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Hope is a Strategy [Podcast]

Episode 76:  Michael and Kathryn debunk the common myth that 'Hope' is not a legitimate strategy and discuss how you can leverage the power of hope to inspire your customers. If the word 'hope' sounds like a wishy-washy term to you, and you've shied away from using it your business marketing, then this episode is for you!

Bird escaping a cage


In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover why business leaders need to focus more on hope in their marketing.

  • Find out why hope is a cognitive process and the 3 components that define it.

  • Learn how to keep from despairing by focusing on hope in your own leadership and in your business marketing efforts.

“We believe hope is something every business needs to be able to offer their customers.”
– KATHRYN Redman

Take the Leadership Blindspot Quiz

References:

Dare to Lead (Brene Brown)

Bard Press (book publisher)

Moments with Kathryn (Why I Like Hope)

 

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Michael:
              Hi there and welcome to HaBO Village podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              And this is a podcast where we work with leaders and talk about issues to build passion provision companies, companies that are filled with more profit and more joy for the leader. And then consequently everyone else in the organization, including customers. This is the thing that says we want to have meaningful work as leaders and entrepreneurs and we believe that's possible. We've done it and we've talked to other people and worked with other folks that have done it too and we think you can also. So today's topic is Hope is a Business Strategy. Okay, I wanted to do that.


Kathryn:
               That's really great. Contrary to the popular saying, and I think there's even a book title called Hope is Not a Strategy.


Michael:
              And we just full on emphatically right now say that's a bunch of bollix.


Kathryn:
               Bollix. Okay, so just to back up a little bit because we're a little bit hopped up. So there is a regular interaction that happens at the Redman home and it goes something like this. I will usually, if we're struggling with something or if there's something looming or a challenge or whatever, I will say to Michael, "Is there hope?".


Michael:
              There's always hope.


Kathryn:
               There's always hope. That's been the answer. So for years, I could say decades because we've been at it a while, that is a regular interaction in our home. Is there hope? Well, there's always hope.


Michael:
              There's always hope.


Kathryn:
               And sometimes the roles are reversed and Michael will ask the question. Those are very dark days because he is the optimist in the family.


Michael:
              Dark, dark days.


Kathryn:
               But that interaction is really routine. Our daughter understands it. It's just something we say a lot. So hope matters to us. And one of the things that has been really interesting is that we really believe that hope is something that every business needs to be able to offer their customers.


Michael:
              Well, we believe hope is a universal need.


Kathryn:
               It is a universal need.


Michael:
              A universal thing. And yet we have come in contact with so many people who are in business, especially that go, "Hope's a wishy-washy thing that has no evidence, no strategy, no nothing. Really, it's just a fanciful wish and we want nothing of it. We don't think that our customers need hope either."


Kathryn:
               Yeah. Or if we offer them hope, what we're really saying is-


Michael:
              Bollix.


Kathryn:
               ... We're not confident in our product, but we sure hope it works for you. Right? So that's how they take it and it's so intriguing and it is one of those things that we have pushed back on and pushed back on, but not ever really been able to win the fight. We certainly use hope in our own marketing, but I'm a little bit hyper about this subject today because I'm in the middle of reading a book by Brené Brown. Sorry, I mispronounced that. Her latest book is called Dare to Lead. Great book. I recommend it if you're walking the leadership path and just want to dig into some of her work. It's a great consolidation of previous work that she's done with added material and she's writing it from the perspective of working with organizations, businesses, government agencies.


Kathryn:
               She's looking at it not just from a personal interaction standpoint but from a business and leadership and managing your teams and all this other stuff that we care about kind of angle. So she shifted into that direction, which is part of why I wanted to read this book. So as I'm reading last night, I'm somewhere in the middle of the book. She is pointing out this research that's been done by this guy named C.R. Snyder and he is no longer with us. He passed away in 2006 but he was one of the leaders in the field of positive psychology. Now Michael, explain positive psychology.


Michael:
              So positive psychology doesn't mean, "Gosh, I just am going to-"


Kathryn:
               Wishful thinking.


Michael:
              "... Amp myself up and be wishful thinking." Positive psychology was actually only developed in the last 20 years or so, ish. And what it does is it says it counteracted a problem in psychology that said all psychology deals with, or a huge chunk of the research deals with looking at the lowest common denominator. So let's look at the average, that must be the best everybody can do. And even if the average is everybody's below ...


Kathryn:
               Below average.


Michael:
              ... Below average, and so what they started doing is when you started doing surveys, instead of looking at the lowest common denominator and trying to figure out how to get those people up to average, which is what a lot of psychologists were doing, what's the average, we'll do a research study, let's find those people that are below average and get them to average.


Michael:
              It looked at the people that were outliers way above it going ... and instead of saying, "Well, let's just look at where people are. Let's look at some of the people that are performing high and how do we actually get there. Is that the potential? Is that the mark?" And it became a psychology that looked at the positive side of the research and said, "Let's start figuring out how we can get people to there because that might be an indicator of people are performing at a higher level, that might be an indicator of the potential, not just because the majority of people are operating at a lower level." And so that psychology went, "Okay, how do we be our ..." Really, let me summarize it this way. How do we be our best selves? What is our actual potential? And that's where positive psychology went because that's a more positive slant.


Kathryn:
               It's positive slant. So Snyder, Dr. Snyder. Charles R. Snyder is one of those folks that was a pioneer in that field. He was at the university of Kansas. He was a Wright, W-R-I-G-H-T, a Wright distinguished professor. He wrote a book.


Michael:
              He's very fancy.


Kathryn:
               I mean he's like the [inaudible 00:05:26] and one of the things that Snyder did was he focused a great deal of his research on hope and forgiveness was another thing that was really big for him, but he actually wrote a book called The Handbook of Hope. And when Brené Brown was kind of summarizing, what struck me was he would say hope isn't actually an emotion. Hope is a thinking process. It is a cognitive approach that is supported by emotion, but it isn't primarily an emotion.


Michael:
              That's kind of crazy.


Kathryn:
               I know. I was like, "Whoa, wait a minute.".


Michael:
              Hope is not an emotion.


Kathryn:
               It's not primarily an emotion. It's actually ... so let me read you how he puts it. So it isn't an emotion. It's a way of thinking or a cognitive process. He would acknowledge emotions play a role, but hope is actually a thought process that is tied to three things that are measurable.


Michael:
              Okay.


Kathryn:
               The first is goals, the second is pathways, and the third is agency.


Michael:
              Okay. So I know what goals are.


Kathryn:
               Right. So let me just summarize it like this. So we experience hope when first we have the ability to set realistic goals. So I know where I want to go, right? We're setting like just goal setting. Okay?


Michael:
              Okay.


Kathryn:
               The second is we're able to figure out how to achieve those goals, so a pathway to get there, including, this is really important, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes if something goes wrong.


Michael:
              I'm good at alternative routes.


Kathryn:
               You are so good at that part. So I know how to get there. That's the first part. I know where I want to go is the first part. I know how to get there and I'm persistent. I can tolerate some disappointment along the way and keep trying. Right?


Michael:
              Yeah. No, that makes perfect sense.


Kathryn:
               Okay, so that's ... So goals. I know where I want to go. Pathway, I can see a way to get there and when I run into an obstacle, I've got the wherewithal to go, "Well that's not going to stop me. I'm just going to try a different route." Okay?


Michael:
              That last one aligns with all the work on the topic of fragile and antifragile.


Kathryn:
               Yes. Or perseverance, right? That whole, yeah. So those first two and then the third agency is simply belief in yourself. I know I can do this. So there's a sense of ... agency is that sense of I actually can affect the outcome. Like I can do this, I can move forward. So he did his research and came out with those kind of three big things to say it is actually a mental cognitive process that we go through that helps us believe or that gives us that position of going, "I know where I want to go, I know how to get there. And when I get stuck, I'm going to be creative and think and persevere and bounce around the obstacles and I know I can do this."


Michael:
              Okay. So I'm going to push back a little bit.


Kathryn:
               Sure.


Michael:
              All right, so I love hope. You know that.


Kathryn:
               I do.


Michael:
              So for some of the folks that are listening today, if I'm in the car and I'm listening to this, I am starting to get a little frustrated saying hope's not an emotion and I love hope, but it's fair to say that whether that definition is correct or not, whether it's an emotion or not, it's still part of a thinking. It is still is a thinking process and those three things are still in it, whether it's an emotion or not.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely. Absolutely.


Michael:
              Because what happens, like for some of the other folks in positive psychology and Barbara, I forget what her last name is, but she's one of the forefathers or forparents-


Kathryn:
               Formothers.


Michael:
              ... Of the whole thing. There's a list of 10 most common positive emotions and hope is actually in that.


Kathryn:
               Yeah.


Michael:
              And I think we may have talked a little bit about that on this podcast, but so that's one thing I think whether it is or it isn't an emotion, I think those three aspects are actually critical. And there's an argument to be said that human beings need to have hope or they begin to shrivel. I think you see it in tons and tons and tons of literature. So if it's so vital to human beings that we don't have a direction, have a path, and believe that we can navigate that and be persistent, if we don't believe any of those are possible, then why would we ever do it? We don't do it in a business. We don't do it in a relationship, therefore, if that's the case and we're defining hope like that, the research does, you have to have hope.


Kathryn:
               Well, yeah. And then part of the reason I get so kind of hopped up about it with businesses and with business owners and what they're offering is if we're not able to communicate to our clients that we can solve their problem so that there is hope that tomorrow will be better than today in that particular regard, then what are we selling?


Michael:
              Yeah.


Kathryn:
               And so for me, part of our goal, even with this podcast, with everything that we do with companies we work with, is we want to offer hope and a pathway to say, "There is a way to make this better. We can guide you along this pathway. We can help you go from point A to point B and you know what? It's worth it."


Michael:
              I think when people say Hope is Not a Strategy, which is the title of a book, they don't understand that there's actually a definition to hope.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, well I think they have the impression that hope is just, "I'm going to sit in the corner and I'm just going to hope that $1 million shows up tomorrow, but I'm not going to do anything.".


Michael:
              Which is stupid.


Kathryn:
               Right? That's not hope. That's just stupidity. But that's what we ... We assigned it to this wishful thinking realm as though we're ideating about something that is absolutely out of reach. So as we talk about it, we're not talking about that. We're talking about this like setting a goal and then the pathway to get there and the belief that you can do it. And that's something that I think that all of us need deep down in our souls. We have to believe there's hope because the opposite is despair.


Michael:
              Well, and when somebody says you haven't got a hope, what they're inferring is those three elements. There is one or more of those three elements that don't exist. You don't have a hope because that's not an attainable goal.


Kathryn:
               Right.


Michael:
              You don't have a hope because-


Kathryn:
               There's no way to get there.


Michael:
              ... There is no way to get, there's no path for you to get there. Like there's so many blockages and sometimes-


Kathryn:
               And by the way, I don't believe in you.


Michael:
              Yeah, and I don't believe that-


Kathryn:
               Ouch.


Michael:
              And I don't believe you have the persistence ... you don't have the stickiness to go after it. You don't have the grit, which she has studied in positive psychology too, by the way.


Kathryn:
               Is that Angela Duckworth?


Michael:
              Duckworth.


Kathryn:
               Duckworth. Grit.


Michael:
              But she wrote a great book and that the research on grit was really good too because it's like, "Okay, these are important and they're critical." And when you look at literature throughout all of humanity, even when you look at the scientific research and medicine of what happens to people who get diagnoses and they are given no hope, the research has shown multiple times that when people's hope is taken away, their psychological and physiological wellness starts to dwindle.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, absolutely.


Michael:
              And people who believe they have hope and overcoming something like cancer or anything else actually statistically do more often than people who lose hope, they've lost the will to live. That's been said lots. It's that thing they have no more hope really is what's going on and they can't fight. They don't have the perseverance. They don't have what it takes because there's no guarantee. But your odds increased dramatically when you have hope.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. It's a really interesting thing. So was we were just kind of processing this and thinking about this. I just think about being in our conference room and how many times we've looked at clients and said, "Okay, well what you're offering is hope." You take a financial planner and somebody brings all their stuff to them and they don't know what they're supposed to do and they don't have confidence for the future. And really what you're saying is, "No, no, there's hope. We can help you create a pathway, help you find a way to get there and then we believe you can do it and we're going to help you with this." And what they push back on and sometimes it's because of the way that they think is the client doesn't want to say hope for the ... they don't want us to tell them there's hope for your future. They want us to tell them there's strategy for your future.


Michael:
              So yeah, and matter of fact, it turns out that the book Hope is Not a Strategy, it's a sales book and it's working on complex sales, but you get into this situation where you don't want empty hope. Let's just define it here. We don't want false hope.


Kathryn:
               Right.


Michael:
              And so often what people have said, either hope or they behave in this thing, which is false hope, they have just a wishy-washy thing without a way to get there and without the perseverance to do what needs to get there. So that isn't a strategy if you're missing pieces and parts. But this idea of understanding when you're talking about marketing and sales and everything else, folks, if you're growing your business, if you want to motivate people to do something, one of the things that is true over and over again, we've seen it for years in our company and our consulting, is that you need to help people believe that you're going to improve their life with your product or service.


Michael:
              And strategies are important, but they don't psychologically motivate us. It's a very intellectual, it's kind of a ... stays in the frontal lobe of the brain and you want to engage the emotions at any point in the sales process, in any marketing, in any motivation. Because you want people to go, "Yeah, I could do this. Yeah, this is going to make my life better. Yes." And the stronger their emotion is actually that relates more to sales than coming up with a very intellectual strategy and everything else.


Michael:
              If you can make them believe that you can deliver, then the strategy becomes the reason to believe. The strategy goes, they go, "Okay, I think you can do this. So tell me how." And then you give them a plan and the plan is a strategic plan and the validity of that starts to reinforce the emotions they have as opposed to not everybody gets excited about just a plan. You have to believe in the before state and the after state and that there's a way to get there.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. And what's interesting is when we've done, like we do a lot of work with temperaments and I was reminded just a couple of days ago when you're putting kind of a whole picture together of what it is that people need when you're in communication, if you're going to be persuasive, there's four things that they need and we all need them. It's just some temperaments need different parts of this more than others, but we basically need the big picture.


Michael:
              Yup.


Kathryn:
               We need the nuts and bolts. We need entertainment. Please don't bore me while you're telling me this. And we need hope. Those are the four big things that matter in communication for marketing. Big picture, nuts and bolts, entertainment, hope.


Michael:
              Well and we learned that also what we're doing is we're he ... Okay. So folks just to catch you up. Through some connections of ours, a few friends-


Kathryn:
               Bard.


Michael:
              Bard.


Kathryn:
               Ray Bard.


Michael:
              Ray Bard.


Kathryn:
               Bard Publishing.


Michael:
              Bard Publishing. Okay. We have crossed paths and met him once or twice and Ray Bard, super successful book publisher, publishes a lot of business books and quite frankly a lot of business books that have made it to the bestseller lists over the years. Now those aren't as big a deal now as they used to be, but have been a really big deal. He realized that one of the things they did, and they only publish like two to four books a year, I think is what they're down to now, but what he realizes, see, that list that you just gave out, big picture, nuts and bolts, entertainment, hope is what actually the great top selling books, forget about bestseller list at the moment. Top selling business books, they have those four characteristics.


Michael:
              They actually do give the reader hope that their life could change and that it could become better than what they have right now. That's a big, big, big, big deal. So for instance, like one of the latest ones, number one, Wall Street Journal bestseller, The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, if you travel at all or go into a bookstore or go on Amazon, you've seen this book. This book is 750,000 copies sold last time that what I'm reading was done, Bard press. Other books that he's done, tons of different stuff. All of Jeffrey Gitomer. I always mispronounce it, but like The Little Red Sales book and things like that, he published all of his stuff to millions sold worldwide. This guy knows what he's talking about and this is just, we bring it to you.


Michael:
              We were fortunate to hear him speak a little bit and to know some of his friends and some of the folks that have been published under him that have had multiple number one or New York Times bestselling books. That whole idea is this is a real deal. It captures the emotions of human beings. And when people say hope's not a strategy, we don't want to use it, we don't ever want to talk about it, we don't want to think about it, you are leaving money on the table. Leaving money on the table because what you're saying is I don't care about how they feel about whether we can actually help them or not. We don't care if they're encouraged or motivated or anything else because that has nothing to do with business and this is just crap. I'm like, we hate the fact that this all happens and you have to believe because when we're talking to you about passion and provision businesses, we not only need you to like believe at some level that it is true, but we need to believe that you can actually accomplish it yourself.


Michael:
              Some of you listening to this are listening to this podcast because you already live and exist in a passion provision business. You are either the senior leader or one of the leaders in a passion provision company and you came along and you said, "I've never heard of this term passion provision, but I agree with everything you're saying and we enact those principles and policies and we're just putting a name to something that's been around with great leadership, with great companies for a really long time and nobody has been able to really articulate it in a way that I was resonating with." So we just called it passion and provision.


Michael:
              So here's this thing that has certain core values, that has certain beliefs and ideas. It believes that you can live better than the average bear, better than the average-


Kathryn:
               Thanks, Yogi.


Michael:
              ... Business person, the average company you can be more successful, you can enjoy it more and you can actually, it doesn't rob from the rest of your life. It actually creates us a positive feedback loop that fills the rest of your life. The rest of your life is supported by this healthy business and the rest of your life outside of the business helps feed and support healthy business. It's a great positive side feedback loop. Well that said, we want you to believe because we've given you stories and definitions and research and all this different evidence that this stuff works.


Kathryn:
               And then we've given you strategies to try and get there. Right?


Michael:
              Yes.


Kathryn:
               So part of hope is having a pathway. So all of those things are really, really important to us because our heart is to inspire and give hope to business leaders, to managers, to people who are running companies that things can get better, that they can improve, that there is a different tomorrow if today sucks a little, that there's actually hope for the future.


Kathryn:
               So this word matters to us a ton. And I was just, you know, whenever you find someone who actually gives you some definitions to say, "See, see, see, it's not just a fuzzy emotional term. It's real. It matters." I just was kind of doing a little dance when I read it. It just made me happy. So we wanted to just share some of that with you today because we want to inspire people to have hope. We want to inspire that. And if you as a leader have hope for your business, for your future, that also impacts your employees by the way, because they need to have hope that what they're doing matters and that what they're doing can make a difference and change things as time goes along.


Michael:
              Yeah, absolutely. So this is hope. We wanted to talk about it today because we actually believe that it matters. We want you to believe it matters. We want you to see the power of it. Because what's, I think, happens is it's hidden and a lot of people are going to go, "When hope is talked about something that is just wishy-washy that we call false hope, then why would you ever lead with that? Why would you do that?" But when you can creatively create messaging that inspires hope and that you articulate, that we take back and redeem this word, hope, back into our vocabularies, we bring it back in and say, "This has meaning and purpose because the core human being as human beings have said it again, I've said it before, I said again, we need it." And when we look at people and we go, "What are those core base emotions that humans need?" They need to be loved. Know they care.


Kathryn:
               Belonging.


Michael:
              Belonging, know that their opinion matters to somebody. Know that people care about them enough that they want the best for them, that you're safe. So you've got safety and belonging and growth and opportunity and we know as human beings that we can create and do something more then what you have is you have more excitement and a lack of depression, a lack of-


Kathryn:
               Despair.


Michael:
              ... Despair. That's a good word. And when you think about these things and these concepts, you are tapping into a base need of humanity with your marketing and your messaging and everything else. And you don't just say we want to give you hope, but it's okay to say that especially when you describe it and talk about it and you design messaging for the people you're leading, the people you're trying to sell to, your customers, even your investors, you're giving them hope, actual real, legitimate hope that it can work.


Michael:
              I mean, you take any military leader in anything that's famous in history and the men and women that would follow that leader follow them because they believe they had a chance at success. There was a goal, there was a path, following that leader was going to get them there and together they could all somehow muster up the umph to move forward-


Kathryn:
               The courage. Yeah.


Michael:
              ... And to overcome and you pump people up and you give them an idea that there's a goal that's far enough out there like a [inaudible 00:24:14] and you give them the idea that there's a path and then you give them the idea that there is ... it's worth doing and we could persevere over all the obstacles to get there and you're like, "That's a big thing. Wouldn't it be great to have it? And you're telling me we can do it? You're convincing me we can do it? You've given me hope that that is possible."


Michael:
              And there's something that rises up in people and a whole room of people cheer. They throw their arms in the air and they cheer and we want you to go, "That's important across the board in everything you do." But more importantly, I think it's important for you, the leader. You, we as entrepreneurs need hope that this whole thing called small business, this whole thing called running a business is actually going to help us improve the quality of our life and not degrade it. And so many people have gotten into a loop where they believe, "Well, someday," somehow in the back of their head they're like, "Well, someday this is going to improve my life. Maybe two marriages out and my kids or maybe we won't go bankrupt or whatever." And they just kind of live these dismal lives that kind of end up with more despair and discouragement and more cynicism at the end of the day or the end of their life than before.


Michael:
              And we don't want that for you. And we know lots of people, including ourselves, that have been in business a long time, at this point, 17 years for us. We love it more than we did in the beginning. I love it way more than I did in the beginning because in the beginning it was harder.


Kathryn:
               Harder.


Michael:
              And so that's hope. Any other thoughts on that, Kathryn?


Kathryn:
               Is there hope?


Michael:
              There's always hope.


Kathryn:
               That's very good.


Michael:
              Come on. There's always hope. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today. We are grateful for you. We appreciate you. We're thankful for the fact that you tune in and listen and we would appreciate it if you would share this podcast with other people. Help us spread the word about passion provision companies that it's possible. It's a goal worthy and possible, that there are strategies and paths to get there. And that with some perseverance and encouragement in a community of people that believe that leadership doesn't have to be lonely. And we can go after this together. So for HaBO Village podcast, I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              Thank you very much. Have a great day. And may you be filled with hope.


Kathryn:
               Yes, yes.


Michael:
              Cheers.


Kathryn:
               Bye.