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The HaBO Village Podcast

The Power of Innovation in Business - With Guest, Andrew Pek [Podcast]

Episode 158: Michael and Kathryn interview business consultant and innovation expert, Andrew Pek, on the 3 levels of innovation and the power of mindset when it comes to unlocking your creativity. If you feel like your leadership or business is constantly getting stuck in a rut, then this episode is for you!

Andrew Pek and Michael and Kathryn Redman portrait

 

In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover the 3 levels of innovation: Desirable, Doable, and Viable.

  • Find out why mindset matters when it comes to unlocking your creativity and innovation.

  • Get Andrew's expert advice on how to become a better consultant in your industry.

“If you don't devote some practice to inventing/reinventing yourself, you're going to suddenly find the world rapidly changing around you and you're going to be flat-footed." 

"Everyone has their own mojo... and that's something you want to encourage, but you have to both know how to express that and regulate it at the same time."

- Andrew Pek

 

21 point vision checklist

References:

 

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Michael:
              Hello, and welcome to The HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              And this is a podcast to help you small and medium-sized business owners, not that you're small or medium sized, but your companies are small and medium-sized. You never wonder what you're going to get on this podcast.


Kathryn:
               You never do.


Michael:
              To help you build companies that we call are full of more Passion and Provision or great cultures and more money on the bottom line. How's that? We want to give you tips and encouragements. And today, we have an interview, I think you're going to really like it. I know I'm going to have fun doing it.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, you are.


Michael:
              Kathryn, who are we talking to?


Kathryn:
               So we have the privilege today of talking with Andrew Pek who is the managing partner at DxD partners. And Andrew has quite a bio. He's talked to a lot of really important people and a lot of really important companies and his real specialty is being a consultant to consultants, but his background is in innovation, design and strategy thinking. So I feel like you two are going to start talking about innovation and design and I'm going to be color commentary and it's going to be a really fun-


Michael:
              I have an assignment for you.


Kathryn:
               I'm ready.


Michael:
              So in the middle of it, when you don't know what we're talking about, ask questions to clarify, then you'll probably be helping the listeners, more than I will.


Kathryn:
               Probably helping the listener who doesn't know because you two will be nerding out.


Michael:
              Because I'll be too excited.


Kathryn:
               All right. That's my role.


Michael:
              So as we talk about innovation and everything else, Andrew, welcome to the show.


Andrew:
              Hey, it's great to be on. Thanks for having me.


Michael:
              So let's dive in really quick just because this is oftentimes an esoteric subject for a lot of people ...


Andrew:
              Sure.


Michael:
              ... it's one of those things where everybody goes, "Oh, yeah, I've heard about innovation. I've read about innovation. Innovation is in the newspaper. It's in Fast Magazine. It's everywhere. Harvard Business says it's an important thing," what the heck is it? How do we define innovation?


Andrew:
              That's a really great question. Leading companies who grow, you easily can identify them, that you always think about the Apples of the world, so the Googles, so the Amazons. The reason why they grow so much is they are always trying to outwit or outmaneuver their competition by reinvesting in new ideas, new technologies, new services, new ways in which to attract or grow their customer base, right? They are the ultimate disruptors because they know fiercely if they don't themselves, they will be. Because nowadays, business is changing so rapidly because of technological change, or gosh, different crises that are happening in our world today obviously influences and causes people to pivot and want to change.


Andrew:
              But innovation is the process, and I will be happy to go into more detail about this, of using different kind of creative and critical thinking techniques or design thinking, right? Thinking how do you design solutions that will bring new kinds of products or services that your customers not only want, but they need and they may not even know that they need it themselves, right?


Michael:
              Right.


Andrew:
              That's one part of the Venn diagram. The other is that you have the capability and you can do it better than anybody else. You have the technology and the knowhow and then it's feasible, meaning it's going to make some money for you, right? It's viable. You're going to earn a profit. When you can bring those three things into alignment, then you have the possibility of something truly innovative. They may be only new to your own business, maybe new to your industry, could be even new to the world that is something completely revolutionary. So there's different levels, if you will, of innovation.


Michael:
              So list those three out real quick again.


Andrew:
              So the shorthand is desirable, doable and viable. Desirable, customers want, need. Doable, you have the capabilities and technology to actually solve for that need. And then it's viable, meaning it's going to be profitable. So imagine you have something you're like, "Oh, wow, if we could only do this for clients because they would really love that," and you suddenly realize it's not going to be profitable, that's a nice to have sort of idea, it's like an invention, right? It be crazy-tivity, right? If you could just-


Kathryn:
               Wait, did you coined that word crazy-tivity because I really like that word? That is crazy-tivity right there.


Andrew:
              Well, I do a lot of crazy things. And so oftentimes because people like myself in this discipline always associate innovation with, "Oh, those are the guys who do all the Post-It notes and that kind of stuff, all those crazy things," so I started to say, "Oh, you mean crazy-tivity, right?" So yes, there's always a craziness-


Kathryn:
               See, I've already got my takeaway.


Andrew:
              There you go.


Michael:
              So for small and medium-sized businesses, we're talking folks that are under probably 100, 150, 200 and I know medium-sized businesses in a lot of places are higher than that, but in the small business world where you have microbusinesses under five employees and you have these small businesses, it's really funny, we have leaders that we work with and I've talked to that might have 200 employees, and to many of us that have less than 20, that's not a small business anymore. That's a medium-sized business, and even budget-wise, to a microbusiness, that might be a big business, even though it's not corporate America. That's like in its own category for mainstream America. But those folks that have 200 employees, it's all relative because they turn around and look up the ladder and they go, "I'm a small company. How can all these people ask us, the government, and everybody else asked us to do things that are small?"


Michael:
              So it's this relative term, but when we're talking to these folks, innovation really could be just boiled down to as simple, if I think I understood, to, "How do we come up with new ideas and new techniques to make money and serve our clients and to grow our business?" and that's pretty much the bottom line?


Andrew:
              Yeah, exactly. You innovate or evaporate, right? You have to. It's a necessity. In order for you to grow and sustain yourself, especially in this day and age, you have to innovate in order for you to be successful. I'll give you an example. I'm working with a client now, one of these smaller companies. Smaller, I mean in not one of these big fortune 500 companies, but they've been around for a long period of time. They're in the apparel industry. And even pre-pandemic life, retail apparel business, it's hard to make money. With new eCommerce and new digital, people are going away from bricks and mortar and shopping more online, it's hugely disruptive to their business.


Andrew:
              But yet, they're profitable with existing kinds of relationship. But they recognize that they must change and they need to start to think about new business models, new ways to serve their customers new ways to leverage what they know in a unique way. Otherwise, if they don't, they won't exist. They will become extinct. It's like Kodak, brilliant company, some really incredible scientific and technological people, and yet, they didn't see what was happening in terms of the changes in their industry and didn't really innovate around there. And as a result, the rest is history, right? They no longer exists.


Kathryn:
               So quick question. I feel like a lot of the businesses that especially when you are this, 100 to 200, 300 people or less, so many of them are so busy just trying to keep up with the change that's in front of them, right? "I thought Facebook worked. Wait a minute, Facebook changed its algorithm. Wait a minute, this doesn't work anymore. Wait a minute, you're telling me I can't have organic anymore? Wait a minute, I thought I just figured out the SEO. Wait a minute, I just ..." So all of this constant change and they're trying to keep up with that and we're saying, "Okay, but on top of that, you have to figure out how to innovate and be unique." Is that like every business? Talk to me a little bit about that sense of at least potential overwhelm at the idea that I have to come up with something new or unique or different that nobody else is doing?


Andrew:
              It's true, because look, generally speaking, if you're a solid good business, the fundamentals, I remember years ago, one of the books I came out with, I met with Ken Blanchard, Ken Blanchard, The One Minute Manager, and I remember meeting with him and I said ... I was expecting some beautiful prose, quote from him about visionary leadership or that kind of thing because I asked him, "What have you learned after all these years?" And he said, "Cashflow. Cashflow." And I said, "Holy smokes. Wow, that is so humbling." And I'm like, "Yeah, I understand that."


Andrew:
              So obviously, any entrepreneur, they've got the lights. When they're in business, you've got to really be successful at mastering some of those fundamentals. And so a good entrepreneur has to think about their leadership in two ways. They're current company which quickly will become their old company and what is the new company that they're trying to create simultaneously into hire and develop, invest in new ideas, new things. But many of those new things will likely fail, right? But if you don't devote some practice to inventing, reinventing yourself, you're going to suddenly find yourself the world just changing rapidly around you and you're going to be flatfooted. And so, it's important to look at your organization almost bifurcated, even though they're all one and the same.


Michael:
              I think it's good. Now, I'm going to throw this in because I think this is probably relevant in the conversation because a lot of people or a lot of our clients can approach things more like you, Kathryn, where it's very tactical. You're our highest right in the Myers-Briggs. Things are real practical now, everything else. The word unique and better than anybody else, those phrases-


Kathryn:
               Those empty phrases, those things that live in your world.


Michael:
              Those empty phrases that we take with a grain of salt-


Andrew:
              Michael and I are the [inaudible 00:10:03], I know.


Kathryn:
               Crazy-tivity.


Michael:
              We're thinking, "Oh, yeah, it's all relative because it's all relative." So let's think about so there's a hardware store in our town. I'm thinking about [Sill's 00:10:17] place, all right? Grew up ... The hardware store has been in our downtown Main Street Broadway area for 70 years, 80 years. It's one of those places. And everybody freaked when the big boxes came to town 30 years ago and then they're still around. But I think where innovation starts to happen is Sill doesn't have to innovate and have stuff on the shelf that everybody else in the country has.


Michael:
              He doesn't necessarily have to compete with Amazon because what he does really well is he addresses the market of those of us in town who have a need on a Saturday and want to show up and go get it, "I don't want to have to order it. I need a screw. I needed this." And he also has this amazing kitchen center area that isn't very big, but he's got little nuances. And I think one of the things he does is there are little things and barbecuing and kitchen and let's just take those two that are really, really, really hard to find in Chico. He innovated and he said, "What kind of products could we bring that would make us unique in Chico?"


Michael:
              Not against, and quite frankly Home Depot and Lowe's and those guys, they're never going to carry any of this stuff because their shelf space mentality is, "How do we move it and everything else?" He can sit there because he owns the building, but he innovates. Would you say, Andrew, that's a fair way of looking at innovation?


Andrew:
              Michael, that's right. I think it's absolutely right. If you can't fix a feature, understanding what is your unique offering and your capabilities where you can serve best, who's your ideal avatar, who is it that you're trying to serve and then serve them and continue to grow that relationship and build it upon that relationship. And I think the moment that, especially when you're small like that trying to compete with these ... Even my own business, part of why I'm referred as a consultant of consultants, I have a small practice, but I have a good business because I'm focusing on the niche that I can serve best. I'm not one of these larger consulting firms, even though I've worked with them a plenty and have even been a part of them in years past, right? "Where can I, where can that individual, that entrepreneur be most competitive?"


Andrew:
              And sometimes it's hard obviously, because again at the speed of change, it's in founders, were very wedded to doing things the way they've always done, I have a hard time letting go of certain practices or beliefs that get in the way of their ability to say, "Wait a minute, I need to pivot here." So your example there is a good one. They create some unique experiences or they focused on certain levers that they know that they're going to do better than a Home Depot or Lowe's, right?


Michael:
              I don't know if anybody's written a book about the history of innovation, but let's theorize a little bit and run with me and see what you think because I'm hypothesizing for a moment. When I was growing up, my dad was in business, but I don't even know in the '70s and early '80s if I ever heard the word innovation. I don't know when it was invented. I probably could go to Google and look at the trend on how often it was being used in books. Do you know when innovation came about, like the term?


Andrew:
              Gosh, I don't know if there's a precise moment. I think it's been in our lexicon for hundreds of years, but I think the definition is evolved.


Michael:
              That's fair. I guess probably here's where I'm headed a little bit. A lot of people who are in business, but don't consider themselves, I don't know, super educated in business, maybe they didn't go to school for business, they don't traffic in anything outside of their region, for instance, right? They might have a few offices or something like that or a few cities they're in. When we were growing up, we were taught, "Well, put this stuff," I can remember working retail, "Put this stuff on the end cap that's going to be interesting to people, that's going to catch ... You don't put the stuff that's not moving on the end cap. If it's not moving, get rid of it. Put it somewhere else."


Andrew:
              Sure.


Michael:
              Then the distributors would come in and they'd say, "Hey, we got this great new product and it's selling and you could beat people in your market and you would do that," that whole idea of ... My grandmother would laugh at me if I was started talking about innovation because she'd go, "Michael, we were doing that long before innovation. We even knew what the word innovation was. This is silly talk. You're using big language from college." And I would have mimicked her a little bit more, but it would have hurt everybody's ears because it was grading all the time. But when we talk about this, it really is a thing that just ... That's what I'm thinking, is it's something that is practical sense in a lot of ways, but we've become much more ... I think the field of innovation has become way more sophisticated or there's more tools, there's more ways to think about, "How do I come up with a new idea? How do I be more efficient with a new idea?"


Kathryn:
               It's been more codified.


Michael:
              It's been more codified and it's more efficient. Now, that's just a hypothesis. Do you think it's anywhere close and you can totally disagree with me even though I'm the host of the show?


Andrew:
              No, I don't disagree with you at all. With respect to what you just described, I think we do, though as human beings, have a tendency to complicate things, even though the world is much more complex. So it does both create opportunity and challenges of trying to come up with new innovative solutions. However, I want to come back though what you said something that sparked for me is the true good innovators are the ones who take complex ideas and make it simple. When you think about a lot of the innovations today, they're not that complicated. I've worked with some of the smartest engineering technological organizations and they put together some of the most interesting capabilities for certain electronics or tools that nobody wants to buy.


Andrew:
              But the ones that are successful are the ones that really give very simple design, simple functions, easy to access, aesthetic, whatever, all the features that are just essential and everybody wants to buy. So the outcomes, good innovators looked at taking complex things and try to make them simple, but it's also something the word you use practically, discipline, approach. So I'll give you just a simple way of how I deconstruct the innovation ... There's multiple ways to innovate. You always think of that, if you have an iPhone or something like that, the physical product, right? Every one of us produces something, either it's in physical form or it's in some kind of service-oriented form, right?


Andrew:
              We're conveying knowledge or providing some kind of support or service to another, right? That's your offering, right? That's what people are buying, nonetheless, but the way in which you innovate can be at the front end of that experience of the customer. So back to your example, just the ways they might engage their customers, the personal attention that they may provide. I have an entrepreneur, a really great restauranteur, restaurant owner and he owns wine bars and all these kinds of things, he's done amazing during this period of time because he has clever ways in which to engage the customer, very cheeky, sometimes colorful ways in which to [inaudible 00:17:49] customers. Literally on his wine bottles, he'll write, there's these kinds of bottles and stuff and he said, "If you're looking to have a best time of your life for you, if this is your first date, this is the wine to ..."


Andrew:
              He has some provocative kind of things, descriptions of the wine, right? And he makes fun of that as a way to just stand out because every time you go into wine shop, it's the same old thing, right? You can buy wine anywhere, but he does something different. He has a snow cone machine and he makes martinis out of snow cones and he does these wacky kind of things. Just a simple way to keep the customer delighted and interested. He's always doing something different, so you can go on the front, and well, on the back end, you can look at your organization. What are the kinds of people you hire? What are all the ways in which you could make money?"


Andrew:
              Going back to your point around sophistication, these days, you can be more clever about how you earn money, right? And when you think a lot of the online services, they always have some kind of freemium model. Why do they do that? To attract people to participate and get engaged, that initial hook and then they can upsell you or they use advertising or they use other installed base to create profit or they network or partner with others to create competitive advantage. There's multiple number of ways in which you can earn money, right? And so that's what you see witnesses not only on the frontend delighting your customers, but also on the backend of your business, clever ways to be commercially successful.


Andrew:
              So it's a misnomer, in my opinion, that innovation is just the product or the offering, it is all of those things as well and the good ones pay attention to every aspect.


Michael:
              I like that. I like that a lot. Because a lot of times people can get caught up in the idea that it's just the product.


Andrew:
              Right.


Michael:
              And I have to have millions of dollars to do it or more, gazillions. So Kathryn, and you and I were talking last time, we started talking about mindset a little bit. Can you speak to mind In the midst of innovation and if it's important, and if so, how?


Andrew:
              Yeah, so let's talk about it in terms of the range. Historically I've worked with really gigantic organizations. And so the mindset there is always, even though you work with some of the brightest people, very capable, they are very fixed mindset, meaning they're resistant to new ideas. They feel like they have limitations and/or they've tried the ideas before, they've never worked and so there's this natural resistant to new ideas. So innovative mindset requires you to be open to the possibilities. You have to diverge before you converge. But big organizations are all about protecting the status quo and so they're always converging on the first thing and try to make that as efficient as possible, rather than stepping back and saying, "Maybe there's a new and different way to think about this, and yeah, we may need to take some risks."


Andrew:
              So having an open mindset is really critical. It implies also to entrepreneurs who may have their own fixed minds, "This is just the way I always did business. This is how I serve customers." Especially if they're the founder, "I'm the best merchant. I've always been that way, right? I've been the best engineer. I know everything about construction and buildings and I really know how we should be doing this," it's difficult for them to separate from their own belief system. So I often do just what I call bleep busters is, "What are your set of assumptions? Why does every medicine have to come in the form of a pill, right? What if it came in some other form, right?" You start this challenge the assumptions, "Why does shampoo have to be coming in liquid form? What if it were an aerosol?"


Kathryn:
               Dry shampoo.


Andrew:
              Right, dry shampoo.


Kathryn:
               Right, they've done that. They did that.


Andrew:
              Right, exactly. So when you start to challenge a set of assumptions in the way in which you do these things, it's amazing then when people are ready, the mindset, they're open to it, how the creativity starts to flow.


Michael:
              What are some ways that someone who maybe doesn't have a consultant with them can figure out how to look outside of what they're doing? Because sometimes it's really hard to see what your assumptions are and where the borders are on that to come up with a creative idea for business because you don't have somebody on the outside looking in to help you with that. Do you have any tips or ideas on how to do that?


Andrew:
              Well, sure. The common complaint is people think, "Oh, I'm not creative, right?| And creativity is important, but that's not the only characteristic of being innovative. Or they feel like, "Well, I'm not empowered to do it because of the role that they have in the organization." Again, the most successful organization unlocks a creativity and innovation at all levels of the organization, whether you're just a bookkeeper or the CEO or everyone in between. It's everyone's responsibility to come forth with good ideas. Of course, leadership has to create those conditions, but what are some tips? There's many different ways I think, first of all, obviously embracing the fact that we all have the potential to come up with innovative new ideas. We're doing it all the time, but seldom do we act upon it.


Andrew:
              So good habits are having new experiences, interacting with new people, reading things that you wouldn't necessarily do that ... We get stuck in a rut often and we interact with the same people, go to the same places, read the same stuff all the time and that just creates these deep grooves that we start to get fixed in our mindset. We need to shake that up. Often, when I would commute years ago where I used to work, I'd have this decent commute, but there are several different routes that I could go and I would deliberately go different routes, unless I was in a hurry because I inevitably see different things and then I play some music, it got my mind in the right creative state and signals to my brain. And there's a lot of neuroscience on this that I start to think more fresh and open perspectives that prepares my mind to be more innovative ultimately.


Michael:
              I like that one of the exercises that I learned years ago was very similar to that, but it's the idea behind it is that when you want to think differently, you can intentionally start acting differently, do something different and that will start to put you in different perspectives, give you even a different view on the room or your business or whatever. And one of the simple thing-


Kathryn:
               I keep thinking about the Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams gets up on top of the desk and they're like, "What are you doing up there?" He's like, "Well, the world looks different from up here. You should try it," and then just makes all of the students realized that perspective issue.


Michael:
              It's a perfect example. Well, the simple one I learned was, I have not done a scientific study, I'm prefacing this and analyze this, I was told that everybody dries off in the shower the same basic way They've dried one arm over the other first and work ... They've got their own pattern how they dry their body off. And I realized for myself that I had the same way I did things. I washed in the shower, I scrubbed my head at a certain point, I dried my right arm over my left arm and I started doing it opposite which drove me crazy at first because I realized I had a pattern at which I believed water drained off the body and you should ideally and systematically dry your body off. Kathryn and I have never had this conversation in 28 years of marriage, but-


Kathryn:
               I'm not sure I wanted to have it today but keep going.


Michael:
              It's true. There you go. I'm good at embarrassing myself on this show. But you start doing it differently, it's like sandpaper on your brain sometimes, but it does free things up and it starts to allow you, like you're driving in different patterns or different ways to work, it actually does help you see things you didn't see before.


Andrew:
              Of course. I've been fortunate in that, given the nature of the work that I do, certainly in years past, not so much today, but travel. I love to travel. Anytime you go to a new place, especially, it's if it's a foreign country where you had to slow your thinking down because you may not know the language. And in doing so, it's an amazing thing because you become more aware and notice everything else that's going on. Because you know the language and you've seen the same places, you go on autopilot, but when you're in a really remarkably different place, it's incredible that the aperture of your creative brain increases dramatically.


Andrew:
              And so the question becomes, how might you do that on a more regular basis in order to open up the possibilities of new fresh ideas? Now, that doesn't mean you want to always like look out and navel gaze any activity. There comes a time now where you got to converge, right? You don't necessarily always have the luxury of contemplating big thoughts, right? To incorporate just in some simple changes like your shower routine, of course, now that's going to be stuck on my brain-


Kathryn:
               That's going to be your takeaway, Andrew. You're going to be like, "She got crazy-tivity and I got paying attention to how I dry off in the shower. What a great exchange this has been."


Andrew:
              Thanks, guys, for that.


Kathryn:
               He's going to want to come back again, I can tell.


Michael:
              Tell all your friends how much you can be tainted here.


Andrew:
              Right, but I know what you mean. It's so funny you say that. All right, I'm going to know ... Now we're going to go ... You predicted this, Kathryn, that we're going to go geek out on something, but we just got a puppy. He's now attached at the hip with me. And so when I step out of the shower, he starts licking me, with the moisture, the salt or whatever. You're like-


Kathryn:
               You're like, "Ah."


Andrew:
              "I just went to the shower. Come on, dude. Don't."


Kathryn:
               He's like, "Dog smells, cleaner than humans," and when he's looking at your leg, you're like, "I don't believe. It's not true."


Andrew:
              I know.


Michael:
              Not so much, I've watched my dog. So your career has been working with folks and doing that. What's the most, and obviously, there's the shift into working with other consultants and doing that kind of stuff. I want to talk about both, what was the shift for you. How did you start shifting from doing the innovation consulting to coaching and working with other consultants? What does that look like? What does that mean?


Andrew:
              So in all fairness, I still do innovation consulting. That has always been for the past 20 years my stock and trade. I still work with clients on that, but I thought ... It's interesting, it was against serendipity, I think, if you cultivate these habits, these opportunities that you're attracted to. And so through a lot of teaching that I've done with different universities, I was approached to say, "Hey, you've been around the block," I think that was a compliment.


Kathryn:
               Take it as a compliment, Andrew.


Andrew:
              Consulting is this abstract kind of thing that anytime you bring up in a cocktail conversation, people just retreat.


Kathryn:
               Right.


Andrew:
              "I am a consultant." They think you're going to hit them up for insurance or something or Amway? I don't know, but-


Kathryn:
               "Your 10 minutes from home with a briefcase, you're a consultant. I get it."


Andrew:
              But increasingly, a lot of students from university, undergraduate, graduate or people who have been in the workforce enter in to some type of consultative work, either in a consulting firm or they have a client relationship where consultative skills are essential to their success. So I was asked to start to teach consulting and that just gave me this idea that, "Wow," there's an opportunity to market, so I try to ply my own sort of innovation thinking to say, "Is there an unmet need here?" And I felt that there hasn't really been much written or talked about consulting in general. There are and there are business consulting courses out there, but I saw consulting in a more expansive way. It's not just your business currency, it's also your social and personal currency.


Andrew:
              So business currency is the thing that you know, your tradecraft. It could be engineering, design, technology, banking, finance, whatever, right? Products. Social currency, it's who you know, the networks and the relationships you develop and how well do you optimize and leverage those to generate value. And then there's your personal currency. Who are you as an individual? Do you bring command and presence into the room that people will love and trust? Because consulting and constant relationship, and I know I'm preaching to the choir, is building that trust, right?


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Andrew:
              You guys are great at it. You engender that warmth and trust and reliability that people say, "I want to work with these guys because of that. So what you know, who you know and you, as a knowing person, is what people are buying. So I wanted to teach others that same sort of Venn diagram ... I'm all about Venn diagram, so you can tell.


Kathryn:
               Sweet spots.


Andrew:
              Right, exactly, is to educate people and prepare themselves because, a, I think oftentimes people have a misconception about consulting. It's not as easy and glamorous as you think it is. You think, "Oh, I'm going to work with these cool companies. I might be able to travel, blah, blah, blah." It's hard work. It can be tiring, challenging, especially if you own your own business. It's not easy. I wanted to give an unplug, feel to it and make it real to them, not just academic, "Oh, this is how you sell. This is how you attract clients." I cover those sorts of things. And so I saw that need and it's been great fun to support consultants, both emerging as well as seasoned veterans, who are looking to say, "Hey, I really need to skill up here because, again, the world is changing. What are some new tradecraft that I can use or learn?"


Michael:
              Absolutely. Well, and being a consultant, that idea that you're being hired for to bring in some kind of skill for a period of time, right? Skill, knowledge, something to help the company, the organization, you've got this ... From my experience, you have your ways of helping, right? Your ways, your concepts, your experience, your tradition, whether it's marketing the way we started our company and going, "I can help you look at your marketing more effectively, more efficiently, quickly and we can help you implement it better because it's just not a language you are as familiar with as we are." So there's those ideas that you bring that you're going to help.


Michael:
              For you, part of that was innovation, one of the tools you have, "How do I help somebody who doesn't do it as well?" or, "Can't read the label from inside the bottle," right?


Andrew:
              Right.


Michael:
              But then there's that other aspect where we're also a dancing bear. I'm not sure how many people get called or feel led to do consulting and survive well, that don't like being put on the spot and basically going, "You got to perform. Okay, you're here. Now do your thing. Do your magic. Make me go, 'Wow, I'm glad I spent my money on you.'" That's tricky stuff and it takes also a unique personality, I think, but I never thought about that before. But as you were talking, I'm like, "Yeah, not everybody can handle that pressure because a lot of times that's a lot of pressure.


Andrew:
              It is a lot of pressure and you're absolutely right. I think there is a certain good, better and different expectation that you bring, even entertainment value that people want to be wowed, right? And it is a lot of pressure on that individual or individuals to perform in those sorts of ways. And we're dealing with some of those ambiguities and those stress. One of the things that I especially enjoy about, which can be also liabilities, jack of all trades, master of none syndrome, which is not necessarily true. I have certain mastery in terms of certain tradecraft, innovation for example, right? Working with top executives. I've done a lot of that. I know what that routine is very much like and that's where I excel in terms of my own consulting tradecraft.


Andrew:
              But what's enjoyable that I like is the diversity. A lot of different industries, I learned something about retail, I learned something about manufacturing, engineering, technology, banking, finance in multiple languages. That's the beauty of it. There's a certain creativity that that brings, but it's also challenging, high pressure, because when you're working with companies big, small or large or large or small, they immediately expect you to become expert on their business and that's not necessarily unless you have very specialized, "I know everything about artificial intelligence, data analytics," of course, there's certain fine expertise, but you still have to know something about their business and that's challenging.


Andrew:
              And it's not always met with open arms. So when you walk into a client setting, as you know, it's like, people, even if they think they need somebody from the outside to give them that perspective and expertise, they may not warmly embrace it always.


Kathryn:
               Sometimes, they feel threatened. Especially if somebody above them is bringing you in to help them, then that can be quite threatening.


Michael:
              "My boss hired you to help me be smarter," that's-


Kathryn:
               It's a good setup.


Michael:
              What a fun opportunity that's been at times.


Andrew:
              Right. And that's why ... I teach things just as simple as, "How do you read a room?" and the adaptation. You have to be very self-aware of yourself. Everybody has their own mojo and that's something that you want to encourage, but you have to know how to both express that and regulate it at the same time.


Michael:
              That's it right there. That's good.


Kathryn:
               That's a writer downer, that is.


Michael:
              I'm going to use that a lot.


Kathryn:
               You got to learn to express and regulate your mojo.


Michael:
              Because there's a lot of people who do not regulate their mojo.


Kathryn:
               No.


Andrew:
              No, they don't, and look, I've been guilty of it. I've come in like the rock and roll kind of thing and I've been ... I'll never forget, it was this very large global bank. It's very aristocratic, conservative kind of thing. I come in jeans and they're looking at me. And in fact, I remember some of them said, "God, did this guy just roll out of bed? He doesn't really care about it," but then as soon as I open up my mouth, they said, "Oh, he's pretty intelligent," and then it dissipated. But the first glance is, "This is my mojo. This is who I am. This is what you're hiring," but I also have to be sensitive like, "Wait a minute, I have to understand, where are they at in this journey? If I come out too strong with them too early, they can be very turned off and resist it."


Michael:
              That the jeans with a bank like that, that was a gutsy move. I don't know if I would have had the guts to do that and I wear jeans all the time.


Andrew:
              I know, I know. At a certain point, you say, "This is what you're going to get." So I try to qualify those kinds of relationships like, "Do you know what you're buying?"


Kathryn:
               "Do you know I don't own a suit? Just checking."


Andrew:
              Right.


Michael:
              "I own a suit and it stays in the back."


Kathryn:
               "I own a suit that I only use for funerals. I'm sorry."


Andrew:
              Right, well, exactly and because they'll give my thesis on, "It really restricts the oxygen flow to your brain which will lead to high levels of irrationality and I might explode. So you don't want that. You don't want me in a tie.'"


Kathryn:
               That's awesome.


Michael:
              Let's head towards, talk about your podcast. Your podcast is talking about these types of subjects with consultants, correct?


Andrew:
              Yeah, exactly. I thought, "Well, geez, how do I leverage my own social network and invite those people whom I know or getting to know through my relationships to share some of their experience?" So amplify a lot of things that I'm passionate about, be it subject matter like creativity or design or innovation, entrepreneurial endeavors. Or, "How did their experiences, expressing themselves thought leadership consulting, these sorts of topics?" I'm bringing a wide swath of different people. Obviously, some people are very accomplished, both in terms of their publications and the executive roles that they played. And then, you'll see I will start to even feature some young up and coming entrepreneurs and innovators because you can learn as equally much about some very smart, bright, creative people. And so I wanted to feature that in a very unplugged-like I'm experiencing with you all conversation. It's not like an interview-


Kathryn:
               With no ties involved.


Andrew:
              No ties involved, right? Exactly. Although I do joke in my podcast, I have in my little studio a guitar in the background and always everybody asks, "Oh, are you musician?" and stuff like that. I said, "No, that's mostly for straw. I know a few riffs and I have this fantasy of being in some '80s rock band, but"-


Kathryn:
               Michael's got his family heirloom dobro on the wall behind him in his main office. That gets a lot of commentary when it's actually in his office and not the studio.


Michael:
              And I don't play the guitar. I'm like you, a couple of little things, but I am a drummer. But it's really tough to keep the drums in the back of your shot.


Kathryn:
               Take up a lot of space.


Michael:
              And they take up a lot of space. They're not really good art in your office, although they are in our foyer of our office, so they take up more space there. As we wind down here, I'm curious, I want to book requests or recommendations from you, one on innovation and one on any other subject that you think would be valuable for leaders and people who are consulting or working with others, even leaders in their companies trying to consult with their other staff?


Andrew:
              Oh, geez, well, would it be shameless to put a plug in one of my books?


Michael:
              Okay, let's do three. I want your book and two others.


Andrew:
              Great, good. Thank you for that. So one of the books I wrote with my coauthor, Jeannine McGlade, who is my wife is, well-


Michael:
              Yay.


Andrew:
              We've got a great ... We're in kindred spirits in that sort of way. She is an amazing speaker and author and writer as well. And she and I wrote a book called Stimulated! which was the habits of how do you spark your creative genius at work. A very question that you asked, "What are the things that you can do on a day-to-day basis to be more creative?" And what was interesting, just a quick description on that, it's not only for business, but what we found, it attracted a lot of people in life, how do you live a little bit more creative and stimulated kind of life.


Michael:
              I like that. That's nice.


Andrew:
              I've had that, of course, I would encourage people to read. My go-to book is by a mentor of mine that I work very closely with. His name is Larry Keeley. He formed a company called the Doblin Innovation Consulting Group. He's based in Chicago. He was one of the key lead faculty at what they call, the new Bauhaus is now called the Institute of Design, which I have a relationship with. He wrote a book called The 10 Types of Innovation. It's both entertaining and very instructional. I have shamelessly stole a lot of his ideas to integrate it into my own practice that he talked about that innovators innovate along these multiple types, not just products but services and all these sorts of things. Excellent book. It's called The 10 Types of Innovation, very pragmatic. So for those who are looking like, "Oh, I just don't want this airy fairy Andrew Pek book that just talks about how to live this simulated life, give me some really concrete book." So I highly recommend that.


Andrew:
              And then in terms of consulting, the seminal piece of consulting literature really, and this is going to date me, is a book called Flawless Consulting by a gentleman in the name of Peter block, whom I know, was really a brilliant thinker. He also wrote some other excellent books on empowered organizations. It's like 30 years old and you think, "Oh, God," but it is brilliant because it talks not only about the business relationship, but many of the things that inspired me to think about, it's more than business, it's about the relationship. So contracting is not just a commercial set of terms, it is a real, honest and open conversation about how we're going to work together because one of the misconceptions in consulting is like, "Oh, when you are hired by a client, that gives them permission to abuse you."


Michael:
              Right.


Andrew:
              Uh-uh (negative), right?


Kathryn:
               No.


Michael:
              No.


Kathryn:
               We fire them.


Andrew:
              They are equally part of the equation of the success. It's a partnership. And Peter Block in his early work did a brilliant job of describing that. I would highly recommend that for people to look at.


Michael:
              That's fantastic.


Kathryn:
               That's awesome.


Andrew:
              A great starting point.


Kathryn:
               I'm laughing because book titles always intrigue me and so you wrote a book called Stimulated! about day-to-day creativity and business. We wrote a book called Fulfilled about Passion and Provision. I'm thinking if they put those on bookshelf side by side, people might think we're in a different industry.


Michael:
              Or a different section of the bookstore.


Kathryn:
               A different section of the bookstore.


Andrew:
              Wow. And when that book came out, it was so funny, we're still novices in social media and stuff like that. And somehow, one of the developers who worked didn't, I don't know with the YouTube links, it went on ... Sometimes YouTube would link to other things I think for logarithm. But with Stimulated!, somebody contacted me and said, "You may want to revise that because it's starting to bring up some very interesting content."


Michael:
              Oh, no.


Kathryn:
               We had one of our ads, I think, banned on Facebook or something because they thought it was something it wasn't.


Andrew:
              I know, I know.


Kathryn:
               Just based on the name. We're like, "It's not about that. It's not about that."


Andrew:
              I know. It's a title that is worded pretty well. Sometimes, even less than scrupulous publicity might be just the thing that works. I don't know.


Kathryn:
               Every once a while.


Michael:
              Every once in a while.


Kathryn:
               It's so funny.


Andrew:
              Right.


Michael:
              All right, Andrew, how do people find out about you and find out more about your podcasts and what you're doing?


Andrew:
              Thanks for asking. So the best way is, I have multiple company websites, but go to www.andrewpek and it's spelled P-E-K, dot-com. There, you'll find stuff about me, my writing and work and my blog and vlogs and all those sort of things. And then that'll give you access to all my podcasts, company information, the work that we're doing and who we work with, all that kind of stuff.


Michael:
              Fantastic.


Andrew:
              We put a one-stop shop.


Kathryn:
               Great.


Michael:
              Andrew, this has been a really great conversation today. Thanks a lot.


Kathryn:
               A lot of fun.


Michael:
              I want to have another conversation because I think we could cover a lot more ground that would be fun to have.


Andrew:
              Well, thank you and I would love that.


Michael:
              All right, folks, today's conversation about innovation and working with other people at the end there, this is really important stuff. If you're thinking about being a consultant, I know we didn't spend tons of time on that, but I want to encourage you to look at what Andrew has, go check out what he's doing because it really is something that it's a craft in itself. And I want to encourage you to do that. I know that Kathryn and I love doing it, but we are also careful not to say all the time, we are consultants because people do scatter at a cocktail party, as Andrew said.


Kathryn:
               They do. Well, and even as Andrew referenced earlier, even if your primary business isn't to be a consultant, odds are you need to learn skills at being consultative with your clients, with the different vendors that you're working with, so the consultative skills are going to be super important for your leadership, even if you're not technically consulting.


Michael:
              And I would dare to say that really good consulting skills and being able to have a healthy and mature sets, control of those skills actually lends itself to innovation. There's a marriage there that goes on, because all of a sudden, your innovation abilities to work with other people and come up with new ideas and everything else also elevate in that process.


Kathryn:
               And at the end of the day, what was it that you had to do with your mojo to close out?


Michael:
              You had to control it with no couldn't manage it.


Kathryn:
               Bring that phrase again, Andrew.


Michael:
              Andrew, what was it again?


Andrew:
              You have to obviously cultivate how you express it, but how you also regulate it.


Kathryn:
               You have to know how to express it and regulate it. You need to write that down. You said you'd remember and you didn't.


Michael:
              I didn't remember it. Maybe I have problems with regulation. Thank you so much for joining us today on the HaBO Village Podcast. I hope you found this as enjoying and enjoyable as we did. Words are hard as always. Thank you for joining us. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              Have a great day. Bye-bye.


Kathryn:
               Bye-bye.