Episode 5: Gregg Brown

“We all like our stories, and I think one of the things that I tell people, because I coach a lot of entrepreneurs than I used to coach people with career stuff years ago, is that it’s all about being open to the unexpected signposts that come up in your life that say, “Take this direction instead of this direction.” It’s that risk-taking, right?”

Tracie Edwards:

Hello everyone, and welcome to Traceability. I am your host, Tracie Edwards. And today, I am so excited to have Gregg Brown with us. Gregg is a change leader, an internationally known speaker and presenter. He is also the author of the book, Ready… Set… Change. So I’m very excited to be able to connect with you today. Gregg, thank you for being here.

Gregg Brown :

Thank you, Tracie. I was just thinking that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. We were saying it was Chicago, I think last time-

Tracie Edwards:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gregg Brown :

… it’s good to be with you today and with everybody listening.

Tracie Edwards:

Yes, for sure. So how we typically start here is they ask you to go back to the beginning in how did you get your professional start and go from there?

Gregg Brown :

Well, how I got my professional start was I was 10 years old and I sat down my sister and their friends at a chalkboard and I was teaching the math or something. And I thought, “I really want to be a teacher.” And I really enjoyed teaching and as I went through school, I realized I didn’t… I’d worked with kids during the summer and I realized I didn’t want to be with kids nine months a year. So I started to look at teaching adults in adult education. And eventually you’re out of school, I landed at Starbucks in British Columbia back in the late eighties. So I’m dating myself here. And I was part of the team that opened the first wave in Canada, which was really exciting. And I got to go into stores and train people and do that stuff. And I realized that I loved training people and I loved seeing those light bulbs come on and Starbucks back then we were creating waves of change, because no one went to coffee shops, there were Dunkin’ Donuts or some donut shops that people went to, Mr. Coffee or whatever they were.

And so that really got my interest in presenting and training and change management. And then from there, I ended up working in healthcare and working with individuals who are actually living on the street and who were going through the cycle of homelessness, through to prison, a lot of them, and the whole concept of behavior change and how do we work with people in the space that they are in to shift behaviors. So that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re working with people on the street to make them clean and sober so that would be nice, but it’s really about given the context of where they’re at, how can we help them the best that they can? And doesn’t that just translate well to the world of work because one of the principles of change management is start where people are at.

So that groundwork of working with people on the street, working in healthcare, working at Starbucks, led me into working on projects and initiatives, and leading people down the path of change, whether it was your leadership development work, whether it was large-scale IT implementations. Regardless of what it was, it was the same principles. Meet people where they are and get them down the path. And that’s how it all started. And here I am, 30 years later.

Tracie Edwards:

I find that very interesting, especially starting with Starbucks in the early days, and you really got sort of a baptism by fire into startup culture and startups are very much change-driven and unafraid of being change-driven, unafraid of sort of that instability that change can bring.

Gregg Brown :

And being different. And the trick is we’re talking about careers. People will often say to me, “I need to conform to this or do this.” And yes, there’s [inaudible 00:03:56] conformity that you need to have, however people hire you because of who you are, not who someone else’s, right? And in my world as a speaker now, if I had to learn that I’m still learning this, that the more I bring my true self to the table, the more effective I am.

Tracie Edwards:

I love that. And I absolutely agree, especially as I’ve gotten older, I think when I was younger, I was sort of more insecure and unsure of myself in how I was to behave and in the different ways in my career. And I think sometimes that sort of kept me from moving forward a little bit and exploring new things. And I love how you sort of segued change management into sort of that personal transformation that can often be quite scary for us.

Gregg Brown :

Well, it is. And I’ve led a lot of large-scale change and then small ones, just like every BA has, every project manager has, every vice president has, everybody, your whole world of work is based on change. And especially now going through a pandemic. And I think what I really realized was the pieces that excited me were not the frameworks, the plans, the theories… No, those are all important, don’t get me wrong. You need to have that knowledge, to have that understanding, you need to have the academic background or some training or whatever it is that you need. You can’t just make it up. But what really fired me up was that I learned early on through baptism by fire that I could do the best change management plan or framework in the planet, and if I couldn’t lead the people, whether they reported to me or not, most of us are mostly influencing, right? If I couldn’t lead, whether it was the CEO or the customers or the team I was working with, or people on the street, whoever, lead them down that path of change, I was not effective.

Tracie Edwards:

So, what do you think it is that sort of, from a leadership perspective eventually is the thing that makes it click for people where they are willing to sort of brave the change?

Gregg Brown :

Right. So I think a couple of things. I think first thing that most of us forget as leaders, and I believe everybody here that’s listening is a leader, or you wouldn’t be listening to this because leadership is not about a job title, it’s about growing in who we are. I’ve worked with frontline admin professionals who I would say are better leaders than some CEOs I’ve worked with over the years. It’s not about your job title. So I just have to put that out there. That’s my belief. What I think is, as leaders, we forget that the change happens in the mind of the other person and it’s not about us. Yes, we have our mandate, but really it’s all about them. So we need to meet them where they are.

And the piece around that that makes it click, I think and again, it’s from a leadership perspective, we think we need to have all the answers. And yet what we know is we don’t. To move people down that path of change, sometimes you just need to listen and acknowledge their issues and get them out. An example that comes to mind is we’re moving our offices from north of the city where I lived to downtown. It was going to create an extra commute of an hour and a half for some team members. There was nothing we could do to change the process, but I had to open every meeting with a 15 minute, “Let’s get the crap on the table.” We can’t change any of that, but let’s just talk about it, because when you feel that people are aligned with you, especially in a crisis like what we’re going through now, when you feel that people are in alignment with you, meaning they understand you, they hear you, they can disagree with you, but you’re still more likely to engage with them if you have that alignment.

And what I’ve seen that’s successful over the years is you have to be able to agree to disagree. And in the last number of years, we’ve seen that deteriorate on, I would say in various countries around the world politically, where it’s not okay to disagree, we have to get into name-calling and crap like that. And that’s not okay and it’s not okay at work because it won’t engage us in moving down the path. We’re all individuals, we all have our own beliefs. Sometimes you’re going to agree with me, sometimes you’re not, and let’s try to work together. And I think that that’s the key part.

Tracie Edwards:

The thing with division and disunity is there really are no winners-

Gregg Brown :

There is not.

Tracie Edwards:

… in that scenario. And so the only way for anyone to win is to agree to disagree and agree to continue having the conversations. And so, I’m completely with you there.

Gregg Brown :

And I think the thing is we think when we’re leading down the path of change, it’s about winning and it’s not about that. You can’t win in change management any more than you can win in a relationship at home. You can imagine if you went home every day and said, “I’m going to win over my spouse or partner or whoever I live with and get them to do things my way.” What’s going to happen is, if you do that every day, and for those of you that are listening and don’t believe me, try it. You won’t be in a relationship very long if you do that, so don’t do that. But if you go home and try to win over someone every day, you won’t be in the relationship that long.

However, if you go home and try to seek agreement, and that is to me, it’s the seeking agreement that is the core of moving people down that path. It’s like, “We need to come to agreement somehow.” It doesn’t mean consensus. It doesn’t mean that you agree with everything I’m doing, but it can be agree to disagree, but agreement means we’re coming together. And regardless of what’s going on in the context of this, we are going to move forward as a team, even if you hate it. And then you might make a decision that this isn’t for you anymore, and you might say, “Bye-bye.” And that’s fine. We all have to make those decisions. But the reality is if you’re working for an organization, you’re there for the common good, not for your personal agenda, you’re there for your professional agenda but not your personal.

Tracie Edwards:

Right. Right. So maybe speak about to the times that we’re currently living in. So as I’ve sort of been going through this last several months, I’ve just really sort of had the feeling that this is the time to really take risk.

Gregg Brown :

Absolutely,.

Tracie Edwards:

There are some that would probably disagree that this is the time to maybe seek more stability and such. And so, maybe speak to taking risk and taking the right risks in a time of uncertainty?

Gregg Brown :

For sure. So I think there’s been… Risk, I love risk management. Number one, because I have a project management background, so I love talking about risk. During these times, to me, it’s about taking calculated risks. And if you refuse to step out of your comfort zone to try new things or do things in a different way or change how you do your business or a change… If you’re a retail business and you’ve had to if you’ve been in lockdown and we here in Canada, we have lockdown. You have to learn how to do online sales and you’re going to go bankrupt if you don’t learn how to do that. So, that’s a risk. So we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone to be able to tiptoe out and try new things.

The example I give about calculated risks is very much tied to this Indiana Jones movie, I remember years ago. And if you remember the scene, it was one of them I watched when I was young. He’s trying to get to the Holy Grail. There’s a big cavern with a big sort of depth in the middle of it. He’s done all this calculating. He’s worked out the logic, he’s worked all of that stuff out and it’s a calculated risk, right? So it’s not like, “I’m just going to walk out into the cavern and just see if I drop.” He’s like, “If I’m supposed to do this, I’ll put my foot out.”

So he puts his foot out and then the pathway appears and he can walk across to get the Holy Grail. And that’s what I mean by calculated risk. He didn’t just run into the cavern and go, “Oh, I’m just going to step into this chasm and hope something comes up.” It was like he had to do all of that work to get there. And I think that during these times, I have been leading a lot of sessions on how to lead through a crisis right now, because crisis are change management. It’s all change management.

Tracie Edwards:

Right. Right.

Gregg Brown :

And the three pieces that are really showing up for leaders that I see that are successful are the ability to have that cognitive flexibility, meaning to get out of that black and white thinking and play in the gray area and look for alternatives and look for options. Things that BAs I find are really good at [inaudible 00:00:13:14]. The second piece that we look at is what I would maybe call your attitudinal flexibility. Meaning you have to be flexible with your attitude, you want to be optimistic yet realistic. And then the third is the ability to have that emotional flexibility. Being willing during change, especially a crisis, like what we’re going through. As a leader, you want to be able to just feel comfortable to share what’s going on with you emotionally with your team and vice versa, because during these times, you’ve seen this intersection of house and home and work like you’ve never seen before.

I’ve always worked… Well, I haven’t always worked at home. That’s not true. I’ve worked at home mostly for the last five years. And then before that, I worked part time at home and there’s this much more intersection now of personal, professional because of the pandemic. And I think we’ve all been cultured, don’t bring your personal life to work, keep it out of work, all this crap. And maybe that was true 20 years ago, but it’s not true anymore. I do [inaudible 00:14:20] online and gee, I’ve met people from NATO and IMF and World Bank and the UN and UNAIDS and big organizations online, and my cat will come… He’s a big [inaudible 00:14:33] Siberian will come for a [inaudible 00:14:36] and you see this big tail. I’m just like… And if people don’t like it and think that’s unprofessional, screw them, I don’t care. It’s the way the world is today.

Tracie Edwards:

Yeah, it is. I have a big Manx, so you don’t see the tail, but you definitely hear the spoiled , for sure.

Gregg Brown :

[crosstalk 00:14:58], right? So I think leaders and everyone listening, like I said, I think as a leader, you wouldn’t be on this podcast. When we hold back how things are affecting us, especially this crisis, it suppresses it. It comes out in other ways. So we want to be able to feel free to share with our team, “I’m not sure how this is going to go either.” When you do that, you build that bridge of alignment and you build that bridge of trust.

I’m not saying walk around and tell everybody what a loser you are. That’s not what I’m saying. Like, you don’t start [inaudible 00:15:34] like, “Oh, I’m nervous about this.” Or, “I hate this.” That’s not what I’m saying. But if it’s appropriate and it’s important and there’s an intention around this is going to build a bridge with my team. They need to know that I’m in this with them. Because the difference is with these times, we’re all leading alongside our teams. We’re not behind like a bulldozer, like at other times we’re trying to push people forward. And BAs are in that role, [inaudible 00:15:58] like get everybody aligned, push them forward. They’re not at the front pulling people along to this vision. We’re all leading alongside, we’re all in this together. I don’t care if you’re the CEO or a frontline receptionist. We’re all in the same boat.

Tracie Edwards:

Absolutely. So going back to sort of some of the personal change in your career. So, you were with Starbucks and doing some training and then you moved into a social healthcare-

Gregg Brown :

Yeah.

Tracie Edwards:

… kind of space. How did you go from there to, “Okay, now I’m going to consult and I’m going to do my own thing?”

Gregg Brown :

So, it’s a really neat story. And I think… Well, I think it’s neat because it’s my story. We all like our stories, and I think one of the things that I tell people, because I coach a lot of entrepreneurs than I used to coach people with career stuff years ago, is that it’s all about being open to the unexpected signposts that come up in your life that say, “Take this direction instead of this direction.” It’s that risk-taking, right? So what happened to me when I left Starbucks, I went to work at a ski resort, as head in food and beverage. That lasted six months. I knew it wasn’t going to work, so I knew they were going to fire me or I was going to quit. So they just decided not to renew my contract. I hated being there and they hated me. It just was not [inaudible 00:17:16].

And I went to live with friends in Richmond, British Columbia, back and this is 1992 or 1993. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And I read an article in a newspaper. I was just like, “What am I going to do? I want to help. I need to work, but I don’t like what I’m doing.” And I read an article in a newspaper about inmates being denied access to healthcare. I didn’t know any prisoners in my life. I didn’t know any crooks that I knew of. I didn’t know people in jail or anything, but I read that and I’m Canadian, right? So in Canada, we all get access to healthcare. It’s not something you pay, I don’t know how much you’d have to pay, 35 bucks a month or something, or it’s taken into your taxes, but we all get free healthcare.

And I couldn’t believe these inmates were being denied some… It was specific access to some type of care. And I couldn’t remember. But I lost it, like this is… I was this naive young 24-year-old. And I was like, “Oh, this is stupid. I can’t believe people can’t get healthcare.” So I wrote an article… I wrote a letter to the guy who wrote the article, because there’s was no email back then. And I said, “I need to get involved.” So I started volunteering, going into jails and visiting with the inmates and teaching them some social skills and stuff. And then eventually I had a job doing that part time and then it just sort of exploded from there. I started to present at conferences, I’m working with inmates and then it just sort of transitioned after a period of time as [inaudible 00:18:44].

And then I started to work the transition, then was into more healthcare even though that was healthcare working with people on the street and jail. And then I went to hospitals and then nursing associations, but it was all in a training, educational presentation capacity. And people say, “Well, that’s such a change in career, working with crux and prisoners at the front line, to teaching nurses educational techniques. I’m like, “Not at all. They’re people and they’re learning.” The thread that is through my career, whether it’s presenting at BA World and Project Summit Business Analyst World, or whether it’s doing a presentation to a bunch of criminals, it’s all the same. Trying to meet people where they are, give them some ideas, tips, and techniques that they can use to make their lives better. So that’s why I did that. And I just sort of stayed open.

Tracie Edwards:

Well, and I think that’s what we have to do. I think there are times in our lives when opportunities sort of present themselves to us and we can either stay where we are because it makes us a little nervous or we can just sort of jump right in to it.

Gregg Brown :

That calculated risk, right? So I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, I coach them for free. Just it’s a freebie thing I like to do to help other people. And one of the things I say to people, “You still have to pay your rent. So don’t quit your job and start a business. Look at what the transition’s going to be.” And so it is about a calculated risk and it’s about, career-wise, not talking yourself out of something before you do it. I’ve worked with so many people over the years. So like, “Oh my gosh, this really good job came up. Oh, but I don’t have this qualification. Oh, but I’m not sure if I’m really going to, like it.” They’re talking themselves out of it, they haven’t even sent the resume in. And I’m like, “You know what? You can explore an idea without committing to it. So why don’t you just submit the resume? If they offer you the job, you can always say no. You don’t have to say yes.” So it allows people to step into the possibility, because self-limiting beliefs are the biggest barrier to change.

Tracie Edwards:

Absolutely. And something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is I need to look at it more like, “Well, what’s the good that can come out of it?” So instead of, “Oh, this makes me nervous.” Think about, “Well, there could be these really good things that happen, and so it could give me all these other types of opportunities.”

Gregg Brown :

I love that, and I think in a way that might suggest just to reframe nervousness. I used to teach a lot of presentation skills and I’m teaching virtual presentation skills, is people getting up to speak in front of groups, I think it’s like the number one fear is speaking in front of groups, like, “I’m really nervous.” And I say to people, “Why don’t we just take that and switch that nervousness to excitement?” Because it’s not… The feeling that you have is your feeling. It’s like, ” [inaudible 00:21:58].” It’s your interpretation of that feeling that determines how you’re going to respond. So if I just say, “Let’s just switch that nervousness and maybe just put it up to excitement.” Because I still get a little nervous. I’m going to speak to 1,000 people. Yeah, I’m like, “[inaudible 00:22:14].” But I don’t, I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m so excited.”

So it’s just a mindset shift because what we know and this is change and behavior change and change management, change leadership, everything, it all starts with your mindset. And mindset is not a woo-woo term, it’s a collection of neurons in your prefrontal cortex that determine how you’re going to problem-solve and decision-make throughout the day. So, let’s program our little brains to work for us and not against us.

Tracie Edwards:

Love that. Love that. So I think a lot, especially in our profession, I think that there’s times when folks just sort of… They’re in a spot and they don’t know what the next thing is-

Gregg Brown :

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tracie Edwards:

… and they know they want some type of change, but they don’t know what that change might be or what direction to sort of go in to discover that change. So are there some tips you would give to folks?

Gregg Brown :

Yeah. First tip would be to watch what language are you using. So when we say, and this is all mindset, neuroscience stuff, so people can Google that if they don’t believe me. I’m not going to go into it on our call, just because we don’t have time for the whole neuro stuff behind it, but Google it, mindset stuff. So first thing to do is if you keep saying to yourself over and over, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do.” You’re going to continue to not know what to do. So I suggest to people shift your language just a bit. “I’m figuring out what I’m going to do.” Because you are in process of figuring it out. So as soon as you start to say, “I’m figuring out what I’m going to do.” You might be at the beginning of that, but as soon as you do that, you’re programming your brain to start to notice areas that are going to help you fulfill that.

Part of your brain, it’s different than your mindset. It’s what we call your Reticular Activating System or your RAS, which is a collection of neurons in your brain stem. And it regulates a bunch of things like your sleep and adrenaline and cortisol. But the great thing that it does is it’s your filter, it’s your brain filter. It’s the search results of your brain. And it tells you what to pay attention to. So it’s like if you’ve ever bought a new car, you buy a new red Ford Taurus. I don’t even know if they make those anymore, but a new red Ford Taurus or a new Toyota or a new automobile or Buick. And then you’re like, “Oh my gosh, everybody else has a Buick.” Or if you’ve ever been pregnant, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, everybody else is pregnant.” Or when I was in university writing papers, as soon as I had my topic, I’d be like, “Oh my gosh, there’s some article in the newspaper here. There’s something here.”

So you can trigger your brain to pay attention and notice things, because you don’t notice everything. It’s like if I said to people here and people that are listening, try this. Draw the home screen of your mobile phone with all the apps where they go. And so people try that. I can tell you, not anybody can do that. There’s nobody that, I’ve ever worked with thousands of people, nobody… I can’t draw my home screen with all my apps where they go. I might get one right. Now, you look at the home screen of your phone thousands of times a day, they say. Sometimes thousands, that may be too much. Maybe hundreds of times a day, I think can see thousands. You’re constantly looking at the time and you see it, but you don’t see it. But your brain is not triggered to pay attention to where the apps are. But if I said to you, Tracie, every time you look at your phone for the next hour, I want you to notice where all the apps are. You could draw that perfectly, [inaudible 00:25:49].

So we want to trigger our brains to pay attention to things. And we don’t do that by saying, “I don’t know how to do this.” Or, “I don’t know what my purpose is.” Or, “I don’t know how to…” You say, “I’m in the process of figuring it out, I’m going to figure out what my purpose is.” I tell people when they’re looking for jobs, you don’t say, “I’m unemployed. I’m looking for a job. I’m looking for a piece of work.”

Tracie Edwards:

True.

Gregg Brown :

You see, it’s a different in conversation. It triggers your brain to pay attention to things that are in your sphere, because they say we only pay attention to about 10% of what we see. There’s some stat around that, somewhere and it’s true. If everybody on the call, I said, “Look around your room now where you’re listening and find something red.” Everybody could probably do it. Because I’m triggering you to pay that. And as change leaders, our job, just to bring this to change, to trigger people to pay attention to the things we want them to. And it’s all brain science, it’s all brain science. So that answer your question. It’s been a long way around, but it always starts with change your language, because the language that you use shifts the thoughts that you think, which shifts the actions that you do in the world around you, and you want to pay attention to things that are going to fulfill your career.

Tracie Edwards:

Well, and I think it puts us in a more optimistic state, whereas the other sort of leaves us in a bit of a downer kind of state.

Gregg Brown :

Well, yeah. And it is all about, when you’re in a downer state, your brain is paying attention to being a downer, not being an upper. And I’m human, there’s times I catch myself. I’m like, “I don’t know what to do.” Or, I’m like, “Okay, stop Gregg.” “I’m figuring out what to do. I am figuring it out. I get step one, I don’t know what any of the steps are, but I am in the process of figuring it out.”

Tracie Edwards:

Love it. So what are some of the things you have had to figure out this last several months to sort of pivot or adjust? I assume you were used to traveling all the time-

Gregg Brown :

Yeah.

Tracie Edwards:

… and that has very much changed for you. So maybe talk about what some of that has looked like for you?

Gregg Brown :

Yeah. This has been the longest time. I thought it was originally 2004, the longest time since I’ve been on a plane. The longest there it’s actually 1993, is the longest time I haven’t been on a plane, nine months, because I’ve always gone to vacations, every four or five months, back. Even when I was young, I did that. Cheap vacations, but vacations and you already traveled for work or whatever. It’s since 1993, if you can imagine, like, I’d go to conferences. Yeah. So it’s 27 years. So my biggest adjustments were… My calendar cleared like the middle of March, like everybody who does my work did, and I was fortunate in that I had a number of clients that I redid virtual sessions for and said, “Can you do something on leadership habits for remote teams? And can you do something on leading in change and dealing with this?” I’m like, “Okay.”

So I cobbled some stuff together. And then that I had a record April, which was great. And then things start to normalize after about three months. And yeah, I had a good year and it’s really about… I had to shift my perspective. My office isn’t my office anymore. It’s a studio. It used to be all fancy design with pictures on the wall and nice [inaudible 00:00:29:14]. Now everything’s movable. I have lights, I have cameras. I have a cat that visits once in a while. I can’t shut the door, [inaudible 00:29:25] we’ll all hear him. So, I think what I have to do, I went through what everybody else went through, right? So there’s that… We all went through these two weeks and I speak here in Canada about paralysis and like, “Oh my God, what’s happening? Are we all going to die?” Remember everybody’s running to buy toilet paper. And I know they did that in the US too. It was crazy.

I’m like, “Diarrhea is not a symptom of this [inaudible 00:29:50].” And I was [inaudible 00:29:53] like anyway, so I already keep a good stash of toilet papers. So I didn’t do that. But we stocked up on meat. We did weird things. So I think that’s normal. So first off, when you go through change, there’s always that piece of the beginning where you’re like, ” Ugh.” But eventually we have to adapt to it. And I think we all figured out different ways. For me, what it involved was not watching the news first thing in the morning. Not being glued to the news. I tell people that constantly turn off the news. Don’t let the news in until you’re ready to let it in. So you’ve got your brain and your mindset set for the day, then let it in. If you leave CNN on all day long or Fox or whatever you listen to in the US or in Canada, CTV or any of the others, you’re not going to have a good day, because all stuff you don’t have control over.

We want to focus on what we have control over. We have control on how we show up at work, how we engage with others. I don’t have control over what people are doing, traveling during coronavirus and stuff like that. I don’t. So I want to be informed, but I want to manage my sanity attached to that. So that’s the first thing, narrow your focus, create perspective. I have to take things in perspective and narrow my focus down and turn off the news. That’s like, don’t let it into your brain before you go to bed and don’t put it in when you start your day. Pick a time, then let it in. Be conscious of that.

Tracie Edwards:

I definitely agree with you there. I thought that I would turn the news on the other day, just for a little anecdote here. And it was the end of the day. It was before my company’s virtual happy hour, I thought-

Gregg Brown :

Well, that’s fine.

Tracie Edwards:

… I’d just sort of catch up. Oh my goodness, it got me all wound up. And so I have since then gone back to my no news.

Gregg Brown :

Well, [crosstalk 00:31:37]. And it is about… For me, it’s really about… It’s that example of Indiana Jones, doing your calculated risks. And I did have some weird COVID projects I did. That were sort of stupid. I wasted money on like about a blow-up kayak, which was dumb. I used it once. But I think what it is if I have to tell people, it’s about having patience with yourself that you’re not going to be normal for something like this, whatever normal was to you. And that as you go through these crises, things are going to shift and change and you have to be patient with that. And it’s the same with change at work. There’s going to be times that you’re like, “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.” And you’re like, “I better change that to I’m figuring it out.” And then you sort of go down that path and you’ll have ups and downs. I had a blog day about three weeks ago or four weeks ago and you just go, “Oh.” And I think it’s about being patient yourself for that and keeping yourself motivated to perform.

Tracie Edwards:

So what’s the next year looking like for you as we wrap up?

Gregg Brown :

Well, I don’t know at this point, so I am doing a little business retreat in two weeks, just myself for four days. I’m going to go away somewhere and hole up in a hotel probably where there’s no COVID of course. And so that means… So I live in a small town, so I’m lucky. I’m in a little town called Port Dover on the north shore of Lake Erie. So, [inaudible 00:33:12] very few COVID cases. So I’m lucky. So I’ll probably go to another small town and find a little hotel. I can hole up in four days. I’m going to do a business strategy session just with myself and see what I want to do. I’m hopeful with vaccination stuff coming out that by the second half of the year, we can move back into in-person events or a hybrid. Because I love to be able to connect with people all over the world and I’m really missing gathering with people.

And I miss hugs and I miss people talking to me and I miss all of that sort of… I’m a raging extrovert. I love being with people. And if I [inaudible 00:33:50] Zoom, I’d be probably jumping off the edge of my deck here into the water.

Tracie Edwards:

Yeah.

Gregg Brown :

Yeah. So I think it is. So I have a bunch of things already booked. Virtual sessions that go through from January until, I don’t know, March. My usual client folks will fill me up with other presentations and workshops and keynotes and stuff. So I’m just really grateful that I’ve been able to work throughout this process into… Live my life when so many people are having such difficult times. So, that’s sort of what next year is looking like. I’d want it to be different than this year as does everybody else on the planet.

Tracie Edwards:

Yes, for sure. So I’m also going to be taking some time, the week between Christmas and New Year… Going to be sort of my time to do a similar activity, so-

Gregg Brown :

Good for you.

Tracie Edwards:

… for those listening, definitely recommend taking some time to sort of discover what you want your next year to look like.

Gregg Brown :

I love that because let me just add that part, because it ties back to what you said. If you get in your car and you’re using Google Maps or whatever, and you don’t program a destination, you do not know where you’re going to go. So the trick is, and this is all about the brain stuff, right? It’s like, get that reticular activating system working for you by putting a stake in the sand that, “These are some of the things I want to do next year. This is how I’d like to make them happen.” So you put that in the sand, you trigger your brain to notice ways to get there. You might deviate and go other places, which is great.

And you’re so right, Tracie, you want to put that stake in the sand and come up with some ideas that are realistic, doable, maybe a bit of a stretch, but not too stretchy because those don’t tend to be more discouraging and get it in the sand, get it listed out. What are some things? And not just New Year’s resolutions, it needs to be, “What do I want to do? And what are some things I can do that?” And if you’re like, “I don’t know what to do.” Switch that. “I’m figuring out what to do. I’m discovering. Yeah. I’m figuring out what I’m going to do. I’m in the process of figuring out what I’m going to do next year.”

Tracie Edwards:

Love that. So how can folks find you?

Gregg Brown :

Well, a couple of ways. They can find me on LinkedIn and word connected you and Tracie and Tracie and I are connected on LinkedIn. So you can find me through there. They can also go to my website, Gregg Brown, G-R-E-G-G B as in brown, the color, Gregg Brown, greggbrown.ca, not .com. If you go .com, you get a folk singer. Yeah. It’s not me, he’s lots of hair. But yeah, greggbrown.ca or email me, gregg@greggbrown.ca, G-R-E-G-G.

Tracie Edwards:

Awesome. Well, hey, thanks so much for your time today and for all your insight, I really enjoyed our visit. So thanks for being here.

Gregg Brown :

Thank you, Tracie. It’s so fun. I really wanted to be a part of this because I’ve worked so much with BAs over the years. And I think there used to be a myth that said, “I want to grow up to be a project manager.” And it was this sort of the stupid myth, I think. Whereas what I love about BA is this, the BA discipline, you can be a vice president with the BA background. You can be a director, you can be a senior learning leader. You can work in policy. And I think it’s just lovely that you’re doing this to support BAs in whatever role you’re in to continue to grow your practice, because I’m not a business analyst. I’ve no idea how to do it. I hate all that stuff. I like to have people around me that do it. So my hat goes off to all of you that are listening and listen to these podcasts and do things that are going to grow your career. You don’t need to move away from being a BA, own your BAness and take it to new levels if you want to.

Tracie Edwards:

Awesome. And thank you for that plug and for your love of business analysts. So, really appreciate your time today.

Gregg Brown :

Thank you, Tracie. Bye everyone.