Talentism

Dave Fano

Dave Fano

Jeff Hunter:Hi, I'm Jeff Hunter, the founder and CEO of Talentism. Today, I'm speaking with Dave Fano, thefounder and CEO of Teal. Dave is an architect by training and a serial entrepreneur bycompulsion. He founded the successful building information and technology consultancy Case.He then sold Case to WeWork and took on the role of chief growth officer there, where he was akey driver of their meteoric growth. I met Dave when he started his latest venture, Teal. Iremember when Dave was first talking about his career experiences and how he wanted tomake things better for the people who actually build companies, the employees, he told me thatit struck him that the way people think about their careers and their jobs was broken, and he feltthat the need to create a company to fix that. That compulsion led Dave to create Teal, anincredible group of people dedicated to providing the education, community and tools to helpprofessionals build successful and fulfilling careers. I'm especially grateful to be talking to Davetoday because Teal is one of Talentisms, first IP partners, and is using our big four frameworkand methodology to help people create their own unique path of professional excellence. Iencourage you to learn more about this amazing company at Tealhq.com. That's Tealhq.com.Dave, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the conversation.Dave Fano:Thanks Jeff, I'm super honored to be a part of this as you know, someone who I look to as amentor and someone that's really paved the path for some really incredible things. And so I'mreally appreciative to have the time to talk to you and to do this with you.Jeff Hunter:So, Dave the way I understand it, at Teal you provide career coaching. You've worked with me,you've partnered with Talentism. So, you know, our approach and thinking, and of course I knowyou've done a lot of coaching over time as a successful executive. How do you think about thevalue and importance of coaching?Dave Fano:So I think coaching is critical and I think that for anyone to push beyond their understanding oftheir limits, some kind of external force is incredibly valuable, right? I think you know, for theshort time that I had a personal trainer, I was able to push myself, they were able to push mefurther than I was able to push myself, just because I think we kind of you know, we like to playit safe. We don't want to hurt ourselves. We don't like to fail. And so there's something abouthaving someone who you know, has your best interest in mind and helps you push to what theythink your potential is. And also that they've seen it done before, right? I mean, a lot of, I thinklife is quite lonely in the sense that we're doing these things and we're experiencing them for thefirst time and having that broader perspective, because even though that thing we’reexperiencing for the first time, there's a high likelihood someone else has experienced it. And soI think that that is a lot of the value that, that coaches bring. I do think there's an importantdistinction between coaching and advice and you want both, but I think that distinction isimportant. Now all that said, that's not really what we do at Teal. I think that coaching is acomponent of what we do and we're trying to be quite cautious about how we engage with thetheme of coaching. I think one of the things that's inherent in coaching is this one-on-onerelationship with an individual. And I think one of the things that you guys have done great atTalentism is that you're establishing it as more of a platform. But you're still obviously have yourassociation to your coach that is using the platform. We're hoping to take that a step further,mainly because we want to make it accessible to more people. There is an inherent coststructure that comes with, you know, the livelihood of a person being based on, you know,advising and this one-on-one high touch way, that I think is great for those that can afford it. Anda lot of times it's funded by companies, but we really want the consumer or the person thatworks at companies to be able to do this and have agency with their career. And so that putsthe pressure on us to figure out ways to make this cost accessible and really leveragetechnology and develop a platform and a methodology and framework that allow people to do iton their own without the need of the high touch one-on-one coaching. So then that pushes us toinvest in tooling, content and frameworks that people can do in a self-guided way with the abilityto level up into a coach as necessary, but even that we're trying to figure out ways where thatcan happen through chat or other low cost models and mainly so we can make it accessible tomore people, because that was kind of one of my contentions that you brought up earlier on inthe introduction is that these kinds of resources that I've been incredibly lucky to have. I got laterin my career, once I was sort of fiscally eligible. I have very few regrets, but I just think that if Iwould have had access to these kinds of things earlier, I might've made better or differentdecisions, and I really want to help people get access to those things sooner. So that's kind of,so I think there are aspects and essences of coaching in what we do, but in terms of like adelivery model and methodology, we're trying to break some new ground.Jeff Hunter:Yeah. So I want to talk a little bit about something that you said at the beginning of what youwere talking about. So I've shared with you that, you know, seven years ago, when I startedTalentism, I really didn't intend to start a coaching organization. I had these theories about thehuman mindand how things work and a way to unleash potential. And it turned out that what Ithought was going to be a consultancy ended up being very much a coaching organization,because as I worked with leaders and brought these frameworks and this way of thinking tothose leaders, they said; Hey, would you coach me? And so then I went out and started trying tofigure out the world of coaching, cause I had never done it before. And I know there's a lot ofincredible coaches out there and I wanted to sort of respect the craft as also learn about myblind spots and ended up really differentiating or at least trying to differentiate what I was tryingto do from what I experienced most coaches trying to do. And I think you brought up a little bit ofwhat I experienced most coaches trying to do, which is be almost like a change agent or anaccountability agent in a person's life. Like there's a, I'm gonna push you or I've got a better wayof doing something. And what we've been trying to do is figure out how to be a good detective inyour life to help you make sense of the evidence that you're producing as you try to achieveyour goals. So it's really not an attempt to provide a place of security or safety. It's not anattempt to say; Hey, listen, you said you were going to go out there and, you know, apologize topeople and he didn't apologize or whatever the thing is that the pushing of the, towards aperson's limits, but more to help them gain a level of self mastering a level of self awareness, alevel of self skepticism and self-acceptance and use experiments along the way to try toproduce more evidence, more data. So you can sort of see who you are. So help me, help meconnect that because I think when I think about the coaching sessions, you and I have, I havefound you to engage with that methodology really well. So can you help me understand what Imay be missing in what your saying, did I misinterpret that or do you see like different coachingin different situations?Dave Fano:So I think the methodology is incredibly powerful and I think it's amazing. I just know what I payfor coaching and a lot of people can't. And so what, and so I think it's that high touch componentof it that I think that's part of what makes it remarkable, but it's also part of what makesinaccessible. And so I want to try to figure out what are the parts of it that can be extracted andmade more accessible via technology and automation, which hopefully then can guide peoplethrough a journey to know when to engage in that at the right times, is because I think that likepoint coaching could be super valuable, but also part of what's built into like the coachingbusiness model is a need to kind of keep it going, right? Like, there's, we're going to be monthly.I'm going to get you to a monthly fee because that's just the nature of business. Recurringrevenue is good going out and reacquiring customers every month is really expensive andcostly. And so they are, and look, this is just, I think, kind of the, one of the tensions ofcommerce, be it employee, employer, you know, a service provider service receiver. And I thinkyou have to be like fiscally eligible enough to get that kind of quality of service. And then whathappens is there's a like non-linear relationship of cost to quality. And I think as you get down tothe low cost coaching, I don't, I think that there is a serious diminishing of quality. And then notto say that there aren't remarkable coaches, but the volume of coaches is also much, muchhigher. And so the chances of someone engaging with a coach and them not being helpful arequite high. And I think that then the scales tip from not helpful to hurtful. And I think that's reallydangerous because I think people, especially when it comes to navigating their career are reallylooking for a safe place to talk, because there's so much judgment and pressure around talkingabout things like how much money you want to make, or that some of the vulnerabilities youhave, because you have to maintain this identity of confidence that people actually quite quicklyintrust a coach. And if these coaches aren't experts like you with the experience that you have,they can very quickly misguide somebody and then you actually give them quite bad advice.And I think it's actually quite easy for people to lean into giving advice and not follow like propercoaching methodologies, which are hard and you have to be practiced at. And so I think that'sthe big concern for me and then kind of what we're trying to tackle at Teal, that it's less driven bylike a human to human interaction, which allows for a tremendous amount of judgment in a veryvulnerable space and making a bit more systematic and predictable and not necessarily interms of outcomes, but at least in terms of experience.Jeff Hunter:Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And as you were speaking, I was just reflecting on somethingthat happens to me a lot of days, not all days, but the, you know, I'll be talking to maybe five, sixCEOs or founders in a day and I'll end the day asking myself, did I do a good job today?Because I believe that responsibility of a coach to be fully present for the person and engagedin what they're going through and suspend judgment in the pursuit of investigation of what's trueand try to, you know, put aside our own biases and beliefs, just so we can, at least in ourmethodology be true to the framework and try to process the information well, and every day Iend up wondering like whether I did a good job. And I think that you know, in big four, that's thenature of how we think about these things, right? Is it is not pleasant to wonder at the end of theday, whether you did a good job. And yet I think its the very nature of a pursuit of excellence.And I've seen you do this and many other people, is like the harder you work, the more yourealize how far you have to go to be excellent. And so you work even harder and are open tothe question about whether you're even doing this right. And so you keep pushing and pursuing,but I can imagine that the difference between somebody in my position, being able to afford thetime and the pressure of being able to do that every day to challenge myself and somebodywho's trying to handle a much broader scope of people is different. I did want to ask you onething that you were talking about. So one of the things I think has been really clear and ineverybody I work with and I'd say you're an especially good case of this. They have pretty goodself-awareness and they care about that. Like they want to be self-aware, absentself-awareness I think it's almost impossible to get better at something. Because you spendmost of your time caught in your internal narratives about how everyone else is to blame forwhat's going on, as opposed to seeing where you are in that picture. What have you found inthe world of Teal with regards to a career, a person who's going through a career change orcareer challenge and how they bring a sense of self-awareness to that? Are they just trying toget into the next job or are they really able to step back in your experience and sort of reflectand think about, you know, a bigger picture.Dave Fano:That's probably been the most exciting and intimidating part of these early parts of the Tealjourney is it's so complex what people are optimizing for and the way that they've crafted theirlife either, you know, strategically or opportunistically or proactively or reactively to get them intothe situation that they're in and watching them navigate all those things to make that nextdecision to, you know, people who get laid off and say, well, this was great because I was nevergoing to quit. And now I can take the next three to six months to figure out what I want to do tosomeone who abruptly quits and says, I need a job in a week because I was so miserable, but Ireally don't have any cushion, but I made that decision anyway. And so just like watching anddissecting the way that people make decisions and what those triggers for them are, has beenreally interesting. And we're actually going through an exercise now trying to archetype peopleand it's really hard and it's no, we're not going to be able to just like bucket people. It's going tobe these different dimensions and just seeing where people are on those scales of what mattersto them. And you know, is someone a saver so that they can make these decisions is someoneyou know, kind of a bit of a planner, but not a saver. So they're less willing to take a job that theydon't like. Where are they in their career? You know, are they, is this job one or is this jobseven? Are they, why are they pursuing compensation because the world has told them to, orbecause they really need the money. And how have they attached like compensation toself-worth and identity. There's, our careers make up such a massive part of our identity andthey trigger a lot of parts of our biology. I think that, you know, amygdala hijack is a real thing incareer management, but it's not life or death in the same way. It was that our amygdala waskind of like built to do when we were being attacked by a saber tooth tiger or something, but weconfuse ourselves and that's been really interesting to see, like where is someone using more oflike the calculating parts of their brain versus more of these like animalistic survival parts of theirbrain as they make these career decisions. And it's been super fascinating and to say that I'vegot like patterns, it would just be way too early.Jeff Hunter:Yeah. So Dave, I think something that you and I have talked about frequently that as part of notonly our ongoing coaching, but also as part of the partnership between Talentism and Teal. AndI think it's embedded in what you were just talking about with regards to what people are likeand what their context is, what their situation is. Is this notion of how individuals pursue theirindividual or unique path to excellence embedded in this idea, in this concept that excellencereally as being good at what you do, being good at your craft or your job or your responsibilitiesis really the only sustainable competitive advantage, even in the midst of huge disruptions andhow work gets done with technology and global markets and all those kinds of things. What yousee is that people who are truly excellent tend to have secure, security and the people don't canbe much more at the whims of bad managers, bad leaders, bad companies, etcetera. Whenyou're working through coaching individuals or working with individuals and giving them thetoolkit that Teal is giving them to help them think about not only what they want to do for a living,but what they're really good at. How do you guys think through that and how do you work that?Dave Fano:So it's early days for us on that front, we've been laser focused on helping people land jobs, youknow, given the current climate and part of that is understanding what they're good at. And thisis where one of the reasons we're excited to partner with you guys because you've done a lot ofwork on that front, what we have done some work on is that we've developed our own whatwe're calling work style assessment. It's more of like a behavioral assessment. It's got a lot oflearnings from disc which is a pretty common workplace behavioral assessment. And we've kindof put a little bit of our own flavor on it. And one thing that was really important to me in usbuilding it, which is I saw in a lot of flaws in these assessments is you can't take them multipletimes and compare the data and you, and they don't have a lot of like three sixties, some do.But it's, you know, those, then you have to like hire a consultant to read you the results. And so Iwanted to do something a little more self-serve there. And that's been really interesting seeinghow someone perceives themselves versus their reputation, right? That's kind of the distinctionHogan makes which I think is a good one and that's prompted some great conversations whensomeone would say, even for myself, I, one of the words pairings is questioning and accepting.And I was, I put myself all the way maximum accepting, and I think of the 15 people that took iton my behalf, not a single person put me on the accepting side and part of it was semantic, butthen it was like a huge eye opening for me. I was like, oh right, yeah. When I do that, likeintensive questioning that I do, it makes people, like it comes off as a different way, or methinking that's my path to becoming accepting. And so it was, I think that, that is really helpful.And I think in the context of shaping your career, understanding how others perceive you,because your career really is influenced by the people that enable it, scaffold it, you know pavedpaths for you. It really isn't this singular thing. It has a ton of dependencies. And so that's anarea where we see ourselves really investing, is having other people that you trust, give you thatinput and making it really easy. You know, so one of the ones we want to work on now is skills. Imight have a sense of what I think I'm good at, but I'm also incredibly susceptible to blind spots.So in a way to help me understand what I'm good at, I'm going to start to engage with othersand say; Hey, what do you think I'm good at? Like in my last role at this company, as mymanager, what were areas where you think I excelled and I want to leave out the negativebecause that's kind of not the point. I think you can do that in other ways. And then it getsawkward for people to then give that feedback and then they want an amenity and you have toend up having to do all these things to obfuscate the value. So let's just keep it simple and havepeople tell me what they think I'm good at. And so I think my intuition right now is that that willsurface things that either people didn't realize they were good at, or they thought that they justtook for granted. They didn't recognize it. What I've seen oftentimes is things that people arereally good at. They just think that that's kind of like second nature and that's not wortharticulating as a skill, but in the pursuit of building a fulfilling career, those are the things thatunlock you. When you can find these things that are these talents that come natural to you, andthat you don't even recognize them as a skill. If more people can help you identify those, then Ithink you can get that much closer to doing work that's fulfilling, energizing, engaging, you know,that you jump out of bed for, in the morning to do. And that's really what we're after.Jeff Hunter:That's so cool. Because I think what you're talking about is the nature of confusion and how toapply that through the lens of Teal. For me, this idea of confusion, I've been working through itfor many, many years or decades, but I always use the American idol task, which is, you know,the first five years I watched American idol just loved it. Then, you know, they picked Carry overBo and I had to leave, but the thing that always struck me and of course it's the way theproducers cut it and everything, but we have to acknowledge all that. They're creating drama,but you can sort of bucket people who are in effect seeking a career change right there. They'renot professional singers who have big record contracts who are coming in to be judged by theassignment. They're actually people who would like to make a career change, make a move up.And so you had this group of people who were just incredibly confident. Incredibly confident likeI know myself, I know what I'm good at. I know my skills and they'd open their mouth and sing,and it was like a cat screeching. It was just horrendous. And then similarly, there are a group ofpeople walked in who you could just see it in their face and in their narrative. Like, I have noidea why I am here. I am a terrible singer, but there's something that is compelling me to showup and try this. And then they open their mouth and they're just glorious, right? And then you'vegot people, you know, in between, there are different levels of self-awareness and confidenceand capability or skill. And to me, we're all just singers trying out for American idol. We all havedifferent levels of self-awareness about what we're good at and what we're not good at. And weneed help to figure out what's true because just because you can sing it in the shower does notmean you can sing it on stage and you need help to figure out exactly how good you are andalso what different contexts you're good in and what contexts you struggle in. Because there'slots continuing with the singing analogy. There's lots of things where, you know, somebodyreally good in the recording booth and they get onstage and they're terrible or vice versa. It'ssinging both times the same skill, but the context is extremely different in our minds process,that context very differently. And so I love how you guys are helping people figure that stuff outbecause I think having a safe set of hands, an expert set of hands to help somebody figure out,work through that confusion, help them see what they're really good at, what they're reallycompulsively driven to do, what kinds of outcomes they find meaningful and connect them toopportunities that exist out there is, it's just awesome. It's in my opinion, it's sacred work. I'm soglad that you're doing it. I'm so glad you've moved from the initial conversations we had toactually making this thing a reality and helping thousands of people. And I'm just grateful tohave been a small part of helping you. So Dave, we're at the end of our time, I just want to saythank you so much for participating in this inaugural podcast. We'll see how it goes. We'll justyou know, we'll put it out there and let's see if anybody thinks that we're good singers or badsingers, but we'll get some feedback and hopefully get better. I really, really appreciate it. Thankyou so much.Dave Fano:Awesome. Yeah, I really appreciate being asked to do this and you know, that it means a lot tome that you would think to have me as one of the early people on it. So I'm incrediblyappreciative and I'm excited to see where it goes and, you know, I volunteer to do another onewhere I spill my guts out and then you sorta dissectomy live if that's experiment number two wecan see how the crowd feels about that.Jeff Hunter:Yeah, that would be awesome. Okay well, we'll get the anesthesia ready and we'll prep theroom and invite you back.Dave Fano:All right. Thanks Jeff.Jeff Hunter:All right. Thanks Dave.

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