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Feb 8, 2022
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35. CEO, Work It Daily

35. CEO, Work It Daily

Jeff hosts social media and leadership expert J.T. O’Donnell to discuss the importance of executive presence. J.T.’s credentials are impressive, with over 2.6 million followers on LinkedIn and over 1 million on TikTok. Jeff and J.T. discuss how executives and individual contributors alike demonstrate value by managing their in-person and online personas, regardless of whether they plan to change jobs. Jeff and J.T. discuss how content creation can benefit both the executive and the brand equity of the organization they serve. She shares how executives can learn how to develop an engaging executive brand, reveal their strengths, and present their expertise in a powerful and appealing way.

Connect with J.T. O’Donnell:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jtodonnell/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@j.t.odonnell

Work It Daily: https://www.workitdaily.com/

Executive Program: https://workitdaily.lpages.co/online-executive-presence-program/

Executive Presence Panel Discussion featuring Jeff Hunt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYkmQgrx_8Q&t=1s


Intro: Duration: (01:54)

Opening music jingle & sound effects

Jeff Hunt:

This is the human capital podcast produced by GoalSpan. And I'm your host Jeff Hunt. My quest on this podcast is to uncover the deeply human aspect of work. On this episode, we're going to talk about executive presence. Have you ever been in a situation where an executive is trying to make a splash, but something just doesn't feel right.

Maybe they're trying too hard. They're being too assertive or too humble trying to have all the right ideas. Maybe they're just trying to talk too much. What's interesting is these behaviors can occur on zoom or in person, but they can also occur on social media. Today we're going to talk about executive presence in both of these realms.

And I found just the person to help me do this. JT O'Donnell is a former HR and recruiting industry executive with over 18 years of experience and professional and executive-level coaching and outplacement services. She's managed teams of over 50 people and budgets over 35 million. JT knows executive presence.

In fact, she teaches and coaches it. Her company Work It Daily provides affordable and accessible career support. And she runs her company's executive presence program, which helps executives learn how to develop an engaging executive brand, reveal their strengths, and present their expertise in a powerful and appealing way.

Regarding online presence, JT has over 2.6 million followers on LinkedIn and over a million followers on TikTok. She's been featured in the New York times wall street journal. Good morning, America, fast company, CNBC, and ABC news. Welcome JT.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Thank you, Jeff. Thank you for having me

Topic 1 Who or what inspired you most in your career? (01:55)

Jeff Hunt:

Just to frame our conversation. We're going to break it into two different parts today.

The first part is the live presence of an executive and the other one is their online, personal. But before we do that, give us a quick tour of your career and also share who inspired you the most along the way.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Yeah. So thank you for that. So I was in the staffing and recruiting industry for many years and about 21 years ago, believe it or not, I left because I saw there was an unmet need.

So when we're in staffing, we get paid when people get placed. And so there were so many people that had they had a little bit more Polish. If they had been coached up just a little bit, they would have had a better shot at that job. Or we could have placed them in more opportunities. And that got me thinking, well, where are people learning this?

Because recruiters don't have time to teach it. It's really not their job. So why aren't more people being career coached? And after doing the research and finding out it's just not something we were being taught in school, it was essentially self-taught and some people pick it up and some people don't and that just didn't seem right to me.

So, I went back and got a certification and became a coach, and opened up my practice. And it was an interesting journey because from about 2001 to 2008 coaching was still taboo to people. They felt like if I had to go to a career coach, there was something wrong with me. So they would hear about my work or meet somebody.

And then they would message me in secret, Can we talk? You know, but they didn't want to tell anyone. And lo and behold, my practice just got bigger and bigger. So by 2008, I said, there's gotta be a way to take this at scale. I can't continue to work with people one-on-one. And that was when I made the decision to launch a blog.

That's the company started as a blog. No. That's when blogging was really hitting. The recession had hit in 2008 and people's ears were open. Their eyes were open and they needed this information in an accessible way. And so you fast forward through that journey. And here I am today, literally 21 years later, and we are just doing what we can to drop the geographic and economic boundaries to get access to this.

Who's historically the only people that got we're executives who could pay for it or have their company pay for it. So we really wanted it to level the playing field and that's what our company's about. But in that journey, obviously, we are working with executives and that's what we're here talking about today.

And for me, it's been less about coaching them on their career goals and their performance because there are plenty of coaches out there to do it. But what I really saw was that they were falling behind in their executive presence. For a long time, executive presence was, I want to say, scare tactics or intimidation.

You walked into a room and you said very little, but you were intimidating. That was presence. That's gone now. We've completely changed with the rise of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Executives now have to be very mindful of the fact that they are a brand. Brand or be branded. And that presence is what makes people trust and respect the.

So that's what we've been focused on and doing that as far as who's inspired me along the way, truly is the people that I'm working with. I think one of the most amazing things this has happened in the course that I've been running this business is social media and the fact that people can message me instantly or post publicly their experiences.

And they are literally the reason I get up every day and keep doing this because I know that it's having an impact and that excites me. So I'm grateful for all those individuals.

Topic 2. Executive presence. What is it? (05:12)

Jeff Hunt:

That's fantastic. And I can't wait to dive into the social media elements of it, and before we do, we're going to talk about what this looks like in person.

And obviously, over the last couple of years, that's shifted dramatically with COVID. Everything went online. And so now some companies are moving back in person, but there are still so many people that are working virtually to kind of frame the rest of our conversation. What's your definition of executive presence? How would you describe it?

J.T. O’Donnell:

So is your presence is essentially what people say about you when you're not in the room. And so if you think about that, I tell people you can not call yourself a leader anymore. Other people call you a leader. Being a leader is a compliment that you have to earn. I don't know a single executive that doesn't want to be seen as a leader.

You have to figure out what your strengths are and how they're landing out there. Do people understand them because it's the misunderstood executive whose presence is hurt the most. So when you can recognize I'm not perfect, I have my strengths, and they can create my weaknesses. The best defense is a good offense.

You go on the offense, you build out your executive presence, you document who you are, and that's how people get to know, the authentic you, and you get to that level of trust and respect. And we're talking in this first segment about that live piece. And as you pointed out, we may not be in the room face to face with people anymore.

But we still have that component on zoom or on whatever platform that you're using video-wise. The problem is, that that little piece of technology is throwing a lot of executives off. And I can tell you right now, I've talked to so many HR executives who have come to us as a company and said, our executives are literally losing the confidence of our staff, just because of the way they're handling themselves on these meetings. And so it is a very big deal.

Jeff Hunt:

Sure. Is that because a lot of them are not used to using video, even though we've been in this pandemic for a while, they just really struggle when the camera is on them. They just don't really know how to respond, is that part of it?

J.T. O’Donnell:

100%. I mean, there's a reason why anchorwomen and men, have great skills of looking into a camera and speaking and being that presence from how you're standing, how you're communicating, how you're looking. And so they're very aware of that and for better, for worse, that is now a requirement for all executives.

Now you don't have to be as great as the anchorperson, but you do have to get comfortable with the camera. You do have to understand that the technology needs to be a certain way in order to deliver that. And these aren't difficult things. They're not rocket science, it's not brain surgery, but if not done, it's really, really, critical. It can really hurt you.

Jeff Hunt:

If you segment this generationally, would you say that the younger generations do a better job on video than those more senior generations?

J.T. O’Donnell:

This is what I'm telling you, executives, all the time. If you are under the age of 40, because the oldest millennials are 40, you were raised on this.

You were raised on storytelling. You were raised on being on camera. You're comfortable with it. So the skill sets that they've developed over time in terms of that, using that cell phone, using it, and being on camera, it comes naturally to them over the age of 40. No. And so to them, it's a headache.

Another thing I need to learn. Okay. You can view it that way, or you can recognize, as I said earlier, brand, or be branded, if you don't choose to learn to do this, it says three things about you. It says one, you're not tech-savvy. Two there's nothing special about you. You can't pull this together and present or three, you've got something to hide, which is how most younger people interpret more senior executives who don't want to use this.

What do you have to hide? Because they grew up in social media in the age of transparency. And so you, if you want to hire them, retain them, and have them respect you as a leader, you absolutely have to be thinking about this.

Jeff Hunt:

So those three things you just mentioned should really be a catalyst or a motivator for leaders to up their game, because if they don't do those three things, then they're not going to be well-received either internally at their own jobs that they're presently at.

Or if they're looking to make a change it'll be that much harder.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Yeah, absolutely. You nailed it. We always have to be learning and growing. We're always telling our own teams, you know, what got you here. Isn't going to get you to the next level. You got to keep upping, leveling up, improving your game.

We're no different as executives. It's just where we're being held now to a higher standard. Much faster than we're used to. Usually, there's an opportunity for executives to catch up, but this one feels like it happened overnight. And that's something that I hear from executives all the time. And it's because it's true.

You know, you were able to push back on the social media thing until the pandemic hit. You were able to push back on the video and the idea of presence and your presence mattering until the pandemic, just like so many other businesses. And so many other industries have amplified and sped up the need for you to be able to do this.

Topic 3. Old school executive presence VS new practices (10:13)

Jeff Hunt:

And so a few minutes ago you were talking about some of these qualities that, uh, executives can bring in person. And I say in person, I'm really speaking of whether you are in person or virtually on zoom or some other platform, but some of those would be, it sounded like humility and maybe willingness to admit when you don't have the answers and things like that.

Versus the older school sort of Jack Welsh, kind of my way. I have all the answers I'm going to show up as a big personality and big presence. Would you say that's true? And is there anything else that you can add to that?

J.T. O’Donnell:

First of all, when you opened up, I just was blown away. When you talked about somebody who may be having too much humility.

And I loved that. You said that because there have been a lot of rehearsed ways that people have adopted executive presence over I'd say the last decade, you mentioned one of them, the Jack Welch way, a little bit of that command and control and a powerhouse in the room, but there's also been on the flip side, a group that has embraced this ultra-humility and self-deprecation, and I'm just like you and.

Everyone sees through that too. It's not real. So, it's very important that people think about what do I want to communicate? So here's a great example. When executives join our program, we have them go through and we give them a whole list of traits. And we say, you can pick five and you can only pick five.

What would be the five that you would want to deliver on your brand promise? What is your presence? Pick five. And then we have them go and take this same list of terms and give them to peers and managers and also employees and have them give them the feedback. What five best represent me. The reason we do this exercise is it helps them understand how they see themselves and what they want to be and how they're currently delivering at the peer level at their direct report level and above that.

And of course, they're all a little different people see something a little different about you. Now, usually, there are a few traits that are consistent. So what you saw in yourself, others seeing you, but every single time and executive was blown away and said, I would have never chosen that for myself. So there's always one or two qualities there that really surprise them.

The other thing that goes into that mix. Is this breakdown of communication, gravitas, and appearance. And so, there are plenty of studies. They've talked about the percentages and in terms of what needs to land and most people think gravitas, depth of knowledge is the key, but as we’ve talked about a little bit here, communication, how you deliver that end up playing a much larger role.

And so you have to be authentic and really articulate in a way that they know you're not trying to be something that you're not. Because even if you have the most incredible depth of knowledge of gravitas, and even if you technically look the part, it is that communication delivery that overrides everything.

Topic 4. Where do you want to be tomorrow? Who do you want to be? (13:06)

Jeff Hunt:

That makes sense. And it, I also heard you say that basically what you're trying to do is you're assessing and executives skills and key areas. You're sort of casting a vision on what a preferred future could look like in terms of their persona. And so then you're figuring out where the gaps are between these.

And so you can kind of come up with a game plan for them to shore up in those areas where there are gaps. Right?

J.T. O’Donnell:

100%. So we're saying, okay, here's where you are today, but where do you want to be tomorrow? And what one or two things about your executive presence? Do we want to pivot and emphasize and draw attention to in order for you to get there?

So, one of the exercises, as we start to look at people that they admire, we started to look at people that have been successful. We look for the similarities in the patterns, and we talk about that and say, okay, well, how are you going to deliver. Uh, so it's a step-by-step process. And the reason that it's so important is that no two executives are the same.

Nobody is special, but we all are unique. And so you have to be thinking about what is unique about you, and then building off that you can't be somebody else, but we can at least look at people who have gotten the results that you're looking for and say, what is it about them? And what aspects of you can we actually play up to support that?

Jeff Hunt:

I love that. And just because they just, they determined that there's a gap in one of their skills, doesn't mean that they can't grow that. So if somebody is telling them that they're overly aggressive, they can learn how to tone it down and figure out how to respond in a way that is more in keeping with what the persona they're trying to come across with right?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Can I give a quick story about that? Because you brought up the aggressive piece. So, we talked about the era of command and control. There's been a whole generation of you who were raised and you were yelled at and it was intense. And there are a lot of people in their fifties who grew up in their executive careers, grew up in that environment and they don't even realize how they're coming across.

So they don't know that they're landing and it sounding aggressive or intense. They're just trying to get to the bottom of it. They've got almost this stress level in them that has been ingrained over many years of hustle, culture, and competitiveness. But that's all shifted. So I work with a lot of executives where that's what's coming out, but that's not really who they are.

And to be honest, when we get them to say, I don't even want to be that person, I didn't enjoy it over the 20 years that I was raised in it. I don't like control culture. I want to relax more and I don't want to be this intense. But I don't know how to be any different. That's my default. That's my go-to.

And so. Helping them see it and then start to learn how to be the person they really want to be is very, very rewarding. And as you pointed out, it is 100% possible. You can, but you have to start somewhere. You have to see what is it about the aspect of your executive presence, that's landing wrong and how can we change that.

Jeff Hunt:

I love that because you're just helping people really live out their authenticity better. If they can be in alignment with what's going on inside and how they're presenting outside, then they're just going to be more fulfilled anyway. And their work and their life in general, so.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Completely. And we see that we see that they change, you know, it gets easier for them.

Success comes more naturally because they're enjoying themselves.

Topic 5. The online executive presence. Building an online persona (16:26)

Jeff Hunt:

For sure. Okay, JT let's shift and talk about the online presence. And you clearly are the master at this because you have an amazing online executive presence and you also have so many followers on these various platforms, but I think I'd like to just start this part of the conversation out with kind of talking to people that may not be wanting to make a career change.

Why should they make the effort to either update or keep their online persona up-to-date?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Great question. So I tell people to think of Facebook as the white pages and LinkedIn as the yellow pages. So years ago we had these phone books, right? Yellow pages were for business. You are a business of one.

As an executive, you are a very expensive service provider. And over time you pay a wisdom tax. Because the higher you climb, the more that is expected of you. So the reason this is important is that we have a lot of executives out there that are saying, I don't want a career change. I just want to keep on doing what I'm doing.

Well, if you want to do that, you have to stay up with the times. And the reality is just having a LinkedIn profile isn't enough anymore. There are over 740 million LinkedIn profiles and climbing. So you have to know how to attract the right opportunities. People need to know what you do for work. Every job is temporary.

Something could happen tomorrow and you need to switch gears and find another opportunity. Well, that's not the time for you to educate your network on the value that you create for employers. So creating an executive presence online is about documenting that gravitas and delivering it with a communication style that is all yours.

So it's authentic. And I think what frightens most executives today is the canceled culture. What keeps them away from social media is I am petrified of doing something on social media that will get me canceled, that I'll get in trouble. So it's better just not to do anything at all, but that's not true again, brand or be branded, choosing not to do this, still sends a message, which is, you're not tech-savvy.

There's nothing interesting about you. Or you have something to hide. So building this online presence. Yes, you need the LinkedIn profile. You need to optimize, you need to learn search engine optimization and how you put keywords in your LinkedIn profile to be found. But you also need to know what kind of content to put in your feed to share whether it's content you create or content you curate.

So that others know what you're about. This is a peek inside your head. It's helping others understand what you care about, the type of work you do. Your values, your beliefs, you are methodologies. This all needs to go into your feed. And this is how people will see it, consume it. And remember you when you need it most.

Jeff Hunt:

Okay. And leaders that are not really interested in making a change. Wouldn't you say that their online presence is really also part of their organization's brand equity, because if they are presenting in a really compelling and authentic and clear way, just as you described, all of a sudden they've become more valuable to their own organization.

And when people are doing searches, they're going to find them and are going to see, oh, this woman really knows what she's doing when she says that's true.

J.T. O’Donnell:

So true. I mean, first of all, if you're an executive you're in the C-suite of any organization right now, your PR team should be helping you build your executive presence.

Because again, anybody under the age of 40 has been raised on storytelling and wants to work for interesting companies and interesting people. They will go search for you. And if they can't consume some content about you, especially video, if they can't see you in action and feel like they know you, they're going to hesitate in terms of wanting to work for you.

So just building, this is how you attract talent today, right? You're an extension of that, but it's also like you said, customers see it, lots of other people will see. So that's part of the brand itself. So it's brand equity. And as an executive, you'd like to keep your job there even more reason to build the brand because do they really want to lose somebody.

Who's customer-based who the audience is following them as a leader? No. So you really want to build this up for that piece, but also in the event, it doesn't work out. You can take that with you. That's brand equity that can go someplace else. Should you want another opportunity? You see something better for you.

So it's a way to, again, almost like an insurance policy on your career to one, make sure that your employer wants you, but if for some reason you need to change, you've got something to take to another employer, so crazy not to be building your brand.

Jeff Hunt:

That makes perfect sense. One of the things you said earlier, JT, that I really liked was this leader.

Who had self-awareness he uncovered self-awareness that the way he was coming across was different than what was going on inside in his authentic self. And I guess that brings me to the question about how can leaders assess their own effectiveness of their online executive presence. Like this is all about self-awareness, but what are the things that they can do to really know whether they have the presence that they want to project or not.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Right. So one of the simplest tests that you can do is ask some of your connections. Hey, if you had to describe what I do for a living, a couple of sentences, what would you say it is? And you can ask people that face-to-face, you could message them if they can not come back with something that tells you that your brand's not important, or if they're all over the place, nobody really has a true sense of what you do.

That's a problem, you know, if they're just saying, well, you're a healthcare executive that doesn't tell me what kind of value you create, what kind of problems you solve, pain you alleviate that is the brand. That's what needs to get out there. So if you don't have people that can share that with you, then you know, you've got a problem.

I'll tell you. One of the nicest compliments I get from people is when I finally get on the phone with them, they will say, I feel like I know. And that's how I know they, they are consuming my content and they know what they're going to get when they finally speak to me. And that's a real sign of the fact that you've invested in your brand.

And the one other thing I'll say about that is that this video, the sphere of video is ridiculous. You're already doing it now do it because of the remote workforce, but it is not hard to turn on a camera and record yourself and watch it. No one else needs to see it. And watch it. And it's funny, the executives I work with, in the beginning, we teach them how to write.

So we start with writing and becoming an influencer in their space, so to speak. And you're not a guru, you're just, again, documenting your expertise. And then I pushed them to video and they kick and scream and do not want to do it. The thought of going on Tik Tok, the thought of going on YouTube, but as the exercise of doing those 60-second videos that really show your depth of knowledge, because if you can articulate a point in 60 seconds, you've had to think about that.

And that's what being a great executive is about, is knowing how to take your knowledge and deliver it in sound bite format. What happens over time is one, they get very very good at camera fast because when you see yourself, you know exactly what you want to change. And then all of a sudden they forget the camera is there.

And you can see it. And it's like a switch flips and they know how to just talk into a camera and share their point of view. And that's when it becomes usually powerful because now they never want to go back to writing. That's the funny part. That's when they want to do video forever because it's so darn easy.

Once you got over that learning curve, just like when you were in a room and somebody was asking for your point of view and at a conference, or, you know, any kind of meeting and you were sharing it and people were nodding going, oh yes, that's a great insight. Why not do that at scale? That's what we're talking about here is all those beautiful soundbites that you're known for being put out into the world so that people can get to know you and understand you.

Jeff Hunt:

I love that example. When you think about needing to update your own content as an executive out there or even just an individual contributor, because of this, we have to make a statement to say this actually applies not just to executives, but individual contributors and organizations too right?

J.T. O’Donnell:

100%. I mean, you could be an individual contributor at an executive level.

Doesn't necessarily mean you lead. Yes. I tell people if you care about your career and you want to control how long you want to work and the quality of the opportunities that come your way. Then you should be thinking about this

Topic 6. Why do people need a social media strategy to improve their presence? (24:57)

Jeff Hunt:

But why do people need a content strategy and a calendar to help them improve their presence?

So I know this is one of the things that you talk about a lot.

J.T. O’Donnell:

I was talking about the Goldilocks principle too little, too much, just right. So I think most people are guilty of too little. They're not doing anything consistently. There's really no brand presence. And then I see people get on there and just say, well, if I just share all the time, you know, then people will see me.

Well, they will, but it won't make sense. So when you're building your strategy and when we were coaching executives on this, we have them build out something called a content tree. So we show them how to map out their areas of expertise and break them out. And this shows them one, I have a lot to say. So I'm not going to be short on content, but two, it helps us focus.

And then we say, okay, what are you trying to achieve in your career right now? Because whatever you're trying to achieve, the focus, the emphasis of that content should be to support that. So, I have somebody right now, she's very successful. She's been following this plan for over a year. She has her own videos and has just been told that she is being considered for succession planning.

Right. So, but it could go a couple of ways. They could have two roles created and she could have one at the executive level and they would hire someone else. Or there could be a singular role. Some of that will be decided through a board of directors, et cetera. So we had the conversation and said, we want to play so that you win either way.

If there's only one role, you get it. Or if there are two roles, you get the role you want. So what do they most need to see from you? To know that you could do this job. That's the content we're now going to create and curate and document about you over the next six to 12 months so that you're seen as the logical person for this.

Jeff Hunt:

I love that sort of beginning with the end in mind, which is what we all should be doing with our online presence anyway. Talk to us a little bit about Tik TOK. It's totally blown up over the past couple of years, and you're so good at it. I love your content on there, but how do you see these various social platforms kind of evolving and how should business leaders prepare to use them differently?

J.T. O’Donnell:

So, when executives say to me, that's ridiculous. I'm not going to go and dance on Tik TOK and do all those things. And that's not the point. I walked them through the story of YouTube. When YouTube was first created, like any new social media platform, very creative people are the early adopters, and it usually is comedy or fun things.

And then it goes into beauty and health tips. There's this, this natural progression of adoption. And then eventually mainstream business gets a hold of it. There's a reason that Google bought YouTube because when people Google, how to do something, they were going to YouTube to look for a video because they want to watch and learn.

So with that in mind, and now the hyper-speed at which we're learning, you know, YouTube is the master of the two-minute, three-minute, 15-minute video TikTok comes on the scene and it wasn't hard. At least for me to see that this was very quickly going to become EduTok. And that you were going to be able to create an incredible asset so that people could go down the rabbit hole of your brand.

Your business has one by landing there and watching 60 seconds after 60 seconds after 60 seconds. And all of a sudden, you know, 15 minutes later, they've learned 15 things from you. You're now a thought leader. It wasn't hard to see that that's exactly where that was going in it and it has. And it's so even when I built my, my TikTok account, those first posts were.

For the idea of someday people are going to come back and watch these. So I don't care how many people see them in the beginning. It doesn't matter. It's about putting a, uh, a collection of content together so that when that day comes and somebody wants to go down the rabbit hole and learn, they will have an opportunity to do some.

This is what I want executives to understand but also gives you another story. I have several of my members who begrudgingly got on Tik Tok. Now they absolutely love it. But one of them landed a new job in the last year. And one of his direct reports who heard he might become the manager, went and researched him online and sent it to the CEO and said, yes, I'll work for him.

Check out his videos. He knows what he's talking about. Yes. Exactly. So wouldn't you want that? Wouldn't you want people researching you and going back and saying, yes, he or she knows what they're talking about? That's what this is about here. It's not about you dancing.

Jeff Hunt:

The other takeaway I'm just reflecting on what you shared is that if you do this over time, you are literally creating a content library that is going to be valuable to a lot of people in the future. So, you know, potentially you could change positions in an organization or you could get a new position in a different company and people could go look back and all of that is still there generating value for you and your presence, right?

J.T. O’Donnell:

100%. And I will say something there's a, I would say maybe 30% of the executives in my program are actively looking to switch careers. So we all know that executive search is always in stealth mode, right? You're not out there, but if they're creating content all the time, nobody knows that they're necessarily looking for work, but guess what?

That's how people find you literally you'll get messaged and said, I saw your videos. So if what you create and Tik TOK can all be uploaded to LinkedIn. Now you're, you're building that on two platforms, but also in order to create that content, you have to think about what you're saying. And this goes back to presence.

The more you do this, the better you get at talking authentically and delivering your message. And so I've had executive after executive in the program say I have become a better executive as a result. I speak more clearly I am more compelling. People are paying more attention because I am putting more thought into what I'm saying and how I say it.

And that to me, I think is the greatest reward because when you're a better executive again, more opportunities will come along.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah, that reminds me of a previous guest I had on the show. Michael Useem, who runs the leadership program at the Wharton school university of Pennsylvania.

And one of the things he said was that persuasive communication is one of the top three most important skills for executives. And it goes to right what you're saying JT, around the need to synthesize complex information into very short whether it's soundbites or written communication. And if you can do that well, then your value as an executive goes way up, right?

J.T. O’Donnell:

It absolutely does. And you've got to be able to get your point across just right. And that takes practice.

Topic 7. Lighting round questions (31:34)

Jeff Hunt:

Okay. Awesome. Let's shift into some lightning-round questions. I haven't shared these with you before, but just give me your top-of-mind answers. The first one is what are, what are you most grateful for?

J.T. O’Donnell:

I am most grateful for the opportunity to do the work that I do. I think that leaving corporate America and going out on your own is very, very difficult, but it's allowed me to create a life and do work that matters to me over 20 plus years. I know a lot of people don't have that. And so I'm grateful every day as I get up and know that I get to create my life around my work

Jeff Hunt:

I love that. And well, and you're impacting so many people. It's really, it must be fulfilling.

J.T. O’Donnell:

It's very fulfilling. Yes. So you get those emails in those letters. And I was actually crying on one of my TikToks in December from a note, from somebody who got so much help from my free materials. And she landed her dream job that she wanted to know where she could write a check to just pay us who does that?

And, you know, it was just amazing to think that you want to just pay us because you got help. So yes, it's fulfilling.

Jeff Hunt:

That's quite a testimony. The next question I have is what is the most difficult leadership lesson you've learned over your career?

J.T. O’Donnell:

That I can't please, everyone. I am a firstborn pleaser by nature.

And when I stepped into the role as an executive and had people report to me, you learn, you can't please, everyone. You're going to let people down. There are some people that will not be happy with your decisions. As a business owner, that's been hard, right? You want to make everybody happy and I do my best, but, it's still never easy for me.

Jeff Hunt:

I love that. You and millions of other people, who's one person you would interview if you could living or not?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Probably, Richard Branson, I think. You know watching the evolution of his own executive presence, when you think about, you know, Daredevil and all of that, as he has moved along. And now it's very much about giving back.

We've watched a personage through their career and become wiser and evolve as a person. And I find that fascinating and he's never been afraid to document it. And I think that's been to his advantage. So I would love to interview him.

Jeff Hunt:

Yeah, that'd be fascinating. And our view. What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

J.T. O’Donnell:

How far you'll go in life has to do with how much you can put up with. And there were a lot of expletives in that. That's not exactly how that was said to me. It was said to me by my father and he, you know, he sat me down and said, look, you know it, if you want things, it's not going to be easy and you have to put up with a lot of bleep.

But if you put up with that. Really great things can come out of it. Are you ready to do the work? And you know, I feel like I got that work ethic from both him and my mother, but I still, I was very young. I started working at his company when I was 13. And remember him sharing that with me early on.

Jeff Hunt:

I love that. Where can people find you? It's pretty obvious, but I want you to take the opportunity to like pointing people in the right direction anyway.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Oh, incredibly kind of. Well, obviously you can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me on tic-tac, but really what I want everybody to go is Work it Daily. So our website where he daily, you know, we're an expert-led online on-demand career coaching platform.

And we are just about to launch what we're calling the workplace revolution. So we were building a community of millions of people that are ready to figure out how to do work that matters to them. It makes them feel satisfied. I think we've hit an incredible tipping point as a result of the pandemic. I think from the hourly worker up to the C-suite, people are stepping back and saying, what do I want to do with my time?

And how can I make work, work for me? And what we're learning. There's no single blueprint. We're all individuals, we're all unique. And so recognizing that we're really excited about bringing millions of people together on the work it daily platform. So people will go over and check it out, join the free community.

And then obviously any executives listening, we would love to have you join our executive presence program. It's an amazing group of executives who are all helping each other up level up their games and document their presence online in a meaningful way.

Jeff Hunt:

I love it. Well, we're going to put a link to all of those things in our show notes.

And also I was just for our listeners. I was on a panel on executive presence recently interviewed by Dr. Benjamin Ritter with a few other executives. So I'll put a link to that in our show notes as well. And JT, thank you so much for sharing all this wisdom on the show today and for coming on the show.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Thank you so much for having me.


Closing music jingle/sound effects

Jeff Hunt:

Thanks for listening to the show this week. We release new episodes every other Tuesday. Let me know what you thought of this episode by emailing humancapitalgoalspan.com. Human capital is produced by GoalSpan. Subscribe, wherever you get your podcasts. And please share this podcast with your colleagues, team, or friends. Thanks for being human kind.

Human Capital — 35. CEO, Work It Daily
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