The Light in Your Eyes
Balancing Act: Teach, Coach, Mentor, Inspire reminds us that success without balance is often more disastrous than failure with balance. “I’d rather see a fail and learn something from it. Then I can pick myself back up and do better next time rather than build a huge ego that is going to lead to some future disaster that I don’t know yet. So opened Dr Andrew Temte CFA.
Andrew likes to coach the younger generation, those that are coming after us.
“People are watching that light in your eye. Be aware of the light, of your own light. Being aware of your own light gives you all sorts of benefits when you’re dealing with other people. Understanding yourself first and then being able to understand others and remember not everybody wins all the time.”Andrew Temte
And the insights just kept on coming – “Really engage in some very thoughtful, reflective thinking, which is sorely needed in this world. We’re far too reactive and just say, whatever comes to our mind and whatever we feel like”.
TesseTalks asks” What are your superpowers?
Andrew’s answer came as no surprise “Calm is one of my superpowers and my favourite word. I have the ability to remain calm when bad stuff is happening. In a team situation, I trust and rely that our skill, our ability, our connection, our ability to work together is going to lead us to a better place. And if we’re all mad at each other that never leads to good results. We develop a sense of community where individuals in the community are looking out for one another, supporting one another, respecting the viewpoints that are coming from multiple angles. We figure out how to work with each other, take a deep breath and take care of each other.”
Every day, you should be thinking about how am I going to teach? How am I going to coach? How am I going to selectively maintain my mentorship relationships?
“There’s not enough carefully designed experiential learning opportunities for individuals of all shapes and sizes, along many parts of their educational arts. There aren’t enough opportunities to really get to understand how I tick, how the way I tick affects the people around me. Understanding how other people operate, and then how can we work together to common aims and common goals” continues Andrew.
FUN FACT About Andrew . He plays in a band called the Remainders with his son Nick Temte and at the end of our recording Andrew dashed off to play in the band with Nick! The name of their latest music video release is ” Hitchin’ a Ride “
00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your host Tesse Akpeki and cohost Paula Okonneh, where we share with new top leadership and management strategies. This is a journey of discovery. We are learning that leadership is personal professional, and we hope you will walk with us in this adventure. Our guest today is Andrew Temte, better known as Dr. Andrew Temte CFA and he is a senior advisor at Kaplan, North America. And the author of “Balancing Act, Teach, Coach, Mentor, Inspire. A thought leader on issues related to work force reskilling and upskilling. His articles have appeared in a number of media outlets, including chief executive and chief learning officer. One thing that we don’t know about Andrew or a lot of people probably don’t know, I didn’t, is that he’s also an accomplished musician and leader of the rock band, “The Remainders”. And he’s active in numerous fundraising events and committees and the lacrosse, Wisconsin community. Welcome to “TesseTalks” Andrew, we are thrilled to have you here.
00:01:22 Andrew: Thank you, Paula.
00:01:23 Tesse: Hi, Andy. I have to confess that I have loved your work for many, many years and was really thrilled to read your book “Balancing Act”, which by the way, I think is one of the best books I’ve read because it’s such fun. I mean, I couldn’t put it down, and it really became something that soothes me as I went to bed. So there’s something that was in the book, which it says “success without balance is often more disastrous than failure without balance”. Discuss, I’m intrigued.
00:01:58 Andrew: Yeah, yeah. That’s a phrase that I’ve gotten more than one question about, and you got to look at it a couple of times to really recognize what’s being said. And that is that if you are out of balance out of round, tilting one direction or the other, and you have success. You might believe that the conditions for success were driven by your unbalanced nature . And you might’ve had success this time around, but over in the long lens of time, if you try to repeat that success over and over again, your wobbly nature will not tend to lead to future successes. That’s the purpose of the statement. You said maybe just a little bit more straightforwardly would be that I’d rather see a fail and learn something from it. Pick yourself back up and do better next time than build a huge ego that is going to lead to some future disaster that you don’t know yet. A divorce, a real substantive business failure, et cetera. So that’s the purpose of leading off like that.
00:03:17 Tesse: Wow. That show some light for me. Talk about light, Paula, you had a question for Andy, did’nt you ?
00:03:22 Paula: Yes, I was so curious about the light in your eyes. What is the significance of this light?
00:03:31 Andrew: So I like to look at people, and before the show we were talking about, are we people, people are not introverts extroverts. But I really do like to look at people’s faces, especially how their eyes tell the story of what’s behind their eyes. Now it’s very easy to generalize, it’s very easy to jump to conclusions. So you always have to take everything with a bit of a grain of salt there. But you can tell when somebody’s really tired, really stressed, or you can tell if somebody’s got a lot more petrol in the tank and has a lot more to give, just by how their facial expressions and especially their eyes tell the stories. I like to coach the younger generation, those that are coming after us, that people are watching that light in your eyes and be aware of that light, of your own light. And being aware of your own light gives you all sorts of benefits when you’re dealing with other people. Understanding yourself first and then being able to understand others.
00:04:39 Tesse: Yeah, it is so enriching what you’ve said. And I was reading your book and I came across Jenny who was rude to people and she just checked out, no light in her eyes, gone. And I was thinking well, in some places, a lot of places our people have just checked out. And we say that we haven’t noticed and we don’t care. But you know, one of the thing, and this is a personal thank you, Andy. Because this year hasn’t been the greatest of years for me on a personal level. It’s been hard to keep the light in my eyes going, because my heart is broken. My brother was killed a few months ago and it just broke my heart. But why am I saying this to you? Because I first of all started reading the PDF you sent. And I didn’t get to read the book until it arrived. Thank you so much for sending it. So I hadn’t opened the book, and when I opened your book and you said, “Tesse, keep your light shining for all the world to see”. I cried, I cried. Because there was no way you could have known that I needed to read that. Because it’s so hard in grief and loss, it’s so hard to shut down and to go into yourself and not in a good way. But when I saw that, I thought, wow, this connection was very, very powerful. And then I went on, and your book has so many different anchors to it, that I didn’t really know where to start. Because there’s so many gems all over it. Cause sometimes when I read books, I can tell this is a thread and that’s it. But there was just this wealth of golden threads all over, like spaghetti junction. So I thought, okay, where am I going to learn here? And what actually came out to me, the piece that you wrote about, you’d listed nine words that you live by. And I loved every single word there. It gave it texture, it give it context, it gave it well. So I thought, well, I’m really interested, and Paula agreed to kind of dig a bit deeper about what these words, what they mean to you in terms of their importance. And for people who are listening, there might be similar words, or there might be different words. But how could they using a practice of words, deepen their own lives and embrace. And I love what you said in your book. ‘The whole self superpower”. I’d love that bit.
00:07:02 Andrew: Yeah. So the words that I have chosen, and I periodically revisit those when I go through my personal long range planning exercise. Every three to five years, it’s usually in a December, January, right around the Christmas holidays, maybe a little vacation beach time. Really engage in some very thoughtful, reflective thinking, which is sorely needed in this world, by the way. We’re far too reactive and just say, whatever comes to our mind and whatever we feel like. And so I revisit these words. My favourite is calm. I come back to that over and over again, you know, from a management perspective. The world was falling apart. Something happened in the business that led to a poor result and we’d have a meeting about it and I would walk into the room and folks would ask me Andy, you know, why isn’t your hair on fire right now? Why aren’t you yelling and screaming at us right now? I almost always come back to, well, first of all, that would be counterproductive. Might help me feel better in the moment, but it’s certainly going to make you feel worse. And it’s going to challenge our relationship, our ability to actually do something positive together, to fix whatever challenge that we have. Because I’ve had bosses that did run around with their hair on fire. And the ability to build trusting work environments when the boss is getting all crazy on you, it just doesn’t work very well. So I learned long ago that tapping into what some people believe is one of my super powers, which is the ability to remain calm when bad stuff is happening and trust and rely that our skill, our ability, our connection, our ability to work together is going to lead us to a better place. And if we’re all mad at each other that never leads to good results. So that’s the one that I would really pick out for you.
00:09:23 Tesse: That’s beautiful. One of my favourite poets is actually Rudyard Kipling. I love his poem, which is called, “Keep your head when everybody else is losing theirs”. I don’t know that you chose calm. It’s something that is very powerful and very centring, I think in relation to impact. Paula?
00:09:43 Paula: And I liked that word calm. Because that’s been a word that describes me as well. I’ve been told over and over that the house could be burning down, and I’m calm. And similar to you Andrew, I realized that there’s no point panicking. I’m thinking of how do I make it out of here with minimal loss. Emotions to me don’t work. But in the light of that, I was going to say. Now we’re all going through this crisis, the world is still in crisis mode. What are your words of wisdom related to COVID and everything else that’s happening in the world? But in particular to this pandemic.
00:10:19 Andrew: Paula the most disturbing thing to me about our current experience, especially around the global pandemic is how quickly everything got polarized and politicized. That you were either on one side of the argument or the other. And I still don’t feel this way. I don’t feel like we’re in this together. I don’t feel like there is a sense of community where individuals in the community are all looking out for one another and are supporting one another, respecting the viewpoints that are coming from multiple angles. Absolutely have to respect that. But this concept of Liberty versus freedom especially here in the United States. I think that’s a frame that we’ve forgotten. We’ve convinced ourselves somehow in the United States, that freedom is the be all end all. But true personal freedom where I can do whatever I want whenever I want, that does not exist. It only exists in anarchical, chaotic societies. And it only exists in those societies if you are the strongest or have the most, or the biggest gun or whatever. The rest of us need to figure out how to work with each other. And I just can’t wrap my mind around the concept that I’m more important somehow than my obligation to help protect you, your family. So, yeah, I don’t want to wear mask. I hate wearing masks, they’re terrible. I don’t like my own breath who likes their own breath? Right. So let’s all agree that wearing a mask, it’s not a great experience. But it is the experience shown by science, because this is an airborne disease. That it is the best for the community. As a society, we’ve forgotten this word “Liberty” because Liberty versus freedom. If you read the definition carefully, it’s that, yes, I am free but I have an obligation to those around me. And I can’t just make up my own alternative reality and say whatever I want whenever I want. We have obligations to each other. And yeah, your personal freedoms are very important to me. But when your personal freedoms are going to kill my mom, that’s where the line has to get drawn. And we can’t be deniers, we can’t say that science doesn’t. We can’t hold our phones and check our phones all day, every day, or marvel at what’s going on in space, or the fact that we’ve got plastic wrap that keeps food nice and tidy in the refrigerator. Those are all scientific advancements. So you’re going to trust that, but pick and choose what you want to trust that the scientific community is giving you. Come on, let’s all take a deep breath and take care of each other.
00:13:51 Paula: Just my sentiment. I have tried to wrap my head around the fact that you’re using technology, science to say, “I don’t want to wear a mask” and that this is a conspiracy and this is not real. Yet you get on a plane, that’s science, you know. Why don’t you say that that’s not real. I’m speechless, only because I agree with you. Yeah.
00:14:21 Andrew: Yeah, Paula, the way I would really crystallize it, is that logic, reason, critical thinking, constructive discourse, compromise and collaboration. All those things that are essential to high functioning societies. Some people are saying, “No, we’re not going to do that anymore, we’re going to go all crazy town on everybody because we’ve got some point that we need to make”. I wanted to create some signs, some big flags. Red white and blue flags, that I would drive around on the river and Lacrosse. And they’d just say “Logic, rational thought”. Can you imagine how cool that would have been? Just driving down the river with a big old rational thought sign. I thought it would be cool.
00:15:11 Tesse: I think it is cool. I love logic. I think people’s throw logic, they don’t want to factor in. Emotions are important, really important. And we lose when we don’t pay attention to emotions. But I think the idea of rational thoughts and logic, not too much attention has been paid to that. I particularly like in your book, when you talk about literacy. And actually literacy in different areas. I really love that, as well as philosophy. I love philosophical framing. I think so creatives and Aristotle and all the rest were brilliant people, and the wisdom and insights still pay for today, you know, it’s still there. I was thinking of your book and the title, “Teach Coach Mentor And Inspire. And what came into was a quadrant. I’m thinking if you put each in each quadrant, what kind of reflections one has in the balancing act from the perspective of teachers, coach, mentor and inspirer? And I thought, why not use you today to kind of speak to that vantage point of balancing act from the perspective of teacher, coach, mentor and inspirer?
00:16:22 Andrew: I chose that tagline very purposefully. Because when we first started that Kaplan on our continuous improvement and organizational health journeys, designed to improve efficiency and enhance organizational trust and accountability and make data and the inner workings of the business, much more transparent for the average employee. What I wanted to do with that tagline was really remind everyone of their obligation. Their obligation for the first three teach, coach and mentor. And to understand the difference between each one of those and know when to swing into mentorship mode versus my obligation to be a teacher. Now you don’t have an obligation to inspire because inspiration comes when inspiration comes, you can’t plan for it. You can’t say I’m going to be inspirational today because the second you say that is the second that you’re not going to be inspirational anymore. So inspiration is somewhat of a derivative or an after effect of the first three. But if you wake up every day, if you’re a manager, if you’re an individual contributor, if you’re a parent, if you’re a community leader, doesn’t matter. Every day, you should be thinking about how am I going to teach? How am I going to coach? And then how am I going to selectively maintain my mentorship relationships? Both the mentorships that you have with others and the mentorship that you have with those who have mentored you, because those are two way streets, right? So that was the rationale behind that tagline.
00:18:26 Tesse: Works for me. And you very beautifully set out the importance to paying attention, to human centered skills and human focused skills, such as compassion, such as caring, such as connection. And looking at that connection too with technical focus things, like the expertise and the technical side and getting the balance. And I love the way that you said that in terms of learning institutions, they still haven’t quite got the balance of bringing in the personnal to professional and those things. Have I understood this right? This point that you’re making. To say a bit more about, cause I think where I see things being crafted now from the abnormal that has happened, et cetera, is that if we don’t get the balancing pieces right, we haven’t learned anything.
00:19:16 Andrew: Yeah. I believe very strongly that we are not doing enough in what some have tagged the social, emotional learning. Even many college experiences are focused more on how many papers you can write and whether or not you’ve adopted this technical skill or that technical skill by the time of graduation. There’s not enough carefully designed experiential learning opportunities for individuals of all shapes and sizes, along many parts of their educational arts. There aren’t enough opportunities to really get to understand how I tick, how the way I tick affects the people around me. Understanding how other people operate, and then how can we work together to common aims and common goals. Back to our discussion about polarization, we’re caught in these echo chambers and social media does a terrible, terrible job of this. I use Twitter. I don’t like Twitter because my feed, if I click on something, that let’s say left-leaning because I want to see that headline. All of a sudden, I wake up the next morning and I’ve got more left-leaning posts in my notifications because Twitter mouse somehow believes that I’m somehow left-leaning and want that information. So I can totally see how you get trapped in your echo chamber of your own social group of people that look just like you, talk just like you. And that severely limits our ability to communicate with one another effectively. So from a much earlier age, we should all be going on experiential journeys to explore ourselves, how others tick and how we can be working more closely together and not just the technical skill.
00:21:27 Tesse: I love it. It’s practical. It’s where we are now and actually it will help us to have a more inclusive and a more powerful future. That’s where we can be inspirational. Thank you for the gift of that message because you put it so clearly, Paula?
00:21:43 Paula: Yes, as he spoke what kept going through my mind was you plus me equals us. We need to remember that. We need to remember that this planet is for all of us. Different opinions, different shapes sizes, we don’t all ,one size doesn’t fit all. As you said, that social emotional learning aspect that is lacking it needs be injected back.
00:22:12 Andrew: We’re making progress. It’s now being woven into high school, junior high and even elementary school curriculums. But it’s not too late, it’s never too late. But gosh, it took us a long time to get to this point where it is something that we’re actively working on in our schools.
00:22:32 Paula: We will get there. Because there’s something you did say, you know, about algorithms of all the social media platforms that look at what you are doing, and try to determine where you’re going. That in itself makes you realize that, you know, technology is not everything. Algorithm is not human emotions. As you rightfully say, if you wake up today and you start clicking on all left-leaning article, the assumption is okay, one plus one is two. But that’s not how human beings behave, that’s not how we are. This has been fantastic, but like everything else in life, all good things have to come to an end. As we are drawing to a close, are there any other reflections that you can, that you’d like to share with us?
00:23:18 Andrew: I think the most important one to share is that of diversity, equity and inclusion. I have the great honour of, we’re recording this in early November for everybody. But next week I’m getting recognized by the Kaplan educational foundation for their stand up for diversity award. And I’m going to be using it as an opportunity to tell my story of a white American male who grew up in a predominantly white community. All sorts of call it, whatever privilege you want. I had a strong family, had every advantage in the world growing up. And those of us that have those advantages, we need to use those advantages for good. And we need to get out of those echo chambers that we were talking about before. And recognize that we’re all on this pale blue dot together. And so to exclude complete populations or to minimize populations, that is just not in our long-term best interests as a species. So I don’t care if you’re black, white, green, brown, yellow, should not matter. Merit and doing well for yourself, your family and society. Being able to talk to others in constructive conflict and reach good positive results. Not everybody wins all the time. Those are the lessons that we need to carry forward.
00:24:56 Tesse: I love that you made this point very clearly in your book and very passionately as well. And what I like about it is your insight into knowing why it’s important that we all have to do this together. Some people talk about privilege and they give it in negative connotation. And I look at privilege and I give it a positive connotation. Because privilege honours the journeys of others as well. And I know for sure, Paula and I we’ve done pretty well in our lives. We are immigrants, global citizens and stuff. But I know that I could not be where I am today if it’s not for the privilege helping me to be where I am today. And my role on earth, I think my purpose is to do the same for others. To use my privilege, to use my platform, to help others, to go through the door, to go through the windows, et cetera. So I actually claimed back privilege as a positive thing, not as a negative thing, you know? So, Paula what do you think? Privilege and stuff. I see it as good when it’s used to help others. When it’s used as a rope that people can climb to go to wherever they want to do, or to be pulled into the shore.
00:26:12 Paula: I agree with you 100%. As I said a few minutes ago that you plus me equals us. And once we start realizing that we’re all really the same, we all want the same thing for ourselves, for our families, our children, for the future generation, then what are we fighting about? Ultimately it’s a privilege to even be here, wherever we are. We have something to offer to the world and let’s do it. You plus me equals us and we are all in this. We are all together in this. Let’s make it happen.
00:26:49 Tesse: I love what you said, Paula, because Andy you’re a musician, right? One of my favorite favorite plays of all time is Hamilton, right? I’ve seen Hamilton about eight times, and I sing along all the time. And I think what is it about Hamilton that I love? What is it about this? Because it’s not, okay the hip-hop, the dance I love. But also I love the narrative. And what I love about the narrative is inclusive message of, I was in the room, we were in the room where it happened. And for me, it’s people being in the room. Which is historical in American story that the people were in the room. But the other bits I love is the tributes paid to people’s strengths. Everybody had a role to play. I love the vibe and the dynamism of togetherness and going for a vision, a picture, a legislative framework that works at the time. It works for people. I love that. So Hamilton is my piece and the fact that it’s musical even better.
00:28:01 Paula: Thank you so much, I want to say Andy, but Andrew, I thank you so much.
00:28:08 Andrew: Remember not late for dinner (he laughs).
00:28:10 Paula: Right ! All good things have to come to an end, and we’ve got 35 minutes into this almost. So I’m going to close out here by saying thank you for being an amazing guests. And to our listeners thank you for always been an amazing audience. Please head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to the podcast and please click subscribe. If you like what you just heard from Andrew Temte, we ask you to write us a raving review. Remember it can be personal or professional. And if you’d like to be a guest in the show, please head over to “tesseakpeki.com/tessetalks” to apply.