DEI Advisors Podcast

Stuart Greif, Executive VP, Forbes Travel Guide interviewed by David Kong

January 11, 2024 David Kong
DEI Advisors Podcast
Stuart Greif, Executive VP, Forbes Travel Guide interviewed by David Kong
Show Notes Transcript

Stuart shares the pivotal moments that altered his career trajectory. He offers his ideas on improving diversity, equity and inclusion as well as allyship. We discuss his role as a strategic adviser and the best advice he has given and received. Stuart offers tips on improving one’s persuasion skills and building a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

David Kong:

Greetings, I'm David Kong, the founder and principal of DEI Advisors. We are a non profit organization based in Arizona. Our mission is to empower personal success. Today, I'm delighted to welcome Stuart Greif. He is the executive vice president, chief strategy, innovation, and operating officer at Forbes Travel Guide. Welcome, Stuart.

Stuart Greif:

Thank you, David. Thrilled to be here and congratulations on all the incredible success of DEI Advisors. I love the program and follow the podcast religiously.

David Kong:

Thank you. I appreciate those kind words. Stuart, let's start with your career journey. What are some of the pivotal moments that changed your career trajectory? And what are some of the factors that contributed to your success?

Stuart Greif:

Yeah, when I look back, it's really some of the bigger decisions where you're taking calculated risk, where it was about switching gears or taking on a new role and challenge in ways that at times were you know, scary or anxiety producing or saying Ooh, if this doesn't work out, what do I do? And I think, Amazon, the tech company has a great way of thinking about things. The notion of some decisions in life are one way doors. They're irrevocable, right? You have a child, you have a family. But many of them are two way doors that are easily reversible, but in our minds, we constrain ourselves thinking that if I do try something and it doesn't work out after six months, it's not the end of the world. You can look at different pivots or have different options. And I think, the critical success factors to me, I think a lot of it, it's this balance of, constant, especially this generation growing up and into the future of constant learning. of finding challenge. You build muscle through resistance, right? We build experience in life. And, I have friends that stayed in the same role at the same company and everything went well, let's say over a decade. But they really weren't being challenged or learning or advancing or growing professionally, right? They weren't challenged where they had a difficult conversations or where they had to learn and adapt to new changes in the market. And so I think there's a point we all know internally when we've been there, done that enough and something becomes easier. And there's nothing wrong. You might have tradeoffs in the personal life or other factors why that makes sense, income, paying down student loans, etcetera. But over time, what you don't want to do is be in a place where. You're just doing the same thing without growing because over the arc of your career And somebody else said this the same way money compounds when you invest early and over time that kind of builds Wealth the same thing is true in how you invest in yourself. And so for me It was seeking a lot of different roles initially in consulting. It was doing a lot of different jobs when I worked for more traditional company after business school and then certainly in the travel industry, it's been doing everything from startups, one that became a unicorn to being Microsoft's global exec and travel and hospitality along with a couple other folks to this wonderful opportunity I had with Forbes travel guide where I continue to do a lot of different things that constantly stretch and challenge me. The trick is, not to do something that tears. You don't want to take, I know some people talk about YOLO, you only live once. You don't want to be reckless, right? It's the calculated in the words you talked about, calculated risks that make sense.

David Kong:

That is so wonderful to hear. And I've heard other leaders talk about the importance of taking calculated risks. And as you mentioned, many decisions are Two ways. You can always pivot and do something different. It's not going to kill you. And I also like the lesson about continuous learning and continuously reinventing yourself so you are not stuck in a status quo. Those are really good lessons. Thank you for sharing that. we all faced many challenges in our careers. And I was wondering if you can share your general approach to challenges.

Stuart Greif:

Yeah, I think, the way I think about it my wife and I teach our kids. Nobody learns to ride a bicycle the first time without falling off and scraping your knee and injuring yourself. So I think this, a reframing. Oftentimes we think about challenges or constraints or things in ways where it throws us for a loop as opposed to embracing. That's the very nature of work life, right? There are going to be things that are unfair. There are going to be things that don't go your way. There's going to be unexpected surprises. Look at covid for industry. You can't plan for everything. So I think the first thing is having An open mind being able to embrace and understand, and it's okay to have that be challenging, right? But the question is, so what? And now what? What is it I can control and do? How can I collaborate with others? It's also, I think, natural and human nature. That can create a withdrawn or fear or sometimes lashing out because it doesn't feel good inside in ways that we might project that on others. That holds us back. So I think, there's a little bit of the mastery of yourself internally of how do you look at challenges as opportunities? How do you? Take the, we talk about challenge an idea, not the person, right? And oftentimes it, and I think we'll get to this in the conversation a little later when it comes to diversity. Our natural set is to have things that are comfortable to affiliate with people that remind us of ourselves. As a default and to have kind of this grouping of us and others and change is bad. And that's in our DNA. So that every time, there was a threat outside. We didn't die, as animals, right? As human beings. And over time, you learn, hey, that tree isn't going to kill me. I don't have to worry about that as a threat. So I really think a lot of it is the internal mindset and mastery. People talk about growth mindsets. How can you be constructive? I'm also still as a senior executive. At guilty at times, and it's something I've cultivated in work. over my career to be able to step back and say it's okay to have that reaction or even to then but so what and now what are you going to do about it because nobody owes you anything in this world right and people want to we want to work right david when you led at best western you did exceptional job people want to work with people they like people that inspire them people that try to help find solutions And as a leader, it's also our roles to help bring people along to not just look at them negatively because they have an innately human reaction, but it helped, whether it's change or challenges or development in their careers to find constructive ways to support and advance them in everybody's best interest. So true.

David Kong:

Thanks for sharing that thought. You are absolutely right. You mentioned diversity, you are known in industry as a very powerful advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion. And you've also been recognized as a strong ally for women. Tell me, how do you think the industry can improve on these efforts?

Stuart Greif:

I think the, if it's okay, if I could just step out back a little bit for just some macro thoughts that apply to not just women, but people that are, diverse and my role and all of our roles, all of your listeners who are listening, whether you're a person who looks like me or somebody, is of a diverse background. I, I think if I were to ask just from a pure business standpoint, and we are in business If I had something you could do today that you could control in your business and it is going to result quantitatively based on data, Harvard Business Review's data, more revenue, more profitability, lower costs, greater employee morale, happier customers, and greater satisfaction of all stakeholders involved in your business as a CEO, as an executive, all the way down to an analyst or entry level position, nobody in this world would say, Hey, No, right? And I think some of it may be a bit of this reframing that diverse teams just simply perform better, right? They bring different thoughts, different ideas. They understand different elements of the customer supplier base employees. They have a variety of experiences and tools to solve problems in different contexts where somebody that may not be able to help solve in 1 is the 1 person who has the experiential basis to do it. And as a leader. You need to be able to cultivate and enable and catalyze that and channel it in a constructive way. So I think All of us are in business. If you're not putting diversity first as a core value, you are doing a diverse service to your business, to your shareholders, to your employees, to your customers. The second thing I'll say, and I think I've got, three hot takes on it, if you will. And then I'm happy to dig in is even from the business perspective, when you think about Opportunity. There's somebody famously said, and I believe it was a woman. It's a quote that's been around for a while, so it's not mine. But, talent is equally distributed. Opportunity is not. Right? So talent is everywhere. But by merit of me being, let's say, born in the United States versus in a small village in an area that's a developing country, I have opportunities that others don't. The same is true. And if we're intellectually honest recognizing that and then looking to our organizations, there is so much untapped talent potential that is not being levered. And the third thing I said it hearkens a little bit to what I talked about, what's in our human nature. We affiliate with people we're comfortable with that remind us of us naturally. And the more we get broader experiences in our life, I happen to live. overseas in a country in Asia and had the opportunity to do that on a scholarship that brought in not just when it came to diversity of people from that region, but how my mind looked at life. Common human experiences could be manifest differently. The more experiences, the more exposure diversify us because historically business culture has been led and run. I'll say in the U. S. This is going to vary by country and around the world by people that look like me in terms of gender. In terms of ethnicity and color by default, we bias, even people that are well intentioned, even myself today, as much as I appreciate all of that, those kind words, they mean something to me because others feel they have an impact to recognize me, not for my ego or because, it's important. It's even more incumbent on those of us who reflect what has been the historical or legacy or existing kind of power structure to recognize a lot of that is in ways that indirectly we're self reinforcing and in doing so we're cutting against the first thing I said, what's best for our business and just from a moral ethical and recognizing that there is talent that we are turning our backs on, which relates, frankly, to the performance. It's incumbent upon us, and I think it has to be a kind of core value that people get around. And the people that get it are the people you want to connect to help make change happen. It starts with each of us individually, and then from there, finding others who understand that and creating that culture.

David Kong:

I love everything that you said. All three points are very well made and especially like reframing the conversation. DEI and allyship are good for business It's actually a business imperative. I love that. Now, staying on the topic of diversity. Diversity of course, is more than mere representation, but harnessing the true power of diversity is really complex and difficult, requires a lot of time and effort. How can we better cultivate an inclusive culture?

Stuart Greif:

I think first of all, I would say I'm not the end all be all the expert. So I'll share some additional thoughts. I love all your interviews that you've had with so many people. And it's this in aggregate, everybody's great advice experience on that. So I'll add a couple of things, I think, to the conversation, it obviously, the more senior you are, The more you can inculcate that into your culture, the greater your span of responsibility and ability to put that in motion. And it's in words, but more importantly, it's in action. Allyship and advocacy means doing things and oftentimes things that may cause frictions or be challenging. For example, I, as an individual, we have an upcoming event. I have a panel and we also have this kind of future oriented installation. I have more than 50 percent of that represented by people of diverse backgrounds in terms of speakers and those presenting many are women as well. And in doing that, I'm making a statement, but there were a couple of gaps where I didn't have a person. In mind that I knew directly and I used my network to find someone that I felt rounded out. There are a couple of people that look and sound like me and have my background, right? How can I pull in other people? And oftentimes you hear there's only so many people in the same people get asked to speak. If you go a tier down, there are people of all backgrounds. Regardless, gender, race, cultural context, BLG there are so many different elements of that. You need to challenge yourself to go a little further to use your network to ask for somebody that has a little bit different take or background. And so again, going to the first couple points of the business imperative, the moral ethical imperative and this talent pool. By doing that, we're also helping create that next generation to have those voices heard to give them the experience to develop them. And I think it's also speaking when people aren't in the room. I've talked about this in other times. It's, oftentimes women or people of color may not be in the room. In hospitality, I think we're fortunate. The B. L. G. T. Q. Community is more represented maybe in travel. I don't want to say overrepresented or strong links. There are significant barriers depending what country and everywhere else. So I think the degree to which. I think we've made significant progress with women, but have longer to go with women and with people of different backgrounds, including gender, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, which I'm happy to see coming on. So it, it is the thing when somebody is not in the room, especially if you look like me, to advocate. If you're a person of a diverse background, it's trying to find the people like me, the coaches, build yourself your own personal, kind of board of directors and do it based on your personal interests, right? Networking, it's a, I used to hate networking and I still do for its own sake. There'd be no reason for me to go up to you, David, at an event. And say, Hi, I'm Stuart. It might be nice if I appreciated your keynote. But the question is, what are things that are you're passionate about or you're leading that I might have an interest or expertise to ask to get your feedback or simply saying, how's the event for you? What's of interest. And there might be touch points. So do it based on the. things that you're passionate about, and that's going to lead naturally to conversations. Not every conversation will be a connection, but I think it starts with each and every one of us and the responsibility and it's got to be action oriented. And real quick, I'll just share this. For me, one of one of the things was, reaching out to the head of a major hospitality conference when there was a panel posted on linked in and it was all a bunch of white men. And it was approaching it not in a way be easy to be like, Hey, what, what are you thinking? Or in a way that could be contentious confrontational instead of recognizing love. I know it's challenging. I know there are things I'd love to hear about it. It stands out to me because right in this conference, this is your leadership panel. There's no women. There are no people of color. And, maybe in that one battle, it was already baked into the event. But I have no doubt that person in that event has good intention. So I got it. To create a friendly conversation instead of pissing someone off part of my language, right? And hopefully him and his team as they go forward, calling it out in a way where I'm also somebody senior. And I think finding constructive ways to ask the question or raise it. If you paint somebody in a corner or yourself, it leaves, where to go. And it shouldn't be a cop out to not do these things, but that's uncomfortable, right? It's a hard conversation to say, here's a person I know. I'm taking a risk. You have to be willing to take the risk. You have to be willing to stand up. You have to be willing to be an ally and an advocate, whether that's around compensation, promotions, when women and diverse members aren't in the room, even if it's not in your organization, but you're part of that conversation with your CFO or other Team leaders or other executives. And so by doing that, I think you start cultivating a culture and getting other allies together. To raise a voice collectively, where maybe you're concerned just your voice alone, may not be enough.

David Kong:

Thanks for sharing those stories and your thoughts. I appreciate your speaking up at that conference to the conference organizer. It's not the most comfortable thing to do, but it's something that needed to be done. And I'm sure you did it very respectfully. And I'm sure the organizers listened. Now, switching gears, let's talk about your role as a strategic advisor for several companies. What is your general approach to being a strategic advisor?

Stuart Greif:

Yeah, I think it's there, there are a few things that I think are really critical. One is listening. It's the same thing with mentoring is, the solutions are what a given company or individual needs. It is, potentially very different from what you may presume on the outside. I had a great CEO. I worked for many years ago. Who talked about, the best leaders and CEOs and David, you do this exceptionally well this entire interview. I want to ask you the same questions. Each and every time we're going to have to do a divisor, where we get to ask all of you all the questions, but. People have a high question to statement ratio, right? The leaders are trying to understand. So I think understanding what they need. The second thing is just because you pattern recognize something in the past, the question is, what's your expertise that's going to add value? So I've been approached about being a mentor or strategic advisor or board member a number of times by folks. And I said tell me what you're looking for. I also asked who else do you already have around you? You don't need three people that are experts in AI or supply chain or revenue management or the same area. And oftentimes I've said, look, it could even be speaking at an event. I would love to, but I actually think this person who I know would be a much better fit. Like I have no interest. We were all far too busy and simply like. Being an advisor in name or, being, a mentor just to say you're doing it is, it really is that listening and understanding the base of what they need, ensuring your kind of background fits and that you're a cultural fit, whether that's a company or a personality. And then, being able to understand the larger context to make sure you're adding value.

David Kong:

That's wonderful. I like the listening part and asking thoughtful questions to gauge the need and see if you have the right fit, whether it's from a cultural or experience standpoint and whether you can actually contribute to that success. It's very good advice. I ask you this question because it is akin to mentoring. Understanding the person that you want to mentor. Now, thinking back, you've been strategic advisor for quite a few years. What's the best advice that you have given?

Stuart Greif:

Yeah, I, I think the best advice is always specific to that context and person. So it varied. The best advice that I gave, A given company or my mentee, I'm a mentor with Women in Travel CIC, which I love. I'm obviously, a mentor internally and then in the industry. And then I also strong advocate for Hotelier. female founders in hospitality, et cetera. So I think, the best advice is always going to be specific. I also think it's important to recognize and make sure that the person you're sharing it with and said, look, oftentimes I'll connect people in the industry. I say, this is about the opportunity, not the expectation obligation. It's not about me. And so whether it's a founder, whether it's an executive, whether it's a mentee is, I'm sharing this. I'm one person. This is my point of view. Nobody knows better than you what's right for you. Nobody knows better about your business, what's right for your business and not just our conversation collectively. So I will not be offended, nor should you feel, afraid to push back the question or disregard it. And you don't have to apologize or explain yourself to me. It's, it needs to be given. And shared from the perspective of, this is me opening up to, to share what I do and what I think, but not that kind of onerous expectation of doing it. And that requires a level of, trust and openness and communication that I think is easier to set up when you begin, because when people know that, and as long as you, follow through and are true to that, I think that's true. I think there's some broader, advice that I think I've got and that I think is, Broadly applicable that I'd share to which is, when I was at Microsoft Satya would say, be a learn it all not to know it all right and be a learn it all not to know it all. And that gets to that curiosity. That high question ratio. Oftentimes we come in and we think where people come from inside, outside and they join a new company. It's Oh, everybody here seems to be an idiot, right? Like only, they're coming to save the day or it's no until you understand what people's backgrounds and then help figure out how to, merge and partner your expertise to help lead and evolve you're flying blind. So I think that be a learn it all also means A lot of the people that I know that are, very successful and I'm not saying that you have to be senior. I just mean in terms of finding great fulfillment and satisfaction of adding value of feeling like they're having an impact. It's not about title or level at any point in your career is, they read voraciously and it doesn't mean you have to read war and peace and, although that's fine because, that helps to some of the best strategies, that I've Challenge myself to think about we're from reading about evolution and nature and different ways that animals and plants compete and evolve. But I think really being able to do that, especially in this day and age, I think many people's careers are going to evolve much more quickly with. technology with shifts in the market. And so being able to read, understand, adapt, it also gives you the ability then to have, information to connect with a broader view of people. And that's also experience, not just reading. Be a learn at all means exploring, other cultures, other parts of the world, thinking diversely. In every sense of the word, not just, as human beings, but, in how problems are approached, how different countries and cultures approach them and being adaptive.

David Kong:

I love that, especially love the learn it all that goes back to the continuous learning that we talked about earlier. So important to our success. Now, let's switch gears and talk about persuasion skills, whether we're advocating for ourselves or we're trying to get alignment when there are such diverse opinions. Persuasion skills is very important. Now, how do you hone your persuasion skills and what tips can you provide us?

Stuart Greif:

Yeah, I think earlier in my career was running full speed into brick walls and not realizing it without a helmet. And, I think over time. It's natural, like I said, for us to have our own view. We might be in a part of the organization where we're so deep in an area, but we may not, see the full picture. And so that's where kind of understanding, I think, what are the priorities for the company for different departments for groups, where their incentives aligned in terms of what helps motivate them that would make them do it. For some people, it's a combination of emotional appeal, data driven, right? There might be some people where it's show me the data and other people will be like tell me how this is impacting, in ways that are more qualitative. And so I think over time you again, this is like mastery of yourself and your own emotional state. You got to take that deep breath and say I know it's important, but I don't know how it relates. Let me understand. Let me understand how I can turn this not in the way I describe it, right? for myself that I think is persuasive. But if I'm sitting in the chair of the CFO or the person in marketing or the client or one of my suppliers and by, by being able to do that from a well rounded position to understand, what's in it for them. When I led J. D. Power's Global Travel and Hospitality Group, we had almost no presence in the industry, had very little budget. In order to do that, we were big in other industries. I went on to turn and grow that business as well as nine industry groups. I led strategy, biz dev, M& A for the company and helped double the valuation. But a critical piece was saying, look we used to say, Oh, satisfaction was here and it went there. And you're like, those are just numbers. But one of the things I did was said, what's the story? How does this connect to the industry? And with media it's going to be different for, the Wall Street Journal, then CNBC. I used to appear on Squawk on the Street back then for NPR, then for USA Today. So being able to understand even at that level. From a marketing perspective, the different values and readership and what they would and then adjusting the approach and message. And the same thing is true. I approached Cornell tremendous amount of respect for them. And I knew we had data that was valuable and was able to work out an opportunity to share our data. In return, because you had 100, 000, not only Cornell grads, but people that follow the publication. So where are the people that you're trying to reach in that case Hotel News Network or NewsNow which was an STR company or is Also I took products and things that we developed and was able to be a guest columnist and share some unique proprietary insights. So I think, how you're persuasive, it has to adapt. You have to understand the incentives and bring people along and find other people that get it and are willing to help advocate and partner with you and making the case. Ultimately, if there's not a financial ROI you're probably going to hit it up. Or a business R. O. I. Or if it's not hitting a priority for the company's goals and objectives, it's probably gonna be harder. It doesn't mean you can't achieve it, but you need to understand that as a frame and alignment and figure out a way to align to those needs to align incentives to make that happen.

David Kong:

Such great advice. I've always been a fan of the seven habits of highly effective people. And one of them is seek first to understand, then to be understood. And it's so important because people are wired differently and we have different ways of thinking about things. And it's really important to first seek to understand where they're coming from

Stuart Greif:

and what's important to them. DEI Advisors has grown, it's blossomed. I'd love your tips on persuasion and how you get people involved, and any advice that you have. I'm sure folks will be much more interested in your depth of expertise. Would you mind sharing a couple from your perspective?

David Kong:

It is about trying to understand where they're coming from. From my experience working at Best Western, which is a very diverse organization and many different stakeholders who think differently about the future. It is about understanding what's important to them. What they try to protect and what they want to look for in terms of gains. It's about the fear and greed. What people are afraid of and what they want to gain. And if you can then have solutions that can address all those concerns. I think it's really important to be respectful in trying to understand people and be respectful in giving a solution because there's no such thing as one size fits all. It's one solution that's going to upset some people. And if you're respectful along the way, they're more willing to give you some leeway to try things out. So those are just a few of my learnings from Best Western. I love that. Now we are running a bit tight on time. And I was wondering if I can ask you three more questions. So first, you being a chief innovation officer, how do you foster a culture of innovation and continuous improvement in big organizations?

Stuart Greif:

Thanks. I think you have to, find small wins even as you're working on big stuff and break it down to milestones that people can celebrate and feel good. I think it's about aligning incentives, whether it's salespeople to sell innovative new things and spiff plans or whether it's being able to give people the time and latitude to play. Oftentimes it may be setting up a group separate from the existing business, especially in large organizations. You may know Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen, a Harvard MBA professor. He's, talked about the notion that, as a company that's exceptionally well at executing, it kind of codifies and optimizes on that business model. So to develop something new may die within Apple started the iPhone separate from it. So I think, bringing a mix of people that have, not just a singularity of vision, but different backgrounds, some of which may be the legacy traditional company to help. figure out how to anchor in and maybe bringing outsiders with point solution. But I think a lot of it is also about, how you lead, how you break it down, how you make success visible to communicate and celebrate. and keep this kind of positive growth mindset. It might be winning on a much smaller scale than you want to longer term to earn the right for more budget and advocacy. So instead of, doing an entire country or region, it might be like, how do we show this on a smaller scale as a beta internally? To get the bigger funding and investment to do it, that may actually, be faster than if you try to do it bigger and try to get everybody all at once. So I think there are a variety of ways you can do that. But I think, you have to recognize the traditional culture and business and hierarchy is aligned to the current model. So find ways to align their incentives, their interests and find ways to be able to, as we talked about, I think in this conversation understand people's motivation so you can continue to show progress and build a sense of momentum.

David Kong:

That's great. I love that. And I think it's really important to continue to build that momentum of success. It's important to motivate people through that. Now, you're very accomplished and you've done a lot in your career and looking back with all that you've learned and experienced, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Stuart Greif:

Wear sunscreen, but I think everybody says that. So that's that might not be as helpful. I think it's there are two areas. One is Be willing to take risks. It's that notion of two doors on, on smaller scales. A B test things again. We talk about, like building muscle. I think it's there's probably a point at which I stayed at J. D. Power an extra year or two. And I knew I was, and didn't have the right trade offs. I probably should have moved on, sooner. And that's nothing negative about J. D. Power or any of my colleagues. I had an amazing experience there. So I think it's that kind of pushing yourself to take on new challenges. And when I look back, the biggest risks in my life, the bigger things are the things that give me the greatest satisfaction, whether that was, taking this current role on being at Microsoft, going to a startup going from consulting to a traditional company. And in my personal life, and, I met my wife when we were 1920 years old. And our lives went apart in 24 years later. came back together and I made choices on career, personal side and I've never been happier in my life personally. And same thing professionally. So I think being willing to take those risks and being able to do it in a way that's a two way door, not reckless, but calculated. As you said, David those are things that I would would say are the things that I should pay attention to.

David Kong:

I totally agree with you, especially at a younger age, take even more risks because they're not going to be fatal. Our show is about self empowerment. Wondering if you can give some parting advice on self empowerment.

Stuart Greif:

Yeah, I think it's it's about Melissa Mara, who I know is part of the advisor, former CMO of of Expedia talks about for women asking for what you want. Oftentimes, we may attribute to others that, we're not being seen. We're not being heard. And, whether that's compensation promotion issues. You have to be willing to speak up and do it in a way that's constructive. Oftentimes it's because people are just so busy, right? We're all so busy these days where it's like it may not even be intentional. It may just be, in addition to work, we have no idea what somebody is going through personally in their life. Kids dating, right? Divorce all sorts of things, aging parents. And it's important to be able to show to say, Look, this is what I've achieved this quarter and proactively and the impact you had and talk to me about I would like to be in this role and work towards this career rise can bring somebody around to your side of the table and ask them not at the year end review, but throughout the year for constructive feedback in ways that validate your own, but also pierce their consciousness. So as they look for opportunities find the people that kind of value you and what you're doing. All right, that give you the opportunities to stretch and grow, even raise your hand and say, Hey, I'd love to jump on, I realized we have a lot to do. And these are my primary goals. But, I hear this project. Could I sit in on a meeting? Could I help out in a small way so I can learn and contribute? I think those are things not in a sometimes people are like, Oh, not in a I'm sure in Japan, you say Shining the apple like for the teacher and other parts of the world. We say kissing somebody kissing up I don't mean that at all. But just genuinely it's like if you want to learn, you know Find ways to contribute value or do it, above and beyond what you're doing I think the other thing is networking is find the people where you have interest. I think there are points in my career where I was so focused on just doing what? I was doing 24 7 I didn't have connection that both would have Improved and enhanced my performance and what I could do as well as longer term compounded in a way that I appreciate. I've been recognized for it now, but it's it. It's important block time in your schedule for white space block time in your schedule to connect with people. It is an essential part of doing your job better, even though it may seem like a distraction. And then if we have time, I've got one. Small closing piece of advice. I'd be happy to share just a story that I think relates to it, too.

David Kong:

Yeah, sure. Let me just comment on the 2 things that you mentioned networking, which is vitally important. You've got to network within and outside of your organization. And being an advocate for yourself. That is so important. It's a lesson that I hadn't learned when I was coming up the ladder. It wasn't until about 20 years ago that I learned the importance of being your self advocate. If you don't advocate for yourself, who's going to do that for you? Yeah. You have to do that properly. There's a subtle way of doing it in such a way that it doesn't come across as being boastful, but it's something that we got to do for ourselves. Okay. Now let's share your story.

Stuart Greif:

Okay. So in closing, if I could tie everything we talked together in a way that, there's this story of the, professors got one of those stadium classrooms and everyone's gathered around. They come in for class 1 day and he's got a fishbowl on top of his professor's desk in front. Yeah. And he asks, is the fishbowl, full and the students say, no, it's empty. It's just got air in it. So it goes underneath the desk and pulls out these big rocks, which he piles into the top and ask the students, is it full now? And they're like, yeah, it's full. And then he, Goes under the desk and pulls out a bucket that he pours these pebbles that start like bouncing around and filling up to the top. And, it's pretty full at this point. Is it full now? And they're like yeah, it's full now. Okay. So he goes underneath and he pulls a bucket of sand. Right now they're starting to catch on all the way filters into the top. Is it full now? So finally they say no. So he says, good. He comes out a bucket of water and fills all the remaining space up with water. It's overflowing, pouring onto the top of the desk. Is it full now? Everyone says yes. He says what's the moral of the story? And, eager students raise their hand. He says, yes. And one student says no matter how busy or full your life is, there's always really room for more. Yeah. And he said is that right? And everybody nodded and they agreed. Yeah, that was the moral of the lesson. When he showed, he said, no, the moral is if you don't put the big stuff in first, you'll never fit it in later. So in your career and your personal life and everything you're doing, what are the big things that are most important? And making sure that you keep right focus on that prioritization and that strategy, and then you can do the little things, the pebbles around it. And if there's still more time and bandwidth without sacrificing it, but if you try to do everything, or you're never going to get anywhere, you're not going to get the big things in. So that's just my parting advice in life personally, as well as professionally.

David Kong:

I love that. You've got to fit the big things in first. I absolutely love that. What a great way to end the interview. Thank you very much. Stuart Greif, thank you for being our guest. And to the audience, if you enjoyed this interview, I hope you will join us on our website, DEIAdvisors. org. We hope to see you there. Thanks again, Stuart.

Stuart Greif:

Thank you, David.