My Balancing Act
Andy Temte’s take on second chances.
Most of us are out of balance, and most of us need that kind of heavy introspection at times, and really need to look inside and ask ourselves questions about who we are, who we want to be, and the impact that we’re having on others. Andy also known as Andrew Temte is the author of Balancing Act.
“If somebody that’s placed me in a box actually spent the time to really understand what makes me tick, they would find a much, much more complicated story. I’ve only been married to one woman, but I’ve been married to her twice “
Andy opens up.
“In my late thirties, my very early forties I had a lot of success and was wildly successful by most people’s metrics. Money, family, cars, boats, all the usual societal metrics that people use. But something was really missing from my life, I was all work all the time, not as present as I should have been in my family. And my wife and I split up and it was a real wakeup call, the process of divorce. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I realised I really had to do something different.”
Then comes a word of caution – “you’re not a lesser individual if you need to talk to somebody else about your challenges and issues.”
“I really learned a lot about myself, how I interact with other people, what my positives are, what my negatives are. And it was that process, it was a series of wake up calls that really opened my mind to different ways of leading, different ways of working and having open ears.”
Andy’s take on diversity and inclusion is insightful.
“I need people who don’t think like me, who can challenge me to be the next best version of myself. And those people who are going to challenge me and provide a different perspective and a different voice. They probably don’t look like me either. So it is a very pragmatic approach that, to continue to improve, to continue to get better, horizons really have to be broadened. We’re better off when we’re challenged, when we’re thinking differently, when we’re adopting a more agile mindset.”
The baseline here should be shared experience, shared access, all working together, learning from each other and not placing individuals in different boxes.
Andy’s parting shot is refreshing.
” Take care of you. Take care of you the individual”. That “net giver”, that takes effort out from us, and if you’re not refilling your tank on a routine basis, however you like to do it.
Remember even mistakes are stepping stones to greatness.
00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host Tesse Akpeki and cohost Paula Okonneh. “TesseLeads” is a safe, sensitive and supportive place and space to share, hear and tell your stories and experiences. You will hear what top thought leaders and strategists found useful while navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, and dilemmas. You may find these stories helpful as you create and shape opportunities in your own lives.
00:00:40 Paula: Our guest today is Dr. Andrew Temte, CFA. A senior advisor at Kaplan North America, and the author of “Balancing Act, Teach Coach, Mentor, Inspire”. Andrew is a thought leader on issues related to workforce reskilling and upskilling, and his articles have appeared in a number of media outlets, including chief executive and chief learning officer. Previously he served in the following professional positions, the CEO of Kaplan professional, president and global head of corporate learning. Dean of the Kaplan university school of professional and continuing education, interim president of Mount Washington College and president of the Kaplan University College of Business and Technology. This blend of higher education or professional education experience gives Dr. Temte a unique perspective over the issues surrounding the future of employment and workplace relevance. He’s an accomplished musician and leader of the rock band, “The Remainders”. And he’s active in numerous fundraising events and committees in the Lacrosse, Wisconsin community. Today we are going to be talking about my balancing act. Welcome to “TesseLeads” Andy.
00:02:12 Andrew: Thank you, Paula.
00:02:13 Tesse: Hi, Andy. Hi, I’m so glad to have you on the show. I have been a fan of your work over the years, even before “Balancing Act” came along. And I find your story fascinating. The stories I read in your book, “Balancing Act”, I thought- amazing, and twinning that in with leadership streams and threads. You did it like nobody else can. So I’m interested in you. So how did you find your balancing act? What did you find helpful in finding your balance act? So making it personal, I’m all ears and so is Paula.
00:02:53 Andrew: Yeah. As I talk about in the book, in fairly gory detail. In my late thirties, my very early forties had a lot of success and was wildly successful by most people’s metrics. Money, family, cars, boats, all the usual societal metrics that people use. But so something was really missing from my life, I was all work all the time, not as present as I should have been in my family. And my wife and I split up and it was a real wake up call the process of divorce and especially the questions around whose fault was it and was there fault. And certainly there’s, in a situation like that, there is fault, there is blame. But when, during our therapy sessions, the concept of that it’s almost never one person’s, you know. A situation like that is almost never one person’s doing solely. Now it can be of course. But the fact that a situation like that is multifaceted and a two way street, really led me through that therapy to think about the other balancing acts that I was playing in my life and how out of balance I had really become. A lot of this is in the category of almost cliche, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone and all sorts of sayings like that. I had my attention in places where it was needed, but also in other places I did not have my attention pointed in places where it should be – like to my children, like to my family. A lot of people hate therapy and I hated it too at first. But I really learned a lot about myself, how I interact with other people, what my positives are, what my negatives are. And it was that process, it was a series of wake up calls that really opened my mind to different ways of leading , different ways of working and having open ears. You know, the concept of being an active listener and being an effective communicator. Those things are just as important in business as they are in one’s personal life. A lot of people think they have figured out. Most of us are out of balance, and most of us need that kind of heavy introspection at times, and really need to look inside and ask ourselves questions about who we are, who we want to be, and the impact that we’re having on others. So it was right in those moments in my life where I was like, wow, I really got to do something different.
00:06:04 Paula: I believe and we learn from everything. There’s something you talked about, you became more of an active listener. I was speaking with some people today and we talked about listening generously. So with everything that you went through in your personal life, as you said having to go to therapy, which I know my generation, which is your generation probably as well. Therapy in those days or many years ago, was not looked at in a positive light as it is now. Because I’ve gone for therapy and I know the world of difference it has made in my life as well as many other my age group. I’m wondering how you invest in, in yourself more now that you’ve learned what you’ve learned and you’re looking at life a little differently?
00:06:50 Andrew: So there are many ways to invest in oneself. And it is the balance of the mental and the physical health. Going back to my early forties, I was all about the physical health. Being as fit as I could be and I was not focused on my mental wellbeing. And Paula, to your point when we were growing up, oh, therapy’s bad, you’re weak. You’re somehow a lesser individual if you need to talk to somebody else about your challenges and issues. In this podcast, if we can convince one person that that’s okay. That yes opening up and exploring and really diving deep. Yeah, it can be painful. Yeah, there’s probably a lot going on under the surface that you’ve either shoved away or purposefully relegated to the depths of the subconscious somewhere. But it’s really important to explore those things. I don’t want people to think that, oh, it’s all exploration all the time. Because to do that leads to paralysis and all sorts of bad things can come from over introspection. So just like everything else it’s balancing act.
00:08:04 Paula: Love that, it’s a balancing act.
00:08:07 Tesse: All about balance. Paula you know this about me that, because of different things that happened in my life, I actually grew up in two institutions in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom. And I was in these institutions from the ages of four to ten. So those formative years and very troubled environments really in those places. But what I did as a child is I went to some places to soothe me, and to what I call my happy places. And when I read your book, some of those happy places were in your book, because they’re the places that you went to. So I start from the first thing. I love Star Wars, Voyager. I love Sci-fi anything going on. And in the UK we have a programme called Doctor Who. Those were all my going to places, the galaxy. Those were places I went to. So that was the first thing. So my first thing was it, and I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t on some planet galaxy somewhere. Then the second thing that I loved was singing and music. I love music. I love singing. I love dancing. These were my happy places. So when I read your book, I thought, yes, I’m curious to know from Andy. What was your love for music and Sci-fi? Where did that come from? And what does it gift you with?
00:09:32 Andrew: Well, I grew up in a very musical family. My mother is a church organist, a really fine keyboard slash piano player. If you know anything about a church organ, when you’re playing a church organ, both hands and both feet are going at the same time. So anybody that can play an instrument that requires both hands and both feet at the same time is an extraordinary human being. That is incredible. My father was an actor, he liked to sing. He played in the air force band. He’s also an accomplished musician. So I came by the music very early and very honestly. You know, I grew up in a boy choir. I had a first Sopranos voice. My voice could soar into some of the highest ranks. And then my voice changed and I went right into rock and roll. Right from being in a boy choir, right to being in a rock band. Yeah, music has always been part of my life and it was some of those more challenging years, when I had convinced myself that I did not have time or the space in my life to continue to pursue music. That’s when I was the fullest because we had two young children and that certainly fills you up. But I was also the emptiest in those parts of my life because I had forsaken something that was so deeply foundational to my being.
00:11:04 Paula: I love the fact that you recognize that you are the fullest yet you are also the emptiness. And recognizing that is a big part, a big part of admitting that there’s something wrong, you know, and then working towards changing that. That’s when inner and outer change happens. I know from reading your book that you have a passion. I sense really your open aspiration for being more inclusive. And we talked about that in our other interview with you. But from reading your book, I sense in you that there’s so much more, that you feel needs to be done in the world to make it a better place. For more hope, for more inspiration, for more inclusiveness. And I know that that came from within. But not everyone has had that opportunity to read your books, so I’m wondering how you could share more about that.
00:12:03 Andrew: Giving back to others. I think it’s something essential that all humans need to aspire and strive to do. And be, I like to call it a “net giver” versus a “net taker”. That word “net” is very important, because there are times where you’re going to be a taker. You have to be a taker. There are times when you have opportunities to give and just make sure that ledger tilts toward the giving side of the spectrum. And Paula in our other podcast, we were talking about how I’m a white guy from a very white community in the upper Midwest, which was not a diverse place culturally and from the aspect of demographics. We had people that talked like each other and looked like each other. And it was only a little bit later in my career that mid 30s getting onto 40 when I was really starting to ramp up that, gosh, I can’t do everything myself. I need people who don’t think like me, who can challenge me to be the next best version of myself. And those people who are going to challenge me and provide a different perspective and a different voice, they probably don’t look like me either. So it is a very pragmatic approach that, to continue to improve, to continue to get better , horizons really have to be broadened. And those that struggle with their own place in the diversity, equity, inclusion journey that we’re all on, on this great pale blue dot that we live on to remember that net giver and that we’re better off when we’re challenged, when we’re thinking differently, when we’re adopting a more agile mindset. It’s really hard to adopt an agile mindset where you’re in a room with the same people all the time and those people look exactly like you do. And they talk exactly like you.
00:14:18 Paula: Absolutely. I love that phrase “agile mindset”. And it’s interesting that you say that because Tesse and I, we have Nigerian heritage. We went to Nigeria as tweens, 12 year olds, thirteen year olds?
00:14:31 Tesse: I was there when I was 10. I went, when I was ten, you came slightly after me. You came when you were 13?
00:14:37 Paula: 12 or 13. And we became friends because we didn’t have a word there, but there wasn’t much of an agile mindset then. People were celebrated for doing the same thing, going down the same roads, eating the same food. And we came from a different environment where things were just different. It’s in that time of having to change our own mindset, that we became friends. Because we are able to bring different aspects of our lives and merge it together to create a more strong friendship bond, because we saw that there was something lacking.
00:15:16 Tesse: And Paula, the thing that united us was the fact that we were both born outside Nigeria. One of your parents is Nigerian and one is not, Caribbean? I was born in the UK, grew up in Northern Ireland so we had that. But how is that relevant to the discussion with you Andy, is that when I read your book, there was so much I could relate to. And so you see, it’s not just about colour, it’s about the things that interest you. So I was in a university band and the band that was in, two of the people in the band have grown to be very successful musicians, because they were just so gifted. I didn’t know how to handle failure. So when I came in at a concert too early, I hid myself away for a week because I was ashamed that I cued too early.
00:16:07 Tesse: But when, I think that you cue in too early it’s not a big deal, but I didn’t know that. So there is something in this conversation we’re having, which is about the things that we share that unite us. And every single thing you spoke about, I really love. Like in your book, you spoke about taking different personality profile, like the DISC, like Myers-Briggs and doing different ones and why you thought it mattered. I studied different personality profiles and I’ve mixed them all up. And some people think I’m weird, but I think that by doing different things, you can actually layer different pieces. So for us, what stood out for Paula and I in reading your book was that, hey, this guy gets it. He gets it!And I think that when you have discourse around diversity, equity, inclusion and in our country, the United Kingdom equal opportunities and access. What is missing are the people that get it together. The “we” it’s missing.
00:17:13 Andrew: Yeah. They almost become programs to assuage the egos of the leaders of one group or another, but you really don’t get at root cause. And the baseline here should be shared experience, shared access, all working together, learning from each other and not placing individuals in different boxes. I’m sure I get put into boxes all the time. But if somebody that’s placed me in a box actually spent the time to really understand what makes me tick, they would find a much, much more complicated story. But we’ve just gotten so used to boiling everyone and everything down to its lowest common denominator that this personal exploration and really getting to know someone or a culture or a different way of thinking, there’s no desire to invest time there.
00:18:20 Tesse: It’s lazy, putting people in boxes is lazy. Labeling is lazy. But you know what Andy, you gave us a gift of you. And you keep on giving in this interview, in your book and etc. We just found a heart of someone who isn’t lazy. And your stories are so fun. I know Paula is about to wrap up. I could say one of my funniest stories that I read in your book,was when you talked about how you left school and went on the road and you discovered that being a musician was not just about playing the music. I lost it. I was killing myself laughing. It was so funny.
00:19:02 Andrew: Yeah, those were tough years. They were awesome years, no doubt about it. But we would get done playing at two o’clock in the morning and then we’d have to pack up all our stuff and drive to the next community an hour or two hours away. Get a little bit of sleep, set it all up again and do it all over again. It was real work.
00:19:25 Tesse: Paula, I’m still laughing. So got me here in a good way.
00:19:31 Paula: What’s going through my mind is that all helps shape you into being who you are today.
00:19:37 Andrew: Yeah.
00:19:37 Paula: I tell young people that the things that we do in our younger days, that we look back on sometimes, with horror, or you know, with regrets or like, why did I do that? Are all instrumental in the people that we become and the future that we build. We can’t build on what wasn’t there, but we can build on what’s there. Even those mistakes are stepping stones to greatness.
00:20:03 Andrew: Yeah, totally.
00:20:05 Paula: Any last words? I think we’ve drawn everything out of you, but you still may have something.
00:20:10 Andrew: Oh, we could talk for hours about my missteps and the deep successes. But what I would leave your listeners with is, ” take care of you. Take care of you the individual”. That “net giver”, that takes effort out from us, and if you’re not refilling your tank on a routine basis, however you like to do it. I do it primarily through music and exercise and my writing. Those are the things that fill my tank up. I travel with my lovely wife, by the way, the woman I was divorced from we’re now happily remarried, so your listeners will enjoy that. I’ve only been married to one woman, but I’ve been married to her twice.
00:20:57 Paula: And that’s lovely, that in itself. I mean. Second time around they say is better than the first time.
00:21:04 Andrew: I would concur.
00:21:07 Paula: Andrew, it’s been great having this conversation with you. We want to be respectful of your time. And so to our precious listeners, we want you to know that your stories and your lives matter. Please share them with us. We also encourage you to follow us as you head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else, you listen to podcasts and please click subscribe. And if you found anything that you’ve heard in this particular episode or any of our other episodes of “TesseLeads”, please let us know in your reviews. And if you’d like to be a guest on our show, “TesseLeads”, please head over to “Tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads” to apply. Thank you, Andrew.
00:21:54 Tesse: Thank you, Andrew. Yeah, you put on the lights for us. Thank you. And we’ll keep them on and we’ll shine through our eyes. Thank you so much.
00:22:05 Paula: Through our eyes