ep. 41 - Simon T. Bailey: Change Management, Leadership, and Customer Experience Expert, & Author


Simon T. Bailey is the CEO of Simon T. Bailey International, a premium education company specializing in creating learning and development content for individuals and organizations. Simon derives great joy by sharing and inspiring men and women with a simple transformational framework and the tools needed to create a purposeful life and a meaningful and profitable business. 

Simon delivers tangible takeaways that are easy to implement and produce sustainable results. He connects with any audience – on many levels – with a relevant message that resonates beyond the stage. Simon serves as a guide and catalyst, challenging people to shift and create their future. 


ep. 41 - Simon T. Bailey: Change Management, Leadership, and Customer Experience Expert, & Author

Gail Davis: Hello GDA podcast listeners. Are you ready to shift your thinking? Are you ready to improve your life? Then, get ready to experience Simon T. Bailey, leader of the brilliance movement. Through his provocative content, speaking engagements [00:01:00] and leadership advice, Simon has helped more than two million people find their brilliance, shift their thinking and produce sustainable results.

Please welcome to the GDA podcast, Simon T. Bailey.

Welcome, Simon.

Kyle Davis: Hey, Simon.

Simon T. Bailey: [inaudible 00:01:18] Hey, good to be with you guys.

Kyle Davis: Well, it's good to have you on even though we had a little bit of confusion prior to this.

Gail Davis: But we shifted our brilliance and we all made it on time, so that's awesome.

Kyle Davis: Something like that.

Gail Davis: [00:01:30] So, Simon. I mean, I know when I think of you, I think of Disney. So, why don't you ground our listeners in a little bit of your background and how you got to be a leader in this movement.

Simon T. Bailey: So, I worked for Disney for over seven years. My first stop was senior sales manager and park and events. And by the time I left Disney, I was sales director and new business development director for the Disney Institute, which is the educational arm of Disney where corporations come [00:02:00] from around the world to learn, how does Disney do it.

And I decided to leave Disney almost 15 years ago to venture out on my own and I had a most amazing time there while I was at Disney, but people often ask why did I leave? I received a call from a journalist and whenever you work at Disney, Mickey Mouse rule number one is you never talk to the media unless authorized. Well, I wasn't authorized and I decided to talk to the journalist. So, he said, "where do you see yourself ten to fifteen years from now?" And [00:02:30] I said, "I see myself as the President and CEO of the Walt Disney World Resort and eventually Chairman and COO of the Walt Disney Company, and he put this in print. So, (laughs) True story-

Gail Davis: How'd that go down Simon? (laughs)

Simon T. Bailey: (laughs) True story, you can still google it to this day.

So my boss called me in the office and he's like, what in the world were you thinking when you did this interview? And I said, "Larry, I work at this company who's motto is, If you're heart is in your dreams, no request is [00:03:00] too extreme for when you wish upon a star. Makes no difference who you are, but obviously it does here." (laughing) So, it's funny today but it was not funny then. (laughing)

Gail Davis: That is so funny! I worked for a pretty famous Texas pioneer in the IT industry and there was a very similar cultural philosophy of talking to the media. It was ... I mean he was known for his quips and one of them was, you can't [00:03:30] fight with people who produce ink by the barrels, so don't even try. And it was really against all rules for anyone to be quoted saying anything to the media. So, I can only imagine the stress you were under at the time.

Kyle Davis: And anytime I tell people what I want to do here, I get shunned. (laughing)

Gail Davis: Oh listen. Some things change and some things don't.

So, oh my gosh was that very stressful at that time, Simon?

Simon T. Bailey: Was it stressful? HR showed and said, would you please sign right here? So, I signed [00:04:00] a little piece of paper that went into my personal file. And let's just say, Disney didn't fire me that day but about a year later I heard the footsteps coming and they were not singing It's a Small World After All. (laughing)

Gail Davis: [crosstalk 00:04:13] Go ahead, Kyle.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, so where did you go from there? I mean once that ... those hard footsteps from HR came barreling down the hallway, where did you find yourself next?

Simon T. Bailey: Well, I kind of sensed it was coming, so I put my resume out on the street and got four [00:04:30] job offers. Two vice president's offers, going work at other companies and the senior director position with Flexjet, which is a division of Lear jet, to head up all customer care for Learjet owners in the world. And they wanted to relocate me to Dallas. And I ended up turning all of the jobs down because I went out on my own. And I really felt that at the time, it was time to do this work that I'm doing now.

So, it's been 15 years of just an amazing journey and having [00:05:00] a lot of fun.

Kyle Davis: So, if you could, for the audience members who don't necessarily know what you're doing and what the system is that you've created, if you could just shine a light on how it came to be and what it is today. I think that they would find that insightful.

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, so specifically, I teach individuals in organizations and professionals in those organizations how to live brilliantly, lead differently and grow profitably. [00:05:30] And the shift your brilliance system takes everything that I've learned from 1500 organizations in 45 countries over the last 15 years and we've distilled it down into a seven step system where I teach not only what I've learned but also some of the key take-aways from my Disney time. And it's available online. We're really, really excited about businesses that have embraced it.

Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and is this ... when you say available [00:06:00] online I know one of the things that you do a lot of work with is Linda, which is the company that is owned by ... Linkedin. Is it available there or through your website or?

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, it's only available at simontbailey.com. We tried to keep it a little bit separate from the Linkedin learning and Linda.com relationship. Which is great and we've had amazing success there as well.

Kyle Davis: All right, cool. So, I'm kind of like a newbie on this and I don't necessarily know what the seven steps are, so could you shine a little light on that for me so that I have some [00:06:30] understanding?

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, sure, so, what I discovered is that there were many businesses and organizations that wanted broadband results the world is changing. And they wanted to ensure that men and women had the new mind set for where business is going and how they could be agile. So, the shift your brilliance system is to equip individuals with the framework of, how do I see differently? How do I harness the power of me incorporated? How do I ignite a fresh vision? [00:07:00] How do I begin to fuel my thinking because now business is all about, how quickly can you learn and stay relevant? How do you take the wheel so the adult daycare center is closed?

Gail Davis: (laughing)

Simon T. Bailey: This is [inaudible 00:07:13] want men and women that own the future, right? And then, how do you engage your gears and restart your engine? So, it's built on a car metaphor and what we discovered is that when individuals are given the tips, the tools and the techniques on how to shift what they are doing, [00:07:30] they don't have to wait for HR or senior leadership to tell them what to do. They understand that they've got to make it happen.

Kyle Davis: So, I come from the startup world where being agile and throwing new results or throwing new ideas and failing fast ... and all these other ideas are completely ... fostered and growed upon ... like, it's just there. You know you bring a new idea up. Let's try it out. If it works great. If it doesn't, we'll move on, we'll do the [00:08:00] next thing. You're very agile and on your feet. So, my question to you is this, when you go to these more established organizations that ... it's more set in concrete than it is in water. When you're providing these new ideas and these new techniques to have them to be more entrepreneurial, to be more startup-esque, how are they adapting to that and what insights have you gleaned from those companies?

Simon T. Bailey: Well, you know, there's a Yiddish proverb that [00:08:30] says, the only person who likes change is a wet baby. So- (laughing) [crosstalk 00:08:41]

Kyle Davis: Oy vey. (laughing)

Simon T. Bailey: So-

Gail Davis: (laughing) That's awesome!

Simon T. Bailey: (lauging) So, sometimes when you go to a traditional B2B organization, you really have to start with honoring the legacy employees that are there and then helping the legacy employees connect with those that are newer in their career. And really building a bridge between [00:09:00] the two that were all on the same team. And how do we learn together?

So, the first thing you have to do is invite people to unlearn, relearn and then learn. And a lot of that is introducing change but talking about the benefits of change.

Then the second thing is, what I've discovered in any organization. You have fence sitters, you have supporters and you have skeptics. And you have to identify the supporters as really, the champions so that they [00:09:30] can go back to into their spheres of influence, their pockets of brilliance and really begin to get those fence sitters who say I know, and I see the world changing. How does it really impact me? And then those who are truly skeptics, how do you hear their voice and invite them into the conversation because they have value too. So really making sure that the three different mindsets, they really are embracing it.

And then probably most importantly, everything rises and falls with leadership. [00:10:00] And for years there's been a lot of research and a lot of studies saying, you know, leaders are supposed to motivate people. And I'm here to tell you, that is not true. It is not the job of a leader to motivate anyone because the word motive is rooted in motivation and sometimes motive can be self serving. I said this to 300 of the top finance people at Raytheon, with five CFO's sitting in the front of the room. And I said, "Here's the deal, the job of a leader is to invite people [00:10:30] on a journey to discover themselves while they're following you." And when you have that little shift in your thinking, people will self motivate. They don't need a leader to motivate them.

Gail Davis: Ooh, I love that, I love that.

Kyle Davis: One of the things I'm reminded of especially with, you know, the larger startups out in ... whether its Silicon Valley or New York or you know, elsewhere, is that a lot of these companies ... have like these manifestos, these visions of not what's going to happen in the five, [00:11:00] ten, fifteen year plan, but you look at a guy like Jack Dorsey, who I used to work for at Square. He has a five thousand year vision that's like written out and printed, and like here's how we're going to change the world. And, you know, it is kind of like that leading people along to the promise land. So when you see companies like that, and I know that there's ... I think you can probably say like Lee Iacocca or something like that, was the same kind of guy. When you [00:11:30] see leaders who really genuinely lead people and pull them along versus push people along ... what are you seeing in those organizations like in how they shift their motivation, if you will?

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, there are three things that I've noticed. Number one, they are a purpose driven company so they put purpose before profit.

Number two, they subscribe to a triple bottom line. And the triple bottom line is the organization benefits, stakeholders [00:12:00] and shareholders benefit but more importantly, the community benefits. So, they're impacting that community around them. So, there's this whole social entrepreneur and social piece is critically important.

And then the third thing, is they have customers who become raving fans and the customers become the unofficial marketing department for the business. Because inside the company, there's congruency from top to bottom that it's not just about me but it's about we. And [00:12:30] how do we together grow? And there's so many companies that we could name but that's generally what I see when the companies are truly aligned.

Gail Davis: Good.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I mean, one of the big companies that I'm thinking of that has done such a great job of getting their customers to evangelize on their behalf, would be a company like Airbnb. I mean every once in while you do hear about like the horror story of, you know, some guest running amuck. But in general, you hear just these amazing stories from people that have either stayed at an Airbnb [00:13:00] or you hear these amazing stories from people who host guests in their home. And they've done such a great job of fostering this sharing, culture sharing economy, that it's really led to hyper growth in a way that hasn't been seen before.

Simon T. Bailey: Totally, and you know, we're in the recommendation economy. And when customers really embrace what I would call customer love, when they just embrace customer love, they will yelp about it and talk about it all day long.

Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and it's [00:13:30] funny because one of the things that ... that I chuckle at internally, I don't do it externally even though I probably should, is that I always laugh when I go to a store or restaurant and they really sell me on why I should write a yelp review.

Simon T. Bailey: Yep.

Kyle Davis: And I'm sitting there going, you shouldn't have to tell me to write a yelp review for you. (laughing) You should provide the service that leads me to either want to write a yelp review because I want to, for your benefit [00:14:00] or that I want to write one to just let people know, stay away.

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah. (Laughing) Oh.

Gail Davis: Oh, Simon, you touch on so many different areas and I know they're all important but ... for companies, does one thing weigh heavier because I hear you talk about, you know, customer care-

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah.

Gail Davis: And I hear you talk about leadership and I know you have a sales background, and I hear you talk about culture. Do those [crosstalk 00:14:31] all have an equal, [00:14:30] you know ... in your view, do they all play together equally or does one weigh a little heavier?

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, they all play equally, but if I could sum it up in one word and that's culture. Everything comes down to culture. Culture is the emotional glue of every environment, every business. Culture is not the nice words written on the wall. Culture is what lives in the head, the heart and the hands [00:15:00] of men and women. And I was with Chic-fil-a not too long ago. They brought me in to speak to 5500 of their operators. And I had a chance to interview other operators, go to their stores, just kind of understand the Chic-fil-a culture. And the one thing I walked away with, and this is something that Chic-fil-a just drilled in my head. They said we're not in the chicken business, we're in the people business and we just happen to sell chicken. And just that little shift in perspective, it's embedded in their culture.

Kyle Davis: [00:15:30] Mm-hmm (affirmative). One of the things I actually want you to go back and touch on that you just mentioned about culture, is that I think it's too often that companies, individuals and I hate to say it, but people with like severe cases of myopia really focus in on is the sayings, the pat on the backs for other individuals and that's what culture is. The rah rah culture. But like you said it's the actions, the mind and the hands. So, if you can kind of, really delineate [00:16:00] what the differences are between the two, I think that would be beneficial for the listeners.

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, culture happens when no one is looking. Culture is what happens when it's not convenient. Culture is men and women understand there's a difference in doing the right thing and doing things right. Culture is men and women, no matter how long they've worked for the business, the organization, they understand that I am the keeper of the culture. That if [00:16:30] the customer has a problem, I don't pass the call and dump the call. If I hear it, I own it. And it's taking that ownership piece, that's the culture. Culture is not what the CEO tells Wall street every quarter, for publicly traded company. It's what happens when people wake up on Monday morning and say, I'm going to give a little something extra to the business because my leader, he or she, goes above and beyond for me. [00:17:00] The company cares about me, I'm going to care about the customer and go above and beyond for them. That's culture.

Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and I think ... when you think ... customer experience, it's one of the things I was ... slipping my mind on for a second. But when you think about customer experience, it's not just the interactions with sales or support that kind of come in. It even goes in to like the design of how you develop and deploy, and I'm saying this from like a software perspective, but it could even be done from a hardware [00:17:30] or how you arch ... you know the word ... design something, like a building. And it's making it convenient to the customers cause you're thinking through the customers lens versus your own.

Simon T. Bailey: Oh, totally. And not only are you thinking through the customer lens, you realize that every employee is a customer too. So how do you start with creating a framework for employees to be successful? Because, if the employees are successful, based on experience, what's been designed for them, they then pass that on to the [00:18:00] customers and the customers drive repeat business and revenue.

Kyle Davis: That's something I'd like you to touch on. (laughs) Because I, and I feel horrible that I'm like driving this but one of the things that for me is just a big ... something that I respect from and organization that is really thought it out is they thought about the experience that the employee has at all times. And it is planned out to the Nth degree. Months, maybe [00:18:30] even years in advance. And there's this roadmap that you can just follow because it's been laid out and thought out.

Simon T. Bailey: Yes, yes. It's so funny you mentioned that. I was just interviewing an executive yesterday for a presentation that I have upcoming. And he told me they have a 90 day onboarding process that they take employees through. And in that 90 days, they also show them here's what we want you to learn. Here's what we want you to think about. But also we need for you to give us feedback [00:19:00] where you see your career going. And after 90 days it's not working out for either of them, that person can separate from the company with their dignity intact and it's all good. And it kind of reminds me of Zappos, you know-

Gail Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Simon T. Bailey: Who pays people $2000 to leave. (laughing)

Gail Davis: I love that. So what does a leader do, because I've seen this as an employee and I've probably bumped up against it myself, but for me [00:19:30] it's very easy to focus on the customer experience because they are the ones who pay the bills. But what do you do when you see that ... you know, you recognize that culture comes not only from the customer experience but also from the employee experience. And when you realize that maybe, you know, something needs attention or their not in alignment, how does a leader navigate cultural change?

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, so, the leader first of all, has to start with what's the vision. Where [00:20:00] are they trying to go, big picture? And then how do they connect that dot to what's important to the employee? So, engaging each employee to say, what is it that you want? Where do you see yourself going? How can I help you be successful? Because money is not everything. It's important, right, but there are some other intangibles that an employee wants. And I think a leader has to start with, what's in it for this person? What's their learning style? What is their appreciation [00:20:30] language? What do they value? And how do you personalize that experience for that employee to be the best that they can possibly be?

When employees know that they're not just a social security number in the HR payroll system, but the leader he or she gets them, understands them at the core and communicates to them accordingly. That person will run through a wall for that leader. Because they feel that they're not just a cog in a wheel. But that leader really knows them, starts knowing them.

Kyle Davis: [00:21:00] That's great. One of the things that I've noticed. And I've worked for a number of different organizations, but some of these organizations that I've worked for, having been really focused on sales because the investors have poured it in or the founders have really just focused on the sales bottom line, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They keep going back and they keep saying, you know, I hope you're motivated by money because we're going to make a lot of money. Money, money, money, money, money. And one of the things you just said is that money isn't everything. In really being [00:21:30] able to find that language that motivates people aside from money is huge because I think too often millennials, like myself, get the raw end of the deal when people just think that we're lazy or something else like that. The reality is that I'm not motivated by money, I'm motivated by my passion and helping people out and so, I'm just curious, and maybe it's lost (laughing) in translation between generations, but why is it that some people confuse one for the other?

Simon T. Bailey: Because [00:22:00] our world is so driven to be very bottom line. You know, what's the margins? What's the operating profit? And everything is about numbers and the balance sheet becomes more important than the human being that drives that process. So, I think we have to shift from human doings to human beings and really say, yes, the numbers are important. Yes, making money is important but I believe right now the shift on the planet is people want to make meaning [00:22:30] not just money. They want to have purpose not just power. And they truly want to have satisfaction not just status. In organizations that are able to shape that type of experience will increase their retention. They will increase productivity, and they will become one of those companies that people literally want to go and work for because they're telling a story of how you can make money but not lose yourself.

You know, I've made money over [00:23:00] the years and I've built a house but I lost the home, because I was so focused on giving everybody the best of me, but I gave everybody at home the rest of me. And at a point, no one wants the leftovers anymore. So, I think there has to be that very frank conversation of really saying what's important. And how do we build an organization that really connects with people, not just profit?

Kyle Davis: I think that is something that's [00:23:30] missed on like a lot of people. And one of the things that ... and I'm one of these like weird tangential people but I can follow multiple story lines through this, but one of the things that you just mentioned a few moments ago, was that designing the onboarding experience or designing the-

Gail Davis: I picked up on that.

Kyle Davis: Experience for your employees, then translates into the experience that your customers have. And so, it starts with having that purpose and that design and then really kind of bringing it back to giving the people much more than just money as a motivator but, you know, providing an outstanding [00:24:00] service or providing an opportunity ... to a pipeline of an alumni network or something else.

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, that's exactly what Disney did for me. I mean the first day at Disney University, you're engaged in the story of why did Walt show up to California in 1923 with $40.00 to his name. And all of a sudden, as you begin to understand the narrative of the story, then by the time you actually showed up in the location where you were supposed to work at Disney, you saw yourself as a part [00:24:30] of creating and keeping the story alive. Not just getting a paycheck. And it's because Disney literally took two to three days to embed the chip. To really really ensure that you got it and it lived in your heart. That you weren't just here, you know, just to say welcome to Disney. It really had to be in you.

Kyle Davis: All right, so, something that I'm going to do right now is, I'm actually going to hit pause on the recording, only because I'm realizing that we're about to run out of (laughing) space. [00:25:00] But when we come back, what I would like to talk about are your books. So if you can hold for just moment and then we'll be right back.

Gail Davis: So, will that- [crosstalk 00:25:08]

Kyle Davis: So, we're back now. Technical difficulties aside. (laughing) So, thank you for holding everybody. So, Simon I know that you've written a number of books. If you could just, and there's a lot of them, so if you could just briefly just tell people kind of overarching themes and what they can get out of them.

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, so Release your Brilliance, Shift your Brilliance and our new book, Releasing Leadership Brilliance is really, how do I find [00:25:30] it within myself to be the best that I possibly could be, personally and professionally? That's the overarching theme with those books and probably Release your Brilliance is more personal driven, Shift your Brilliance is more holistic as it relates to how do I fit into a team? And certainly how do I lead differently? And then Releasing Leadership Brilliance really pulls it all together to say, how do we think about you as a leader, your team, the community, your organization at large to really generate brilliant results. [00:26:00] And then, Brilliant Living, 31 Ways to Create an Awesome Life is kind of written in the spirit of micro learning, so for each day of the week for 31 days there's a two minute lesson that you can read with an application that you can implement immediately.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, one of the things that I really enjoyed ... from startups and I know that a lot of other companies are really starting to deploy this as well, but is this idea of micro learning like what did you learn [00:26:30] today? And from like a web developer or software developer standpoint it's, what did you do yesterday? What did you do today? What are the blockers? And like how did you learn and how did you overcome? And you know, that's how meetings are run first thing in the morning for stand ups. So, I like this idea of micro learning because it allows you to be on autodidact and really improve everything.

Simon T. Bailey: Yeah, and I call that proximity learning because you're learning on the fly just being in the proximity of hearing other questions from other folks and feedback.

Gail Davis: [00:27:00] I like that.

Kyle Davis: Very well. Yeah, proximity learning.

Gail Davis: It's a good one.

Kyle Davis: Yeah, I'll have to use that now.

Gail Davis: I have to tell you, Simon, I feel super inspired today. I've taken lots of notes and you know, sometimes the most obvious, simple concepts resonate the most. And I've just really enjoyed being reminded and grounded in your brilliant, yet simple philosophy. So, I have thoroughly enjoyed this and I'm inspired. And I made myself a note to re listen to it because there's some good stuff there. [00:27:30] I really, really have enjoyed it.

Simon T. Bailey: Oh, thank you, Gail. That is very kind. Thank you.

Kyle Davis: And next time you're in Dallas, please drop by the GDA speakers office so that way we can throw you in the "GDA podcast studio".

Simon T. Bailey: That's right. (laughs)

Kyle Davis: And we can get you in here to talk about some new findings or whatever is happening in the day.

Gail Davis: That's right.

Simon T. Bailey: Oh, [inaudible 00:27:51] that would be awesome.

Kyle Davis: Cool. Well, hey, if y'all are interested in booking Simon T. Bailey for your next event, you can do so by contacting GDA Speakers at 214-420-1999. [00:28:00] You can also visit gdaspeakers.com.

To read the transcript, get Simon's books and a whole bunch of other fun stuff, you can do so by going to gdapodcast.com where it will all be made available.

Gail Davis: Perfect. Thank you again, Simon, we really enjoyed it.

Kyle Davis: Yes, thank you.

Simon T. Bailey: Thank you [inaudible 00:28:29] day.

Kyle Davis: All right, you too. Bye bye.

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ep. 41 - Simon T. Bailey: Change Management, Leadership, and Customer Experience Expert, & Author by GDA Podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.