Wendy Hanson 0:24
Welcome, everyone. I'm so delighted to have you here today as we're beginning a new year 2022. And hopefully it's going to be happy and healthy for everyone. Now, over the past two years, we've had to adjust our business, our personal or family life because of the pandemic. I believe we've needed to share ideas and best practices with others more than ever, business doesn't run without good people and great ideas. Today, we'll talk about one example of the collaboration between different organizations and how you might emulate it in your own company. So I am very lucky to be able to have Meighan Hackett portraits on the from the Learning Forum, which is an executive council network on with me today. So let me introduce her before I bring her on. So Meighan is the managing director of the Learning Forum. It is a member driven networking organization for senior executives of large, multinational and government organizations. member firms include over 120 organizations, which include five of the Fortune 1025 of the Fortune 100, along with 10 key government organizations. Her councils provide leaders access to confidential peer learning through a high trust network. They are a platform of ideas, inspiration and benchmarking, which has lasting impact on the strategy and growth of programs of fortune 500 companies. Something else you should know about Meighan, I wouldn't mess with her. Meighan has completed an Ironman Triathlon, raise $10,000 for blood cancer research. She is passionate about the emerging trend trends that link sustainability, personal well being productive workplaces and communities. So welcome, Meighan. I am just delighted to have you on.
Meighan Hackett Poritz 2:20
Thank you so much for the kind intro. As you said, the world of work has seen major shifts in the past year. And we are really focused on helping leaders change the conversations that they're having.
Wendy Hanson 2:31
Yeah, because we all know, we can't do this alone. It takes a village, you know, to be able to make good things happen at work. And I was so happy to hear about your organization. So tell us what is the Executive Council Network? Give us a little background on that.
Meighan Hackett Poritz 2:49
All right, well, to simply put it, we're about 15 councils. And that is a network made up of those who lead functions such as talent management, enterprise learning, people analytics, innovation, foresight, digital workplace, to name a few, as well as some newly formed groups, just first, the HR rose and Clos. And there's about 20 to 25 firms in each group. So keep it small, so the conversation can really foster and grow.
Wendy Hanson 3:21
And I assume that you may have done these in the past in person, at least some of them and now they're mainly virtual. Is that a correct assumption on my part, or or fix that for me?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 3:32
Yeah. So I think our first meeting was back in 1996. And we would meet where the learning really matters. We've had the army hostess at West Point, because Navy SEALs MIT Media Lab. So really interesting places where we can get people's minds to expand and inspired. More often than not, our member firms would host us to showcase their work at Google, Facebook, IDEO, GE, media, Time Warner media. So just, we often have our members say, well, we want to want you to come visit us and we'll show you what we're doing. And then that becomes the theme for that meeting.
Wendy Hanson 4:16
Oh, that's great. That's great. And now they're your meetings are all virtual at this point. Till we come to the other side,
Meighan Hackett Poritz 4:22
the virtual we had to become somewhat experts in zoom. And now we're meeting more often over, you know, get people together to talk about what was urgent and what they need to address. And then we get to bring in wonderful guests like yourself to talk about what are some new things that are happening in, for example, coaching?
Wendy Hanson 4:43
Yes. Well, I'm excited to be joining you in February. So we'll talk a little bit more about that at the end. But your focus Meighan is on bringing executives together for confidential peer learning. Why is this different than just going to a conference or other things consulting firms, what makes it different?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 5:02
The big difference? What distinguishes us most is that we give leaders as you said, this platform for confidential peer learning, and it's through a high trust network where they can really learn directly from each other members will direct the purpose of membership meeting agendas, also ensure that their discussions are relevant and focused. So we're not the consultants, we're not the experts. We just bring a sense of curiosity to the table and facilitate these candid conversations. Yeah,
Wendy Hanson 5:34
that's great, because you need to establish that trust. And as you say, confidentiality, so you know, senior leaders, you know, need to know that they're in a place of trust to be able to say, I don't know what I don't know, you know, and sometimes that's been difficult. So I love that you've been able to make that happen. So what is the magic behind what you do?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 5:57
Well, that's right. It's that building that trust. So without meaningful relationships, and that trust, there's not an open, willingness to share, and give and have that information exchange. So the real magic happens when we invest time and into our members get to know them, they get to know each other and build long term relationships with each other. So that it really creates this unique level of trust. So that the real sharing can happen, members will tap into each other's experiences and practices to help get their work done. And then we're also able to reach out to leaders and experts in the space, bring them in to address emerging needs. The other beautiful thing, the other magical thing that happens is that since they are a trusted group, they'll tap each other for professional development, and instant peer coaching throughout their career. So we have a lot of fun. Oh,
Wendy Hanson 7:00
that's great. And it really is to be able to take what they want and their ideas. It's like they kind of own the concepts that you're working on. But you make it happen, because you wouldn't be able to do that, you know, if you're at the other end. So what a what a great service. So, you know, I think this is more important now than ever. Why do you think this is something that's really more important now than it ever was before?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 7:26
I think mostly, we've seen the role seeing the pace of change, accelerate. So this access to instant benchmarking, quick input from those that you trust is super important. I think having a such a strong network, we're able to bring, bring together these leading experts with practitioners to quickly respond to some of these pressing challenges of today really answer some of their business needs and keep us relevant. I also think inspiration and innovation is more important than ever. So through our interactions, which are across industry, you might learn something that you hadn't known before. It helps you make the connection in your mind with a problem that you're working on. So that really Foster's that sense of innovation and new ideas. And they look to each other for that. And they ask each other questions outside their scope. And this just really helps open minds.
Wendy Hanson 8:31
Tell me a little bit about the benchmarking, because, you know, that's something everybody's always trying to figure out, you know, collecting data benchmarking, what how does that show up in your organization, really
Meighan Hackett Poritz 8:43
is the beauty of the of the network, so that the minute someone has an issue or question or problem that they need some input on? We pull our community, we ask the question, and we tap their expertise. And we're often amazed at the level of candor that they'll share pretty immediately in response. And that really only happens when you have this high level of trust and camaraderie.
Wendy Hanson 9:08
Yeah. Because people are, you know, we don't know what happens in other organizations, you know, especially, there are still some companies where people are there 20 years, and then it's like, all I know, is what I've done in my company, you know, Now certainly in California, Silicon Valley, we always laugh that it's about a two year shelf life, you know, for many people, and then they move on, and BetterManager and that's been to our advantage because a lot of people that use us in their company, then they move on to a new company, and then they they look back and bring us back into the company, but to get what other people are doing is so important.
Meighan Hackett Poritz 9:46
Same thing, if you're in even inside your own firm, it's always good to get ideas from another team or Share, share, share your work and get some feedback. So anywhere you can kind of facilitate that kind conversation was just to get that outside experience. Yeah.
Wendy Hanson 10:03
So, you know, the pandemic has amplified the urgency of many workforce related topics. What are the topics that you and your member communities are, are actively exploring these days? What's coming up for them?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 10:18
Okay, yes, it's interesting, we do a lot of research on the top trends and represent some suggested discussion topics. But what ends up happening and as in most meetings, folks ask the questions that are most important to them to address their needs. So what we're currently talking about, which is probably relevant is a advances in all the innovative technologies that we're seeing reinvestment in leadership development programs, that people are using people analytics, beyond traditional HR issues, to build a future ready workforce, just exciting. They're also focused on developing and retaining talent through your coaching and Manager Development and investing in VR for training, a lot of new and innovative ways to approach talent, as well as the future work, and all the areas that we can manifest culture, in this virtual hybrid work environment. where the where the question really becomes how do we want to be together? And how do we want to you know, collaborate and, and work.
Wendy Hanson 11:25
It is such a time of opportunity, right to look at work differently, because we learned so much. I think you speak so much of trust. But what I have seen also is people always thought, well, if people are working at home, how do I know that they're really getting anything done? And I think what we have found is that people are working harder, longer. It's a it's it's become a problem. It's like goes the other way. It's not that people are sitting around eating bonbons, you know, they're they're working, and you can never get away from it. So the future of work, we have an opportunity, just like everything else right now, to redefine it and figure out how people are going to work best some people are so wanting to get back to the office, because this was great in the beginning, but now they don't quite like it. And some it works out good for them. So it's a really hard thing. And I think it's a great place for companies to share information on. How are you doing it? Because I hear it from all different ends from you know, the managers that we coach and, and how this shows up for them. So yeah, great to be able to ask that.
Meighan Hackett Poritz 12:34
And they are and I thought we had that for tomorrow, analytics groups is doing a lot of the voice of the employee, and they're getting some of that input. Where do Where do you want to be working? What is the ideal work life balance? And how do you want to work? When do you want to work? So they are getting a lot of the employee input, which is great. And that will help inform strategy. And it's something that we should all be talking about and designing we should all have an input into it.
Wendy Hanson 12:58
Yeah. So what are some of the cool things your members are like showcasing and doing? Because you have some pretty, you know, important companies and high level members? What are what are they concerned about? or talking about?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 13:12
I think, yeah, all of our members do pretty incredible things, through examples that come to mind that I'm excited about, that we've been recently sharing. Accenture has stepped up this deployment of VR with purchase of 6000 Oculus quest two headsets, that's a trend that's a train their own new hires. That's the largest number of any company's ever deployed. That's a really exciting space that we're entering. And that could signal what other companies might do in the future as well.
Wendy Hanson 13:42
Can you talk a little bit more about VR for anybody that might not be familiar with it?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 13:48
Sure. Virtual reality. So we're seeing use cases in diversity training, you know, what does it look like? What does it feel like to be in someone else's shoes? We're seeing use cases in how do we role model and play? You know, different, different typical conversations conflict? Really, it's just the tip of the iceberg of what we're going to start to see about it's exciting. Yeah, yeah. And that, yeah, it really puts you into the space. So for this new hire training, you're actually walking around Accenture's campus and you could meet some of their other new hires and greeting and what are you working on and have that feel of actually being face to face?
Wendy Hanson 14:37
That's great. And and certainly we'll see more of that in the future because that really is that's that's breaking down barriers and you know, you you don't you don't know somebody till you walk in their shoes, you know, you get a real opportunity to do that. Cool. What else?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 14:57
See we have a Wolverine has a very Innovative, firm and great member. And they recently shared with us how the pandemic has really sped up their whole innovation and product development, which is, you know, they could have went one way, but they went 100% the other way, then they've got to experience their virtual showroom with our phones, in our living rooms, there just really shows you like how fast we're entering this new world. IBM will share their journey to upskill their consultants using adaptive simulations. And that will that like adapt the same thing like this technology will reduce learner fatigue, and it will improve the time it takes to learn something and to apply it. And so this is very important, because you are taking hours away from people's jobs, to have them go to trainings. So you want this to be more effective and efficient. There's a lot to learn from what companies are doing.
Wendy Hanson 15:59
Yeah. And, and you don't know you don't have access to this information, unless you're involved in this kind of forum so that companies can showcase that and then get good questions that will also open up their mind for what else they could do. And
Meighan Hackett Poritz 16:15
yeah, what's exciting is you can read about it in an article, but it's not what you need the conversation, you need to really see and hear what's where the rubber meets the road? And what are the hurdles? And you know, what were the pain points? So it's better to it's really nice to hear the progress and process for all these programs. That's great. And
Wendy Hanson 16:37
how has the pandemic shifted your business model? We talked a little bit about this, because you used to be able to be much more in person, was there anything else that has really impacted you?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 16:48
I think it's, you know, the, it's hard, it's hard to replicate the building of relationships when you're not face to face. So that's a big challenge for us. Now, we used to have our dinners and people can form relationships, one on one in small groups. So now it's really how do we connect people through different platforms, whether it's through coaching, your coaching, whether it's through notes, getting people to ask each other questions offline? So it's really how do we, you know, replicate our face to face relationship building, and virtually, that and then also, as we mentioned, the use of get to go to cool places and see what they're doing. And now we have, we bring in speakers like yourself and get to expand our thinking that way?
Wendy Hanson 17:32
Yeah. Yes, I am very excited about coming and talking about, you know, what coaching looks like now, because there are some organizations that use coaching all the time. And it always is interesting how some companies haven't gotten there yet. And we find that, you know, we get such great feedback, as 360 and six coaching sessions, and people find that it's like, wow, this has changed the whole dynamic with my team. So I'm very excited to share some of our stories about that, and, and feedback that people have given us, because I think we can, we can be that other partner on the learning curve, you know, you're working with the kind of the bigger picture and the CIHR o's and, and we can take all the managers, we often call it The Forgotten middle, all those middle managers out there. And, and executives need, you know, they've always been able to have access to coaching. But, you know, now, I think they need it more than ever, because it's very lonely at the top. And that's what, that's one of the problems that your organization solves for people, you know, being able to go in and say, Boy, what are you doing about this? And we find that being able to be thought partners in coaching is really helpful there, too.
Meighan Hackett Poritz 18:49
Yeah, I think it also is an opportunity to create a culture of coaching, so that you are instilling those fundamentals into all levels where people have have the skill sets and confidence to ask questions and give, receive feedback and manage conflict. So the things that you know, as a coach, but really distill it down to all levels of the company, yeah, very, very excited.
Wendy Hanson 19:19
Yeah, yeah. Well, a lot of the things that you're talking about about trust and confidentiality are really, you know, the foundation of our coaching relationships. So that when you learn to trust your coach, and we hire coaches, you need to have at least five years, but many have 1020 years business experience. So not only are they certified coaches, but they've played roles. You know, some of them have been CEOs of companies, some of them, you know, have worked in all different departments, engineers and marketing and the great thing about coaching is you don't need to be a subject matter expert. You know, in fact, we often try to tell companies It's better if you're not, because then you're trying to consult of how this is going to get done. And really our big thing was to be able to help people work with teams, you know, how do you work with your team? How do you, you know, when you talk about meeting in person, and having more kind of intimate conversations that are harder to have on Zoom, you know, those are the things that get you drawn to somebody and create long term connections.
Meighan Hackett Poritz 20:26
So yep, same thing with any kind of relationship or counsel relationships, and what we bring to the table where you know, you're not experts, but you ask the right questions, or any question and you, you get to learn from others. And that's, you know, that's the value. Yeah,
Wendy Hanson 20:42
no, that's great. So what, what some of the final messages you would like to leave for our listeners, you know, what, what do you want them to take away from this?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 20:52
Well, this is exciting, because it's the new year. And I think, the last couple years have really taught us a lot about our relationships with each other, and our relationships with the world around us. And we've been asked to change our ways of living in service of our individual as well as our collective health. And I think that's it, this has caused quite the awakening. So now we have this great opportunity for people to reflect on the kind of life they want to be living, who they want to work with, what kind of work they want to do, when and most important to us is how do they want to develop and how they want to grow professional relationships throughout their career. So I think it's a really, it's a great time to just kind of think about all those pinpoints and I think what they can learn most from our model of that we try and practice is to promote a culture of development, learning, and information sharing in your own companies, so that you can ask the right questions, practice empathy, listen to foster understanding and trust. So I think the most important I think you can ask anybody in our in our groups is that you got to always share your knowledge and information with humility and humor.
Wendy Hanson 22:15
Oh, I love that. Yeah, it doesn't, you're
Meighan Hackett Poritz 22:16
not going to get far if you if you don't have a sense of humor when you build relationships.
Wendy Hanson 22:21
That's right. That's right. Totally. And, and what I, what you described there sounds very much like a coaching culture, you know, you need to be curious, you need to be empathetic, you need to be able to ask the right questions, you need to be able to give feedback. And all those things are so important. And if you have that coaching culture in your company, you'll, you'll just people will get further it, it sounds so much like what you, you try to create within the forum, you know, is, is almost like a coaching culture for people to exchange information. So if someone you know, they're they're not able to access the Learning Forum, or their mid level manager and say, Boy, I want to do this what, what advice would you give people internally, to be able to set up something that somewhat simulates what you do at the Learning Forum? Any thoughts on that?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 23:17
Oh, I love it. So if there's something a topic that you're passionate about or working on, and you'd like to either share, or get input on it, start with your team and see if anyone on your team for input and who else would be able to add to it and then go to go to other teams in your company, no, knock on their door or virtual door, and say, I'd love to share something with you. I'd love your input. Starting your own internal councils, on whatever topic topic it is that you want to start to grow in your space, and you never know where it will lead.
Wendy Hanson 23:54
Oh, I love that. I think that's such a great idea. Because if we had these all over the place, and then and then at what how could people reach out to you? What's the best way? Meighan, if somebody is even thinking about because you're the expert in this how to bring people together. So even if somebody wanted to do something internally, or find out are there are there may be groups that they're not even aware of? Or they might come to you and you say, That's a great idea for a Learning Forum group. What's the best way for them to ask questions or reach out to you?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 24:28
Oh, they're welcome to come follow us on LinkedIn at the Learning Forum. And I can also be reached by email anytime at M Hackett HSC K TT at the learning forum.org. And, yeah, we'd love we'd love ideas. We'd love input and we'd love to hear what's what's working out there and what's not so love to hear from anybody who's interested in learning more about them, our members and the work that they're doing. And again, as if they have a topic they'd like to convene with their peers on And then want some ideas on how to get that done internally.
Wendy Hanson 25:02
That's great. Yeah. Yeah. So probably the best place for an exchange is to go on LinkedIn, and look up the Learning Forum and get on there and see what people are talking about. But then all of this will be in the show notes. We'll put all of your social media contacts so that people can look at that.
Meighan Hackett Poritz 25:22
Great. Yep. Connect with me directly on LinkedIn. Yep. Anything? Yeah,
Wendy Hanson 25:27
yeah, that would be I, when you when you talk about how this model works, I love that you light up, it really is something that is your passion. And that's why you do it so well. Because if we can use our strengths and our passions, it's not work. It's really, it's part of what makes our life fruitful and productive. Yes, it is. It is. Well, I feel better that the world has you and the learning out there to bring this together. And I love that we're starting somewhat of a partnership here. I know there's going to be many exchanges in the future. And, and I What is the date of the learning forum? I think that's right. 23rd, February 23. So I will be honored to be one of the guest speakers and talk about coaching in the future.
Meighan Hackett Poritz 26:15
And the work you do. Yes, yes. We're very excited for that.
Wendy Hanson 26:20
Good. Well, thank you, Meighan, this has been wonderful. I learned a lot. And this is I believe everything is about networking in the world and connecting. And when you can put two people together and they get to solve a problem. It's like, wow, you know, whenever I have somebody that says, Can I talk to you? You know, I always think there's something that must be magical behind that. And, and I don't say no, I don't think I've ever said no, sometimes I've said no for 24 hours, and then reach back because I couldn't even sleep said no, let's talk, you know, yeah. And that's the
Meighan Hackett Poritz 26:54
best thing about, it's not just talking, it's listening. So if you even have an idea and want to share it, and it's just a nodding and smiling of a recipient, but just saying your idea out loud, gives you input, I feel like that's a great idea. Or oh, wait, maybe that maybe I need some tweaking. So even just having that as a sounding board with with a set with all that.
Wendy Hanson 27:17
That's beautiful. Yeah, gosh, you you have all the components of a great coach. Yes, to be a good thought partner. And to be a good listener, is really a big part of coaching. Because when we get to say it out loud, we often can solve our own issues, because it's like, oh, and then sometimes we think something is really not that important. And when you have somebody else light up, when you tell them that, you know, here's something I'm thinking about, you know, that really does, as you say, you know, it lights the fire under them that, oh, this is pretty good, then you can run with it. But be humble and be humorous, right?
Meighan Hackett Poritz 27:53
Those do still live by All right. Well, let's everybody
Wendy Hanson 27:57
concentrate today on being humble and numerous and reach out to somebody today, I'd love for you to have a takeaway from this that, you know, think about somebody that you want to connect with and started at the one on one level and you know, you can reach somebody on LinkedIn or just go out and say, you know, thinking about you, this is a perfect, you know, New Year's, you know, goal is to say, how many people can I connect with, and really make this happen? And if we all did it, it would be a beautiful web. So thank you for your inspiration. Meighan. Thank you. All right, well, everybody take good care. This is going to be an amazing year. It's gonna be what we make it and even though we still have some challenges in the country and around the world, you know, we we can face those and say, How are we going to do things differently and find out what other people are doing that successful and enjoy every day.