Reach Out

Leadership Development Coaching Talk to Worklife VC's Founders

Sep 21, 2022

Worklife VC invited me to speak to their founders about what leadership development really means. In an interview style chat with Erica Wenger, we talked about why I became a coach, what the Enneagram is, and how inner work helps leaders.  


0:00 Intro
5:09 How Josh discovered the enneagram
12:15 How important is it for founders to know their type?
16:48 How important is it for founders to know their type?
19:47 Critical Moments for Leaders
25:52 How to bring up difficult issues in a thoughtful way?
30:13 How to make your work life better
35:30 Horizontal vs Vertical Development


Erica Wenger 0:00
One of our community chats. Super excited today to have Josh Lavine here. He's a leadership coach. And I'll let him explain who he is and what he does, but really excited to have him here. Words of wisdom. And this is part of our community chat series where we chat with a lot of really amazing experts and introduce them to our founders and operators here at work life. My name is Erica, I currently serve as head of platform here. And I helped put on some of these events. So super excited today to chat with Josh. And Josh, maybe we can just start with you a little bit of a brief story about who you are and how you got involved in this world.

Josh Lavine 0:35
Sure. Real quick, and just technically, is this. I'd love to be able to see some faces. If that's not that's not possible, or if it's not part of the platform. That's okay. But

Erica Wenger 0:44
it's unfortunately not part of the platform. But that is great advice that we all think about for next time. We Yeah, we typically just it's more like speaker style. But yeah, okay.

Josh Lavine 0:55
Well, yeah, hello, everyone. I'm Josh Lavine, I mostly coach founders and venture capitalists and other investors, and also work with teams in terms of team building and value defining and mission statements and those kinds of things in the I like to think of it as sort of like the inner world and the intrapersonal and interpersonal realm of leadership and work. So that's mostly what I do.

Erica Wenger 1:19
Awesome, awesome. And how did you figure out you wanted to work more with founders and VCs and investors versus other groups of people?

Josh Lavine 1:27
Well, there's a number of angles into that I went to so I went to Princeton, undergrad, and a lot of my friends started companies. And so I just was adjacent to the startup world in a pretty deep way. And also, I have a lot of respect for entrepreneurs and feel that they're very powerful change agents in the world. And so that's, I would say, that's probably the primary reason why that was for founders.

Erica Wenger 1:56
Totally. Do you think of yourself as an entrepreneur? Like, I think it's always interesting. We think about like, people that start innovative companies and grow big teams is like your classic entrepreneur. But also, if you have your own business, and your rent your own thing, you're also an entrepreneur. Is that do you think about yourself that way, too?

Josh Lavine 2:12

Erica Wenger 2:27
Awesome. Well, now that you've mentioned Enneagram, I think it's good to chat a little bit more about that, and how you think it's best used as a framework for entrepreneurs and founders. So can you tell us a little bit more about the Enneagram? And you know, how you found it, why you like it, and how you think about it, benefiting founders? And we'll dive more into that?

Josh Lavine 2:47
Yeah. Okay. Um, first of all, let me just let me just say a little bit about what the Enneagram is, then I'll say how I discovered it, and why it impacted me so much, and why I'm obsessed with it. And then I'll follow up with why I think it's useful for founders. So what the Enneagram is, is a personality typology. And you can think of it in the same category as Myers Briggs, the big five or disc or any of the other personality systems that people tend to apply in the workplace. My view is that the Enneagram is much more powerful and interesting, and useful in life contexts like work because the Enneagram more than other typology is interested not just in terms of your traits and behaviors, but also the motivations that are underneath the hood. It's like what's, what's invisible? What's what's really driving you? That's what the Enneagram is interested in. The anagram is also more than a categorization system of like, oh, you're this type. It's the way that the anagram defines personality is different from the other type ologies in the sense that a personality is like a vertical spectrum of possible attitudes and behaviors that can manifest at different levels of health and development. And so you know, to say that, actually one of the piece of content Enya means nine Rameen shape Enneagram is a nine sided shape. The Enneagram, as we know it today is the personality system that has been mapped to this nine sided shape. And there are nine personality types arranged around the diagram. The diagram itself has psychological meaning, but they're basically their nine basic types and a lot of different ways to subtyping. But what a type is in the Enneagram, is, as I said, this kind of vertical spectrum of attitudes, behaviors, motivational structures and unconscious patterns that are driving you. That's what that's what how do you define the personality, and there's an inherent growth framework inside the Enneagram where you can be a healthy or fixated or unhealthy version of your type. That's a really powerful thing for personal development and certainly leadership development. So that's, in a nutshell, what the anagram is, I think of it like nightvision got bullets for the inner world. And probably the most powerful empathy accelerator that I've ever I've ever seen in terms of just you're gonna learn one framework to have empathy for people. As a leader, the anagram is a really good one. So that was that, how I discovered the anagram is I so as I said, I graduated Princeton and then moved home to Houston. And this is like really SparkNotes version of my life. But like a high school physics teacher and academic tutor for a little bit, and then went, had a big philosophical journey and realized I had never really done anything for myself, I was always like jumping through the hoops that society put in front of me, like trying to make good grades and get into good schools and land, good jobs and stuff like that. It was all very much like socially absorbed values. And I never really listened within for what was a true expression of me. And so I was 24 had major life epiphany and at a Lady Gaga concert and realized that I wanted to become a piano player. So then I became a piano player. And I became a, so I became a professional piano player, I got a job at a dueling Piano Bar, where I was playing and singing four nights a week. And wow, there's a whole story about that I didn't know how to play the piano, I learned piano for the job. And then that job, I worked in Houston, and Kansas City and St. Louis, and also New York sort of hopped around. at that company, and various other companies that I worked at, I started noticing that a hidden thing that no one was talking about was interpersonal relationships, and how essential they work workplace. And there's a lot of emphasis in workplaces, on the technical skills that you apply to work and very little emphasis on the soft skills that you need to actually relate well, skillfully to your fellow colleagues. And how to manage people well. And so after seeing a number of interpersonal managerial disasters, I became really fascinated by this. When I was living in St. Louis, I took a class on the Enneagram. And it was just on a recommendation from a friend. And it was my first job as a manager, I was like, leaving the band in St. Louis. And, and that class was so eight years ago, to say that it changed my life is an understatement. I mean, it like, totally blew up in my whole world. It it revealed things about me that were embarrassing and private, that I had never told anyone it was just like plainly written in in any grammar textbook. And then the class was really beautifully brought in class and helped me process what I was learning and contextualize my personality type with respect to the other eight personality types. And it also was very, very powerful in terms of helping me understand and have empathy for the people I was managing on my team on my in my band. So that was the that was the beginning. Pretty much. At that moment, I knew that I was going to be up, I was going to lean into this direction in my life. I was like, I was like, Yeah, I think I'm this person. I'm this person who does any gram and like helps people go through the kind of personal transformations and learn Scott soft skills and stuff like that. But meanwhile, I finished my piano career and then transition to I was a learning development manager for a grocery delivery startup in New York for a couple years and did like so l&d and also leadership development and ran into the same issue there. Very little emphasis on soft skills, almost entire emphasis on hard skills, and basically realized that this was a major problem. And basically, for that reason, and many others, including that I just felt personally called to it in a really deep way. I became a coach and got coaching certification, certified for the anagram blah, blah, blah, as well and have now moved into coaching founders and investors in teams with this tool. Period.

Erica Wenger 8:57
Wow. Yeah, it's it's such a it's such a windy journey. But looking back, it makes so much sense. How do you in those moments when you pivot? Like you're at a Lady Gaga concert, and you're like, I'm gonna be a piano player. And I don't know piano, I'm gonna go work for this startup in New York. I'm an Adobe, a coach, like, do you use tools like the Enneagram to help you during pivotal decisions? Or how do you how do you make those tweaks? And how do you make sure that it like really, really resonates with who you are? Because I know that you've talked about how the Enneagram has really dislike growth framework, and you can kind of see like, where your areas of improvement are? Do you use something like the Enneagram? Or how do you make those like big decisions? And clearly they've been like big pivots that align with like the next phase?

Josh Lavine 9:38
Yeah. Do I use the there's so many ways to answer that question. Yes, the Enneagram was a really useful compass in those moments. And now remember, I said the Enneagram is again, it's not lists of traits and behaviors. Let me get let me get specific so I'm in the in the Enneagram, and the Enneagram. Type three is sometimes called Be achiever and type threes. A lot of founders are type threes, type threes and the type that typically are very goal oriented, success oriented are aware of how they're being perceived, and they want to be a person worthy of admiration. They want to be desirable, attractive, successful. And their basic fear is that they're worthless. And they're driven by an inner restlessness to be to be somebody to make something of themselves. Now, this is a universal human tendency, but threes have a particularly salient relationship with that core drive more than other types. And so three sort of sort of type their go getters and their as the name is called achievers. Problem is a lot of threes, because they want to be worthy of admiration are one problem they can run into is accidentally without realizing it, absorbing the value system of their external world without actually checking in with what they want. And so a lot of threes, for example, have careers and then look back after 20 years and realize, I didn't really mean that I didn't really that wasn't really me that was doing that. And so this idea of like, I've absorbed values, as opposed to really listen to my own heart, is core for the type three. And there are other ways that other other types can kind of relate to this, but sometimes don't relate to this at all. So the reason I bring that up is because when you're talking about pivotal moments, for me, like what am I going to do next? There is there was a really big, me put it this way, it's taken a lot, I've taken a lot of left turns in my life, and it has been difficult in each moment to sense what's my truest expression. And you can think of there's a lot of ways to talk about each type. There's Each type has a characteristic virtue and a characteristic, what's called Passion, which is like the, the suffering of that type. The virtue of the three is authenticity. And it's the idea of like, I'm actually being myself now I'm not being something for someone else. I'm not trying to be successful for successes sake, I'm doing something that's connected to my heart. So yeah, in terms of pivotal moments, that's been a really powerful anchor point for me.

Erica Wenger 12:15
That's awesome. And it's great to hear you anchor it to and like your experience and your type. Because I think it does help people kind of wrap their minds around the purpose of it and how it can be used. Yeah, I think that's really important. How? And answer this whoever you see fit, how important it is it for founders to not only know their type, but like know who they truly are. And that may sound like a cliche question, obviously, it's good to know who you are to be able to lead a company. But how important really is it for the founder, I think there's a lot of pressure to always be sending out investor updates, always be shipping products, always be scaling the team. And there's a lot of focus on building and growing and meeting everyone else's needs. And I would imagine that there is a lot of self sacrifice and not listening internally, whether it's not going for a walk, not eating a good meal. Like there's just a lot of giving and building. How important is it? Do you think for founders to do this work early? And what do you recommend those first steps are if there is a founder that's just like, so deep in building and so deep in working hard, and they want to be the best founder they can be. But they're very focused on external needs. What are your what is your advice for a founder like that?

Josh Lavine 13:31
Yeah. It's a beautiful question. And founding a company is really stressful. And you're right, that there's, there are fires to put out. And there's always There's always more that you can be doing in terms of building a business. It's just, it's never ending. That's part of the that's part of being a startup. And it's very easy to fill your plate entirely with external tasks as opposed to inner work. And my view is that that's an is to only do that, because let me just be really blunt about it. If you aren't doing inner work, or if you're not aware of your own, if you're not aware of yourself, by the way, everyone thinks they're wearing themselves and no one is including me. Okay, so like, let's just if you think you're wearing yourself, you're not. So that's number one. Number two, is that because of the stressful nature of the highly stressful nature of startups, and especially being a founder, you're neurotic patterns are going to spill out of you period. It's an inevitability. The question is not are you going to be neurotic? The question is, what's the flavor of your neurosis? And how well are you managing? And that's what the anagram is for. The anagram is is the most powerful precise tool for let me say it this way. It's really difficult to know. In a certain, actually how to put this You know, we have a lot of people on this call right now. So like, just think to yourself, you know, when you get stressed, the way you act, when you're stressed, isn't really a surprise, you've been stressed before. And every time you get stressed, you ask that you act out in patterned ways. It's not like, unpredictable. In the sense, like, when I get stressed, as type three, I dive into tasks, because tasks are a way of not dealing with my stress. Or if I have too much emotional turmoil, checking things off on two lists feels really good. That's, that's what it's like, for me, it's a type three, if I were a type seven, maybe it's like going out and seeing friends or having a good time or distracting myself from the problem. If I were type six, it might it's a different that might be complaining, complaining about something is a is a way we let off steam. My point is, is that there are flavors of stress patterns. And it's really important, first of all, to understand the flavor of stress pattern that you're in, how that affects the way that you show up with other people. Because other people are going to feel your stress. And it's also essential as a founder to have coping mechanisms, strategies to emotionally self regulate. Because you have emotions, period, even if you're a rational, cerebral person, and you gotta have a toolkit for that. You got to I mean, you can try it without it, but it's gonna be tough. It's gonna be really tough journey. And yes. Maybe I'll stop there. That's, that's a good, that's a good start. There's a lot of other, you know, but that's, I feel very

Erica Wenger 16:48
mental. Yeah, no, and I appreciate it. And I think like a lot of the times people, we can talk about soft first hard skills in a second. But I do think there are real ramifications of not doing the inner work when we talk about just simply hiring, like you can't build and grow a team and retain talent, if you're not doing the inner work, and really aware of dynamics and putting in those efforts into your interpersonal relationships. And so I think a lot of the times, at least, what I see is that this, like inner work gets pushed off as like not a priority, and not affecting the bottom line. But when you actually really think about it, there's a lot of founders and operators, if, if they can't manage a team, they can't show basic respect, or authenticity, or vulnerability, whatever those things are, they actually won't be able to keep and grow a team, and therefore they won't be able to have a business. So I think a lot of the times too, it's like, it's it's tying this to real business outcomes, so that people are willing to do the work and see the value versus just saying it's important, because I think a lot of the times it's easy to brush it off. It's not a priority, but when you tie it to something that's monetary people will wake up.

Josh Lavine 17:54
Yeah, you know, it's really hard to quantify the monetary value of inner work. And, gosh, you know, someone who's better at spreadsheets and math than me would maybe would create a model for it. But let me say it this way, inner work is always going to be a important but not urgent thing. It's, you know, that framework important, not important, urgent, not a thing. Yeah, Stephen Covey's or actually the Eisenhower matrix thing. It's a quadrant two important, not urgent thing, always okay. And that's actually the quadrant that you want to be spending, generally speaking, most of your time, and as a leader, it's also the quadrant, that's the hardest to spend time on, because everything in the startup is important and urgent, or sometimes non important and urgent, but it's difficult to when you're in the middle of a startup is realize that you're doing something it's not important. So part of inner work is actually that's a really good framework to apply is like, what what am I doing that is in these four quadrants important urgent, important Natarajan? etc. And what can I clear off my plate to make time for in a workflow regulated, which opens up way more mental bandwidth, like your internal RAM to be able to accomplish what you need to accomplish and do it with grace, and a sense of just embodying the values that you probably have like wanting to be a kind leader wanting to be inspiring, wanting to be empathic, wanting to be whatever, if your nervous system is triggered, and you're always in the middle of a crisis, and you're always being task oriented. And you're not taking a breath and stilling yourself and remembering that your relationships report and things like that, that your nervous system is just overwhelmed. And you don't actually have the capacity to bring those values online.

Erica Wenger 19:47
Yeah, it's very, this framework because while the not important, and not urgent stuff may seem like it's not a priority. Those moments of crisis, like you said, are those moments of celebration, those tendencies will come out Like I've seen over and over again, founders will maybe not do this work, there is a big crisis. And they revert back to like their natural state. And they've clearly not done the inner work. And it's almost like those are like the high stakes moments as a business, whether you're having something celebratory or something's really not going well, where like, you want to be able to fall back on some like solid and your work that you've already done. Because those are going to be the most important moments. It's not as much in the day to day I feel like but it's in those like gigantic public facing things. You want to have done that already and fall back on it. Am I thinking about that? Right?

Josh Lavine 20:32
I love this point you're making? I mean, yeah, it's, it's kind of like, was talking about this recently, it's like critical moment theory or something like that, where, you know, just as an analogy, take a basketball game or something like, you know, you have 48 minutes in a basketball game. And most of those minutes are just boring going back and forth. But a couple of plays in that game are key. A couple of them, you know, and when you're in those moments, what happens is you fall back to the level of your training. And was it Muhammad Ali? I think you said, it's, you know, you have a plan until you knock on the chin, and then you fall back to level your training. And so that's what your work is for is how can you be in crisis? And how how much of yourself can show up in those critical moments? Yeah, I love that. It's good. It's a good way to think that.

Erica Wenger 21:24
Yeah, and elevating those baselines slowly over time. So in those moments to happen, you're not falling too far down. One, one question I have for you. And this is something that we have mostly founders here on the call. But there are going to be operators that have a different type than the founder or manager that they're working under. And I think that this is something that you talked about interpersonal relationships, this can be obviously operator operator can also be operator to manager operator to founder. How do you recommend let's say an operator is listening to this right now. And they're thinking, I don't know what my type is or what my the founders type is, but they're different. How can I use this framework to come to a better agreement, relationship conversation between the two of us? Is there something that you recommend like a conversation that's had about hey, let's both take this and come together? Like, what's your recommendation? If someone's in that position right now, and they're maybe in the like, the, they're the operator, they're kind of in like, the inferior position here. And they want it to get better, and they want a framework to have their culture get better.

Josh Lavine 22:27
Yeah, okay. That's a layered question. So yeah. Okay, first of all, let me just say that. Let me just say, you know, the anagram is an incredible framework. And obviously, I'm obsessed with it, but you don't need it to have important conversations that can can be productive. We say that differently. A lot of times when I coach founders one on one, sometimes we haven't even talked about the Enneagram yet, but I am coaching that one of the things I coach people most on is initiating and navigating difficult conversations, difficult conversations, like with a report who needs to be performed better, or with a co founder, who is misaligned on the vision or with a boss who has shown up in a really stressed way and is causing a lot of chaos? And, you know, these kinds of things like how do you approach these difficult moments? And how do you create a how do you expand the portal of emotional bandwidth that makes for relational goodness and strength? So you don't necessarily need the anagram. But the anagram is a very powerful tool and provides language to navigate those conversations, but you don't need it. Why can the Enneagram be useful in that situation, because if you know that your boss has a three, then and you know what a three is. And you know that it's going to be triggering for three to hear certain kinds of language from you or for three, if you approach them in a particular kind of way or a particular time, then you're going to be more skillful in that conversation. Again, you don't need the Enneagram. To use like just a couple that I really liked nonviolent communication. It's excellent. It's a whole framework for identifying feelings and needs and having those kinds of difficult conversations. There's a book also called difficult conversations written by the Harvard Negotiation project, which is excellent and has nothing to do with the anagram. Let me say this in one in a different way to what always gets framed out of issue of word problems are feelings. There's always an emotional layer underneath any anything, period. Okay? And that this is a huge topic. And so just the SparkNotes of like, the headlines are basically, if you're if you're if you need to have a conversation with your boss, because they're showing up in a way that's really stressful or triggering for you If you want to have a better relationship with them, that conversation is going to exist in emotional territory. That is going to be first of all, it's going to take courage for you to even begin the conversation to broach the subject of emotions, because there's all this taboo and stigma around having those kinds of conversations at work. Number one, number two, it's vulnerable. It's a vulnerable space to have those kinds of conversations. And it's not, it's not as easy as just, okay, you're going to do this task, and I'm gonna do this task. And that's kind of our tops project. It's like, two hearts coming together. And especially if they're hierarchical differences, then and power dynamics, then that becomes that becomes complicated. I'm going to try to break this together to single point, I guess your question was like, how do you do this? Or how can the Enneagram help? Is that the first second? Or what was your can use? prompts me or something?

Erica Wenger 25:52
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Just how to bring it up, because I think that's the thing. That's like you said, Everything exists in emotional territory. And it's how to go about it in a thoughtful way, while not knowing that person's type. Because I think that's part of it, too. It's like, once, you know, like you said, if someone is a three, hypothetically, I now know, okay, these are my like, you know, avoid areas, they're sensitive about this, this might be their stress response. But a lot of the times people don't yet know what the, what the type is. So how do you let's say someone could be anywhere from one to nine? Someone could be so self aware. So not self aware? Right? That's another huge range of it to some people are, you know, know who they are? And some don't? How do you how do you recommend an operator bring it up? Do you have any, like best practices, and like you said, maybe it's not even related to the Enneagram. Maybe it's just, hey, let's have a let's have a hard conversation. But I see a lot. And it's something that I'd love to get your thoughts on, like an operator that just, you know, is struggling with something on their team, and they don't know how to. And it's usually earlier in their career, and they don't know how to make it better. So what are those? What are those tools? And how do you? How do you recommend that they go about getting the answers they need?

Josh Lavine 27:06
Yeah. So let me just call out we're talking about this in the general case, and it's and it's harder to talk about this in the general case, because yeah, much of situations like this has to do with what's the relational history? What's What, what's difficult about starting this conversation for this person, you know, and that there is a lot of like, texture and nuance in this. Okay, nuance. Yeah.

Erica Wenger 27:35
So to add to that, then maybe it's actually you need a coach to help you. That's the answer, because it is so specific. What are your thoughts on early stage operators, getting coaches and founders getting coaches? Because maybe like you said, it's just too general, you can't really say how you should bring it up. But maybe the solution is get a coach who you can talk to about it. And then you come up with what's the next best step? What are your thoughts on like, is it never to really get a coach? Who do you recommend people look for?

Josh Lavine 28:06
Yeah, well, obviously, I'm a coach. And I think coaches are useful. And yeah, I let me actually, I'm going to get there in one second. But I want to I want to make one general statement, even though I just I'm going to talk about both sides of my mouth. So I did just say you need textured understanding of that specific the specificity of that situation. But a couple of general rules that are really useful whenever you're approaching a difficult conversation is, number one. Have have journaled or spoken to someone else to reach a minimum threshold of clarity about what you're wanting in the situation. That's really useful. So like, speak to a friend or coach or something like as a sounding board to get a sense of like, what are you why are you having this conversation? What are you approaching, and this is essential is that when you have a conversation, I'm going to say this in a way that may seem abstract, but when you approach the as best you can be seeing the other person positively like with your heart, you have to be approaching the person with with the assumption that they're that they have good intentions that their heart is right is good, and they may be being an asshole. But underneath that is some pure intention or nobility or beautiful quality of like who this person really is underneath all the neuroses and holding that vision of who they are, is really important. They're going to sense it from you, if you're approaching them like that, if you're approaching them without that they're going to sense that from you too, and it's going to be adversarial. Yeah. As far as getting a coach, I don't think it's ever too early to get a coach. There's just questions of like And can you afford it? And what's, what do you want to coach for? There's a lot of reasons to get a coach. But my, my personal brand of coaching or style of coaching is in this territory, really. I mean, I spent a lot of time in the in, in the inner world. I'm not your guy for like business strategy consultation, I am your guide for like relationship building and for culture, and for difficult conversations and self management and these kinds of things.

Erica Wenger 30:31
Yeah, absolutely. Amazing. Well, I do have one final question for you. And then I will open it up to the audience. What is one thing that you do to make your work life better? And I'd love to know it's a little bit outside of what you do in your day to day in your as a coach, but I'd love to hear what are the little like things that you do to separate yourself reconnect with yourself? Yeah, I'd love to hear.

Josh Lavine 30:58
Yeah, there's a lot of ways to answer that I, I play piano. That's a thing.

Erica Wenger 31:08
You keep doing that. You've continued that practice.

Josh Lavine 31:11
Yeah, and my name is totally changing, too. It's like, I used to be a job. And now it's, it's becoming more of like, a genuine self expression, as opposed to just learning Justin Bieber songs so that an audience can sing along. That's the whole thing. Another thing I attend to my own inner work and a lot of different ways, I mean, I have a meditation practice. That is, sort of on and off, I do run regular sessions with other coaches, I also have therapist and I do a practice called focusing, which is now it sounds like it's a whole it's a basically a therapeutic technique that you do with a partner. And yeah, what else? I mean, I work out. Spend a lot I spend time in HR when I can, which was really important to me.

Erica Wenger 32:12
Yeah, that's a good one. Yeah. The big cities, but it's not always easy, big cities, but it's good.

Josh Lavine 32:19
Here's actually I say this in a I bet a lot of founders relate to this is like, especially as a type three, or sort of type in the anagram. A type that tends to be more task oriented and has guilt complex arise when I'm not being productive, quote, unquote, I'm assuming a lot of people on this call probably relate to that. I had a friend, fellow coach who I really respect, recommend that every once in a while I do what he calls, take a piece of shit day where, like, you just played video games, or just do something that's totally legitimately what you want to do. And that feels restorative. So that you just kind of get off the treadmill for a while. And, and rest and recuperate. So that's those kinds of things I love. I love doing that kind of stuff.

Erica Wenger 33:07
Yeah, that's awesome. I think that's great advice to the take, take the day to do enough people do that. And it's not just for an hour or two, it's for the entire day. Amazing. Well, I'm going up to some questions. I want to be mindful of your time, I could keep pinging you with stuff. But I want to be mindful. So we do have one question. It was in response to one of the last things you had said, but we're grabbing it now. So what happens if the founder or manager that you go to doesn't listen to you when you make these efforts to try to chat with them? That that was the question we got what happens if they don't listen? What what do you do then? And maybe it's well, if someone's not willing to listen, you probably shouldn't say, but what what's your advice if someone isn't really willing to listen or do the work?

Josh Lavine 33:53
Yeah, that's that is the question. I guess. It's first of all, I'm aware, you know, this, this call is mostly founders. Right. And this is interesting. This question is kind of who would be speaking to a founder and not necessarily a founder, but I'll just tell if you're in a situation where there's an actual power dynamic, and you you approach the person and they and you assess that they don't actually have the capacity to listen, which is different, by the way that they just didn't listen in this particular instance. But if you if you if you assess that just developmentally they're not at a place where they can listen, then you have a choice to make. I mean, you can either adapt to the situation or you can leave. And there's that's just kind of the blunt hard truth of it. Like you're not you can't make someone listen, and you can't you can't force someone to stretch beyond their developmental capacity, especially if you're in a power down position period. And so, yeah, number one, if you're, you know, one thing you can try is be is model listening for them and be an excellent listener for them. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to listen for listen to you in terms of like might not be might, they might not even be aware of of a dynamic where they need to reciprocate this. But if you're aware of listening and you can listen for them, then what that does is earn their it earns their trust, and, and you become a safe space for them. And then they become a lot more open to your feedback after that. So it's kind of like, you offer empathy first, and it maybe opens the door for them to offer empathy to you. Not necessarily, but maybe.

Erica Wenger 35:30
Yeah, I like the idea always, if possible to like, take ownership over situation and being like, what could I possibly do to make this better? I could be the best listener I could be, and seeing if that potentially works. I hope that answered your question. If it didn't feel free to share more, too. Okay, next question. Are there types of personalities that are not compatible at all? Is that what you found?

Josh Lavine 35:52
Um, no, I'm in the Enneagram. So this is like, I always get questions about tight compatibility. And

Erica Wenger 35:59
it's like astrology, I feel.

Josh Lavine 36:02
Yeah. And that's, you know, that's fun. And we can talk about Pisces, and Capricorns and all that stuff. But in the anagram, there really isn't a similar thing. It's really your compatibility with someone else has to do more with your level of development and psychological balance than it does with your type. Certain types are more suited and tend to self select into certain kinds of work. But in terms of like, can I be friends or successful co founders or something with a type four or type eight or something like that? It just has to, it's really strictly just a function of how developer each of you.

Erica Wenger 36:40
Awesome. Okay, that's, that's great advice. Um, do you think that this trend is changing? And is Gen Z better at soft skills than hard skills? Yes. Okay, expand. I'm curious, what are you seeing it within with the next generation? I think we all maybe anecdotally are seeing it. But what are your What are your thoughts?

Josh Lavine 37:03
Um, what I'm seeing is that Gen Z, this is a blanket, Oh, way, overgeneralization? So, but if I can permit myself to speak in generalities, what I'm seeing is that there is a, there's a greater emphasis earlier on in developing emotional literacy and emotional competence. And the idea of being a safe space for people, the idea of being listener, the idea of being empathic, these kinds of things are being related. These concepts are entering people's awareness at an earlier age, and people are starting to wrap their brains and their ways of being around it earlier. And so when Gen Z founders become founders, they tend to have this orientation already. Now, you know, they may be lacking in other ways, too. But it's so it's not just it's not all rosy. But in terms of this dimension of life, I certainly see a general trend towards that.

Erica Wenger 37:55
Awesome, very cool. Well, I think that's it, we had three questions. If you guys have any other questions for Josh will share his information as well after this chat. And if you're watching this after the fact on YouTube, all his information will be linked at the bottom in the description, however you link stuff. Josh, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate all your words of wisdom. And I'm sure founders do too.

Josh Lavine 38:21
Thank you can I have can I make one other point real quick. I would love it, go for it. Um, I just want to drop another concept in here for everyone. And that is the idea of horizontal versus vertical development. I feel so strongly about this concept and it's one that is like bizarrely just not at all in the cultural zeitgeist. Horizontal development I think of in terms of this, the it's you can it's sort of like the hard skills and soft skills thing we're talking about. But it's it's a slightly broader way of thinking about it. Horizontal development is like getting better at spreadsheets learning how to run better meetings, developing language for emotional competence and things like that vertical development, bending the way you make meaning, and the the actual interpretive structures that you can apply to certain situations, let me say like this horizontal development is being able to diagnose a problem more effectively. Vertical development is is what's called Double Loop processing, which is being able to diagnose the the way you are diagnosing the problem. And so vertical development is all about getting more leverage and awareness of what's going on internally for you that is flavoring the way that you approach the world. So vertical development is is developing the capacity to see that it's possible that the way that you're seeing the problem is the problem not not just this is a problem, and I need better solutions, but oh, the way that I'm approaching it, my entire interpret, interpret structure for it. And that actually gives you that empowers you as a leader, because you have a lot more flexibility in the situation. If there's just something internal that you can change, like a mindset shift, that radically transforms the way that you relate to people and makes you more inspiring leader and a more effective self regulator and all these kinds of things. That's a big, big deal. So vertical development, generally speaking, gives you more, much higher leverage as a leader. And I like to use the phrase vertical development gives you what, I just lost the phrase, you know, what an Archimedean point is, like, Archimedes had that phrase where he was like, give me a lever and a place to stand and I can move the world.

Erica Wenger 40:38
I do not know that. But okay, continue.

Josh Lavine 40:41
Vertical development gives you bigger levers and better places to stand. Period. So I'm really encouraging people to if this is the first time you've, you've heard about vertical development, go read about it. Or if you're a SIL skeptic about what inner work is, or still have questions about it, um, you know, really, first of all, welcome. Welcome to the world of work and very, very happy to have you here. It's a, I salute you, it's a really big deal. And, and Thanks for considering it. And it's the path of becoming an inspiring leader, you can be excellent at your job. But being a great manager of people, and a great leader, and one who inspires people is a whole other thing. And that has a lot to do with your inner qualities that you've cultivated much more than your technical skill.

Erica Wenger 41:30
I think that line right there is what we need to have on repeat, like in all in all things in all, even in all like VC groups like it's to really be the inspiring leader and the great people manager that people say they want to be they cannot just be technical. They have to do the inner work. And they can go hand in hand, but like it can't just be one. Yeah, very strong. Josh, thanks so much for being here. This was awesome. And I really, yeah, love learning from you. There's obviously so much more. So thank you again for your time. I really appreciate it. And thanks to all the founders and operators that tuned in, and I know I'll be at least watching this back later. So I appreciate it.

Josh Lavine 42:10
Thank you very much.

Erica Wenger 42:11
Thank you. All right. Bye

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