A Culture of Feedback with Eduardo Briceño
LifeBlood: We talked about the value of having a culture of feedback, how to get better without sacrificing productive work time, the importance of a growth mindset, and how getting better is easier than you think, with Eduardo Briceño, speaker, facilitator and author.
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eorge grombacher 0:02
Eduardo Briceno will be sent yo is an author, a speaker and a facilitator. He’s helping organizations foster learning and high performance. His newest book is the performance paradox, turning the power of mindset into action. Welcome to the Art Eduardo.
Eduardo Briceno 0:19
Thank you, Josh. Great to be here. Yeah, excited to have you on. Tell us a little about your personal life more about your work, why you do what you do?
Speaker 3 0:28
Oh, that’s a long story. I, you know, personally, I am from Venezuela. I live in San Jose, California. I started my career actually in finance. I studied finance and chemical engineering and study a couple years in investment banking and venture capital, and ended up going to grad school and meeting a Stanford professor Carol Dweck, who was a psychologist who first discovered the idea of growth mindset, which is the belief that we can change and how that affects us psychologically. And I became passionate about that. So that’s what I’ve been doing ever since for the last 16 years. We can talk more about that. But why I do my work. It’s, you know, when when I learned about her work, I realized how I had gotten in the way of my own goals. My own psychology had become problematic in different ways. And I realized how, you know, a lot of people could have similar insights. And so that that got me in a journey in terms of figuring out how I can better grow and achieve my own goals, and then how to support other people do the same.
george grombacher 1:31
I appreciate that. What did what did other people think? Because it sounds like you’ve changed gears a little bit.
Speaker 3 1:38
What what did other people think when I changed gears, when they left venture capital, venture capital,
george grombacher 1:44
or, or engineering, just the other things you were doing?
Speaker 3 1:48
Yeah, no, I mean, what, you know, I never practice engineering, but I just kind of started my career in New York City in investment banking, and then I joined the venture capital division there and ended up moving to Silicon Valley with that division. But when I, when I left venture capital, my parents certainly couldn’t understand that, you know, because I was living a dream job a very, very high paying job. And, you know, 3000 Sandhill Road is literally like, the, just the epicenter of venture capital in the world. And I, I also, you know, I thought that was the dream job. And, and for it was for some time, I think, part of me, I had to let go of the ego that came, or that identity, my identity was very much driven by my job and, and having a prestigious job. But I became sick, I became physically sick with something called myofascial pain syndrome, or repetitive strain injury. And that made me go on a journey to figure out what was going on with my body, which was hard to figure out. It was, it was something I was really hard to diagnose. But I was losing function with my hands, I met people with the same condition who couldn’t use their hands for more than 30 minutes today. And I freaked out because I was 27 years old, I didn’t know what to do without my hands. And I realized I had had to learn a lot about nutrition, about exercise about how to hold my body sleep. But also, I was I was feeling like, I could do something that I found to be more meaningful to me, because at the time, there was a lot of capital in the industry, I felt like whether I was working there or not, that the great companies were going to be funded. Part of my job was to be on board of directors and advice, CEOs. But without very little experience. I felt like you know, very inauthentic, just giving advice, not knowing why it was good advice. And so there was a lot of stress and a lot of pretending. And I wanted to just make every day count in different way. And, and I was I think I wasn’t ready for something like venture capital at the time. So that’s why I went to grad school to to chart a different path.
george grombacher 4:01
Well, I appreciate that. What a terrifying thing. Just start to not be able to use your hands.
Speaker 3 4:07
Yeah, it was, you know, because I didn’t mind the pain. It was painful, but it was really used to just doing anything painful. I will do whatever it takes, you know, and but when I started meeting people who couldn’t use their hands that was very scary. And at the time was interesting was, I thought it was a really horrible thing that was happening to me in my mid 20s You know, when everything else was going great. But looking back, it was such a great thing that happened to me because it made me learn about health and change my lifestyle and find in the first I healed completely but I also probably prevented like the heart attack at some point, you know, because I’m just living so much healthier. And and I found something that I’m really passionate about that I love doing so. So looking back it was a really, it was a tempest but it was a tempest that led me to a much shinier Sky’s
george grombacher 5:01
Yeah, I appreciate that. All right. So you’re motivated and inspired by by your professor, you change gears you you, you go down this rough journey of healing your body and you do it and then you’re out working with people, and you realize that we need to do more of we need to do less of.
Unknown Speaker 5:26
Yeah, well, you know,
george grombacher 5:27
Speaker 3 5:31
work of Carol Dweck is about whether we think of ourselves as natural such things, which is programmatically we think we’re people are great leaders, because they’re natural leaders, then we stop trying to figure out how can I become a better leader, or if we think numbers are things that come naturally to people, and others can’t learn numbers, then it prevents us from getting better at analysis, or, you know, better understanding numbers or, and so we have these kind of fix mind ourselves getting away. But what I realized at some point is that, in order to be motivated and effective learners, we need to not only believe that we can change and develop, but we also need to know how. And I realized that I had this idea, this wrong idea about how to do it, I felt you just work hard. If you just work hard, you’ll get better, and you will succeed. And I realized at some point, that actually, there’s two different forms of hard work, there’s a lot of research behind it, there’s hard work to execute and perform, which is all I was doing. And I think what a lot of us are doing. And then there’s also effort and strategies to improve or to innovate, to find new ways. And that involves leaping into the unknown in both asking questions, experimenting, listening, you know, looking at our mistakes and talking about them. So there are different things than just focusing on our to do list to get things done. And that’s the core of my work. That’s that’s what the book is focused on. And what I focus on, is, what in what ways are we only focused on getting things done, which is preventing us from getting more done in increasing our performance in work and life? Because we’re stuck at you know, whatever our habits are, whatever our strategies are, that we we continue doing.
george grombacher 7:17
I was told a story years ago, it was the whole essentially, if you had an hour to cut down a tree, what would you do? And I think it was Lincoln, he said I’d spend the first 30 minutes sharpening my saw. Yes, it’s similar to that, instead of just trying to power through and do doo doo, it’s let’s make sure that I don’t mean to put words in your mouth. What do you think about that? No, yeah,
Speaker 3 7:40
it’s a it is it is very much connected to that. I think that in some domains, spending 30 minutes, sharpening your saw or working on your skills is is a great privilege, it’s a great opportunity, it can be very effective. But for most of us, we’re really busy, we have a lot of things to get done. And so if you’re, if you’re an athlete, then you have to spend, you know, 30 minutes or a lot more working on your skills. But for most of us that are have a lot of things to do. Our job involves lots of skills, the biggest opportunity is to shift the way we do things so that we do things with two goals in mind instead of one instead of just doing things with the goal of getting things done, we can get things done in a way that’s also going to lead to insight and improvement and strategies and better teamwork. And that involves not just focusing on getting things done, but also changing something, you know, if we’re always doing everyday the same thing in the same way. There’s no way we can improve. In order to improve, we have to change. So we need to be changing something we need to be experimenting, we need to be soliciting feedback is probably a number one strategy, right? Like, whether it’s from our colleagues or customers. When we when things don’t go well, we need to think about hey, what led to this hiccup, and what can we do differently next time because we don’t learn from mistakes we learn from reflecting on mistakes. And so we can we can gain so much by shifting the way we extend that doesn’t take more time. And to your point if if there are times or habits that we can also build to listen to some podcasts to like read some books or to take a class to sharpen our saw in other ways to be more deliberate and devoted ways. That’s great too. But for people who feel like that’s not achievable yet, then shifting how we do things is a great opportunity.
george grombacher 9:37
That makes a lot of sense. I’m fond of saying that, you know just just turn the screw just a little bit so you don’t need a whole new screw. You don’t need a whole new tool or fasten or whatever it might be. You’re a lot closer than then then you think.
Speaker 3 9:56
Yeah, totally. Yeah, making a small waist A gradual improvement over time, and that accumulates so much.
george grombacher 10:03
Because to your point, we don’t all have the ability to sit down and watch an hour’s worth of learning or whatever it might be, we need to be doing what our role or what our work is. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be learning. In fact, that’s really where the opportunity is, is to be more thoughtful or mindful or reflective on the things that we’re doing consistently and how we can improve them.
Speaker 3 10:29
Yeah, we can start with things that are easy for each of us, right? It’s, it’s good to just pick something that’s easy and frequent, like you would do every day and doesn’t take a lot of time. Like, for example, as simple as just, you know, reflecting what do I want to get better at, and reminding myself every morning of what that is? That simple act alone of building that morning habit that eventually becomes effortless, just praying for you to be looking for opportunities to improve at that thing. And then once you’re used, that affects how you’re thinking the rest of the day. And then from there, it’s easier to like, expand and expand and do another habit or build that habit a little more, until you’ve you’ve shifted a lot of the way we work and think a little bit at a time, like you say,
george grombacher 11:15
I just love that setting the intention. And it’s like, how do I improve my thinking? Is it possible to improve my thinking? I’m doing it all the time? Aren’t I always thinking? Well, yeah, sure. But there’s so many different ways. And if you’re thoughtful of it, how, what is it that I’m interested in, in getting better at? And if I’m focusing on that, if I’m taking that, that learners mentality, or that tinkerers mentality, that there’s so many different ways, and then I could ask other people to?
Speaker 3 11:47
Absolutely, we ask our people, it’s so powerful because they, they have different perceptions, they can see things through different eyes, they have different experiences, they have different skills, they have just more brainpower, more brains, you know, think, you know, are smarter than one brain, especially when we have different experiences and different skills. So soliciting feedback is the number one, you know, more number one powerful strategy.
george grombacher 12:13
Why don’t we do that more?
Speaker 3 12:17
I think we, a lot of us are fearful, right of soliciting feedback, because it when we receive feedback of what we can improve, especially if we are in a fixed mindset, we’re trying to add for me, for example, I was always trying to prove myself rather than improve. And so I didn’t, if I received feedback, if somebody offered feedback to me, I would react defensively, you know, I would say this is not true. Or this person doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I would even kind of like to myself and rationalize because I was just trying to protect my ego, right? I was trying to say, I am talented, I am competent, as opposed to anybody can be more more competent, anybody can continue to improve, right is the the Olympic gold medalists work every morning to continue to get even better. And so that’s that’s what feedback is sometimes, you know, some people are scared of snakes, and other people aren’t right. Some people are even afraid of trees, or chickens, while others aren’t. And so a lot of people are afraid of feedback, because it, it we perceive it as something that means that we are incompetent. But when we when we come to change our mental models to understand that feedback is something everybody can benefit from including the best people in the world, then we want it right, then we can we can get into the habit of soliciting it. And one way to shift our thinking is to just get into the habit of soliciting, you know, like three times a week from different people, then that that helps us every time we’re soliciting feedback. We’re reminding ourselves, this is good for me. And then when we hear how useful the information is, and sometimes we might resonate, or sometimes they might not, sometimes we might act upon it, sometimes we might not. But it’s always information that’s that’s in the other person’s head. So it’s always useful, right? And so once we get to see that and experienced that, then we our fear, you know, goes away, and we become a lot more comfortable with it.
george grombacher 14:12
Some really powerful stuff, focused on proving yourself rather than improving. I’ve never heard that before. I really like it.
Speaker 3 14:20
Yeah, it’s, it’s like, when when we are thinking of ourselves as fixed, we focus on proving, and that’s, you know, I did that so much. You know, sometimes I still get into that in some situations, like, you know, if I’m going into a public speaker, or if I’m going to a conference, I’m in the green room with a bunch of experts in an industry that I know little about, then I they’re all talking about their own internal language, and I don’t know much about it, and then that shifts me into trying to prove myself. And so knowing that tendency, I remember, Oh, this is an opportunity for me to learn about this industry. So then I asked questions and I listened, but But understanding my tendency, helps me remind myself of Oh, this is how I want to be thinking, this is how I want to be acting. So the more we we, and we are all in a fixed mindset some of the time. So for us, if we become more self aware of that, and our tendencies, then we can think about how do I want to behave in the situations, and then we can better better change our self talk so that we behave the way we want to behave, it’s gonna better service. That makes
george grombacher 15:21
sense. I also love the the suggestion of making a habit out of soliciting feedback, then it’s just something that I do. And the first time sure, it’s going to be you’re afraid to do it, you’re you don’t know what you’re going to hear. So it’s unknown, and it’s uncomfortable. And I’ve never done it before. It’s like anything else. I’m not good at it yet. But if I do structure that, so I do it three times a week, or whatever it might be, what a powerful thing.
Speaker 3 15:49
Yeah, and it makes it easier to hear. Because we are more in control, we’re initiating the process where evoking confidence by saying, hey, I want your feedback, as opposed to when somebody gives us feedback when we haven’t solicited it, where we’ve kind of changed our self talk in order to solicit it, we also can solicit specific things that we’re interested in so that the feedback is more useful. And very importantly, we’re making it easier for the other person to give feedback, right, because a lot of people are afraid of giving feedback, because you don’t know if the other person is going to react defensively. So they might have something really useful in their mind that they’re afraid to tell you. And so you’re making it really easy for them to tend to say it to you. And you might think by the way that are useful, like things that are you’re doing good that are really useful to them that are really great. And we’re not aware of those things. And so we can also ask that. And when people tell us, hey, this thing that you did was really useful to me, or I really appreciate it that that’s really useful information to?
george grombacher 16:48
So is there a simple way to approach somebody about getting feedback from them?
Speaker 3 16:55
Well, you know, it’s, I mean, it can be as simple as, hey, you know, George, I would love your feedback on what what I did what you appreciated that I did in this partner’s conversation, or what I could do better in future podcast conversations, or something general like that. Or it could be something specific, like, you know, George, I am particularly curious as to whether some of my answers were too long or repetitive. I would love your because I’m working on that or because I’m curious about that. And so it can how we asked them depend on their relationship with the person, how much trust we have with them, you might want to frame it a little bit saying, Hey, I’m a huge fan of feedback. You know, I believe feedback is the main way I grow. That way. They understand that this is something you’re into a is less likely to be interpreted as a sign of incompetence. For example, if I if I don’t know somebody, and I asked for feedback, they might say, oh, this person is really insecure or incompetent. But so you might kind of explain why you’re, you’re you’re soliciting feedback.
george grombacher 17:59
I read this awesome book. And now I’m asking everybody for feedback.
Unknown Speaker 18:05
george grombacher 18:07
I think that that’s great. I see, I see so much benefit. Your if it’s, does this commonly take the form of people that you’re working with that we want to get feedback from them? And if that’s the case, which I sort of assume that it is? We’re deepening our relationship and probably increasing trust? There’s probably lots of wonderful byproducts.
Speaker 3 18:31
Literally, yeah, I mean, from our I think our teammates are, are probably the most important source of feedback for the reasons you say. It, it builds relationship builds trust, it builds a learning culture so that other people feel more comfortable soliciting feedback. And we are giving everything feedback on how we’re collaborating with each other. What am I doing that’s useful? What are what are what are opportunities for improvement in our working together? You know, maybe people might say, I think our meetings are too long, or I think our meetings are too short, or emails are too long or shorter. You know, we don’t have the right people in the meetings there could there’s like 1000 ideas that people can share. And then we get to collaborate more effectively and in the ways that we prefer. So there’s so many so many benefits. Absolutely.
george grombacher 19:19
You’ve said two things that I I’m unsure of you said that people are scared of trees. So I don’t know if that’s a real thing or not. And then you’ve said that somebody said I think our meetings are too short. I don’t know if anybody’s ever said that either.
Speaker 3 19:33
I agree with that. I agree with a second. I actually I did some research on what people are afraid of. And trees and forests were one of those things. Yeah. Insurance. I agree with you on the meetings though.
george grombacher 19:46
Of course, just kidding. Well, Eduardo, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage and where can they get their copy of the performance paradox turning the power of mindset into action?
Speaker 3 19:59
Sure. Thanks, Josh for having me. The performance Docs is available wherever books are sold Amazon or anywhere else. And people can find me on my websites present percent.com which is my last name, b, r i, C, E and o.com. I have a monthly newsletter there and some resources for developing a growth mindset. And I’m active on LinkedIn as well. Excellent. Well, if you enjoy for having me, this is great.
george grombacher 20:25
Yeah, for sure. If you enjoyed this as much as I did show Eduardo your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, get your copy of the performance paradox wherever you buy books, go to present do.com b r i c e n o.com. And check out the great resources and figure out how to put a culture of feedback into your organization as well. Thanks again and thanks yours. Till next time, remember, do your part doing your best
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George Grombacher November 21, 2023