Be More is a weekly one-on-one podcast about how everyone can thrive in the new world of work, hosted by Peakon’s Chief Evangelist: Patrick Cournoyer. This week we’re joined by Steve Cadigan, Talent Hacker, and Advisor at Cadigan Talent.
The ever-changing professional work environment requires constant improvement to keep up with new strategies, processes and technology. Those changes make it increasingly hard to understand where you should focus your career building efforts. That’s usually where the value of a mentor is seen; a more experienced figure trailblazing the path towards your professional and even personal goals. But how do effective mentor relationships work, and what should you consider when choosing a mentor?
Steve Cadigan is a talent strategist and company culture expert responsible for building world-class teams and company cultures at some of the world’s most respected organizations. Steve is also a talent advisor for many global companies, including Google, Salesforce, and the BBC.
If you want to discover more about choosing an effective mentor, check the episode audio, key takeaways or the transcript below.
I believe the pandemic has served to shock us, but I’m looking at my world to work differently. I’m not going to give up. I want the freedom of my time with my family and my kids and not commuting. I’m not giving that up, and never before in history have we had a moment where that’s happenedSteve Cadigan
Steve’s working journey
Steve was born in the United States but has spent the first five years of his life in South Africa. After finishing university in Connecticut, he moved to California, where he worked in human resources at a fashion company for a year. Steve then spent twenty years working in different industries. Eventually, he began working in Silicon Valley. This was during the mid-nineties when things were first booming.
After spending a couple of years in Singapore as the Head of Human Resources, Steve returned and decided to take a job in Canada. After that, he moved to Electronic Arts. Following the economic crisis in 2008, Steve joined a pre IPO startup.
„Most of my mentors were moments in time“
Steve admits that he’s never had a formal mentor. Most of his experience with mentors came during specific moments of his life when he had to make crucial decisions and career changes. One story that Steve highlighted was the moment that he decided to leave his role at LinkedIn. He felt great support, understanding, and mentorship support from his Argentinian co-worker and friend, Gustavo. Thanks to him, Steve was able to explore his passion for teaching and speaking.
Mentoring at scale within organizations
Steve believes that the pandemic has provided us with the opportunity to recognize that people need help more than ever. The world that we’re working in is now less certain; everyone has a new relationship with reality.
Talking about mentoring at scale, Steve explains that with the world around us changing rapidly, people face different problems and needs, so we have to be more flexible in mentorship. A single solution for everyone doesn’t exist. That’s why people need to look for mentors that will effectively help them during specific points in their life.
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Patrick Cournoyer: Steve Cadigan is joining me today and he is a talent strategist and company culture expert responsible for building world-class teams and company cultures. Steve is a talent advisor for many global organizations including Google, Salesforce, and the BBC, which inspired me to reach out and ask him to share his insights on mentoring, specifically, his perspective on how effective mentor relationships work and what to consider when choosing your own personal mentor. Steve shares with me a personal story today about the most meaningful mentoring conversation that he had after leaving an executive leadership role at LinkedIn and how one question in that conversation shifted his perspective on the future. Steve, thank you for joining the conversation today.
Steve Cadigan: It’s great to be here.
Patrick Cournoyer: I’m excited. You’re a fellow podcaster as well, so in the opposite seat today for you. Let’s start out with a bit of your journey. Tell us a bit about you, your journey, and specifically a bit about your passion for the work that you’re doing right now. Quick introduction to the audience.
Steve Cadigan: Well, I’ve had a pretty well-traveled life in some respects. While I was born in the US, I was raised for the first five years of my life in South Africa. My parents were rebels and they wanted to experience the world and really try and learn new things. When I was very young, my first year of school was in South Africa. We were kicked out in 1970 when I was about seven and settled and I grew up in Connecticut. I landed in a university with no plans at all. Had no idea why I was going to university when I went in and I had no plans what I was going to do with my life when I exited the university. I chose history as a major because it was the only thing that I liked, but I had really no idea what I wanted to do.
My dad’s a minister. My mom is a social worker. I had no real desire to go into do what they’re doing. I loved them and loved how they’re helping the world, but I wound up in San Francisco after graduating from a university in Connecticut. I followed love. I was in love with a classmate who lived in California. I’m going that way for love and that’s why I wound up in California. It was a beautiful adventure. I’d never been to California before. A lot of the climate reminded me of South Africa, but here I was again a new environment. This adaptability at a pretty young age, I think has served me well and has been something that I’ve tapped into over my career. I’ll get to that.
I stumbled into human resources about a year into working in a fashion company and fell in love. I’ve always been a big sports fan. I’m an athlete. I love competing, but more than that, I love watching how people handle competition and how they handle being a team player. When I realized someone’s going to pay me to put teams together, and develop teams, and coach people, and grow them, and build something greater than they could do on their own, was just love at first sight. I feel incredibly lucky at age of 23, 24, to have stumbled on that.
For the next 20 years, I moved to different industries. I was fashion, then insurance, then I got pulled into Silicon Valley in the mid-’90s when things were just booming. I worked in a chip company in varying progressively bigger roles, responsibilities in the world of human resources. Then I had a big breakthrough. A company that at the time was one of the most valuable successful companies in tech, Cisco Systems, asked me if I would like to help them build an acquisition integration team. They were a very prolific acquirer and over the next four years, I integrated 50 companies. We were so successful at doing that that we were written up in The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine, and I loved it.
What I loved about it, having been a traditional HR generalist, most of my career was that in that traditional role, you are gardening. You’ll have seasons and you’re working on something, but really, there is no end. You’re always trying to make something better. In an M&A, it was beginning, middle, end, onto the next deal. It was closure. There was finite measurables that we could use and I really liked that. It’s also the most highest velocity change experience anyone could go through if you get acquired or if you’ve been merged. You know the feeling. It’s very different. Everything’s just a jump ball. „Do I have a job? Are they going to relocate me? Same boss? Are they going to mess with my money? Did the benefits line up with the new company,“ and so forth. My job was to stabilize that. I love the craziness of it. I love the challenge.
Then the dot-com bubble burst in 2001 and my job went away. They said, „What do you want to do?“ I said, „I want to go to Europe.“ They said, „How about Asia?“ I said, „Norway, Finland, Sweden, UK, France. I speak a little French.“ They said, „How about Singapore?“ I said, „Okay, get the message.“ I took a job to be the head of human resources in Asia. Now, to be honest, Patrick, I had no idea where Singapore was on a map. I’d never been to Asia. I thought it was a province of China. I went out there completely just naive to everything. The nuance of culture, the history, and it was an incredible adventure. I was there for two years and it was incredible.
After two years, Cisco said, „You’re coming back.“ I said, „No, I’m not.“ They said, „Yes, you need to come back to headquarters.“ I said, „No.“ They said, „Yes,“ then I said, „Okay, well, let’s agree to part ways.“ At the time I was recruited by a company in Canada. The first time in my life, now I’m probably 20 years into HR, my first time head of human resources never wanted to be that. Never met anyone who ran HR that I wanted to be like. I never saw people have the lifestyle I wanted. I’d learn more about how I didn’t want HR to work than how I did want it to work which is why I liked M&A because I didn’t have to follow any rules. I was a rebel and I was a rule-breaker, not a rule-maker.
Now I had to be the rule maker as the first time head of human resources. A 15-person, publicly-traded, NASDAQ-listed company headquartered beautiful British Columbia. I did that for four years. Loved it, loved it, but it was the post-dotcom bubble. Everyone was experiencing a stock option hangover. I laid off more people than I hired. It was really, really hard times. The culture was just one of depression and sadness because the stock had been $250 when I walk in the door, it’s $12. Everyone knew what they could have been worth and now they’re like, „No.“ That was hard, but it was good challenging work and I loved it.
Then my boss retired, I got recruited back to the United States by Electronic Arts to do M&A work again. I wasn’t going to be the head of HR. I was so excited to work in the entertainment industry. Woo video games, playing guilt-free. About a few months into it, 2008, economic recession hits, banking crisis, EAs money disappears, we can’t go buy companies, and my job basically shriveled up to be something that wasn’t interesting. That’s when I got a knock on the door and it was LinkedIn. It’s the first time I’d ever been offered an opportunity to join a pre-IPO startup, 400 people. I’d heard of it, but I was like, „I don’t know.“ My parents are like, „Why are you leaving this great company, Electronic Arts, to go to some fragile startup that end up like most startups in the can.“
I took it and we scaled it from 400 to 4,000 in 4 years. Incredible IPO. Still measured as one of the most successful on many dimensions, and tackled something I’d never done before which is build a company. Was able to apply so many of the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned along the way. I did that for about four years. It felt like 20, if I’m honest. It was just incredibly dramatic. I was the only executive with three young children which had all been born outside the US. I have a Singaporean and two Canadians. You can tell because the Singaporean is warm to the touch and the Canadians look cold, they’re don’t don’t
After about three and a half, four years, I was exhausted and I wanted to be more of a dad. Fortunately, for me, LinkedIn had done so well that I had enough savings that I could do that. I said I would never retire-ish until I had saved all my kids‘ college tuition and I had owned my house and I was able to achieve those things. I was super, super proud. I did that with no plan. I just left.
Then the last 10 years I have started to tune and fine-tune where I want to play and what I want to do. Now I help people, leaders, and organizations build what I call compelling talent strategies. Like, „How do we think about work today and how do we think about hiring, recruiting, and motivating in new and insightful, and compelling ways that really achieve great outcomes.“ That’s sort of my journey in a nutshell if you will.
Patrick Cournoyer: That’s great. As we continue learning a bit more about you, the conversation this season as you know is all about mentorship and individual stories about experience with being a mentor and being on the receiving end of mentorship. Your background, you have a vast background. You have experiences, as you’ve said, with building cultures and building organizations and that story of acquiring 50 companies. That is a lot. One acquisition is a lot, let alone 50 in different company cultures and how they all integrate. You have a lot of business experience but also an amazing personal journey and experience over your life. You’ve had many cultural experiences.
As we talk about mentorship, let’s the conversation off with your experience, your personal experience with mentors. Have you had mentors in your life and what’s been your experience with mentors?
Steve Cadigan: I have. A reason I was so excited to have this conversation with you is that I don’t know that I’ve ever sat down and had this conversation with anyone. I think I’m excited that you’re tackling this because it’s a worthy topic, worthy of exploration, particularly in a realm of work right now that is more confusing, that is less certain than at any time that there’s been work. We know less about the future than ever before. We also see more of what’s possible from a career path. We have more people changing careers, pivoting than at any time in history.
LinkedIn has contributed to that journey because they’ve made transparent what’s possible, that you can have an incredible journey without necessarily having a college degree or you can have been a brain surgeon and then become a data scientist and so forth, or you can be a historian and find your way doing M&A work in a high tech company. I’ve had many mentors. If I think about it, I don’t know that I ever said, „Hey, can you be my mentor?“ and formalized it. Most of my mentoring were moments in time, maybe a few months.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a mentor that’s been consecutive years. That’s probably because I’ve been a bit nomadic in my journey, different industries, different countries, and different places. I was telling someone the other day who was visiting me, I said, „I live here in Menlo Park, but I’m never going to run into someone I went to grade school with because they’re all in Connecticut. I’m not going to see someone I went to college with. Most people from Connecticut don’t move out here.“ I’ve been here over 20 years. I’ve coached a ton of kids‘ sports. I’ve made some friends.
I will share one experience that was the most probably most pivotal moment in recent history for me which was leaving LinkedIn. I didn’t have a plan when I left LinkedIn to leave. I showed up to work one day, I had a meeting with my boss. I was exhausted. When I was home with my three young children, I was never home. This rut in my stomach of guilt was just growing like something’s missing. Everyone thinks on the outside you’re so successful and you’re on this incredible journey, but I was miserable inside. I wasn’t feeling good about my parenting. I wasn’t feeling good about being there for my family.
What hit one night my son said to me, it was a Friday morning and this was the week before I left, he said, „Dad, are you going to be home early tonight? I was like, „Oh, yes, I’m definitely going to be home early.“ He said, „8:30, 9:00?“ That just broke my heart that my son saw my pattern of coming home on Fridays at 8:30 or 9:00. That he was six, seven years old at the time and shouldn’t even be staying awake that late waiting for me. I just, „I got to change. Things are just not working. I’m financially in a place where I can make these choices.“ I left and I didn’t know what to do.
I had a friend that had done some coaching for LinkedIn and his name was Gustavo. Gustavo was a very just engaging, Argentinian, thought leader, Gustavo Rubin. I’d helped him compose– He’d written a book and I had been a sounding board for him. It was the first time I’d ever been on the jacket of a book cover saying, „Hey, it’s a great book. I thought it was pretty neat.“ I had an evening with Gustavo that I’ll never forget. I showed up to his house and I said, „Hey, I just quit.“ He’s like, „What?“ He’s like, „Wow, that’s really interesting. You did.“ He was excited for me. I thought he was going to react the way my family did and the way my friends are like, „What? Why are you getting off of this rocketship to the moon that’s so sexy and seductive?“ I said, „No, I’m not feeling it.“
He talked [unintelligible 00:14:31] „I’m going to take Steve to dinner, and we’re going to go have a conversation.“ I had had many discussions with him about life that transcended work, and that’s where my affection, and my respect and admiration for him– I loved how he thought about people. He packaged it in this Argentinian-English accent, and he was my Yoda. I don’t know that I ever told him that. He passed away a few years after this moment, unfortunately, really, really quickly. I’m still recovering from losing that. If he were alive, he would definitely be someone that I would be in touch with. The choices he made, the lifestyle that he had, how he thought about problems, how he made the complex seem simple and achievable, really appealed to me.
I went to him and over the course of dinner, we arrived at basically what I’m doing still today. He said, „All right, I want you to tell me when you feel most alive as a human, what are you doing?“ I’m like, „No one’s ever asked me that. When do you feel most alive?“ It’s usually packaged in, „What’s your passion?“ or, „What are you really good at?“ That’s where the depth of someone from a different culture was a beautiful question. I’m like, „Wow.“ What was important for me in that relationship and for the audience is my comfort and, I would say, my love for him just dropped my guard, that made the integrity of that moment very, very high and the quality high, and my guard was down. That’s when I think we’re at our candid best.
Some people may want to have a mentor who’s flashy or has a title. I’ve seen this mistake happen too many times because I want to tell someone that you’re my mentor because I’m going to look good that you’re mentoring me because you’ve got a fancy title and a fancy company. That’s the wrong way to look at this because you’re going to spend all that time trying to impress that person and trying to be something that you think is going to impress that person and that is a formula for disaster. I’ve done that. I will admit. I made that mistake earlier in my career.
What I felt here was I had nothing to lose right now. I’m financially secure. I don’t need to impress anyone. This was a beautiful moment for me in the next few years after that I left LinkedIn was for the first time in my career, I’m meeting someone as Steve Cadigan, not the VP of M&A at Cisco, not the VP at LinkedIn. When you’re in these high profile roles in these high profile companies, people want to stick their claws in you and say, „I’m doing business for the such and such great high flyer company.“ It’s never an authentic connection.
I’m a Scorpio. I’m an ENFP Myers-Briggs. If you’re not authentic, you’re dead to me. I can’t handle it. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. Gustavo was that and more. That moment of trust my guard was down. „When do you feel alive? When do you feel life?“ I said, „Well, I don’t know how to answer that question.“ I said, „When I’m teaching and when I’m speaking, my hair will stand up on my arm.“ He goes, „That is the essence of life you’re feeling in your blood.“ I almost started crying. I was like, „I need to do this.“
I never thought of myself as a teacher or a speaker. I’m like, „All right, I want to learn how to do this more. I know there’s people that will listen to me because my career’s allowed me to gain a little bit of attention and credibility and open the door, so how can I do that?“ Here I am, 10, 15 years later off that moment. It really stood out, I think for those reasons, the trust that I had for him.
Patrick Cournoyer: I really share a lot of what you just said perspective-wise. First off, thank you for sharing that very personal story with us. That’s what I love about these conversations are when people share their experience, their personal experience because I truly believe that that is encouraging for people. I feel it’s inspiring for people to hear how just people experience life in different ways. The other thing that very much resonates with what you just said, in a previous episode, I spoke about one of my personal mentors, her name is Deb McCuiston. There, I very much care about her. You talk about having your guard down. She’s not only a very dear friend of mine, but she absolutely is a mentor for me, specifically with my career but just life in general, she’s a life mentor for me.
When I think about the conversations that I have had with her that are the most impactful are the ones where my guard is down, where I’m not trying to impress her. It’s not about impressing anybody. It’s about being very real, being honest with myself, which then in turn allows me to be very honest with her. The most productive mentorship conversations I’ve ever had with her have been in those circumstances. I really share that perspective with you about if choosing a mentor and when choosing a mentor, maybe that’s the more effective way of saying it is to really think about how you can with yourself when you’re in this relationship with this mentor. Because if you can’t be yourself, if you can’t be honest, and you can’t be vulnerable, and have that guard down, the effectiveness of that relationship is really not going to be what it needs to be.
I think your story on that is such an example of that. As you said, maybe at the time, you didn’t realize that it was this very pivotal mentoring moment for you, especially that one conversation that stands out in your head which was almost what, how many years ago? 15 years ago.
Steve Cadigan: Yes. I think what’s worth diving into a little bit here is I wasn’t in a place where I felt I would make myself that vulnerable earlier in my career. I was struggling to grow and impress and climb. I think at the point where I am in my journey, where you are in your journey, I think you get to a point at some point– I speak to incoming MBAs every year at the University of San Francisco. I got my master’s degree there. I left that out of my story, but I did get a master’s at some point because I said, „I want to do this for the rest of my life, and I want to be great at it.“
I built a relationship with them. In the incoming class every year I tell the MBAs, I said, „I know why you’re here. I know you want to control your future more. You want to have more career ammunition, and build more muscle to widen the opportunity spectrum for you professionally. That’s great.“ I said, „But please, please remember, we’re here to finish happy first. At some point, there’s no MBA in relationships. Unfortunately, there’s no MBA in joy. There’s no master’s, degrees that prepare you to be a great person.“
I always joke with friends, „What are the biggest decisions we make in life? Do you want a partner? What does that partner look like? What are the attributes? How do you know it when you see it? Then do you want to have children? Where do you want to go to school if you want to go to school?“ My decision to go to college was so random in retrospect, it worked out. What prepares you for those decisions? It’s your community, it’s your network of your mentors, and so forth. We have all these schooling, all these degrees for all these other things, but those are really big decisions.
I think what I want to just lay out there a little bit is I think if you’re just focused on your career as for a mentor you’re really missing, you’re really marginalizing the opportunity. I would suggest someone– Again, I also want to get into this notion of many mentors versus a mentor because we’re all changing, and mentors are changing. There’s a woman I want to tell you about in a minute, who’s expanded what mentoring can look out at scale which is interesting. I think it is really important to be grounded at the whole game is who you are.
The pandemic, I’m not sure when we’re going to air this, but we’re probably still going to be in some dementia. The pandemic has really created what I call this forced merger of home and life in ways that we’ve never seen before, creating a greater time and a greater need for us to grab on to people who help us make sense of this new craziness that we’re going through. Another reason why I thought this conversation was really timely. Your point is that bringing up the life, not just the work, I think makes it a bigger more meaningful conversation and feeling comfortable to share your fears, your doubts, your concerns to really get advice that helps versus, „I don’t want to look stupid because this person’s really a mentor. I don’t want to waste their time with my whininess about, ‚I am not confident when I speak in a staff meeting or something,'“ but you got to do it.
Patrick Cournoyer: You brought up the next part of the conversation, which let’s dive into that a bit, as far as mentoring at scale. Many organizations today are very much focused on growth and individual growth plans for their teams. As you said, there’s a lot of career change happening right now, probably more career change and insignificant career change. People looking at themselves and their work lives and saying, „I don’t want to be doing this. I want to do something totally different.“ The past year and a half has really opened up a lot of people’s minds to thinking about what really makes them happy. What they’re looking for out of work. What they’re looking for out of personal reward not pay, out of just reward of the work that they’re doing, feeling good about what they’re doing. That has inspired quite a bit of change in the world, especially the world of work.
Bringing it back to organizations are very much focused on retaining their talent, retaining their culture and their people, and helping to grow and develop, and provide individual opportunity for everybody that works at their organization which is amazing. I think there are some incredibly positive and beneficial aspects that have come out in the world of work from what we’ve experienced over the past year and a half. A big focus on that or a big result is this very specific focus on people within organizations. A challenge that organizations are facing is mentoring at scale, as you just said. I know you have some thoughts on that and also a personal story about a colleague of yours that jumped into this. What are your thoughts on mentoring at scale within an organization and maybe some challenges with that?
Steve Cadigan: Well, I 100% agree with your thesis, which is this time has provided us an opportunity to really recognize that people need help more than ever. That the world that we’re working in is less certain, it’s more complicated, and things are changing and everyone has a new relationship with their reality. We had this really interesting thing happen at LinkedIn one time. Let’s talk about engagement for a second, and then I’ll come back to the mentoring at scale part of the question. The early days of LinkedIn men, if someone left, it was like, „Oh, what?“ Every departure, every turnover was like a brutal divorce. Like, „What? This can’t be happening. You’re going to leave me.“
We looked and we researched, we looked at the data and this was before data was a thing, people and analytics was a thing. One day we stumbled on a correlation that the highest proportion of people who are leaving were first-time parents. We started like, „Really? Do we just not have good parental leave? Are we not accommodating with their life?“ At the end of the day, we talked to these people after they left. Then we started saying, „Well, let’s just go talk to people who’ve had a child for the first time. Let’s talk to people who have many children, ‚What’s happening when you have your first child?'“ Your life shifts. Where you want to be, how you think about life, who you want to spend your time with takes a massive hit.
On a different dimension, I believe the pandemic has served that to all of us. It’s shocked us. It’s been like this defibrillator like boof. We’ve had an electrical shock. The world hasn’t settled yet. The ground is still soft. It’s still moving. We’re not stable. We have this new strain of the virus and there’ll probably be another one behind it. We don’t know how to deal with that, but I’m looking at my world of work differently. I’m not going to give up shopping at the store whenever I want to. I’m not going to give up not fighting with people on Saturday to get my hair cut. Thankfully, I still have hair to cut. I want the freedom of my time with my family and my kids and not commuting. I’m not giving that up.
Never before in history, have we had a moment where that’s happened. „I’ve tasted something and I believe, I’ve proven I’m as productive as I could be for the organization in this new dimension, why are you asking me to come back?“ That’s a whole nother thing.
It’s also, as we touched on earlier, we can see more what’s possible professionally and personally than ever before. The need to have offered that as scale is growing. I am on a panel at a conference coming up where we’re debating coaching versus life coaching. There’s what is life coaching and should organizations offer life coaching versus just career coaching or job development coaching. I had four of these amazing people. I’m the moderator in this panel. I’m just like, „What do you want to talk about? What does AI have to do with the future of this kind of coaching?“ and so forth.
I think every organization philosophically will always agree, „This is important.“ I’ve never been in an organization where mentoring at scale has been realized. It looks like an interesting reality. I would love for someone to show, „Hey, look, over here it’s really working great.“ It probably boils down to the fact that even though intellectually, we all agree, „Yes, we need to do it. We should do it,“ it is a bit of a blind date in a way. If you’re trying to pair people and the mentee may feel uncomfortable and so you have to prepare the mentor, „You’re going to get something out of it.“ The mentee, „This is how you get the most out of it.“
You’ve got to prepare those people and then you arrange it. Then life gets in the other way. Then things get busy. I postpone the meeting and things like that. I’ve never succeeded at doing it in any of the organizations I’ve been in. People say, ‚Well, we should do a mentoring program.“ I go, „What are you asking me for? Just go find a mentor. You don’t need my permission. Just go.“ „Well, can you find me a mentor?“ I said, „Okay, what does it look like to you?“ I’ve rolled around in it. I’m curious. I would love to listen to some more of the guests that you have if someone has pulled this off so that we can all learn from it.
I think that’s what I love about what I do is people are just so different and unique and changing. That’s why I’ve never tried to, and not by design, but just probably why I’ve never had a mentor for a long period of time because I’m ebbing and flowing and dealing with different things and different people with different skills who could help me at different points along the way.
Patrick Cournoyer: That’s a good way to look at personal mentorship where there is not one solution that works for everyone. As you said, depending on where you’ve been in your life, and where you’ve been in your career, you’ve had moments of mentorship. You’ve also maybe had some shorter-term mentorship relationships, but they’ve been impactful and meaningful and useful to you. On the other hand, I have a couple of mentors, but they have been long-term mentors over, let’s say, 10 years. Interestingly, my mentors all came out of the same work experience.
At least there could be the connection of the interest and the ability to mentor in a certain area, but there’s just so much of the personal relationship aspect of it. I think it’s a challenge.
Steve Cadigan: It is a challenge. Let me offer someone that I would strongly encourage you to connect with and maybe invite to this series. It’s two women actually. I came across these folks in a retreat I went to in the UK about 10 years ago. I came across a woman named Zella King, and she has a business partner, Amanda Scott. They’ve built this notion called The Personal Boardroom which is a part of a study that they did over years which said, „Hey, if organizations have boardrooms, what’s the purpose of a boardroom? To fill in the gaps of expertise that you need to effectively lead and govern a company.“
What they said was, „Why shouldn’t each of us have a personal boardroom? That would include things like someone to challenge you, someone outside your industry, someone who’s got a shoulder to cry on, someone who’s analytical and you’re not analytical, someone who makes you feel good someone who’s a brainstormer.“ They’ve identified, I can’t remember what it is, 12 to 15 dimensions of what that looks like. That I always thought was fascinating. I’ve promoted them to– They were charging for it and then they said, „You know what? We’re just going to give this thing away for free because it’s super cool.“
It is a really, I think, compelling notion that, „Can one person really serve our needs?“ Sure, in some really profound ways but what can be more meaningful is all these different dimensions– They’re PhD so I’m not going to win a debate with them on this, but I trust the thinking behind that. It resonates with me that, „Yes, we should all.“ I know that a lot of listeners are all thinking of, „I don’t know that I could go hustle up 12 people,“ but I bet you if you really sit down and think about it, mainly, I’m talking about someone who’s probably 40 years plus. Your network’s expanded, you’ve worked in a number of different organizations, you know different people.
You probably have someone that maybe you haven’t identified them as that person, but they might be there helping to serve you when you’ve got to pull up the MacGyver batphone and say, „Hey, I’m in a jam, can you help me think about this differently?“ or, „How would you approach this challenge, this issue?“ or, „I’m really in a low place right now and everything I see looks dark and negative. Help me, I’m stuck.“ This is the thing that’s interesting about the pandemic is going into pandemic, the number one talent concern most of my clients and friends in talent world are concerned about is diversity, equity, inclusion.
That just got trumped by wellness and burnout and stress and anxiety. Not just with work, with everything in life. They’re like, „I got kids, and I can’t educate, and I’ve got to do work, and I can’t do all this stuff, and I need to find toilet paper, there’s a run on toilet paper.“ I like that notion that there’s a wider spectrum. Again, they’ve been doing this for years, and I thought this thing is going to be just like a no-brainer, it’s going to explode, and I don’t see it taking off. It was a miss for me. That’s something that we should all have something like that.
Patrick Cournoyer: Steve, we are coming to the end of the conversation. First off, thank you for sharing your personal story of being a mentee, being mentored, and that really meaningful moment in your life when you made a significant change which I’m sure can also be very scary at the time as well. Also just your perspective on what mentoring can look like for the future and the importance of really choosing a mentor. If you are a mentor, focusing on that personal relationship and the ability to be yourself in that relationship, to get the full reward out of it, because when we’re our authentic selves in these types of relationships, that’s where we’re going to be able to be the most beneficial to have those relationships.
Steve, I’m sure people in the audience listening to the episode are curious about you. We talked a lot about you individually, but you’ve had this amazing career and you do so much work. You work with so many big organizations right now as far as an advisor, how can people find out more about you, where do they go?
Steve Cadigan: First, thank you for this conversation, and again, just completely reinforced the work that you are doing here. These conversations are so meaningful, and I’ve become a podcast junkie during the pandemic. People who want to find me, I have a website stevecadigan.com. You can obviously find me on LinkedIn. I hear it’s a pretty good website. I just launched a book around the future of work.
Patrick Cournoyer: Yes, congratulations.
Steve Cadigan: It’s called Workquake. It’s Embracing the Aftershocks of COVID-19 to Create a Better Model for Working. I’m so excited about it. It doesn’t have all the answers, but I do talk a lot about the psychological shifts that the workforce is having today. One of the provocative points I say, and this just underscores the value of why mentoring is really necessary and just essential today, is that I believe the workforce today, particularly the knowledge workforce, is moving from seeing career security as moving from being in one place to moving to many places.
That I’m more secure the more I move. The more I meet new people, the bigger my network becomes. The more I know, the more knowledge I have, the more employable I become. Being employable today is more important than being employed. That means game on for employers do you want people to stay you need to make them more capable of living and better for the future. I love that because people are having to be creative. I know you see this because you study this world as much as I do. In the world of tech, we’ve been fighting for talent for 20 years. In the non-tech world, they’re having a fight for talent and they’re on their heels.
When I see Burger King has a sign on their placard that says, „We all quit,“ and then I go to Las Vegas and I see $1,500 signing bonuses outside a bar, and then I hear on the radio $50,000 signing bonuses for truck drivers, I know that the advantage is the employees‘ right now. Employers are not sure how to handle it. I think if you can supply someone with greater clarity for their personal journey, that’s so much richer than only caring about them when they work for you. Again, super excited to be here, it sounds like I’m going to need to come back because we only just got started. I hope we have a chance to talk more.
Patrick Cournoyer: I would love that Steve and I am excited to read your book Workquake, just recently came out.
Steve Cadigan: Started shipping yesterday when we’re recording actually.
Patrick Cournoyer: It will only be a few weeks when this will go live. Those of you listening, we’re recording in mid-August, but the book is out and you should definitely check it out. Steve, thank you for your insights, your time, your story, and I take you up on that continued conversation. We will have a chapter two of this discussion at some point. Thank you very much, Steve.
Steve Cadigan: You’re welcome.