Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast

Building Community to Improve the Employee Experience with Nate Brown

July 04, 2022 Russel Lolacher Episode 24
Relationships at Work - the Employee Experience and Workplace Culture Podcast
Building Community to Improve the Employee Experience with Nate Brown
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with co-founder of the CX Accelerator and speaker Nate Brown on how to build community to benefit your employee experience in your industry. 

Nate shares his experience with...

  • the different types of networks
  • the origins of the CX Accelerator network
  • the differences between introverts and extroverts in building connections
  • The benefits of creating a community
  • Steps to building a network

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For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

Russel Lolacher  
On the show today we have the man the myth, the legend. He's also not on video. So I don't actually know if he's wearing a hat or not, which he usually does. And almost everything you'll see...

Nate Brown  
You know I am, Russel. I've got my hat on. 

Russel Lolacher  
Perfect! Okay, good. So theater the mind, imagine that Nate's got his photo is his hat on right now. So it's Nate brown today. And here is why he is awesome. He is the senior director of customer experience at arise virtual solutions, which is the platform that connects big brands with working from home service providers. He's also the co founder of the CX Accelerator, which is a nonprofit community, helping to equip, encourage and connect customer experience professionals at every stage of their journey. He has been repeatedly named on top Customer Experience Expert lists over the years, I even have shared a few lists with him myself, and Lucky, lucky boy, that more me than than you, but I'm super thrilled to have him on because the man is connected. And I think he's going to add a very interesting perspective to how we can sort of engage and connect with others to improve the employee experience. I'm going to shut up and introduce Nate Brown. Hello, sir.

Nate Brown  
Hello, Russel, thank you so much for having me on. I've loved your podcast so far, you've come out of the gate swinging. So it's a great honor to be here. Thank you so much.

Russel Lolacher  
I love that you put the caveat "so far", because you're just waiting to screw up. So I appreciate that. There's no pressure here. So I want to start with the question I asked every single member of the of the show every guest, what's your best, or worst one or the other employee experience you've had in your journey?

Nate Brown  
Oh, well, I don't want to get like super, super deep on it. I mean, I had a situation, unfortunately, where I was a victim of some psychological terror in one in one job, and I was too young to identify it. So it was a really bad employee experience. And I had to fight through so many things that I was having trouble finding the words and being able to collect the self awareness to really identify myself in the situation. But I had a really abusive boss. And so I worked for that individual for many, many, many years, and gained a lot of scars from that a lot of a lot of things that I'm still healing from to some degree. But so much learning came from that. And it gave me such a heart to help people to understand when they're a victim of their job, and, and to be able to accelerate out of that situation into a place where they can have a great, great, great meaningful work experience.

Russel Lolacher  
It's interesting that you say that too, because I spoken to a lot of leaders management and stuff. And they're so eager to reset the clock and go, You know what, forget the past, we have a new vision, now we're going in a different direction. We've learned from our mistakes, forget all that. But people don't understand how trauma works. And it's interesting how you bring up something so much from the past. And you say you're still working through it psychologically. So those scars don't just heal, because somebody on a agenda said, Oh, we're moving on now, because it says so on my checklist. So we're just going to move on now. I appreciate you bringing that up, even though it's a little painful.

Nate Brown  
Yeah, no, I mean, it's it to me, it manifests in the area of a lot of self doubt. Like I just always have to be told, unfortunately told on a regular basis. Hey, Nate, we see you're doing a good job, keep it up. And if I don't hear those words, on a regular basis, I just evolve into a really negative place. And I have to tell my bosses that. But I'm hoping, you know, hoping that over time, I can mature to the point where I can identify within myself that the things I'm doing are good. And even if I'm not being told that, you know, in a five, six day period of time, that I can have the confidence to keep moving.

Russel Lolacher  
But it reinforces the fact that leadership needs to understand who works for them who needs to hear what they need to hear. I've had staff that don't ever want the spotlight, they don't want to be recognized in any way, shape, or form. They just want to be in their little bubble in their corner doing their work. But others that do need that affirmation that that you're good, we can see you. But if a leader doesn't recognize that empowerment, acknowledgement is such a personal thing, then we're never gonna get anywhere.

Nate Brown  
Yeah, and the best one I had Russel was getting to take part in what was called this global leadership program inside of an amazing situation organization where I got to go and be part of this cohort of these incredible individuals who are on fire to grow and to learn personally and to serve the company in new and exciting ways. And we went into four different places around the world. And we were just learning together throughout the course of the year, and that peer to peer connection galvanizing force of going through that experience together was unbelievable.

Russel Lolacher  
Now that definitely lends itself segue into our topic today, which is all about networking and connecting and community building. So was that done driven by you? Or was that driven by the organization you work for? What was the impetus for that? For that?

Nate Brown  
Yeah, the organization I was in at the time had a great program for those that they identified as being high potential leaders. So they were nominated to enter into this program was a year long program. And it was just a really neat deal to be able to accelerate your own learning it. But also, I mean, the greatest thing that you came out of it, you read all these books, you did all these projects, this and that. But by far, the greatest thing that came out from that was the relationships that you had with 30 people across the world in that organization, who in many ways, they were just like minded with you, in the sense that, hey, we're not just here to do a job. We're here to serve people. Well, we're here to make something really special for one another, and for our customers. And it was just such a breath of fresh air to be around those individuals at ale it elevated all of us together,

Russel Lolacher  
Say I'm an alien coming from a different planet don't know our customs. How would you explain to them what networking is?

Nate Brown  
Yeah, I mean, networking is just simply, I love how Steve Jobs talks about the more dots that you have to connect, the more creative you can be. So when you have more dots, you can create all these fascinating shapes and constellations and connections, and be more creative and have more influence than you could have ever had. If you had a small number of dots. So networking is simply getting more dots.

Russel Lolacher  
Hmm. Okay, interesting. Now, I want to sort of wrap that in value, though, because it feels like you're just a collector that's collecting dots, as opposed to and because you talked about the global leadership program as something where you kind of found your people, you were feeling such a connection, which feels like such a bigger leap than the Steve Jobs definition. So yeah, how would you describe it for you personally, though, because there is I've seen such great benefit to your own career.

Nate Brown  
Yeah, no great call out on that. Russel, I mean, if we think about it, as a constellation, you have stars that are so far away, you can barely see them. And it's gonna be hard to connect with with those dots. But then a strong network is those where the stars shine brightly. And that requires you to be close, it requires you to be close enough to see them to hear them to be to understand and be a part of, of their lives, and you are helping to generate mutual value there. But But even more than that, I mean, I love Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone, have you seen that one, Russel, i Not off the top of my head. So I mean, it's just a really great resource on this topic. And if you're interested in extending your network, creating a more meaningful network experience, that that is the number one resource that I would recommend, but he's just got this great model of, hey, I'm gonna identify who I want my stars and my constellation to be. And I'm just gonna go through a cadence where I'm going to connect with them on a regular basis and send them an article, just ping them and ask them how they're doing. But just just give value to them, knowing that value will be reciprocated. But it's not necessarily about that reciprocation. You know, there's the genuine way of building a network. And it's going to be it's going to look and feel different than a person who is generating a network selfishly, with, with the intent of gaining their their own extension of of a pedestal, versus somebody who is building a network because they care about the people in it. And they want to see them be successful. It's just a totally different mentality. And I feel like for us, Russell, that are in this this space of employee experience and customer experience, we have that that true, authentic desire to see others be successful, and to be able to help them to have great experiences in their life in their work. And if we can be a part of that, then I mean, that's really, really intrinsically meaningful, meaningful for us as well.

Russel Lolacher  
Would you say there are different types of networking? Because I mean, I look out and I see my very substantive net substantive, I'm gonna get words on the show, and I'm gonna say a word of the day, a MIDI, a meeting network, but there are different levels to it as well, because I know others that are much more on the personal side, others that are different levels of acquaintances, others where I'm not sure really why they're in my network, but I like them as humans. So how do you define or sort of approach the different levels of networking or has it worked for you?

Nate Brown  
Yeah, I mean, so on the top of that, you You certainly have different types of connections with with different people. And one of those type of connections like I have my own personal board of directors, you could call it. I mean, these are, it's a wide range of mentors that I have. I mean, I'm a big believer in having a multitude of counselors to use the proverb that speak into your life. I mean, there's just a lot of a wisdom that comes from a multitude of mentors and counselors, I was actually photographing an event in Dave Ramsey was there, and he was talking about that principle, he's like, I have a mentor, that helps me to be a better father, have a mentor, that helps me to be a better husband, I have a mentor, that helps me to be a better business person, I have a mentor that helps me to be a better pickleball player. And so in all these areas in his life that are meaningful to him, he's got somebody that's helping him along in those areas. So I've tried to adapt that that principle as well. And to have that that board of directors, but then moving down beyond that, I mean, we want to have people that we're connecting to as well, we're we're investing into them, and helping them to grow some protegees. And if there's not a lot of that, where you're getting that opportunity to share and help others to grow, then then you're stunting your own growth, because I mean, there's just a tremendous thing that happens, a galvanizing effect that occurs when you have that, that potential, that capability to equip others and to help them along in their career. And that's really where CX Accelerator came from. It was, that was me feeling really lonely in the work that I was doing as a CX professional, you know, at the time, there wasn't CX being done inside of that organization, it was me forging a new path inside of that organization. And I felt very, very lonely in doing that. So I was like, you know, let's create some community around this. And there was to some degree out there, but it wasn't the type that that I needed personally. And I felt like others could benefit from a different type of community as well in the customer experience space. So that's where CX Accelerator came about. And it hit the mark really quickly, really? Well. I mean, people needed it. I wasn't the only one.

Russel Lolacher  
Do you think there's something to the 150 rule, that belief that you can't have meaningful connections with more than 150 people? Because...

Nate Brown  
Oh, I think way less than that. 

Russel Lolacher  
Fair enough. And but to somebody from the outside looking in and sees myself or you online and looks at the amount of connections, I'm talking the vanity metrics of social media? Yeah. But from the outside looking in, you're like, Wow, you network, and you know, a lot of people, but can you really know, and network with people beyond? 150?

Nate Brown  
Yeah, oh, gosh, you know, it's, it's funny how cyclical some of those these relationships are in our lives. I mean, we all go through full seasons of several years, where I don't interface with somebody, and then all of a sudden, they come back into my life, and it feels like we didn't miss a beat, right? And we're able to help one another, or just to encourage one another, just just enter back into one another's lives. I feel like I personally have the capacity for that, I'm open to that. Whereas my wife is not she is not open to that, like she has a small group of like, 75 people, these are my people. And and that's it, I'm going to invest deeply into them. And I think I think there's tremendous power in that. I don't fault that mentality at all. It's, it's kind of different in terms of how we are different. I grew up I draw so much energy rustle from being with groups of people. I love. I love that I loved being at CCW Vegas. Last week, I was a kid in a candy store rock walking around that expo hall with 3,000 CX professionals. I was beaming just walking around. So I draw a lot of energy from that situation, whereas my wife does not at all. So I think we need to understand our own capacity for relationships, we want to make sure that they're meaningful, and that they're giving us energy that they're giving us life. So if they're sucking you dry, and you dread looking at your phone, every moment of the day, because of who's going to be pinging you or texting or whatever, then it's time to scale back.

Russel Lolacher  
And I can thank you for that. Because I know some people listening are introverts. And they're not going to pull their energy from large groups of people. They're going to pull it from being by themselves and recharging before they go out and make those connections. So to see that juxtaposition between the two, it's still really important to network, but understand where your boundaries are. Is that what I'm hearing?

Nate Brown  
Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. And I spend a considerable amount of time alone in the woods. So that's like a different type of energy that I draw. But I do think it's, it's a question of, if I have all these relationships is is that stressing me out or is not exciting to me. And I think we have a different limit there. For me, you know, I do have a selected group of people who, who I would say kind of this is my tribe, these are my people. And I love, love, love that book tribal leadership, as well. And it talks about how it's somewhere between 75 and 150. People, it is their rudimentary calculation of how many meaningful relationships we can juggle. And they define it as like, I know that you have a dog, and I know the name of your kids, and I know you're into kayaking, and fishing, and boom, we at least know each other on a human to human level. But there should, and there could, and there needs to be, like 15-20 people that are your true friends. And that's in a professional sense. Like, I've got like my, my people, and that really has been forged in my experience through CX Accelerator. But however you gain that, having a couple of folks, a handful of folks that you're really sharing life with, get being very vulnerable with knowing your ups and downs that you're experiencing professionally. And that you can trust them with that. But then even beyond that, Russel, I mean, I love the Gallup Q12 Question of "Do you have a best friend at work?" Have you ever seen that question? 

Russel Lolacher  
I have a few times actually, that's funny you bring it up.

Nate Brown  
I think I used to hate that question, I thought was so stupid, that questions brilliant. I mean, it's, it is the most meaningful thing. As far as employee loyalty as far as connecting you into a working environment, having one person that you are extremely connected with, it will make or break your your work experience in so many different ways. And I felt this very poignantly recently, I had my best friend leave the organization. And the wound of that was was deep, I didn't even expect it, I didn't see it coming. And was like, Oh, my goodness, I feel so lonely. And I have some good friends, I have some good connections. But that one individual is so important to our work experience.

Russel Lolacher  
So I'm looking for the benefits of this because I mean, I've heard a few things you're talking to expand your network to look beyond even when you start with best friend to bigger circle, the bigger circle, the bigger circle, you've got mentorship, you've mentioned feeling lonely in your work. So trying to expand even beyond your own industry, to grab onto more like minded people. What other benefits are there to building a bigger network than just the the team in which you work in,

Nate Brown  
it's fun to just get to celebrate what's happening with others is they succeed. So when you're a part of more, when you get to see more that's going on, it gives you a greater capacity to celebrate others. So I mean, that's a tremendous thing right there. I mean, that's a lot of serotonin that's flowing through your network and through your community, if you if you have that ability to see what what's going on and celebrate with them. So that would certainly be one. But then I mean, there's the obvious of it just gives you more exponential capability to to have to have influence and to be a part of meaningful things. I mean, I've had so many intriguing requests over the past couple of weeks, hey, could you could you write this could you be part of this project, we have this CX world games going on, we have a brand new idea, we want to run this by you, we'd love for you to be a lead with, with this new concept that we have going on, had an amazing conversation yesterday with somebody very close to me, who wants to run a CX event in Nashville and wants me to help host that event. I mean, these are things that I love, I love getting to do stuff like that. And there's no way that I would have the opportunity to do that. If I wasn't really close with these individuals. And if I wasn't doing things also to pour into them, and to help them along the way as well. I mean, so that's very much been the case. For me. It's it's a reciprocal thing that happens. But it's an overflow of authenticity. I mean, people can feel it so clearly, when you're just surface level helping them in hopes of being held back. But when you're really investing in somebody with with no expectation of return, it's amazing the things that come back to you.

Russel Lolacher  
I just wrapped up Alan Grant's, book givers and takers give and take. And this definitely lends itself to that, which is people can see it can generally see a taker and that have an agenda when they're trying to expand their network or what's in it for me or they're cold call LinkedIn direct messages, or the other side, which is much more the giver, which is what you're talking about, which is I'm just here to help. I'm just here to connect. I'm here to learn from you. Case in point, Nate. I mean, this podcast has been fueled by a thankfully amazing network that I've been able to build over the years, I reached out to you and asked if you want to be on the podcast, you're like, No, but I have somebody named Keith combat who'd be amazing to be on. And he was, and then, you know, but then I follow it up. And he's like, Well, I want to be on the podcast, too. And look how that worked out.

Nate Brown  
Did I say no? I'd never meant to say no, I'm sorry.

Russel Lolacher  
No, it was a "maybe...but Keith! Better go talk to Keith."

Nate Brown  
Keith is better. He's amazing. I learned so much from Keith every day

Russel Lolacher  
He's phenomenal. But it does also reinforce that opportunity. Collaboration can come from having a network even if Nate we've never met in person, but yet we've been, you know, circling each other for years. It's it's just also feeding that network and, and continuing to make sure that it's still alive, that you'll benefit from it.

Nate Brown  
I'm literally holding in my hand give and take by Adam Grant, I think I think it's a wonderful book. So I'm so glad that you found that one as well. So

Russel Lolacher  
I'm the idiot that called him Alan Grant. So needless to say, his name is Adam Grant. He's amazing WorkLife, that's his podcast, I couldn't stop listening to you if I tried. So you've got the groundwork that you know what I need to expand my situation at work. I'm, you know, by myself, I have or I have a team and I'm not feeling quite connected. How do you start building a network? What are the steps you kind of alluded to sort of reaching out and asking for help. But I just want to know if there's like three quick things you could start to do to build that network?

Nate Brown  
But I think that's a great question. I think you also raise a wonderful point, Russel, I mean, there there is the in your organization network. And then there's the beyond your organization network. And both are so so so important. I mean, there's some great research recently from tiny pulse, which is a poll survey tool, talking about how, you know, we always say Russel that you don't leave a job, you leave your boss, yes, they kind of put that on its head a little bit. And they actually talk about how peer to peer relationships are even more important than the relationship to your manager. Okay. And, and I've, I've personally really felt felt that, like, if you're in a good team of people, and you're just in the trenches, together, you're doing the work together. That is that is incredibly galvanizing, as an employee, in terms of your loyalty, your ability to work well. And it's really the job of the leader to foster that environment where those great peer to peer connections can really happen. So that I mean, that's, that's the first tip is like, hey, look around you. Do you have great relationships with the people that are seated around you or that you're working in a team with if you're a remote employee, it really does start with with that peer to peer relationship level, you'll be so much happier in your role if you have great connections with the people that you serve alongside every day. So identify, be courageous, and identifying what those hurdles might be there, maybe there's some self awareness that needs to come as somebody that's a trusted person to you, hey, is there anything, maybe relationally, or just personally that I'm projecting that I'm putting out there, that might be dismantling my relationships to some degree, that was me, that was me for a long time where I was putting out this almost a vibe of desperation and defensiveness. When it came to customer experience to my peers. I wasn't gaining influence with them. And I didn't have very good relationships with them for a period of time, because I had become so focused on achieving CX success, but it was way too centric on me. It was a very selfish mentality. So it took a mentor, who kind of hit me in the head a little bit and said, No, we got to break this down. Like you're not you're not going to war. You're coming into a building of people that want to serve alongside you. And you need to change your mentality around that. So I mean, that that would be the first one, then as you start to extend externally out there. Just think about the things you're learning. I mean, that's the first thing I did. And it was Jenny Dempsey, and Jeremy Watkins, who got me out there originally, because of their brilliant Communicate Better Blog.

Nate Brown  
And they were just so authentic in their writing styles like, Hey, this is I just had this happen day. And I learned this from that. And here's how I think we can do customer service even better from this thing that we learned here. And I was like, oh, gosh, you know, there's so many things that I'm having happen right now where I'm learning. And I want to be able to extend some of that learning outward towards a community that's out there. And Ginny and Jeremy were so gracious to let me collaborate with them on some early pieces and just kind of paved the way to what it would look like for me to flip the script a little bit in terms of consuming all this knowledge versus starting to Give some of that knowledge out to to the community. So I mean, that's step two, what what do you have to offer? What do you have to give, that would help to equip and admonish the people that are within your realm of work, whether that's service or CX or not, you have something incredibly unique to you, that will help others to accelerate on their career journey, what would be the best vehicle in which you could start to offer that up. And then as you do that, and as you find your voice, there's going to be people that surface up that are your people that you get to connect with that you get to connect with, it's an honor, it's a privilege to identify those people. And I have made incredible, incredible friends, through this journey of starting to give, give information give a voice out into the CX space, and the return that has come back in the form of these relationships is something that that is so so wonderfully valuable. And then the third one would just be just just keep, keep doing it. Just keep that that idea of I'm going to continue to learn and to grow. So keep feeding yourself, keep reading, keep learning, just because you started to contribute, doesn't mean you stop learning. I think a lot of people make that mistake where they're like, Okay, well, now I'm a quote unquote, thought leader, whatever that means. And so now it's time for me to just think I'm going to think outward towards others, but I'm not going to let them penetrate the way I think, no, no, no, no, no, keep that curiosity alive, keep, keep allowing others to invest in you and keep that authenticity going in terms of, Wow, I'm still learning, I'm still growing. Now. That's why Russel, I love calling myself a student of CX, I'm not an expert of this work, I'm never going to claim to be an expert of customer experience. It's too hard. I am not smart enough. There's no way I'm going to truly understand the depth of this work. But I am growing a lot. I'm learning from a lot of really smart people. And in that process, I'm giving back into the community. And it's been a wonderful cycle.

Russel Lolacher  
I think you touched on something to throughout the thread of that, which is understanding that in order to network, at the root of it, it's not about you. It's about the people you're trying to network with. It's about being curious. It's about understanding the value you can bring to them. But a lot of people feel that networking is such a central centric sort of thing. Like what am I going to get out of connecting with all these people? What if I hand out 100 business cards at the latest conference? That's networking, Nate? So I like the idea of curiosity, whether it's within your own team, whether it's somebody in your industry, like you're mentioned with Jenny, and Jeremy, and then even further out, so I love that through lead, even though you sort of didn't say it, but it definitely was in the DNA of it, which is curiosity.

Nate Brown  
Oh, I love that word curiosity. I think that's one of the most under valued superpowers that we have as professionals, is to generate that sense of curiosity and excitement about the work to use a phrase from prime to perform by the brilliant Lindsay McGregor and Neal Doshi. incredible resource on intrinsic motivation and peer to peer relationships. So I think you're spot on Russel with that, and your, your, your visual that you're giving me around? how most people when they think about their network, and they think about that constellation that we talked about before. They think they think they're the sun. Yeah. But themselves, right in the middle. No, no, no, the son of a network is that core of what you all together are trying to accomplish. I mean, in my mind, the core of my network, is the growth, the admonishment of CX professionals to meaningful career journeys. That's the sun. So all of us together, we get to circumference that sun, and different people have different ways of being a part of that constellation. But I'm not at the center of that, nor should I be.

Russel Lolacher  
That could also be values as well, not only such a common theme, like CX or for me employee experience as well, but also that common themes of courage, integrity, mentors, that you all find that affect you and speak to you in a different way, that commonality that certainly I mean, there are people that I won't reach out to, because I know I don't share the same values as them. Not only will I not be able to feed their network, they won't be able to connect with me. So it's it's really understanding it's networking is such a personal thing, and I don't think people realize that it's about the people not about the constellation as at work. Sorry, Steve Jobs.

Nate Brown  
No, very, very well stated. I love that.

Russel Lolacher  
How do you know it's working, Nat? How do you know that you're feeding the garden that the plant is grown? Knowing that the constant let's keep the metaphor going that the constellation is breathing, I guess is is glowing? How do you know you're doing it?

Nate Brown  
Well, I do think the garden metaphor is more apt in this in this question and it would be one that there's fruit being generated, that there is value that is being generated where you are, you are being told by others that you are helping them, hey, thank you so much, you connected me with this person, I got a new job because of that, or I read this thing that you wrote. And I was able to approach my situation completely differently and have this level of success. Because of that, or just just the idea of, hey, I thank you so much, I was feeling really lonely. And you kind of came out of left field and connected with me, we had this great conversation, you don't even know how much I appreciate that. So if you're not hearing words, like that on some kind of cadence, then maybe maybe assess if it's time to give a little bit more or give to different people in different ways. But then also, you know, that fruit should be showing in your own life, as well, where people are coming to you, they're approaching you with with different opportunities and ways to further your connection with them, ways to further that partnership with them. So it shouldn't happen every day, every hour. But you know, it should happen once a week, you know, once every other week, at least where you're somebody's approaching you with with an opportunity or an idea or a suggestion or an interesting conversation. They're just wanting your thoughts and perspectives and opinions. And that is a result that is a privilege that comes from you investing inside of them. So I mean, that that would be certainly one way to know how it is working. It is not goodness, it is not the number of followers that you have on Twitter, or LinkedIn or Instagram or wherever the heck, I mean, that has nothing to do with the quality of a network, I hope that people are starting to realize that I think that they are for for too long, I was chasing numbers on Twitter. And I mean, it just, it all came crashing in on me years ago, where I was like, this is stupid, this does nothing to generate value to me or anybody else in the world. If I have X number of followers, I mean, you can literally just go out and buy a bunch of bought followers and make yourself look great if that's your goal. But if your goal is to actually impact lives in a meaningful way, then you got to focus on the quality of your network, it has so little to do with the size of it.

Russel Lolacher  
So say you're approaching somebody for the first time, Nate, if you're wanting to expand your network on some of those platforms, or even through email, or in the hierarchy of the organization that you're in. What is the water to watering that garden? What are you reaching out, like what is in that first email or first contact that will nurture that network?

Nate Brown  
Usually, what somebody would say here is, oh, well, you have to think about what problem they have and what keeps them up at night. And then think about a way that you can help solve that problem. That is true. And that does, quote unquote, work. But but for me, I'm going to I'm going to try and make their life a little more interesting. And I know this is a me thing, Russel, but like I love just bringing an atmosphere of mystery and excitement and just showing up kind of out of left field as mentioned. And hey, let's go Now have you ever thought about this? Have you ever seen this? Have you ever read this book? This is so cool. I think I think you might love this. By the way, I love that shirt you're wearing? Do you play badminton. Because I think it'd be really good based on your reach that you have on your arm length there. Like just like I love like at this conference at CCW last week, like I just loved generating interesting conversation that people didn't expect. And that would come at them in a different way. But it always came back to my core of hey, let's let's keep growing together as CX professionals, I'd always find a way to come back to that. But I just I just love making people smile and encouraging them and making their day a little bit brighter. So that's my thing. So think about what your thing could be. 

Russel Lolacher  
What can get in the way of building networks. I mean, we talked about how easy it is just message just email just reach out. But it's not easy for a lot of people. So what what is some roadblocks to building a bigger network as an employee as a, as someone in an industry? 

Nate Brown  
It's time and bandwidth for sure. I mean, you're gonna have seasons in your life where you need to hunker down. You need to turtle shell in and you need to take care of you take care of your family. It's going to be really hard for you in those seasons to give and extend outward. And that's okay. And hopefully you have some people that are really close to you. This is that moment where having that really close group of friends is so important. rents so that they can help you through those seasons of time, that that's not the time to grow the network. So that's going to be something that's true and everybody's life to varying degrees. So just just honor that, you know, just identify that for what it is, this is not a time where I need to be investing bandwidth and energy outward, I do need to invest in word right now I need to ask, I need to draw some people close to me, to help me to overcome this. But then when you when you exit out of that season, when you overcome that, that obstacle, that season, that even that mentality, and in your back, then then be back, you know, go go out and have the courage to jump into that event that you talked about attending downtown. For that product meetup, I just got to do that. A couple of weeks ago, it was a tangental thing for me to attend this product Meetup group at the Asurion office. And it was amazing. I was blown away by these product leaders, and how customer centric they were in the ways that they were thinking, it was such an encouragement to me. So having that having that bit of courage to try something new, and put yourself out there in a bit of a different way. I think that will just, it'll be a snowball rolling down the hill, it'll just continue to accumulate in a really good positive way.

Russel Lolacher  
What advice would you give to someone who might be in a hierarchical organization where there are gatekeepers? IE, you're trying to build a network, but you need permission to talk to that person in the org chart? Like it is sort of a clamp down on your ability to reach out connect, have a conversation? What would you say to that person?

Nate Brown  
Yeah, I mean, that shows so much about the culture of that organization, unfortunately, where they wouldn't be breaking down those barriers and trying to create good relationships, you know, across the organization, I feel like most organizations are waking up to the importance of that and bringing some of those barriers down. But they're still going to exist, if nothing else, they'll exist. Psycho, psychologically, even if they don't exist formally, in different ways, because procedures or process has changed, there's still that idea of this person is, is removed. Somebody the thing that jumps out of my mind, Russel, when you ask that, when you ask that is connect with the people around you really deeply and really well just invest in the in the people around you. And in doing that you will earn opportunities to to invest upward as well, and sideboard and download whatever word, you'll see those opportunities. If you're faithful with the relationships, that you're being given your capacity, your ability to extend those relationships outward, is absolutely sure to come. I've seen that happen with so many of my peers, in organizations like that, where were they were happy, they were creative, they were connecting well with their peers. And then what happens is they they get their executives curious about them. And all of a sudden, they're being invited to go attend this hockey game, or do this or do that, because they can see the excitement of this person, they can see the great connections that they're creating. And that makes people want to connect with them. So I think to summarize that in a much cleaner way, be a magnet, make people want to connect with you.

Russel Lolacher  
COVID has certainly made us more understanding of the virtual world versus in person and now in persons are certainly coming back. I was in a conference in person in Dallas just a few months ago, and you were in Vegas. But, you know, it's certainly shown that virtual world is a way that a lot of people connect. I mean, that's certainly how you and I got to know each other. Is there much of a difference in networking and being proactive in networking between the two?

Nate Brown  
Well, I do think that there has been a bit of a change that has occurred here and accelerated through this pandemic stage. And it's this this forging of micro communities. People are desperate for a virtual tribe that is of that size Russel that we were talking about before, where you can have 20-50-100-150...even upwards of 250 meaningful connections with people they're trying to make actual friends. I had the the fascinating experience not too long ago, I was photographing a wedding, and the groom was meeting several of his groomsmen for the first time in person, because they had played video games together, which a video game is simply a community whether it's Overwatch or you know, whatever it is Rocket League, you know, if you're playing this game with the same people in the same context and this same virtual environment, what you have there as a community. And so I mean, they had an incredibly powerful community, you would have never known that they weren't best friends, you know, growing up in the playground for life. So people are seeking virtually those type of connections because they haven't been getting it the same way that we used to grown up Russel, there's just been a change in our society and a lot of ways in terms of where the connections come from, where our friends come from. So they're seeking that idea of I want to be known, I want to be loved, I want to be cared about. And then trying to find that in virtual environments, well, you're not going to get that on Twitter, you're not going to get that on the behemoth that is Facebook and Instagram, necessarily, you might get a couple of great relationships there. But you're going to find that in the smaller micro communities. So so people are morphing towards that. And it does kind of change the way that we interface and create spaces for for people to be able to forge a virtual connection.

Russel Lolacher  
What are some tools or platforms that I can be looking at to go okay, this is a good springboard to finding these communities to build my own community to find my people?

Nate Brown  
I love gather town is just a really fun, simple meta environment in which you create whatever you want. And inside of CX Accelerator, we created a giant castle. And people can wander around and play play games and talk about things that are interesting to them. And in different areas inside of the castle. As soon as you approach somebody, just like in real life, it pops up with the video connection. So you're having organic collisions, in a really fun and exciting, dynamic environment. So thank you to Veronica rose for introducing me to gather town. That's certainly one way. But yeah, I mean, just find people that you can, that you can share life with that you can enjoy different different things with whether whether it is video games, or like I love right now on on VR, walk about mini golf, go go find somebody that you can play mini golf with on on the VR headset, because you're gonna laugh, you're gonna smile, and you're gonna have a good friendship that comes out of that.

Russel Lolacher  
Well, I like the fact that you say that doesn't necessarily have to be a LinkedIn or a slack with these platforms that are much more professional, quote, unquote, professional based, where it's really you can find a community to enhance your life anywhere.

Nate Brown  
I mean, I do love LinkedIn. But I would be lying if I told you that the even even a fraction of the percentage of people that I'm connected with on LinkedIn are people that I'm close to, I'm not going to LinkedIn to generate a depth of relationship, I am going to LinkedIn personally more for that exposure element and just kind of getting out there. But trying to identify and attract people that I can bring into my tribe. And then I would be very excited to be quote unquote, friends for life with, but then you know, we're gonna, we're gonna quickly morph that relationship beyond and outside of LinkedIn.

Russel Lolacher  
You've and this is why I want to talk to you is because you've been unbelievably successful at nurturing this community that you needed to find outside of your regular gig. So of that, what is the number one benefit that you would say, for you personally, in having built this network?

Nate Brown  
Well, I mean, I've just gotten to do more of the things that I love to do. I love to speak, I love to write, and I love to train. Those are the things that I really love. I think I especially love training. I mean, when I'm in a classroom of 15-20 people, and even a virtual environment where I'm just getting to go deep with a small group of people on on important CX topics. I come out of that on fire. I love those days. But I also love having opportunities to speak and do webinars and things like that. I mean, being on this podcast with you, Russel, I love doing this is such a fun conversation. And I would never get to do these things. Were it not for the steps taken early on to create that network and to forge those connections.

Russel Lolacher  
I love that as a wrapper-upper. So I'm going to wrap it up with the the capper, the last question I ask every single one of the relationships at work podcast guests, which is Nate Brown. What's one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Nate Brown  
Think about that one individual that you are have not been connecting with. And take take a little bit more personal responsibility in that and think about how you can forge a better connection with that individual. Maybe Maybe you've written them off. Maybe there's a lot of frustration. Maybe there's been a lot of selfishness that has occurred on their side. But I mean, one thing that I was mulling over in the car the other day is if you're a kind person, but you're only kind to certain types of people, then you're not a kind person. So, so challenge yourself to be kind and to be better to people that you don't perfectly gravitate towards that it's not convenient for you, it's not easy for you challenge yourself to be kind there. And to go deeper into that relationship because you will come out of that smarter with a deeper, fuller perspective. And it will enhance not only that relationship, it will probably enhance a lot of relationships in your life.

Russel Lolacher  
That there is Nate Brown, Senior Director of CX at arise virtual solutions and co founder of CX Accelerator, it community he co founded him self so the man knows of what he speaks when it comes to that networking thing. Thank you so much, Nate.

Nate Brown  
Thank you, Russel. Thank you, everybody. Have a wonderful day.