My guest for Episode #225 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Suzy Siegle. She is the author of, most recently, the book Chief Energy Officer. Suzy currently serves as the ninth President, CEO and Chief Champion of Walsh College in Troy, Michigan.
Suzy’s academic and professional background blends her passions for business, law, and higher education, focusing on the value and importance of business and technology education in today’s rapidly changing world.
A licensed attorney and member of the State Bar of Michigan, she holds a bachelor’s degree, a master of business administration, a juris doctor, and a doctorate in higher education leadership and management..
She is also the author of: The THRIVE Journal: A Step-by-step guide to help you create and accomplish your goals (2021), and Locus: Take control and change the direction of your life (2022).
In this episode, Suzy shares her favorite mistake story about an email she sent when in a leadership role with a previous college. Why was the feedback about the email a “gut punch”? What did she learn and how did she adjust her communication style after that? What is “styleflexing” and why is that an important strategy?
We also discuss her book, Chief Energy Officer, and why “leadership energy” is so important. How does a “chief energy officer” help others? Does that have to be the CEO’s role?
Questions and Topics:
- How do we make sure we’re learning from mistakes?
- Without feedback, we can’t learn?
- Ask permission to share more?
- There’s a time and a place for giving feedback? Sandwich it?
- What is “leadership energy” and why is that so important?
- Energy in terms of positivity (we can do it) vs. skepticism or cynicism?
- How a “chief energy officer” helps others? Does that have to be the CEO’s role?
- Staying immune to perks and praise
- Tell us a little more about Walsh College… who’s a great fit?
Scroll down to find:
- Video version of the episode
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
Find Suzy on social media:
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 225, Suzy Siegle, president of Walsh College.
Suzy Siegle (5s):
You know, as all people probably answer this, we make so many as leaders and we learn from them and there's probably a lot, but one,
Mark Graban (16s):
I am Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes. But what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So, this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at MyFavoriteMistakepodcast.com to learn more about Suzy Walsh College, her book, and more Look for links in the show notes or go to markgraban.com/mistake225. As always, thanks for listening.
Mark Graban (56s):
Well Hi, everybody. Welcome back to My Favorite Mistake. I'm Mark Graban. My guest today is Suzy Siegle. She is the author of most recently her book titled Chief Energy Officer. For those watching on on YouTube, I've got a copy of it. I'm Holden up here. We're gonna talk about that today. Suzy currently serves as the ninth president, the CEO and chief champion of Walsh College in Troy Michigan. Suzy's academic and professional background blends passions for business law and higher education. She focuses on the value and importance of business and technology education in today's rapidly changing world. Suzy is a licensed attorney, a member of the state bar of Michigan, has bachelor's degree, master of Business Administration, a JD, and a doctorate in higher education, leadership and management.
Mark Graban (1m 42s):
Suzy is previously the author of the Thrive Journal, a step-by-step guide to help you create and accomplish your goals and locus, take control and change the direction of your life. So Suzy, thank you for joining us here. How, are you
Suzy Siegle (1m 54s):
Great Thank you, Mark, what a great introduction. I'm so excited to be here and I love the topic and the work you're doing. So Thank you.
Mark Graban (2m 1s):
Yeah, well Thank you and Thank you for being here. We're gonna have a lot to talk about, including your Favorite Mistake story. I, I do want to quickly acknowledge Kyle Comf, who is a guest in episode 82. He had suggested that Suzy and I get connected and that she come on the podcast. So Thank you, Kyle for doing that. So
Suzy Siegle (2m 18s):
Thank you, Kyle, he was awesome. Great.
Mark Graban (2m 21s):
Yeah. You know, so Suzy, before we talk, you know about your work and your book, you know, diff different things you've done in your career, what would you say is your Favorite Mistake?
Suzy Siegle (2m 31s):
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, as all people probably answer this, we make so many as leaders and we learn from them and there's probably a lot, but one comes immediately to mind and it was not that long ago, you know, where are we now? 2023. It was probably back in 20 13, 20 14. I was working in a different institution. So prior to when I came here and it was a great institution. You know, we had two campuses. One was in Michigan, one was in Wisconsin. And because of the two campus structure, our president was in Wisconsin. And then we had a campus c e o in, in Michigan. And I'm sharing all that because it lays the context. So there was one time we were talking about building out an entrepreneurship program. And that's a passion of mine.
Suzy Siegle (3m 11s):
I absolutely love working with entrepreneurs, especially student entrepreneurs and business and technology. And that's why I love Walsh so much. And so we were talking about that and, and the president kind of was talking to me a little bit about a role that, you know, I could do, I could help out with. And we talked about this at one of our strategic planning retreats. And then I wrote a follow-up email to him with some thoughts and just, he's since retired, by the way. He's fabulous president, just a great relational person. But I write this follow up email and I'm kind of embarrassed to say it was probably if you printed it like two pages. Okay. And I'm a lawyer so we can, we can write, right? And that's why it's like, oh, it's almost funny, my book, just in case anybody's worried, it's not even 200 pages. So I joke that I can write an email longer than the book, but yeah.
Suzy Siegle (3m 55s):
Yeah. So I write this long email, so excited sharing all these ideas, thanking him for allowing me to kind of play in this amazing entrepreneurial sandbox. And I'm so excited and I Thank you so much. And here's another idea. And I copied our campus president, a c e o on it at the time. It was a great guy and we're still friends and colleagues we talked to this day. He is very supportive. And he came from the business world, obviously, where you're laser your bullet focus, right? You would never send this like dissertation, right? And I'm coming a little bit more from the academy where we're a little more feeler and qualitative and he, he writes to me something, or if he wrote or he called me and he said, don't you ever send the president of an organization that long of an email again, that was totally inappropriate.
Suzy Siegle (4m 40s):
And they're like, oh, I know right now. Now this is a great guy. He's so direct. In fact, I'll just say his name 'cause he's probably gonna see this. I'm gonna send it to him, Kurt. So Thank you, Kurt, for being, for being on here. And he'll laugh. So, and, and like I just had all these reactions and first of all, he was a hundred percent right. It was too long. And it was a great lesson for me to learn at that point in my career to say, okay, you know, and now the president didn't mind getting it. 'cause I just know he, that type of person. But he was so busy, he gets so many emails. So he literally said this to me and I remember thinking, oh, it's like a gut punch. Okay. Like, how could, I mean, I, I was so excited. I put so much thought into this. And it's like, okay. So I remember thinking two things. One, I was so grateful he said it because it was like many times people don't let you do that.
Suzy Siegle (5m 23s):
They let you continue on in an error in your career. And that has served me well because even though I continue to write long emails, I'm much better at it. I bullet point it and I, and I've had to refine it. But here's why this was my favorite. At the same time, I remember saying to myself, if I'm ever in a leadership position, even if it is a president role. So I didn't even foresee that at the time. And somebody took the time like me to send this long note. I would never react that way. I wanna make sure that I would hold space for that. So fast forward to maybe four months ago, literally like four months ago, maybe actually, you know, it would've been in 2023. So early January, our incredible director of enrollment that we have at Walsh College reaches out to myself and to our chief operating officer with an idea she has to take the team out to celebrate what was a really good hardworking semester.
Suzy Siegle (6m 14s):
And she wrote this long email and it went through the theory behind it and how excited she was to be part of the team and her vision. And I immediately remembered, this is me,
Mark Graban (6m 23s):
Suzy Siegle (6m 24s):
And I wrote her back, and I'll say her name. I said, Abby Thank you so much for taking the time to thoughtfully write this note. I read it twice. I'm so grateful for you. And I shared this story with her. And the reason I did was I wanted her to know this was that full circle moment. But also the feedback is it works for me at, in business, we should probably follow Kurt's advice and assume that not everybody is like us. So I just, I share that because we talk a lot about obviously diversity and having people feel included in the conversation. And those mean much broader things and much deeper things Of course. But it's also how we communicate and work with people one-on-one. So it was My, Favorite, Mistake. 'cause it was literally, I had this sort of harbinger of the future.
Suzy Siegle (7m 5s):
Like if I'm in a leadership role, I'm, I'm not gonna do that. 'cause I remember what it felt like. And at the same time, I'm so grateful to Kurt that he had the, you know, the, the wisdom and the leadership to say, Hey, let me check this.
Mark Graban (7m 17s):
Yeah. Wow. Oh, there's a lot. I mean, I love, I love the story and there's a, there's a lot to unpack and, and dive into around that. I, all of that. I mean, you, you described and you said Kurt had sent an email with the, don't you ever do that again? Or did
Suzy Siegle (7m 35s):
I forget if it was an email? I mean, it wasn't exactly like that, but it was like, you never send a president that long of an email. I think it was, I think it was an email that he sent because he, he, he was on the email chain. I think he responded and said something to that effect
Mark Graban (7m 49s):
Because I was, I was wondering, did you have a chance to actually talk about it at all? Yes. Or did you think like, okay, duly noted, life goes on, career goes on? Or, or was, was there a conversation with Kurt?
Suzy Siegle (8m 2s):
No, Kurt was very good. He had open door policy. I, I mean, again, this was years ago, but I remember we did talk it through and it was a much broader conversation too, because it was definitely a change in the direction of the college at that point. Although now it's very entrepreneurial what they're all doing over there. But, you know, I think we definitely sat down and we, we talked about it and, and he was clear. He said, you know, the president of an organization doesn't have time to read two page emails from you. Especially this was the president of two big campuses, right? Sure, sure. And he's like, you gotta be more laser, you know, and, and it was just a good piece of feedback. I'll tell you, there was a part of me though that just thought, yeah, but you know, how could he not have time? I mean, if you have a person that's so on fire about a initiative or a mission, you gotta make the time.
Suzy Siegle (8m 43s):
And so I think Kurt and I like what I know about Kurt is he, he literally will say to me, sometimes, Thank you for helping me see things differently. So I was just a very self-aware person, but I just, that was such a good reaction because sometimes people don't tell you that. They don't give you that. I mean, it's definitely immediate feedback. It was like, woo. You know?
Mark Graban (8m 60s):
Yeah. Well, and I mean, it sounds like there was an opportunity, or it sounds like this may have happened for you to give Kurt some feedback about the exchange or how, how it, how, you know, you're, he shared this honest perspective. You hopefully then felt safe to share some honest feedback Yeah. Background, like, you know, Kurt, I get what you, I get what you're saying, but at the same time, like it felt like a gut punch or however you might have said it at the time. Yeah,
Suzy Siegle (9m 27s):
No, I definitely think I said, you know, I was, I, I think I explained it like I was so excited to share this. I didn't think I was over, well, number one, I didn't want him to think I was overstepping. 'cause it was definitely an initiative that would've been broad for both campuses. And also I, I shared maybe, you know, I, I didn't really say, I dunno if I said to him, this felt like a gut punch. I might've said I was a little taken aback, but my, my focus at that point was moving forward, not about my feelings. 'cause what I've learned through, you know, you mentioned the book Locus 99.9 0.9%, whatever that is of how we react to things is on us. And I know a lot of people are gonna hear that and say, Hmm, no, someone shouldn't have said this or that, and that may be true.
Suzy Siegle (10m 8s):
Yet if it triggers us and it causes a reaction, that's an inside job. So I realized it triggered something in me, which was, yeah, he's right. And this hasn't been something I decided, you know, I hadn't decided to address it. I was just like, no, people are just gonna deal with my communication style. Thank goodness he said that. Because now I'm working with a bunch of amazing board members, right? Who are business people and I have to learn how to communicate with them. And they've got 25 emails, like a minute coming in, and then here I come in, right? I can't come in with a dissertation. So he really laid down a framework for me that was helpful in my career without even knowing it. And at the same time, it's almost like the flip side of the coin. I had that heart for Abby when she did it.
Suzy Siegle (10m 49s):
And I was just like, this is why that happened.
Mark Graban (10m 53s):
Yeah, yeah. And you know, I appreciate that you weren't just focusing on Kurt's reaction, but you, you sort of thought of, okay, well what, what's, what's the lesson learned on, on one level about communication style on another level? Well, communication style in terms of, you know, giving feedback. 'cause you know, one, one thing you said at the beginning there, Suzy was we all make Mistakes. So I would say yeah, absolutely true. We all learn from them. I'm like, well, or we're learning from them. I'm like, well, that, that's more of the the question right? Of are, are we learning from Mistakes? And, and I think part of that is the idea of, you know, you know, without feedback, without the gift of feedback, we, we, we can't learn that.
Mark Graban (11m 33s):
You know, it might be, you know, nice to, you know, say, well, I don't, I don't wanna upset Suzy, so I want to give her this feedback, but I'm, I'm not going to. And then you don't learn as opposed to, let's say, being kind of taking that step and, and saying, well, you know, Suzy, here let me, lemme share some feedback and advice. You know, without that you can't learn or you, you would maybe keep No, you said two things. Keep sending long emails.
Suzy Siegle (11m 58s):
Yeah, exactly. You said two things that are so true. Number one is it, imagine if we could ask ourselves, how is this happening for me in any mistake, right? And I mean, that's why I said like, there's so many I could have come up with. That one just resonated because it was so unique to me. It's like such a Suzy classic mistake, right? But there's so many times I'll say, look, how is this happening for me? How is this situation happening for me? What do I need to learn through it? And it usually keeps me connected to the solution rather than the breakdown. And the second piece is, I have to create an environment, or I'd like to create an environment. This goes to the chief energy officer book, but also as leaders where people can share feedback without worrying about my reaction. And I, you can probably tell I'm a little expressive of a person, not as they'd say, probably not a good poker player, although I, I play poker and so, you know, I have to really monitor my energy and my response so that my team feels like if they have to bring me bad news, they can do that.
Suzy Siegle (12m 51s):
And one person that really inspired me on that, he wrote the forward to the book Rich Sheridan, he talks about in software design and development, people are gonna miss deadlines. They're gonna have misses on software programming. And he doesn't wanna create an environment of fear where people don't wanna bring up a mistake. You know? That's how we've had some of the, the disasters in the world happen. So that's really important. Now Kurt was my superior, so that was a little bit easier to do, but it works all around. So again, it was like, I, so many good things came of that. It wasn't, I'm I'm kind of saying is it really a mistake? But it was in the sense of like, had I not done it, but I wouldn't have learned if I didn't.
Mark Graban (13m 26s):
Yeah. Yeah. And, and Rich is great. I know Rich Sheridan from Menlo Innovations, he's, he's going to be a guest here on My Favorite Mistake very soon. So speaking to you, Suzy was a good excuse. I didn't really need an excuse, but it was a good prompt to go follow up with Rich. So I'm excited about that. But, you know, I'm thinking about like, what, what might be taught in different courses at, at Walsh College around like business communications and, you know, strategy for sharing. Like, would you write a short message and sort of ask for permission to send more or, you know, my, my wife who is a senior executive tries to coach me sometimes around a style that they use a lot in industry of Bo or it comes from the military.
Mark Graban (14m 10s):
I think bottom line, up front communication. Yep, yep. Of like, don't lay out the case and then give the, the conclusion. Sometimes you gotta say, okay, here's the paragraph that you really need to read. Here's the request, here's the, you know, recommendation. And then, okay, then if you want to keep reading, here's the message that follows. I am curious, like, do you know, or what, what would you suspect is being taught? Yeah,
Suzy Siegle (14m 35s):
Couple thoughts. I mean, you know, now, and again, this is a great point because our faculty, one of the nice things about our faculty at Walsh is their real world, we call them practitioner professors. So they've actually been out in the world, they've done the very thing that they're teaching and whether they're, they've been, you know, on communication teams, businesses or organizations or nonprofits, they'll tell you how TOTLHS, I mean there's, there's a term that I've heard used before. I didn't coin it. One of my mentors coined it, she calls it style flexing. I don't even know if she where she got it from, but it's,
Mark Graban (15m 3s):
What's that word, sorry? It's
Suzy Siegle (15m 4s):
Called Style flexing. Style flexing. And yeah. And I'll credit, her name is Shanda Sumter. She owns a company called Hardcore Business. She, she talks about it a lot on her, on the videos that she puts out. And I don't know if that's a term of art from somewhere else. So I wanna be careful on that. The lawyer in me is like careful on using these terms, right? Right. But style flexing, I like that because I think a couple things. One is we definitely teach folks, Hey, if you're writing a business memo, here are the highlights. Here are the things you need to see. Follow up with me later for more. Sure. Absolutely. Also, in leadership, we talk about, you know, when I, when I'm talking to a new hire or a new colleague, I'll say, how do you best like to receive feedback and communication? And how do you know you're getting it?
Suzy Siegle (15m 44s):
Because somebody might say, I'm great on email, just text me. And somebody else might say, I do so much better if we can talk in person. So I know with my team, I've got certain folks that I can be messaging and we can have feedback and keep moving and other folks that might actually harm the relationship if I move too fast. So I'm okay style flexing as the leader. 'cause ultimately it's on me to make sure that I'm pouring into my people and doing everything I can and I can change. And then the other piece is knowing when to give them the bot, like you said, bottom line me, and then back up through the reasoning. That's always important too. And for me, I prefer that. So I'll say to people, gimme the bottom line thing and then we can back up through it. So at least I know where we're going. But not everyone likes that. So I think style flexing, having that cognitive flexibility, but then also recognizing when you are communicating the goal is somebody reads it.
Suzy Siegle (16m 30s):
And I was just actually on a panel through the Troy, Troy Chamber of Commerce did a panel on writing and publishing. And one of the fellow authors on the panel, she's incredible, Tanisha, she talked about how she doesn't like to see long books. Now again, this isn't a criticism if people are writing 300 and more page books. 'cause sometimes when you're writing fiction, that's a good thing. You wanna draw someone into the story or biography because you have like a person's life. Yet she said, if, if you write a shorter book, people will finish it, read it, and write a review. Right. So I actually heard that about Chief Energy Officer. Oh, it's less than 200 pages. I'll read it. Somebody said. So I do think that there's wisdom to making sure that you're actually landing your communication and you're not just blurting.
Mark Graban (17m 8s):
Yeah, I'm gonna hold that up. 'cause yeah, I mean this is, this is not intimidating in length. And like, I could take that on a plane, on a reasonably long flight, you know, get through it. And like you said, you know, not just start reading it, but, but get through it. Maybe talk about different styles. I never worked at Amazon, but one of the famous things you, you hear about, at least how Jeff Bezos liked to do things was instead of coming to a meeting and having someone presenting PowerPoint, like they were about these really long briefing memos that everyone would read in advance and then come to the meeting prepared to discuss, which I, I could see an appeal, you know, I could see where that's appealing.
Mark Graban (17m 49s):
Like what, why, why are we all sitting in the room passively taking in information instead of using that time to discuss debate, decide things that you really should be doing in a meeting. Right.
Suzy Siegle (17m 59s):
Yeah. Now two quick things on that. One is, I'll credit Kurt again, because he used to have these standup huddles in his office. And part of it was the, the office area was small enough, we had to have standup. It also kept people just reporting out. I also wanna say, I think some of that is contextual with the organization, because I can't tell how many times I'll read that. Or I'll go to a leadership seminar and they'll be like, take this hack and adapt it here. And Rich is the first person, Rich. Sheridan is the first person to say, you have to know the environment. He's like, we didn't build a collaborative workspace. We built a collaborative open culture and then a workspace to reflect that. Yeah. Yeah. So I had to be careful if I were to bring that into my team, those memos, they'd be like, Suzy, we don't all have assistants. We can't just like be creating this. This is so much more work. So I thought, what is the value of us getting together?
Suzy Siegle (18m 41s):
And we started with every other week, and then we realized as a leadership team, we need to meet every week. And we, and this is a constant thing I'm working on too, because I can be the biggest violator, but we know we have an hour and a half and we wanna book through it. Okay, what are you talking about that you're doing? So we keep each other in the loop. And then what do you need help and support with? And I'm always open to running 'em better. In fact, my board chair is a big proponent of e o s entrepreneurial operating system. I'm studying elements of that to incorporate. So I'll tell you, it is a con That is an area I want to improve. Yet I do think it's contextual because I have to understand these meetings, people are fitting in. They have to come away feeling like it was better that I went there than I didn't. And how many times did we go to a meeting, we come back, it's like worse. They're like, oh, I didn't even know we had all these and then nobody's doing.
Suzy Siegle (19m 23s):
You know? So that's not what I wanted. I wanted, and we handle stuff in the meeting, like we'll be like, okay, let's handle that. Or if we notice it's gonna, it's just two or three people that okay, take that offline. You know? So it can feel abrupt sometimes for folks that are used to just meaning, I wanna be heard. But we are a business and I respect that. I'm an extrovert, so I like, meetings are like a drug to me. I'm like, I'm beating off. But there's some people introvert that they only have so much like other people time in a day. Yeah. And I don't wanna drain that.
Mark Graban (19m 50s):
I'm an introvert that surprises people sometimes. But you know, like, like you said, is it energizing or depleting? And yeah. Do you need time to go recharge or not? Which I do. Which, you know, it's all right. That's just how that's, that's me. But I was gonna, one other thing I was gonna ask or, or comment on back to your story before we, we go on and talk more about your book and, you know, chief Energy Officer, you know, it sounds like when you have that opportunity to close the loop to now coach and give feedback to the sender of a long email, you know, it's, it makes me think of like the, the quote unquote feedback sandwich that you, there was, there was some, you know, some praise for the idea or the passion or what have you, and then the feedback and then end on something positive that sounds like, was that, was that intentional or is that just a habit that you've had?
Mark Graban (20m 39s):
Or, or both.
Suzy Siegle (20m 40s):
You know, so I, what I try to do too is, I mean, look, if there's really a problem and, and there's nothing to sandwich it in, I might say, Hey, can I chat with you about something? 'cause I noticed this and I wanted to get your feedback on it. And, and again, I'll credit, I mean, I didn't think I'd come on here and mention Kurt's name so much, but, you know, towards the end of his time at the institution, he'd say, Hey, I wanna get your advice on something. And that opened up a lot of good conversation. Whereas maybe before when he came in and he'll, he'll agree to this, he might've been a little bit more, all right, authoritarian. 'cause you don't know you're coming into a new environment, you wanna lead strong, right? Yeah. What did they say in the military? Default, aggressive. So I'll say to some, I wanna get your thoughts on this. How do you think that went? And I'll credit my c o o Tom for helping me with some of those conversations because in my world, like it's nice to be complimented and I do need that at times, or I do want that.
Suzy Siegle (21m 28s):
Yeah. I'm also okay if you said, Suzy, here's the gap, fill it. Mm. However, I can un so I can kind of like, I thrive on that. I'm like, great, great. You know, some folks, they really would be hurt if they didn't know that, that I wasn't constantly, you know, criticizing. So I've had to style flex. So that's, that's basically aflex thing. And, but I think being authentic, if somebody thinks you're using the sandwich method, then they're gonna dismiss the nice things you say as just the buffers for the feedback versus, you know, I was just talking to a colleague who gave me some great advice on immediate feedback. Like after I meeting, I'll follow up with someone, I'll say, Hey, you did these three things really well, but let me share with you maybe some things on your nonverbals that you can improve. And if you build that into the culture, people expect it and they value it.
Suzy Siegle (22m 11s):
And that's something, I'll be honest with you, I'm working on as well. 'cause sometimes I'm kind of like, I don't wanna give any feedback. I just want the person to know. I know that sounds crazy as a leader, right? Because I'm like, yeah, I just have all high performers that just know, and yet even I need that feedback and need to be coached and need to improve.
Mark Graban (22m 27s):
Yeah. No, I mean, those are great tips. A lot of this is very situational, depending on personalities, relationships, I know, like some people I work with, I've worked with them a very long time. There's a lot of mutual trust and, and you know, it can be a little more blunt. You be like, Hey, you know, here's, you know, just kinda direct, not rude, but, but blunt. If it's somebody who you don't know as well, it might be someone earlier in their career and like, not to walk on eggshells, but just to sort of couch and frame. I mean, I was in a situation where, you know, I had reached out and, and sort of couched it with that pro, you know, saying, well, I, I, it was, you know, I'd like to give you some feedback, you know, and I, and I made sure that it was through a phone call.
Mark Graban (23m 10s):
I think that helped a lot more than Oh yeah, the risk of tone. And I might've made a Mistake In, you know, the tone of an email and to, you know, through a phone call kind of here, here are the reaction. And like, just to be able to yes. You know, adjust in terms of whether it was the, the feedback was clear and it wasn't a huge deal. And it wasn't, I don't think, an inauthentic feedback sandwich because there was a lot of authentic, Hey, here were all the great things about this. Here's just the, the one, the one thing you might want to be careful with. And I think it was well received. I think it was fine,
Suzy Siegle (23m 40s):
Mark. That's perfect how you said you did it on the, like that's you style flexing from what that person wants. And you're right. When you have time in with people and they know you, there's a comfortability. It's like a comfortable shoe where I just had this happen with, with one of my colleagues where I was like, I think you have a blind spot. He is like, how do I have a blind spot if I'm identifying? I'm like, oh yeah, you could be right. Like, I could never have that blunt of a conversation, but he's just a, he's a really high leader and we're able to have those conversations. But that does take time. So you build the relationship first so that when you give the feedback, because I did that, like, I had a situation maybe about, I don't know, like maybe back in November where I didn't do a good job of that. I jumped right in and was too direct with a colleague who was, who was newer. And she reflected like, Ooh, that, that was really hard to hear.
Suzy Siegle (24m 21s):
And I'm like, what do you mean? I, you know, and, and so I realized, well, it wouldn't be hard to hear for a longer term colleague. It was there. So I'm constantly learning, like this is like, you know, if you're not making Mistakes, you're not actually engaged in doing stuff, or you're not self-aware, you're like, oh, I don't know if I made a mistake. I'm like, you're so not self-aware because I don't know how you can have any type of leadership role and feel confident in anything. 'cause there's so much that comes at you. You just have to be courageous. And that's, that's a word I've thought about lately is I'm not confident in a lot of what I do, but I have the courage to never give up and to keep doing it. And Walsh is such a beautiful mission to me. It means everything to me. It is the most meaningful endeavor I've ever been a part of in my life. And I'm so grateful for it.
Suzy Siegle (25m 2s):
'cause imagine having something that pulls you up every day to do. It's just so fulfilling. Yeah. That I'll just keep going and learning.
Mark Graban (25m 8s):
Yeah. Well, and and I, I appreciate what you're saying as a leader or talking about this idea of inviting feedback, like I've seen leaders get stuck in the trap of, of, of, of assuming or saying, well, you know, pe people, if people disagreed, they would say something like, ah, you could check that assumption. It might not be true. Like, going outta your way to invite the feedback gives permission, create safety. A
Suzy Siegle (25m 32s):
Mark Graban (25m 33s):
Like there's, there's somebody said for being courageous, but when leaders can help reduce the fear factor, then they don't have to be as courageous.
Suzy Siegle (25m 42s):
Well, maybe you ask Rich about this. Look at me. I'm teeing up his podcast. But in his second book, I think Chief, Joy Officer, he talks about this really cool feedback. Hes where his team, when he was away, 'cause he realized he was able to decentralize command very well. Another principal from the military or the Navy Seals, they got into a habit of just yelling, feedback, ease. And then they just start giving feedback to each other on the team. That literally became culture, you know, norm for them. So I think asking for it. And the other thing is, you know, I've done a couple, three, six, I think I've done 3, 360 in my professional career. And those are, those are intent. I mean, there's different thoughts around them because they are, I mean, if, if you truly believe they're anonymous and they really are. I mean, some people say, oh, they're really not.
Suzy Siegle (26m 22s):
But if they're done correctly, they are, you can get some harsh feedback. You can get some very direct things in, in a, in a, in like a written format that, you know, can be hard to receive. And they were for me. But it also helps soften you to feedback and realize I'm gonna survive it. Even if someone's really just upset, I'll survive this and I'll take from it and go, why is this happening for me? So I think building that in and not being above that, and you know, I think above professors, they have student evals every semester students are rating them. So, you know, that's a very vulnerable thing because they're grading them. So all administrators, all leaders should be open to feedback the same way our faculty who really are at the heart and soul of the teaching and learning with what we do are.
Mark Graban (27m 5s):
Yeah. Yeah. So let's, let's talk more about leadership and, and, and energy. And like you said, again, we're talking Suzy Siegle, author of most recently Chief Energy Officer Forward by Rich Sheridan. When, when, when you talk about leadership energy, like what, what, what, how do you define that? Why, why is that so important?
Suzy Siegle (27m 24s):
Yep. Leadership energy is the energy that a leader brings into the room. Whether it's virtual zoom conversation and that which those in the room feed off of. And it's so important because that's the most important thing you can bring into the room. You know, the energy you bring, everybody's watching you. 'cause they're trying to assess How, are you confident? Do you feel okay? Should I worry? Is there a problem? How's the organization doing? Is my job okay? What do you think of me? I mean, that is so true. And if you think about that at any, even like the top leader at any organization, they're looking for that energy. They're really reading the room. Also, energy occurs on several levels when we talk about it in the book, there's the verbals that you hear, which are very small.
Suzy Siegle (28m 5s):
And then there's all the subconscious things like the nodding of the head, the raising of the eyebrows, the smiling of the eyes, and then even the heart rate, the heart rate variability, right? So you wonder like, how can I be in a room and just sense things are off? Well, our heart emits an electromagnetic wave and feel that is three feet in diameter and we can measure this. So when you're in a room and you're feeling tense or anxious or upset, even if you're smiling, that is being felt by those around you. It can't not happen. And we know this 'cause when you put two people in a room together, their heart rate variabilities match up and true. So it is happening. You're just not seeing it. We talk about the science behind that. So the book has a little bit of, has a lot of physics and science in it.
Suzy Siegle (28m 47s):
That's important to me. And I'm not a physicist or a scientist, but I've studied enough of this to be able to say, here's what the research is showing and here's how we know. So it is really important and it can make or break. In fact, this is so funny. Our auditors just recently put us in a webinar and they talked about, you know, you're hearing a lot about higher ed nowadays, colleges, universities, are they gonna survive? Are they gonna close? What's going on with them? Especially the smaller nonprofits, right? And they looked at the factors that led to that. And they're not what you think. Absolutely. You have to manage your money, you have to make sure you are following your cash flow, your balance sheet, your income statement. But they said it was the mindset of the president and the board chair, especially the board leadership, do they get along?
Suzy Siegle (29m 28s):
What is the energy they have and do they have the vision of success for the organization? Those are qualitative factors, you can probably measure them. But they said that was what made the difference because they saw similarly situated institutions struggling fiscally, but the, the ones that succeeded were because of the leaders and they defined the leaders as the president and the board, the board leadership. So Of course, I share that with my board leadership, right? I have a great board chair and great board leadership, but that is so important. So we know it now from a higher ed standpoint, we know it in business. Hmm.
Mark Graban (29m 57s):
And it, it's in the longer version of your bio. I noticed that this, this phrase HeartMath methodology or, or you know, I I I I, I met somebody in healthcare once who knew about that was certified and it was teaching it to others. So I'd encourage people if they want to learn more about that, they can look up the phrase HeartMath, right?
Suzy Siegle (30m 16s):
Yeah. HeartMath institute, heartmath.org. I fully endorse 'em. I think they're fabulous. I am a certified trainer through them. And I, I didn't anticipate doing that. I just got, I loved their stuff and I just got, you know, more and more into it and yeah. And that gives you a little bit of the science behind what we're talking about so it doesn't feel so woo they've actually studied this. Yeah,
Mark Graban (30m 34s):
Yeah. Well, Thank you. And so, you know, when you talk about that energy as a leader, you know, Suzy, we've already touched on it a little bit. You're, you're a Myers-Briggs extrovert, I'm a Myers-Briggs introvert. I can be outgoing, I can, I can do some of these things, but like I noticed, like you, you bring a very outwardly energetic energy to a conversation when we talk previously. And here in the episode, I'm a little more laid back. I've heard people describe like, you're, you, you know, that can be very laid back. I get fired up about things, don't get me wrong, but like, is is, there's, there's gotta be more to it then in terms. And I'm saying you've, you've gotta be like, so, so outwardly. So like how, how would you describe her, you know, to, to an introvert who says like, well I, I can't be that out outwardly energetic.
Mark Graban (31m 20s):
I can still lead and have an energy that I share with. Oh,
Suzy Siegle (31m 23s):
Absolutely, a hundred percent. In fact, some of the best leaders are intro or some of the most, a lot of the leaders are introverts. So in the very first part of the book, the very first line chapter, I'm like, what's your superpower? And the reason I ask that is for me, this is just having that energy that just, you know, I wake up in the morning and I'm just woo a ball full of energy. Right? And then there's coffee, which doesn't do anything good for anybody. No, I'm kidding. So that's just kind of been my superpower, my natural come from. And when I realize that you gotta harness it for the good. Now, at the same time, and I talk about this in the book, you can have too much of that energy and not understand how to read the room. And I'll talk, we can talk about that if you want to in a minute. But I think you don't have to have, it's not about being an extrovert or introvert and there's even some research that those types aren't even all, they're not fixed.
Suzy Siegle (32m 6s):
And you know, that really was designed differently. It's not, I think it's close enough to be close, you know, but I think you also have to know what fuels your energy and what drains it. And that's true for an like, so you, you In this podcast like you, you have to bring more energy. That's great. You just have to know what fuels your energy, how to, how to manage it, how to meter it and how to be aware of it doesn't always have to be overt. And for me, when I'm in a board meeting, my feedback that I've received is I have to dial it back because it can come across to intent. So it really is about having the energy of self-awareness of leadership, but knowing that as an organization, the energy you bring into the room, it doesn't have to be as you think, like, oh, it has to be this intense energy and be positive, optimistic, empathetic and not in breakdown, in breakthrough.
Suzy Siegle (32m 53s):
And we know these people in breakdown, they're always like, oh it, they comes through in their voice, it comes through in their energy. They can be introvert or extrovert and have that. It really is how do you speak? And last quick thing I'll say is the words you use. And I got this from, there's a, there's a great YouTube channel, WWE wisdom, and I said that, and from Daoism, the words you use are the building blocks that you build your house with. So it isn't okay to sometimes, well I shouldn't say isn't okay, but when people are like, oh, I've just had a crappy day, or I feel like I'm getting beat up and it's fun to vent. And I do that with some of our folks, right? We have fun little emojis that we'll send that, that show that. But that can also frame your thoughts and frame your energy in a way you don't want it to. So as much as we almost feel like we have to vent, try something else for a little bit, run the experiment as Rich would say and say, yeah, right.
Suzy Siegle (33m 40s):
What a great day. I'm really building the muscle of resilience. Just try it because it does matter.
Mark Graban (33m 46s):
Yeah, yeah. And so yeah. And that, that makes sense. And I'm reflecting and thinking through Yeah, that have like do, do you have to vent, do you have to relive the thing that was up setting is a belief
Suzy Siegle (33m 59s):
Mark Graban (33m 60s):
Suzy Siegle (34m 0s):
Belief system? Yeah.
Mark Graban (34m 1s):
Do you have to share it with others? Not, not always. So that's just all reflect on on that some more. But you know, we talk about energy, so it seems like it's not even so much of, you know, outwardly intense or not, but it can be a matter of like positivity of, of framing a problem or a situation as we can do this, we just haven't figured it out yet. Versus let's say skepticism of cynic or cynicism of we're doomed. It'll, it'll never work. I mean Right, right. Things like that probably matter a lot more.
Suzy Siegle (34m 32s):
Yeah. I mean those are very victim energy. If you truly feel that get outta your company or your business, you don't belong at the hell. If you're a leader and you don't believe that your company is worth the best, that you are the best. And I understand that not every company can, you know, has the med metrics for that. But we are the best business and technology college because we know what we deliver. We know about our faculty, we know what our degrees mean, our alumni, and nobody does what we do upper division, business and technology in the metro Detroit area and beyond. So we know that in our core, if you don't believe that, you can't just manufacture that energy. So I think a lot of it is the belief, like somebody was asking me like, what does it really take to, to move an organization belief, you have to believe it in your core. And if you don't believe you have that get out of the way, you know, make room for someone else.
Suzy Siegle (35m 15s):
That's why Chief Energy Officer, the new c e o, it is not about the title, it is not about the office. It's, I was having this discussion with somebody earlier and I, I can hold space for both, but they were saying, you know, you, you actually like believe Walsh is your company. I mean it's not, it's a nonprofit, but you know what I mean, I wanna be careful. I like, I don't own it, but I do feel that ownership interest in it. Like yes it is, it matters to me. I don't wanna take one dime or Misspend one dime or I don't wanna, you know, so I attach to that and they, the other folks might say, well we look at it as our role is with the company, but it's separate. And I, I think there's space for both. I just know for me that I light up when I am doing it my way. Yeah.
Mark Graban (35m 53s):
Well it sounds like then that belief turns into authentic energy as opposed to somebody faking it, putting on a good face saying, well this is my role, I have to be positive. Like Yeah, I mean that that probably, people can probably see through that if not immediately at some point, right?
Suzy Siegle (36m 11s):
Yeah. And the decisions you make. So if I believe this is my company, I'm gonna make decisions as a leader in the best interest of the company, not in my best interest. I'm not gonna say, oh well gee, you know, I, I should be making this or maybe I can get this outta the company. Or how about this? It's like, no, what does this business need right now to be successful for our students and our alumni and our community? And that's the reason we exist. And if that means doing something And Simon Sinek, you know, he just talks about this, he came out with a book, the Infinite Mindset and he said there's something he talked about, I forget what he calls it, but oh a just cause and he said a just cause is a cause. So just that you're willing to put the interests of that organization or that cause above your own.
Suzy Siegle (36m 52s):
And I know that that sounds really aspirational and I probably would've agreed with you 10, 20 years ago, but not now. I would tell you, if you don't have that in life, please help come to Walsh, we'll help you find it because we've got the program. No seriously. Like, yeah, like you have to have that.
Mark Graban (37m 5s):
Yeah. Yeah. Well again, we, before we wrap up, maybe there just a couple other things with our guest, Suzy Siegle, her new book is Chief Energy Officer. So I, I mean, kind of alluded to this, this is not adding another person to the C-suite and you know, there's a hashtag here on, on the front of the book, new C e o, which okay, chief energy officer, chief Executive Officer. It's both c e o acronyms. But I mean like how much of it is in just inherently the CEO's role or if a CEO is going to be effective to also be the Chief energy officer?
Suzy Siegle (37m 42s):
Sure. So first I would say that what's neat about this is, and I even say this in the book while I am writing it specifically from the perspective of A C E O and for CEOs, you don't have to be a C E O to be your organization's chief Energy officer. And in fact, I tell some stories in there how I, I believe I played that role a little bit in the various areas I worked in prior to coming to Walsh. And, and that it's very evident. So you can be a chief energy officer for your department, like our enrollment director, she's that for that area. You know, there's just so many that I, I see doing that. However, you have to ask yourself. Yeah, it's not adding another person. But you know, ideally everybody in that C-suite has the energy of leadership, but especially the C E O. And the reason for that is twofold. One is that really is the last place responsibility stops.
Suzy Siegle (38m 27s):
And so if you don't have the energy enough energy to get through a day, and I mean, I can get up at five and go till midnight. I mean, I, I get eight hours of sleep. So I don't do, don't do that on a regular basis. I try to get eight hours and I do consistently. But if you don't have the leadership energy to be able to do that, then it's gonna be really hard for you to inspire other people. And remember, I'm the one, we're the ones bringing the food to the table for others to feed off of. So if we don't have it, we can't give what we don't have. And then that has to trickle through the organization, which is why they always say it always starts and ends at the top. So it's incumbent on a C E O I would say to have that mindset. And I wanna encourage CEOs that, you know, it's so weird because I don't even like using that title.
Suzy Siegle (39m 7s):
That's probably a belief system I have around that. Don't worry so much about being the executive and in charge and all that. We know that people know that. And you know, that comes with just as much accountability and responsibility as privilege. Yeah. Don't worry about the corner office, the, you know, all that kinda stuff because that's all like Simon Sinek, he tells that story, the styrofoam cup. It's just for the position. It isn't for you worry about being the type of leader that if you did leave the organization, people would be like, I wanna know where you're going because I need to follow.
Mark Graban (39m 36s):
Yeah. Right. Yeah. And I love that phrase when you talk about it's as, as much the responsibility as it is a privilege that makes me think of a great leader. I had the opportunity to meet a couple of times late Paul O'Neill, who was the c e O of Alcoa before doing other things. And he really emphasized this, a lot of the responsibility of leadership. And if you're a leader who's more interested in the perks and privilege than the responsibility, then you're not, you're not really being a leader.
Suzy Siegle (40m 5s):
And that is hard. I will tell you it is hard because you will be treated differently and you'll start to get a little, we talk about it in the book entitled like Of course, because I, you gotta really break that. And some things you do, I mean, I, I won't get into detail, but I've kind of structured my role and even my job in such a way that I try to stay immune to that. 'cause it means, you know, you're a human being. I mean, I'm a little different 'cause it never was part of my ethos, but I also hold space that that isn't how everybody thinks. Okay. And I'm not judging anybody if they're like, no, it is about that for me. I work hard. Okay, that's great. But we're also a nonprofit and so our mission is different. I don't have shareholders. I'm trying to maximize profit for, I have alumni and students I'm trying to maximize value and reputation and service for.
Suzy Siegle (40m 46s):
So it's a different mission. And I understand in the profit world you might listen to this and go, that's nice Suzy, but that would never work. Now that being said, a nonprofit has to operate with the same mindset. So it has a margin. 'cause without a margin there's no mission. Yes,
Mark Graban (40m 59s):
I hear that. In healthcare, same thing. Nonprofit health systems, no margin,
Suzy Siegle (41m 4s):
No mission, no
Mark Graban (41m 5s):
Mission. But again, before we wrap up again, our guest, Suzy Siegle, the book is Chief Energy Officer as president and c e o of Walsh College. You, you, you gave you, you mentioned a little bit, but maybe before we wrap up here, you know the elevator pitch. I'm sure you do this a good time all, all the time and you do it well. Not just, you know, what is Walsh College, but what, what types of students are a great fit for Walsh?
Suzy Siegle (41m 28s):
Yeah, absolutely. So the students that come to Walsh that do really well are the ones that threefold. One is they're usually working busy professionals that wanna advance their career in business or technology. And they have a heart for wanting to make an impact and change the world. They're hardworking students. They understand the value of business and technology in the world and the ability to make change. And they value teaching and learning in the classroom. So our faculty are with them. We have a hybrid model now. So we can be in the classroom, we can be virtual on Zoom, we can be both. And they're really there for career advancement and preparedness. They want a real world education for real world life so they can make a difference in the world. And when we talk to our alumni, that's what they say. This degree changed my life and I was able to change others' lives through it.
Suzy Siegle (42m 12s):
It is the just cause.
Mark Graban (42m 15s):
And you can tell that authentic energy comes through and everything you're saying about the school and your work Suzy. So Thank you for that. Again, the book Chief Energy Officer Thank you for the energy that you brought to the podcast and your insights and story today. Really appreciate it Thank
Suzy Siegle (42m 30s):
You for the opportunity.
Mark Graban (42m 31s):
Well, thanks again to Suzy for being our guest today. To learn more about her, her book, and more Look for links in the show notes or go to Mark Graban.com/mistake225. And again, please check out my new book, The Mistakes That Make Us available in Kindle print and audiobook editions. Go to Mistakesbook.com. As always, I want to Thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own Mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive. I've had listeners tell me they started being more open and honest about Mistakes in their work and they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results.
Mark Graban (43m 13s):
If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me MyFavoriteMistake firstname.lastname@example.org. And again, our website is MyFavoriteMistakepodcast.com.