Dan Negroni on “Chasing Relevance”: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

Posted on: October 5th, 2016 by bobmorris

negroniDan Negroni founded  launchbox to help businesses unleash the creativity and potential of today’s new Gen Y workforce. He is a CEO coach, consultant, keynote speaker, and chief launch officer for today’s critical cross-generational issues, bridging the gap between managers and their millennial workforce to increase employee engagement, productivity and profits. He leverages his authentic, no-nonsense approach and a successful 20+ year career as a CEO, attorney, and senior sales and marketing executive, to reinvigorate businesses and people.

Prior to founding launchbox, Dan served as CEO for start-up businesses in the health and fitness market and for a national consulting firm. He also held senior roles in sales, marketing and operations for a variety of service businesses in the technology industry. He was responsible for managing teams as large as 1,500 people to create 100s of millions of dollars in sales and significant increases in enterprise valuation.

In conjunction with most of his roles, he also served as companies’ general counsel and supervised the legal and HR functions. He attended Georgetown Law Center and started his legal career as corporate and business attorney at Morgan Lewis in New York. Dan is a member of the California Bar.

Dan is an active member and frequent presenter at several organizations, including Vistage, University of California – San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University, and local news stations. Dan is also an active philanthropist, serving as board member and development chair for the Jenna Druck Center, participating in efforts to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Monarch School and Jewish Family Services. He resides in Del Mar, Calif., with his wife of 25 years and the youngest of his three children, and is an avid health and fitness nut, running, biking, swimming and doing anything else he can to fight off looking his age.

His book, Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace, was published by lunchbox (August 2016)

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Morris: For those who have not as yet read Chasing Relevance, hopefully your responses to these questions will stimulate their interest and, better yet, encourage them to purchase a copy and read the book ASAP.

First, when and why did you decide to write it with Jim Eber?

Negroni: As soon as I met Jim, I knew we needed to work together. He mentored me to find my real voice and worked hard to get it right.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Negroni: Of course the process of writing is so cathartic. There were many revelations about my own story, why I wanted to write the book, what it would do for people and how we were going to provide real value to the reader. Most importantly the sharing of myself made me really understand why I was writing the book: not for me but to create real impact for others.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ [begin italics] significantly [end italics] from what you originally envisioned?

Negroni: The book is representative of both me and what I set out to achieve by writing it. What differed was my approach to sharing who I was and what we had to offer through the book. I realized the process of writing a book is a marathon and not a sprint and writing it is merely the beginning of the journey.

Morris: In my opinion, “relevance” is a highly subjective determination. The generational differences can be quite significant. Please explain the meaning and significance of your book’s title.

Negroni: Absolutely, the purpose of relevance in the title was to push people to think about what was relevant to them and how they would impact the world by sharing themselves. It was actually their own measure of whom they were and why they were here on this planet and in their business guiding or being a millennial. It was a question about what they wanted their legacy to be to the next generation and how they were going to create and sustain it. We couched or described relevance by pushing people to think about what they wanted to contribute to the world and how they would connect the generations and why it is necessary to do so.

Morris: Millennials are also referred to as the “Gen Y,” born (roughly) between the late-1970s and the mid-1990s. What unique challenges do they tend to pose to those who supervise them?

Negroni: OMG. I would say read the book but in short let’s say this. Millennials pose all sorts of challenges to other generations. Mostly, the principal challenge is how to understand them and not capitulate to the myths that are associated with them (some unfairly and some by behavior) like being entitled, spoiled, lazy, disloyal, unconcerned with others, quick to judge and needy. While some of these are true, they are true of all of us. Most people are concerned about themselves. WIFM, what’s in it for me? Dale Carnegie speaks of this since 1936 in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

All those myths and judgments and behaviors have us in a tailspin on how to deal with them. And we need to be bold? to deal with them, they are the power: the largest generation, biggest customer group and our future.

They are also uniquely questioning, thought provoking and bold. The workplace does not like that. We like law and order and guess what? Their law and order is completely different so it is super frustrating for most organizations.

Morris: What unique opportunities do they tend to offer to their supervisors?

Negroni: Millennials offer the unique opportunity of helping us create the future. They are unbridled in terms of opportunity and potential. They are provocative, fun and questioning and all they want is the opportunity to learn and grow from great mentors. How could you ask for more? Truth is you can’t. Get a millennial with a great attitude and take that raw clay and hit a homerun by molding it. It can and will change your life and your business. If you take them seriously and focus on what type of guide and teacher you can be you will learn more about your business and self than in most other methods.

Morris: What must those supervisors keep in mind and what must they do (and not do) to take full advantage of those opportunities?

Negroni: They must assume positive intent, bust myths, lean in and focus on the type of guide they can be and work dang hard at connecting. Don’t judge, shift mindset and they will surprise you!

Morris: At one point, you observe, “They do not want the power; they are the power. They decide what businesses will live or die – think Blockbuster/Netflix, taxis/Uber, hotels/Airbnb. They are our customers, our employees, our future!”

What advice do you offer to those who possess this unprecedented power? What should they keep in mind when interacting with others in a multi-generation workplace?

Negroni: That it is not friggin all about them and if they want to yield that power for good they should understand that their key to success is making their audience the hero of their story and the power behind it. If they are smart they can have everything they want with hard work and the connection currency of understanding how to build relationships.

Morris: For those who have not as yet read Chasing Relevance, please explain the B.R.I.D.G.E. acronym.

Negroni: Simple the BRIDGE acronym is a six-step process to focus on when connecting with millennials. If you follow these steps you can connect with almost anyone and especially milllennials.

B = Busting myths, really being open minded, shifting mindset and listening.

R = Real deal authenticity. If you tell the truth, care and are real, people and especially millennials will connect with you, that simple. Do it. They are jaded by bs, so when you tell them the truth in a direct and candid way, they respond very favorably.

I = I own it. Well that is about cleaning your side of the street and owning your part in any relationship.

D = Deliver Value – teach them by example that it is about the result for others: customers, employees and stakeholders. If you do that aptly, you connect with all and have real business success.

GGoals in Mind. You need to make sure that you integrate individual, team and corporate goals. If you can extend it to the customer it is a homerun. Millennials want to work for great companies that they want to buy from. Can you say Apple, Google, Nike…

EEmpower Success. Well, this is the big “E” word not “entitled.” If you can focus on empowering a culture of success for all involved, again win, win. It requires caring about employees in a new way. The “whole person,” is the focus both personally and professionally.

Morris: Of all those six components, which seems to pose the greatest challenges to those who chase relevance? Why?

Negroni: I = I own it of course. People owning their own stuff and trying to shift mindset is the hardest work of all. Once they conquer that the world can win. We know it’s about getting out of your own way.

Morris: These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me. For those who have not as yet read the book, please suggest what you view as [begin italics] the most important point [end italics] or [begin italics] key take-away [end italics] in each of these.

First, The importance of self-knowledge (Pages 32-33, 43-46 and 47-56

Negroni (32-33): This is a problem for each side of the generation gap (millennials and managers of all ages), the problem and opportunity for connection. My key point and take away is that it takes both sides to solve the gap and create results. First step is to look at your self and who you are and who you want to be and then you take the measures to achieve those goals and values. Principally, you need to focus on the ability to build relationships and quite clearly the first relationship is the one with yourself. Especially for our young folks we are not spending the time teaching those values and that introspection early. My hope is that we start post haste. We need to teach these values that affect the whole person and their relationships with the world.

Pages 43- 46: It is critical to understand your gifts and what your good at. It is what you are good at that you should share with the world, your gifts. If you focus there you will be more successful. Gallup has a wealth of information proving that thesis. Focusing on what you do well helps you by being happier, more productive and in alignment with your “whole person“ or self. Teaching millennials and managers in the workplace to understand that and access it will allow for better stronger humans both at work at home. We owe it to our young to teach them and so does the academic system both public and private.

Pages 47 – 56: Once we understand our selves generally our basic inclination or strengths and become self aware we open the window to real work and providing real value to those we touch because we go to the next level in understanding. Skills training are critical because that is how we go through the world to help others in business and life. Our approach is a broad and more detailed look at skills, values and passions. Particularly a real defining moment to be able to create the foundation of understanding what value we can bring to the world based on our understanding of ourself. If we truly understand and can articulate what value we bring and how we can help others we can create real executable results. Defining, understanding and then articulating our value allows us to be able to communicate. Communication is how we survive and thrive in business and personally. Our take away is to go do the work so you can have bigger impact.

Morris: Assessing Skills (47-50)

Negroni: Assessing skills is hard but fun. People have a real hard time quantifying their value to others. The challenge is because it is so uncomfortable we usually cannot bear to speak of ourselves. Some feel it is bragging, others just hate it, but really it is the value that we bring to the world. Whether working on a team or for a corporation or client you must be able to SIMPLY be able to share your skills. First thing that is necessary is to be able to amplify your abilities. In order to amplify and share we must understand first. Good honest feedback is required. Ok I love this section mostly because it is about the hardest exercise in the book. When we ask people to tell us what their skills are they get stuck. People hate talking about themselves and, more importantly, when they do they usually stink at it giving one or two word descriptions, “I am a people person, I am analytical, I am responsible.” We push them hard to ask them how to translate their skills to assist and provide value to others. Wow do we get stuck. If we could however learn to clearly articulate what we really do to help others we would connect instantly. I think this is the best exercise in the book.

Morris: Stories and storytelling (61-63, 66-69, 7072, 153-154, and 154-160)

Negroni: OK, clear and simple story telling is what I have called it before “connection currency.” If you can tell stories you can connect. Since the beginning of time we translate information through stories. Those that tell stories effectively keeping in mind that the story is about the audience (the hero to every story, presentations, performance and interaction) are masters of the universe. There is nothing more important than being able to tell your story in a way that you connect with others. We should teach it as core curriculum in the 3rd grade!

Morris: Characteristics of Millennials (62-64)

Negroni: I learn more about characteristics of millennials every day and I love it. They are so rich in dimension in their thoughts. And they are different than we are and different based on geography. While we can describe them generally, everyday I get pushed more on how cool they are. They have the luxury to really focus on themselves as a whole person because of technology and it is a rich dilemma. How much do I focus on me and who I am while impacting others? Sometimes they get stuck and I think that is why the world sees them as so entitled.

Morris: Choose Your Mindset (132-136)

Negroni: The most important point of the book. Mindset rules. You choose positive and growth and your life is great, you choose pessimistic, depressed, lost, defeatable and your life is a struggle. I struggle everyday to shift my mindset to the positive and the value in that outlook keeps me young and hopeful that we can make youth and experience create magic together.

Morris: Stereotypes (63-65, 83-85, 100-103, and 167-168)

Negroni: Not sure I have much to add about stereotypes, we can play into them or push ourselves to work around them. I did not invent API but if we assume positive intent all the time we can create clarity of judgment and an openness that increases acceptance and results.

Morris: B.R.I.D.G.E. defined (81-82)

Negroni: The BRIDGE concept was formulated by the brain trust of our consultants. How do we digest easy easy steps to kick folks in the butt to clearly focus on creating their best selves while connecting the generations? BRIDGE. It is fun, fast and furious when it comes to creating culture as the king.

Morris: B: Bust Myths (83-84)

Negroni: The first step of getting down to business is to see how ridiculous our judgments about others are. When we can dispel the myths we can start the almighty real deal communication.

Morris: Breakthrough generational stereotypes (85-89)

Negroni: We do it differently. Not your father’s generational talk. We don’t focus on when you were born but what you were born to accomplish and then migrate to how. Generational stereotypes are boring and Old School, let’s be really disruptive and focus on what binds us. We need to if we want to cure our propensity to hate and be scared.

Morris: R: Real Deal (105-106)

Negroni: Real deal to me translates to bold authenticity. My New York ethos of no BS, tell it like it is because you want to help someone be better. If we don’t act or tell folks what we feel or see we cannot connect. If we do there are two rules, try and ask permission first and, second, be kind and use carefrontation.

Morris: I: I Own It (127-143)

Negroni: As I said earlier, cleaning your side of the street first and owning up to what you need to do is necessary to be authentic. Millennials care about authenticity almost more than anything else. If we practice owning our own stuff they see that vulnerability as what it is meant to be. Pure caring.

Morris: D: Deliver Value (145-164)

Negroni: Could it be more clear? If we make it about others we are constantly delivering value. Whether to customers or employees it is the clear path to real success. Again let’s start teaching these principles in grade school and assign homework on that basis.

Morris: Disengagement (147-48)

Negroni: This is the plague of the 21st century. In politics and the workplace we are apathetic because it seems like too much work to conduct ourselves according to BRIDGE principles. Guess what, not true. If we simply shift mindset and practice BRIDGE we can connect with anyone.

Morris: Adam Grant (148-151)

Negroni: I love the principles in Give and Take, especially his thoughts about giving. I also love a book called The Go Giver. If we focus on what we give, we win every time.

Morris: Make It About Others (159-163)

Negroni: Once I learned this secret the world shifted for me. If I constantly make it about others, I could really be a pure bad ass that empowered people. It is when I get too close to making it all about me is when I fall down on the job.

Morris: G: Goals (165-181)

Negroni: Goals are fun, they need to be individual, team and corporate based and in addition they need to be talked about 24/7. Focus on the prize.

Morris: Lead with Transparency and Purpose (173-176)

Negroni: Millennials will continue to drive purpose and transparency and it is good for the world and us. We will all get better together.

Morris: E: Empower Success (183-202)

Negroni: Empower is the word I live by. I actually wear it around a bracelet on my wrist. It is what I was meant to do. In the workplace culture eats strategy for lunch. I want to empower that focus to create great businesses and people of all ages.

Morris: For more than 30 years, it has been my great pleasure as well as privilege to work closely with the owner/CEOs of hundreds of small-to-midsize companies. In your opinion, of all the material you provide in Chasing Relevance, which do you think will be of greatest value to leaders in SMBs? Please explain.

Negroni: Care and lean in to your employees and your businesses will flourish. Your employees take care of your customers. Right now and for the foreseeable future the majority of your employees and customers will be millennials. We’re all lucky because they are not that complicated, they are the same people as employees and customers and they speak the same language.

Morris: Which question had you hoped to be asked during this interview – but weren’t – and what is your response to it?

Negroni: “Why, Dan, do you think it is important to lead a healthy life, mind, body and career?” Because we must put our oxygen mask on first. Balanced lives with mind, body and career allow us to bring the most to others. If we cannot take care of ourselves first, how can we serve others?

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Dan Negroni on “Chasing Relevance”: Part 1 of an interview by Bob Morris

 

Dan Negroni</strong> founded <a href=”http://launchbox365.com/” target=”_blank”>launchbox</a> to help businesses unleash the creativity and potential of today’s new Gen Y workforce. He is a CEO coach, consultant, keynote speaker, and chief launch officer for today’s critical cross-generational issues, bridging the gap between managers and their millennial workforce to increase employee engagement, productivity and profits. He leverages his authentic, no-nonsense approach and a successful 20+ year career as a CEO, attorney, and senior sales and marketing executive, to reinvigorate businesses and people.

 

Prior to founding launchbox, Dan served as CEO for start-up businesses in the health and fitness market and for a national consulting firm. He also held senior roles in sales, marketing and operations for a variety of service businesses in the technology industry. He was responsible for managing teams as large as 1,500 people to create 100s of millions of dollars in sales and significant increases in enterprise valuation. In conjunction with most of his roles, he also served as companies’ general counsel and supervised the legal and HR functions. He attended Georgetown Law Center and started his legal career as corporate and business attorney at Morgan Lewis in New York. Dan is a member of the California Bar.

 

Dan is an active member and frequent presenter at several organizations, including Vistage, University of California – San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University, and local news stations. Dan is also an active philanthropist, serving as board member and development chair for the Jenna Druck Center, participating in efforts to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Monarch School and Jewish Family Services. He resides in Del Mar, Calif., with his wife of 25 years and the youngest of his three children, and is an avid health and fitness nut, running, biking, swimming and doing anything else he can to fight off looking his age.

 

His book, <em><strong><a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Relevance-Understand-Generation-Workplace/dp/0692643257/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1471552759&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=chasing+relevance” target=”_blank”>Chasing Relevance</a></strong>: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace </em>, was published by lunchbox (August 2016).

 

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<strong>Morris:</strong> Before discussing <strong><em>Chasing Relevance</em></strong>, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?

 

<strong>Negroni:</strong> Wow, great question. I vacillate on the answer to that question. In the deep of night I would have to say it is my wife. Since the young age of 18 my wife has been my best friend, my sounding board and the mirror to my personal growth as a dad, husband, friend, mentor, coach, businessman and human. Throughout life and my quest to determine my true impact she has cautiously encouraged and questioned me and eventually given me the opportunity to do what I love. Help others be their best, just as she has either knowingly or unknowingly done for me.

 

<strong>Morris:</strong> The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?

 

<strong>Negroni:</strong> As stated I have to give my wife first credit in both areas because who you are personally when no one is looking is really who you are when you are conducting business or practicing your profession. Professionally, I would have to say that I have had so many mentors along the way, from my Dad, to Bernie Berkovits, to every client, boss and partner I had in between. So many of them have taught me so much. Two that stand out along the way are Jim Walters and Jon Gilbert. Jon gave me my first opportunity to become a successful businessman after practicing law and taught me many strategic business lessons and Jim trusted me and gave me the opportunity to find myself and the mentor within.

 

<strong>Morris:</strong> Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.

 

<strong>Negroni:</strong> I think the epiphany came when I realized how much business success was related to who people were when they were accomplishing their tasks and running their businesses. More importantly, what were they doing to truly empower those people they worked with and inspire them to be their best self. The first few times I was able to help someone create real results personally, I was hooked, and, I mean fully hooked. It took me a while to be able to do it unconditionally, not worrying what I got back in return but once I truly understood that it was about sharing my gift to help people and not about me is when the value started to soar. And by the way it is still something I keep in check, daily.

 

<strong>Morris:</strong> To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?

 

<strong>Negroni:</strong> Another great question. I also believe that education formally and informally are equally important, however, my formal education has allowed me to help others by being credible and credible because I learned how to articulate value and information in a way that affects the audience.

 

My formal business school training was fun and really just an introduction to concepts and theories and confirmation that I could comprehend concepts. The next test was could I really implement the things I learned to serve others. My law school education really taught me how to understand people and challenges in an amazingly helpful way. It taught me how to analyze situations and suggest and create implementation tactics to win. These skills have been applied to sales, marketing, management and empowerment and tactical coaching. Particularly, the process of “IRAC.” Issues, Rules, Analysis and Conclusion. If I approach all challenges for others in this modality we can win. When I learned to layer the art of relationship building through Story Telling on top of the IRAC foundation it has been a homerun!

 

<strong>Morris:</strong> What do you know now about the business world that you wish you knew when you went to work full-time for the first time? Why?

 

<strong>Negroni:</strong> Quite simply, the more you care about people and communicate that you can solve their challenges and needs, people will buy that all day long. Couple that with asking amazing questions that are probative, thoughtful and authentic and you enable trust from others. That trust allows you to go forth and impact those that understand such caring.

 

<strong>Morris:</strong> Of all the films that you have seen, which – in your opinion – best dramatizes important business principles? Please explain.

 

<strong>Negroni:</strong> I’m not sure one film stands out. I will tell you this, each film I watch teaches me lessons about story telling and connection currency of emotional reactions. Most of our creative writers and directors are so good at perspective, fun, and teaching life situations. I cannot go to the movies without being inspired in some way about growing my business, meeting people or open thought about how to approach life. The cutest and most related to the millennial concept we write about is clearly <strong><em>The Intern</em></strong> with Robert Deniro. So many myths and exaggerations but underneath it all just a story about caring about people authentically!

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Here is a direct link to the complete Part 1 of the interview.

<span class=”font-size-3″ style=”font-family: georgia,palatino;”>Dan invites you to check out the resources at these websites:</span>

<span class=”font-size-3″ style=”font-family: georgia,palatino;”>launchbox <a href=”http://launchbox365.com/”>link</a></span>

<em><strong>Chasing Relevance</strong></em> Amazon <a href=”https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Relevance-Understand-Generation-Workplace/dp/0692643257/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1475681149&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=chasing+relevance”>link</a>

LinkedIn <a href=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-negroni-esq-b7262b5″>link</a>

<span class=”font-size-3″ style=”font-family: georgia,palatino;”>Facebook <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/Launchbox365/”>link</a></span>

YouTube videos <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=dan+negroni”>link</a>

Forbes article <a href=”http://www.forbes.com/sites/tonydicostanzo/2016/07/25/maximize-your-millennials-as-next-generation-leaders/#78d2240d5176″>link</a>

FHV interview <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CC0TLqkhfQ”>link</a>

 

 

Dan invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

launchbox link

Chasing Relevance Amazon link

LinkedIn link

Facebook link

YouTube videos link

Forbes article link

FHV interview link

 

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