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Human Skills 027 - Thriving in the Tech Industry
with Jossie Haines
Jossie Haines has been a technical leader in some of the biggest name brands in tech, working in Management, Director, and VP roles at companies like Zynga, Tile, and Apple. Which makes it all the more interesting to me that in her role now as an executive coach, she has leaned heavily into joy, playfulness, and a lot of other topics that might be considered "woo woo".
In our conversation, we dug deep into that line of thinking, exploring what it means to thrive, how uncovering and tapping into our innate senses of joy and play can help us as leaders, and diving into the tactical underpinnings of how seemingly more "woo" things like positive intelligence and visualization can help us even in our work in tech.
You're focused on helping women in tech thrive - what does it mean to be thriving?
Yes, thriving for women in technology... and actually for folks in general, but let's start with focus on the thriving for women in tech first.
So often we feel like we're the only ones in the room, we're not being heard, we're not getting paid as much, we feel there's a lack of promotion.W have to prove ourselves versus our male counterparts are getting promoted based on the potential.
And so that's definitely one aspect that I lean into. But another aspect of thriving is leaning into asking the people I work with, "what is it that you really want?"
Because so many of us, I say, are high achieving, good girl people pleasers. And we've spent our entire careers doing what everybody else wants us to do. What we were praised for, what we were rewarded for.
And I work with so many women who get to being in the industry for 20 or more years. And all of a sudden they wake up one day and realize, I don't know why I'm doing what I'm doing. And I'm not happy. And I don't know what's going to make me happy.
And so I work with a lot of folks and help them figure out first, what is it that you really want? It's fascinating sometimes how ingrained this can be. I was speaking to a client a few months ago and I said to her, "what is it that you loved doing when you were a little girl?"
And her answer to me was, well, there's all these things that I used to do, but I did them because I got praised for them. And so I said, like, let's get some more play into your life. What do you want to do for fun?
And so that's one aspect of thriving. And another one is again, because it's lonely at the top and the biases that come into play thriving can also mean that we're overcompensating so often to try to succeed in our careers. And we're so used to being the caregivers that we put our priorities last.
And so a big part of what I also focus on is what are those small skills... like self-care journaling, going out for a walk in the middle of the day, that are going to actually help you succeed and show up as a better leader. And that's a practice for everybody.
And then it's also a lot of mind-set shifts. Again, and I think this impacts really everybody in this industry, we're kind of sold on this... All right, to be quote unquote successful in tech, you need to have like a huge purpose and be changing the lives of millions of people. And you need to be constantly going after that next promotion, that next pay raise. And if you're not doing that, you're failing.
And I call BS to a lot of that, because what that ends up doing is leading to a lot of people thinking that they're failures, that they're not worthy. And so I work on a lot of, but you are worthy just for being you as an amazing individual human being. And the part that gets triggering to everybody when I tell them is if you delivered nothing else for the rest of your life, you would still be completely worthy.
It's really helping them realize that their worthiness comes from within. And that can really help them thrive in this industry.
It's easy to get into the pattern of doing work to make others happy... How do you get started identifying what it is that brings you joy?
I have a few questions that I tend to have people really walk through because it's so true. It is so common.
I used to go through what I would call my three month burnout cycles, which is I take a vacation or a break, I come back well rested, I just worked really hard, and then I burn out and I would do it over and over and over again.
And because we're such high achievers, we're constantly just looking for that next success. And the thing is, for so many of us, we're so good at what we do that we're not celebrating the wins along the way and realizing that we are really successful.
And then also, when we're feeling failure, that is a normal human emotion. Because we live in such this like social media world where everyone's just posting like everything's good... You know, I had a coaching call very recently with a client and she was like telling me like "I feel like a failure again, Josie. I thought we had dealt with this a few months ago"
And I said no and she's like, am I alone? Is this just me? And I was like, no, absolutely not. But we don't talk about the fact that we do all end up feeling failure.
And guess what? There's a law of polarity... for us to feel true joy and happiness., we also have to be able to feel sadness and frustration. And so it's okay. It is normal human emotions.
And so if you're listening to this and you're like, oh my gosh, I so resonate, take some time to reflect in both your personal and your work life.
Starting with your work life. Look at jobs that you've enjoyed doing, and what are aspects of them that you truly enjoyed. And then take the time to think about, did I enjoy doing this because I intrinsically enjoy doing it? Or because somebody else told me I should enjoy doing it? Or I was rewarded for it?
Because what it ends up being very true is, you know, similar to how I was speaking about earlier, we are we get the dopamine hit of that external praise and validation. And sometimes we really need to journal out and reflect, "huh, is this something I actually enjoy doing? Or is this something I just get praised to do?"
And then I have people look at it in their personal life as well. What are your hobbies? So often, people in tech do not have hobbies. And I'm like, you need to have some hobbies here. It doesn't have to be something crazy, right? I mean, for me, it's building Legos and painting, drawing a little adult coloring books... and I love to read and my hammock in my backyard.
But I realized when I get so out of touch with those things, because again, one of the pitfalls I see on the personal side with high achievers is we can focus on personal self development and think that those are hobbies... I'm all for personal self developmen - I love self development - but I notice when I get too far down the self development rabbit hole I am not focusing enough on doing the things that just light me up and bring me joy.
So what are things that you do just because they bring you joy. And this is where that question of what is it that you did as a little kid that brought you joy? And again, really reflecting on does this bring you joy truly or is it because you were rewarded and praised for it?
How do you help people shift their mindsets around work away from ladder climbing?
I see this again in this pattern where... people want a promotion, right?
And so I tell them to step back and say, "all right, I completely agree, you deserve this promotion. Sometimes the work life is not fair." Like, I just have to admit, hey, the corporate world is not fair. You might deserve this promotion and you might not get it.
And I'm not saying. You shouldn't get it and you shouldn't fight for it... But we drive ourselves crazy sometimes going after that next promotion. And that's where I again have people step back and think about the self-worth piece. Really reflect on, "I am worthy just for being me."
I have people have affirmations around their worth, their value, their abundance, their ability to attract and magnetize things to them. And then also tuning back into what are the parts of your job that truly make you happy and light you up and how can you do more of those and delegate the things that are not in your zone of genius that you don't enjoy doing as much because that tends to be much more in our control as leaders than whether and when we're going to get that next promotion or pay raise or title.
Can you expand on the zone of genius?
Yeah, Zone of Genius is a combination... it's like beyond your strengths even, because we all have strengths, but it's really taking those to a next level and being like, "what is it that I am personally uniquely suited to do through my combination of strengths that I love doing?"
And it's that other part too, because there are things I am very good at, but I'm going to be bored out of my mind to be doing. But when you're in that zone of genius, that's when you get into flow. When you start doing something and hours go by and you produce amazing things and you don't even feel like it was work.
That's when you know that you're in your zone of genius... and this really goes a little bit back to the diversity piece. So often we end up hiring people that are like ourselves, but that actually ends up being problematic because what we really want is people with vastly different zones of genius so that we can complement each other and also provide more diverse ideas so that we can build better products to fulfill more people's needs.
How do joy and playfulness help at work?
We build better products when we're more playful. I think so often, I talk about the fact that we don't do brainstorming and decision making in a very good way, because those two things should be totally separated. And the more play you have the better your brainstorming is going to be leading to better products.
A lot of people first just have this resistance of like, Jossie, it's work, we should be working hard, and not taking breaks. And I'm like, well, no, if you keep filling up your emotional and happiness cup, you will be a better leader, because you will have more possibilities and think about more open and creative answers to these questions.
If we get into the whole positive intelligence topic, this is really looking at it from that sage perspective, of using empathy and creativity and all these positive emotions to really create more amazing things.
And so, playing joy does not mean like, you're gonna kick back and just play video games all day at work. But it's how can you do this in a more fun way? How can you do this in a way that aligns with your energy?
I've realized over the many years that I tend to be more productive around like three to six or seven. Like that's kind of my sweet spot for creation. I spent many years trying to fight that and become the morning person, because everyone always says you're more productive in the morning, and all of that.
And I finally just was like, let me lean into when I feel most productive and do the things that I enjoy doing in those times then. And maybe I'll set up meetings earlier. So bringing in that joy and play also sets such an amazing example for our team members as well.
Going back to being an effective leader, you don't want to be this like controlling person who's just trying to call out people's mistakes because you're not going to be getting the best of them.
If you can really allow everybody to work in the most effective ways possible for each and every person and again, respecting that diversity that it's going to be different, that is going to bring so much more joy into people's lives.
And for one employee that might mean, hey, I wanna take a break in the middle of the day for lunch to have lunch with my kids who happen to be homeschooled or something like that. And for somebody else that might mean, hey, I go on a few walks a day to clear my head. It's about really respecting that time.
But we're so afraid, like I've literally worked with people who I said, "hey, when I used to work at Tile, I was a Vp... So I had the very traditional manager schedule where I was booked all day, every day. But three times a week for an hour, there was a block for Pilates, because Pilates is my jam. And everybody knew, you do not book over Pilates, because Jossie will not show up. This is a non-negotiable. "
And I had one person tell me like, well Jossie, you can do that because you're a VP, but I can't do that as an individual contributor. And I said, no, you absolutely, everybody has the right to do that.
And as leaders, the more that we can model that, the more that we can hopefully teach our teams. And no, it's not like this isn't just a privilege I have because I happen to be the VP. Everybody gets the privilege of being able to take the time I need and get their work done.
And I mean, I think one of the fallacies of the fact that we have this 40 hour work week is... that all came from factory work, right? And the work we do is very different. It is very much mental work. And you cannot do this for eight to 10 hours a day, all day, every day. Creativity comes in spurts.
It's about when you're most energetic. And so...going back to play, it's the more that you can allow your team members to enjoy life a little bit, socialize more, really build team camaraderie and let people play in their own individual ways as well.
And realizing, hey, some people get introverts and get energy by going off and doing something on their own. And other people are extroverts and they're gonna get energy by going out and socializing with others and really creating spaces for everybody's unique way of finding that energy, joy and play is what can really help a team thrive.
Links to Jossie
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