Innovation Nation
Innovation Nation

Episode 31 · 1 month ago

How Dale Carnegie Stays Innovative a Century Since Founding w/ Joe Hart


At its core, true innovation is about more than just futuristic technologies or industry disruptors — it’s about the human component. 

If you want to truly innovate, start with people, connection, and purpose. If you do, you’ll foster a culture of innovation that will outlive you. 

Just ask Dale Carnegie… 

Today, I’m speaking with Joe Hart, President & CEO at Dale Carnegie & Associates , about how he’s helping the legacy of creativity and innovation Dale Carnegie left behind live on.

Join us as we discuss:

  • What makes Dale Carnegie such an inspiring innovator
  • Why psychological safety is key to creating a culture of innovation
  • Why everyone can be creative and innovative if they just let themselves   

Tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Innovation Nation in your favorite podcast player.

Innovation is all around us. In fact, everyone innovates, often unbeknowns to themselves. Many mistakenly assumed the innovation is either a big capital project, a figurative bolt of lightning that brings inspiration, or the province of some exceptionally gifted person. This is the myth of innovation. But you can innovate as well. You're listening to innovation nation, the podcast where top executives and industry experts are sharing their insights on harnessing the power of innovation. We're here to help you stay ahead of the curve by driving your own innovation. Here's your host, Jasmine Martyr Rosen. Welcome to another episode of Chioso's Innovation Nation podcast. This is your host, Jasmine mark to Rosson. Our guest today is Joe Hart, CEO of Dale Carnegie. Welcome, Joe. Thank you, Jasmine, nice to be with you. Thanks for joining our podcast as a guest. I've personally long admired the teachings of Dale Carnegie. Fantastic book. I think I'll do for a re read, and it's impressive how the organization has stayed so relevant and innovative and stayed with the Times. Can you share how you approach that to continue that relevance with the Innovation? Sure, I'd be happy to. And just to go back to something you said a moment ago which and you know, you mentioned. Hey, maybe time for a refresh to the book. I read the book constantly. There's a great story about Dale Carnegie Meeting someone in a lobby of a hotel and this this person sees Dale sitting there reading a book and a walks up to day and he sees his reading how to win friends and influence people. He says, wait a second, fail you're reading your own book. And he said no one needs it more than I do. You know. So there is so much richness in Dale Carnegie's wisdom that I feel like, you know, we could pick up how to win friends and influence people or how to stop worrying any time and and get some value out of it. But down that point when you ask about innovation, you know, Dale Carnegie out how to win friends in one thousand nine hundred and thirty six it's been a best selling book for, you know, every year since that time and you know, one of the opportunities that I have and leading Dale Carnegie is really ensuring that we are staying true to the principles which are every body as enduring, it is effective and important today is they were then, and also making sure that those principles and all that we do really are relevant and contextualized for a modern generation. So it's been, you know, an honor and a lot of fun working with this company. I joined in two thousand and fifteen and I'm as a whole range of things that we've done them. Happy to get into that. I don't know if you've got some specific questions. You just for me to case die. I would love to hear your story and how you also create the culture. Love hearing that story, by the way, about him, say, meeting his own book. That's fabulous. Yeah, most people would think that. Do you wouldn't need to do that, but that's the point. You know, a lot of the things that we teach in Dale Carnegie. People will sometimes say it's and we say it's common knowledge, but it's not common practice. It's hard to kind of keep on doing things. You know, principal one is don't criticize kndemnic complaint, and that's one my teenage kids and my other kids will say that. I struggle with you know, so it's not always easy. But I I came to the company I had taken a deal Carnegie class myself a long time ago, a lawyer by background, earlier my career. Took a deal Carnegie. Course it changed my career, changed my life, really helped me become more empathetic, improving my relationships with other people and also challenged me in my vision. So I mean I ultimately left the practice of law, started a business and e learning company don't and sold that. was involved in starting another company and was the president of that before I came to Bill Carnegie. But I came to join deal Carnegie as a CEO in two thousand and fifteen because this work, this body of work, has been so important to me and my family and I just want to have as many people access as possible. And you know, part of what the challenge was when I came to the company. The company was started in... thousand nine hundred and twelve, so you know, over a hundred years old when I joined in two thousand and fifteen. How do you get a company to continue to be innovative and to change with The Times? And that was really kind of one of the main things I wanted to do was how do we take this great brand, this global brand, two hundred operations in eighty six countries and ensure that we're reaching a younger generation? I mean it's been a really important part of our strategy. Wow, there's so many fabulous nuggetsubei share. Doing so, you've innovated yourself, going from being a lawyer and attorney to being a CEO and Entrepreneur, entrepreneur in the CEO. That's faculous. And you're also obviously trying to keep a hundred busy old company. Have a start out mentalities. That a fair assessment and if so, how do you go about it? Yeah, it's really it is a fair assessment and having started a company from nothing, part of what it my vision when I came to Dell Carnegie was this is going to be a hundred plus year old start up and that means that we need to be scrappy and creative and we need to reduce levels of, you know, internal just bureaucracy and just candidly jasmine. I mean it was it's taken a long time. I think you know people, even we teach change management and change is still hard for people. There's a certain way of doing things. We get comfortable doing that, we get in our comfort zones and so forth. So you know, part of my strategy and as we were talking about before we started, I have a podcast and I get to talk to other amazing leaders. Part of what people always talk about as the importance of vision and really getting people enrolled in that vision and in frost part of that vision. As you know, we help people on lots of the greatness inside of them. And how do we reach more people? How do we make Dale or verb around the world so that we're connecting with people, and then the strategy and the other types of things aligne around that. So you know, one of the first things we did was to rebrand the business. So part of our innovation is how are we seeing ourselves and how is the world seeing us? It's nut just graphic it's the the graphics is the words, it's how we present in the marketplace. It's a new website, it's a different approach towards social media. The pandemic is certainly accelerated the digital transformation that we began. So at the beginning of the pandemic we were entirely, almost entirely in person. So if you want to take a deal Carnegie program it would be in person, and we've flipped that model and we did it very successfully, thank goodness, so that you could take Dale Carnegie programs in person, online, hybrid. You could be in a program from home that someone is attending in the same program in a classroom. And so we're really trying to focus on is how to connect with our customer. I create these amazing experiences. Technology is an enabled it's a part of the process, part of the experience. So we've an amazing team at Dale Carnegie. Of grateful to have to talented, smart people and part of it, frankly, is getting out of people's way when we've set the vision and people are saying right, we'll figure out how to make this happen. So part of the restrictions of the pandemic actually helped you Innovadi even more and you talked about focusing on vision. Like, how do you go about doing that to drive the innovation? So I I think it starts with the leaders, the leader, the CEO, and also the executive leaders and and really all the managers whenever we're working with people. If people aspire to do something, you know bigger than just hit the numbers. Say hitting the numbers as a critical part to certain metrics we have to achieve in business. We want to be able to do that successfully. But what's the why are we doing this? I remember having a conversation with a man jasmine at dinner. This is a number of years ago, and his business was he was just animated about we've created plastic pellets, a process for these set of these wood pallets. You got a costco and these are the things that boxes are on top of. And he said, you know how much waste is...

...involved in this process, the killing of trees and the dump dumping of these materials and all these different things. He had developed a process to use recyclable plastic and in create these more durable. That was his mission and so he communicated that. So it wasn't just about hey, we're going to make more money and so forth. It's about, look, we're making the world a better place. So the first thing is, you know, to connect with people around a really powerful why. And it doesn't have to be. It happened. I mean in Dale Carnegie we have a powerful why. We're talking about really helping people electric greatness and be their best and helping teams become high performing teams and organizations and communities be better, relationships be better. So we've got a very strong why every company should be able to. Then this is a starting point for the leadership, because the leaders drive culture. Is What your why, what engages people, what gets people up really in the morning excited about what you do? And from there, then, how do we do that more effectively? One of the things that we you know, how do we have in what ways can we thinking, thinking that is unbounded. It's not can weeds. How do we? How can we? In what ways can we? So it's creating an environment where the psychological safety, where people feel comfortable speaking up, where they are aligning with they're doing around the corporate that vision, around the customer. So there's a lot of different fastest to it. So you brought up psychological safety. What impact does it have on driving innovation and in building this unity around the vision and mission? Yeah, everything, it has, absolutely everything. And so just a level set. When I say psychological safety, but I'm talking about is that people work in a place or they're in an environment where they feel safe speaking up, they don't feel like they're going to be condemned if they make a mistake. I mean, clearly we have to perform, but the point is, you know, we're going to learn as a learning environment. It's an environment where judgmine if you do something. It's not like all, that's a stupid idea. How could use another mistake again. It's it's more like let's let's celebrate the opportunities in the things that we can learn. So so, psychological safety is critical to innovation. You cannot have innovation someone has an idea and they feel really good about it. It could be a game changing idea, and they go to their team and they say, Gosh, I'm a I'm scared to death to bring this up to my team. If I bring up to my team, they're going to laugh at me or they're getting so then that that idea dies. And by the way, just to make the distinction between creativity in innovation, because then increase ativity is really that process of developing the idea begin with, and an innovation is making that idea become a reality. So people can be creative, but organizations may or may not be innovative. Right, you mean that have innovation, but psychological safety. If you have an environment where people are afraid, whether they're insecure, where they lack confidence creativity and innovation or stifled. So in essence, what I'm hearing you say that creative people's in a ability to innovate will be scifled if the organizations do not recognize it and promote it, especially when there was a lack of psychological safety. That's exactly right. Yeah, and I mean there are these phrases will use, but what does psychological safety really need to when you translate that into late terms? Like you mentioned people speaking up. But how? Yes, so the best analogy I have to it, and I had a guest on my podcast named Josh Layton, or Josh, is a creativity expert. He's a entrepreneurs and authors, a speaker, and he analogizes it to a greenhouse. Okay, so when you have a greenhouse, what you're trying to do is to create conditions that are really conducive to growing plants. So, as leaders, are we creating an environment that's conducive to people sharing their ideas? So how do we do that? We appreciate you know the idea, we recognize that, we listen to it. So if you and I aren a meeting. You know, you you may say, Hey, I've got... idea. So how do I respond? which has man, let's hear I've love to hear the idea. You know, there are times were people might say, there goes jasmine again, another idea. I mean, and I'm being facetious, right, but but in teams, you know, how do we interact with each other? Are we receptive? So the first thing is, you know, are we receptive and how do we respond? You know, I was in the meeting were, this is not that long ago, you know, where's a group of people and someone had an idea and, frankly, to sound like a like not a good idea, and I've been another environments for someone would have said, you know what, that's just not a good idea. We're having to spend a time in that. Who's got the next idea? Well, how would that have made that person feel? Right, that's but what we did was we said, well, tell us more about this idea. What? What? What led you to this idea? And as the person started to unpack the ideas, like, oh my gosh, she saw something that we didn't see and it was really a good idea. It just took us a little while to everyone to come together and it needed to be modified a little bit. But but by being receptive, by listening, by appreciating, by thanking and when mistakes are made, something doesn't work out. So then how do we respond? You know, but it's like sometimes you might just say, well, what do we learn from that? Using Josh again as an example, he talked about a company he had worked with where they had either this failure Friday kind of thing where they would spend time and it's Sarah, what what did not work this week, and they might celebrate that something didn't work. That they don't want the failure, they want the learning from the failure and they want to and sentibize people. Are Encourage people to be bold, take risks, take chances. So those are some ideas. So historically, culturally, the concept of fader has been really detested in our society. But if you're not failing, it means you're really not trying or not experimenting, so that in itself is very detestable. How do we promote the learning from fader culture that does not feel almost stifling and restricting to people, so they have the comfort to step forward because again, you can't innovate without failure, right, the famous Thomas Edison saying that you know, I found tenzero ways that do not work. So how do you deal with with failure? It really I'd say there's an individual, maybe a group in an organizational way, and they're all connected. So at first, if you and I are working together in a team and there's a I fail, the question is how? How does my how's my manager? How's the individual that the people running? How do they respond to that? And you know, hopefully the question is to tell us what happened here. You know what and and you know what's the reason why this didn't work. Was it because of a error and execution? Was it an error and concept? Was it? What was it? But just try to understand and to have that person feel is though it's okay. I mean sometimes I'll say to people it's okay, I'd rather have you take an action and make a mistake and learn from it then then be afraid to do it in the first place. So they mean that ultimately goes to the organization and the leadership and the culture that's created. So is that backed up? What's going to happen if I get my employer review and it's like Joe failed on all these different things. Now let's make it a so how do you encourage, and I hate to say how to encourage failure? That doesn't sound right. How do you encourage? It's really how do you encourage people to take risks, to take action, to share their ideas? And how do you address the situation when things don't work as planned? And some of this is how to individuals around that person respond? How does the Organization respond with the Cultural Response? You know, if someone has an idea and they take actions on it and doesn't work, why not start by saying, let's just understand what happened. Tell me about what did you think was going to happen? What happened? was there a failure and execution? was there a failure in concept? Can...

...we tweak something to make it work? What can we learn from that? And the same thing can be true, I mean organizationally. So let's just say I've done something. You know, what's my review look like at the end of the year? Joe had failure after failure fell right. Well, that then I'm going to feel like, even though I maybe had an initial response that was positive, ultimately this is going to be held against me, it's going to hurt me, it's going to PRT my career development. So, I mean the organization has to back that up. I do want to a distinction between encouraging learning from failure and, you know, really, I guess what I might say is competence versus in competence. I mean, ultimately we have to perform or expected to perform. If someone is is trying and there's a legitimate reason for something not to work or they've taken a swing for the fences and had I mean those are all things you have to take into consideration. And on the other hand, if there's a real performance issue, that that's a different matter. And even there I think you know how we handle that with people, whether we are direct, whether we encourage, whether we listen, if something is chronic, whether we give an opportunity to repair or to perform in over some period of time. If that doesn't work, as a different issue, maybe you've get a personnel issue, but you can still have a culture and an approach that encourages people to take chances and recognizes those things. How does the Dale Carnegie Organization Promote Dale carnegies teaching. Teaching suits own and pletes. So we all take the Dale, Carnegie Churuse, we take our programs. Of all new people take them, and so we want to have that kind of common language. We also try the very best we can to live our principle. So there are thirty principles that come from that, from how to win friends and influence people, thirty principles from how to stop boring intotart living. And you know, we have and we every all company meeting. We talked about what our values. We talked about are working together principles and practice. US is trying to be people first and so forth. So we constantly are reinforcing those things as a goal. We encourage our managers to make sure that there's zero tolerance for people who are violating those things. In other words, you know, it's the proverbial note jerks rule, so to speak, but we expect people to treat each other with a loble respect that we teach and I got to sign very proud of our organization. We do. It's a great group of people. So I feel like, especially over time it's it's really become very self reinforcing. The culture is such that we are aspiring all the time to follow the deal Carnegie principle so that when you see behavior that's not alignment with that, it's pretty clear that that there's there's an issue and either there's self correction by the person and the person might say I don't fit here or in the rare instance, for someone has to be asked to leave. They have to be asked to leave. So it's interesting a lot of these principles, I mean, come from the s almost a century ago. Yet there was been a lot of technical change and innovation, but the same principles apply. Can you elaborate on that, because it's a fascinating dynamic when you step back and think about it. Right those are a hundred years old almost. Yeah, it's not only fascinating to think about how those principles are enduring but also how they transcend language and culture, because we have operations in over eighty countries and and I've been to so many countries. Prior to the pandemic was traveling all over the world. I would see the pack firsthand at how our principles resonate really anywhere. And ultimately goes to your question. So why do these principles why they so effective a hundred years later. Dale Carnegie was an amazing innovator. He was brilliant. He understood people in humanity and how we connect. He understood that people have a need to feel appreciated, to be recognized, to be heard, listen to and that there are certain behaviors that if we if we apply them, we can have stronger relationships and also, if we violate those we can undermine...

...their relationships. If we don't, if we you know, if we try to take credit for everything, if we put people down, if we don't listen, if we don't appreciate, we're going to have very weak, undermine relationships, for not going to have trust, people are going to, you know, want to work with us. On the other hand, you know, if I make a mistake and I admit it and apologize for it and talk about what I'm going to do differently as a result of this, if I take time to listen and appreciate, someone get honest and sincere appreciation, if I ask questions instead of giving orders, is a whole range of things. Those things are as true today as they were then, because people are still the same. Are are ways of communicating and connecting are different. We've got different technologies, but we at the heart we're still the same people. That's so true, and there's more commonality among people and cultures then we ever think to give credits it. So it's really resonates and connects the group. Any additional thoughts on driving innovation that you'd be like to Ach yes, I would say is that there's two things that are really important in when we think about resilience and agility and those kinds of ideas, you know, and part of it as our mindset, you know. So let's just talk about that. Some people will think I'm not creative, I don't have any good ideas. So forget the culture, forget the fact that the culture might encourage and support and do different things. If I've got a limiting mindset, then I may be stopping myself before I even get started. So the very first thing is that people need to think about their thoughts. What am I think? What am I thinking am I am I thinking positively or am I just thinking negatively? And ultimately the results I get will be driven by those those things. So people can change the thoughts, they can change their mindsets, they can change their attitude, attitudes. That's something we teach and Dale Carnegie. Sometimes people will come into our programs in the beginning of very closed and negative and so forth, and in what they discover is that they've got more potential, more capability. So in the topic of creativity, everyone's creative. Everyone has the potential to be creative. Everyone has the ability to think and it come up with good ideas. It's just whether or not we allow ourselves or encourage ourselves and have the freedom. So number one is it starts with mindset. The other thing it's valuable is is confidence and a belief that things can work out, because in often I think about perspective when we were going through the very worst to covid and the very beginning jasmine. You know, I think back in January two thousand and twenty, because we're global, we saw what was happening in China and Asia. We're getting lockdowns in the impact of covid and we could see what was going to happen to the rest of our business. It was terrifying because we were in person and all of our operations we are being shut down and there was a point in March of two thousand and twenty where leading this organization, I was. I was very, very concerned that. You can imagine, you know, all of a sudden you see all of your operations shutting down at the same time. I believed, though, and I think the Dale Carnegie we talked about having the deal Carnegie Books and principles nearby, the how to stop wearing and start living book and the idea that our lives, you know, are where our thoughts make them out to be and we've got this potential and so forth, really got me thinking about confidence. I've gotten through two thousand and one and the running a business. At that time. We'd been through two thousand and eight, two thousand and nine, and I came to the conviction that we were going to get through that really harrowing time, and that opened up the mindset. Well, how do we turn this crisis into an opportunity? So, going back to mindset, there's so there's the mindset and then there's also kind of that that confidence, that confidence in perspective that things are going to work out. Those two things together free the mind and free us just to take action into eliminate fear. Fears. The worst part of all this fear can stifle everything that we are capable of doing. So these two things can help keep fear... its place, and when fairness is in its place, we can do amazing things. Thank you for sharing that. I mean, in essence, a lot of people self incarstivate themselves mentally right, so do asert it before you even sharing anything or putting anything forward. But there is the reverse phenomenon as well. There are some organizations, some groups and some teams or something sticks out. They almost try to pull the person down. And so in you talking about confidence, how do you find the common ground to deal with the ladder situation? Well, and and that's also where culture comes in, and I just want to go back to because one of the things I'm most proud of is this amazing team of people we've got all over the world that were prepared to have the mindset that yes, we can change and they have confidence. It's that we're going to get through this, we're going to work together, we're going to get through this. Is Difficult as it is, it ultimately comes down to the people in the team and the culture is that thing we talked about, culture and envision that drives it. So the team's performance, the results that you achieve are the score board that reflect all these more less, maybe tangible things. But there's amazing things that we could do is people and teams when we're open to those possibilities. And that I mean you've got innovation nation, your podcast is about being innovative and be creative and so forth. So there's no reason why we all can't be creative and innovative. Thank you. Show in fact, we're trying to unpack the mystery of innovation right, because a lot of the time people think that, you know, there has to be this ideal perfect moment, ideal perfect set of circumstances for innovation to occurry. It in reality, it happens incrementally and iteratively all the time. But, peetlet, as you said it, people have to see themselves. They have to have also the open mindedness, the kind of mental framework and confidence to see themselves doing that. So that's that's right. They're the starting point and we often use the terminology take command right, so you take them into your thoughts, your emotions, your relationship, your future, but you're the starting point and once you do those things, you know it's not like you have to wait for the perfect circumstances. You're all these things have to be lined up before I could take the first step. You are the first step. So take the first step and start with yourself and your thoughts and your mindset, and then you know, make things happen. Take Command. What a great call and what a great exhortation. Thank you so much for joining us today. Our guest today was Joe Hart See of Dale Carnegie, and this is your host, Jasmine March, to us in thanks again. Thank you. You've been listening to innovation nation. For more, subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player or connect with us on Linkedin. Thanks for listening.

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