No matter what fields they’re in or what they’re doing, all leaders are called upon to make a difference for the better. The best leaders do so by spotting and nurturing talent that can take the work they do to the next level. However, nurturing talent isn’t just a matter of picking a random person in your team and elevating them. They have to have promise, a fire burning within them that can be stoked. Dov Baron is “The Dragonist,” an expert who teaches people to recognize and nurture “dragons,” the top talent, hidden within their organizations. Dov takes Terri Levine through the process of spotting “dragons,” and what to do once you’ve found that talent. Do you have “dragons” in your team? Learn to refine their potential today!
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
How To Train Your Organization’s Dragons With Dov Baron
Every single time we are together, we are talking about something that is going to create more success in your business. It’s important that you be open-minded, ready to receive, because as soon as the student is ready, the teacher appears. I have someone that I’m excited to have with me. His name is Dov Baron. He’s called The Dragonist and he is going to guide us on how to recognize and how do nurture dragons. Dragons are the top hidden talent in our organization. Dov says that a dragon leader is not a position. It’s someone who was always pushing to improve and who wants to reach their true potential. I’ve known Dov for a while, and I have to tell you, what attracted me is he puts it right out there. There’s no BS. He’s right there and he is one of the leading authorities on leadership. Dov, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Terri. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here. I’m excited.
I’m excited too. Let’s begin with I knew you a while back when you were doing a lot of things and how you danced into, “I’m going to do leadership and settle there.” What resonated most for you there?
As you know, because you came out to us, we used to have a public seminar company, which I had multiple events. Those were all my own IP. One of the things that stood out when I was sitting with a mentor of mine who said, “Who are your best clients? Who do you enjoy working with?” I said, “I know it’s interesting because a lot of the people that come in that loved working with our leaders.” He said, “Can you describe leaders?” I broke that down. There were a lot of C-suite type leaders, but it was leaders like yourself who are entrepreneurial leaders, who are sometimes thought leaders. The leaders that do something at the edge of what other people were doing. Sometimes they’re in entrepreneurial positions, but these are people who want to make a difference. That challenged to make a difference and they could lie on their laurels, but they don’t. That’s why they are attractive.
What you’re doing is needed because I meet entrepreneurs every single day. Mostly, what they’re finding are people helping them with sales, marketing, systems and operations and not in, “How do I grow the talent within my organization? How do I work with my team?” There’s not a lot of loyalty from their team members. Can we address loyalty? I think loyalty is an issue.
It’s essentially a crisis of the present time. When we think about this, Millennials are 40 years old. We think about Millennials as being kids. They’re already in leadership positions. Many of them are entrepreneurial and Millennials have a whole different set of values. They’re not willing to put up with a lot of that crap that previous generations did. They’re willing to say no. They want to do their own thing and the great thing about Millennials is they’re entrepreneurial. With $20 in a URL, they can start a new business. You better learn how to keep them loyal and you can’t keep them loyal unless you nurture their own dragon fire and you show up as a dragon in your own business.
I have been a blend of fortune and have some skills, I have had people on my team with me for many years. To me, they’re like my family. They’re like my extension. They know my business well. It’s like when I bring a new client and team member on board, my goal is to build that relationship for life. What are some tips that we can do this?True leaders are people who are challenged to make a difference. Click To Tweet
That’s the key, its relationship. Let’s go into a little bit of that because it’s going to help people. Let’s understand. I want you to think for a moment. I want you to imagine on one side of you over here you have somebody who you’ve known for a period of time, which is good acquaintance, knowing them they’re on the periphery. On this side, somebody you’ve known about the same amount of time, maybe even a little bit less, who is a real deal, loyal, trusted friend. What’s the difference between those two people? It’s not time. We said that you’d known him about the same amount of time. We like to think that friendships are built over time. There are the general ones that are not true. What is the distinction? The answer is reciprocal vulnerability. What builds friendships is reciprocal vulnerability. What is a friendship if it’s not loyalty?
One of the things that we have to do as leaders, as entrepreneurs, is that we have to show up with reciprocal vulnerability. This word vulnerability is used around a lot. I’m grateful that people like Brené Brown, we’ve been talking about this for a long time, long before that became a cool thing to do. When you think about vulnerability, a lot of people think about weakness. If you looked the word up and do the research on the word, it means to weaken, to compromise. To compromise is to weaken. Vulnerability is not. Vulnerability is to tear open and reveal. That’s what it means, to reveal. When we reveal, it takes great strength to do that, not great weakness.
Reciprocal vulnerability requires discernment. You have to think, you don’t emotionally vomit on people, which is what people think it is. I will show you an inch of my vulnerability. I will wait for an inch of yours. Noticed I said, “Me first,” because you, as the leader, you have to go first. You monitor what comes back and you give the same amount again and vice versa. It deepens the relationship. This is what creates the bombs that we want, so not compromise which weakens, but vulnerability which strengthens the bond between two people.
What you said regarding vulnerability is one of the key ingredients that people are missing. The reciprocal aspect of it is key. I know when I was in a leadership position, another leader would be vulnerable in that vomiting on people way and it wasn’t reciprocal. They had a difficult time maintaining these relationships. It is such a phenomenal tip. I am urging the audience to breathe that in and take that in because if you want to have a high-performing company, what else would you want to have? It doesn’t make sense to have anything else. You need to take this in. You need to understand how to be the right leader. If you have a constant turnover in your talent, you’re training new people regularly, you’re spending a lot of money, you’re recruiting people and it’s a lot of time, energy and effort.
It costs you between 1.2 and 2 times the annual salary of every individual that you hire. When I started in the workforce, people will ask, “What do you want to do?” It was a 40-year question. Now, a career for a Millennial, not a job, is four years. A job is about a year. If you lose and if you’ll pay 1.5 to 2 times annual salary, that means you’re losing money on every new person you take in. You have to keep them for at least 1.5 to 2 years. The people we work with are staying around 6 to 7 years. That’s almost a double career. You’ve got to understand that loyalty is expensive if you don’t take care of it. You’re right, Terri, this is vitally important. This is not woo-woo. This is not pie in the sky. This is the bottom line.
The bottom line truly affects your bottom line of whether or not you’re profitable. In terms of people’s morale, what are some key pointers to be a great leader and have people have high morale in your teams?
When we think about morale, in the past we thought about rah-rah. We’ve got to bring everybody around, we’ve got to motivate them, we’re going to rah-rah them, not less about as long as they’re suntan, if you’re lucky, then it’s gone. Human beings, not the people that work for you, all human beings are meaning-driven beings. We are always looking for meaning. Most people don’t know the meaning of their own life. They’ve not been on that quest no matter what age they are. They may have a sense of it and they may call it things like family, but the true meaning of their life is what I call that dragon fire. If you don’t take care of that dragon fire inside of them, they’ve got nowhere to put it.
What most companies and most jobs do is damp on it. Let’s say you need to do this for the next twenty years and you need to do this for the next five years. You’ve got to do this, but we can’t explore anything else. What you have to do is you have to feed that dragon fire so they have room to express. This is vitally important. It means it gives their life meaning to go to work. Most people have not found the meaning, so they need to know what is the meaning of your organization, not the mission statement, nobody cares, not the vision, nobody cares. What is the meaning? What is the purpose? What drives us? What gets us out of bed in the morning? As an example, we were with a company and we were brought in and it was like, “This might be a bit tricky.”
Why? They’re pipe manufacturers and pipefitters nationally. It’s a big company but it’s like, “This is going to be a bit of a challenge.” They found it was the most resistant, didn’t want to come in, but one of his partners did. We came within half a day. We had two days with them, within half a day, they’re founder was on fire. He was excited about the whole thing that he changed the buy-in line for the company because they were a pipefitting company, a pipe manufacturing company. He stood there for a moment. He goes, “I set this company many years ago.” He goes, “I finally understand.” We don’t make pipes. We build communities.” He went, “I get it.” Everybody in that room was lit up. I spoke to one of the partners who brought us in. I spoke to him and he’s like, “He’s still on fire. He was ready to walk away from the company. That’s what matters.” That’s not morale, that’s deeper than morale. That’s morality. Morale is there, but it’s a motivation and inspiration. More than anything, it’s dragon fire connected to the meaning of the organization that makes those people want to get out of bed.
That is a world of difference. Yet, I see business owners every day. They’re working hard to come up with their mission statement. You don’t even need to work on a mission statement until you understand the meaning and the purpose of being in business. Why this business? What’s the real reason? I love this. Does productivity change? I’m guessing the answer is yes, but I’d love to hear anything you have to add. When someone comes to work and they’re thrilled to come to work, they feel part of this desire to bring whatever the company, product, or service is out to the world.
As we all know, engagement is at an all-time low and Gallup’s research showed it was about 73% of people are disengaged to some level and 20% odd of those are actively disengaged, which means they’re actively working against your company. That’s scary stuff when you think about it. It’s scarier when you think about that 23% or 24% of your organization are the only ones who are working at full capacity. If you were able to change that by 10%, how much better would your business be? You might be doing well, but think about that. That would blow your freaking mind. Here’s what you need to think about when you think about that is this dragon fire’s purpose that matters. When people show up, their engagement goes through the roof, and when their engagement goes through the roof, those companies are up to 40% more productive.
You walk around your company and you lost people. You’re at capacity, and most of them will say yes. If they were 40% more engaged, what would that do to your company? What would that do to productivity? What would that do to sales and customer service? Every business relies on sales and customer service. If I phoned your company and somebody picks up that phone who’s disengaged, so when he picks up that phone, who is assey, not in a great space, and they’re like, “What do you want?” I don’t think the people who work at the desk are crap. I think your company’s crap. You’ve got to understand that your frontline people are the most important because they represent you. They are the banner on the organization. If you’ve not got those people engaged, if you’ve not got those people on fire, if you’ve not got them connected to their own dragon fire and the dragon fire with the organization, you’re on a losing bet.Every business relies on sales and customer service. Click To Tweet
Breathe that in. That was good information. What kind of companies do you typically work with, Dov?
I get asked this question all the time. The answer is I don’t know because it’s such a wide variety. We’ve had people in the health technology industry, software, but it’s health-related. We have people in construction except for pipefitting, building massive building complexes, but at the same time, the financial industry. A lot of people in the entrepreneurial business. We’re working with a company that has several online platforms that they run. Another one that runs the largest digital magazine platform in the world. There are companies that are doing well with a few employees, meaning 6 or 7 employees and other companies that we’re working with, they will have literally in the thousands of people. It tends to range. The bottom line is you’ve got to recognize if we’re honest, what is our level of engagement? If we’re really honest, what are the challenges or if we don’t have one, that’s great but with loyalty, what are those things? Where are we with innovation?
Here’s something I want you to get and this is whether you ever reached out to me or not. I want you to write this down and get this in your head. The worst advice you ever got was to surround yourself with like-minded people. It is terrible advice. It’s the advice that’s causing many problems in the world. We’re good, you’re bad. What you need to do is surround yourself with people who don’t think like you. In fact, people who even disagree with you because what we need more than ever in politics, in leadership, in business, in entrepreneurship, it doesn’t matter what it is. It’s a cognitive agility. We need the ability to be agile in the way we think, because we’re dealing with people who don’t think the same way as us. When you can open your mind to that, the opportunities are vast. That is key. Surround yourself with people who don’t agree with you.
Abraham Lincoln is an American president that almost everybody references at some point in time. Abraham Lincoln picked a cabinet that disagreed with him. Do the research, look it up. He picked people from the opposite side of the aisle. He picked his cabinet so he could surround himself with people who thought differently so that he could be more agile. If you’re a leader in any form, and you are, because if you have children, you’re a leader. If you have friends, you’re a leader. Whatever it is, you need to surround yourself with people who don’t always agree with you. Not people who are going to dump on your ideas, but people who don’t necessarily agree with you, who is going to challenge you. This is how you get stronger, get smarter and can only do that with the vulnerability of sharing your own dragon fire.
That is brilliant advice and I encourage every single person reading to look around and see who you’ve brought onto your team. What does your team look like? I certainly know of businesses that I’m working with where their team is, not only like-minded, in some cases, they’re a yes team.
I don’t need lipstick marks on my buff. What I need is for you to show up in your best form, even if that disagrees with me. Let’s face it, if you’re in a leadership position, you’re probably a strong personality and that’s why it takes vulnerability. You have to give that permission because you can stand there all day and say, “You don’t have to agree with me and tell me what you think.” If they’re afraid of you, they’re not going to do that. The only way to remove that is by being vulnerable so they can see your strength. They can see your power, but they can also see on the other side of that the vulnerability, the heart, the soul, the connection, and they go, “This guy, this girl is tough, but they’re also wide open. They’re willing to listen. I can go there.”
I love how the vulnerability ties back in. I’m curious, where do people find out more or where, how do they connect and learn from you?
You can go to DovBaron.com. You can write to me personally, Dov@DovBaron.com. I know I’m insane. I give my email out, but please you can write to me because I’m on the planet to serve. We’ve known each other for a long time. That’s what I’m here to do and if there’s a way for me to serve you or help you or assist you in some way, which may not even have anything directly with you and me. Reach out, let’s talk. Let’s see if there’s a way I can help you.
You’ve written a couple of books.
A couple, I think fourteen.
That’s quite a few. Can people find those in Barnes & Noble, Amazon?
You can find them in all the usual outlets. You can also find them on the website, but certainly Amazon and all those things. The latest was Fiercely Loyal, which is how to keep your top people, but there’s also Dragon Fire. There are all kinds of them. There’s Don’t Read This… Your Ego Won’t Like It! which was out when you and I met.
That’s a great book. If people feel like they need to take any action, they’re reading and waking up to what you’re saying, what’s the first action that you want them to take?
All this is nice. You may be inspired, but I’m not here to motivate you. What I’m here to do is to help you grow yourself and grow your people. The first thing you need to do is you need to understand that wherever you are, if you’re feeling good and you feel like, “This is great,” that’s a plateau. Nobody grows in comfort. Comfort doesn’t make you grow. You can hang around there for a while but eventually, you’re going to get fed up and you’re going to want to grow. You can wait for 1 or 2 things to happen. One is a choice and the other one is pain. Human beings are motivated by two primary forces. One is pain, the other is pleasure.
Pleasure will move you short-term, the pain will move you long-term. Believe me, I know a lot about pain. Go find out about my website, if you want. Those two forces, when you look at your life and you ask yourself, and this is what I want you to do. I want you to think of this. What do you want them to say at your funeral? I’m going to challenge you to write it out because what you’ll write initially will be fluff. Everybody writes fluff. If you’ve ever been to a funeral, you know that people dry clean other people. The job of the person delivering the eulogy is to dry clean the other individual. You don’t want me to do that, but you do want to write absolute pure.
Here’s the other piece of this that most people don’t know. What I want you to do is I want you to imagine people in the back row whispering what you would never want them to say. What is it they would say if it were just, “I can’t bear it?” If they said that, put those two things together. The eulogy is your pleasure. “That’s what I want,” but the back whispers, that’s your pain. If you can write those two things down, then you ask the question, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” If it doesn’t come between those two things, if it isn’t a bridge between not being what they would whisper and becoming what it is you want them to say, you need to re-examine your business. You need to re-examine why you do what you do.
That was one of the best ways of putting it with what I’ve ever heard. I’ve done the eulogy exercise. Back whispers added a whole new dimension. I’m going to take this to heart and I’m going to do this. This is interesting advice.
It’s interesting because people will get it and go, “That was great,” and then they don’t do it. I’m going to challenge you to do it because I’m looking forward to hearing from you because most people go, “That’s a good idea.” They don’t do it and they go, “I must’ve forgotten about that.” If you’re born and you’ve got skin, you’ve got an ego and we all get one. Your ego’s job is to keep you safe. Safe equals same. Stay the same and you’ll be safe. You challenge yourself to do something is different therefore it feels, anxiety-wise, a little bit not the same, not safe. If you challenge yourself to do it, it will stretch your comfort zone. It will push you out of that and allow you to see things in a way you’ve never seen them before. You’ll begin to understand this one red thread that’s been running through your life, which is your dragon fire.
I love this conversation. I love the whole dragon fire concept. One of the things that I’ve always appreciated about you and I have to say it out loud is how you tell stories and how you give examples and everything that you teach. Everything that I’ve learned from you has been, in a way, of a story that I can relate to. I want to thank you. There are not a lot of speakers, coaches, trainers that do that and it’s a brilliant skillset. Anyone reading, look at the way that Dov has shown up and consider would you like to show up that way? I know I would like to show up more that way. That has been great learning in itself.
It’s very kind. Thank you so much. I’m honored.
Any final things you want to share with the audience?Nobody grows in a state of comfort. Click To Tweet
I would like to tell a short story, if I may. Imagine for a moment that you are out on the branches with the caterpillars. As you ask that particular caterpillar, you look around and you feel a little bit different than all the other caterpillars, but you’re a nice caterpillar. You do your best to eat all the leaves and hang out with the other caterpillars. One day, you come out and you notice that many of the other caterpillars have disappeared. You ask another caterpillar, “Where do they go on?” The other looks up and you look up and you see all these pods hanging and you go, “That’s interesting.” Another morning you wake up and there are no other caterpillars, all the pods are there. You’re sad and you feel lonely. You feel like, “What is wrong with me?”
You go to sleep that night and you wake up the next morning. You look up and it’s a beautiful spring morning and all of the pods have opened and out of the pods come all these magnificent, beautiful butterflies. They all have these magnificent painted wings and it’s beautiful. You’re excited to see all of your friends can fly and they’re flying off into the distance. Suddenly, you feel depressed because not only did you not go to a pod, but you didn’t get painted wings and you think, “What’s wrong with me?” At that point, you might go to the edge of the bridge and throw yourself off into the water. You might be crushed on the rocks below and you may be smashed apart into pieces and think, “This is bad and painful.” You hope it’s a dream because maybe you’ll wake up and you’ll be a caterpillar or maybe you’ll wake up and you’ll be a butterfly.
You get smashed more and more. One day, you find yourself on the edge of the sand where the ocean and the river meet. You’re dying with thirst and you lean over to take a drink from the bottle. As you do, a giant beast is behind you and you freeze because you can’t, “I might get eaten if I move.” You stay still and in the corner of your eye, you catch that there’s a man walking towards you and you think, “This beast will eat the man. I better stay still.” The man has no fear. None at all. In fact, it was quite like he’s glowing and he walks up and he reaches out to you and you’re fearful that the beast will consume him, but it doesn’t. It touches him. You realize that the man is touching the beast, but you can feel it. When you stop for a moment, the man says, “You were never a caterpillar. It is not your destiny to be a butterfly. You are a dragon. You must fly with dragons. You are the beast.” The caterpillar says, “I don’t want to be a beast. I want to be a butterfly. I want to be beautiful.” The man says, “Butterflies fly with butterflies. Dragons fly with dragons. You were never meant to be a butterfly. The fire that breathes in your lungs will burn away the lies, but first, it must burn away your own.”
What a way to end the show. I have done the show for years and I’m going to declare this is the best show ever. Thank you, Dov, for being my guest. I truly encourage our readers, this is one that you’re probably going to read again. Take action, get in touch with Dov, and go to his website, DovBaron.com. He answers your emails and he is a gem, as you can tell. Dov, thank you for being such an amazing gift and this leadership conversation with dragonflies. It is giving me goosebumps.
Thank you, Terri. It has been a pleasure, honor, and I encourage you if you’re reading, wherever you are catching this, make sure you go rate, review, subscribe to it and put comments on it because Terri does this. It’s a gift to you and one of the ways that we understand that gift is by you making comments and leaving feedback and telling your friends about it. Let other people know about the show. You can reach out to me and you can tell us what you got out of this and please tell Terri too.
Thank you for that. Finally to the readers, not only do I thank you for reading, I thank you when you do make comments and stuff, when you share the show. I care. You matter. I want to know what value you’re getting. I also want to know what else you need so that I can bring on more people like Dov, who can help you and can make a difference for you and your business. Thank you for reading. This particular episode, you will go back to and read again. This is a champ. Bye.
About Dov Baron
Dov Baron is “The Dragonist”, guiding us in how to recognize and nurture dragons (the top talent) hidden in our organizations. A Dragon Leader is not a position, it’s someone who is always pushing to improve and wants those they serve to reach their full potential.
Dov’s humour and no-BS style is contagious. As a master storyteller, he is considered to be the leading authority on actualized leadership. Actualized leadership means getting the result you set out to achieve in the most meaningful manner.
Working with diverse leaders and executive teams, Dov filters common bonds to create Fiercely Loyal cultures. You can’t achieve loyalty without “meaning” and talent only stay when they feel they are a part of something larger than themselves.
Besides being a bestselling author of One Red Thread and Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent, Dov has been named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers to Hire and as one of the Top 30 Global Leadership Guru’s. He has spoken to the United Nations, The World Management Forum (Iran), The New York National Speakers Association, and The Servant Leadership Institute.
In June 1990, while free rock climbing, Dov fell approximately 120 feet and landed on his face. The impact shattered most of the bone structure of his face. After ten reconstructive surgeries, no external evidence remains; however, this experience wasn’t just life-changing, it has been completely transformational. Dov shares how Dragons are born in fire, experiences that could potentially destroy you, instead can birth purpose, passion, and hunger to champion others to nurture the Dragon Fire in ourselves, our families, our communities, and our companies.
Dov believes the world needs more “Dragon Leaders” committed to living their purpose, standing in their truth, and empowering others to find their fire and do the same.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!