm not sure what my major ought to be, what do you think? And I would always say engineering. And they would usually look at me like I was an idiot and they're like why? And quite frankly, I've never been a major and, quite frankly, I've never been an engineer. I just went through engineering school and it just teaches you how to learn so well. It teaches you how to frame problems, find solutions, figure out the answer, and sometimes what you're building is a process and when you are running a business you need a lot of process. You may not love it, but you need it. So I think engineering teaches you how to learn incredibly well and it just takes being able to access, kind of the other side of your brain, more of the soft skills, to really tie it all together.

Speaker 1:

How do we non-engineers work with engineers effectively in this space? I say this because I'll joke in a side. I have two engineers on my real estate side that are investors. Can I tell you that was a royal pain in the butt to work with them initially, because everything was so analytical and everything was black and white. To be able to get them to understand the nuances of real estate was somewhat tough.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I can well imagine. I'm most often dealing with it from the other side, from the engineers who have to talk to other people. One thing that I tell them all the time is that they don't want to know how the watch is made, they want to know what time it is. If a good example is, they would go to their boss needing something and they would tell the whole story of why they need a certain thing. It drives the manager crazy. I know it's driven me crazy in the past. When people do it to me I'm like what do you need? They tell me what they need. If I have questions, I'll ask of why that's the case. When you're an engineer, you need to start with. Here's the thing that's needed. Then fill in the details if needed, if requested From the other side. It just takes an understanding that they want the details and they want you to know the details. You just have to come to an agreement ahead of time of what level of detail a particular conversation is going to have.

Speaker 1:

Reverse engineering is where we're going to use that, I know. Quote unquote huh is where it starts. I'm not trying to be funny, but the mindset is totally different than I am, because I'm an operator and I have to be at 30,000 foot view or I have to be at a 15 foot view and I've got to be able to bounce between those videos to effectively run a business. I'm guessing and correct me if I'm wrong. I don't want to assume engineers are not going to bounce between those different levels or get to those granular level of details. They're just wanting to know what the problem is and then how to solve it.

Speaker 2:

I try not to make too many generalizations, but on average, the engineers want to dive into all of the details and all of the possibilities and they will get lost in those weeds, much more so than, say, you or I who want the 20, 30. The view has gotten bigger. It used to be a thousand foot view, now it's 10,000. Now people go to a hundred thousand foot view.

Speaker 1:

You know what, as good as my eyeballs are, when you're that high you're missing stuff and you truly can't get that high, and that's something I'm working on is. I want to get back out of the stratosphere and back into something that's a little bit lower and in the weeds. It just helps me for myself development wise, mindset wise but also the same time as I feel like I've lost connection with the business. That's a whole other subject. It takes both.

Speaker 2:

That's why it's great if you can find a partner who is the opposite of you, because some people are much more comfortable looking at the big picture, because then you can see the whole shape of it, but you miss some of the details. It takes both. Bouncing back and forth is a challenge for most people. Finding a partner or a teammate who can take the other point of view is usually pretty helpful.

Speaker 1:

Sure is. I have a business partner that is a visionary and he goes way past 30,000. He gets him to that 100,000, like you're saying way up there, and then he throws spaghetti on the wall and then expects it all to stick. And I'm like it doesn't work that way. Man Concept to reality is not 100%. If that's the case, then we'd have unicorns all day long and we'd all be quadrillionaires. However you want to say it, yeah, it's interesting. You went to engineering school. What was the next steps out of that? What led you down? I know you took over a business. You're starting to run it. What type of business was that?

Speaker 2:

When I worked in corporate America for 10 years. I lived overseas, in Italy, for a year and when I was there I read the book the Millionaire Mind and it got me to thinking that I want to have my own business, I want to have my fingers in the whole thing. When I came back after 10 years, I just decided it was time to start a business, and the first business I started was in signs and graphics. Basically printing had nothing to do with any of my experience, but it fit a lot of the things that I needed financially and time and that sort of thing. But I realized that it didn't actually suit my strengths. Then, when I got the opportunity to have a business doing leadership training, that's when I said that it felt like I was home because all of a sudden my strengths were actually the important things to be successful in my job.

Speaker 1:

You get there and you're in that place and you're working on your strengths. What's the next progression of what I guess the next part of how you're developing your program and how you're going to start helping leaders and so forth?

Speaker 2:

I think a lot of it comes to recognizing where your weaknesses are and figuring out how to shore those up, whether it's actually getting better at them or finding outsourcing it or hiring someone for that. I am great at creating processes. I'm not great at following them. For me, having someone who can keep me on track, following the great process that I've developed, is really useful, and there's other some things that I'm not great at. My life is going to be better, and everyone's life is going to be better, if I don't have to focus on those things.

Speaker 1:

I got to ask the Johnny Obvious question here is how can you develop a process but then not follow it?

Speaker 2:

I love the creation. I love the creation of a process and I can do something that makes perfect sense. But for whatever reason, I think I like to follow squirrels. So I will be in the process and then I have ideas all the time for new businesses, for books. I want to write for this and for that, and I will get pulled off track if I'm not very careful. So I can be careful and I can stay on track, but it's a lot of work for me. Getting help is helpful.

Speaker 1:

So let's go down that rabbit hole, let's just go right down there. So what would be some nuggets and some tips that you could share with the listeners about how individuals like yourself that have a hard time staying focused can stay focused and be successful in their businesses?

Speaker 2:

I have stolen this from the seven habits of highly successful people. So I do a weekly planner, I have built a spreadsheet and on that spreadsheet I look at it every Monday morning first thing, and it's got the four ways that I can make myself better, like mental, physical, spiritual and emotional. And then I break it down into what my roles are in life. So I'm a father, I'm maybe a spouse, I own a business. So I break it down into those roles and then I figure out what I want to get accomplished in the week in each of those roles and then I go into, I use Outlook and I use the task manager there and I will assign what I want to get done throughout the week to different days so that I don't try to do it all in one day, which won't work, and I space it out and I use those tools.

Speaker 1:

Do you also assign the time? Do you assign a time slot on your calendar? How do you block and tackle that?

Speaker 2:

I have two or three high priority items each day and that's it Okay.

Speaker 1:

If do not schedule them on the calendar. They're just high priority and they sit at the top of your calendar and you have to get them completed.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's what I do. I know other people do time blocking, but there's you have to be, you have to have a certain type of schedule in order to really be able to time block and not have it interrupted. So I prioritize two or three things and I say to myself if I only got two things done today, only two, what would they be to make today be a successful day? And then I start on those, because once you start on the other things, then you can go down rabbit holes which you seem to like rabbit holes.

Speaker 1:

I do because I've got that problem and just recently I started time blocking. But I'm with you, my schedule is too fluid. So I will block specific times every single day to get two or three things done that I know that have to be critically done every single day and it's a rinse and repeat for me. But then I have a wild card at the end of the day to where I add time in there, to where it's just let me disconnect and then reset myself for the evening time for family and then also set myself up for tomorrow. Haven't been doing it very long, several months. It helps, but my schedule is so fluid.

Speaker 1:

I could get a call from my construction people say we've got this problem, you need to solve it. I can't throw that down on the ground and say I'll get back to it. So I struggle with that. So I'll ask the question how do you? I mean, if you've got those two or three things on top of your schedule on a daily basis, how are you making sure they get done if your schedule is so fluid?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the two things that I do is I start my day before most people and that means I'm not going to be interrupted for a couple of hours. So I'm typically at my desk by seven o'clock and I do not read emails and do not listen to voicemails until I've planned out my day, because once you start reading emails, then emails are ruling your day. So I will make the plan of what I want to get done, prioritize them, then listen to voicemails and emails and I will add those into my list, but I try not to respond to them until I've gotten the couple of things done, and then everything is a balancing hack after that.

Speaker 1:

I like that idea that you don't look at email or voicemails Sorry, the dog is going a little crazy at this moment until you actually have everything squared away. I guess my question to that is how can we effectively do that, because it just seems like our phones go off all day long.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, I never have the alerts on my phone, so you totally turn the alerts off altogether, and on my computer as well.

Speaker 2:

A lot of people, when they are working on something, if they get an email, there's a little flashing light that says email and even if you don't open that email, your eye goes to it and it's going to take you a good solid minute or two to really get back into the mindset that you're in. So I turn off notifications altogether and then, when it's an appropriate time and I have time, that's when I check my voicemails' emails but notifications are the worst, so I turn them all off.

Speaker 1:

So what about those phone calls that come in during the day that potential clients could be calling you and so forth? You just let it go to voicemail, or do you answer the phone?

Speaker 2:

I generally don't know that it's ringing. If I see that it's ringing I'll look and if I recognize the number then it's important I'll pick it up. But on average the world isn't going to fall apart just because it takes me an hour to return a phone call.

Speaker 1:

I don't know. I get that, I agree. I'm just trying to think of all these things that potentially, when you have an emergency or something happens, how does somebody get a hold of you and how does that pound out? I'm with you, I want the least amount of distractions that I possibly can get rid of them. But I also know there are certain times where if I don't answer my phone, it becomes a problem.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I guess it depends on the problem and how you define it. I had a client and when we started, his boss basically was telling him you have to go through this leadership training and he told me right up front he said I don't have time for this. I said I know. That's why it's so important that you go through this. And so we always start with time management because until I think of it as the oxygen mask on an airplane until you can control and manage your own time, you can't be helped to anyone else.

Speaker 2:

And what I told him? He was getting phone calls all day long and I told him don't answer your phone and don't check voicemails for two hours. And he laughed at me. He said there's no way I can do that. There are emergencies all the time. I said what's the longest meeting that you go to in a week? He said two hours. I said do you answer your phone in a meeting? He said no, that would be horrible, that would be rude. I'm like so you can go two hours. So I told him he can only check voicemail every two hours and respond.

Speaker 2:

And after a week he came back to me and he said that was awful and he was mad, he was hot. I said what was so bad about it? He said I missed like 40 phone calls a day. I said did you check all 40 voicemails? And he said I only got 10 voicemails. I said so 30 of the phone calls weren't important enough to leave a voicemail? He said yeah.

Speaker 2:

I said, and when you called back those 10 voicemails, what happened? I had to help five of them. I'm like what about the other five? They figured it out themselves. So he was essentially enabling everybody by answering their questions. Anytime anything came up, he would answer and solve their problem. And when he stopped doing that, it started going from 40 calls a day down to 30, down to 20. And people learned that he's a great resource but he can't just be used in that way. And so if you can realize that if the building's burning down, no one's going to send you an email, so if it's that important, they're going to find a way to get in touch. Most things aren't as important as they seem right at that moment.

Speaker 1:

I like it. I do turn off my notifications. So I'm with you on that. I just don't. I just don't turn off my phone for phone calls. I do screen them if I don't recognize them or I don't pick it up. But I think I want to try that because I know I can be more productive and get more things done If I'm not constantly looking at my phone. And don't get me wrong, I don't get 100 phone calls a day. I would probably say consistently 15, 20, 25 right around there, and it's mostly early in the morning because I'm in Arizona. Most of our work is done in Indiana, Kentucky, so right now I'm an hour behind and soon to be two hours behind because we don't do daylight savings. So they're up and at it early and I'm already up and at it early. But typically when my phone calls come in, it's first part of the day. The last part of the day it goes pretty much quiet and that's when I get a lot of stuff done because I don't have interruptions.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So a great way to start is to just do it very targeted. So if there's a very important project that you're working on, turn off notifications for one hour and then keep them on the rest of the day. And I say the same thing with people who have offices. If people are coming into your office all the time, if you work in corporate, say, shut your door, they're like, but then people can't get to me. I'm like, if you keep your door open sometimes, then they can all come to you and let them know. Like when my door is open you're welcome to come in, but when it's shut it better be an emergency because I'm working on something. If you have it open often enough, then they don't need to come in the times when you have it closed. So if you can strategically pick when you're going to be out of contact, then that's a good way to start.

Speaker 1:

When I worked in corporate America I used to do something similar. I'd have office hours so I would put my schedule on my door. My admin would and they would know when I would be available outside of my meeting. So I'd leave the door open. They could walk in, but they knew when the door was closed. I was on a conference call or I was doing something. I got to stay focused. That worked very well because early on in my career I'd always leave my door open and I was just a resource for everybody to come in and I never got anything done.

Speaker 2:

One of my favorite things that someone did when he had opened his open doors. If you walked into his office, he would always stand up to greet you. So he would stand up, walk to you, shake your hand. So it felt like he was incredibly welcoming. But what he was really doing was he would walk to you and then keep standing, so that you kept standing and then it didn't devolve into a rambling conversation because no one was sitting down. So if you started talking and it was important, then you'd say have a seat, let's talk, but if it wasn't, he would stay standing and it made the meetings very short.

Speaker 1:

I like that. That's a good idea.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I didn't realize he was doing it to me for a few times then. Oh, that is brilliant.

Speaker 1:

That works. So I love all this. So, as everything's evolving and you're getting your businesses going and you're moving forward, what would be some ideal clients that you're working with or you started to work with over the years and now you've got this niche that you go after to help?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love working with companies that have a lot of STEM people. So engineers, scientists, medical when they get large enough that they get promoted, then their promotion either means they are managing other people, which probably also means they're dealing with people in other departments I'll send. The person in charge of a bunch of engineers has to deal with the marketing people. That is a time when learning how to communicate differently is really important. That's my target client. Either they have people who have been promoted and need to deal across the company, or they are technical people who need to get funding. They are growing to the point where they need to talk to investors. The way investors want to hear it and the way engineers and doctors want to explain it are not the same thing. Those are my ideal clients.

Speaker 1:

How did you come to that determination? That's the niche you wanted to be in.

Speaker 2:

Like I said, it just happened because I guess a lot of the clients that I had ended up being engineers which partly may be because my background is in engineering they just made sense to me. But I can see their problems because I have the same problems Growing up communicating with other people. It never made sense to me. I've paid a lot of attention to the way people communicate. I know more about communication than most people who are naturally good at it, because I'm not naturally good at it. I am helping people who are where I was pretty recently. If you can be doing that, that's a great niche. Helping yourself from five years ago is great.

Speaker 1:

I like that. From the standpoint of your clients and so forth, what do you typically see from those engineers, doctors and so forth struggling right out of the chute when you start working with them? Is it just communication and being able to have the right mind or have a different perspective so they can integrate with other departments? This is where I'm going. I'm going to back it up. Does that also translate to their personal life? I ask this because I don't know this. Do most engineers marry engineers or get into some type of similar relationship and they don't really have to change, or do they typically find somebody that is opposite of them?

Speaker 2:

I'm going to answer your question in a couple of ways. The first thing that normally happens because I'm often dealing with people who are new managers and the first thing they struggle with is a change in mindset. They used to be so proud of their work, which was a drawing or whatever it was, solving equations. Then, all of a sudden, they're managing people and they no longer get the pride of producing that product, that work product. They have to come to the realization that their work product is now people.

Speaker 2:

You take pride when your team does well, no longer from the producing the excellent thing that you used to take pride in. That's the first thing that usually needs to be addressed, and absolutely I do personality assessments for everybody because it helps you realize where you're different from other people. So it makes communication within teams a lot easier. Very often I will have them come back to me and say can you provide this assessment for my husband, wife, children, so that we can all communicate better at home? Once you start getting better at communication at work, it goes to all parts of your life.

Speaker 1:

I like that. We're getting a little close here. We're going to wrap it up, but I wanted to ask a couple more questions. So one as you do those personality tests and it starts helping them on the personal front and business front do those individuals and I say this is for me, it's whatever do you see those people grow in a different aspect, in the sense of do you track how well they where they started at and then follow up and work through the work with them over a period of time, and then what's the success look like for those individuals?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I ideally like my trainings to be between eight to 12 weeks, and so they're learning a leadership lesson and a lot of them are about communication and what they do is they will practice for that week, they will put it into action and see how it goes and then the following week we can look at it and say what worked, what didn't work, what can get tweaked and how can you go from there.

Speaker 2:

The thing I like about the assessment is it's twofold is that it helps you understand yourself. So if you recognize that you are extremely introverted, that's fine. It's not a strength or a weakness, it's just a trait. But once you really know it, then you can start working on ways to adapt to the other side, so how you can act extroverted at times when needed. Or if you're really detailed and you know that you're really detailed now and you're dealing with someone who is a big picture person before you really took the assessment and recognize it, it doesn't make sense that someone is that different than you. But when you see it on paper, like that, and then you talk to people and you start realizing, oh, they really are that different than I am, it helps you adjust the way that you communicate because the assumptions start getting noticed, and so you can start learning how to adapt.

Speaker 1:

I like that. We could probably go into several rabbit holes off of that, but we're getting close to the end here. One at one question, then we'll wrap it up is the mindset of yeah, the best way to describe it is mindset the mindset of these individuals that you're working with. Do they think that these challenges they're having as new managers is limiting, or is it just they can adapt and overcome because they have somebody like yourself to get them over the top?

Speaker 2:

With engineers in particular. They've generally spent at least 10,000 hours learning how to be great at their jobs and they got promoted because, amongst all the other people who also spent 10,000 hours, they were the best ones. So they're used to being successful and they spent all this time learning to be successful in one way. And then they get promoted and they get a handbook on how to be a good manager and that's usually it and then they struggle unless they can find a mentor or find someone to really help break it down. And it can't just be a one-day class. It's got to be ongoing so that they can practice. And then, even after the 12 weeks, they really need some accountability partners to keep going. I don't remember if I answered your question or not.

Speaker 1:

It is. That is true. I can remember the times that I was recently promoted into a new manager back in the day and all I got was a book and said go learn. And that was hard, but yeah, we could go a while on that Question are you taking on new clients at this moment in time?

Speaker 2:

I am and I do some clients remotely, some clients in person. I live in Rhode Island, but with technology now I can work with people around the globe.

Speaker 1:

And where is the best place they could contact you at if they were interested in working with you?

Speaker 2:

Probably go to my webpage, which is pinnacle-performancecom. Or, if you want to reach out, you can send me an email which is just Jeremy or, I'm sorry, it's Jay Doran at pinnacle-performancecom.

Speaker 1:

I have the same problem I forget my own email address.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I've got so many of them.

Speaker 1:

I'm with you on that. I've got four or five. Yeah, I need to whittle that down to one or two. There's another distraction thing we can talk about. You've got four or five emails to worry about. I will link your contact information in the show notes on the podcast. So, sir, thank you for coming on, love the conversation, Love what you're doing, but you're also breaking down how we could be more successful in our day for the simple fact of just turning off the noise and staying hyper-focused on the task that we need to get done.

Speaker 2:

Perfect, it's been a pleasure being here. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1:

Thanks, sir.

Communication and Leadership Development
Mastering Time Management and Productivity
Improving Communication Skills for Engineers
Email Overload and Staying Focused