What if mastering emotional intelligence (EQ) could be the secret to achieving career success? Join us as we discuss this fascinating topic with Charis Loveland, a data scientist and AI technology expert who has honed her EQ skills to thrive in her career and personal life. Through her experiences at prestigious institutions like MIT, Columbia, and Dartmouth, Charis shares how EQ has become an essential tool for her growth and fulfillment.
Discover how a data-driven giant like Amazon has embraced the EQ movement, benefiting not only their employees but their overall business. Charis enlightens us on the importance of understanding the difference between being kind and being nice, and how psychological tricks like power poses and personal pep talks can boost your self-confidence. We also delve into the concept of a "perma crisis" and the invaluable role of EQ during these uncertain times.
In this captivating conversation, Charis opens up about her journey to embrace vulnerability and assume positive intent in her relationships with others. We discuss how EQ can help us handle the fear and uncertainty of returning to a physical workplace, the importance of self-care and boundaries in achieving optimal performance, and the transformative power of gratitude and connection in our lives. Don't miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights into the world of emotional intelligence and how it can impact your own path to success.
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Audra : Welcome in everyone and thank you so much for again joining me this week and this week. Oh, my goodness, everybody, just sit down, buckle up, go get yourself something to drink. We are gonna have such an amazing conversation And I cannot wait to introduce to you to my guest. My guest this week is Charis Loveland, and She is probably one of the smartest women I have ever met. Hold on and let me tell you what she has done. She's done a lot of really cool things. First of all, she is in AI technology. I know you have all heard about it. She actually knows the ins and outs of it. She's a data scientist and she's actually taught this to students at MIT, columbia and Dartmouth. Guys, these are, these are big, big schools. She's, she's amazing and now she is teaching her passion, which is EQ, which is emotional intelligence, and that's what we're gonna talk about today. I am so excited and I am like it is my pleasure and my honor to introduce to you Charis. Charis, thank you so much for joining me and welcome to the show.
Charis: Thanks so much. I'm so excited to be here today.
Audra: I am so excited that you are here. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, because I think that we have just scratched the surface of learning about emotional intelligence, teaching emotional intelligence and figuring out What it is and how it plays in our lives. So let's start there. What's EQ, this emotional intelligence? What is that?
Charis: Great question. Emotional intelligence is the Intelligent use of emotions. So what does that mean exactly? We have some characteristics of what make us up. It's our personality, our IQ, which is our innate intelligence as measured on a battery, and our EQ, and that's a set of human skills that Relate to how aware are you of your emotions and how do you manage the emotions. We call these the personal Confidencies as well. How do you read a room and understand the emotions others are going through and, finally, how do you manage those relationships? So emotional intelligence is all about optimizing yourself Personally and professionally.
Charis: I have been on this journey of emotional intelligence since my career started, and I think anyone with a growth mindset who loves to learn and be curious is on a similar path. How can I make myself better? How can I improve myself even 1% a day? when I heard the term EQ at first, i was at this presentation that my now manager was giving at Amazon and Audra. It was as if I had seen all these individual stars in the sky. All of a sudden, i was presented with this beautiful Constellation. So emotional intelligence is this umbrella term for all of these human skills that help us be successful in life. It's about staying cool under pressure. It's about grit and resilience, getting back up after you've suffered a loss, a tragedy or a failure. It's about continuing to have an optimistic attitude so that you can continue to improve your relationship with yourself and with others.
Audra: I am so glad that you gave me that definition, of which I've never heard before, that definition of EQ, because my next question, even though you just answered it, was going to be how do you go from having this robust career in data and these cool cutting-edge sciences to being the global program head of Amazon in EQ? when you look, stand back and look at it, you're like how do those two Correlate with each other? How do those those relate to each other? You just explained to me that, absolutely, it makes perfect sense that they relate with each other, because it's the natural evolution of things. Tell me more. I'm so curious about this.
Charis: It's interesting because it did seem like a radical left turn for my career in technology of over 20 years working for amazing huge technology companies. But it turns out my communication skills, my human skills, my skills in grit and Influencing without authority those completely comprised my career success. I will admit to anyone I am adequate at best. Technically, i am not a great data scientist. In fact, i like to say I play a data scientist on TV. What I do is I understand deeply how data science works through reading, educating myself and talking to data scientists, so I know how to ask the right questions and understand the important concepts. But really, where my value lies is Explaining that technical topic back to anyone. So I've explained data science content concepts to my 13 year old daughter. It's this idea of just getting to the heart of a matter and asking critical questions and asking why. So, even though it looked like a sharp left turn and some of my AI colleagues were actually disappointed at the news that I was making this turn, automation and AI are very left-brained, logical activities and and they're very reliable and predictable. But if you look at the actual adoption of these technologies, it is always, in my experience, a people problem, and so, therefore, the area where you can fix and optimize and improve the Important part of this three-legged stool, of all of technology projects, it's people, process and technology. The technology is what it is, so you just need that understanding of it. The actual adoption and Making it a successful project comes down to the people who create the processes, so I viewed it as this is the execution of my right-brained activities. Right, we're never going to be able to replace things like empathy, connection and purpose and finding meaning in our work without a A strong study in these EQ topics, and I remember one of the first books I read on this was Growth mindset about growth mindset, by Carol Dweck at Stanford, and it's all about a fixed mindset.
Charis: Is you have this idea that, oh okay If I, if I don't know how to play the saxophone, i just don't know, and that's just not a skill I have, i'm not good at music, whereas if you had a growth mindset, you might say, well, i'm not good at that yet. And so this idea that you can continually improve your skills? I had a lot of imposter syndrome going into AI. I was brand new to the field in 2016 when Microsoft took a chance on me and hired me for my amazing technical program skills and I was able to learn it on the job and, you know, within a year and a half I feel like I had a really good handle on it and started teaching it at that point to colleagues and friends.
Audra: My brain is spinning because you've just explained to me that this is this three-legged stool of people, process technology and Technology. it is fixed. I mean it grows over time, but you, it has a finite ability because it has restrictions, it has restraints based on what it's built to do and how it's designed to perform. It is what it is.
Charis: Yeah, that's exactly right. It can only do a certain amount of things, like, for instance if you're curious, i'll tell you in a little bit the five questions machine learning can answer. It's not a panacea or a black box, it's actually quite simple.
Audra: So you're like I said, my brain is spinning, which must be EQ. Going on, you're saying, of course I need to introduce this EQ because there are humans. There are humans involved in creating tech. We've all heard about these biases that are showing up in the tech because a human is creating it, and you've judged on it briefly that your colleagues thought you were bananas for leaving the cutting edge of AI technology to go into EQ. How has the response been now That are they starting to get the memo of EQ and how it's helping them in their technical jobs? I think many people are.
Charis: The research really bears it out. So if you look at Daniel Goldman, who's the founder of the EQ movement in the 90s and he came up with a book called EQ that drew on a lot of research from other luminaries in the field And his research shows that 85% of your overall lifetime burning potential comes from skills in your EQ. So, shockingly, only 15% of your overall financial success anyone's comes from their IQ and technical skills. I mean, that's just mind blowing, because we all base this on what degree do we have and what are our technical skills and do we have an agile certification? And Goldman's research shows 85% of how much money you'll make in your life comes from these really important skills that have to do with your personality, your resilience, your empathy and your ability to connect and inform. That was the only data point I needed to make the decision, other than it just felt like the right gut feeling. You know, as Taylor Swift says, haters gonna hate, but I am so excited to be spending all this time on my passion and also growing and scaling this program. It's really a testament to a company like Amazon to see the need. This was a grassroots effort, so it started as a volunteer effort. When I went to this life-changing presentation, i talked to Rich Wa, who delivered the session, and I said I need to get involved. So I helped him, with some colleagues, create a certification process and we became the first certified EQ speakers. We now have 50 of us And we are volunteers who have trained over a quarter million Amazonians on the importance of EQ, as well as many tips and techniques to up level your own EQ. So we're giving these presentations across Amazon all the time. I just spoke to over 400 folks in the Alexa group yesterday and certified my I think 50th evangelist, so that was really exciting.
Charis: These skills are just really. It's what allows you to become a superstar, because you're not gonna get smarter, you're not gonna be able to work harder or manage your time Time passes regardless. So instead it's a lot about how you hold yourself. Executive presence and being present and attuned with others is a big part of emotional intelligence. That's so hard to do in our modern lives when so many things are competing for our attention.
Charis: As a tip for your listeners to do this, talk with you, adra. I made sure everything is off. My phone is on silent, i'm getting no alerts on any of my screens and I actually have a piece of paper and a pen here if I need to write anything down. One of the best gifts you can give to another person is your presence, and it's also not surprisingly. The number one attribute ascribed to inspirational leaders is this idea of being fully present for someone else, and it's incredibly hard to do. The average attention span of an adult is 22 seconds. But just pick a few meetings in your week coming up and say how can I give my presence, how can I shut down my email, my Slack, all the alerts And just really sit with someone, because you'll be shocked at the difference that makes.
Audra : That was a lot, and I was actually listening intently because there's a lot of good news in there. One you don't have to be good at math to and have a series of degrees in math or engineering to be successful. You do have to lean into your natural abilities and not be afraid of sharing your personality. That's first of all. that was the first thing that I heard was if you're terrible at math, you're still okay. That was the first thing I heard. As an English major.
Charis: There's a book for that. I read statistics done wrong.
Audra: Excellent, excellent. You're an English major. That's a side note, squirrel.
Charis: You're an English major And you went into English degree at Bates College and I was editing technical projects to help people build SAP software. And I was fascinated because we didn't have a computer science program at Bates And I said, wow, this technology is really changing the world and transforming how we do business. I want to learn more, so I essentially branded myself as an SAP expert and the company, this German enterprise resource company, hired me a few years later for my SAP expertise.
Audra: Wow, and that's just because you thought it was really interesting and you translated it for people that may not engage with this type of software on a regular basis And you're like, let me help interpret this for you. So you became the SAP whisperer, if I meant to understand that.
Charis: That's what happened, Audra. A lot of my authors spoke English as a third or fourth language, so I would use Google and try to decipher what they were saying And I would send it back to. I would write it completely from scratch And I would send it back to them and I said, is this what you meant? And then they would fact check me technically. But what the result was? is it easy to understand article? Sometimes I had to throw out the first draft completely. Do some learning, write it for them, and then they would help me with the technical details.
Audra: So you've been using your emotional intelligence for a really long time, Probably even before they, even you, even heard the word coined EQ or emotional intelligence. So you have been leaning on this your entire career without you actually realizing it. So no wonder when you first heard that lecture, you're like aha, this is what I'm supposed to do. That's exactly right. I'm supposed to teach people this. You shared with us a little bit about what you do on a regular basis to create evangelists in EQ and certify them. What I'm curious to know is what has been the result since Amazon has invested in EQ on purpose. A lot of companies have stumbled into EQ on accident and it sounds cool. It sounds like something that you can put on your website and say hey, yeah, we know what this is. But you're saying that your organization is doing this on purpose and has put their money where their mouth is and is training experts, so then those experts can train more.
Charis: Absolutely. Amazon is a very special, innovative place. What grew out of this volunteer organization that I helped my boss, the founder of the EQ movement at Amazon, richwap put together? he wrote a narrative with compelling data points and presented it to the executives. He got support and help from amazing folks like the CEO of Whole Foods, john McKay, to say this is important. Here's the data. Here's why I think, especially in the time we were working on this, which was through the COVID pandemic, we were really ripe for a change. Amazon is a data-driven company and they also came out with a new leadership principle. We had these 14 leadership principles that guide how we work, things like customer obsession, earn trust, learn and be curious. Amazon added two new leadership principles over the pandemic. One is about sustainability and the second is strive to be Earth's best employer. We really now have a leadership principle behind the EQ work that we're doing In true Amazonian fashion.
Charis: We are a very results-oriented team. We're a small but mighty team of four. We measure the impact of our trainings in the most accurate way possible that is currently out in the market. Per Pactrack level two pre and post-confidence score assessment, we have 10 statements that they're things like I understand which EQ skills are my strengths and which are an opportunity for improvement. I create a climate of psychological safety on my team. We have the leaders who go through the training. Ask those, we ask them the questions before they take the training and we ask them again after. We measure the increase in confidence scores and we were able to show in 2022. Almost a thousand leaders went through the program and we had an average of a 19% increase in confidence skills pre and post evaluation. That's the data that we're using to scale. Our program is to prove that there is indeed an impact to the leaders who take the program.
Charis: It's not just goodwill and high fives. There's also a misconception of EQ in general. People think, oh, it's just about emotions, then like, let's let all our emotions hang out. It's not that at all. It's the intelligent use of emotions. It's when to withhold them. Maybe you're going through a personal matter and you don't want it to show up at work. How can you regroup so that you can show up at your next meeting in a very professional way? How can you leverage your relationships in a hard situation? How can you give and deliver some difficult feedback that's very clear and kind, but without being nice. The kind part is you're helping that person develop. If it were just nice, you would throw it under the rug and not give them that opportunity for growth. Bernay Brown likes to say clear is kind.
Audra: Yes, i agree, there's a big difference between being kind and being nice. I have learned that through my New Yorker husband. He's very kind but he is not always nice. So there's because it's all in the delivery. I'm curious what the impact has been. So obviously you are training these leaders to be better leaders, that is, to lead their colleagues, to lead their employees. What would those employees say has been the greatest impact on them after their leader has taken this training?
Charis: Yeah, great question. So our program is called Epic. That stands for empathy, purpose, inspiration and connection. So we have a full day workshop that dives deep into all of those topics and gives leaders things like ways to connect. We call them super connector questions. So asking in your one-on-one, how are you really doing? And we like to give our leaders this food for thought Would your employees pay you 20 bucks to have a one-on-one Or would they pay you 20 bucks to skip that one-on-one? Really to think about that. If you have to think about that one too long, you might have to ask some more of these super connector questions and really start to care more about their development, their growth, their passions outside of work And some of the testimonies we've gotten from even the highest levels.
Charis: We have had two of our ST members who are the top tier of Amazon go through the training and give us positive feedback. But some of the I think the most common insights that we see is Amazon is a very bias for action culture. In fact, that's one of our leadership principles. A lot of the leaders report back to us.
Charis: I didn't know that I didn't need to solve my direct reports problems. If someone comes to me with a problem, i'm going to coach them now rather than give them the answer. It's like that old metaphor about teaching the man to fish instead of catching the fish for him. So that's a real insight that a lot of our leaders have is wow, i'm really just here to provide space and coaching. My manager likes to ask me questions back Okay, how important do you think this is and what do you think we should do? That's the way to help someone solve their own problem, as opposed to oh, we'll just contact this person, they'll take care of it. There's a time and place for that, but I'm really seeing a lot of coaching behaviors develop as a result of this training.
Audra: So it sounds like there's a lot of collaboration that's happening And if they're coaching and becoming a partner with them, that really empowers them as individuals and they might feel more confident to stretch out outside their comfort zone. I am a huge proponent of standing outside of your comfort zone because I truly believe that that's where magic lies. Right when you get right outside your comfort zone, suddenly the world is different and it changes, and it's terrifying, but it sounds like your leaders are empowering them to step outside their comfort zone in order to achieve magic and greatness. Am I on the same track with you?
Charis: Definitely. I couldn't agree more. One of my favorite quotes is Eleanor Roosevelt do one thing every day that scares you. I mean personally. I faced my own imposter syndrome when I interviewed at Microsoft and was accepted. I just remember thinking, oh my God, how am I going to do this? I was a newly single parent and I don't know anything about AI. I did tell them I could learn it, but wow, how am I going to handle this? It's not the first time a posture syndrome has reared its ugly head with me.
Charis: That's an important subtopic within EQ. We give a number of tips and I'll just share a couple of my favorites with your listeners because they've been so instrumental to me. Whenever I'm giving a talk or filming a podcast or doing a job interview, I do a pep talk and a power pose. I usually do them at the same time. The power pose is based on research from Amy Cuddy and she's at Harvard, and it shows that you can almost trick your body and your body can trick your mind into feeling more powerful by holding a pose where you have your hands over your head or you do the Wonder Woman that you're standing up straight, with your shoulders back, your legs spread out. She shows research and compares it to the animal kingdom. But these high power poses actually prick your mind into thinking, wow, really.
Charis: I am pretty powerful And one of the research points that she uses is that victory salute, that second power pose. When a blind runner crosses the finish line and just gets told that they won, they lift their hands up in victory even though, because they're blind, they've never seen anyone do it. So it's a natural human reaction to success. So if you can kind of give yourself that victory pose before you go into it, it puts yourself in a beautiful mindset that I've got this And in fact asking yourself the question you feel like you have this and then replying in the affirmative, that has also been statistically more effective than just telling yourself you've got that. And so I combine it with the pep talk, which mind goes something like this Charis, you are articulate, intelligent and you're going to inspire this audience, and I just remind myself of that.
Charis: And that little technique has just worked wonders for me. And I really credit Dave and Jeff, a couple of guys who I worked with at the publishing company where I was working on those articles to teach SAP software. Before I went into my SAP interview they told me about the pep talk And I said that sounds so stupid. And they said, charis, just do it, don't question it And I got the job and I've been doing it ever since.
Audra: So just those two things the power pose and a quick little personal pep talk This has changed the trajectory not just of your career but of your life 100%. I mean, this is what I'm hearing is that these little tricks that are just psychologically tricking your mind into getting over that imposter syndrome which, by the way, i think I fight a lot? You put a microphone on me and I'm interviewing these amazing women, yourself included, all over the world. It's a little intimidating And you're just like what the heck am I doing? But then it comes back to I got this, but I think I'm going to start doing power poses and maybe giving myself a pep talk, maybe even every day, because, ah, who does need a little help every single time? Try it out.
Charis: I love it. Mel Robbins has this you know, five second, get started. She's a Boston motivational speaker and you kind of give yourself a high five in the mirror, so that's really fun. But yeah, i have found it just to be so effective and powerful And for one of those things that what you focus on grows. So, rather than focusing on negative thoughts, you know, focus on your positive ones, and you really need to be your own cheerleader. We all have more negative thoughts than positive ones, and so establishing a gratitude practice can give you some much needed dopamine and serotonin to your system And remind you of all the good things you have going on amid this catastrophic, dystopian reality we're living it. I found my gratitude practice to be equally powerful.
Audra: Well, i want to switch just a little bit to focus on how this program blossomed through the pandemic, because if ever we needed EQ, that was then, and it's just continued. Because the last three years has been a test in resilience for every single solitary one of us. Because, first of all, we all were isolated. We were isolated from each other And we were isolated in our homes, with our families, for the first time ever, where we weren't running around in 62 different directions. Because, as American culture, we like to be busy all the time Busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy.
Audra: Because resting somehow has developed this bad thing. I don't know why. This hustle culture is what we aspire to, and rest seems to be something that's looked upon negative, which, through study, we're realizing is completely backwards. However, we're locked down. We're locked down with our families And we're disconnected from the rest of the world. Amazon developed this EQ program when we needed it most. Through that time period, were there any small victories that you were a part of that you got to experience just because you leaned into this science that has meant so much to you.
Charis: Absolutely. It's such a meaningful and rewarding job. I mean there's too many to mention just some of the calls of gratitude. A few weeks ago I was able to step in to a team really in crisis and they just called me in at the last minute. I'd given them a session over the summer and they said I know what short notice? is there any chance you're available at one tomorrow to come speak to us? And just the sense of palpable relief when I saw on our video chat, when I said I could do it, it was like a weight had been lifted off this leader's shoulders And I talked about things like the perma crisis.
Charis: So this is a word from Collins English Dictionary. They made it their word of the year 2022. And it's this idea that post pandemic I mean we're still technically going through it there's also layoffs, inflation, the war in Ukraine, racial inequality and injustice. I mean you name it, we're thrown into it combined with that Puritan work ethic you were talking about that. We're really not prioritizing time for recovery and reflection, And I think it was the pandemic that gave us pause. I think people saw the silver lining in it, right That that additional time with their families and it allowed them to prioritize what was important, and so I've just had so many different small victories and large ones along the way. Just to be able to quote that number 250,000 Amazonians. We have the goal on our team to train one billion people in EQ. So thank you for being part of that big number, adra, by sharing this with the listeners.
Audra: One billion people. You've trained one billion people in emotional intelligence. You changed the world Absolutely. You changed the world. I mean that 250,000 people that you've trained is already changing their lives and their environments and their familial cultures because you've changed them, and so that will start to show up as a ripple effect. You train one billion people. This planet changes.
Charis: And for the better. It's all this self-improvement And we talked about. Sometimes, with imposter syndrome, we think, oh, I goofed up. And I love the book Atomic Habits by James Clear because it talks about even if you just have a small 1% improvement over the year, that adds up to 37% at the end of the year, right? So EQ is a lot about these little tools and techniques.
Charis: Mindful breathing is another one that it's really just helping you to understand your emotions and then self-regulate, understand others' emotions and optimize and maximize those relationships.
Charis: So it's so beautiful because your personality and IQ are fixed around the age of 10, but because of the neuroplasticity of our brain, if you do something like a gratitude practice and start to think more positive thoughts than negative ones and you stop that self-talk that's shaming you you're actually changing the circuitry of your brain so that it is becoming more understandable and giving yourself more grace. I mean, of course I still have a negative thought from now and when I started on this journey dozens of years ago, but by and large I treat myself the way I do my best friend with respect, compassion and grace, and it's just. It's a calmer place to be in my mind because of my positive self-talk. And so it's amazing to me and the research shows that EQ empathy in particular research from Dr Jim Milzaki at Stanford, who we partner with on several of our projects empathy is 70% learnable, only 30% ingrained. So it's just like a muscle going to the gym you exercise it and you can improve your empathy.
Audra: Wow, 70% improvement. So if you say, oh, i suck at empathy, and my husband will tell you that there are times that I suck at empathy and at times he's right, but I can work on it, i can learn, i can empathize with the other person. I don't necessarily have to agree with them, but I may be able to appreciate their position and their point of view.
Charis: That's right. It's about understanding someone's perspective and really seeking to get there. And it's a two-step process. It's understanding both what someone is thinking and what they're feeling, what drives them.
Charis: And if you wanna read about this one, chris Voss has a great book Never Split the Difference. He's a former FBI hostage negotiator and he talks about this idea of active listening and mirroring. And so you're listening to kind of summarize you're doing a fantastic job of it, by the way, audra to kind of clarify, restate. So what I heard you say is and also the tell me more, so that you get the person comfortable and drawn out and talking. And this is a wonderful way to build trust and also enhance your knowledge, because understanding and seeking out that perspective until you get to the core of what someone's thinking is just a really powerful tool for connection.
Charis: And in fact that's why reading literature and watching movies, that can be a great way to develop empathy, because you're relating to what's going on with another culture. I think my boss put this framing really well when Rich said empathy is the input and the output that you might get is diversity, equity and inclusion. Right, so those are outputs. But how do you get to that place of DEI. It's through empathy and understanding where someone else is coming from, who might be very different for you.
Audra: So these big giant concepts of DEI which we've all heard of, starts very simply with learning empathy, absolutely. I wanna share with something that you affected me personally that I did not tell you before we recorded because I wanted to see your real life reaction. I got to meet with you a couple of weeks before my daughter got married. I have to tell you that I was struggling emotionally with my daughter getting married, not because I wasn't happy about it. I was extremely happy about it. I was very excited about it.
Audra: But it was an ending of a chapter for me as a mother and the beginning of a new one, because they say that in order to get a new life, you have to give up the old one, which is hard. It's a transition And it was affecting me in surprising ways. I would randomly cry still don't know why I was doing that but I would randomly cry throughout the day, or I would appear to be despondent to my colleagues. And after I spoke with you, i got very brave and I only have four colleagues, so it wasn't hard to do. It wasn't like I had dozens of people I needed to talk to.
Audra: I only had four, so I approached each one of them individually, and I said I want you to know what's going on with me because I don't want you to guess, i don't want you to think something other than what's really going on. I'm struggling because of this amazing life event I still have to transition through. So I just want you to know that this is what's going on. And each and every one of them were so compassionate towards me and gave me space and grace. I wouldn't have done that had I not had a conversation with you. So through one conversation, you educated me to have enough grace for myself to communicate what was going on within me, and for that I can't thank you enough, because it made my strange behavior understandable to my colleagues.
Charis: Oh that just warms my heart, audra, because what you demonstrated was your vulnerability. You really put yourself out of the line transparently and said this is what's happening, Because so much what happens with folks is they jump to a worst case scenario. It's actually, it's understandable, based on our evolution. We had to be constantly scanning for threats because we might have to jump into a cave. And that's our limbic system and amygdala, all these ancient structures of our brain, are constantly scanning and they jump into fight, flight or freeze mode, and it can actually override our prefrontal cortex, which developed much later in human evolution and guides our logic and reason.
Charis: A lot of times, people will resort to that worst case scenario Oh God, is she annoyed with me, is she snappy or is she not as responsive? It must be something I did, and what we teach in EQ is API always assume positive intent, but it's very easy to say you get a text from your manager instantly. Oh no, am I getting laid off? What's going on? Something's wrong, i must have screwed up. That's where our brain goes, and but knowing that we're actually biologically wired for that, we might be able to flip it on its head. Mel Robbins, who I mentioned, the motivational speaker, she says tell yourself these six simple words If you're thinking about worst case scenario and backup plan number 36, stop that mental spiraling and say what if it all works out? And just go with that as the default response. Give people that benefit of the doubt. Understand that, hey, someone might be going through something We like to talk about, handlin's razor. Never ascribe to malice what you could ascribe to neglect.
Charis: Let's say, you get cut off in traffic. That's a classic example of scanning for threats And all of a sudden we get thrown into that amygdala in limbic system fight, flight or freeze, slam on the brakes. And I was a Boston driver for two decades, so first instinct is to just chase after them. Road rage, catch up to them. And who's the idiot who did this to me? And so EQ has taught me what if? instead I said maybe they just didn't see me. I'm alive, there was no accident caused, it's all OK. And what if, taking a step further, what if that person was rushing to the hospital because their loved one is in the ER? Can I give them some grace? Maybe they're having the worst day of their life? Didn't do me any harm. Yeah, i freaked out for a hot two seconds. I'm better now.
Charis: So that ability to API, assume positive intent, can really inform how you live your life, and that transparency that you gave to your team members makes me so happy. I like to tell students I mentor there's really two keys to my career success And they're very basic. The first one is transparency. So not just that vulnerability, but transparency of information, sharing it, putting it on a wiki so everyone can look there instead of continuing to ask me, and also follow through, complete follow through. If I say I'm going to do something, i do that thing, and that's just part of my integrity, but it's a surprisingly rare characteristic I've found. So I really hold on to those two as what's been instrumental to my success, and I think both of them are a big part of my EQ.
Audra: As this, as our world continues to evolve and it continues to change And, as you said, permacrisis number 632 over the last three years, and everything feels immediate all the time. It feels like it's coming at you full force and there's no break in between. We now have many organizations that are saying OK, you guys have been home and you had to learn a new way of coping in your little bubble and you've been cruising. Now you're like I got it down. I've been, i'm in my little bubble, i got this.
Audra: Well, now many organizations are saying well, we're great that you've been comfortable at home. We need you to come back. How do you translate or I should say, transition from OK, you learned these new coping mechanisms here at home, but now we got to go back to work, which is going to be a weird thing because you haven't been in the same physical space as your colleagues. Some people haven't seen their colleagues in person for three years. So how do you handle that? Because I know that there's a lot of people that are going through that very transition as we speak.
Charis: Absolutely. There's return to office mandates all over And I think it comes down to these same skills. You can still practice them, things like establishing clear boundaries and being transparent with your manager that, hey, i've been putting in two or three extra hours a day because I haven't had this pesky commute. Now that I've had the commute, we might need to talk about my productivity, because it's not going to look the same if I'm adding in that extra time. I'm not willing to give that time back to the business, so we might need to reduce deliverables. So I would highly recommend the book Set Boundaries, find Peace to get a real sense of different types of boundaries and then how to practice executing them.
Charis: Boundaries have been a saving grace in my entire life, both with difficult family members as well as making sure that I have enough time for recovery and self-care. I think things like vacation and I have regular practices like yoga, meditation and exercise, and I call them my sustaining practices because if I don't do them, i notice and I feel it I am not the person I want to be around. I get more grumpy, i get irritable, i get distracted a lot quicker if I'm not regularly getting that exercise and other forms of self-care that are so important. So I think it's really important to take a hard look at what is it, what is the commitment, what is the requirement? and then, how could I use these human EQ skills to both negotiate my workload and make sure I'm retaining that self-care time for myself so that I don't get pushed back into the before times, when we were just running all the time with our period and work ethic without recovery. That recovery time is so critical And everyone needs it.
Charis: Think about professional athletes. They peak for like 90 minutes a week, the rest of the time just on a Tuesday afternoon microwaving a burrito and chilling and watching TV. It's important to have hobbies and a schedule, but overall you can't expect to be at your optimal performance all the time. There's a great concept of optimal performance And it says that if you're going through a challenging situation, sometimes if you're firing on all cylinders, you can give your peak performance. But think instead about optimal. If you're sick, fighting through cold, you're still showing up. But instead of being stressed out that you can't give your 10 out of 10 performance, just strive for your 6 out of 10 and call that a day.
Charis: I've read a recent great blog post on Medium about the minimum viable day. When you're having one of those, just I can't cope, i can't deal. What can you do to take care of yourself? Can you take a brief nap, can you leave early, can you delegate or reschedule some meetings? But I think we need to be in control of those boundaries Because we're really we manage our own personal brand and our energy. So you need to have a strong process in place with firm but flexible boundaries so that they can flex, given the situation. If there's something critically important, maybe pushing a little bit to do it, but overall making sure that we take care of ourselves. No one else is going to do it for you.
Audra: And we've had to learn how to take care of ourselves in this environment, because everything has been exaggerated over the last three years And maybe, just maybe, this level of stress has always been present.
Audra: But we were so busy doing and you get kind of stuck in that situation of I'm doing, doing, doing you don't notice how stressed out you really are And it's not until you've been given this full stop that you recognize. Oh, i'm really in over my head, and I think that coming to that stop has made everybody, like you said, reevaluate their lives and what is and isn't important and how do I take better care of myself and my family at the same time? And the road starts with EQ and it starts with the individual and improving upon that, which is a tremendous science of which you have studied and become an expert. And I know we're running short on time. What I want to do is I want to get to. You are writing a book and I really want to hear about what you're pouring into this book and when can we expect to get our hands on it?
Charis: Yeah. So I finished a first draft and set it off to a fantastic developmental editor. I've been sitting on her edits for about a month now and I'm just trying to summon up the strength to kind of revamp it. It's part memoir, part inspiration part. Here's exactly what to do if you want a career in tech, with lots of advice about how to network, use LinkedIn.
Charis: I really wanted to share my experience with potential readers to say here are some mistakes I made, here are some things I tried that worked, hoping that I can save them a step or three to be able to improve on their own hero's journey. So it's a lot about going through different stages of technology, the imposter syndrome and these practical tips in EQ that have just led to developing a successful career in technology as a minority. So I'm super excited about it. If any agents or publishers are listening, i do not have one currently, so I'll be working on the developmental edits over the summer and hope to find a publisher, hopefully as early as next fall or next winter. So I'm really excited.
Charis: It's tentatively titled selling intelligence, but you can find me on LinkedIn and I'll also share with your listeners our EQ page. That has just a whole host of resources to get further into EQ And that's really how I got into EQ was through these different books, like I mentioned Mindset from Carol Dweck. I've read a lot of Renee Brown, adam Grant is fantastic, jimi Elzaki there's too many folks to mention, but we have some great resources on our EQ leadership site, so I'll make sure you can put that in the show notes.
Audra: What I will get from you as far as show notes are concerned is I will get your list of recommended books. We'll make sure that we have the resources linked into the show notes, as well as some of these concepts that we talked about of, like permacrisis and API, those kinds of things. I wanna make sure that I get these isolated, write them down. I'll create some graphics, so maybe, if you need a reminder, you can look at this graphic, save it on your phone and maybe give you a little bit of inspiration as you go throughout your day. Before we run out of time, i wanna make sure that I have fully utilized your expertise here. What didn't I ask that you really want us to know?
Charis: Well, given my background in AI and I just recorded a presentation for the Women in Product Conference that's AI in 25 minutes, what every product manager needs to know. So if you want the full 25 minutes, go check out the Women in Product Conference. But I did wanna leave your listeners with the five questions machine learning can answer because AI isn't a panacea.
Charis: It is statistics and inference, using data that can make a prediction. And so what AI can actually tell you as a business person, is this category A or B, or maybe even C? like what category does this belong to? Is this thing weird? which is anomaly detection How much or how many, if something is likely? That's an area called regression. That's all supervised learning, where you're giving the algorithm an input output pair and then it makes a guess as to mapping for unforeseen circumstances, what's going to happen.
Charis: The fourth question machine learning can answer is how is this structured? And that's something called unsupervised learning that looks for patterns in data to show interesting trends that a human eye might not be able to see, like outliers. And finally, what should I do next? which is a blossoming category of AI called reinforcement learning, And so similar to Pavlov and his dogs. That's a classical stimulus where you're actually eliciting an involuntary response to say, a dog treat. It is operant conditioning, so it is an algorithm that is optimizing for a maximum reward, So that might look something like Google's algorithm that wins at AlphaGo.
Charis: So evaluating every possible situation in real time incredibly fast, with all of these clusters spinning up to come up with what is the optimal next step, and that's how computers can win at games like Go and chess. So just a little food for thought. If you're curious about AI, I do teach a data science course through General Assembly and I can give you that link too. We have a two hour intro class, which I actually just taught this past Monday and is a lot of fun And, if you're interested in data science, a great way to get started with it.
Audra: And it's a great way to learn more about AI and data science. And what I'd like to remind everybody is that, while AI is a tremendous, cool, amazing science, it's not a replacement for humans. even though AI is being taught EQ as we speak, it's still not a replacement for humans. So, most definitely continue to flex that muscle and learn EQ, but take a course in AI Super cool to learn, because it is in every single one of our lives right now, whether you know it or not. If you have a phone, you've got AI.
Charis: And it's really important to have a working knowledge and understanding of how this is going to affect us, especially when it comes to bias. One of my favorite books on that topic is Weapons of Math Destruction by Kathy O'Brien, and it really talks about the bias introduced in things like the US News and World Report rankings of colleges, even our credit system, so definitely worth checking out. And I have another blog post that I wrote about how I got started in AI and different resources that I use, so I'll make sure to send that one over to your listeners as well.
Audra: This has been a fascinating conversation and absolutely enjoyable, and, like always, i look at the time and go where in the heck did the last hour go? So I hope all of you got something from this And if you have more questions, please send them to me. I'll make sure that Charis gets them Also reach out to her on LinkedIn And we look forward to her book hopefully coming out in 2024. I wanna give you a moment alone with the audience without me chattering, so the floor is yours.
Charis: Thanks, Audra. It's just totally my passion in life to be able to connect with other humans And hopefully some nugget that I shared will make a positive impact in your life. But I just want to thank you. I'm full of gratitude today, both to Audra for welcoming me to the podcast, but also for this ability to share these tips that have been so transformational in my life with you. That's why I wrote the book, that's why I do the work that I do, so if there's resonates with you, i welcome your connection on LinkedIn And I hope that I've made a positive difference.
Audra: Thank you so much for joining me this afternoon. It has truly been my pleasure to have you here because, once again, i've learned a whole lot from you And I can't wait to put some of these things into practice. And I want to thank all of you once again for joining me this week, and we'll see you again next time.