ep. 65 - AmyK Hutchens: Author & Business Strategist Focusing On Leadership, Innovation, & Culture


AmyK Hutchens is a former executive of a billion dollar global consumer products company and has been awarded the International Speaker of the Year by Vistage UK because she is a catalyst for producing sustainable solutions to a leader’s most pressing challenges. 

AmyK has served as Senior Executive Vice President, Operations for one of the largest sales and marketing firms in the U.S., was a chosen member of National Geographic's Educator Advisory Committee, and now serves as the Founder and Intelligence Activist of AmyK International, Inc., an executive development firm focused on leadership development, healthy team cultures, and innovative thinking. AmyK and her team travel the world helping senior executives lead and collaborate more effectively.


ep. 65 - AmyK Hutchens: Author & Business Strategist Focusing On Leadership, Innovation, & Culture

Gail Davis: Today's guest on GDA Podcast is Amy K. Hutchens, a former executive of a billion dollar global consumer products company and recently awarded the Vistage UK Speaker of the Year. AmyK is a catalyst for producing [00:01:00] sustainable solutions to a leader's most pressing challenges. More than 40,000 executives and 9 countries have benefited from her keen insight and intuitive understanding of the issues that leaders face. Welcome to GDA Podcast.

Kyle Davis: Hey Amy, how are you?

AmyK Hutchens: I am fantastic. How are you all?

Kyle Davis: Just out here surviving. Living the dream. One day at a time. Waking up at seven A.M., going to the Dallas Country Club in high heels.

Gail Davis: I thought [00:01:30] that it was interesting before we started to record, you were telling us that you used to be a teacher and you consider yourself a teacher today. Talk a little about that. I think that's a fun storyline.

AmyK Hutchens: I have loved learning. I have loved sharing information and having the light bulb go off for me and for others since I was a little kid. In fact, I even played with imaginary students when I was three and four years old. And at some point through elementary school my older brothers were like, "It's [00:02:00] not cool anymore, you got to stop playing school." I was like, "but I love it, so I'm going to do it for real." So yeah, I've been a teacher my whole life.

Gail Davis: That is awesome.

Kyle Davis: When you're teaching and everything else, I know there's a longer story to it and I think you were an elementary teacher before you kinda went into the business world. You know, what are you gaining that you gained then when you were in the classroom versus what you gain now when you're in the auditorium?

AmyK Hutchens: I think it's sorta the same thing. I think [00:02:30] that you're gaining that sort of ah-ha that love of discovery to make the life just either simpler or a better place. And for me really the only difference is the scale. I mean, it is so cool to work with kids. I loved the kids. Maybe the bureaucracy is what finally burned me out. But the kids were fantastic. What I love in business is that if you get a room full of leaders, whether its 50 or 5,000, your ripple effect is exponential for what it was in the classroom. And that's very exciting.

Kyle Davis: And what was the transition [00:03:00] for you from being an educator, like a formal you know air quotes educator, to going into the corporate world and doing what you do today? What was that catalyst for you?

AmyK Hutchens: Oh I don't think there's any difference Kyle. I think we're all five. No, it was big. It was one of those things where, for me it was just I could see that what I had learned in grad school ... so I'm a brain geek. I studied the brain. I was applying the brain in the classroom and then somebody said, "Oh, your methods are really [00:03:30] working. Would you train other teachers?" I was like, "Sure." So then you train other teachers and you see that all of a sudden all these classrooms are like humming at a level that they've never hummed before. And then you're like, "oh there's something to this." So then you go corporate. You convince this company that you can do it with their sales team. So you take these methodologies and all of a sudden sales start to skyrocket. And then you're like, "Oh, holy cow, there's something to this." So that, it just, the idea of seeing change that was tangible and measurable and fast was very exciting to [00:04:00] me.

Kyle Davis: You're talking about this like these simple solutions, these systems that you can kind of implement. But people are blind to it until you unveil it and show it to them. And so, without giving away the farm so to speak, what are people doing wrong and then what are some things that they can do right?

AmyK Hutchens: Well I think that one of the things that's really unexpected when I talk is the profound simplicity of what I'm sharing. And that's not an oxymoron. [00:04:30] It really is the idea that if I introduce something that trigger the way that you think and that's my background. My background is in critical thinking, behavioral cognitive science. And so, if I can change the way that you think, I can change your behavior. And if I can change the way you behave then we're going to get a much more profitable result.

And so I think that's one of the things that really surprises people, that I'll say, "Okay, how many of you have ever been in a boring meeting?" And like everybody raises their hand. And then I joke, "And how many of you have actually led that meeting?" And they will guiltily like [00:05:00] keep their hand up and they'll be like, "Yeah I got to admit some of my meetings are not so hot." And I'm like, "Okay." So then let's do one simple trick that will completely change the way that your people play. The way that they show up to that meeting and the way that you get a tangible outcome from that meeting. And its really, I'm not giving away the farm when I say this, because I have so much that I could share. But one of the coolest things to do is to never run a meeting without an agenda of questions. And it's so simple to think about, "oh my god why did [00:05:30] I not do this like 15 years ago." But it really changes the way people play.

So typically, bad human behaviors, like what are people doing wrong, they're sending an outlook invitation that we're going to talk Tuesday morning at 9 o'clock and I click accept, respond without comment. I've done nothing to prepare for this conversation next week. If the person who had invited me had simply said, "We're going to talk about how might we ... fill in the blank." How might we increase our sales twelve percent, how are we going to strategically [00:06:00] implement this, what is the operational efficiency we need to fix? Like how might we, how do we? Then my brain is automatically going to start to do what?

Kyle Davis: Think about the meeting.

AmyK Hutchens: Absolutely, before it even starts. Cause like most people walk in with a cold cup of coffee and you know some electronic device. They're five minutes late already and they haven't given any thought to what it is that we're talking about.

Kyle Davis: Uh huh.

AmyK Hutchens: And then the cool jujitsu trick. What I learned about twenty some years ago ...

Kyle Davis: Mental jujitsu.

AmyK Hutchens: Is I love it.

Kyle Davis: Yeah.

AmyK Hutchens: We jab.

Kyle Davis: It gets me jazzed [00:06:30] as well. Go ahead.

AmyK Hutchens: So it's advice that you, for instance, we're going to meet next week and I send you a big how might we. Let's just go with sales for second. How might we increase our sales by 12 percent? Or how do we ensure a 12 percent growth rate this year? Then I'll say to you, "All right Kyle and Gail, I want you to each send me back a question that you believe needs to be added to this agenda." Like we must ask and answer it. So when we sit down next and we've got, let's just say, four or five questions in front of us and we've all contributed to the agenda, [00:07:00] whose meeting is it?

Kyle Davis: Our meeting.

AmyK Hutchens: Yeah. And this is the kind of stuff that people are like, "Oh, holy cow, why am I not doing this already." Because it's just not shared. And that's what I love to do. And that, what we just talked about was like three minutes of what I do for an hour, ninety minutes, you know, four days. Because this stuff works.

Kyle Davis: You know, I've been in the meeting where it's the Monday morning sales meeting. Everybody's drinking their first cup of coffee and no one's bright eyed or bushy tailed and no one [00:07:30] really wants to be there. And it's just kinda, you're going through the paces and it's just like here's what my section or my team's doing. Okay. And then once the spotlights off of us, I'm phased out.

AmyK Hutchens: Yep.

Kyle Davis: And I'm already focused on something else. And I think its illuminating that you bring in that it's going to be a laser focused heres the questions and it's going to be collaborative because it doesn't really ... you see that a lot more, at least I have, in the start-ups [00:08:00] space. But it's inviting and allows you to be really engaged versus just kinda going through the motions like you do every Monday morning.

AmyK Hutchens: Yeah, and I think we get caught into the bad habit.

Kyle Davis: That was commentary.

AmyK Hutchens: No, I think you're spot on. I think we're aligned in our perspectives. So, one time I worked for a really large beauty consumer product company and I based in London and I show up in the office and it's my first week on the job. Friday morning rolls around and they're like, "Come to the whoopee meeting." I'm like, "The what?" And they're like, "Yeah, come to the whoopee. It's like every Friday we get together and we celebrate [00:08:30] everybody's successes." Well, they'd been doing it for so long that it wasn't the whoopee meeting it was the whoopee like, we've been here and we've done this, and nobody's engaged.

That was when I started to implement, in the business world, the rule of three-fourths. And the rule of three-fourths is that only one fourth of the meeting can be a download data dump. Cause there is critical data that we need to know. But three-fourths of the meeting should be problem solving. Three-fourths [00:09:00] of the meeting should be you and I figuring out how we play bigger, better, bolder tomorrow. So it's kinda like I'll look at a CEO and I'll say to him or her, "You've probably got some executive management team meeting and they either get together weekly, biweekly, or monthly. You've got your brightest and your highest paid brains in the room and you do what's called a download data dump. You waste all their time." And it's like you just said they check out. They're not engaged. And its like why would you do this? It's such a waste of resources.

Kyle Davis: Uh [00:09:30] huh. One of the big things that I'm a fan of that Google does is they send after-action or after-meeting report to everybody to say, "Was this meeting valuable?" And if it wasn't they don't do the meeting again.

AmyK Hutchens: Yeah.

Kyle Davis: It's simple.

Gail Davis: Simple. Simple. I love simple.

AmyK Hutchens: And again, I think it goes back to, if nobody walks out of a meeting with action items, if nobody can walk out answering that question, so what? Well then what was the purpose of the meeting? In other words, people will be like "Oh, [00:10:00] there was critical data that we needed to share." I'm like well, there's this thing called technology. But, again, if I'm sitting in a meeting and let's say there was critical data than either in that meeting we need to say so what, what are we doing with this. Does this effect strategy, finances, operations, culture? I mean what's the impact that we're going to play differently starting today or tomorrow? And if not a single person in that meeting or even half of the people in the meeting are walking out with nothing to do, they shouldn't have been there in the first place.

Kyle Davis: [00:10:30] That speaks to kinda a larger point. Do you see that sometimes when people leave meetings and they fail to have either action items or if the following meeting whether it be a week, two weeks, a month away, the fact that there's no circling back to hold people accountable, it's just then a waste, right? Is that kinda what you're seeing?

AmyK Hutchens: Well I think accountability it doesn't have to be a dirty word, it really doesn't. [crosstalk 00:10:55] and a lot of times we talk about it like it is and I think that one of the things that's really important is [00:11:00] that when we talk about businesses we need to talk about behaviors. Because behaviors drive business. And if you've got inconsistency, if you've got the, oh this meeting I'm going to follow up on and this meeting not. It's really no different than if you're working with a 13 year old or a 26 year old. People are very bright and they pick up on the fact that this doesn't really matter or nobody's going to follow up with me. And so, people push boundaries, they pick up bad habits. To me one of the coolest [00:11:30] things you can do is at the end of the meeting have closure. But have closure with questions. So what are we doing with this? What's our messaging? How are we following back?

And this sounds, again, like well this is basic stuff. You're right. It's not rocket science. It's neuroscience, but nobodies doing it. I shouldn't say nobody, there are some really outstanding, obviously successful companies but there are a lot of companies that miss some of this low-hanging awesome fruit.

Kyle Davis: Yeah one of the things that I was a huge fan of [00:12:00] at one of my companies and we implemented it here for a while, was basically having the Monday morning meeting, same agenda, same everything, but then you give an assignment of like, here's what you're going to talk about and then here's the Google Doc that you can work off of. And then having it be a collaborative Google Doc so that everybody have like their 15 minutes to laser focus in on something.

AmyK Hutchens: Yes.

Kyle Davis: So that way you actually came to the Monday morning meeting prepared not just looking at it for the first time. Going ohhh. And it's just like, I hate my time being wasted and I think that other people [00:12:30] do too. And I think it's far more efficient and it elicits more ideas.

AmyK Hutchens: Oh for sure.

Gail Davis: So, in addition to the topic of meetings, what are some of the big issues that you see leaders facing today?

AmyK Hutchens: I see leaders facing all kinds of stuff. I think that we've got a rapidly changing generational environment. So you see it a ton with the millennials trying to integrate traditionalist baby booms, x'ers, y's, millennials, that's [00:13:00] a really big issue. And I think that you've got a change pace that's probably faster than it's ever been since post Industrial Revolution time. I think you've got leaders that are really trying to figure out, how do we get, I speak about this a lot when we do our creativity and innovation think tanks. How do you get everybody to take ownership for problem solving? And in an across functional manner? So one of the things that you're noticing that's happening with millennials is they're not coming in saying, "Oh, I'm just a marketing expert" [00:13:30] anymore. They're coming in saying, "Well, I've got some marketing and I've got some economic and I got some of this and I got some of that." And they like participating and having their hands in a multitude of projects or a myriad of responsible areas.

I think that leaders today are having to get more fluid in saying, "oh well it's not just the accounting department or it's not just the marketing department. But we're going to put cross-functional teams together to drive our growth." And again, it's working, but you have to consciously choose to do that.

Kyle Davis: When you [00:14:00] talk about cultivating a culture of creativity and innovation, what's, and I always frame these as kind of a negative thing, but what's holding these individuals back? Or, more importantly, what are you showing and how are you reframing the way that they think when it comes to creativity, innovation, entrepreneurialism, if you want to use that?

Gail Davis: Yeah?

AmyK Hutchens: No, absolutely. So I think that there's two things that resonate [00:14:30] a lot when I speak on this topic. The first is especially with c-suite and senior level leaders. A lot of people inside the company think that creativity and innovation are the same thing. And they're not. So the very first thing that we talk about is that the behaviors and the critical thinking behind creativity are disparate from innovation. And you're going to have people that are better skilled at both. So creativity is that internal process, it happens neurologically, we break down the myths of brainstorming, we talk about what real ideation looks [00:15:00] like inside a company, we talk about associational thinking. Which by the way, after 25 years of research, it is like the one game changer.

When CEO's realize that everybody in an organization can problem solve and you need to have diversity of intellectual expertise. So not just diversity by generation and gender and culture, but truly the way that we've been trained to think. So the scientists and the artists are put together. So that is a big difference. Like understanding that and then looking at innovation [00:15:30] as your ability to test ideas and get those ideas to market very quickly. That again is a very different person. So one of the first things that I'll talk about with leaders is look, you might have somebody that's fantastic when you hand them a list, you give them a list they're a great solider. They're a great executer of ideas, but they never would have come up with that list in the first place. Then you're going to have somebody that's like, let's conquer the world, and you go make it happen. So they're going to be these big sky thinkers, but you have to know when to leverage both.

And then here's the one [00:16:00] thing that a lot of leaders kind of get this ah-ha when they sit in our think tank or our keynote is they'll say, "Then AmyK, creativity and innovation sounds a little bit chaotic," and I say, "it's just the opposite." If you want incredible creativity and innovation inside of your company, you need extraordinary finite discipline templates and culture. Creativity thrives in discipline. It's why Einstein gave his folks arbitrary deadlines. We need structure in order to be creative. And again, it sounds like the opposite, [00:16:30] but it works so well.

Kyle Davis: Mmmhhmm. I'm thinking of the, I wish I remember who the person was, but it's some guy at some company and he held the pursestrings and somebody would come up to him and say,"hey I need a million dollars to do this project." He goes, "I think that's a really good idea here's 10,000, make it work." And that holding back produced a better idea, produced a better buy in. We can get into educational theory, if you'd like, cause I'm sure that you would know this. It's like censorship in Russia [00:17:00] made way better Russian writers. Look at Tolstoy. You know, so like holding people back in a sense makes them better.

AmyK Hutchens: Well I think that it's really the discernment of what it is that you're after. Like what's the outcome? So you can certainly say, I could say, "Kyle, you're asking for a million, I'm going to give you 10." But I also need to know what is the thought behind my decision. Because I could also go into the marketing world and I could say, "Alright, you know, the classic marketing adage is that it can only [00:17:30] be fast, cheap, and creative. But you only get two out of the three." So it could be fast and cheap but not creative. Creative and cheap but not fast. Fast and creative but not cheap.

So it's kind of like, again, where am I deciding that this 10,000 dollars is the discipline, it is the structure I want to give you. And it might just be that, yeah, cash flow is really tight or let's just see what you can do with 10,000 and if you can really stretch that than I'll give you 100, but I want you to prove your thinking. I want you to prove your ability to problem [00:18:00] solve. So as long as a leader can substantiate without just being, oh I'm a whimsical jerk, then I'm very cool with that.

Kyle Davis: I'm wondering if you could expand on ... going back to when you talked about creativity and innovation, just some other words of the same variety popped into my head, which are implementation and execution.

AmyK Hutchens: Yeah.

Kyle Davis: From those four buzzwords or clichéd industry terms, what are the difference? Because, like you said, sometimes people just [00:18:30] kind of blur the lines but they're really distinctly different.

AmyK Hutchens: They are.

Kyle Davis: I'm curious if you could expand on that just a little more.

AmyK Hutchens: Yeah, so let's go with creativity for a second. Creativity is when you come up with some type of modified idea. So, that idea ... For instance if I take music, this is probably a good analogy. If I take music, you know at one point the older generation had a phonograph and then we went eight-track and then we went cassette. And all of that [00:19:00] is modified creativity. We were taking kind of the same concepts and we were revolutionizing them a little bit. But then all of a sudden when we had download, that was a completely different thing than a CD. That was a game-changer in the industry, to be able to download. And I think that there is the difference. That creativity is about playing with ideas, coming up with some type of concept. Innovating is about making that usable.

Innovation, the best way [00:19:30] for me to describe it is that it creates some kind of social or economic effect. So again, it's the, I can tell you that I'd love to come up with a product that going to make my garbage disposal smell better. My ability to create the chalk stick and actually throw it down my disposal, that's innovation. That's your ability to execute it. And so i always talk about, when we have divergent thinking, when you hear that phrase, divergent thinking, that's creativity. That's [00:20:00] like when someone sits in a room and goes, "birds, flowers, flowers, trees, plants." And we're just brainstorming. That innovation is your ability to spot the idea that's going to actually have a social or economical impact for the better.

Kyle Davis: And then, coming from there you mentioned, you know, what real ideation looks like.

AmyK Hutchens: Yes.

Kyle Davis: I kinda have an understanding based on the 20 minutes we've been talking now. What is real [00:20:30] ideation for people who don't know?

AmyK Hutchens: Real ideation is something called associational thinking. And associational thinking at a neurological level is when brain cells that are attached to concepts find each other for the first time. So, if I said to you in all seriousness, "How might a frog solve your problem?" You would go back and you would do associational thinking. So here's how it works, you pick some business objective in you're like, "okay, this cray-cray woman on the [00:21:00] phone said how would a frog solve my problem." Well, what are the characteristics of a frog? And you would brainstorm characteristics and then you would brainstorm their behaviors, their environments, the world that they live in, how they adapt, how they play. You'd come up with all these things.

But I'll give you an easy example. Frogs leap. So when Euro Disney failed, no offense to Disney because they're wildly successful, but we all make mistakes. We all have hiccups. When Euro Disney failed and they lost a ton of money they put their Imagineers in a room and they said, "How can we get more people through our [00:21:30] parks? Without one more ride, without one more show, how can we get people to like make us profitable again?" And then, one of the facilitators said, "And how can a frog solve our problem?" And from there, they came up with Leap which led to Fast Pass, which allowed people to leap in front of other customers. And not only did they not have to have a ride, not only did they not have to have a show, it became a revenue stream for them. That's associational thinking.

So tonight, you're going to go home and you're going to look at one [00:22:00] of your business objectives and you're going to set your brain up to say, all right how could a frog solve my problem? You're going to think of all of the characteristics of a frog and then you're going to go incubate. You're going to go off for two or three days and this is how the brain works, you're going to think about a frog, and then you're going to think about swamps. And then you're going to think about swamp people and the reality show. And then you're going to think about oh maybe we should go to Florida this summer for vacation. And all of a sudden your brain is spiraling and ideating. And 72 hours later you're going to be like, [00:22:30] "oh, you know what, we haven't tested this or we haven't thought about that." And it all started with today's conversation.

Kyle Davis: Thank you for that.

Gail Davis: I love that.

AmyK Hutchens: That was a very long-winded answer, but it's true.

Gail Davis: No, I loved it. [crosstalk 00:22:44] and that's really how the Passes, Fast Passes at Disney came about?

AmyK Hutchens: It is.

Gail Davis: Oh, that's amazing

AmyK Hutchens: And you know what's really cool about is is that one of the things that just drives me crazy is that a lot of us have been given the myth [00:23:00] of brainstorming. For instance, if I ask you a question and I'm like, "let's just come together and talk about this and we'll brain storm together." The three of us will get in a room and we'll quote unquote come up with all these ideas and well fill a piece of chart paper.

Kyle Davis: MMMhmmm.

AmyK Hutchens: That's one of the worst ways to brainstorm. And it's the one that we've all been taught over and over and over again. And the problem with that is group think. And we don't even realize that it's happening at a neurological level. So, Gail, let's just say for the sake of a example, you come up with something brilliant. Its brilliant idea. [00:23:30] And then Kyle looks at me and is like, "AmyK what do you think?" And I'm like, "Well, I kinda of like Gail's idea." And then Kyle's like, "No, no, no, no, no. I really wonder what you're thinking." What I don't even realize at a subconscious level is that every single idea that I generate is already influenced by what?

Kyle Davis: Gail's idea.

AmyK Hutchens: Gail's idea. So whether I even realize it or not, my brain has been manipulated. And so one of the best things to do to avoid this type of limited myopic group think is to make everyone [00:24:00] brainstorm, it sounds again like an oxymoron, independently first. Everybody brings their own ideas to the meeting and then from there you can do a round two, a round three, a round four, but you have to let people come independently first.

Kyle Davis: One, I love that you used group think. Two, I love that the word you used was myopic. That's my like two favorite things. But with that, you kind of see when you go into these meetings sometimes how, the [00:24:30] manager who's leading the meeting say an idea and it influences every other chain reaction idea.

AmyK Hutchens: Yes.

Kyle Davis: And people fall in line, the good solider. You know, whatever. And there's no fostering the contrarian view, the counter view, the different view, the weird view. It's just everything has to fall in line and that's how you end up with mistakes sometimes. AmyK Hutchens: Well I think it goes back to, again, to questions. But it also comes back to the culture of leadership inside of a company. And that is, if we've made everybody [00:25:00] comfortable with the idea that we are going to question the thinking, not who they are. You know, you're in the room because we respect your intelligence, we respect your values, your belief systems, but what we're going to do is we're going to challenge the quality of the problem solving.

So if I were going to come in and I share good idea, and Gail's facilitating it. She doesn't just say, "Oh, AmyK that's great." What she learns to do is say, "All right, that's a fantastic foundational idea. Now, what if we [00:25:30] couldn't do it?" Or what if we could expand on it or modify it? Or subtract something? Or what if we were limited in scope or scale? Or what if?" Or you can do the classic, if we were going to Eeyore this, like what would be the worst case scenario? What would be the unintended outcome? But notice what I'm doing, I'm not judging AmyK, I'm just putting guardrails around the quality of the problem solving.

And that's what leaders need to get comfortable doing. And they only get comfortable doing it when one, they have [00:26:00] a real skill set and they have real tools. And two, we've created a culture for our people to say, "oh, this isn't an attack on AmyK." the whole [inaudible 00:26:09] here is that I'm in the room for a reason. I'm respected the minute that I walk in the door, because I was hired for my brain. Now, this is the culture that we play in is to challenge the thinking and not each other.

Gail Davis: I love that. Challenge the thinking and not each other. Love it. I know in your Amazon best seller, it was about the secrets that leaders keep. [00:26:30] I'm curious, like what are some of the common secrets that leaders keep.

AmyK Hutchens: I will tell you one of my secrets.

Gail Davis: Okay.

AmyK Hutchens: Before I wrote this book, I wrote another book like you know, the ten steps to being an awesome brilliant leader, and I just thought it sucked. And so I think that when I realized very quickly is that there are a lot of books out there that are sort of the PowerPoint slide deck of how to be an awesome leader. What I realized and what was in my heart and I was passionate about is the stuff that makes our palms [00:27:00] sweat and our stomach turn at 3:00 in the morning. That's the stuff that I want to talk about. The secrets that we all are woken up at. That we're nervous about. That we're sweating over. And we think we're alone. And that was a phrase that, after doing this for 25 years, this phrase that it's lonely at the top. It's lonely at the top. No it's not and it doesn't have to be if you're willing to be slightly vulnerable and build this incredible team of authentic support, not sycophants. But to realize that, you know, we've [00:27:30] all got these quote unquote secrets and most of them we have in common.

And so this book is 14 of them. Seven men, seven women. Although they're equally weighted by gender, but I will tell you that one of the most common ones that I see, especially in emerging leaders and high potential leaders and entrepreneurs, is the comparison condition. And the comparison condition is that I am constantly looking at you and trying to get on your path instead of focusing on my [00:28:00] own. And it actually slows leaders down. And so, it's like if I look at Kyle and I say, "Oh my God, Kyle, you're amazing and you've won awards. And you're doing all of this at 30. And I'm 35." And we're role playing because I'm a lot older than that. But if I'm comparing myself ...

Kyle Davis: And I'm 29.

AmyK Hutchens: Oh, okay, you're 29. Okay. So if I look at you and I'm like, "oh my god, why am I not there?" And I'm actually 45 and I'm happy to admit that. So, like why am I not as successful as Kyle and he's so much younger than I am. And all of a sudden what happens is I give all this [00:28:30] energy and all this time and all these resources on comparing myself to you instead of just staying focused for my own growth. My own development. And I will give you a real world example of this that a lot of people didn't notice. Do you remember in the summer Olympics last summer when Ryan Lochte was all in the news for his ridiculous behavior?

Kyle Davis: Yes.

Gail Davis: Yes.

AmyK Hutchens: Okay, so everybody remembers that story. The lying, the ridiculousness, the robbery. What never got [00:29:00] talked about was the comparison condition. If you go back and watch the footage, every single time Ryan swam in an event his head would come up above the water, he would look at lanes next to him to see where the swimmers were and it slowed him down. Every single time. If he had just done what Phelps had done which is stay focused, never look at anybody else, swim your heart out, stay in your lane, so to speak, do what you're supposed to do, [00:29:30] you might actually win.

Kyle Davis: I like the phrase, stay in your own lane, but you know there is pitfalls to that as well. Which kind of segways into something you said earlier. Which is how do you create a culture that's conducive to growth and ideation and all these positive things that we've talked about versus you know the sycophants and the yes sirs and ...

AmyK Hutchens: Okay.

Kyle Davis: And the yes ma'am's and all of that? For people who don't [00:30:00] know, what's a sycophant? Cause I love that word.

AmyK Hutchens: It's somebody who sucks up to the leader and tells them everything they want to hear. So rather than being the challenger, and it doesn't matter if it's politically, economically, business, it doesn't matter. What you don't want is your right hand man or woman to be that yes person. To be like, "Oh Kyle, you're amazing. Oh Kyle, you're brilliant. Oh Kyle" No. What you want ist that person who says, "Actually Kyle you're brilliant but this idea, yeah, not so great." So you need that.

And I think that if I go back, here's how I balance [00:30:30] it. I think it's really important to know what your competitors are doing. I think it's perfectly important to know what swimmers are doing in your other lanes. But not in the heat of the race. And so what I talk about is when it's really crunch time you need to stay focused. You need to do your job, you need to complete your job, you need to knock it out of the park. Afterward, once the race is done, that's the perfect time to look at tapes of other swimmers, to go back and look at what your competition is doing, to look at your own technique, to admit where you could be better, to close those [00:31:00] gap in your own skills. But not in the heat of the moment.

And I think that, that's what I'm trying to tell entrepreneurs and business leaders. Is it's not about being myopic again. You definitely want to know what's going on in the world, but there's a very specific time and place for you to sit back to ask those questions to reflect and evaluate and predict your own performance.

Kyle Davis: When ... transitioning into like the other ... I'm looking at your keynote list here of speeches that you deliver. We've talked about creativity, we've talked about [00:31:30] leadership and I mean we've grazed against sales. But my question for you actually has to do with how do you ignite the brilliance in someone's story or your story? You know, one of the themes that we've been talking about the last couple of days with other people on the podcast is how do we tell stories and how do we make something more impactful? And I just wanted to get your insight on that.

AmyK Hutchens: Yeah, there's two different ways that we deliver the story speech. One is a personal leadership legacy [00:32:00] side. As in, what's the story in your head? And whether that's a true story that's positive and that's working for you or if it's a limiting belief. And the idea is a lot of leaders have the fear of I'm not good enough or I don't have enough and you can fill in the blank. Like, I'm not smart enough I don't have enough math skills, I don't have enough network, I don't have enough money. And those fears, that story they're not enough prevents them from being successful or taking risks. And it slows down. And so, we do a whole keynote about helping leaders to craft those [00:32:30] internal stories that allow them to expand their potential. And it's a really deep dive and I'm kind of a giving it like a 50,000 foot gloss over. But that is the ...

Kyle Davis: Not even a 30,000, a 50,000.

AmyK Hutchens: Yeah, no, I'm staying high level, because in that keynote, and this is really fun, we go so deep about where your stories come from. What seeds were planted early on. And then how you undo those limiting beliefs and rewrite your stories. And we have this fabulous tool and it's a five phase process that [00:33:00] we teach in the story keynote to undo the stories that aren't working for you. And I will tell you, in a good way, I have seen grown men cry. And in a really good way, I've had people coming up and saying, "You know, everybody for years has been telling me to change my attitude or to change my perspective, and finally I know how." And that makes me feel really good.

The other thing about story is when we teach a public speaking or a communications version of that, we do tell people how to crack that good story. Whether it's for a Ted Talk or a presentation to your shareholders [00:33:30] or inside to your internal employees. How do you get in the facts? How do you shape the form of that story? How do you touch on feelings? How do you create a vision for a better future that engages people from the very first sentence.

Kyle Davis: I think that's ... I think having the ability to understand what your story is, with everything that you're talking about it's kinda giving people, what's the word, phrase, it's like permission something ...

AmyK Hutchens: Yes.

Kyle Davis: You know what I'm talking about. It's like [00:34:00] a psychology term. Gosh. Whatever. To give them the permission to say it's okay to have someone question my ideas and it's okay to change the stories in my head to become kind of vulnerable to new ideas. And not be so shortsighted. So I think that's kind of all brilliant.

AmyK Hutchens: Well, we're wrapped up in it.

Kyle Davis: Yeah.

AmyK Hutchens: I mean that's the thing. That our stories are our identity. And when you go to change a story part of the pushback that you'll get from family members, when you change a family story, is that you're asking them to then change their story. And that's very [00:34:30] difficult. So it's kind of a great quick example is, you know, let's suppose that you were the overweight kid your whole life. And you were the class clown but you were also just kinda like, "Oh, he's the one that always has a Twinkie in his hand." And then you go and you get healthy and you get fit. And you start to eat apples instead of junk food. When you come back everybody else in the family has to change their story too. And that's why you often get people who are trying to hold you back or prevent you from [00:35:00] crafting a new identity. It's cause it forces them to change their own. And that can create a very high level of discomfort for others.

Including inside businesses. And so we even talk about that. If you've got a management team or you've got a culture and you go to start to change that story you're going to have to get very comfortable with helping people adapt and changing their own.

Kyle Davis: Yeah I mean, it's changing the story. It's changing the meeting agenda and making people work for the first time in a meeting. You know, it's all these little things that's just getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. And that's where people [00:35:30] really should be.

AmyK Hutchens: Yes, that's a great way to put it.

Kyle Davis: You can pay me for that. Okay cool. Well hey look, if you want a book AmyK Hutchens for your next event you can do so by contacting GDA Speakers at 214-420-1999 or by going to gdaspeakers.com. For transcript, the book, and all things cool AmyK you can go to gdapodcast.com. It's [00:36:00] available on iTunes, Stitcher, and all the other fun podcast platforms and download and all that other good stuff.

Gail Davis: All that other good stuff. AmyK, it was great having you. Thank you for all your fun insight. It was very entertaining and interesting and lots of good things to think about.

AmyK Hutchens: Yay! Thank you for having me.

Kyle Davis: Well, thank you.