Creating Community Everywhere
Get ready to be inspired as Kimberly Wiefling dives into the world of community-building in this captivating episode of Elements of Community. Find out why this powerhouse entrepreneur and community advocate firmly believes connection is the key to success for both individuals and businesses. Listening in as Kimberly shares her secrets on creating
Prepare for a thrilling adventure into the realm of community-building with the remarkable Kimberly Wiefling! Join us in this enthralling episode of Elements of Community as we uncover the secrets behind this dynamic entrepreneur and community champion’s unshakable faith in the power of connection to propel both people and enterprises to unparalleled heights of success.
Community is far more than a group of people collaborating together; when supported by a common purpose and shared values, it can become an incredibly powerful force for positive change. Kimberly Wieffling understands this intimately, advocating that optimism and hope are essential for building a stronger society.
Michael Manning, the celebrated bass soloist, serves as a prime example of this — using music to simultaneously bring joy and unity to generations of listeners. But making such changes requires knowledgeable leadership – those with the vision to recognize what communities need and take action when necessary.
Herein lies the rub: research shows that despite great leaders’ value, they can also be drastically underappreciated in terms of pay – leading fewer and fewer to pursue these roles. Nevertheless, strong communities must be founded on principles of mutual understanding and respect if they’re to enjoy sustainable success – ideally guided not by profits but by the betterment of individuals within them.
Community is a powerful concept when allied with shared values, purpose, and leadership— Kimberly Wieffling knows this well.
Other subjects we covered on the show:
- Kimberly shares the communities she has built everywhere; one of those communities is the one she hosted in Redwood City.
- We agreed that global English is the common language people must learn on Earth.
- Kimberly recommends clear communication with words and body language to make meaningful connections. She also notes that email often leads to misinterpretation due to a lack of tonality.
- She shared her unique thoughts about leadership and used the analogy of geese.
- Lastly, Kimberly answered the curve ball question—what to you seems impossible today, but if possible, would it transform your life, community, and world for the better?
AND MORE TOPICS COVERED IN THE FULL INTERVIEW!!! You can check that out and subscribe at https://pbp.li/eoc39.
If you want to know more about Kimberly Wiefling, you may reach out to her at:
- Website: https://wiefling.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimberly.wiefling
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimberly mentioned the following book/s on the show.
[00:00:00] Kimberly, I am beyond tickled that you were willing to show up for this. You and I have had a couple of really powerful conversations that I’ve enjoyed thoroughly. And why don’t you, if you’re comfortable, why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about why I like you so much.
Well, we share a passionate commitment to building community, and community that matters and is supportive. And Lucas, I just love that about you and I feel like, ooh, I’m with my people when I’m talking with you. So thank you for yeah, thank you for showing up in my life.
My pleasure. Thank you for having me, can you tell a little bit about this community that you’ve built in Redwood City?
Yeah, it started way back in 1995 when someone asked me, what’s your life’s purpose? And I said, creating community everywhere. Yeah. What was I thinking? I didn’t even know what I meant by that, but I [00:01:00] said I wanted to create a community of people committing to our mutual benefit and sharing our excesses, and I think I’m on that path.
Our home in Redwood City, it’s just so built for parties and events. And so before the pandemic, the famous pandemic of the past, we were having, oh my gosh. Every month we’d have a beautiful musical event. We would have local artists or even kind of famous artists come through, play at our house on a Sunday afternoon, have 20, 30, 40 friends come out, snuggle together and pitch in some cash.
And we did that for many, many years. I’ve had workshops at my house. We love to entertain here, but then the pandemic hit and I said, oh, great. We’ve got to do something. So every Friday night, we would have a potluck dinner and every Saturday night we’d have a theme dinner and we’d have a signup sheet, you know, to risk manage the number of people.
And we’d have all these caution signs posted. [00:02:00] But we basically ended up having over 200 dinners at our home during that couple of year period.
And we had concerts, you know electronically zoomed out to people, of course, when it wasn’t safe. Maybe almost 50 concerts in a couple of years. And then, oh yeah, I had to do a once a day virtual happy hour with my mom and a bunch of friends for 508 days, and my mom came for 500 of those.
And finally I said, oh my gosh, we’re gonna have to pivot our consulting community. So our consulting collaborators met every Friday for 70 weeks to help each other pivot to virtual. So I am community maxed out Lucas.
You’re a pillar in the best sense of the word.
I needed it as much as anyone.
Yeah. Well, I mean, we all do.
Yes, the [00:03:00] loneliness epidemic is crazy. In fact, I’ve heard that loneliness. Oh gosh. It’s spreading and especially in older people and emotional and mental issues. Maybe half of the US population has some kind of emotional or mental issues. 10 or 20% need care of some type. So yeah, anything we can do to bring people together across borders and boundaries of every kind, I think it’s critical that we do reach across those barriers and those separate dividers and connect.
I read a statistic once that said that if you treat hugs as nutrition, That we as humans need something like 10 hugs a day.
I heard that.
Like 10 hugs a day. Now I’ve had days where I had 10 hugs and I gotta say, it’s pretty awesome, It’s pretty awesome. I have never had a day where I had 10 hugs and said to myself, no, that was too many. I don’t wanna do that again.[00:04:00]
Well, sometimes you just gotta do that hug while you’re holding your breath.
Yeah, I mean, that’s a thing too.
Oh. Yeah, I think it’s important to connect, and I’m really a big believer in combining personal and professional. I don’t think you can separate your personal life from your professional life, and so I only wanna work with people that I like, that I’m friends with, and that has been such a wonderful community for me.
You know, my Silicon Valley Alliances team, oh, they have been there for me through crazy times. Good times wild times. 2:30 AM to 7:30 AM workshops, you know.
I did it. Yeah. That’s what we had to do during a certain part of this era. You know, because we’re doing global workshops and we’re virtual and we needed time that everyone from the US and Europe and Asia can all be there at the same time.
[00:05:00] So if we do three to 7:00 AM Japan can do 8:00 PM to midnight, and it is a little crazy, but it works.
That is a little crazy. But yeah, I agree. It works. So somebody has to give somewhere. And if we start by giving, then other people will give too.
And you having a team of people that when I show up at three in the morning and I say, I don’t know how I’m gonna get through this. And my team’s like, no problem, Kimberly. We’re on it. And then we all help each other get through it. Like we have 3, 4, 5 people facilitating a team of 20, 25 people on these virtual workshops.
And you need that many, right? You can’t have one person doing everything.
No, it’s exhausting.
It’s a team sport. I mean, how many people you have helping you on your shows?
Oh five, six, maybe.
Same number. Huh? Look at that.
Wow. Yeah, [00:06:00] I never wanna do any of those kind of projects by myself. You know, paying work, I bring people in. Yeah, you have to share the money, but it’s, the quality of the outcome is so much better. And if you bring people in that really care, you know, number one is it’s the best thing for the client, whatever’s best for the client, and then they share the money and you make the pie bigger.
Don’t worry about the crumbs.
I’m on the same page 100%. Absolutely. Maybe cut the pie over a salad and then the crumbs become crumbs in the salad.
That’s definitely yeah, looking for the third option. Yes. You’re brilliant. Well, I love talking with other physicists because they always have a little interesting perspective on life and different ways of seeing the world and possibilities. I find physicists are great possibilities thinkers, and I know you studied physics
I did, and I love to be a possibilities thinker. It’s funny that you and I seem to have stumbled [00:07:00] in the same direction though, that in both cases we stumbled in the direction of community.
Right on. And now I’m building global community across borders and boundaries of every kind. And the first thing we do is what you recommend the common language. The common language when we have 25 people from 10 different countries, only a few of whom are native English speakers, right? Because native English speakers are only 20% of the people who speak English in this world the common language is global English.
We gotta teach everybody to stop speaking American English or British English or whatever and speak global English. And it goes like this, I don’t talk like this at home, Lucas. I’m doing it so it’s easy for you to understand me.
You just like clear, simple words, short sentences, easy grammar, and lots of body language and tone of voice that [00:08:00] makes even me feel strange.
But my colleagues who are not native English speakers say, Kimberly, I can easily understand your English. And I’m like, that’s because I’m not speaking English. I’m speaking global English. And that is the common language we must learn on planet Earth.
Yeah, that’s, yeah, I see it. I like it. You’re also adding to it a much deeper level of intonation. And by deeper, I don’t mean a deeper voice, but deeper access and deeper engagement with your intonation and with your facial and hand expressions as well.
Those are part of language.
Well, if you look at the amount of meaning that’s communicated during a face-to-face interaction, only about less than 10% of it is the words. I think 7% of the meaning is the words, and about [00:09:00] 30 some percent is the tone of voice. It’s like, oh, I’m so glad to see you, Lucas, thank you so much. No.
And then the rest of it is body language and facial expression. So you know, that’s why email sucks because it’s just words, and this is why we really need to work really hard when we’re on virtually with people to get that connection, make that hard connection, not just say stuff.
Yeah. Yeah. I have people with whom I work who I have to get on the phone with them at least once a week just to remind them that we’re both human. Like really just to remind them that we’re human.
You mean to deal with challenges or problems or what?
It’s not even so much that, it’s that, I have discovered that if I don’t get on the phone, actually on the phone, physically on the phone with them, that our email communication deteriorates and I [00:10:00] have to just, it’s like a rule for me. I have to call them once a week.
Yeah. I think that really helps with what you talk about Common heart and making a real meaningful connection with people.
You need to show up for each other and reaffirm that you know, you’re committed to the same shared values. And I think that’s really hard to do just in a constant stream of email.
I even tell people, what does the E in email stand for? Evil, or sometimes I say it stands for escape Real Communication, you know?
Wow. I’m gonna think about that. I haven’t, it’s never occurred to me to start re reframing that E in email.
Yeah. I look at it as the worst possible way of communicating, because you can use the same words and it can be interpreted completely differently because the person reading it gets to read the tone of voice [00:11:00] into it. Think of a simple sentence like, what were you thinking? What were you thinking? What were you thinking? What are you thinking? You know, so you can send a simple sentence and it can be completely misinterpreted based on the tone of voice they read into it.
Well, what’s really cool about that, I’m a hundred percent on the same page. One of my favorite examples is the word run. You can run a meeting run a program on your computer and run a mile, and that word is so vastly different for each of those three sentences that they ought to be different words.
Well, one of my colleagues from Asia was trying to understand English, and he said, Kimberly, why do you drive on a parkway, but park in a driveway?
Oh my God, that one drives me nuts.
Oh my God. I couldn’t even explain it.
You’re ready for this one. The word tear when you, when you cry a [00:12:00] tear and the word tear when you tear some paper are indistinguishable in email.
Oh, you’re right. I never thought of it. Wow.
Yeah. Well it reminds me of my brother’s t-shirt he was wearing when I saw him on Zoom a couple days ago. It said W T F, and I was like, what are you doing wearing that? He said, it stands for where are the fish? Okay, great.
Of course it does. That’s exactly what it stands for. Yeah, silly me for thinking anything else.
Exactly. Shut the front door. Oh.
There’s a YouTuber outta Boston who does his amazing Boston accent while he is doing the YouTube. And he uses G F Y. And, and of course.
Ah, oh, yes, I get it.
And of course it has the meaning that pops into your head, but he also uses it to say, good for you. And he builds his entire shows around using it both ways, often.[00:13:00]
Wow. I’m inspired because I’m thinking of starting a podcast someday, and I was really, really in my darkest hours, tempted to call it in search of excrement the crap that really happens in organizations.
But my podcast coach said maybe I should take a more positive approach. What do you think?
You know, in search of excrement could be positive.
I mean, people spend a lot of money to bring in cow shit and put it on their gardens.
Oh, and then I do a Dare to Swear Workshop, Lucas. That helps people get out their frustrations. And I develop the swearing in front of the kids’ version that I do with some of our clients where they can say things with great passion like Mother forklift, back the truck up.
Son of a biscuit Eater. Yeah, and they love that, especially non-native English speakers. It’s like, [00:14:00] Ooh, we can express ourself without saying the bad words.
So, yeah, I mean, I think you should go forward with in search of Excrement and have it be as positive as it turns out to be because excrement is actually a good thing.
I love it. I’ll give that some thought. I’m still in the middle of my classes, so I need to learn more. Just so grateful to be able to talk with someone like you who’s so experienced at this kind of thing.
Well, thank you. Food for thought on that one of the most common things that I do when I bump into somebody I know in the bathroom is I say, and it always breaks the ice cuz I don’t understand why, but everybody thinks that the thing that you do in the bathroom should be hidden behind closed doors and not talked about.
So I’ll walk in and I’ll be stepping up to the urinal and I’ll say, I’ll see my friend and I’ll say, how do you spell relief? And they’ll look at me sideways and I’ll say, P I S S.[00:15:00]
You know, I’ve heard you’re not supposed to talk to other men when you’re doing that urinal thing, but I wouldn’t be able to resist no.
My social contract does not include that rule.
Funny. You know, when I was in graduate school, I noticed, you know, I was in physics graduate school and I noticed there were no women’s bathrooms on the first two floors of the building. It was only on the third floor, and there was only one seat in there. And, there were more and more women, you know, in the physics classes.
So I put a sign in the men’s room saying, I’m gonna be using this one on the first floor. So just zip up before you turn around.
And then years later, some of people from that university wrote to me and said, Kimberly, we got a lady’s bathroom on the first floor now. Times are changing, baby. Oh.
Times are changing. So there you [00:16:00] go. In search of excrement, how do you spell relief?
You’re funny. Yeah. And what I also liked about when I was researching what you’re doing is this common purpose. I love working with the businesses I work with because I think the Japanese businesses, which I mostly work with Japanese businesses, they have a purpose beyond profit. They have a mission that matters.
They are solving global problems profitably and thus sustainably, so they can solve them next year. Like if you solve problems, but you don’t make a profit, you can’t stay in business, so you can’t keep solving those problems. So I have really found common purpose with my Japanese clients. It has been amazing journey past 15, 20 years.
That’s amazing. Tell me more about that. And also before you do, I’d like to call to attention that it almost seems like you have those phrases branded. They have a purpose beyond [00:17:00] profit, right? So there’s alliteration there. They have a mission that matters. There’s alliteration. Those are nearly branded phrases.
Tell me more.
I am sure I picked those up from someplace. You know, Lucas, I’m learning from everywhere. I literally, maybe five or six years ago, I was walking on the streets of Tokyo and I looked down and there was a pen and I’d like to pick stuff off the ground. I don’t wanna waste things. I find money, I find jewelry.
There are all sorts of things that you might choose to pick up off the ground.
Yes. So I got this pen and I looked at it and it said, S t o p, stop, think, organize, plan. And I was like, Hey, that’s really good. So I started using that in my workshops and I printed up these little buttons that say it. And now, years later, at the end of these seven month programs, when people are graduating from these global leadership programs, and we ask them, what do you remember and what will you practice in your life?
And they say, stop, think organized [00:18:00] plan. And I keep going, oh my God, I found it on a pen on the streets of Tokyo. And it’s one of the key elements of what I’m sharing with the world. Oh, hilarious.
I think you should be proud of that. You draw your inspiration from everywhere.
Well, and so the companies I work with in Japan, it’s very interesting. In Japan, the purpose of business is social fabric. It’s not profit, it’s not so shareholder and investor driven in the US you know, it’s quarterly returns, blah, blah, blah. But in Japan, the reason that companies exist is to create a solid social framework for the country and now for the world.
And if you work in Japan, you know, companies in Japan have no choice but to expand globally. I mean, Japan economy is flat, the population is shrinking. If you’re a company in Japan and you wanna grow revenues, you grow it by going outside of Japan. And [00:19:00] then you have to hire non-Japanese people like me, ah, and learn to work with us.
Yikes. With our crazy rubber chickens and things. Huh. And so what I’ve been doing for the last, you know, 15 years is helping them bring these people together across borders and boundaries of every kind. Get 25 people from 10 different countries in the same room, and they turn from a group of people to a true team who care about each other and are committed to that purpose beyond profit.
That mission that matters is not enough just to make money, you know, nobody just wants to go to work, just to be a mercenary. People want to go to work to get some meaning. You know, if I’m gonna spend all this time working, I better get some meaning from it.
Yeah. Oh, yeah.
And those of companies make more money, if you’re a company, companies that have profit as their goal, make less profit.
Harvard Business Review found that, you know, years ago, companies [00:20:00] that have profit as a business goal make less money.
It’s true. It’s actually true.
Yes, yes. And you know, I’m the master of data and people get so tired of me saying, well, research has proven, but hey, I’m a scientist, more freaking physicist by education and I wanna do what’s proven to work.
So you have highly engaged employees and great leaders, not managers, lead people manage cows, and you create an organization that can make a lot more money. Revenues have less safety incidents have a greater positive impact on society, and your stock price goes up and you make more profit. There is no downside to being this kind of great company, great organizational culture, wonderful leaders with highly engaged employees.
It’s not rocket science.
It is not rocket science. Take it from two who know.
Yes. Right. Oh my gosh. You know, and [00:21:00] I was studying so much science. I should have studied psychology because Lucas, I have only once seen a project fail for technical reasons and everything else. It was leadership and teams. And I was like, oh, dear Lord, why didn’t I study psychology?
I’m not convinced that you and I did not study psychology.
We maybe did, huh?
I was as a child, I got psychology today cuz I was fascinated by the psychology of humans. Yeah. But I wrote the project management books, scrappy Project Management, because I said, oh dear Lord. All of the post-project reviews where they have the lessons learned, it’s always the same lessons learned, which means it’s lessons not learned.
And it was always about people and teams and leadership and processes and projects, and it’s not about technology. I live in Silicon Valley and I love technology, but the challenges we’re facing are more about the organizational culture, the strategy, the structure, the team, [00:22:00] the people, the processes, and some of what my dear wonderful technical friends call touchy feely crap.
Yep. I a hundred percent agree. I’ve been in a lot of projects. I’ve managed a lot of billions of dollars of project budgets. They never fail for technical reasons. I mean, not never. You are right occasionally, but boy, is it the exception that proves the rule.
Well, the M I T Sloan researchers I love from about five years ago said they studied 70 global teams and 82% of them failed to achieve their goals. And a third of the team said, our team just sucks. And the top four causes of these failures, number one, they failed to build trusting relationships, and then it goes onto communication.
And it was more than language and culture. It was, we don’t have ways to make decisions together. We don’t have ways to solve problems together. [00:23:00] And number three and four, we don’t have clear, shared, aligned goals. Individual and team goals weren’t aligned and the goals and vision weren’t even clear.
So I’m saying, holy cow, whose job is it to make sure that their project goals are clear vision, and shared and aligned. And whose job is it to make sure there’s trust and good communication, problem solving, decision making. It’s totally a failure of leadership.
I’m not actually sure that’s true. Here, we can have a really interesting conversation. I’m not sure I agree.
Bring it on. Tell me more.
I think that you can only expect of any given person what they can bring to the table. And the problem with that expectation is that I’m not sure that I agree that we can expect of leadership to bring that to the table.
And here’s why. The US education is 100% focused on individuality over community every step of the way. And we have built a culture that follows on [00:24:00] that educational pattern. So, our psychological pattern is individuality, and competition over cultural community or cultural collaboration.
So, I don’t think it’s actually a fair ask of people in leadership positions to be able to buck that trend. I’m not sure they’re even aware that they’re wrong.
You know what, my mentor, Dr. Edra Shine, who sadly just passed away recently, he was the M I T professor who invented the term organizational culture and I had lunch with him like every month for three years. I paid him to have lunch with me as my mentor, and he told me the culture in the US is look good. Be right and win.
And that is what it’s all about, sadly. Now, unfortunately, business, for example, is a game only a team can win. So if you’re an individualist and you’re trying to play a team sport, it’s like one person playing soccer against a team of 11, you’re gonna lose every time. Right? [00:25:00] So, it’s really sad.
And what’s happening here in the US is that everybody loses all the time.
Yeah. But then the other thing I wanna point out is I do not think you need a title or position to be a leader. Barry Posner and Jim Koch Santa Clara University, they’ve been studying for 30 years. Here’s the 30 things that great leaders do, and they’re in five bucket. So you do these five things and these 30 behaviors, more people will think you’re a great leader, and it’s not rocket science.
Some of these things are express appreciation. How hard is that? So you can lead from any chair without position or title, and I think it’s our responsibility to do that no matter, even if we’re the lowest, lowest person in the organization, we can help those so-called above us, do a better job. By supporting them by leading from below.
Yes, we can. I completely agree. You might enjoy, [00:26:00] I don’t talk about this a whole lot, but I do talk about it occasionally. I’ve created a framework for what it means to be an adult, and in that framework it talks about leadership. I think here in the US and maybe even globally, we’ve been trying to talk about leadership as a static thing.
You achieve leadership and then you’re a leader and now you have to wear your leader badge. But that’s actually not the way humans work. Not just with respect to leadership, but actually with respect to anything. We don’t do anything from a static perspective. And so I’ve started looking at leadership from a fluid perspective, and by that I mean when you are the right person to be moving the team forward, you step forward without permission, cuz leadership is waiting for you to step into that mantle.
You step forward, you take the mantle, you help the team step forward, that one step that you are the right person to make, and then you step back. So that leadership is again waiting for the next right person to [00:27:00] take the mantle.
That’s the way humans work, and in that way, leadership isn’t actually intended to be static. It’s intended from a human perspective to be a hundred percent fluid.
I was in the US military long ago, right after high school. That’s how I got my college paid for. And even the US military Special Forces, they do not use command and control in battle situations. One team says the leader is the person who sees what needs to be done next and does it. And everyone pivots around that. Absolutely.
Keep going. That’s it. Keep going.
Well, part of what I wanted to do was to say, you know, for the next decade, what am I gonna do for adventures? I have noticed that you’re not allowed to drive a car where I live unless you have taken a test and got a driver’s license. But you can found a company, you can be the CEO of a corporation, you can be the manager of a department without knowing anything about the most [00:28:00] basic common sense about leadership in teams.
I would like to put a stuff to that. I would like to have some kind of leadership license and you get your learner’s permit, and maybe eventually you can lead a bigger and bigger team. Cause it’s pathetic, Lucas, look at the employee engagement statistics. It tells you everything you need to know about the quality of leadership in the world.
More or less, the larger the organization, the lower employee engagement goes.
Is that right? I didn’t know that stat. That globally. Ah, okay.
It’s a strong correlation.
Ah. Cause I know globally it’s only 15% engaged workers. In the US, the best country in the world, it’s only about 30, 33% engaged workers. But the best companies in the world have 70% engaged, which is double the US average. So I know one company, Intuit, fantastic company.
They had this [00:29:00] rule where if your department, if you are a manager of a department and your department ranked less than 70% on the employee engagement, you would have to write a letter to the CEO about what you’re gonna do to fix it. I mean, that’s a company that really cares about employee engagement, and it has a direct connection to success.
Yeah. I don’t know if they’re still doing that, but that was so impressive to me when I heard that.
That should be a rule. Like that might even be appropriate to be a law.
Oh my gosh. Right? Yeah. Cuz it really is an abusive situation. So many people are suffering in work and you know, the disengaged employees who are actively disengaged, they’re actually working against your own company purposefully. And there’s only maybe 10 or 15% of those, but then the masses that just come to work just in exchange for a paycheck.
How sad is that to spend so much of your life doing something.
That’s not a to live.
No way. No [00:30:00] kidding. But yeah. But going back to what you said about leadership a little bit when I worked at Hewlett Packard and some of the startup companies where I worked in Silicon Valley, I was the product development program manager leading a project of sometimes over a hundred people.
And in some of these cases I never even had any title. I was just an engineer, but I was responsible for this. And you know, I tell people the steering wheel is not the boss of the car. It’s fulfilling a role. There’s a purpose, but it’s not all about position and title and moving up some kind of hierarchy that is so damaging to our organizational cultures.
Well, to our notion of humanism.
Yes, yes. And what value are we bringing to our teams? To our companies to our communities. You know that you talk about that, we’ve gotta think about the [00:31:00] rising tide lifts all boats. And do you really wanna be wildly successful king of a sinking ship?
Well, when you put it that way.
Yeah. Yeah. So that’s what I’m looking for is people who are committed to something that’s bigger than themselves that needs a team like soccer team. You know, you need 11 people to play soccer. You don’t try playing with one. But even in most businesses, if most businesses were shrunk down to the size of a soccer team, instead of 11 people, instead of, you know, tens of thousands, but most businesses, only two of the people on the soccer team would be able to see the goal, and only four of them would know in which direction the goal is.
So we’ve gotta start there. You know, let’s get everybody lined up on where’s the mountaintop, which mountain are we climbing, and [00:32:00] where are we and what’s our status in progress along the way? And how can we work together to help the people behind pull them up with us and go together to the top? Not to say, yay, I got here first.
I win. I mean, winning is not the goal. Creating lasting value for you and all of your stakeholders is the goal.
Yeah, that’s right. If the goal is to get everyone to the top, then you getting there first is not useful.
Right on. And, and I mean, this is where things get really complicated because the stakeholder map. When you look at any project, the stakeholder map is the most complicated part of any project. There’s not just me, for example, in the business world, my team, the executives, our investors, our supply chain, all of our customers the communities in which we do business and the world that we make an impact on.
If we’re some way damaging the environment, there are so many [00:33:00] stakeholders. That’s what makes any kind of leadership in the business world. So challenging. So when you say build community, you’ve gotta be careful what community, because sometimes you can benefit one community at the expense of another, and I wanna benefit global planet Earth, which is why I’m really struggling.
So help me, how do we do this, Lucas?
Like you. I believe it’s possible, but we all have to be aligned. We all have to agree that that’s the goal.
Well, that’s where I get a little challenged because I know how to work in the business world where there are consequences for not achieving your shared goals. But I don’t know how to influence governments and people who don’t seem to be fact-based. So that’s where I struggle if there are consequences for poor performance, and lack of collaboration, great, but [00:34:00] sometimes there aren’t any consequences. In fact, there’s rewards for divisiveness and embittering people towards one another.
Mm-hmm. sometimes. Yeah.
So that’s why I stick to the business world. In Silicon Valley. Pardon?
It’s easier to measure performance when we agree on the goal.
Yes. And in the Silicon Valley, you know, lots of companies go out of business. It’s normal. And I look at that as Darwinism. Great. There wasn’t a market, or you weren’t great at what you did, or you didn’t lead effectively. You didn’t build a team, you didn’t make your purpose clear and compelling. Great.
Then go out of business and make room for the next one, or start your next company. There’s no shame in the Silicon Valley to have a failed startup. You tried something. It was an experiment. You prototyped it, it didn’t work. Do the next experiment. There’s no shame in that.
I agree. [00:35:00] I agree. If you don’t mind me asking, what do you think makes an amazing community? You’ve built your own community. You’ve worked with corporations to build communities inside the company. What makes an amazing community?
Well, I have a framework. I have a model, and as a physicist, I love to say all models are wrong. Some are useful, but for me, I like to start with, do we bring people together who have shared values? Because if you don’t have shared values and operating agreements, what I call working together agreements, that’s just a no brainer. That’s a non-starter.
So you bring people together who have shared values and agree to treat each other in certain ways, and then you co-create together. What is this purpose beyond profit? What is this mission that matters that we’re committed to more than being comfortable, more than our personal, selfish gain?
And then you create [00:36:00] that together, and then you can look around and say, okay, what are your strengths and how do we apply each person’s strengths to that? Don’t ask fish to climb a tree. You know, if you ask a fish to climb a tree, that’s your fault when you’re disappointed. So yeah, start with the shared values and commitment and working together agreements, pop purpose that we can all see that North Star and then get people to self-organize even, you know?
Like, sometimes I do this experiment, I just throw a puzzle out. I get a conference, I’ll put a puzzle on a table out in the reception area, and I’ll just put the box there. Guess what people do? Lucas? They build the damn puzzle. They can see the puzzle box.
Yeah, they see the goal and then they just start coming and some people like working on the edges.
Some like working on the clouds, and people will just build it. If you can see the goal and you’ve got the tools to do what you need to do and just get out of their way and make them [00:37:00] comfortable, they will use their strengths to make it happen.
Very cool. Oh, I see how you build community, and you and I are definitely in agreement there, but what makes it amazing?
Oh my gosh. Well, for me it’s like one bird can’t make a flock, so I love chaos, complexity, emergent behavior. It’s like, if I want a flock, I need other birds. So if I want something that one person cannot achieve, I’ve got to create community and that gives me access to something that would be impossible to create alone.
Like musical events we have at our house, we’ve had hundreds of concerts here over the years, and we need the musicians. We need someone to help set things up. We need people to come and pitch in some money to help pay for it. We need someone to set up the food. We need help cleaning up. You know, one person couldn’t do any of that.
Right? What kind of concert would it be with just one person? So there’s so much of [00:38:00] what’s enjoyable about life that can only be enjoyed in community. Music is a perfect example. Music is my favorite example of enjoying in community. What you can never enjoy by yourself.
I mean, you can play as a soloist, you can play, but really the joy comes in sharing the music and sharing it with each other.
Even just listening together.
Yeah, I a hundred percent agree. And, and solo musicians are sometimes amazing.
Oh yeah, we’ve had.
But they’re only amazing in community.
Yeah, I mean they might get a lot of joy outta playing themselves, we had Michael Manning, a famous bass soloist, come to our house and play, and it was like transport it. I mean, everything bad about your life, you just forget about it and live in that present moment. Music is a great access for present moment awareness, and so I love the communities we build around music.
And just in general. I love working in communities [00:39:00] where I can count on people to help me when I’m struggling. Like I had a really big meltdown last month when I was working in Japan, and I just was going crazy, being so angry and judgmental. And my team who knows me for many years, I thought, oh, they’re gonna hate me.
And when we came to the break time, the person that I was really hardest on. She comes and stands next to me and I thought, oh, here’s when she’s gonna rip me a new one. And she says, are you okay? What can I do? Let’s talk oh, oh my God. To have somebody look at you when you’re a mess. Ah, and say, yeah, are you okay?
How can I help you? That’s what we need.
We can’t see the back of our own heads. We need someone to help us when we’re struggling.
Yeah, we do.
love it. And when you’ve been playing around with community and you’ve seen really amazing community leadership, what is it that makes the [00:40:00] community leadership amazing?
Well first of all, that it’s shared.
You look at geese flying, those same geese, one goose is not always at the front.
The at the front.
They share, and so it is co-created. It is shared leadership, shared power, shared control, distributed leadership. I think that’s the only way to avoid what Bob Sutton of Stanford University calls power poisoning because when you concentrate power in the hands of a few and create these hierarchies, it’s inevitable that you will get power poisoning.
Where they have lower impulse control and they think of their own needs more than others, and they have lower empathy and they think the rules don’t apply to them, and they’re getting more positive feedback from below. I just, I think it’s really important to share power, share control, and that kind of shared leadership is much more healthy [00:41:00] than any of the rigid structures I’ve experienced.
Hmm. I love it and I agree, that’s an interesting way of looking at it. And it just occurred to me that a static leadership structure, like what we have here in the US the people who are, who are in the quote unquote positions of leadership are actually not part of the community anymore.
Yes, that’s right. You know, one CEO said to his wife, the day I was promoted is the last day anybody told me the truth except for you.
Yeah. Because he’s not part of the community anymore.
That’s right. And so we, that’s why I say lead from below. If the followers don’t help the leaders, the leaders will fail. So the followers must lead from below by acting like leaders, communicating like leaders thinking like leaders, because you can’t just, well, everybody that I talk to, they’re blaming the next layer up. I can’t find [00:42:00] anybody who feels responsible for the sick, twisted, dysfunctional organizations that suck your will to lit. You know, the workers say it’s the manager’s. Managers say it’s the executives. Executives blame the president. President blames the chairman. I’m like, oh, please people, somebody’s doing it.
Let’s just pretend it’s us and let’s get busy Acting like a leader, communicating like a leader, and thinking like a leader. What does that mean? Check out the leadership challenge. It tells you the 30 things you need to do. Put the list up on your wall. Do one a day for 30 days. Repeat every month until finished.
That’s great. And it’s really funny the way you say it. You’re just like, I can’t find the person who’s responsible. I’ve looked, I can’t find him.
No. And you know, it comes down to, again, going back to the leadership challenge model the way. That’s the most important thing. You have to be the kind of leader you want other people to be. So even if everybody else is [00:43:00] screwed up, you behave the way you want other people to behave.
You talk the way you want other people to talk. You listen, listen, listen generously the way you want other people to listen. That’s the place we start.
You can move on after that, you know? But just simple things. I mean, the least practice of the five Leadership Challenge behaviors, the least practiced globally is the fifth one.
That’s called Encourage the Heart. Just appreciate and recognize and thank people that’s the least practice globally. It doesn’t cost any money. So go out today thank people.
Apparently, it costs so much more.
Well, and you know you don’t want you to go to people and say, good job. What you wanna do is tell them what you admire, how they did it, that was appreciated, why they did it, that inspired you and who they are that you [00:44:00] admire. So, you know, I say something to you like, Hey Lucas, you create this podcast.
And you make it so clear. This is about building community and exploring community, and you send out preparation in advance to make sure that your guests understand the framework that you’re gonna be talking about. And because I truly believe you care about the status of community in our world, and that’s because the kind of person you are at your core, your authentic being, you understand that unless we come together, we’re screwed.
I mean, seriously, we are blobs of protoplasm clinging to a giant rock hurdling through outer space around a big ball of fire called the sun, and there’s no escape for most of us, unless we’re Elon Musk and we wanna go to Mars or something, we better figure out how to it through.
And then it’s just a different rock.
Yes, yes. We’ve gotta figure out how to make it work together. I mean, there is only one of [00:45:00] us ultimately.
I love it. Yeah, but wouldn’t it be easier to just send an email that says, good job.
Easier. It’s just not effective. Yes.
Don’t worry. Those kinds of leaders are doomed because there’s such a huge growing worker shortage on planet Earth that in the coming decade , Gallup has predicted companies will go out of business because they cannot attract and retain the people they need to be successful because of the huge worker shortage, skilled worker shortage in developed countries.
Some businesses going outta business will make me sad. But yeah, I mean, seeing people who thought they had attained the mantle, the crown of leadership and would never be a worker again. Return to service, that will not make me sad.
No, I think some companies need to go out of business. Yeah. You know, I’ve [00:46:00] often wondered how can some of these dysfunctional companies still exist, it’s because it’s so widespread. So when it becomes understood among investors and shareholders that, oh my gosh, we can make more money by being a company with great leadership.
Oh, they’re gonna demand it. And I think some shareholders are already getting wise to that and saying, no, you can’t suck as a leader and you can’t have a crappy organizational culture because it’s costing us money.
I’m ready for that conversation to get much louder.
Yeah, I was working with one company. It was a big, huge company. I won’t say the name, but you would know it if I said it, and I was working with their Japan location. And the Japanese people wanted to know, why are the people in America, in our company so mean? Oh my God.
[00:47:00] Oh, oh damn.
Yeah. That’s gonna make it tough to be successful globally.
I mean, but we already answered that question in this conversation.
It’s because you go to school and you learn how to be an individualist, and then you graduate into work culture, and that learning is reinforced.
It’s really a very limited view of what it means to win. Yeah. My side of the boat is not leaking. Doesn’t make you a winner.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. It’s your side that’s leaking. Yeah. No, we’re still both sinking.
That’s right. Good. Hmm. Okay, well what do we do? Where do we go from here? Lucas? I mean, I’m all in. I wanna work with you and support your community building. I have a wonderful team of people all over the world. We’re always willing to show up and do whatever needs to be done to make the magic happen.
Amazing. Thank you, Kimberly. And me too. [00:48:00] I’m all in.
It’s funny because whenever I just said that, I have my little Google Home device and it answered me. Sorry, I don’t have any information about that.
So what you’re telling me is that a US-based technology didn’t understand when you were talking about community worldwide.
Right on. That is kind of ironic, isn’t it?
It is kind of ironic, isn’t it?
Oh my God. But you have to keep optimism alive, Lucas, because what is it? Noam Chomsky said Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe the future can be better, it’s unlikely you will step up and take responsibility for making it so.
Noam Chomsky was a smart man, and that’s exactly right.
Right on. Cool.
Yeah. Well, this is part of the way I try to do that.[00:49:00]
Thank you for what you’re doing.
I will look forward to orbiting in your universe more.
As we wrap up, I always close out the conversation with three questions. The first one, the obvious one, is for the people who are as inspired by this conversation as I was Kimberly, where can they find you for more?
Well, I’m easy to find on the internet. I’m the only Kimberly Wieffling out there. Spelling my name is a bit of a challenge, W I E F as in fun, L I N G. And you can send me an email, Kimberly@Wiefling.com. Check out my website, can easily find my phone number. You can find my book on all the Amazons all over the world.
Scrappy Project Management: 12 predictable and avoidable pitfalls every project faces. I also have other books like Inspired Organizational Culture. Just reach out. I would love to connect with anybody who wants to have a conversation for [00:50:00] possibilities. Even a 10 minute chat. Yeah.
The second and third question are the fun ones, and these are bribe questions.
The second question is this is there any question that I have not asked you yet that you wish I had?
Yes. I wish you had asked me, Kimberly, what to you Seems impossible today, but if it were possible, would transform your life, your community, our world for the better.
Oh snap. That’s a power question. I love it. Yes.
You’re free to reuse that one anytime.
Well, let’s use it now cuz that’s now the third question.
Oh. You wanna practice asking it.
Yeah. Tell me.
What seems impossible today?
What impossible today?
But if it were possible, would transform you, your life, your community, our world for the better. Oh, good. Now I [00:51:00] have to think about it. I have to say, well, I have chosen optimism and hope as a strategy. When I look at the data, I really don’t have much hope.
So what seems impossible today is for the people of the world who see what needs to happen and care about the future of all on planet Earth, somehow figure out a way to join together and rise up and do what needs to be done for the greater good. I do not see how we’re gonna overcome the divisive of the politicians, the governments, the hatred, the religious divisions that have been, I don’t, I wish if anything were possible, I would say, okay, suddenly all of humanity wakes up and says, oh my gosh, we are all one and we need to work together to make earth a beautiful paradise for all.
And I think we can do it if we would just all [00:52:00] commit to it. I just, it seems impossible to me right now that it’s gonna happen. and my one friend told me, oh, Kimberly, the average IQ is a hundred. At least half the people are stupider than that. And it makes me wanna say, bring on the giant asteroid strike and end it already.
But I want to live in that world, Lucas, where we all see the future and help create it. And each person contributes whatever they can to bring us to a new future. A beautiful, bright future for the benefit of all.
Mm-hmm. may I suggest some ways?
More conversations like this one.
Oh, thank you.
Yeah. I love it. Thank you, Kimberly. Before I hit the stop button, do you have any parting words?
I just wanna tell you that you’ve helped increase my hope and positivity just through this [00:53:00] conversation. Lucas, thank you for being you. It’s very helpful to me, and I will go out for the rest of the day feeling uplifted by this.
I love that. Thank you. Hmm. I feel seen.
Hmm. Together, onward into the abyss. Woo.
Thanks for joining us this week on Elements of Community.
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Lucas is the host of Elements of Community. He is a community growth strategist and works with mega companies like The Pokemon Company to help build and foster community. This podcast is Lucas' way of giving back what he has learned about the magic of building and growing community.
Join Our Inner Circle
Like what you hear on the podcast? We have more secret recordings from every guest. We keep the microphone rolling after the podcast is done and get our guest to spill the beans on the best tactics for growing their communities profitably. You don't wanna miss this.