Spotlight on Dr. Jann Freed of

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Hello, this is Jane Gardner of finding your purpose, and today we’re on a mission to create awareness that being self-aware of your personality and your purpose in life, can you make you more intentional in your actions and bring you more success in your business, your relationships and your life? So let’s go. Welcome, everybody. This is Jane Gardner finding your purpose TV and today on finding your purpose Spotlight, we’re talking to Jann Freed, PhD.

Sorry, my apologies to Dr. Jan Freed, Ph.D. She was a college professor of business management and leadership. And after 30 years as a tenured professor and endowment chair, she started an encore career as a leadership development and change management consultant. And she is the author of several books and co-author of a list of five books. And her last book is Leading with Wisdom Sage Advice from One Hundred Experts, which we’ll be talking about. And we’ll also be talking about her new book.

So, Jann, welcome. Welcome. Please just say hello and say hello. I’m pleased to be here.

And it was nice to make a connection with Jane. And thank you very much for inviting me to your show.

Oh, thank you. Thank you. Jan, one of the things that I love to talk about with people is finding their purpose. And obviously, you’ve been doing your purpose for a long time. So but I’d like to talk about your new purpose, which is the Leadership Development and change management consultant and how you got to that journey, because, of course, you previously were in academics. So thank you. How did that happen?

Yeah, well, it’s interesting. So I fell into higher education teaching and absolutely loved it, had a lot of different courses. And but I had to drive two hours a day, an hour each way to get to my work and. When my kids graduate from college, my husband said, you know, we can afford to take a risk, you’re tired of driving. And I wanted to I was at the stage of my life where I want to give back to the community. And I couldn’t give back to the community where I live because I worked out of town and I couldn’t give back to where I worked because I lived out of town. So I had to make a change and I have not looked back. Fortunately, I was able to teach a graduate leadership course for a different university for the past 10 years. So I kept my foot into teaching. And as a leadership development person, you know, I do workshops, I do speaking, I do some coaching. And it’s really the same skill set that I enjoyed so much when I was teaching full time. So I eliminated grading papers, which is always kind of the hardest part about teaching. So I don’t have to do that. And I can still use some of the same skills and I have just loved it. And so that’s kind of been my journey taking really kind of taking the same skills that I like to use, but to a different audience.

Oh, wow. Yeah, that’s great. And I guess I probably started writing books when you were in academics because that’s probably one of the requirements. But you’re now doing maybe you could tell us when you started your leadership book, Leading with Wisdom and that you’re writing a new one. And what what we can claim from that.

I know that’s that’s good, Jane. I really started the leadership book. I was on sabbatical in two thousand or two thousand five, and my oldest son was graduating from high school and I wanted to be home more with since that was his last year home.

But in order to get a sabbatical, I had a research project. So I started this project. And it’s kind of interesting. I met Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, and he was speaking at a big presentation, giving a big presentation where I live. And I was able to kind of chat with him afterwards. And in talking with him, he said, give me a call. We’ll talk about this, because I asked if I could be an apprentice, if I could come study under him. I said I was going to be on sabbatical and I wanted to learn from him. Would that be possible? And he said, well, I’ve never had anybody asked me that before. So he said, why don’t you give me a call? So I called him and we had a conversation and he said, you know, you don’t need to come learn from me. He said, let’s just talk about what it is you want to do. So he asked me several questions and I said, well, I love to interview people. I love to you know, leadership is my focus. I had I held an endowed chair in leadership and character development. And so I said, that’s my focus. I love to interview people. And he said, well, everybody’s he said there are a lot of people writing leadership books and everybody’s got the seven habits of this or the ten principles of that. And he said no one’s really tying it together. So he said, why don’t you be that person? So why don’t you reach out, interview some of the top people and analyze the data and tie it together. So I set off on this journey and it says Sage advice from one hundred experts. But I really interviewed more than one hundred people. And I continue to interview people. It’s just kind of a hobby. And I have a blog and I have a podcast series called Becoming a Sage. And you can learn more about that on my website. But so I started interviewing these people and that was about in twenty five and about 2010, I was now maybe nine twenty nine. I was done interviewing people basically for the book and I started analyzing the data and then I started contacting publishers. And the book was published by ATT Association for Training and Development. And each chapter is a theme that emerged out of the research. And so I’m really proud of the book because I think it’s timeless, it’s not it’s not really what I think it’s what I learned from interviewing what I think some of the top thought leaders in the field, some of these people have now are now deceased, such as Warren Benis and William Bridges, a real expert on transitions.

Angelas, Arean, I integrate a lot of different areas of which I looked for experts, but I think it’s timeless what I learned and we can talk more about that. So anyway, that’s about sage advice from one hundred.

Oh, well, yeah. So it’s actually it’s actually quite an older book in the in that year, you know, before what the Internet is now. So that’s awesome because some good is great. I’ve got that upstairs and I haven’t read it yet, so I’m going to have to read it now that, you know, you have met him at this point. The phrase good to go you here. You’re talking about that. Yeah, right. Oh, yeah.

It was published in 2013. But I really do think the methodology that I used and the analysis that I did, I really think it’s timeless. And what’s interesting, Jane, is my driving question. I had I really only had five questions and then I would probe. But my driving question was, how can I best prepare people to be the kinds of leaders needed in these uncertain times? Since the book was published, the times have only become more uncertain. So I think the time the book is even more relevant now than when it was published.

Oh, yeah, I’ve got the book and I haven’t read it yet, so we’ll be talking at another time again about the book and leadership. But but for now, maybe we could just have a quick summary of maybe well, it’s some of the top tips from the leaders that you also use in your practice. Obviously, when you’re doing your change management, leadership development that you’ve incorporated into your own training, that would be great.

Yeah, well, again, I know this is on your website, but if if listeners go to my website. Yeah, you can download my top ten tips for leading during crises and they really come out of my book. But what I would share right now is the fact that leaders during this pandemic, the critical skills or what we call the soft skills, and these are the skills that are often not taught in business schools, in business courses, you know, maybe in organizational behavior or leadership. But the soft skills are those that are hard to they’re qualitative. They’re not quantitative. They’re I say the answers are not in the back of the book. So the soft skills are those interpersonal dynamic relationships skills. And when I’m doing workshops and courses and teaching and coaching, I emphasize that leadership is not about a position, it’s not about a title, it’s about a relationship. And so there is not a time when relationships and creating and cultivating and sustaining and nurturing relationships are there’s not a time that’s better than right now because anxiety is high emotional. Everybody’s on edge, emotions are very fragile.Leaders need to pay attention to these relationships and leaders don’t have to have answers. They need to just listen to what people need and reach out and check in. One of the things that I emphasize in my coaching is for leaders to just check in. You don’t have to have an agenda. It doesn’t have to be a meeting. Just check in and find out how are people doing, what are they willing to share? And based on what they’re willing to share, then you as a leader can determine what they need.

I think that’s critical during during these times. So, yeah, that’s for sure.

That’s that’s very exciting. I’m so glad that you’re in a certain place that I am in terms of leadership. I think it’s very important to have those those soft skills. And you’re right, they don’t teach it in school. I’m not sure why, but maybe you know why.

But there are forces. I mean, I when I go full time, I taught organizational behavior, which is a you know, a soft skill for leaders. But what I think is interesting and for your listeners, they can Google this. But at Stanford, there’s a course called it’s known as the touchy feely course, and it’s in the Stanford MBA program. And it’s it’s like the most popular course on campus because of the reputation it has received over the years. And if your listeners Google this, if they just Google Stanford, touchy feely course, Stanford has just now their faculty are taking it on the road to corporations because those skills are so desperately needed. Right. And it’s it’s interesting to me that these are the skills that are lacking in the workplace right now. And when people are stressed and they’re under when leaders are stressed and under anxiety and, you know, it’s easy to forget that these are the skills that are needed. And if you don’t feel comfortable practicing these skills, leaders are likely not to use them when they’re needed most. So Stanford’s taking this course on the road, and I find that very interesting. There was a recent article in The Wall Street Journal that talks about this saying,

wow, I have to check that one out for sure.

I had had a discussion with people. Hopefully this isn’t too I mean, you know, about culture and how there’s a problem with cultural differences when you’re a leader. And obviously to do leadership, you need to be able to coach them on understanding different cultures for sure. Just wondering if you could just speak briefly on that, because it’s something people don’t really talk about, because it’s sort of.

In a way, for some right now, it’s kind of interesting because, again, as you mentioned in the introduction, I taught for 30 years at an undergraduate, it was a liberal arts, small liberal arts college. And we only had undergraduate courses there. And I created a course. Now, I’ve been gone for 10 years. So but when I was there for twenty five years, I taught a diversity course and I called it managing and valuing cultural diversity. And then I created this whole course. And really every year when I would teach it, I would say to the students, I hope there’s a year when this course is no longer needed because people just value diversity. They get it, they appreciate it. And of course, we’ve seen with the Black Lives Matter and women me too movement, we see where these skills are still lacking big time. Yeah. So it’s kind of interesting that I taught this course for twenty five years now. What’s ironic about it is these kinds of courses, people who tend to take these kinds of courses tend to already appreciate diversity. So you’re kind so sometimes you’re preaching to the choir for the majority of students. They love this. They love it. But in that cause, I talked about every aspect of diversity that we had, a very broad umbrella. Diversity was a broad umbrella that under this umbrella we would talk about age, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity for sure, social status. We got into look ism. Yeah, that’s great. I’m forgetting that we really talked about a wide variety of disability or very important. And then I would say they had to do a lot of reading.They had to do a lot of writing, they had to journal. And on every topic, I would bring in a guest speaker because I said to the students in the syllabus, I said, I’m a white woman. I’m a straight heterosexual white woman. I cannot speak from personal experience, from all these different aspects, so I would bring in a guest speaker and sometimes two, depending on the topic for every topic. I mean, I would bring in a former student who was blind because of an accident but had a corporate job. I would bring in people using a wheelchair. I would bring in a lesbian woman and I would bring in a lesbian couple who had kids. I would bring in someone from the Jewish perspective because the college that I taught at was faith based would from a Christian tradition. So I would bring in someone from the Jewish faith, bring in a black colleague of mine from Ethiopia, bring just a whole lot of people. And students would get their eyes open because it’s so easy to just look at life and look at work from their own perspective. So to me, it was a very valuable, very moving course. And I always learned something. I would bring in at least one, if not two people living with AIDS. Oh, you know, early on when I first started teaching the course, Jane, you know, the time when people thought it was a gay, Nancy, and is how our culture has evolved since then. So it was very moving. So you’re right. I mean, diversity matters. And today the whole idea is get over fears, you know, and say to the students, you don’t have to understand these various aspects of diversity. You may never understand it, but you have to be respectful because you’re going to be working with and for people who are different than you. And the goal is how can you be fair? And I would say to the students, we all have prejudice and figure out what they are, because if you don’t acknowledge them, you can’t overcome them. And I say to the students, OK, I’ll share mine. I said, it’s been really it’s been really hard for me with tattoos because I grew up when I was younger. Tattoos were not politically correct. They weren’t acceptable. And and it’s become like now a fashion statement or and so I said, I’ve had to really overcome that. I want to be fair. And I want to be I have to realize that tattoos don’t matter. And so I really had to work on that. So I think when when people like myself admit to others, I mean, we’re all prejudice in some way. And but we can’t overcome that if we don’t acknowledge it and address it and be aware of it. That’s an acknowledgement. Please be aware, because the whole goal is we need to be fair. We need to be fair. So it’s amazing to me that in twenty 20, in some ways we’ve gone backwards. Yeah.Or some people say the conversation has started again, which, which is good.

But I do have to say my husband would probably divorce me if I got myself a tattoo because he has the same prejudice on tattoos. Yeah. Yeah.

But anyway so what’s so exciting is that you’re writing your new book and I do not know what death through a difference is, so I’d love to speak to you to speak on that chapter because that is that is so intriguing.

I would say that answer a few questions here with that question. First of all, my book I’ve created this concept called Breadcrumb Legacy and Bread Crumb Legacy. I often say in workshops or courses or when I’m speaking, when do we leave our legacy? And people say, well, when we leave, OK, well, what do you mean by leave? Well, when we die, when we retire, when we leave a job.

And I say that’s true. All of that’s very true. But we’re leaving it all the time. What about when we leave this meeting? What about when I leave this interview with Jane right now? I’m leaving some breadcrumbs behind for all of your listeners, for all of your everyone in your audience. I’m leaving some bread crumbs right now. And sometimes bread crumbs are positive. Sometimes they’re not so positive. And so when we’re aware of this, I think we live our life more intentional and more thoughtful and respectful if we care about the trail we’re leaving behind. And so my book is all about Breadcrumb Legacy. I don’t really have an official title yet. I’m working on the chapters, but one of the chapters is called Death Through a Different Lens. And what this is about is and really this book is an outgrowth of my last book, Leading with Wisdom, because one of my conclusions in that book is it’s hard to be a good leader if you’re not a good person. So I’m kind of picking up where I left off. And so this Breadcrumb Legacy book, it’s really about how to be a good leader and how to be a good person. And one of the fears, big fears in life is this whole idea of death. And so I developed a leadership course based on what I was learning during my research with leading with wisdom. And one of the things that I was learning is the sages said, you know, leaders need to learn about death, dying and grief because industries are dying, companies are dying, positions are evaporating and people are dealing with a lot of grief. And what I find fascinating is during the pandemic, death has become up close and personal. I mean, we’re getting death by county, by state by country, by its death is up close and personal. And we’re reading about it, hearing about it. In fact, in my local state my local newspaper there featuring every Sunday, they’re featuring people who have died within the state, died from coping well. So it’s kind of a take on 9/11 here, remembering these people, because they’re not just numbers. It’s easy to just think of them as statistics and they’re not statistics or people and they have families. And so this whole concept of very this whole idea of death is very personal. And so when I really did kind of a deep dive, when the sages said you need to be teaching leaders about death, dying and grief, because these are again, these are skills not taught in business courses. And they were not skills that I taught in my qualitative soft skill courses. So I started integrating them and I found out that sharing what I was learning and really teaching people about grief. And I’ve got exercises and assignments and activities that they had to do. But teaching them about this, I found that students twenty to twenty two year old, it really resonated with them that when I would present papers about this at conferences, academic conferences, my colleagues, my peers would say, does this really go how does this go over with twenty to twenty two year olds? Aren’t they too young to get this? And I would say no, it really resonates with them. And my theory is the earlier they have. These girls are younger, they are the better off they are, they live their life differently because so and we can go into more of that for sure. Yeah. Next time you’ve got so many topics to talk about. This is so narrow. And that’s one thing I never thought about until I turned 50. Oh, are you going to be the younger people are when they understand this, I think the better off they are. Yeah, for sure. They do things differently. That’s so great.

So this is actually going to be a leadership book in that it’ll be about still about your leadership and change management and everything.

Yeah, it really it’s going to kind of cross over into a couple genres in terms of leadership and human development and. Your life and you had another chapter, which, of course, is intriguing, become a nobody. I’m not sure why I would want to become a nobody.

So, yeah, well, it’s kind of interesting that it goes along with legacy work in terms in terms of we spend basically the first half of our life becoming somebody, whether it’s in school or college in our career. We really want to become a somebody who are we become? And the last half of our life is more about becoming a nobody. It’s really about, you know, one of my peers in this area, she talks about the shift from goal to role or goal to soul. So like the first half of your life, it’s all about goals in the second half of your life. It’s all about what role do you want to play in life or or soul? What’s your soul telling you to do? And so that’s really about, you know, kind of what I have become a nobody is the second half of life. It’s really about what can you know, what kind of impact do you have on others or are you happy now or what do you want to have one? And that’s more the soul and role versus the goal anyway. Why become a nobody is really letting go of the ego. It’s not all about you anymore. It’s what difference are you making? Yeah. Yeah I know, I know.

A lot of time now I’m thinking about legacy and can I make a difference. And even in a small way with other, with other people. And that’s why I’m doing this as well myself, because I don’t have to do this but I want to I want to leave a legacy.

I want to be able to change at least some people’s other lives. So. Yeah, yeah. So so I’m going to we’re going to probably wrap up for today. I am definitely going to have you again because we have so much to talk about. Yeah. I think next time we’ll talk about your your old book. But today I just wanted to find out from you on your website, I forgot to ask you. I didn’t realize you had a podcast. So what what’s that about.

And yeah, I do have a podcast called Becoming a Sage. And actually I just created a private Facebook group that people want to search. It’s called Becoming a Sage, and that’s about creating more of a conversation with people who want to talk about positive aging, conscious aging, leading with wisdom. That’s what that’s about. But I have a monthly podcast where I interview some of the top thought leaders in the field of positive aging. And if they find if they subscribe to my website, they would get it. So that’s once a month. And if they Googled, if they just went to jann freed with two N’s and two E’s , if they went to jann freed podcast, they just Googled that my previous podcast would pop up. I had a leader, actually, I had a leadership summit last summer in June, and those are posted on my YouTube site. And I was asking really some really influencers, leaders at all ages, how they think leadership is going to change based on the pandemic. Go to my YouTube channel. They just Google jann freed YouTube or go to search search for jann freed, YouTube. Each one of those interviews is listed. I interviewed Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic in Minneapolis. I interviewed I interviewed a variety of people, some answers who write about leadership at the University of Michigan. I interviewed a whole variety of people, some of the top executive coaches, I interviewed Sally Helgason, who writes a lot about women’s leadership. She has many books out. I interviewed a lot of people and I would encourage people to go to my YouTube channel then. And that really focused on leadership. How that might change during because of the. So I’m I’m staying busy just like I don’t have to do this. My mission is to continue to learn and share what I’m learning with others. And I do that writing, blogging, podcasts, and, of course, consulting for sure.

So if so, if anyone wants to talk to you about leadership consulting and and change management, do

they just go to your website or I would go to my website. I’ve got a contact page. They can just send me an email and they’d be wonderful. I’d love some. Wow.

Yeah. Well, I do want to say I met Jane through

Yeah, that’s for sure. That was started by Daniel Pink and it’s all about giving and helping others. And so I want to thank Jane for helping me. And I offered to help Jane in any way possible.

So, yeah, we’re all we’ve got good good vibrations. I like yeah. I loved Daniel Pink I’ve got all his books, but yeah, that giving gravitas has been really good for me and getting a lot of people to volunteer for interviewing which is great. So I’d like to thank you again for coming on today and spending some time with me and we’ll be spending more time for sure. So thank you very much.

OK, yeah. Thank you. Holidays. Yes. Happy holidays.

Yeah. For a copy of Dr. Jan’s book, Leading with Wisdom, go to Amazon and for free copy of the top 10 Tips for leading during crisis’s, go to and you can search for her podcast becoming a sage as well. On Facebook. She has a private Facebook group. For those who would like to talk further about becoming a sage, thank you for listening.

For more on finding your purpose, go to https:// finding your purpose TV.Com and you can find us on Roku and finding your purpose as well. You can find us on YouTube. Look for finding your purpose. See you there.