Diana White

Diana White – Be prepared to walk away.

This week Siebe Van Der Zee speaks with Diana White. Diana has a wealth of experience and eagerly shares her 10 lessons with Siebe. Dianna tells us why we should "never let work politics...influence out work ethics", why we should " Be prepared to walk away..." and that "everyone has something to learn and to teach".

About Diana White

Diana White has over 30 years in sales and retail experience, leading stores with revenues of over 10 million and a staff of 200. Consumer psychology, marketing, operations, and leadership are just a few of her skillsets. Diana’s career experience encompasses both the east and west coasts, starting with the management of several retail locations in NYC. Diana moved her family to Arizona in 2002. She has spent her years in Arizona working across the state, learning more about consumer buying patterns, and honing her sales skills. Seeing a need for startup and operations assistance within the local business community, Diana established D.E.W. Business Solutions, LLC, in 2014 to provide consulting to small businesses.

In 2017, Diana began working with a technology incubator in Northern Arizona. Diana held the title of Director of the Coconino County Small Business Development Center under the incubator and worked to develop programming for entrepreneurs. Along with developing curriculum content and facilitating small business workshops through Moonshot at NACET, in 2019, Diana was appointed as CEO of Chandler Innovations, a technology incubator funded by the City of Chandler, Arizona.

Diana obtained a Bachelor of Science in Small Business Administration from Northern Arizona University, holds a green belt in Lean Six Sigma, and is a certified Agile Scrum Master. She is committed to helping businesses and non-profits as well as the community at large. Diana has served on many boards, including the Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity. She is presently the Vice-Chair for Marketing Mission. This non-profit organization provides quality, professional marketing services to small non-profits. Diana also serves on the advisory board for Lancaster Leadership, a woman-owned and operated leadership academy. She currently splits her time between her residences in Gilbert and Flagstaff, Arizona, where she continues to lead Chandler Innovations and assist small businesses through her consulting firm.

Episode notes

Lesson 1: Be kind to everyone, you never know if they might be a potential customer…and there’s that Karma thing. 06m 03s.

Lesson 2: Never work harder than the person that works for you to keep THEIR job. 08m 47s.

Lesson 3: Don’t let work politics or bad influences dictate your work ethics. 10m 00s.

Lesson 4: If you’ve done your homework, listened attentively and you’re truly excited about something, don’t let others tell you not to try 14m 31s.

Lesson 5: Listen for comprehension and empathy 17m 11s.

Lesson 6: Base your ask on the value of the work not how you feel about your self-worth 21m 26s.

Lesson 7: Be prepared to walk away and be prepared that no one will try to stop you 23m 16s.

Lesson 8: for many positions great people skills and a willingness to learn are the real treasures to look for when hiring 29m 32s.

Lesson 9: Find someone who can show you how they were able to do what you wish to do 32m 25s.

Lesson 10: Everyone has something to learn. Everyone has something to teach 37m 07s.


Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:00:00] (Intro) If we talk about work politics and bad influences, how, how do we not get impacted by that?

Diana White: [00:00:07] It takes time and hence, the lessons learned in 50 years. So, you know, and I need to be clear, you know, when I say work politics, I truly mean work politics. I don’t mean governmental politics, right?

Unless you happen to work for the government, that’s a whole different podcast.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:00:33] Hello and welcome to our podcast. 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn where we dispense wisdom, not just the information, not mere facts to an audience of future leaders at any age around the globe. In other words, we will be talking to interesting people about your interesting experiences. My name is Siebe Van Der Zee and I’m your host. I’m originally from the Netherlands currently living in the state of Arizona in the United States. Also known as the Dutchman in the desert. My company is involved in executive search and performance coaching and Oh yeah. I fit the opportunity in my career to live in four countries on three continents.

This podcast is sponsored by PDF to professional development forum and PDF helps up and coming professionals accelerate their performance in the modern workplace. I hope you will enjoy the program. Our guest today is Diana White. Welcome Diana. Hi, thank you so much for joining us on this podcast. I know you have a great background.

Diana is the CEO of the Chandler innovations incubator at Chandler. By the way is part of the greater Phoenix region in Arizona. One of the fastest growing cities in the United States, the innovations incubator specializes in helping engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs. And other people with big ideas who know how to create, but not necessarily know how to build a profitable, scalable business around it.

Diana has over 25 years of experience in the retail industry in particular, in managing bookstores initially with Barnes and Noble, and then for 16 years with Follett Higher Education group and their focus is more on schools, colleges and libraries. Now, this is just the beginning of her story. Let’s find out more about Diana White.

Welcome Diana. We’re very happy to have you join us.

Diana White: [00:02:27] Thank you, Siebe. You kind of summed it up. Now after my retail career, it was really important for me to try to find a way to give back. Back to small businesses. I had started a consulting firm and I was helping small businesses and a path that led me to Chandler innovations, where I get to do what I love helping founders and giving them a safe space to admit that there are some things that they don’t know, and then helping them find ways to plug in those holes and figure out what those resources are. So, I’m super excited to be here today.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:03:03] Wonderful. Yeah. And it is scaling up helping small business ultimately become medium-sized and maybe large businesses. Right?

Diana White: [00:03:12] Absolutely. Absolutely. And we, we actually love to tell people that we don’t just start with ideation and new companies, if you have an existing company and let’s say you’re launching a new product or service, and you’ve got a team that you want to work on this, but you really want them to get ownership of it. You want them to get a feel of what it’s like to build something from the ground up? We’re, we’re open for that as well. We have companies that do that too.

So yeah, you don’t just have to have an idea. You can already be in business and wanting to change or launch something new and we can help.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:03:45] What a great background you have, obviously with that experience to help these companies scaling up before we get to your 10 lessons. I’m just curious with your experience, what would you say is the greatest lesson in life or in business that you, what I’ve learned?

Diana White: [00:04:01] So, you know, I’m, I’m a firm believer in energy. And I get to say that because I live quite close to Sedona, right? Sedona, if people don’t know Sedona, Arizona is known for, vortex and crystals and energy magical, magical place. And it’s actually very beautiful. And I do believe that you need to put your dreams and your goals out into the universe, you know, speak them into existence.

You obviously need to prepare for it. You can’t just say, you know, I want to be the best golfer ever known and not even take up golf, right. You have to be prepared. And then most importantly, once you put it out into the universe, you have to listen. You have to listen very closely to those opportunities that are being put in front of you so that you can take advantage of them.

And that’s one of my greatest life lessons, not hindering my dreams and my goals and tethering them to, Oh, if I had money or, Oh, if I had this. Saying, this is what I want to see, this is what I want to happen. I’m going to pare prepare myself for when it happens so I can handle it. And then I’m going to listen very carefully to my conversations, to my interactions to the people that come in my life.

And. See if there’s an opportunity to make that come to fruition.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:05:22] Yeah, that’s a definitely, I don’t want to say magical, but that’s very, very important for people to make their own. I know you’re originally from New York, obviously when we talk about Sedona. Very different than New York. Yes. But that journey, and I think we will, we will hear from that experience into 10 lessons that you provided and, and lesson number one, it says be kind to everyone. You never know if they might be a potential customer… and there’s this karma thing.

Diana White: [00:06:00] I do believe in karma big time. And you know, again, you mentioned it. I was, I was raised in retail and that’s one of the, the life lessons that was taught to me very early is. You be kind to everyone treat everyone the way you would like to be treated, build a rapport if you can, because you never, you just never know when they may come into your lives again.

And even if you never see them again, even if they don’t become a customer, you’ve put good energy and good karma into the universe and that’s worth, it.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:06:33] Now there are perhaps situations where not in a retail situation where it’s not so much being nice to people. Sometimes you have to be very strict with people.

Diana White: [00:06:45] There is an, especially in the role that I play now, which is, you know, I am CEO, but I also still counsel the companies as well when the founders and their teams, and, and from my experience with working with the small business development centers as well, you can be strict, but you can also be compassionate.

And the true goal is to have the founder, the entrepreneur. Figure out what their path truly is. And, and as a coach, as a counsellor, you can’t do that by beating your own ideation into them and impressing your own goals into them. You really have to help them find a way. And sometimes, their way is the hard way.

And you, you have to be firm and strong about saying, Hey, this is the experience I bring to the table. I’ve seen this time and time again, this path is going to be rough for you, and it can be easier, but ultimately, it’s your choice. And so, yeah, I, I believe that there’s a way to set your boundaries, have a little strictness, but always do it with compassion.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:07:47] Yeah it almost compares perhaps to a parent. You want the best for your child, for your children, but that also means you have to be strict and set boundaries.

Diana White: [00:07:59] Yeah. Right. And we use that analogy in, in our Chandler innovations community. We say our founders are giving birth. They’re, they’re bringing babies into the world.

It’s their baby. And several things you don’t do, you, you don’t try to parent someone else’s child. And you never tell somebody that their baby’s ugly, couple of things you just don’t do. And so, I I’ve learned that over time.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:08:27] Yeah. Ah, good point. Good point. Lesson number two never work harder than the person that works for you to keep THEIR job.

Diana White: [00:08:36] That is a big life lesson.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:08:39] That sounds intriguing. It sounds very intriguing.

Diana White: [00:08:42] Especially for leaders that come from a very servant and empathic leadership they tend to, and I’m, and I’m guilty of this in some ways that I, I w I want so heartly for so badly for you to succeed, because I’m invested in you and your personality, and you have to, there has to be a point where, where you say, listen, you know, you’ve missed these deadlines.

You didn’t come through with this particular thing. You dropped the ball in this particular thing, and I’ve been there behind you all the way, picking up the pieces, making it right, smoothing it over. Where’s the point where we say, I am now working harder than you are to keep your job. I already have a job.

I work hard enough to keep my job. What are you bringing to the table to keep your job?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:09:31] Yeah, relevant again. And I’m thinking actually of the, of the next lesson and the combination, and it’s maybe not a real good transition and what I’m saying here, but lesson number three, you talk about don’t let work politics or bad influences dictate your personal work ethic.

And if I compare that with your lesson, number two, sometimes one gets intertwined with that. Right. But if we talk about work politics and bad influences. How, how do we not get impacted by that?

Diana White: [00:10:03] It takes time and hence, the lessons learned in 50 years or so. So, you know, I mean, and I need to be clear, you know, I, when I say work politics, I truly mean work politics.

I don’t mean governmental politics. Right. Unless you happen to work for the government, that’s a whole different podcast, but yeah. One of the things that I’ve found is, you know, as I would go into workplace after workplace there, there was if you will a personality, the actual workplace as a whole, the workers together collectively formed their own personality.

Sometimes in different settings, you might call this group think, right. They all kind of think alike. Yep. And I have always had a very strong work ethic. If I’m coming in, I know I’m giving 150% and I would never allow what was going on around the water cooler, what the tone of the, the organization as a whole, I would never let that affect what I brought to the table because my personal best is my personal best.

And it was always a relationship between me and the work that I deliver and the satisfaction I get out of the work. And so, I always advise people, you go into a situation, as long as it’s not toxic. There are times where situations are abusive and toxic, and you need to recognize it for what it is and leave.

But if it is, you know, this person doesn’t pull as much weight as you think they should, but you’re not their supervisor. And you can’t control that. Then you do your work. You work hard. Don’t let that person influence you.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:11:45] You won’t say anything. You won’t say, wait a minute, this colleague of mine is, is not doing his or her share.

And therefore, I need to do more work. Is that not something that you would express.

Diana White: [00:11:59] You know, some people would, and, and if you, if you have the tact and the courage to be able to do it in a, in a, in a productive way, then, then it’s okay to have that kind of conversation with your immediate supervisor.

But if it serves no purpose, if it’s not going to make any changes, if it’s going to actually bring more agitation into the workplace, then, you know, we have a saying in New York, is the juice worth the squeeze, right? Yeah, you know, I’ve always been of the mindset. If I’ve gotten into a stage situation where I feel like I really am not happy here. I spend way too many hours a week away from my family doing this job. I’m not happy.

Then I start making steps to find a better solution. And we’ll, we’ll talk about that in another life lesson, but yes, absolutely. You should be able to talk about if there are people, especially if they’re, if their work ethic is affecting your productivity in terms of.

Products, right. If you’re supposed to deliver a deadline and somebody is on your team and they’re not pulling their weight, those are conversations you need to have with your, with your immediate supervisor. But if it really, if you have no control over it, sometimes you’re inserting yourself into the drama and you really don’t need to.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:13:14] It’s a fair point.

I just think it can be challenging because you get to that threshold. Like, like you just said, look, I’m spending too many hours here and not enough time with my family. Or as you described, you know, bad influences that the group or the organization, and what moments do you say I’m out or, and I, I, I kind of admire that when you say I will put up with it.

I’m doing my job. This is what I’m here for. And I let that other stuff just, it’s just noise. It’s just in the background.

Diana White: [00:13:50] It truly is noise until it isn’t noise any longer, everybody has their own threshold.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:13:57] Yeah, fair point. And that’s, I think is an important lesson. Every individual in a way will make that decision for themselves.

Lesson number four, if you’ve done your homework, listen attentively, and you’re truly excited about something. Don’t let others tell you not to try. Believing yourself. Is that part of the message?

Diana White: [00:14:17] That is absolutely part of the message believe in yourself, but it takes it a little bit farther than that, right.

Because many people believe in themselves, but truly because they haven’t been exposed to a myriad of things, they, they absolutely have no clue of what is out there that they can do. And so that’s that whole educate yourself, prepare yourself, do your homework. And, and once, you know, going back to the example that I gave with golf, right.

 Again, if you tell everybody you want to be a world-class golfer if they’re telling you, but you’ve never taken a golf lesson in your life and you haven’t held a golf club, you don’t even know, you know, what a putter is. You haven’t done your homework, right. If you’ve done your homework and you’ve done your research, don’t let somebody tell you, well, that’s not for you or you, you don’t belong in that world or in any myriad of things that people do to kind of hold you back from what you really want to do.

The worst thing I think someone can say is, oh man, I wanted to do that. But somebody told me no. And here we are years later, and I regret it. I should have tried it, even if I had failed.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:15:26] Do you have an example of this in your own career?

Diana White: [00:15:29] I, yes, but it wasn’t an outside force that did it. It was an internal force that did it. So many, many years ago. I want it to be a librarian. I love books. I love books. And growing up in the Bronx, I didn’t necessarily have a lot of examples of, of, of people that I saw go through that whole process.

And so, and then, and then I found out that you needed to get several more years of schooling and have a certain kind of degree. And I just felt like, well, I I’m, I’m not going to be able to do that. I’m just it’s I can’t do it. And I talked myself out of it. But I ended up staying in that world. I worked in books for 30 years, but that was a dream of mine that I talked myself out of.

Even though I could have the passion for books was already there. The love of books was already there, and schooling was there in, in a sense. I just hadn’t taken it as far as it needed to go. But I talked myself out of it.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:16:30] That’s a great example. Do you still love books?

Diana White: [00:16:33] Yes. Yes, I do.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:16:35] See that’s to the core.

Great example, great example. Lesson number five listen for comprehension and empathy. Does that simply mean being nice to people?

Diana White: [00:16:47] No. So, there are several ways of listening. I teach this a lot with my, with my groups and when I do talks you can listen for many, many people listen for, for debate.

They listen for rebuttal. Many people listen to resolve. If you, if you’ve ever, if you have familiarity with it with an older book, I can’t remember the author right now, but it’s, Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus, right? And it talks about how, if you tell a man something, now this was, this was very pigeonholing.

It’s, it’s not the way that that is now many people speak in different languages, but yeah. It’s thought that men mostly listened to resolve. So that’s where you get that honey, you know, I had a bad day at work and you tell the husband and he’s just like, well do this. And the wife gets mad. I didn’t want you to give me an answer I just wanted you to listen. Right.

 So, there are many different ways to listen, but very rarely do people talk about listening for comprehension and empathy, which means, okay. I I’m truly slowing myself down. I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say. I’m not thinking about what, how, what you’re saying is triggering me and now I’m going to debate.

I’m truly listening to hear what you have to say. And I’m going to try to put myself in your shoes at the same time, so that when I give you a response back, it’s a response truly from a place of understanding, even if it doesn’t change my point of view. I can at least say, I understand what you’re saying.

And I, I feel this way because, and hopefully the person also listens with comprehension, empathy, and that’s when you have some really good dialogue.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:18:25] Did you have to in a way, train yourself for that, because it seems like for human beings and we are human beings that when we ask someone a question, that person starts talking and then perhaps our mind moves on to, Oh yeah, I also.

Wait a minute, let that person finish their thoughts. And perhaps with empathy, there is some sensitivity in there. Do you train your brain to listen with empathy or is it natural? Just the way you are?

Diana White: [00:18:57] For some people it can be natural. I think there’s so for some people it’s innate especially people who are very introverted who, who don’t talk a lot.

They, they really think more about what is being said, but it was, it was true. I was trained to do that in retail. Right. And, and when you grew up in retail, if you’re not listening to what the customer wants, if you’re not really hearing what they may not even be saying, you, you don’t close many sales, you don’t make many transactions. Right.

But when you can hear what the person is saying and what they’re not saying, when you give it back to them in a way that makes them feel like they were truly heard, right. Then you’re more likely to build that connection, which is part of what I call know, like trust, getting to know someone, getting to like them, getting to trust them.

And it can happen in a New York second, or it can take an amount of time. But once that happens, there’s a trust there that is built and then sales can happen. So, I learned that from a very, very early age to truly listen for comprehension.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:19:59] I, I think it’s so important and I think many people.

Acknowledged the importance, but I think what you’re talking about is that you can actually train your brain. Right. And it, it, it, it takes some. Active thinking it’s not just, okay, I’m going to do that. No, you have to execute it correctly. And maybe next time again, but the value is, is extremely important and relevant.

And I would say you probably agree that when I say it’s not that complicated, right. To show an interest in people. And it doesn’t have to be a lengthy conversation, but just sometimes a quick interaction and recognizing what they’re doing and, and the appreciate you have for that.

Diana White: [00:20:41] Absolutely. Absolutely.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:20:43] All right. Lesson number six base your ask on the value of the work. Not on how you feel about your self-worth.

Diana White: [00:20:52] I’ll tell you this. This is one that I get all the time in my coaching aspect, in my counselling aspect. And I get it unfortunately predominantly from women. I’ve had very, very powerful women that are for lack of better phrase, they’re running empires, right?

They’re, they’re running these, these, these powerful entities and, and it’s truly all on them. And when you’re talking to them and they’re talking about the products and services, there’s pride. And remember it’s, their baby is pride. There’s, you know, they know exactly what they’re talking about. They know exactly what you need.

And then when you talk about pricing structure, well, how much does this cost I’ll get sentences like, well, I thought about charging this, but I could never, I don’t think anyone would pay that much or I. I just can’t see myself telling someone that this would, this retreat would cost them $10,000 or, you know, that this hand beaded you know, a piece of jewellery that I made that took me 20 hours to make and I use Swarovski Crystals. I can’t ask them to pay, you know, that much money and really what they’re doing is they’re inserting their own self-worth. And their own spending habits on that transaction. When you’ve made a product or service, you put it out on the market, you put it out there for a fair price and you let your target market decide what they want to pay.

You don’t influence that. You know, and, and it’s tough. It’s tough. Sometimes it was tough for me when I started my consulting firm, trying to figure out well, what’s that happy price that I think will make everyone want to buy this? Well, you can’t please. Everyone. You have to put it out there for what it’s worth and hope that someone is going to understand the value and not attach it to you.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:22:52] There are so much at that Stu this particular point in what you were saying, and definitely not disagreement on my side, but for example, you talked about in particular women deal with this. I would argue that men will deal with it as well. But perhaps in that thought process, perhaps men can find easier justification for saying, Hey, I’m going to charge more because you know, I have this to offer and perhaps, and again, depending on the country and the culture.

Perhaps women say, well, that’s as, as you. And I know sometimes as a woman, you are the first woman to achieve this or to achieve that. So true, which is amazing in itself, but that’s a different topic, but that lesson I think is extremely valuable that, that you really have to, well, as you say, base the ask on the value of the work, that’s, that’s really what you should be aiming for and not so much saying, well, Am I really good enough for that?

Or can I really get away with charging that very powerful and yeah, I mean, there, there are so many questions spinning through my mind about your experience in retail, obviously as a, as a female manager now, as a CEO of an incubator, you have come a long way. And at the same time some of the resistance perhaps you had to deal with was completely unfair.

Yeah. Yeah, but not set an example, right? Yeah.

Diana White: [00:24:19] So funny that you mentioned that I think about the struggles that I went through with my career, my trajectory and pivoting and changing what I’m doing. And there’s another talk that I give to, to entrepreneurs and new founders where we, we talk about networking and really being able to promote your brand with pride and with confidence.

Whenever I have entities or people that say, well I’m not as comfortable when I go to networking events or chamber events. I, you know, I have my business cards and I take my little liquid courage and I’m just not as confident. And, and then I always say, because inevitably, you know, it’s very rare these days that you find a founder that has an in some way shape or form worked for another organization in, in an employee capacity. Right.

 And so always ask well, I know you used to work for, you know, whatever company it is when you were the head of such and such, or if you were the VP of sales at such and such, and you went to these events, did you have a problem pulling out your business card and saying, Hey, I work for Honeywell. I worked for Boeing. I worked for. For SRP, here’s my card, you know, did you, do, did you have concerns with that? And they would go, oh no, I was fine. And I would say, well, what, what is the difference is the difference because it’s, it’s your company. You’re tying it to you. You’re tying it to you because when it was somebody else, you had no problem, but now you feel uncomfortable pulling that business card out.

And so, it’s really, a lot of it is psychological and we, and we talk about it. And again, it happened to me. I had no problem saying I work for Barnes and Noble. I worked for Follett higher education group. But when it was my consulting firm there was a little trepidation.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:26:06] That’s a, that’s a great point.

I can definitely. Definitely relate. I’ve worked for big well-known organizations had my own consulting business. There is a difference in the perception. Very, very interesting point. The next point, I think, relates to what we were kind of talking about. Be prepared to walk away and be prepared that no one may try to stop you.

Diana White: [00:26:28] Right. Yeah. So, so sad sounds very sad, but it’s, it’s a really important lesson that you need to learn. And, and if you look at it in a positive light, it shows how much control you really do have over your life. In your career. But you, you do have to be prepared that, you know, things aren’t going to go your way.

So there there’s another saying that I have is I, I never play chicken with, with my, with my livelihood. And for those people that don’t know what playing chicken means, it comes from the racing when two cars, race, each other, and both drivers are waiting to see who’s going to stop first.

Who’s going to chicken out, right? And I never play chicken with, with my career. I never, I will never be the one to say, Hey, if you don’t do X, Y, and Z. I’m going to quit in hopes that they would do what I’m asking them to do. I would always say, they’re not doing X, Y, and Z. It doesn’t look like it’s going to change. Do I need to prepare for my exit strategy? Do I need to prepare for a plan B?

And so. Well, the whole, the whole premise is, and this is not just in business. This is in your personal life as well in relationships, right? If you, if you have a significant other that, and it’s not working out and ultimatum of fix it, or I’m going to leave, we’ll be prepared that the person may say it was a good run, good luck in life, you know, and then you’ve got to move on. You’ve got to move on.

But if you say something like that, if you say I’m preparing to leave, be prepared that no, one’s going to ask you to say that you have to make good on the fact that you wanted to leave.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:28:14] Great point. I appreciate it. I I’ve been in those situations myself. Yeah.

It can be a tough moment, right? When you go perhaps against the stream, but that’s what you do when you walk away. If I look back, I have no regret. Yeah, I could have done things differently and perhaps I should have, but that’s, as we say, water under the bridge, that’s behind us. So, a good point. Thank you.

Lesson number eight. For many positions. I like this for many positions, great people skills and a willingness to learn are the real treasures to look for when hiring. I’m sure you have some experience with that. I’m sure you have hired tons of people and they all make an impression. And how do you decide which one you’re going to.

As a new employee and which one you decide? No, that’s not the right one.

Diana White: [00:29:02] Right. You know, in my lifetime of, of interviewing and hiring and vetting people there, there are some caveats to this, right. If I, if I need to go see a cardiologist, I don’t, I don’t want to say, you know, yeah. He, he doesn’t have to. Skills or she didn’t go to school for it, but what a great personality, let alone, let them do what they need to do with my heart right no.

That’s not what we’re talking about here. There are some professions where you do need that, that technical higher education. But, you know, in my years in retail, right, you can teach anybody how to run a cash register. You can teach anybody how to stock a product on a, on a, on a sales floor. You can’t teach soft people skills, right?

It’s very hard to do that or manifest that in someone. If it’s not already there, it’s not, it’s not impossible. It’s just very difficult. And so, finding someone who has the, the, the curiosity to learn great deductive reasoning skills, great listening skills, people skills. That is going to get you further in terms of the overall customer service of your store or of your, your business than just finding those technical people that know all of these things, you know, already because they may know all of these things already from another organization, but they’re bringing that organization’s baggage and politics with them.

Right. So sometimes that’s not a plus if you will, in the hiring process,

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:30:37] I think it makes sense. It makes sense. I always say it seems unlikely that you’re going to hire someone that you don’t really feel comfortable with. Right. It’s not that you really get to know someone in an interview process, but you have an impression.

And at the same time, if you meet someone that perhaps doesn’t check all the boxes in what you’re looking for, but that individual has a great personality. Like you said, I can teach you how to do this. I can train you on how to, how to do that. So, wow. Great personality. Yes. That can work. I also very much appreciate you said there are certain professions where it really doesn’t matter personality because you want the best when it comes to a doctor.

And there are other examples that that’s a very fair point. I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but that’s a fair point. So, lesson number nine, find someone who can show you how they were able to do what you wish to do. Are we saying here, find a good mentor?

Diana White: [00:31:37] Sometimes it can be a mentor and you know, sometimes it can just be really just a quick one-on-one interview kind of thing.

You know, your role model could be a role model. Could be, it could be somebody you’ve never met. When one of my role models, I don’t think I’m alone in this right. Oprah. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Oprah maybe one day that might happen, but I look at what she does, and I say, Oh, that connection that she seems to be able to effortlessly make with people.

How do I make that happen? How do I stay in joy and thankfulness? How do I, how do I do the things that she does? And I, and I try to learn from her anytime I see her interact on, on television or on her own network, I try to learn. And then, and then also you can do that in the opposite way right? Finding people where you’re saying, I don’t want to be like that and learning what they’re doing.

That’s not right. That doesn’t resonate with you. And it doesn’t mean that they’re inherently bad. Right. It just means that. That’s not the personality that you want. I think of Steve jobs all the time. I think he was an amazing visionary. And I think what he did with Apple was, was unprecedented.

But at the same time, you know, we, we have all of us have a little bit of an inkling into his personal life and what kind of man he was. I don’t know that I want to be a person like that. And so, I can learn lessons about what I would do and what I wouldn’t do. Doesn’t make him necessarily a horrible person because he did amazing things.

Yeah. So, for me, you just need to figure out what is it that you want to do? How do you want to do it? Who do you want to be if they’re in your life and they can actually become mentors, then you’re, you’re rich beyond what, you know,

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:33:27] simple question. But I think hard to answer, perhaps, how do you find a mentor?

You may know someone that say he or she can serve as my mentor. And I’m so happy about that. But if you are in a situation I’m thinking of a scale-up company they need to learn and learn from people that have gone through that. Just like you describe, I don’t know, again, I don’t have the answer here, but how do you find a mentor unless you sort of run into an individual that you are connected to and say that individual is helping me?

Diana White: [00:33:56] Yeah, I think, I think that a lot of emphasis is. Put on that word, that categorization of mentor. And if you, if you talk to people that are in the echelon, that they could be considered mentors, they will tell you one of the things that they hate is for somebody to come up to them and say, will you be my mentor?

And so, so I feel like we need to internalize that word and say, what does a mentor mean to me? And when I find that person that fits that bill, I’m going to make a connection, a compassionate, empathetic connections, and I’m going to learn, does a label need to be put on that? Do you need to tell them, Oh, you’re my mentor now?

Or can you be my mentor, or can it just be an organic learning experience?

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:34:51] And, and perhaps also, when you look at that concept, perhaps you look at the mentor first for him or her to say, I want to help this person. I want to help this company. Right. So, in, in certain ways, the initiative could come from. The side of the mentor.

Diana White: [00:35:09] And if you’re in a, if you’re in a, an authentically true space where you, you really, truly just want to know what they know, you’re appreciative of how far they’ve gotten. And you, and you do it in a tactful way. Those are the kinds of things that happen. They find themselves wanting to help you because they know how genuine you are.

And, you know, it’s not a nefarious thing of, Oh, they want to just use my name or, Oh, they, I can’t take on another mentee. I just think that That can get you in to a bind when you go out there looking for a mentor, as opposed to just learning from everyone around you. I mean, you and I’ve had this conversation before.

Everyone I meet as a mentor, everyone. I learned something from everyone I meet.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:35:54] Yeah. That’s amazing. Amazing lesson number 10. Everyone has something to learn. Everyone has something to teach. It sounds perfect. Right? It’s true. But nobody is perfect.

Diana White: [00:36:06] Nobody is perfect.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:36:08] What’s your story? What’s your story behind this lesson number 10?

Diana White: [00:36:12] So I don’t think that I can say it enough if you think you’ve learned everything you’ve given up. You’ve stopped. There’s always something new to learn and it, and, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that is older or wiser or more accomplished than you that teaches it to you.

You know, when I started in, in my role as CEO of Chandler innovations, I had to have somebody teach me so much about social media, you know, and, and, and really what it takes to kind of engage in that world and build your brand without losing yourself and being, you know, addicted to it right. Tied to it.

It wasn’t, it wasn’t you know, a senior mentor that taught me that it was a young kid, you know? And then. In turn. I hope I taught them some life lessons as well on how to build their trajectory and build their career. So, I belong to an organization called A Z Founders Guild and it’s peer to peer mentoring.

If you’re a founder and you want to safe space where you connect, connect with another founder and truly have some quality peer to peer mentoring time, you can be a part of A Z Founders Guild. And. That’s our motto. Everyone has something to learn. Everyone has something to teach, and we don’t allow you to participate in our events unless you’re willing to be vulnerable and say what you want to learn.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:37:42] I like it. That brings up another question actually in your life and your career. Are there any lessons that you have unlearned that you decided at some point I’ve been doing this, but you know what? I got to change.

Diana White: [00:37:57] So I will say the biggest lesson I unlearned, and this is, is, is coming from. My prism as an African American woman, biggest lessons that I’ve learned is that it’s sometimes it’s okay not to be a silent warrior.

Sometimes it’s absolutely critical for you to toot your own horn. For you to get out there and say, these are the things that I’m doing. These are the skillsets that I bring to the table. This is who I am because not everybody is going to see you if you say silent in the background, you could be running circles around everyone, around you.

You could be delivering 350000%, but most, most of the time when you start to get into different aspects of business, executive level founders just want to know that the job is getting done, right. They just want it. They they’ve got a lot on their plate and they just want to know that there are no fires to put out.

They don’t necessarily remember that they need to recognize and acknowledge the fireman. And so sometimes as the fireman, you have to say, hey just real quick, I just want to let you know that there could have been a big fire on the second floor, but I put it out and I will always be there for you to put those fires out because that’s what I do.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:39:18] They’re very powerful, truly very, very powerful. And when I think about that, your background, retail, you love books, lessons that you have learned, lessons that you have unlearned. Are you going to write a book? Have you thought about this?

Diana White: [00:39:34] So I, I am going to, to write a book that the first book that I’m writing right now has nothing to do with that.

It’s a, a passion project. And eventually I might delve into that world. Again, it’s, it’s a little bit of that. What, what do I really have to write about when you have the Michelle Obama’s of the world writing amazing books? Right?

I know everybody has something to teach. But at the same time, I, I feel like I’m still learning from these powerful women that have come before me that I don’t, I don’t know that I’m ready to, to, to put something out there yet, but eventually I might, I got a few more years on me and maybe I can.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:40:13] Diana. I highly recommend that you listen to this podcast because the wisdom that you dispensed may be a lesson for you as well. And I would highly encourage you to write books and to be out there because if you’ve been around the block enough, you know what you’re talking about. And I think your mindset is very relevant in the era that we live in.

In the United States, but I can also say in other countries as well, you are already, I think a role model. And since you love books, I think one more step you write the books. That’s the complete circle. I think that that would suit you well, but who am I to say that to you? But I would recommend it.

Diana White: [00:40:56] Well, only if you write my forward.

Siebe Van Der Zee: [00:40:59] I’ll do that. We have a deal. I want to thank you for joining us today. Thank you very much. Very interesting to hear your story and your lessons and to our audience. I want to mention that you’ve been listening to the international podcast, 10 Lessons it Took Me 50 Years to Learn. Produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum PDF.


PDF provides webinars, social media discussions, podcasts, and parties, and it’s all free. Most importantly, you can find information about PDF at https://professionaldevelopmentforum.org/ . Thank you very much and stay safe.


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