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[Feature Friday] Lead Instructor Daniel Manning on Thinking Better: The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 74

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Do you have a problem in your organization that is consuming your time and thoughts?

Maybe what you need are some fresh ideas from a trusting, collaborative team. On this Feature Friday episode of the ROI Online Podcast, Steve talks with Daniel Manning about how you can start thinking better so you can look at problems in a new way—and start to solve them.

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Dan is the Lead Instructor in #HumanIntelligence and the author of Thinking Better. He and his team use games and exercises that allow your team to discover lessons of collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and strategy to look at problems differently.

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There are always going to be problems in your organization, the ability to solve them alongside your team and make something great out of them is what will make your business thrive among the rest.


Among other things, Dan and Steve discussed:

  • Dan’s back story in the Air Force
  • All about his book Thinking Better
  • The Status Quo Illusion definition
  • How culture affects our decision making
  • Why most people let the world go on instead if taking action
  • How to make decisions you can actually live with
  • Why it’s vital to create a safe, open work space where people can share their opinion
  • What shifting the focus of criticism off a person and to an action can do for your team
  • Connecting people with their intrinsic motivation for better results


Listen on your favorite podcast network:

Also available wherever else you get your podcasts.

You can learn more about Dan here:

Follow Dan on LinkedIn
Follow Dan on Twitter
Send Dan an Email

Learn more about #HumanIntelligence here:
https://www.hi.training/


Read the books mentioned in this podcast:

The Golden Toilet by Steve Brown
Thinking Better by Daniel Manning


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Topics: Marketing, Podcasts

Dan Manning: 

So when you have someone in your team who produces a creative idea, it's important to ensure that you are criticizing or you're trying to build on the idea, and you're not criticizing that person. Right. So a good person can come up with a bad idea. And frankly, a bad person can come up with a good idea as well. But separating the idea from that person insulates the person from that criticism a little bit. And you can let someone know that they're on your team. And maybe they have a bad idea today or tomorrow, but you're gonna invite him back the next day. Now they have to eventually perform right, they have to eventually be producing some good ideas to stay on the team. But that's a different decision, then you're just offering me up one bad idea today.

Steve Brown: 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI Online Podcast where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown and this is a place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Daniel Manning, welcome to the ROI Online Podcast.

Dan Manning: 

Thank you, glad to be here.

Steve Brown: 

So Dan, the people listening to this they're wondering, all right, what's this episode going to be about? So imagine your audience, imagine you worked in an organization where you had to make critical decisions on the day to day strikes against ISIS. Imagine you are in the airforce and you flew a 10 Warhawks you think you make a lot of decisions every day as an entrepreneur or business owner, but in that high stress environment in an organization that's extremely competitive, and decisions really, really count on life and death? That's what our guest today Dan Manning was involved with. Dan, give us us this backstory of the how in the world, you ended up in this situation?

Dan Manning: 

Yeah, so I spent about 25 years in the Air Force. In the first half of that time, I was a fighter pilot, like you mentioned flying the 810. And then the second half of my career, I was a military diplomat. So I learned Russian, they spent some time in Central Asia, working there. But I had one assignment for a year from the summer of 2016, until the summer of 2017, where I was the deputy director at our combined air operations center in Qatar. And that's the place where we run the day to day air operations, for everything that's happening in the Middle East, but at that time, we were fighting ISIS. So we had a 20 Nation air coalition that was running those operations and conducting that work. And my job was to ensure on a day to day basis that that worked, that we were able to pursue our objectives. And an advance on our mission, part of what I did involved approving airstrikes. Other times, I had to negotiate with the Russians to ensure that we weren't crashing into each other or attacking each other's forces at the time that we were there. But as you mentioned, like the decisions that we were making are literally life or death decisions. And I spent a lot of time thinking about not only the decisions that I made, but also the way that we thought to come up with those decisions. And I started noticing how sometimes my brain was creating illusions or leading me to make two initial conclusions that just weren't right or neither were contrary to what we were trying to do. So I really focused on how to think, how we think and the types of illusions we create to find out how we can think better.

Steve Brown: 

So out of this experience, this book Thinking Better, Critical thinking and creativity through trusting collaboration, started to take form in your mind. And what's interesting to me is you talk about how status quo is something that we cling to, whether it's we look like a cat hanging on a curtain, or something that trying to maintain the status quo, but in the story, what's interesting is that how the status quo when it starts to crumble, and when we start to realize that it's not going to last we have to make decisions, and we drag our feet into embracing that change. And that's what your book's about.

Dan Manning: 

Yes, that's exactly right. We have a chapter in there talking about the status quo illusion, and for your listeners, folks that are involved in sales and marketing, essentially sales and marketing is trying to get people to overcome their status quo illusions, you're trying to get a customer to go from their status quo of not being a customer, to a new status quo, where they are a customer. So it's something that impacts virtually all of your listeners, but it also impacts all of us every day, just the way that we conduct our lives and go about making decisions.

Steve Brown: 

So define status quo illusion.

Dan Manning: 

Yeah, so the status quo illusion says that what we have always done is better than what could be. So it's the illusion that our brains create that tells us, let's just keep doing things the way we've always done them, like, let's leave good enough alone. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, let's just go and stick with what's going on now. And even if it's not doing the best, and even if we know it could be a little bit better, it's better the Devil You Know, then whatever that thing is down the road. It's all these sort of sayings that play over and over in our mind, that leads us to just keep sitting in the same thing, even when it's falling apart.

Steve Brown: 

You talking about in your book, where like, culture penalizes the person made a decision to change things and really rewards people that even though the company just languished, they stayed consistent in the status quo as much as possible, we just naturally think that that's better.

Dan Manning: 

Right, so we favor errors of omission over errors of comission. So are you familiar with the the trolley problem that comes up sometimes in ethics or philosophical discussions?

Steve Brown: 

No, enlighten me, please.

Dan Manning: 

Yeah, so essentially, the trolley problem is, imagine that you're walking along one day and you walk up to some, some tracks and there's a trolley, it's breaks have failed, it's a runaway train car that's coming down the tracks, you happen to be standing next to a switch. And if you do nothing, this train car is going to go zooming past you and it's going to go off of a cliff, and the five people that are on that train car will surely die. Or you have a switch that you can flip. And when you flip the switch, that runaway train car will be diverted onto this path that it can take to sort of roll out and slow down safely. But when it does that, it's going to hit some pedestrians. And it's going to surely kill these pedestrians. And in this case, it's going to kill three pedestrians on the path that it runs out to slow down on. So you have a choice. You can either do nothing and now you allow the train car to go past you. And it goes off the cliff and five people die, or you flip the switch and it diverts onto a track and three people die on the other track. So Steve, what do you do?

Steve Brown: 

Well, depends on who's in that trolley. If it's ISIS, I do nothing.

Dan Manning: 

So you have, these are, you have no reason to believe that as anyone who has any type of moral turpitude in their background is just five unknown strangers. And the three pedestrians are also unknown to you as well.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, I don't know what to do because I don't have enough information to make a good decision, is how I'm feeling.

Dan Manning: 

Okay, so the train is almost there, you're about to lose your chance to make a decision. So what are you gonna do?

Steve Brown: 

I'm gonna stay in a status quo, I guess and be a loser. I don't know.

Dan Manning: 

So it's not necessarily a loser, right? It's the way that our brains are wired and your answer is, in fact, the answer that is what most people give, right? Most people decide that they're not going to flip the switch, when, you know I have to test out all of my hold my presentations and my questions on my family. So my wife, when I gave her this problem, I said, so you're going to essentially kill those five people? She said, I'm not killing them. Fate is killing them. Right. I don't know anything about why they got on the train, I just happened to be in the the wrong place at the wrong time. So she's going to allow them to continue on. And that is a good example of the way that we favor errors of omission over errors of omission. Right, we would rather do nothing, and just let the world kind of continue on, than take some action and then later have someone say, you should have left well enough alone, he shouldn't have have changed those, those tracks he should have just stuck with what was there before. But if you look at it from any other perspective, like surely three people dying is not as bad as five people dying. And in fact, you could raise the numbers. And eventually people will get to someplace where they say, All right, I'm going to act. And in some studies where psychologists looked at, like medical trials, for instance, the number that they came to, was nine to one, that most people needed to save nine lives by an act of comission to rather than just allowing things to happen and have one person die. So it's something that's deeply wired in us and it drives our decision making it lots of strange ways.

Steve Brown: 

So in that situation in the military, obviously, if you're in charge of the day to day operations of this airstrikes going on against ISIS, there's that collateral damage conversation that's going on. How do you approach them?

Dan Manning: 

Right. So for, like, so for me, it wasn't simply a trolley problem, right? It wasn't a thought experiment that we could conduct. You know, I would have folks who, who I worked with who were, who were smart, who were very dedicated at the job that they were doing, we had the best intelligence assets available on the planet for the history of time, available to us. And they would go and they would look, and they would find, for instance, like, here's an ISIS target. And let's say it's a dump truck full of explosives. And they would bring me the evidence that says why they believe that this is an ISIS target. And oftentimes, they were right, right? I would be convinced, yes, absolutely. That's an ISIS dump truck. It was being loaded with explosives from a known ISIS location. It maybe even had an ISIS flag on it, right? There's no question that it's an ISIS dump truck. But now you have a decision to make, do you will do nothing, and allow that dump truck to leave. And now ISIS can use those explosives to kill people that you'll never see. Or do decide to strike that dump truck, even though it happens to be located maybe in a village or very close to a village and you know, that you may inadvertently kill innocent people that you do see. So you have to get past your, those illusions that we create for ourselves to make some decision that 1 you can live with, and 2 advances the objectives that you're actually going after.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, watch the movie. I can't remember the name of it right now. But it illustrates the turmoil, the internal turmoil are the one that's pulling the trigger on that particular situation. Obviously, you guys approached it in a more, it's not just one guy making the decision. There's multiple people. And there's a process whereby the decision is made in a more healthy manner or what?

Dan Manning: 

Oh, well, yes. So there are many, many people all along the chain, that are giving their input and making they're making judgments and making recommendations. And then, but ultimately, in the way that we were conducting the work then, there had to be one person who was what was called the target engagement authority. That was the person who had the authority to say, yes, strike that target. And ultimately, whether that decision was right or wrong, is my responsibility, right? I am the final decision maker for those for those decisions. And now once I say yes, is the target will strike it, those orders get passed to the aircrew. Now, unless they something else happens to make it to change the calculation, they're going to strike that target based on the decision I made.

Steve Brown: 

It seems like there's a lot of dilemmas, and then there's a lot of, there needs to be a certain amount of trust otherwise, let's say that the decision information was lined up presented to you, you make the final decision and later those people second guessing it. That seems like you have to be in a place where you're somewhat insulated from second guessing yourself. No?

Dan Manning: 

So you know, people second guessing me I can live with right, as long as I can make a decision that I can literally live with, that's good. And the way that we did that better and I had great mentors that guided me along this process was to, build on that trust that you talked about, right? To have trusting collaboration, so that these briefings, right, they would come brief us on the targets, they would be in a public place, or wouldn't be in some private room. And they would brief us in a place where anybody walking by could take a look and listen to the brief as they were sort of laying out their evidence. And then at the end of the brief, I would ask every person in the room that had listened even to a part of the brief if they thought, if they had any other thoughts, right, if they were missing something, and it wasn't just this empty, sort of perform a phrase that people say at the end of the time, I legitimately wanted to know, even if it were people that were just on a tour that listened to the brief, I wanted to know from them. And because we created this environment where people could offer up their opinions. Truthfully, usually those opinions would have been offered before the brief ever came to me. And they could already have a chance to have those opinions heard and sorted out. But when people feel trust, and they are able to operate in a psychologically safe environment, they have the ability to speak up and say, hey, I've got some reservations about this. I don't think that this is right because here's maybe another explanation for that. And it's that type of atmosphere that works whether you're fighting a war, or you're developing a new sales campaign, or you're just trying to figure out what are we gonna have for dinner tonight? that trust and collaboration brings people together.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, there's a study you talk about in your book about there's, I think it's a jar of marbles are people are guessing on a there's a number of something in this container. And they asked like 1000 people or 500 people or 25 people, but generally the the average number from that group is very accurate as opposed to just individual guesses.

Dan Manning: 

Yeah, that's exactly right. So, in 2020, we had to convert all of our work for being in person workshops to being zoom based workshops. So I have a little portable container here of ping pong balls. And it's an illustration, right? I ask people to make a guess of how many ping pong balls are in there, and they all submit their guess, you know, anonymously. So that comes to me in the chat, so nobody's being influenced by someone else's guess. And essentially, it's just a smaller scale repeat of a demonstration that Sir Francis Galton did in 1906, in London, where he takes this big ox to the county fair. And he asked people to guess the weight of the ox. And he collects 1800 different guess, guesses that people made and he takes him home, and he lines him up on his table, and he finds the median, that is the very middle one where half the people thought it weighed more, and half the people thought it weighed less. And that median answer was 11096 pounds. Now the ox actually weighed 11097 pounds was only off by one pound. And when I use the same thing with a ping pong balls, usually people the median guesses within two or three of that have the actual number. But the lesson is when people can show up, and they can offer their personal uninfluenced opinion, which comes with all their own biases, but it's their uninfluenced by someone else. Now, when we put all those ideas together, we actually get very, very close to the fact of the matter much closer to knowledge than if we all just showed up with our own ideas that are influenced by other people that are there, or if we're afraid to share what we really think.

Steve Brown: 

So how do you build a team where that safety exists, where you can take advantage of this principle, or this collaborative decision making process to get past the fear of the status quo, changing the status quo.

Dan Manning: 

So two things one, I would say that most people don't acknowledge that they have this fear of, or that they want to stick with the status quo. It's just the illusion that our brains create for us where we don't even consider something else. But the way that you create an environment where people can start seeing that, through this psychological safety is through trust, right? So the way that we define trust, when we work with our clients at Human Intelligence, is that trust is believing that when given a chance, you will not do something damaging to me, right? Believing would give it a chance, you will not do something damaging to me. So it's an action verb, it's a choice that people make people choose to trust, right? I choose to talk to you and have developed a relationship with you and to come on to your podcast. And I trust that you're not going to use my words as a cudgel against me, right? Not that you're going to agree with what I say. But you're not going to beat me up if I say something dumb, and that allows me to, to offer up my ideas. So if you're leading a team, and you want that type of trust, you have to sort of model that behavior, you have to be willing to be vulnerable and take risks yourself and when you take those risks, the vast majority of the time, people reward you're believing that they are trustworthy, by being trustworthy, right. And when people start seeing this, now they start sharing ideas, and they start opening up in a way that they would not normally open up. And that's what you need to get closer and closer to what that knowledge is right, to get closer and closer to the fact of the matter, rather than us all just operating our own separate illusions.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, I talked about how being creative, you know, we have creatives on our team, where we're helping businesses get a platform together online to help them grow the value of the business. Well, that takes creative writing, creative strategy, creative creatives, the design of logos or whatever. But the problem, or the thing that I really want to encourage is that to be creative, you need to be willing to put yourself out there and receive criticism of what you're producing or suggesting. And you can't just like, throw it out there and then if you get a little pushback g shrink. You need to be okay with that. But I think it's something that it takes some time to lean into.

Dan Manning: 

Yeah, you're exactly right. And you said it exactly right, as well, to take criticism of the action, right. If someone produces an idea that's not good, one, that's the way most ideas are, most ideas suck. Most ideas are not good ideas. It takes some time to get down to that good idea so the brainstorming literature says that it takes about 25 ideas that people just offer up in a brainstorming session. To get one idea that's a plausible thing that we can do, right? That's what 4%, or point 4% success rate, right? It's a tiny success rate versus how many ideas you have to come up with. But if Van Gogh had had that level of success, he would have been thrilled. Right, Van Gogh painted something like 900 paintings in his lifetime and he only sold one. And it was to his brother, who was already giving him money. So it's really hard for us to judge which ideas are good, and which ideas are bad. But it's that continuous improvement to make them better, it's continuously iterating on those. So when you have someone in your team who produces a creative idea, it's important to ensure that you are criticizing or you're trying to build on the idea, and you're not criticizing that person, right? So a good person can come up with a bad idea and frankly, a bad person came up with a good idea as well. But separating the idea from that person insulates the person from that criticism a little bit. And you can let someone know that they're on your team and maybe they have a bad idea today or tomorrow, but you're gonna invite him back the next day. Now they have to eventually perform, right? They have to eventually be producing some good ideas to stay on the team. But that's a different decision than you just offering me up one bad idea today.

Steve Brown: 

Hey, I wanted to pause right here and tell you about a book that you need to get today. It's the funniest book on marketing, it's called The Golden Toilet, stop flushing your marketing budget into your website and build a system that grows your business. And guess who wrote it? That's right, I wrote it. And I wrote it just for you because I want to help you get past the last hurdles of setting up your business and getting it squared away. I wrote it so that you can avoid time wasting time, wasting money, wasting frustration. Get the book on Audible, you can get it on Kindle, you can get it on Amazon, but get the book, take advantage of the insights in there and let me know what you think. And now back to this excellent episode. I think, so if you imagine a creative team, I think there needs to be a declaration of, in that culture this is how we operate. As the leader of the team, I'm going to make a suggestion of where I want to go, the direction I want to go. But I have to kick off the discussion so here's my prototype of my idea. And the truth is, how that idea is birthed and how that idea looks in the future is very different but it's on this path. What are some good things to, you know I think about the mistakes I made in presenting ideas, but what are some, give me some suggestions how to do better and like, inspiring the team to take that idea and carve on it and change it to where it gets to the best place?

Dan Manning: 

So, I mean, I think the real responsibility of a leader on a creative team is not to come up with the ideas, right? Not to say, like, here's the thing we're going to do and how we're going to do it. If you want your team to be creative, you need to tap into their intrinsic motivation, right? The whole reason that the graphic designers joined your team or became graphic designers rather, is because they enjoy doing design, right? They enjoy the mastery of being very good at something, right? Other people are motivated by autonomy, they want to be able to make their own choices about how they spend their time, or even the projects that they work on. And other people are motivated by human connection, they want to see the work that they do, connects your clients, your company's clients to the goals that they're trying to achieve. So when you connect people, and connect their daily work, to the thing that intrinsically motivates them, that's when you get access to their creativity. I know myself, if my boss tells me, Hey, here's what I want you to do and here's exactly how you do it. I go and I try it that way, and it fails. I'm going to go back to my boss and say, Look, I did what you said it didn't work, I'm not going to come up with a new way to do it. But if you have people that are connected to their intrinsic motivation, then that develops resilience. So even though the first idea sucked, they still have the resilience to keep making it better to keep making it better. And now instead of just going back and saying, Well, that didn't work. They say Alright, what's a different way to do it? What's a new way to do it? So as the leader of this team, your job is to, not to offer the ideas that you can offer your own personal ideas, but they should, in the beginning, have the same weight as everyone else's idea until you come to the point where you need to make a business decision. And now you've heard everyone, people feel like they don't necessarily have a vote, but they have a voice, that they're able to offer their ideas and be heard, you make a decision about what we're going to do. And now we're able to move out and do that. But people are more likely to bring their own creativity than if you just said, Alright, here's what we're going to do, here's how we're going to do it, you go produce.

Steve Brown: 

I think that's a great measurement of the health of a culture, that if you have a team that feels safe enough to bring initiative and ideas, instead of you having to bring all the ideas, there's a transformation that's happened in that culture, would you agree?

Dan Manning: 

100%, right? Your business cannot only be you. Right ? If you are the only thing that is driving your business, then there's no way that you're going to be able to scale to do more, right, you're limited by what you can do and what you can come up with. And I'll tell you, this is one of the biggest lessons that I've learned, as I've been studying this with more discipline, is the disappointment of realizing that I don't get my best ideas when I'm just me, right, I was a single seat fighter pilot, I enjoy photography, which is a pretty solitary activity, I do my best thinking alone on a walk. Well, I come up with my best initial ideas alone on a walk. But none of those compare to being able to sit down with a team of other people who feel trust and are in a psychologically safe environment. And I can offer up what I believe is a great idea. And have them say, Well, you know, maybe part of that's good. But how about this? What if we add this piece to it? What if we add this piece to it? And now that's where we start actually coming up with something, something really good. And if I tried to just do it all myself, I would fail, or at least I would reach some barrier, where I could not scale myself anymore, I can only stay awake so many hours. I need other people to be on this team so that we can produce good material and good creative ideas.

Steve Brown: 

You've been listening, we're talking to Dan Manning, he's the author of Think Better critical thinking and creativity through trusting collaboration. His organization is humanintelligence.training, or hi.training. So Dan, you're talking about intrinsic motivation lesson, let's get that really clear. What exactly is intrinsic? And what's it P and an organization?

Dan Manning: 

Yeah, so. So the sort of the opposite, right, the opposite of intrinsic motivation is extrinsic motivation. And that is some reward that comes from the outside. So you tell me, if you do this thing, and you do it, well, I'm gonna give you a bonus, right, I'm gonna give you some extra money. If you go and you are able to develop five new leads, I'll pay for each of those leads. Or if you can, if you work on an assembly line, for instance, and you're producing 20 of these widgets per day, if you can up your productivity to 25 widgets, I'm gonna kick in some extra money, right? Extrinsic rewards, are those things that come from the outside. intrinsic rewards are those things that come from the inside. It's those things that I do, simply because I want to do those things because they provide reward themselves. So for most people, that are working in a creative industry, right, the act of creation, is intrinsically rewarding to them. Right, Van Gogh wasn't painting, because he was thinking he could make a lot of money, right? He was painting because it was what he did. Right? He just continued to paint. And I find this with entrepreneurs that we work with, as well. Right? They are intrinsically motivated to have a successful business, not only because it generates money, in fact, the money is sort of secondary to something else and usually, that thing is this drive for mastery. Because being an entrepreneur is essentially solving a puzzle. It's how do you create from nothing, this business that works and is able to produce money and money is sort of the outward reflection of the effectiveness of the process, right, the outward reflection of the mastery that they demonstrate through entrepreneurship. So what you find is, particularly with creative teams, and people that are trying to increase more creativity, lots of times people will want to give extrinsic rewards to make people more creative, to say, hey, whoever comes up with the best idea, you're gonna get a free lunch, or I'm gonna give you a gift card, or I'm going to give you this handsome bonus. But what research finds over and over and over is that extrinsic rewards do not increase creativity, extrinsic rewards actually undermine creativity, because it switches the way that our brains think about the reward. So now rather than doing the work, because it's rewarding, our brain say, well, let's do the minimum amount we have to do to reach this reward. Were other people who were doing the work just because it was what they do, now they feel like it's been cheapened because like, I would do this if I weren't getting paid, and now you're giving me extra money for it, that's just, that doesn't feel right. So rewarding people extrinsically for creative work simply doesn't work. It's tapping into that intrinsic motivation. And connecting people to the work that they are already intrinsically motivated to do is where you get the benefit of their creativity.

Steve Brown: 

So intrinsic motivations, you can drive by being very deliberate with the definition of your culture and what you stand for and what you believe. Am I wrong?

Dan Manning: 

So ultimately you're right, except the way that I would say is one, I'm not driving it, I'm allowing it, right, I have to be a leader that knows enough about the people on my team to understand, like, what motivates them? Like, what why are you working here? Like, what do you want to do? What's your big plan? Not your plan in two years or five years? But like long term, what is it that you actually want to do? And how can I find ways to connect you to that? Where you see things like at Google, they used to do 20% time, where you could spend 20%, of your working time on some project that you just wanted to work on. And that's how they came up with Gmail and some other great successes, many, many more failures, but a few great successes. But that 20% time allowed people to exercise their intrinsic motivation and get better and learn more about the thing that they're doing. So I would say that the culture isn't what the leader says it is. The culture is what it is, it's what the collective group of people produce. So you need to understand the culture that you produce. And if you don't have a good culture, now you've got a different problem, you need to fix it. But if you have a culture that values these ideas, you don't have to drive them anywhere. You allow them to produce their ideas, and the things that intrinsically motivate them, and now you get to reap that reward.

Steve Brown: 

Well, I want to push back a little bit there because if you don't as a leader, your culture is coming from your personal why, that's influencing the culture, the people that are attracted to your company that people are repelled, you can't help it, but it is influenced from your personal internal, why. But also you have to like if you're going to have psychological safety, as a leader, you do need to have these boundaries that you won't allow a, you know, we have a saying for our culture, assholes are not allowed. Okay, well, that was me, making a driver, that we're not going to have these type of people that kill safety, that if you're experiencing attacks from within, this is not a healthy place. Well, that was me making the decision, I'm gonna drive this particular culture and make sure that doesn't exist.

Dan Manning: 

No, so you're right. So psychological safety is not a license to be a jerk, or a license to be an asshole, right? Psychological safety is your, in fact, is lowering the consequences of interpersonal risk, so that a person can offer their ideas or bring their whole selves to work, and not have to confront these assholes. But what happens is that in your company, right, you will eventually grow to a place where you cannot personally drive every person there, right? So I worked inside the Department of Defense, enormous organization, and even at smaller and smaller scales, people will develop their own culture. And even in your business, there is a, there could be a different demonstration of culture when you're not around than when you are, right? So whether you're a good boss or a bad boss, the presence of the boss influences the way that people act and respond. So people adopting either joining your company, because you espouse that value, and they want to align their personal values with what you said, or people sort of getting on board and adopting what you said as their own value. That's where you create success. It can't be just, hey, the boss said, we're not gonna do this so let's not do it. It has to be, this aligns with my values and now you start getting that that full reward of the whole person.

Steve Brown: 

I guess the outcome of this conversation makes me think about, here's my baby idea of the culture, here's what I'm very thing is what I want this culture to be. But as time goes on, it evolves into a better culture with the contributions of the team, is what you're saying or what I'm taking away from this.

Dan Manning: 

Right? If you do the things that you're saying that you do in the way that you have come to know you through our discussion, it does evolve into a better culture. But you can look around and see lots of places where it devolves into a worse culture, where it doesn't necessarily drive towards good just because the world drives towards good right? It drives towards something that you can influence and you can change, but it takes effort, right? Better thinking and in this case, a better culture takes effort. But it takes less effort if we do it together.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, we're talking with Daniel Manning. He's the author of Thinking Better, critical thinking and creativity through trusting collaboration. So, Dan, you have a lots of interviews like this about your book and your organization. What's one question that no one ever asks that you wish you could answer?

Dan Manning: 

Wow. So maybe that's a maybe that was it. And I just wasn't, I wasn't prepared for it, right? I mean, I think, and I ask folks, a lot of questions as well. But I think probably the question that I ask people the most is like, what's the big plan? Right? But nobody ever, almost nobody ever asked me that back the other way, right? Because the big plan is the thing that allows us to see the mountain out in the distance, and you keep walking towards that mountain, like your path may deviate a little bit but part of training to be a fighter pilot involves some land navigation and some survival, you've got to get from this place to the next. So you pick a point way off in the distance, so that you always after you've had to take care of whatever's happening nearby, or you walk around, it's hard to see because of the trees or something. When you get to the place where you can actually look around you find where's that point I'm walking towards. And now let's reorient and start back in that direction. But if you don't know where that point is, well, you're no offense, but you're on the road to Amarillo, right? Or Abilene I guess. But it doesn't matter where you're going, you're just sort of stumbling around. So for me, the like, my big plan is to continue helping people do good things, right, helping good people do good things. And I want to grow my business to where I've got maybe five to 10 instructors that are able to do this full time working with companies of all sizes and nonprofits, with the main motivation being to do good things, right? If we help people to achieve their goals, and to do the things that they want to do, and those things that they're doing align with our values, now everybody's successful.

Steve Brown: 

Awesome. I loved that answer. So I'm curious, you had to do some survival training. How'd that go for you? Like what do they do, drop you in the middle of desert and your your your flak jacket and give you a knife, some water and you're off?

Dan Manning: 

So I actually did it when I was in, in college before I went to pilot training, I didn't go to the Air Force Academy, I went to a small school here in Birmingham, Alabama, called Sanford University and went through the Air Force ROTC program. And one summer, I was able to go to the academy and do survival there. And it's on the Pike National Forest. So you would start at some point and then overnight, you had to get from where you started to some point that was some distance away. And at the same time, there were people going through the forest that were that we're looking for you, they're trying to capture you. But you've got to be able to figure out how to get from here to there overnight in complete darkness so that you can bed down for the next day sleep during the day and then do it all over again, the next night.

Steve Brown: 

So sleeping during the day is that pretty easy? Seems like it'd be off.

Dan Manning: 

Do for those nights, because you've gone, you've been hiking several miles at night in the mountains. So you're you're ready for sleep when you have the chance to lay down and close your eyes because you got no sleep the night before, some of the best sleep that I ever had was between these two rocks in the pike national forests, I still remember those two rocks and how good that that sleep was. And that was what, you know, 2530 years ago, almost.

Steve Brown: 

Well, so as far as your self esteem in a situation like that, how do you, later in life, how do you draw back on the lessons that you learned during that particular time?

Dan Manning: 

I mean, so probably the lesson that I callback on the most actually was a lesson that I learned in pilot training, where you would, you're flying around, maybe you're solo and these small jet airplanes, and there'll be a problem. Maybe you get a an indication that you have a fire in one of your engines, which is not a good thing. It's a serious problem you need to take care of.

Steve Brown: 

I would think.

Dan Manning: 

Yeah, it's not a status quo problem. You could live with it for a very long. So one of the instructors said in any moment of crisis, like the first thing that you want to do is whine the clock. So there's this little clock, it's like a seven day clock and they actually were wound up like you would wind up a watch right. First thing you want to do is wind the clock because you don't want to make a a rash reaction. Right, there is an appropriate reaction to what you see going on. But it's better for you to slow things down, take a look around, make sure that you're not doing something that's dumb, right? Make sure that you're not reacting out of haste, that you're taking an action, you're making a purposeful action. So when you wind the clock and sort of reset your mind, like, Alright, I got this, okay I see this, this is the problem, this is what's happening. Here's what I should do, rather than just acting out of out of a rash indecision and making your problem worse.

Steve Brown: 

I love that, that's a great story that all business owners and entrepreneurs can apply as you get hit with a lot of decision. But sometimes you get hit with really unknowns. I mean, once you didn't expect, and to be able to just take a breath and wind the clock, and just kind of calm down. It helps you approach that thing better, right?

Dan Manning: 

Yes, but you have the advantage of something that I didn't have in a single seat aircraft, right? You have other people that you can talk to also, there's probably the business Turin is probably not going to crash in the next five minutes. Right. So you have a little bit more time, you have a little bit more time to deliberate and to discuss. And certainly, when you're flying in the air force, you have other people on the radio, but nobody else sort of has the same perspective that you have inside the cockpit. But if you can develop a team, where you can say like, here's the problem that I see. And you can have a discussion and maybe other people see the problem a different way. Right? You'll always have somebody who says, Well, yeah, that could be a problem. But in the long run, maybe it could be better. Maybe this is the opportunity for us to stop doing what we've always done and start doing something better. Maybe this is the opportunity for us to leave that status quo. And if you can have that collaboration, now you can make a decision that's better than if you just made it yourself.

Steve Brown: 

What a great way to wrap up this conversation, the way that you can accomplish what Dan just said, is to get his book, Thinking Better, critical thinking and creativity through trusting collaboration. Yeah, how can they get that book?

Dan Manning: 

So you can do with the the new old fashioned way, which is to go to Amazon, you can search for Thinking Better, Dan Manning, and you can find it, you can buy it there. But even better than that, if they email me at dan@hi.training, I'll trade them a copy of the book for a conversation, I can have a 15-20 minute conversation with your listeners to hear what they are thinking about and how they think I'll gladly give them a book in exchange.

Steve Brown: 

So that's dan@hi.training And they'll reach out, they'll send you an email, they get a free copy. But they also get a little time to spend with you to talk about how they can consider implementing this.

Dan Manning: 

That's exactly right now, I'd be honored to do it.

Steve Brown: 

So your website is a hi.training as well. People can learn how your organization can engage with Dan, and implement a lot of these things. I don't think there's an organization out there that would argue that their decision process that they were extremely in a position of confidence, and all decisions they make are the best ones. So who wouldn't want to take advantage of that, Dan?

Dan Manning: 

That's right, any organization that works off of brain power, can use those brains better.

Steve Brown: 

So how did that conversation end up with your wife when you were saying, so you wouldn't do anything on the switch? Did that end up well for you.

Dan Manning: 

So I have learned over time, I've known my wife most of my life that I can push up to a certain point. Now it's time to switch and go do something go do something different. So I learned I'm trainable.

Steve Brown: 

So there he is. He's actually flipping the switch, the literal switch in that conversation. Dan, thanks so much for being on the ROI Online Podcast.

Dan Manning: 

Thank you. It's been a great time. I really appreciate the invitation.

Steve Brown: 

Alright, and that's a wrap. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn where we can chat, and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better be sure to pick up your copy of my book, The Golden Toilet at surprise, thegoldentoilet.com I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast.