Pop Quiz, Monday with Jim Haudan

Jim Haudan

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Jim Haudan

What is your job role?
Co-founder and chairman of Root Inc.

Tell us about your company?
Root Inc. activates, motivates, and inspires people to accelerate the speed of change through a combination of disruptive methods, storytelling, and interactive experiences.

What do you love most about your job?
What I love most is two-fold: I love that I’m in the position to be a lifelong learner. It’s fun to be paid to learn—to learn what’s becoming irrelevant in the workplace, what’s becoming more relevant.

I also love how the work we do centers around facilitating conversations and interactions, so people to discover the heroic capabilities they have within themselves to contribute to building a better team, a better organization, and to impact the world they serve.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
I’m motivated every day by the possibility to create something new and with the potential to find a better way. It’s incredibly sad that 70% of the workforce is represented by people who would rather be doing something different than what they are actually doing. We need to break this cycle. We need to find the same joy and fulfillment that we experience in our personal lives in our work lives. After all, we spend the majority of our waking hours at work. Yes, work can and should be hard and difficult at times, but it shouldn’t be awful. The fact that I get to be a part of helping people change that is pretty cool.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
They inspire me in all different ways. Because most of our people come to Root with different backgrounds and experiences, they bring new perspectives. I have ah-has every day in reaction to the ways our people address the problems our clients face.

As a cause-driven organization, we don’t need to tell people what to do – we just watch them excel. This inspires me too.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
At Root, we love to have fun and try not to take ourselves too seriously. I try to enjoy the company of the people I work with, to get to know them and to appreciate them—not just for what they do at work, but for the full scope of who they are.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Our business model is challenging in and of itself—we have the challenge of always coming up with something new and innovative and out-of-the-box for our clients, but at the same time, we have to be mindful of our obligations to perform consistently for our people, our clients, and the business. We believe that purpose drives profit, but on some days you can get tested on this. It’s a challenge to keep the long view in mind because sometimes the short vie, and your reaction to the short view can get you off track.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
One lesson is how hard it is for leaders to tell each other the truth. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to this topic in my new book, “What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back” (https://www.amazon.com/Blind-Spots-Conquering-Misconceptions-Leaders/dp/1260129233) and it’s a lesson I’ve seen organizations learn time and time again. It can be incredibly hard for leaders to be vulnerable because it’s been scientifically proven that the higher up in an organization you go, your brain chemistry actually changes. It’s called the mirror system of the brain, and it suggests that anytime power or authority goes to your head, your ability for empathy diminishes. Leaders aren’t doing this because they want to be less empathetic to their people, they just forget, they lose touch. So we help them reconnect with their vulnerability—making it safe, to be honest. Leading with vulnerability and truth-telling is magical. You can’t create change if you don’t tell yourself the truth. We’ve helped many clients and organizations find ways for leaders to tell each other the truth and share that truth with their people. And then change is possible!

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
We consider ourselves consultants, but we’re not traditional consultants in the fact that we facilitate things—we don’t tell you what to do. After all, people will tolerate the conclusions of their leaders but will act on their own. People don’t resist change; they resist being changed by someone else. It’s the same with leaders and consultants. Leaders will tolerate consultants, but will usually do what they wanted to do in the first place. So we do things differently. We help them change themselves.

We help facilitate conversations so leaders can come up with better decisions and conclusions. We don’t tell others what to do. We help guide conversations that leaders and organization didn’t know they could even have—which ultimately helps them achieve more and succeed in ways they didn’t or couldn’t before. Our success is their success.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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