Wall Street Journal bestseller and Stanford d. School Professor, Lisa Kay Solomon teaches how to Apple, Dyson vacuums and other leading companies develop a customer experience that systemically and repeatedly wows their ideal and likely buyers.
Lisa Kay Solomon – https://www.lisakaysolomon.com/
Designing Time: Meaning, not Management: Lisa Solomon at TEDx Constitution Drive 2013 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmLL3BBmyZQ
BOOK – Design a Better Business: New Tools, Skills, and Mindset for Strategy and Innovation
BOOK – Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change
NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Abundance comes from within.” – Lisa Kay Solomon
List of book recommendations by Lisa Kay Solomon:
ACTION STEP – Go check out https://www.lisakaysolomon.com/resources/
Two men, 13 multimillion dollar businesses, eight kids, one business coach radio show. It’s the thrive time business coach radio show. Get ready to enter the thrive time show,
All right, thrive nation. I’d like to introduce you today to Lisa Kay Solomon. She’s an expert on business leadership and culture design and the co author of the bestseller moments of impact, how to design strategic conversations that accelerate change. She also has written a book called design, a better business, new tools, skills and mindset for strategy and innovation. Why should you listen to her? Well, she’s been asked to teach them on an ongoing basis at Stanford and she is a guru when it comes to product design. You see, if you and I want to grow a successful company, we absolutely cannot do it without word of mouth. The, the, the, the VI rallies. Scores. When I talk about a lot with my clients, you want to make sure you take every one new lead shop and you want to turn that into at least two new customers.
You want to get one new customer, a new customer that you get from advertising, and if you do a good job, they should come back and bring at least two friends. The key is to wow them. Right? Right. And that’s how you grow virally, but you’re taking one new deal and you’re turning it into two referrals without asking for referrals and you asked me what clay, how can I tell if my business is healthy? If you’ve been in business for over a year and you consistently advertise, you should begin to generate to word of mouth referrals for every one deal that comes in via advertisement and it simply will not happen unless you have a beautifully designed workflow. So Chubb, we could all go today to to to a chipotle a and we know when you walk in, we know how it looks when you think about the minimalist look.
Yep. We can think about the overhead music that creates a certain ambiance. We could think about how they asked you whether you want a bowl or whether you want to be on like a burrito or of some kind or some kind of Tortilla. Then we know they ask you what kind of meat you want and you work your way down through the assembly line, but it was beautifully designed so that it’s consistent. They cook it right there so you can hear the sizzle and it wouldn’t be entirely possible for aaa to get rid of the overhead music and to get rid of the decor and the ambience, but then their sales would go down. Even though the food might still tastes great, right? Starbucks could continue to have great coffee and get rid of the decor and the overhead music and the ambiance and the sales would go down.
Even though the coffee quality would stay the same. Right? Mercedes sales would go down if they kept the same wonderfully running engine and the precision made vehicles, but they got rid of the leather interiors and the logo on the car itself. A lot of people love to have that logo on the car itself. It is so important that you think about the experience that you’re trying to create for the end user. When you go about building a business, a service, a product, it’s just absolutely important that you think about the end user when you design an experience, if you want to build a company that grows, and so for those of you who said to yourself, I want to build the company that doesn’t grow, yeah, well then you probably want to change to a different show, but this show is all about how to design an experience that wows. Ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, let me introduce you to my friend Lisa Kay Solomon as she teaches us all how to design a customer experience that
Shop today. We have two reasons to be very, very excited. Oh yeah. One. As a result of our great listeners, we just hit number six overall on the itunes charts. That’s right. Number six. Now there’s only five. How many? There’s 330 500,000. Give or take podcasts on the planet on it. We just hit number six overall, so thank you. Thrive nation. And I think as a way to reward you, we should continue to have great guests on the show. The show. Here we go. We’re having a design and innovation expert who, uh, she’s going to be teaching at Stanford here pretty soon. Shop. I’m pretty excited to have today’s guest on the show. Ms Dot Lisa Kay Solomon, Ms Dot Lisa Kay Solomon. How are you doing?
I am fantastic. Thank you for having me. And congratulations.
Oh No. Number six. We got, we, you know, we had one moment, the, that, the itunes charts changed from time to time. We had one moment in time where we were number one in all categories and we stayed there for a couple of hours, but we’re number six four days in a row now. So I’m pretty excited about that. But I believe this, this show here, Lisa could take us to number one, it’s going to be that good. Tell us about what it means to be a design and innovation expert and kind of your, your background that has allowed you to, to get to where you’re at now with your career, where you were universities like Stanford, or asking you to actually teach.
Absolutely. Well, I think fundamentally I passionate about helping all leaders, including our youngest leaders, learn how to create valuable experiences, value for others in a time of increasing change and complexity. And so what that means is that I try to break down the specific behaviors and skills, tools and processes that allow us to create clarity from complexity that allow us to be creative when what we want to do is retrenched, that allow us to learn how to learn from others through collaboration and that allow us to communicate clearly so that other people can understand us.
You have talked at length numerous times, but I watched one of your talks where you were speaking about the Vuca world. We’re now living in the Vuca Vuca, Vuca, Vuca, v U C, a d. So I did some research, uh, you know, Jeff, because I was born yesterday and I’m not aware of these things. And so I did some googling and read page one and two and various articles and I discovered that it means it stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity was very clear. There we go. Tell us about why you believe it’s so important for our, for our listeners to embrace that we are now living in the Vuca world.
I’m so glad you started there because this is the world we’re living in. I mean, we can have a fancy acronym for it, certainly both off the tongue, but it really describes the world we’re living in, filled with surprises, sealed with ambiguity field, with new kinds of strategic challenges that we have not experienced before. And this term Vuca was coined to actually two decades ago by US military planners to describe a world that was filled with more unknowns that no ones and even more unknown unknown. And if you think about the way that most of our education system prepares us for the world, it’s based on notes, things that we can solve, right? Two plus two equals four fastest person to spell a word gets a star, right? There’s not a lot of education. And focus around how do we help people get more comfortable creating something without all of the data or evidence or security that it’s going to be the right thing. So learning how to thrive in this Vuca world is critical.
I, a lot of people ask me, they say, clay, you know, I’ve written up on you and discovered you’ve been self employed since you were 16. I’m 37 now and I, we just had a workshop this past week jump and a guy comes up to me, says, how do he didn’t say the word [inaudible]? But he goes, how do you do it? I mean, you’re a 16. Like the yellow pages were a big thing and then you built your, you know, the nation’s largest wedding entertainment company. And then he didn’t like the yellow pages aren’t a thing. And then the Internet of thing. And then social media became a thing and all of this, there’s just different marketing. It’s always changing. How do you stay on top of it? I try to explain to him that entrepreneurship is about looking for lamp posts in the fog lamp posts in the fog.
You know, you’re there, you just got to get to the next lamppost and you have to embrace that. Learning is a process as the Canadian say not an event. And, and this is something that I love Lisa about your videos. I watched anime, I don’t dislike a creeper, but I’ve watched a lot of your videos to get ready for today’s interview and you were talking about, I mean this and a not a backhanded compliment kind of way. You are passionately speaking about vacuum design, you know, passionately speaking about the dyson vacuum and the iphone and how they both work. Can you, for the listeners who haven’t seen those, those interviews are seen those videos. Can you share why you’re so passionate about the design of the dyson vacuum and the iphone?
I can. I’m so glad that you are now is passionate about dyson vacuum cleaners as I am. I use the iphone and dyson vacuum cleaners as a way of trying to help people see that everything around us is designed. That design at its core is about delivering functional utility, meaning it gets the job done right. The dyson vacuum cleaner actually picks up dirt and equally, if not more important, it creates an emotional response. It engages us through our humanity, so people who own dyson vacuum cleaners lost their vacuum cleaners. Like if you ask them how do you feel about your dyson vacuum cleaner but kind of lean in to look at you, their eyes will pop open and they’ll say, I love it.
That’s really interesting.
That’s not a mystery. That’s not a mystery. Right? Designers kept iterating until they created something that would not just get the job done, but it would trigger a feeling of love. So I think that’s very instructive, not just for people responsible for designing and bringing forth new products and services, but for everybody. I believe fundamentally if you make decisions that affect other people, and I imagine everybody listening to this is one of those people, you are a designer. The question is, are you pausing to take responsibility for the choices you’re making to deliver that functional utility and emotional engagement? Are you being responsible?
I feel like I’m up for success. That’s like end up having you on the podcast a lot because I think you and I view the world in a similar worldview. It’s that attention to detail and to the listeners who who come to our workshops, they know this, but Dr Zellner, my partner and I, we have multiple companies, but if you go into like our haircut business or the auto auction for say the auto auction, chuck, you’ve been there. There were going to sell a thousand cars on a typical Friday. 1,000 cars. Yeah, and in about three and a half hours. Yeah, and it kind of feels like you’re inside like a Harley dealership, but the magic is organizing all the systems in a step by step way that create what you said, a functional utility but also an emotional response. And the energy it at the auction is incredible, or the inner or the energy in our men’s grooming lounges.
Leases are kind of like a haircuts meets a country club is how I would describe the elephant in the room. Men’s grooming lounge. It’s just a nice atmosphere and ambience. Um, I think a lot of people miss that though. I don’t. I think people don’t realize, Elisa, that like Steve Jobs wanted to make the iphone boxes and packaging so good for the ipad that you would want to keep it and not know why people want to keep the packaging. Everyone, everyone out there is keeping the packaging and they don’t know why. Talk to me about how we can create an emotional response.
I’m so glad you brought up at that. I love asking people when I’m talking to audiences, how many people still have their iphone and packaging and like 90 percent of the hands go up. They don’t even have the phone anymore, but they have the package. That’s why I have one. Not because they’re secret hoarders. It’s because they designed it that way to be beautiful, to make you feel like that sense of delight and excitement that you’ve got the Willy Wonka golden ticket in your new iphone and I just said, you said earlier, it’s that attention to detail to really think through what does it feel like for the user, that customer who is actually keeping you in business? Um, so I want everyone to first of all, become a better consumer of design around that. Don’t just let bad design happened to you, right. To, to notice when you have felt amazing when something has worked for you. Why? I bet it wasn’t magic. I bet somebody made choices to help you be successful, to help you feel what you’re feeling in that moment. And I think it’s really critical. And I definitely think that that same process of designing for delight, designing for emotional engagement not only should trickle through organizations, they must trickled through organization. So that experience that you were describing around you’re a haircut, you know, sort of tribe moment. First of all I want in, I want to come.
Oh, you’re going to love it. You come to Tulsa, Tulsa, you’re going to laugh,
I’m going to come. It’s because we’re all on our devices all day long and we’re getting more and more isolated and so if you can design an experience that brings people together and actually taps into their humanity, that is the ultimate strategic advantage.
You know on your website, which I’ve been to Lisa Kay Solomon Dot com. That’s Lisa Kay Solomon Dot com. First thing you’re going to notice is that you apparently drink a lot of fish oil because your career, your resume is as long, but you appear to be. What are you 22, 23, 23 next week. Is it happy birthday deal? Let me be the first one to tell you. Happy Birthday, happy, but, but no, you’re very intentional about the vote. If you go to Lisa Kay Solomon Dot com, you’re very intentional about the photo that’s there is the feeling that it creates. As you talk about empowering leaders and learners to design a better future. It’s intentionality that you put into it. There’s a, there’s a certain thoughtfulness that comes across and I, I would encourage all the listeners out there, go to Lisa Kay Solomon Dot com. Just one time. Just go to one time. Lisa Kay. There’s 100. Come on.
There’s hundreds of thousands of you. Everybody just go there. I have carpal tunnel. I don’t know. Talk into your phone. Come on. Just go there one time because you can see beautiful design occurring and I want to get your take on this. Lisa, why do people went one time, and this is not a political question, but a lot of people went to the Obama healthcare website one time. You know, they went there one time, but it, it appeared to many people who hit the consumers who went there. The citizens who went there one time that they had gone to the website one more time than the designers had. You know, they’ve only been there one time, but it appears as though they might have gone there more times than the people who designed it. It was almost like the end user was never considered when creating the original version of the Obama healthcare website. Now, this is not an ob. I think Obama’s eloquent speaker. There’s a lot of reasons. I think Obama did well in a lot of great things. This is not a political thing, but can you talk to me about the functional design flaws of the Obama healthcare website at the initial version?
Yes. Yes. Well, first of all, thank you for all those kind words about my website right now. Your incident number one fan. She’s gonna. She’s gonna. Shoot the podcast back up to number nine.
I’m, I’m, I’m so. I’m so glad you brought up that example because it is such a great example of bad design. It is such a great example of our default mechanisms, which is let’s just get the technology right. If we can even get that right and let’s make sure that we’re doubling down on the people that are building it, like the R and d, The back end, right? At no point I think early on did they say, what is this experience need to be like? We’re creating a new paradigm for healthcare. We have to create joy and simplicity at every step. How do we do that? Who are we serving? What pains are they experiencing in their life and how can we make sure that getting access to healthcare in this way, right? Paradigm shifting totally new policy took a lot to pass. It is worth everything that they went through, right, and that this in fact represents new hope, a new promise and opportunity to be covered and they blew it.
They couldn’t do a year after, and I am an Obama Fan. They blew it. They blew it because they didn’t have the right talent. They blew it because they didn’t really understand what the customers were looking for. They were internally focused and then they rushed right to make the deadline and that was pushed back and pushed back, so they didn’t do the proper Qa that they needed to do a. They didn’t have the proper talent and in fact there’s been many stories that have come out about the talent that they had to sequester primarily from silicon valley technologist and designers to Redo over the holidays. Like they basically gave up their day jobs to come and save the website and it’s a fascinating case study and I think it’s why I’m hopeful that ceos and leaders who are in a position to craft strategies for the future, we’ll get this design memo and that they won’t understand that design is not about making something look pretty. It’s not about aesthetics. It’s about the strategy to create true value for the people that you’re trying to serve.
You know, a guy by the name of William Shakespeare once said, brevity is the soul of wit. Steve jobs once wrote Steve Jobs, obviously the cofounder of apple, but also the former CEO of Pixar. He wants wrote that simple. Simplicity is the ultimate. I think there’s this desire we have to make things more complicated to make them more difficult to make it like it’s better if it’s more complicated, but we had tom winter, Tom Peters, Tom Peters, the best selling author, one of my friends on the show, and Tom Ed said almost all quality improvement comes via simplification of design, simplification of the layout, simplification of the processes, and simplify simplification of the procedures. Can you talk to me about simplicity versus complexity when it comes to making something that designs both functionally and just end that is aesthetically pleasing?
Yes. It’s such a great point and it ties back into where we started around the Google world, right? It’s this sort of complexity. It’s swirling all around us. What, what is the responsibility and the requirements to find simplicity in that and then communicate it in ways that others can get that functional utility and emotional engagement. Um, the quotes that you brought up. One of my favorites on complexity and simplicity comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. I believe in a supreme court justice who said I would not be said, I do not give a sig for this side of simplicity, uh, but I, I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity. Maybe not got that exactly rIght, but I think that there is a simplicity before complexity where you’re naive and you’re like, oh, this is easy, and then you get into bulk and the maSs and you go, oh, this is really hard.
And it’s that courage to stick with it, to find the simplicity on the other side of complexity. And that’s what we really need to help people learn the skills and proCesses to do. And again, that’s my passion to teach leaders that they don’t have to be born with this skill. Right? None of us were born with this skill to create a discounted cashflow analysis. I know I would not like we learned it, right? Numbers and metrics were valued along the way. Right? And so we got better at it and we had sharistics and then we had formulas. We are just at the beginning of seeing the same kind of rigor applied to creative problem solving processes, like a designed approach to creating value. So that’s exciting, right? That we can actually teach people at all ages and all levels of the organization to learn how to find sImplicity from complexity. But it requires that we, first of all have a different mindset, uh, that, that the mindset is not what she, uh, the smartest person in the room is a person that knows them much as you know, that knows everything, right? The smartest person in the room is the one that can get up in the whiteboard and, and just, you know, fill it up themselves. No, the smartest person in the room is the one that brings other perspectives into the room and ask the right questions. But that’s not how we were traditionally rewarded.
I wanna I want to re, I want to read this because obviously you’re going off of memory. You’re smart. You’re a smart person. I am. I took algebra three times. Uh, I took my act three times. I did start a business when I was. I was oklahoma’s entrepreneur of the year. I’ve had some success, but I am a simple man. I’m chip. I’m a. I’m a simple man. You said it man. I don’t know. I’m a sibling so I’m gonna do is. I’m going to. I’m going to read the notable quarter one. I’d like for you to explain to us. Kind of break it down assuming that I don’t understand what you’re talking about because I know we have a lot of listeners out there. They probably can relate to my lack of depth. I’m on the shallow end of the pool wearing waders there. Ms dot lisa kay. So here we go. I would not give a fig for the simplicity, this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity for somebody out there who like whenever you tell a joke and you have to go. Do you get it? Do you get it? Can you kinda explain kind of explain what that means? I want to make sure everyone gets that id because it’s a profound idea when you get it.
Thank you for getting to quote precisely right. You should not destroy a quote like, so I think maybe the easiest way to describe it is what’s happening right now with public discourse around social media, right? That we see a tweet, a hundred and 40 character something, uh, or we see a facebook post and it brings us all up in a tIzzy, rIght, of whatever. Whatever is spewed. And I would say that is on the, uh, the first side of complexity, right? Where you, you, you get, you get pinged with some kind of, of a, a very, um, energetic statement that may or may not be backed by any facts that may or may not be backed by any truth or evidence. And they leave it there, right? They just get, you know, someone getting, seeing that quote would just go bananas. What this quote is suggesting is that we have to fight through the complexity that if you get triggered by something that you read, that instead of just amplifying the emotion that that is often designed to trigger you go in and say, no, I don’t know if that’s the full story.
Let me go learn about more about that. Who else do I need to talk to? What other perspective do I need to hear? Why did this happen? Right, and you dive into the critical thinking component required to then come out the other side with your own point of view, your own informed point of view about whatever the issue is, and so that is first of all, hard because a, we’ve not all been given enough time to sort of think through the critical thinking process and the other is that we’re so distracted. We actually don’t have time. One of my favorite quotes, maybe this it up best. I love the daily show with trevor noah and every now and again he’ll do a segment that says ain’t nobody got time for that.
All this important stuff that happened in the news. He’s like, I’d love to go through that. Ain’t nobody got it. Nobody has time for anything right now. That’s problematic because the world is luca world is actually asking that we slow down and sink. So these two things are intention.
Okay, so think like the late great poet slash lyricist slash singer aretha franklin said, think you gotta. Think so important that we think now when you’re thinking that’s gonna require on an uninterrupted time and according to to psychology today and eric, you’ll put them on the show notes. The average american is interrupted 85 times per day on their smartphone, which turns out to make most people dumb. 80 five interruptions a day will really destroy your cognitive processing power and I think a lot of people are in a meeting and you’ve talked about this at length in some of your previous videos I’ve watched, but you’re in a meeting and you’re trying to be the thoughtful leader there. Ms dot lisa kay. You’re out there and some of our listeners own businesses, a lot of them own businesses. I’d say most of them own companies and they’re trying to have a thoughtful discussion about how to make a design experience that wows their customers and pretty much immediately somebody begins to say, yeah, but you know, but uh, you know, I love, we’d love to make a box so good that people would never want to throw away their iphone.
But yeah. But it’s the guy talked to Me about waging war on the yeah, buts and why are you so passionate about eliminating them?
Yes. Yes. Dad, I am passionate. Okay. First of all, I just want to go back to the sort of distraction question and I think you’re being very generous there. With 83 times I’ve heard it’s like 3000 times that we look at our phones today. You are actually wanting your team to focus on a really important issue for the future where they are not distracted. Then you can design it that way by saying, leave your cell phone out of the car.
Oh, come on. No laptop. Yes. I’ll say it again. Please say it again please.
You can do it. You can do it right, but you have to design those conditions, right? The challenge is is when a ceo or leader gets up there and says, we need to be focused and then they’re on their cell phones, they’re like, but wait a minute, but I’m going to look down,
talk, and then create the conditions. Right? And say, look, we need to have a conversation here so I’m not going to present at you for 45 minutes. I’m going to ask a question and I’m actually going to let you know ahead of time a question I’m going to ask you that you can all think about it so that when we come into this meeting for these 45 minutes, we’re going to really use them productively, right? That is a design scale. How do you actually design to maximize people’s attention and diverse perspectives so that they can combine a new ways to come up with new ideas? That is a really important thing that everybody can do immediately. Pick one meeting and create new rules, right? And get them engaged. So that’s really important.
I have. I have heard you talk about thIs, and again I want to, it’s kind of neat. Thrive nation is every time we have a headliner guest or somebody who really knows their stuff, I get excited because I love the preparation and the research because I feel like I get to know you and I feel like it’s like a reunion. I get you on the show. I saw you at the airport like my long lost friend. You talked about this and this is such a powerful idea, but gallup shows that 70 percent of american employees that is gallup, g a l, l u p shows that 70 percent of americans hate their jobs. Yet. I’ve heard lisa, I’ve heard you talk about research that was done by teresa aml. I believe I’m pronouncing it right at harvard on the importance of making sure that your employees know that their work matters. Why is it so important for all the listeners out there that their employees know that their work matters and how it really does? Yeah. How does that impact the employee’s performance when they know that the work they’re doing matters?
Yes. Another incredible opportunity to apply the design process to the inner life of work and yes, you’re right. I mean the, the, the statistics are staggering. Gallup. Whew. I mean basically most americans are sleepwalking to work. They are actively looking for another job. So if you think about the irony of it, right? You own a company or you’re a leader within an organization, you’ve spent a lot of time finding just the right talent that you’ve spent a lot of money to recruit them and onboard them only to have them within several months time actively looking for another job. So not dimension, right? Not to mention the, the loss of productivity each day that they’re not fully excited and engaged in their work. Why is that? It’s a systems problem, right? what would it take to help everyone within your organization feel like they are putting their best contributions forward?
How do we do that? Right, and part of the challenges is that we allow technology to design work for us, right? We allow her days to be filled with meetings because meetings, because it’s very easy to invite people via the outlook because outlook as an example of calendaring app is scheduled to have meetings and half hour, hour increments. We decide that that is the right amount of time, that we should be all around, you know, engaged in the conversation. No, what does the conversation need, who needs to be there? Um, and so over time I think when people feel bombarded by the constraints of work versus pulled in by the purpose and the human connectivity that work can offer, right? That’s, that’s the opportunity right, to, to, to make sure that we’re designing work for us to bring our best talents forward and to risa bah work from harvard after looking at 12,000 journals where people scribed what made a good day and what made a bad day at work.
She found that the number one thing that motivates people to do their best work is not. Their title is not compensation, right? Not the, not the carrot, although that might help. It’s the feeling that their work mattered is the feeling that their contribution for the day was going towards something that was connected to a higher purpose, and so that really suggests that the way that we let people know about how their work is impacting the overall future of the company is important. Right. That we take time to notice and to help everybody feel connected to a larger whole.
Now you say teresa emilia, is it pronounced
so it’s. It’s spelled. I’m a bill, but she’s, I think french and so it might understand the pronunciation is a meal ba,
a mill ba. Now chuck, there is not a possible. I could not have possibly butchered the name more than what I just did it earlier, so I just wanted to all the listeners out there, if you want me to mispronounce your name, email us to [email protected]. I’d be happy to. Ms dot pronounced your name right here on a top 10 podcast. So,
so we can make it up to her by saying that she has a great book called the progress principle.
Yeah, check it out. There you go. Now, at least in your book, moments of impact, you’ve written that the most important leadership skill that they don’t teach you at harvard business school is
what is learning how to design a strategic conversation. Yes. I don’t think they teach it anywhere. Come on. Look. Here’s the analogy here. Here’s the analogy. I thanks to ted, right? That great conference that’s now in vancouver that created a tedx is everywhere and then put them online. We all now know what a great presentation looks like, right? We know, we know it’s got to have visual. It’s gotta have narrative. You’ve got to have presence, right? We have clarity about the requirements to create a compelling presentation. Can you show me one public example of a great strategic conversation that we can all learn from? No, it doesn’t exist. There is no strategic conversation channel, and yet these are the conversations. When I say strategic conversation, these are the conversations that meaningfully affect the future of the organization. When your organization comes together and said, oh my gosh, you know, we’re getting disrupted by its platform play, right? We’re getting disrupted. You fill in the blAnk, we’re getting disrupted by airbnb or uber or something, our door dash or something that’s connecting individuals to provide their talent in new ways, right? We need to change our strategy. How do you have that conversation? We don’t know how to do it, so that’s why we wrote moments of impact to help all leaders to understand that the key to creating nimble and adaptive strategy happens in the conversation. Do you have.
I want to get your take on this because you’ve. You’ve written about this. I’ve heard you talk about this, about the importance of everybody. Every listener out there today. this is something for an action item for all the listeners, as you encourage everybody to define their purpose and what you know, what you mean by this. I think it’s just so important that all of us that are take the time to define their purpose, but before we get into that, I would like to go a little off the reservation. You can say, clay, I don’t want to go there and it’s fine. I’ll, I’ll, I’ll edit it out. No one will know. I just want to ask you, um, can you describe for me what you’re all about? Maybe your, your family life, just a little bit of a look into who you are because you have such a great resume. Are you a mom? Are you not a mom? Do you have. What was your background? Just kind of introduced the listeners a little bit into you as we then move into talking about our purpose. I want the listeners to get a chance to know you a little more.
Oh, that’s so nice. Well, thank you. Yes. I am a very proud mom of two daughters, two teenage daughters. Oh boy. Then my house is filled, filled with luca.
they are. They are the love of my life. Um, uh, along with my husband and we live in California, although I am an east coast transplant, which means I talk fast and I have a lot of black in my wardrobe. Um, but I really, you know, my roots growing up outside of philadelphia and try to stay grounded. Okay. They now live in silicon valley, but I take the role of mom very seriously because this is a really important time for young women to see themselves as change agents and to see themselves as leaders. And so I spent a lot of time thinking about how can I expose my daughters to the skills I think they will need to imagine and create their lives multiple times in their life.
So you do believe thAt everyone needs to define their purpose and what they mean by this. What is, what is your purpose in what? What do you mean by this?
Uh, well, I’m glad you asked me. Purpose is an important topic, particularly as it relates to the one of the stats that you shared earlier around 70 percent of employees looking for other jobs. It’s because they don’t feel connected to their work, right? and, and their purpose doesn’t necessarily have to be a big moonshot. I’m not suggesting that everybody needs to walk around feeling like, hey, I’m going to cure cancer or crack. Um, you know, alzheimer’s, a disease. I think that knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing is important. Knowing what matters to you is important and then finding ways to express that in your life, work and outside of work is important, and for me, my purpose is helping amplify the abilities to create value in an increasingly complex world and what that means is helping everybody see themselves as potential future shapers, helping everybody see themselves as creative problem solvers and helping them realize that they can learn the skills to do that.
well and learn about.
Lisa. Have you ever been to tulsa, Oklahoma?
I have, yes. Actually, I have a funny story. Yes, yes. Let me tell this funny story, so I feel very fortunate because not only do I have these two wonderful daughters, I have an amazing mom who was a chief learning officer for 25 years, phd in psychology, total lifelong learner and wait for it. competitive golfer, and she took me when I was in high school to tulsa, Oklahoma so that she could play in an amateur golf tournament and I went
Yes, that’s exactly
the reason why I ask is because when I’m making this statement with, with, with faith and conviction, when you do come to tulsa, uh, one of the things a lot of listeners know, if they listen to our show quite often here we have, um, I help people franchise their companies or help coach businesses. And so one of the brands that I’ve worked with for awhile is called oxi fresh and there’s over 400 locations. It’s the world’s greenest carpet cleaner, oxi fresh.com. And then the partner that I worked with with oxi fresh, he and I have another business we do together called the elephant in the room, the men’s grooming lounge. And the idea is when the moment you walk into the store, you’re greeted a certain way. It smells a certain way that music is a certain way. The decor is a certain way. It’s kind of a modern rustic.
It feels like soho. You could relate to that. That whole New York, it’s that urban minimalists and soho, a reclaimed brick kind of style, um, meets kind of an uptempo sushi bar is how it feels like you’re getting your haircut and we have thousands of members and I would love to have you go through the workflow. I’m serious. I would love to have you go through the workflow and make your thoughts on this because you talk a lot about making an experience. You talked about designing an experience. I want to get really into the practical aspects for the small business owners listening. If I’m listening out there and I’m a plumber, okay, let’s just say I’m a plumber. I’m gonna. Give you some time to think about that. They’re, I, I’m just off the cuff here for you. So I’m gonna give you time to marinate on this. But if I’m a plumber and I’m listening or I’m a home builder and I’m listening, or I’m a dentist and I’m listening, so I’m a plumber, I’m a home builder, or I’m a dentist. Why do, why do I as a home builder, a plumber or a dentist still need to make a moment of impact? Why do I still need to make it an experience and not just a dental exam from an ambiguous office with a vanilla personality? Why do I need to make it an experience if I want to grow my company?
It’s a great question. And all of those professions and others can learn the skills of design to help their businesses because if they learn how to design experiences, their customers will be more loyal, they will be more willing to tell others about their experience with you. so they actually become a marketing channel and they’re going to spend more money with you, right? So they’re not and they’re not going to leave. Right? So think of all the money, the hard that can be acquired and, and, uh, and, and grown because you were thinking like a designer. So let’s take the dentist example, right? Yep. How many people aRe like, get out of bed and they’re like, I cannot wait to go to the dentist. The dentist is awesome. This is what I’ve been waiting for now with a dentist is thinking like a designer. What they’re realizing is that there are very few people in this world that liked to have somebody looking in their mouth, working in their mouth, finding things that are wrong in their mouth. That is not a pleasant experience. Right? So if they oNly think of themselves, remember back to our definition of functional utility and emotional engagement. If they only take of themselves is I’m going to make these teas like salad and healthy, right? They’re turning it into a commodity. Right?
Have they think of themselves as a designer and they’re like, you know what? Designers first and foremost understand their customers as a whole person, right? Like what are the pains and gains that their customer’s experience in their life? And if they go in and say, you know what? I know that most of my patients are terrified of coming to see me. I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure that I’m going to alleviate some of that fear and I’m going to make choices at every step of the office experience. So that I am chipping away at that ingrained fear we all have of going to the dentist. So what does that mean in practicality? That means is that when you walk into the dentist’s office, so it should be soothing music that your person at the front desk should be welcoming and upbeat and there to help you take the edge off as if you were getting some kind of dopamine hit like or some kind of soothing you are in a safe place. What could I have got to communicate safety, right? And then every step of the way, the patient should never feel like, oh my gosh, I’m worried about my own health. I’m worried about if I’m going to experience
real quick, I have audio actively address. At least I have a audio from how you don’t want your dental office to sound there. chop that jumps out. Is it okay if you go in there? So, uh, welcome to the dental offices. I totally depo and lube. Uh, we do what we do because we can pick chicago, we have a bar, we also do dentistry. Braces to break. You get a chance to wash those tools or were you too busy? I’ll get to it, man. I’ve still not believable. Where Is my sandwich? No, that’s not what you want to do. You don’t want to do that. You want to have a a safety zone and you. You talk about this in your book, designing a better business. You by the way are are, are why? Don’t know where you fInd the time. A year. You’re raising the kids. You’re, you’re working out. You’re obviously drinking tons of fish oil. I don’t know how you do it, but he wrote another book called design a better business, new tools, skills and mindsets for and innovation. Can you talk to us about how that book could help our listeners out there? If they’re saying, I love the theory, I love the theater. I love the theory of what lisa kay solomon is talking about. I just want to know the practical action steps. What do I do?
Yes, yes. that is why we wrote the book to crack the theory. Uh, so the book is, is a playbook. I mean, the book has 20 different visual tools that all of your listeners can go to, design a better business outcome and download right now. They’re all available via creative comments with the facilitation guide to help you figure out how to use it, and so for example, just like we were talking about, what is the experience of going through a dentist? What have you visualized that as a jourNey map? What have you mapped out every single touch point that your customer or patient had when they experienced your business or parts of your business. I’m talking not just talking about when they’re actually in the office or the restaurant. I’m talking about the moment they think I have to go to the dentist or I need to make a reservation, or I have to do this right?
What is the first thing that they do? And you can actually visualize every stat and then say, what’s the experience I want them to have? What’s the experience they currently have? What choices can I make to make sure that they’re having a better experience and that every step of the way, the experience of cab is congrats with the brand that we stand for, the quality that we stand for it. So it takes it out of this mystery. So that’s just one example. So we actually have a called customer safari tool, but we have all kinds of other tools. Cool. Then yep, go ahead.
I’m sure you have 50 case studies in there. I mean we’re talking about audi, autodesk, toyota. At least you’Re blowing my mind. I mean that book is written
well. It’s funny. We designed it to be user friendly as possible, so it’s very visual. It’s very much. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of the book, and this was inspired by a trip I took with my two daughters down to disney world. You’d have, there’s like a handful of rides that are super popular and then they make you wait forever and then they created this thing called the fast path where you can go into, get taken there, might come back to, you know, magic mountain and you can get right on the right. So very early on in the book we actually have fat that you can say, hey, you know what, I really want to just focus on strategy. Okay, great. So go to page one, 10, you know, or I really want to figure out how to work as a startup. Okay, great. So, so we tried to design the book to be super useful, usable and accessible for not just the person reading it, but for what they would do within their budget
and pretty money out there who says, listen, this conversation is, whew. Okay, this is conversation is we will. I’m a plumber, this is will. Let me, let me just give the thrivers some firsthand anecdotal knowledge that I have are one of our partners. And for the frequent listeners of our show, you’ll know this to be true. Uh, or if you just google my name, clay clark and the name lee cockerell. Lee cockerell was the former executive president of walt disney world resorts, which means under the, on the org chart, the organizational chart underneath him, there’s 40,000 employees. There are 1 million customers a week going to walt disney world resorts. And when I went to tour, I behind the scenes tour of walt disney world resorts. What I saw was I wasn’t, I didn’t witness a endless, a training or motivational meeting with some guy running around motivating 40,000 people to wow customers.
What I saw were checklists and systems. Uh, elisa, you would not be shocked by this, but they had specific smells there. There were wafted into the air. The popcorn smells. The carmel candy was wafting. The volcano explodes at a certain interval. Eight. Each employee, they called them a cast member, is assigned a certain amount of feet and they go back and forth so that the sidewalk never gets dirty. And they’re also, their job is to greet people, have to share with them where the bathroom is or answer their question. So you don’t have just people that are siloed into being a janitor. Everybody is, yeah, I’m a janitor, but I’m, I’m, I’m really a cast member and my job is to make sure you have a great experience. So I might be picking up the trash, but if you want to know where the bathroom is, I will walk you to it.
Um, these things are all thought through on a next level, on a meta level. Meta from the greek word meaning above. It’s not just a, you know, casual thing. It’s deep thinking and you think deep and I actually mean is your book, your book design a better business is designed like a thoughtful designer. And if you are out there and you say to yourself, chip, I don’t, I don’t want to ruin my life. I want to have a successful company. You don’t want to live in a van down by the river, crazy realty to by design a better business by lisa kay solomon. So I’m just telling that book is awesome. That is awesome. And I think it’s awesome because it feeds your mind best practices from toyota and auto audience. Autodesk and our audi, I mean in autodesk, it’s just, it’s, can you talk to me about the power of case studies, ms dot lisa kay and why you decided to fill your book with case studies as opposed to just theoretical examples?
Yes. Some of the cAse on plumbers, no joke. I’m actually a whole case study that my coauthor patrick vander pile, uh, worked on and, and wrote a to capture a large industrial plumbing company in europe that wanted to build another factory in order to help your plumbers. Uh, but through the design process realize that what the plumbers really, really wanted was more education. And so because they took the time to say what can help you do your job better instead of building a multimillion dollar factory like that would have suggested as the key to growth. They say, what if we actually created a much cheaper online university to help these farmers do their job better? So just go to show you the power when you really listen to the people that, uh, that help your organization grow. Whether it be the customers who helped give you more money, what do they need in their life that you can design for or the employees to help them feel that their work matters.
So it really does all come down to this discipline. And if you said, I love that you brought up all dizzy because that was honestly clay. That’s where I got my inspiration from the age of six. I mean early, early, early days when I was young. I went to walt disney world and it blew my mind where my mind, not because it’s the most magical place on earth, but because how all of the pieces fit together and every project I could I did on walk disney world because I was so fascinated with what can happen when you are in an experience that transport you to somewhere else. And you know one thing I would say for all of your restaurants, I don’t care what not even business you’re in, but what you do with your day. This could be true With your family too. To ask yourself, how can I design backwards? If we all think about the end of the day, we have had an amazing day, what has happened, right?
Wowed our customers
happen, and then make your choices based on that, and that gets back again to the purpose, right? To have purpose behind your choices that you’re connected to an aligned point of view about what success means in whatever way you define it.
What am I going to do now is I’m going to get into just a bunch of weird questions in a row before I pile on with what ms.ms dot lisa kay just mentioned a chubb. We’re in the man cave and you know this. I’m always burning pinion wood all the time. Lisa cam, always burning pinion wood. I never done burning pinion wood at the man cave. I live on 17 acres behind a wall at what I affectionately called camp clark and chicken palace. We raised. We have silky chickens. We have cats. We have a just a Turkey named tom and I live in the man cave underneath the. The house that my wife built. It’s a beautiful home, but I live in the k. I the rye bread we broadcast out of as a man cave, it’s filled with entrepreneurial decor and accoutrements and I know what makes me happy, so it feels kind of like we’re broadcasting from a, a dive bar, maybe a former speak easy ms dot lisa kay from New York city, like a former speakeasy.
It like a basement bar. That’s kind of the vibe that get the joke. so that’s. I do agree and that’s why I’m always happy everyday because I really do enjoy my atmosphere. I designed my atmosphere, but I really want to get. I want to ask you some weird questions. So here’s my weird question. Number one, you have to believe something that is counterintuitive or against the culture of pretty much everybody else. As I’ve interviewed billionaires on this show, millionaires, they always have one countercultural idea or more. That’s a counterintuitive belief that, that they have. They believe that has allowed them to become successful, that most people don’t share. Do you have any counterintuitive belief or countercultural belief? I mean, are you like really into aliens or is there something that you really just. The average person just says, enter a little crazy there. Lisa, is there anything out there that, that, uh, you know, I’m not trying to discredit you, but anything other do you think is kind of, you know, people might disagree with, but you believe it.
I don’t know if I’m that controversial that, that it’s okay. Most people disagree with it. I do fundamentally believe though that abundance comes from within and I now live in silicon valley where there’s a lot of talk about how technology can liberate, you know, things that are scarce and make them more abundant. I think that true abundance comes from within, meaning that you have a mindset that tomorrow is going to be better than today. That you have a mindset that you can learn from others, uh, that you have a mindset that, uh, you can, uh, learn from past failures and apply them so that you can make better choices tomorrow. Nobody can do that for you. So I think abundance comes from within.
A lot of our listeners, you know, they listened to this podcast because they want to get an abundance of, of thoughts. They want to, they understand that david j dot schwartz, the author of the magic of thinking big was, was correct when he wrote the man that did the mind is what the mind is fed the mind is what the mind is fed. lisa, if you had to recommend a couple of books that you didn’t write because we do recommend the books that you wrote, but if you had to recommend a couple of books for all the listeners out there, what would they be and why?
And staring at my bookshelf. I’m very good at buying books. So I’m so glad you asked that question. It’s one of my favorite things to do is recommend books. Um, so right now I’m finishing up the book of joy, which is a really interesting conversation between the dalai lama and desmond tutu. And I love it because they tackled or any issues from a place of, um, uh, sort of a meta perspective from a place of gratitude from a place of universal care. And I think it’s something that the world needs right now. So I’d love for everyone to take a crack at that. Um, I also, you mentioned pixar earlier, I love the book creativity inc by ed catmull, who talked about creating pixar, what I think is one of the most exciting and dynamic creative and technology driven companies that had given us great joy over the last 15 years with incredible movies like toy story and monsters inc. Um, that’s another favorite
ms dot and then,
sorry, it’s called creativity inc.
Creativity inc. Okay.
Yes. Creativity inc. Um, and then, uh, another favorite is actually a gift, I think that’s been on your show. I’m a, is the book switch by dan and I think that is an incredible book. They don’t call it a design book, but I’m telling you it’s a design book because essentially they say, right, you’ve got to engage. If you want to make change happen, when changes are you have to engage the rational brain or writer, which I would call functional utility. You’ve got to, um, uh, engage, get, get the elephant on board, which is what I would call a motion. And then they Say, got to shape the path, which is all the design choices that you make along the way. So I’m a big fan of that book.
Can I throw in one more now?
I’m just, I’m just looking at my book. I’m like, oh, I like that. A newer book that’s come out. I like a lot called culture code by daniel coyle, which is all about how to create great work environments. I think culture is everything peter drucker said, culture eats strategy for breakfast. So true. So true. You can have the greatest product in the world, but if you don’t have a hunting culture, doesn’t matter.
Team strategy, that’s pretty rough there Mr. Tucker. But true. So now lisa, um, you know, people say, you know, I really would like to design my business so I’m having a hard time just designing my day and I’d love to design a workflow, but I’m having a hard time designing my morning. I would love to design a great product, but I’m having a hard time designing my calendar. Can you walk us through a typical day in the life of miss lisa kay solomon?
Oh, there is no typical. Everyday is different because I do like to do lots of things and depending on. I’m doing that day dictates the design, so if, for example, I need to write something and read the article, um, I will make sure that I do not have distractions that get in my way because I love having written, but writing does not always the easiest thing for me. So I will do things. She put me in a positive mood to get me in a writing perspective. Um, I will write something, I will read something that makes me happy, um, and I will be reminded that a while writing can be hard, that the gift of sharing ideas is one that’s worth the effort. So I have to really minimize distractions when I do something like that. If I’m giving a presentation, then I will make sure that I, uh, first of all know who I’m presenting to.
I take great care and pride to make sure I’m coming up with cases and connective tissue that will really resonate with the audience. I think that’s really important. So they, they feel like I’m talking to them because I’m in their camp and corner. Um, and then you know, ahead of that, I’ll make sure that I have enough time to really get in the mode of, of being, um, uh, they’re on their behalf and that could be anything from going on a great run that gets me excited and amped to listening to great music. So I do try to design a, I, I tried to put design into my day. I designed my days very intentionally.
So when you design your schedule and your schedule intentionally, it’s because you’re a woman who, uh, you know where you’re going, or at least you know where you’re headed. And I think a lot of our listeners after an interview like this where they go, this lady has so much good stuff. They want to know where should we be headed? If you had To direct listeners to take one action today, is there a specific website like for us to check out to learn more about you or a specific book you’ve done or you’re working on are really what’s the action step you would encourage all of our action orientated listeners to, uh, pursue?
Yes. Well, thank you for that. I do hope you go check out my website, lisa kay solomon.com with all owed and checkout, specifically the resources page because over the last year and a half I’ve interviewed about 20 different thought leaders to try to distill their wisdom down in various formats. So for example, you’ll get a glimpse of dan roam, who is a close colleague of mine who talks about how to solve complex problems with simple pictures. So I believe all of us have the capability to draw out our ideas and I’m actually working on a new education effort with dan to bring visual thinking and communication to k 12 everywhere. And we could maybe have a separate conversation about that because I believe that’s critical. Um, to another interview on there is with my dear colleague dan klein, who teaches improvisational theater at stanford and talks about the importance of what improvisational theater can do to help us become more resilient and flexible in the moment when we get a, something unexpected come our way. And it turns out improvisational theater aficionados and practitioners are very good at that. So, um, so I, I’m always trying to curate who we can learn from and to make it accessible to people that I’m working with. So that’s a place to go.
You’re lisa. Lisa kay here. As we, as we wrap up this interview today. One I want to tell you just thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to be on our show and to share what you know with, with all the listeners out there. And I have one question. I think anybody who goes to lisa kay, solomon.com is going to want to ask. It’s a little out of bounds chop eric. This is probably a lot of bounds, a little bit, a little bit. That’s where we live. This is why I don’t often get asked to interview the same guest twice, but lisa, what are you eating? Are you, are you, are you? Are you? Are you a vegetarian or gluten free? Are you? Are you eating fish oil? What’s your deal? How are you? What are you doing? You’re, you’re so smart. You’re so thin and you look so healthy. What’s going on? What are you eating or what are you not eating?
No, come on. Terrible thing. I drink way too much. Diet coke.
What’s going on though? I mean you, you. What are you doing here? He uses all kale.
It needs to be fried and salty. You know, doesn’t have potato chips or french fries. No. You know, I just try to laugh. That’s the greatest energizer, right? I try to find joy. I try to. I more than anything, try to find people that I love working with that helped me learn that made me better at my craft and inspired me to want to write and do more things. I mean, that’s, you know, that’s insane. Abundance comes from it. It’s find people that make you a better version of yourself and make them offers to work with you that they can’t say no to. That’s all I do.
Well, thank you for listening. Thank you for allowing me to take your day to the bottom. I hope the rest of your day goes to the top. You are the past. We really are honored to have you on today and I hope you have a wonderful day and congratulations on your invitation to teach at stanford. That’s exciting. It’s been so fun.