Being able to connect with other people is so critical for our well-being. In this episode, author John Klymshyn talks about his new book, Deeper Dialogue; Conversations That Inspire, which is the result of a conversation he’s been having for years about the power of language and how it is so important to all of us. Today, John takes a deep dive into the beauty of being in a live conversation, the power of asking questions, the negative fallouts of the existence of social media, and more.
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The Power Of Language With John Klymshyn
I’ve got a great guest on the show. Coach K is in the house, John Klymshyn. I met, John, because I was getting ready to be on somebody else’s podcasts. It was Mike Sorelle. John had been on his podcast. I was doing my research. I was listening to a couple of podcasts, then I fell in love with the conversation that John and Mike had. I went, “I got to have this guy on my show.” I reached out to him. John, welcome to the house. How are you?
I’m thrilled to be in the house. I usually don’t get invited to nice places like this.
I do my best. I cleaned up a little bit. I made the bed. I fluffed the pillows a little bit because I knew you were going to be here. I was trying to impress. Let’s talk about nuances. It’s those little differences that make all the difference in the world. I’d love to explore that with you.
When you talk about nuances, you’re talking about freezing. You’re talking about the huge gap between perception and intent. Every one of us that’s ever been in a relationship have either heard the words or said the words, “But that’s not what I meant.” Sometimes we’ve said it a little louder than I just did. Sometimes we follow that up with honey or sweetheart. It doesn’t matter what you meant, what matters is how it was perceived. Maya Angelou, the poet said, “Very few people will remember precisely what it is that you have said. However, they will all remember how you made them feel.” There’s an ongoing debate about whether or not we have the power to make people feel anything.
I don’t think that’s the issue. I think the issue is what is your intent when you get up in the morning? What is it that you’re looking to accomplish over the course of your day, regardless of your title, your role? What challenges you have ahead of you? If your intent is to inspire people around you, to craft and deliver language that people will receive in a positive way, then all of a sudden you’ve elevated your mindset from, I’m going to power through the day. Let the chips fall where they may. Everything I do, I do with, through and for other human beings. They’ve all got their own challenges. They’ve all got their own internal battles going on.The ability to craft questions that are insightful, intuitive, and about the other person is something that can be used universally. Click To Tweet
How do I grab a little bit of a piece of mind share from them where they are interested, intrigued and excited about going to the next step in our conversation. It doesn’t matter what it is. For a long time, my passion was all about how do we sell at a high level. When I say a high level, it’s a high mental level, a positive emotional level, and a high dollar transaction level. I’ve done inordinate amount of training for enterprise salespeople and their organizations. I would get up in the morning to say, “How do we sell more?” About several years ago, I was invited to conduct the class for people that were not in sales. It was a challenge because I had to come up with content that would speak to them, that would feel as though it was designed for them. This was the challenge. It was to get them engaged, to get them exploring ideas.
I found that my history of selling and teaching other people how to sell and writing a book on sales management, I was so focused on questioning. I had not realized that the ability to question, the ability to craft questions that are insightful, intuitive, and about the other person, is something that can be used universally. How do we draw people out? You know from your experience of the work that you do that humans like to talk about themselves. The more I can get someone talking about themselves, the better they feel spending time with me, collaborating with me, moving conversations forward with me.
For the past years, all of my work has been focused on, “Yes, what we want to sell. Let’s step back. Let’s go up another rung on the ladder and think about what is my intent? How am I being perceived? How can I craft language that has nuanced, that will sing to the Canadian ear, to the American ear, to the British ear, the global English business speaking population?” That led to the book that I told you about. It led to different types of work and coaching assignments. I feel like I’ve been invited into a much larger amphitheater, not like I’d been constrained before. It’s like a musical act that is used to playing 1,500 seat arenas. They’re invited to play at Madison Square Garden. It’s going to be 20,000 to 30,000 people. All of a sudden, there’s this broader audience, the thrill of that. At my age, that gets me up early every day. It’s very exciting.
In the world technology, we’re trying so hard to pigeonhole people into AI, machine learning or technology of some way. How can we use data to understand people? Data only gets you so far. People are people and humans are humans. Humans want to be listened to, understood and they want to be valued. What you got back to is the questioning. It’s not just asking the good questions, it’s asking the good questions and then listening for the answer. I’m going to answer this differently than you will. Somebody on the East Coast will do it differently than the West Coast. It’s understood that there are nuances. People think differently. They come to whatever situation with their own baggage, their own thoughts, their own perceptions and their own values. The more we can understand humans as humans, the better off we can be instead of trying to pigeonhole people into Gen X, Gen Z and Millennials. We need to start thinking about humans as humans again.
We love being in live conversation. I’m convinced that the explosion of podcasts is not because of the technology. It’s because I can select from hundreds of thousands of topics and levels of expertise. I can listen to the first 30 seconds of a podcast and decide whether or not I want to listen to those two people converse. Listening to a conversation or participating in one is the highest demand on the mind. It requires us to listen. Listen is an active muscle thing for the brain. We’ve got to engage. We’ve got to make sure that we’re not being distracted. We’ve got to follow the logic of it.
When I do executive coaching work, I believe that the big value is that I remember what these people have said to me last time so that I can put things in perspective for them. As a coach, we’re a sounding board. We’re part therapists. We’re advisors and at a certain level, encouragers. When you’re working with executives, they’re not looking to be told you’re doing a great job. What they’re looking to be told is whether or not their instincts are on point. Our instincts as humans have not changed and shifted. I’m going to ask you a question. I’m pretty sure I know the answer. In Canada, you have Starbucks, correct?
Any Starbucks you go into, there are a bunch of people that are sitting with headphones. They’re tapping away. They’re searching. They’re looking at videos and all that. There were always tables of people deep in conversation in all different ages, all different strata and all different backgrounds. I don’t eavesdrop, but I will stand closer to some tables where it’s particularly animated because I want to try to figure out a couple of things. One, do I understand what they’re talking about? Two, can I relate to what’s going on between them? I always want to know if the person who’s not talking is listening.
One of the ways to know that someone is listening is that they let the other person finish. That is a leadership thing. That’s a sales thing. That’s a get along with humans thing. When we can let the other person completely work out their idea, their thought, or their feelings, when we can let them vent, they feel more connected to us. The simple, painful human truth is, the more I listened to what you say, the more fascinating you find me. I made that discovery as a sales manager when I was in my mid-30s. When I said it out loud the first time, I thought, “That would have been useful when I was dating.”
With marriage, dating, family, work and in sales the more we can actively listen, the more interesting we become. People want to be listened to. They want to be understood. They want to be valued. The first thing they want to be is listened to. They want to sit there and people are, “Uh-uh.” No, they want to sit there and say, “What did you mean by that?” Somebody took the time to actually listen and pay attention to you. That’s a powerful thing.Listening to a conversation or participating in one is the highest demand on the mind. Click To Tweet
When we ask a question that’s about the other person, not about our own agenda, when it is out of curiosity that is driven by technique, then we do something that is very powerful. I believe with my heart, soul, and every fiber of my being that questions freely distribute power. I don’t ask questions so I can control the conversation. I ask questions so that I can go deeper into that conversation. Depth makes connections. The longer we can spend time together, the more we understand about each other. The more depth there is to the conversation. I have a friend where we will get together when we can, we’ll have breakfast. We joke about the fact that during that 75 minutes, we attempt to cover 752 topics.
We’ve decided that we will put that one on the list. We’ll talk about it some other time. Questions freely distribute power. In today’s world, with multiple generations in the workforce, this is the first time this has ever happened where there are four generations now we’re getting close to five, of people in the workplace. That means that the newly hired person could be reporting to someone that is old enough to be their grandparent. That has never happened before in history. Now you’ve got cultural things. You’ve got styles of communications going on. You’ve got preferences over what’s important.
There is a generation that I’ve heard from leaders is promotion happy. I’ve done this job for six weeks. I should get a promotion. Whereas there was a time, you wouldn’t even think of asking for promotion until you had been in a job for 36 months. You need to perform first. Do what you’re asked to do. I don’t like to bridge the gap or break down the barriers. It’s all about connection. When anyone of any age or any background can connect with someone else on a one to one level, they are building a sense of community in that organization. They are not making themselves the most important person in the room.
It’s interesting when you talk about that promotion. I blame the social media generation for this. It’s not the people themselves. It’s the fact that people are constantly looking at their phones. They’re seeing people that are the same age as they are with better clothes, bigger houses, better cars and more. They’ll say, “I’ve got an MBA. They’ve got an MBA. I went to this school, they went to this school. How come they’re the senior directors and I’m not at the age of 23?” There is that whole mentality of, “There’s something wrong with me.” There’s nothing wrong with these people.
One of the many unintended consequences and negative fallouts of the existence of social media is a constant comparison. Folks that are on social media a lot are either arguing or comparing with people they don’t even know, with people that they have no deep connection with. You count the minutes that you’ve been doing that, you’re losing a lot of good, solid, useful time that you could be more introspective. You could be developing yourself. You could just be relaxing. We live in a world where if you do nothing, there’s something wrong with you. At my age, it’s a privilege to be able to sit in the backyard, staring at the stars on a Saturday night and “do nothing.” Comparison is the thief of joy.
Everytime we compare ourselves, we are either puffing ourselves up or dragging ourselves down with no sense of perspective. That person has an MBA and they have that job. They got it somehow. If they’re connected and you’re not, you can’t do anything about that. There are eight seconds of mental time that you’ve thrown away where you could be saying, “How can I get to the point where my MBA earns me, or my effort or the combination of the two earns me a role similar to that?” Comparison is the thief of joy. It is like a little red devil that used to be in cartoons when we were kids. It is constantly sitting there. What that boils down to for me is that is the big question. The big question is, “How do I want to spend my time?” There was a great American philosopher who also became famous for doing sales training. His name is Zig Ziglar. He used to say, “Every day that you put your feet on the floor coming out of bed every single day you are gifted with 24 nonrefundable fragments of eternity.” How are you going to spend them?
Zig is one of my favorites. I want to get back to this thief of time and perception. The problem is it’s not just those looking for promotions. It’s the leaders acquiescing and giving people promotions without giving them the training to do the jobs that they’re promoting them into.
Challenging them to perform. “Do you want a promotion? Let’s look at what’s going to happen in the next 90 days. I want to see something above and beyond. I want you blowing me away. You blew me away in the interview. That’s how you got a seat here. You now need to perform.” This very much comes from a sales mentality. It’s healthy for a sales mentality to seep into an overall organization’s mentality. One of the exciting things about a startup mentality is they have no idea where the next dollar is coming from. I spent a lot of time with startups. I did a podcast about it for some time.
They are not set for the next nine months. They don’t have a year of funding in the bank. They’re burning dollars every day with everything that they do. It’s healthy for every organization at least once a year to say. If we were a startup and our top five customers went away, where would we get the revenue? That is an amazing way to focus. Everyone, engineers, designers, artists, executives, customer service people, let’s make pretend for the next 90 minutes that our top five customers went away. We’re not sure if we’re going to make payroll in a month. What do we do? Creativity explodes. We look at ourselves on a precipice as opposed to floating down the river of revenue.
If we’re going to develop people, somewhere in the back of our minds we should have the medieval approach. Medieval does not mean outdated and unimportant. It means that there was an entire societal system based on this for centuries. If you were going to pursue an art, a craft or a skill, you went through a process. That process was, you started as an apprentice. You put in your time. You watched your lesson. You learned. You tried a couple of low-level processes. You made some mistakes and you were corrected. You received training. You received encouragement. You received correction, then eventually you became a journeyman. A journeyman can do it with their eyes closed. The journeyman can take any raw materials, any music and sight-read it then perform it the next day.Don't ask questions to control the conversation. Ask questions to go deeper into that conversation. Click To Tweet
After being a journeyman and dealing with all different types of environments and challenges, a very small percentage of people would become a master. That’s a long period of time. It’s a lot of investment. When Malcolm Gladwell wrote Blink, he came out with the 10,000-hour rule. If you want to master something, do it for 10,000 hours. That is daunting and that is challenging. That’s fantastic. It says, “Do you want to play?” As my baseball client says. He went to the show. He played in the major leagues. You’ve got to earn it. Once you get there, you’ve got to be able to perform.
I am way better now at what I do than I was in episode 1, 5, 10, 50 and 75. It is constant growth. I sit there and say, “What did I do well? What did I do poorly? What could I do better? What can I learn from this? How do I move forward?” We all need to go back to that mentality. This instant gratification world that we’re living in doesn’t serve anybody. All we see is resumes with six, nine, eighteen months, if we’re lucky two years, where people are constantly moving through the system and moving from company to company looking for that greener grass. I’m a big believer of the saying “The grass is not greener on the other side, it’s just another shade of green.”
The light is hitting it differently.
We need to go back and I agree with you. When I started off working with Xerox years ago, I didn’t go on the first 30 to 50 calls by myself. There was somebody that was right beside me. They got paid a percentage of my sale. That’s the way it was. They trained me. I was their apprentice. They got a percentage of my sale. They walked me through the process. They showed me what did I do right, what did I do wrong, how could I have done this better? You move through systems better that way. Leadership needs to be that way. Leadership is a skill. As we grow leaders, take them from being team leaders to regional, to national leaders, to company leaders, the skillset changes. We need to train and retrain and give them better skills to have those nuances, to be a better leader as they grow along.
Notice how many times you used the word grow. When it clicks in someone’s mind that needs to be how they want to spend their time, it’s amazing what starts to happen. We can talk ourselves into the fact that things aren’t going to go that well. You are probably right because you set the tone. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Notice he didn’t say whether someone else thinks you can or thinks you can’t. He didn’t say who’s in your past has told you whether or not you can or can’t. One of the most inspiring things that was ever said to me was not meant to be inspiring.
It was someone who looked at me when I’d said that I wanted to go into business myself. This person knew me well. She looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t think you could be successful on your own.” It hurts so deeply and so accurately that I’m standing being here interviewed several years later of being self-employed for that period of time. Not that I’m bitter, it’s not to have anything against the fact that she asked me. I’ve seen her. I’ve told her several times. I know you didn’t mean it that way, but I’ve got to tell you, it inspired me. It went beyond motivation. It went deeper into inspiration. Those are two very different things.
Let’s take a look at your work, Deeper Dialogue. Let’s talk a little bit about this. Is this a book or is it just going to be audio?
It is only audio. I discovered it over the last two projects that I have published. I discovered this stream of consciousness approach to creating content that I’m very proud of. It takes me out of myself. I have written, sat down, and typed out ten books prior to the last two. I love doing that. I continue to do that. My wife and I are working on a project. We now have a whole new list of literary agents. We’re going to be submitting my novel to them. That’s that sitting down, typing, creating, printing, editing and all that stuff. Creating an audiobook first is a very different creative experience. I have worked with the same producer of audiobooks for every one of them that I’ve done. Two of my print books turned into audiobooks and that’s a process. You’ve got to stand there and read it. You’ve got to put in energy and all that stuff. You edit and then you go back. I wrote this in 2018. I’m going to bring an updated perspective to it or an additional story.
In creating an audiobook from scratch starts with intent. What’s the intention? What is the framework? I came up with an outline. We did about eight pages of notes. When I say “we,” it means the producer and I. A guy named Alex Crescioni. We sat and we talked about it before we started recording. We did it over the course of three months where we would do two or three hours of recording. We’d leave it alone for a week, listen to it, go back and say, “Let’s restructure.” The final product is four chapters lighter than what we thought it was going to be. We found that there was little bit of repetition, two of the chapters that go into a little bit of a different territory.
Deeper Dialogue: Conversations That Inspire is the outcropping. It’s the result of this conversation I’ve been in for years, where language is so important to all of us. Being able to connect with other people is so critical for our well-being. All of a sudden I’ve been asked to warm up for much bigger acts. Whereas before I was playing for C level celebrities in 1,500 seat stadiums or arenas. I’m going into the BC Center where the Lions play. We’ve got this huge audience there. It was created out of the intent of language is critical to all of us. Language at its core is music. If I could get people thinking about the language that they craft and deliver, if I can get them taking what I call a half a moment’s hesitation three times in a day, every day, that’s a tall order. A couple of times a week, perfect. Three times in when I feel stressed when I feel I’m disconnected from what I thought the original intent was, when I’m feeling like I’m not getting what I expect or I’m hoping for.We live in a world where if you do nothing, there's something wrong with you. Click To Tweet
I want people to take a half a moment’s hesitation and think I’m about to say or ask this person something. What do I want this language to accomplish? We can have the intent of making them feel bad about what they’ve done or said. We can have the intention of putting them on the spot to explain what they’ve done or said. We can focus on the future together. All of a sudden, I created what I refer to as a frictionless conversation. We’ve all had these conversations where they feel effortless. It’s like we’re floating. Everything around us fades away because we’re so intent. We’re so connected with this person. We’re having this great conversation back and forth.
There’s joy in that. There’s a thrill in that because it demands so much of the mind. The brain is a limited entity. The mind is an unlimited territory. Deeper Dialogue: Conversations That Inspire, my hope, my goal, my passion is to be booked to speak twenty times in the next 90 days. I’ve may not do the speech, but I want to be booked twenty times in the next 90 days so I can share this message. Starting as a sales trainer, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve heard a lot. I’ve discovered some things that work. I’m going to go out. I’m going to teach this to people. After years of teaching that to people in sitting over dinners with their leaders, explaining to them who I think will work and who won’t, and who will perform and who won’t, I ended up spending a lot more time with sales leaders, VPs of sales, and presidents of companies.
I wrote another book on what it means, how it’s done to build a solid performing, fun, exciting sales team. Moving back from that and stepping into these larger arenas, Deeper Dialogue is for people in virtually any role in business, customer service, engineering, graphic arts and marketing. When we stop and think about the power of language, people may not remember precisely what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. We don’t make people feel anything. However, if our sensitivity is to the fact that when I walk away from this conversation, I’m going to think about it for 70 minutes. What do I want them thinking about? What do I want them attaching emotion to that it was a great conversation, that I was a good listener? I was open and that we are collaborating or I had an agenda and I had to get it out and I didn’t pay attention.
I love the thought process behind that. My intention is to have a real conversation. I don’t come with a set of questions. I know my first question. I know my last question. In between, we have a conversation. I listened to what my guest says. I let them lead where we’re going. I always find that the information that comes out of these 35, 40-minute conversations is always powerful. John, you have not disappointed.
I appreciate that. We are talking about something that’s important to me. It’s amazing what happens.Comparison is the thief of joy. Click To Tweet
What’s the best way that people can get in touch with you?
They should visit my website, Klymshyn.com. Right on the top right portion of the screen, there’s a learn more button. Fill out the form. Give me your email address. Tell me how you think I can be of use to you and you’ll get a response within 24 hours.
When you get off a stage, when you leave a meeting, when you get in your car and you drive away, what’s the one thing you want people to think about you when you’re not in the room?
He’s the real deal. He means what he says. He draws on experience. If I walk into a coffee shop and saw him sitting somewhere and tapped him on the shoulder, he would be the exact same guy there that he was on stage.
It’s authenticity. Be who you are, wherever you are, whatever you are.
I say to people, “You know that you understand your purpose.” If someone could wake you up in the middle of the night and ask you, “Why do you go to work every day?” They would be able to say, “I’m headed here. I’m working here. I’m helping people here. I’m making a contribution here.” If you were to tap me on the shoulder in a coffee shop, stand behind me in line at Chick-fil-A, if you were to see me at a concert or at a football game, you would see there would be no difference. Years ago, when my son was in film school, he videotaped one of my seminars. Someone came to him and asked him, “Is your dad really like that in real life?” He said, “Absolutely. That’s the guy that sat at my dinner table when I was five.”
Kids are the best reflection of that. John, Coach K, thank you for being a wonderful guest.
- John Klymshyn
- Deeper Dialogue
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About John Klymshynm
John Klymshyn is known to clients and fans as “Coach K”. He has been the Architect for growth for teams and individuals in the arenas of Executive Communication, Inspirational Language and practical skills ranging from perennial sales mentality to thought processes John’s clients include: The New York Times, indeed.com, Bank of America, Cushman & Wakefield, Yahoo!, ICSC, NAI Global, T-Mobile, Four Seasons Hotels, Rent.com, ClubCorp, Sheraton Hotels, Colliers International, Pinehurst, American Express Travel.
John is either traveling the world speaking about “Deeper Dialogue ™, “Moving Conversations Forward™”, or “Mindful Leadership ™, or Coaching Executives, writing, and podcasting. His podcasts are downloaded in 25+ countries. Klymshyn has spoken in every major city in North America, as well as Ireland and Mexico.
He has written 12 books, the topics of which have evolved over the years from addressing and exploring creativity, to executive development and scaling teams. His sales trilogy led to one of his works being translated and published in Russian. John narrates his own Audio Books, the most recent of which is breaking all records: “Deeper Dialogue; Conversations That Inspire” … as the work speaks to people in myriad roles. His published fiction runs the gamut from short stories to abstract fantasy novels.
In 2017 Klymshyn collaborated with noted Inventor and Designer Isaac Naor on a unique work: | STREAM | an Audio – Book. An exploration of creativity and flow states. Klymshyn is a New York native. He and Terri (his wife of 34+ years) have two grown children, and currently divide their time between their home in Valencia, California and the world’s great wine tasting rooms.
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