Growth is a Flow with Sarah Glova PhD

Nurturing Innovation, Curiosity, and Confidence

July 31, 2023


Sarah Glova PhD

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Show Notes

“We get affected by failure. That’s ok. What you can’t let it do is let it stop you.”

Who knew that at the core of innovation is the acceptance of failure? Unleash your innovative spirit and empower others to do the same with these life lessons from inspirational speaker, researcher, and educator Sarah Glova. Whether you’re on a high or down in the dumps, this episode hits the right chord.

Follow Sarah or, better yet, subscribe to her newsletter for more enriching insights!

Podcast transcript

Sarah Glova: It's okay. We have some room for air. We can move things around. We can try. We can iterate. We can always try again tomorrow, so reframing our work as a practice.

Janine Ramirez: I am so excited to geek out today with our amazing guest. In this episode, we have world renowned speaker, entrepreneur, educator and consultant, doctor Sarah Glova.

She has earned a PhD in instructional technology in a masters in technical communication and has founded an inspiring digital agency reify media to empower employees to thrive at work. Welcome to the show, Sarah. Thank you so much for having me, I have really been looking forward to this. I'm such a fan of you.

Sarah Glova: I love to follow all your awesome posts on LinkedIn, and now we get to sit and have this conversation. I can't wait. I'm a fan of you. Are you kidding me?

Janine Ramirez: Like, when we did our intro call, it was like, oh my gosh, there's so many things I need to ask her, so I'm really excited to get started. Yeah. Wait. And it was really tough thinking of like a quick intro because there's so much about you that we can talk about but I'm sure the insights will speak for themselves.

So let's dive straight into our discussion which is all about innovation in the form of personal innovation, or self improvement, and as well as innovation within teams and organizations.

Rethinking Innovation

Janine Ramirez: So to just align everyone that's listening, you mentioned that innovation is no longer a luxury, but City, can you share how you would define innovation and why it's crucial for everyone to strive for innovation in today's world?

Sarah Glova: That's such a good question. And for those who are watching on video, I mean, you can see me shaking at my seat. I'm so excited for this topic, and there's a reason why I talk about innovation so much.

And it really boils down to the change that we've seen over the last few decades. Innovation used to be talked about as if it was like this you know, Ordained personality trait. Like somebody was like, Gifted. They were touched with the magic, a mutation, and it became, you know, a personality trait.

And that is just not what innovation is. And especially right now, things are changing so rapidly, we are no longer siloing innovation off to some R and D research and development. Right. You know, Tony Stark only building.

Where the innovators are over there, here's the rest of us. It's not how does everyone needs to be innovative. You know, I just I just read this report that showed in May of 2023 in the United states, there were over eighty thousand layoffs, and they showed in this report that almost four thousand of those were directly due to AI. That these cuts were made because it was felt that AI could be replacing what those employees were doing.

And if you think just a few years ago, AI is touching spaces that we were not talking about, Yeah. You were like, yeah, AI is gonna help, you know, replace some of this automatic work. We're looking at manufacturing, where we're not talking about marketing copy. AI is not going to touch that.

And now, of course, it is. So all of this boils down to the idea that innovation is something everyone needs to be doing. It's something that everyone, everyone, everyone needs to have, you know, a foot in the door there. And so we have to stop talking about it like a personality trait.

Luckily, it's not personality trait. It's something that everyone can do. We can all practice ways to become better innovators, and it's one of the best things we can do for our career. And you asked, last thing here was that you asked my definition.

I have a really simple idea of how I talk about innovation, just the idea of being able to create new or different ways of thinking about something. So new or different, meaning it could be new, it could just be different, maybe we're going back to something, but newer different ways of thinking about something.

Janine Ramirez: I love how you mentioned like the Tony Stark, that's really how we used to think of innovations, like higher, like, high-tech cutting edge, leading edge of technology and it's in like this room with all the smartest people involved But now, thankfully, we're rethinking what innovation is, and we can bring it to every single industry, every position, every task.

The Innovation Blueprint

Janine Ramirez: And you have a blueprint that we can follow an innovation blueprint. So could you like tell us a little bit more about how that works and what are the steps involved?

Sarah Glova: Yeah, sure, I'm happy to share it. So I created this keynote talk about an innovation blueprint.

And the reason I created it is because I kept getting calls from amazing leaders who were looking for a speaker, and they would say things like, we really want an innovation speaker. And so somebody would call me and say, okay, Janine wants an innovation speaker. Why are you interested in innovation? And they'd say, well we want our team to innovate.

I'd be like, great. What what do you want them to do?

They need to be innovative.

You know, noticing the loop. And it's like we're talking about this this word, or maybe we'll go back to what we're saying before, like this Tony Stark trait, and we're not really making it real for people. We're not helping them understand, okay great, you want me to innovate. What does that mean day to day?

What does that mean for the meeting I'm about to go into, or for the project I'm working on? Like, what do you want me to do? And I'm hearing this friend's frustration a lot with the employees that I work with. They're like, you know, they keep saying that innovation is one of our company values, but what does that mean?

And so there's a couple things I do in this blueprint, but all of it is designed to help the folks who are listening, to think about ways that they can be innovative, just right now. Like, walk out the door and start to put some things in motion.

And I think that's what's missing in a lot of our conversations about innovation. What does this look like day to day? What does this mean for people? And so I'll give you just a couple things to take a giant keynote and put it down into a quick answer.

I did. Let's do it. I'll give you a comment then. Okay. One of them is, you know, curiosity is absolutely key, so the ability to be curious.

And so, I encourage people to enter this space where, you know, everything is a question. And so if you come to me and you're like, you know, these are the numbers that we want to see from x, y, z project. And I'm I'm curious, and I'm asking, why are those numbers important? Who are those numbers gonna impact?

What are the things that we've done in the past? What have you thought about doing Asking all these questions, I think we're losing curiosity because we're all up on deadlines, and everything is so busy, and everything's changing so fast. And so if we can bring some curiosity feedback, that's one. And I encourage folks who are trying this out, pretend like you're a journalist.

Just put a journalist hat on for a day, and it's like, you trying to find the answers. Really challenge yourself to to be the one in meetings who's asking questions.

And then something else, this is for leadership. If you're asking your teams to be curious, then you need to be making space for experimentation, for failure, for curiosity.

The Spelling Bee Problem

And so as a leader, that means we want to avoid what I call the spelling bee problem.

I don't know, Janine, if you ever had to do a spelling bee. Did you ever do? Do you remember a trivia question that you got wrong or a spelling bee question?

What was the spelling bee or trivia question that you remember?

Janine Ramirez: No, I don't remember the actual question, but what I do remember is the emotion of, like, I can't get this wrong and then you just go black you know?

Sarah Glova: Yeah. I think so many of us can remember that.

And I have when I share this keynote, I get so many folks who can stand up and be like, I misspelled definitely, and they like, spell it correctly, and it's this ultimate like validation. Like, I gotta spell it now. I mean, we remember to our core what those moments felt like like you were just able to recall that. I remember what it was like to be called out by a professor when I was in grad school for not knowing what a certain word meant, and and how he made a comment about how I should know that.

I mean, it is just awful. We really live in fear of being called out in that way. And so, when we look at our company culture, if we want innovation, we have to avoid the spelling bee problem. We have to be like, that is an awesome question.

I am so glad you asked There are no dumb questions, or, oh, great job asking us to pause and think back. Let's do that. I mean, just really rewarding when people are sticking their necks out and saying, I'm gonna ask this question, I'm gonna challenge this. And if we have a space, where it's like the spelling be like, we're not going to do that.

Let's keep going. They're never going to speak up again with that kind of question or that kind of curiosity. So curiosity for all of us, and then especially for leaders creating this space where we're not having the spelling bee problem. We're making a space for experimentation and failure.

And then the last thing I'll I'll mention is we're all about tracking things right now, we're talking about KPIs and OKRs, and we're collecting data, and we're doing all this stuff, and in innovation spaces, we have to be really careful, because what can happen is what we track ends up being what people set their goals toward. And so if you want innovation, but you're tracking how people are doing on these old performance metrics. That's really challenging. So the last thing I'll share that's part of this blueprint is make sure that people are questioning their metrics, that they're establishing metrics that reward progress that look at iterative development that rewards small wins.

It is much better for us to be wrong, wrong, wrong, right in the end. Moving very slowly and going, okay, we can't move on until we're right, can't move on. Okay, we made it this far. All right, now we need the right answer again, we need can't move until we're right.

Like we need to be experimenting. So let's reward small wins. Let's not make sure that, you know, we're only looking at big wins or things for right answers. And that's a huge way that we can encourage day to day innovation at our companies.

Janine Ramirez: I love that. And that all, like, supports the curious spirit, right? It's like, okay, curiosity and then reward that. Reward that because there will be failure but that's the best way that we learn.

Lose to win. Fail to succeed.

Janine Ramirez: I was just thinking about that the other day actually, there's like winning like how do you practice winning? It's by losing, I know.

Sarah Glova: Isn't that such an interesting? It's like a reverse thought, but I mean, you really have to to lose a lot to win. And I love when because we were just talking about social media and how we both follow each other on LinkedIn.

I love when I talk to people and they're like, I really love your content on LinkedIn. I loved this post. How do you think of so much good content. I'm like, with a lot of bad content.

You have to put out a lot of information and experiment a lot when you're trying to connect with people, and so I love to tell people how often I put a post and then like delete it.

Janine Ramirez: I actually did. It's like, for the thought, think about it too much. Put it up, then want to delete it after, but just let it leave it there. Just leave it there.

Sarah Glova: And at the end of the day, if I have a post that I put up and it gets four likes, or something like that. You know, I learned from that, and I took away like, okay, maybe I need to make sure that the lead or the call to action is earlier in the story, or need to make sure I've got an image where it's all something that you're learning from.

So -- Exactly. -- think the way up, be ready to to fail a little bit. It's important here, and I even encourage folks instead of talking about it like failure, it's either a win or a lesson learned.

Failure & Toxic Positivity

Janine Ramirez: Speaking of failure, like what do you think that is the biggest challenge that we need to overcome to innovate is like not be afraid of that? Or, you know, what are the biggest challenges to foster innovation for individuals, like certainly and also for Teams.

Sarah Glova: That's a good question. So, I think on the failure side, we have to be careful because a lot of the messaging that I'm seeing right now falls into this toxic positivity category of like the cat poster that I remember from fifth grade, like, you can do it. Don't be afraid of failure or something like that.

And failure is scary. I don't I don't like to fail.

I fail a lot because I try and do things a lot. Doesn't mean I like it or that it gets easy and so I think the first thing we have to be careful with is when we're reframing failure, or talking about experimentation, if we put the message out there that's like, you shouldn't be afraid to fail, then people who are trying to be innovative, who get some bumps and bruises along the way, they might think to themselves, oh, I'm not meant for this. Failure hurts me too much. It doesn't seem to affect these other people, but I really put myself out there, hurt when it didn't work.

Maybe I'm not supposed to be innovative. And that's not true. We need people who care enough about what they're putting out, to be affected if it fails or wins. I mean, that's that's not a bad thing.

What we're reframing is not the emotion around it. It's just what we do with that. So, I am allowed to be upset if I put a LinkedIn post out there that I spend a lot of time working on and it gets four lakes. Especially when the next day I put up one of like my son eating a popsicle and my lessons learned about that.

And it gets like one hundred and twenty likes. I'm like, okay, popsicles in the wind? I don't know. We can we can care about that stuff, that's fine.

What you can't let it do is stop you. So, that's the difference. So, especially when I'm talking to my young students or my up and coming leaders, The message is not that you can't be affected by failure. It's that you just you keep going anyway.

You're going to get that confidence not because you're so good that you'll never fail, but because you believe no matter how good the failure was, you're going to be able to bounce back. So that that's a really important But you asked about the biggest challenge that we need to foster innovation.

Switching from Fixed to Growth Mindset

Sarah Glova: And while I think that failure piece is important, I honestly think it's more growth mindset, so that there's some great research into mindset that looks at a fixed and growth mindset.

And it's been well researched now, and so I will worry you with a summary, but the basic way I describe it, I did not get bored, Sarah. Okay. I love I love to talk about it with my kids. We talk about growth mindset a lot, because my son might say, I'm just not good at math.

And I'll say, I see that you're struggling with this, and so we haven't learned this yet. And that's how we reframe it. It's not that he's not good at math. He just hasn't learned this yet.

That's the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset. So a fixed mindset is you know, there's a thing that I'm not good at, I'm not good at this thing, growth mindset is, there's a thing I want to be good at and I'm not good at it yet, but I believe in my ability to learn. And I think that growth mindset is missing from a lot of spaces. People show up and they give it a try.

It's not it's difficult maybe, and they feel like, oh, I'm not supposed to be here. And so I think the growth mindset piece is really important for unlocking our full potential to your question. We have to go into spaces knowing things are going to be hard, things are going to be difficult, that's okay. It doesn't mean that we're not supposed to be there.

It just means that we're not good at it yet.

Janine Ramirez: Is there a way to flip that switch? Because I feel like maybe that's something that we're taught at school or growing up and now the world is changing. And we've already kind of been programmed that way.

How do we change our own mindset?

Sarah Glova: That's such a good question. I can tell you what I do. So, I run into this all the time, because I am constantly pushing myself into spaces that I'm not really ready for, because that's how you learn and grow. And there are a couple things that I do.

One is I don't trust the story in my head, and I have an example for this. So I recently joined a city appointed board, so my city, the city where I live, has a board, and I was appointed to this board by city council.

Which was really exciting for me. I've never been on a border commission in my city. And when I joined this border commission, I decided because I'm a crazy person that I wanted to run for chair. It just, it was such a new space.

And I was like, the way that I'm going to learn the most from being in a space, I'll be chair. I will, I'll learn by doing. Love it. So, I did, and it's a lot.

I mean, I have learned a lot. So, I'm running one of the the meetings. When I say running, I mean, it's your responsibility as chair to keep you know, you vote on an agenda at the beginning of the meeting. It's your job to keep the discussion moving along the agenda.

And it's your job to help point out, you know, who's speaking next and one of our board members, who is by far, maybe one of the most experienced. He's been on a number of boards and commissions with our city. We're very lucky to have him. Made a comment, like joking.

But I think there was some truth with it, that the meeting wasn't going well, that things were not moving long. And the story in my head right away is, you suck at this, right? It's like, he's talking about I mean, I could feel my face getting red then and might get red now as I'm telling you this story. I care a lot about what I'm trying to do in the space and he makes a comment about how the meeting isn't going, well, I'm just crushed, because clearly, according to the story in my head, I've done something wrong.

And so, I decided to be brave. And I went up to him after what I was nervous, but I went up to him afterwards, and I said, Hey, what did you mean by the meeting not running as it should? What was going on there? You noticed.

And he said that one of the staff members with the city had spoken up and talked about one of the issues that we were talking about. And he was telling me, you know, staff is not supposed to speak up at a board meeting unless they're recognized.

And we need to be making sure to do that. It actually didn't have very much to do with me at all. Yeah, it's very technical. It was more technical, it was more procedural, I learned from asking him that question. I was able to go up to the staff member afterward, and like we learned together.

If I had listened to that story in my head, I would have gone home thinking, I'm not a good chair, everyone knows it, I don't know how to run a meeting.

Instead, I learned from the situation, I helped another person learn from the situation, and I think I established more of a rapport with this board member, so that hopefully if he has feedback going forward, he'll be able to share it with me. So that's just an example like, make sure you question the story in your head and be brave and ask for feedback. So I think that's one of the things that we can do. The second thing that we can do and I love to do this is find people who are doing what you want to be doing and ask them what it looked like in the very beginning.

The person who has the podcast that you admire, ask them what it was like when they first Googled how to host a podcast. Right? The person who has a book that just came out that you really love, ask them what it was like the first time they wrote something that was gonna be published by someone. And they'll tell you about the time they wrote an article and spelled the person they interviewed, its name wrong, or the time they ran a podcast, but forgot to hit the record button and had to redo the episode. I mean, who knows?

I think we put people up on a pedestal, especially those who have achieved things that we want to achieve. And so if we challenge ourselves to ask those people what it looked like in the beginning, we stop comparing our chapter one to their chapter ten.

Janina Ramirez: I love that. I'm gonna put that in my to do list. I mean, I'm a scramble out of the pocket.

And feedback, y'all can send me feedback.

Sarah Glova: If you ever need Oops stories, hit me up, I forgot what you so everyone ever needs a bit of That's a whole another podcast that we have to start for that.

The Science Behind Feedback and Advice

Janine Ramirez: But you mentioned feedback and that brought me to what we talked about when we first met that I really have been waiting to ask you about.

But you mentioned like the science behind advice and what happens to the brain when we hear advice? Could you tell us about like that's study and what you took from it.

Sarah Glova: Yeah, that was a really fun talk to put together. I actually put that talk together over pandemic shutdown, so it was when a lot of us were working from home, I was feeling pretty isolated.

And I just, I had the chance to reflect on something that I noticed, which was I was receiving a lot of advice. I was at a point where I was doing some new and big things. And I was getting a lot of advice. And what I was noticing was, it wasn't helpful.

Even though some of the advice was helpful, I noticed that getting so much advice was affecting me. And so, being just a complete nerd, I decided to research it. And I put together a talk related to what I found called stop giving women advice. And it was about the toxic effect of advice.

And the argument that I made in this keynote was we talk about advice as if it's neutral. You're just gonna give some advice as if it's any other kind of, you know, quick conversation.

But that's not what I found in the research. I found in the research that advice is not neutral.

If you give someone advice, the act of giving advice makes you feel a sense of influence over that person and a sense of power internally even if that person doesn't take your advice. Just the act of giving advice helps to elevate your sense power and create this sense of influence over another person. And on the flip side, there were studies that showed that by asking for advice, women's confidence dipped? So just the act of asking you for advice, my confidence.

So imagine the power dynamics in this relationship where I ask you for advice and my confidence dips. You give me advice. Your sense of influence over me and sense of power within yourself goes up. So, think about the dynamic in that relationship that Really, we don't talk about this. We talk about, oh, just gave her some advice as if it's neutral, and it's not.

So what I find when you talk about the effect of this on our brains. What I'm noticing and what I've heard from a lot of women is when they go into spaces where they get a lot of advice.

They feel judged as they walk into this space, because they're aware that they're being observed and that people are ready to give them feedback. They feel judged. And it makes it more difficult for those people to innovate, to be creative, to fail.

They are more nervous. I even saw some studies that showed receiving advice, especially unsolicited advice, can activate the fight or flight response that people can make -- - Yeah, I can imagine that.

- taking the situations. Yeah, so one of the things that I think is really connect to this study is the idea that...

Building Women’s Confidence to Innovate

Sarah Glova: And this was a really popular talk last year. It's this quote of we expect our girls to show up perfectly. We allow our boys to be messy, to experiment, but we expect our girls to show up perfectly.

And, the study came, that this quote came from, it was a coding school, and there were all these girls who were learning code. But the teacher would go up to their to their coding stations, and their screens would be blank. And the girls would say, I don't know what to code. And so the teacher would say, you know, just looking at the screen, I would assume you've been sitting here not doing anything for ten minutes, but the teacher would do, you know, control z, undo.

And all this code would come up.

The girls were so afraid of showing up with a mistake that they deleted all their work before looked at.

And so when we talk about this idea of, okay, so giving advice isn't neutral, but is it really toxic? If we're expecting our girls to show up perfectly, and then we're putting them in these situations where they are aware that they are being observed and judged, and their confidence is dipping every time they have to ask for help. Yes, this is toxic.

A New Way to Give Feedback

Sarah Glova: And so, the main idea of keynote was to try to get leaders to question how they give advice. So now if I have a student who comes to me and says, I'm really nervous about giving a presentation.

What can I do to not appear so nervous?

I know that that person's confidence could have just dipped because they had to ask me that And so instead of saying, I've got some breathing exercises you can do. These work really well for me. I say, Oh, that's a great question. That's a really great question.

What are some things that have worked for you so far? What have you tried? And then giving that person a chance to talk a little bit about their experience and what they've learned. And what's so interesting is sometimes the students will say, well, I've been trying these breathing exercises.

And they kinda help, but I'm still nervous. If you imagine that student who's already tried breathing exercises, if I had said to that student, we could do some breathing exercises, that student hears Oh, I'm already trying what she said, so I must just not be good at this.

I've asked her for advice, she told me what I already know, I guess I'm just not gonna succeed here. So we just really have to question our instinct to give advice and keep some of these power dynamics in mind.

Janine Ramirez: And I love that technique because it essentially you have the person give themselves advice, right? And rethink it and kind of like build their confidence up a little bit. But that's also really interesting because at work, an organization everyone talks about feedback, how important feedback is and how we should be giving feedback, like down, from down up, up, down, whatever, and it actually affects the power dynamic in the organization.

So, I'm gonna be keeping that in mind, and we should all keep that in mind, right? -We're giving feedback.

Sarah Glova: When giving feedback, but hey, to your point, we're seeing in the research, people want feedback. They're there's some research that shows that folks are more willing to stay in a job if they have quarterly performance reviews, like the act of receiving feedback, and it's because people are hungry for information about how they're doing. But I think we need to be careful.

I think people want feedback, because a lot of times they want to know if their work is being recognized, if it's being valued -- if it's value impacting anything.

And I think a leader who confuses that desire for my work to be connected to something with, oh, Sarah wants feedback. That's really dangerous, because if I'm coming to you, hoping that quarterly, you're going to tell me how the work I do every day affects this organization, what impact it's had. And instead, you tell me, you know, I think you need more executive presence, Sarah. I've noticed in meetings, you say sometimes.

Do you want a speech coach to help you with that? That is incredibly not what... Just does not hit the mark. So I think we need to be really careful there. Yeah.

Janine Ramirez: We've explored this topic a little bit with with Karen Weeks who you know from from the shine network and it was really like helpful and I never thought of, you know, wording things the way that she was so that was really helpful. And you also have a background in communications and writing and actually listeners,

Writing to Unlock Innovation

Janine Ramirez: I learned about Sarah from Karen. So I wanted to touch on the topic as well because you may use writing to to help unlock innovation.

And you mentioned this in the past like in a while ago about being a journalist and having like a mind of a journalist. So could you tell us a little bit about how we use writing to facilitate innovation.

Sarah Glova: That's a great question. I really appreciate that one. So, I did, I started my career teaching, writing at NC State University, And I focused mostly on students who are in business or engineering.

And I loved it, because these are students who, overall, are not super excited to sign up for a writing course.

That's not their favorite subject. That's not why they went into business or engineering.

And so one of my first jobs with them, when I would get a new cohort every semester, would be to convince these students hey, you're going to have to write at work. And these wonderful students would be like, no, I'm I'm going to be in business, I'm not gonna write. I'm gonna

Janine Ramirez: Now they're gonna say, "I'll get the AI to do it."

Sarah Glova: Yeah, especially now. Right?

And I mean, I love an AI So I say, yes, of course, Chat GPT can help you, for sure, but you're gonna have to write some of your content on your own. And so, What I encouraged them to think about was this idea that they could have the most amazing, amazing ideas and work But if they can't communicate it to others and collaborate with others, then it's not going to be seen, it might as well not exist. You have to be able to translate what you do for other people to understand. And that's where, you know, I think chat GPT can be a really incredible tool.

But it will give you what you ask. And so, as an example, if I'm working with an engineer student and they're trying to describe a project they're and they're very technical with it. Like, oh, well, we did a, you know, we did a spaghetti diagram to understand the flow of the supply chain, and we're looking for efficiencies that maximized if they feed that to chat GPT, chat GPT can make improvements on it, but what I want to encourage the students to understand is, you need to help someone who doesn't have your background, understand why this matters.

Why is it important that we improve the efficiency here? Who is this gonna help? What is the impact it has?

And I share with my students if they can translate how their work impacts other departments. How it's going to impact other folks in the organization, how it's going to impact customers or clients, or other teams, then their work is going to get them so much further. And that's what I mean about unlocking potential. I used to tell my students Your degree is what's gonna get you hired, absolutely, but what I'm teaching you is going to get you promoted.

This is how you move forward. It's deep to describe what you do, how what you're working on, how you're approaching this problem, two folks who don't have your background. That's the challenge we're working on. So, I just, there are so many incredible students who are working on things that are gonna change our world, right?

They're working on climate change and sustainability.

They're figuring out efficiencies in supply chain. They're doing really impactful work, and so we have to make sure that they can describe it for other people to understand, because we understand the collaboration is key, getting these things out of silos.

So imagine the potential that we're helping to unlock, just by making sure that these students are gonna be able to translate their work to other people.

Janine Ramirez: I've seen that throughout my life. Like, I grew up in the Philippines, and now I'm in Spain and I'm working with people from Spain with people in the US, but growing up, it was like if you can't speak English properly and you can't communicate what your thoughts are, then it's like you're dumb, or, you know, your ideas don't matter. When it's like, no, maybe they just don't have the words you know, to to explain it.

And so, I really believe in the power of communication and no matter what you're doing.

And thank you for for like training more and more people to, you know, create more value for their work.

Sarah Glova: In the example that you shared, and it gets to something that's a lot deeper, which I think is the stereotypes that we put around, you know, whether people communicate in a way that we think represents what success looks like. There's a lot that we could unpack there. But I'll say I worked with a lot of international students when I worked at state. And one of the things I noticed is that often the international students were more concerned about grammar and proper speech. And I would encourage them and give them any resource that they asked for. While at the same time encouraging them, to use their voice.

And not to be afraid, you know, if they use their own word or put a comma in a place that doesn't matter, as long as they are working really hard to understand the other person. Focus on the person you're trying to communicate with. What do they know? How can you say it in words that they understand?

Don't worry about your commas. You already speak better English than I speak Mandarin, So I think that I can respect what you're doing here, rather than focusing on that comma, really focusing on, hey, what does this other person learn? No. And how can I help them learn about women?

Janine Ramirez: Yeah. How can I connect to them and have them understand what I'm trying to say?

Sarah Glova: That took a lot of pressure off a lot of the students. I think, that let's focus on the other person, rather than putting the spotlight on me.

And so, if that's helpful for anyone to hear, I do think that the workplaces are finally changing, and really rewarding that connection over correct syntax and grammar.

Janine Ramirez: That is helpful to me. And that's helpful to me in learning Spanish even. Yeah. You know, like Okay, my focus is expressing myself in a way that people understand me, not the grammar and...

And people say that they get what I'm trying to say. I'm also very animated, so it works.

Sarah Glova: That's right. You can use your animation, but I think...

Janine Ramirez: You know, use your hands!

Sarah Glova: That's important in Spanish. In Italian, it's it's connected to this idea that we talked about with failure. Right?

If we're worried about we're only going to speak if we can show up perfectly, that's really going to hold us back. So, this idea of, I'm going to try to say what I mean, and it might take me a little while to get there. But I'm going to focus on you and connecting with you over whether or not I use the perfect word. I think that's really important.

Janine Ramirez: I love that. And we're going back to the beginning of having the growth mindset on fostering innovation.

Technology to Empower Innovation

Janine Ramirez: My next question and you have a PhD in instructional technology, and you have experience with developing training programs. What role does technology play in fostering innovation and in having this growth mindset.

Sarah Glova: That is such a good question, and it's fun because you're connecting all the things that I work on. I don't get a chance to do that very often. So, to your point, so my background in instructional technology, that primarily comes into play with my company. So I've had REFI Media for over ten years, which is crazy, and we focus on elearning and online training to create adult education. A lot of corporate training, onboarding.

We're doing a course right now on forklift safety training, which is a new area for me. I'm learning a lot.

So, to your point, what can instructional technology, this idea of leveraging digital media to instruct? What can that teach us? About innovation.

And what can that teach us about the intersection of technology and learning? I think the thing that I've learned in this last ten years is the power of technology to put the user back in control.

So, if I was creating a course, for example, on how to develop a podcast. And, you know, let's say I'm an award winning, Spotify top one hundred whatever podcaster.

So, let's say I create this course, and that you decide to take it. Now, in the beginning of the course, I create a little assessment.

And it lets you answer a few questions. And then after you do it, it says, you know what, Janine?

You should not start at module one. You've clearly got some expertise. We recommend you start at module seven. You know, here's a quick summary of modules one through six.

Go ahead to module seven. Now, let's say someone who's more in my background, who's been a guest, but has only hosted a few times, takes it. And then I take the assessment. It's like cool cool cool, Sarah.

You should go to module two. Like, yeah, you can skip module one, but you should go to module two. That's the power of instructional technology. We are able to create these tools that put the user back into control.

When I would work with these international students in my course, one of the things that I would always do is have this huge bank of information that was optional. So if a student was taking one of my courses, and I mentioned something, I don't know, like, you know, writing a memo or and they're like, You know what? I've never written a memo. What does a memo look like?

I had in this repository, these little quick modules they could do. For refreshers on that kind of content, I didn't make everyone do those, but they were there for the students who wanted them. Right.

The power that instructional technology gives us to put these users back in control is incredible, and it's so impactful. We see again and again in the research that adult learners really appreciate the chance to have some flexibility. How much do we all appreciate when we listen to a podcast or an audiobook when we can control how fast a person speaks. Right?

I'm listening to a book I really like and I might keep it on that normal speed. But, know, maybe I'm breezing through a book on an interview and I want to... But see, we love that ability to be in control.

Janine Ramirez: 1.75, that's my velocity.

A Challenge for Training & Dev’t

Sarah Glova: And so I think something that we can take away from this, if we're in the HR space, if we're in the leadership space, is really questioning when we deliver information.

How are we making sure that we are honoring what our audience already knows?

So when we start off with information, are we saying like, okay, so, you know, something that's helped to prepare us, you all have been doing a lot of work on x y z, that's gonna come into play. You know, how are we honoring what someone already knows, the podcast experience you're already bringing to the podcast course, And then how are we giving people a sense of control? Even when I do in person workshops, when I break folks up into breakout groups, I usually let them choose what topic they're going to focus on. Just reintroducing that idea of choice and control.

I think that is what instructional technology has taught me the most, about how we can improve learning for adults, and it comes into play for innovation. Because if you sit me down and give me a project, and then give me some course materials to look over, and I have to start them all at chapter one and it doesn't recognize my prior knowledge at all. You know, how am I feeling as far as like my desire to be innovative and creative? But if you give me a project, and you give me a bunch of materials, and these materials are like, Oh, great to meet you, Sarah.

Let's see what you know. Okay, we think you should move over here and Here's a badge, because you just completed this. Where do you want to go next? I mean, I am all in. I think that really is important here.

Janine Ramirez: I have a lot of like reflections about this in technology since at Erudit we develop AI and I always have to like explain to my friends, you know, what it does and all of that. And sometimes the discussion goes to whether because of AI or because of technology, we kinda use loose, sorry, our human element. And in my mind, innovation and technology now is helping us like embrace the complexity of humanity even more because we are able to like hyper, customize, everything.

I mean, there is a negative side to it, you know, algorithms, the news you see on your feed, like people could have control over that. But for learning that is so much better than, yeah, like a textbook like, hey, okay, go through that and that's it, you know. So I love I love this discussion, Sarah.

We don't have much time anymore.

How to Unlock YOUR Innovative Spirit

Janine Ramirez: So I want to ask you like my final question, okay, which should be helpful to everyone listening. Which is what is your final nugget of wisdom that you'd want to impart to all our listeners that want to embark on their journey to be more innovative to have a growth mindset and to unleash their full potential?

Sarah Glova: I think the thing that I would say if I had to pick one, it would be the idea of practice. If you can reframe the work that you're doing as a practice, I think that can be incredibly helpful for your mental health, your confidence, your ability to just start when I do a podcast with you, I'm not gonna at the end of this sit down and say, okay, did that go well? I'm gonna sit down and say, how was fun. Okay, what did I learn? What would I do different?

What did I enjoy?

If everything is a practice, then you're not looking at things as wins and losses, you're looking for improvements. And so, you know, when we talk about yoga, we talk about a practice. In what world is there like a perfect yoga session where you're like, I nailed every pose. I don't think yogis talk that way about yoga.

It's a practice. And so, for me, when I started my career and was approaching things with a lot of anxiety, because I cared a lot about my work, and I wanted to show up as smart and confident, I sometimes made the mistake of thinking black or white, did that go well or not go well? Oh, I messed up on one of those, one of the answers that I gave Janine. I I messed up, and so the whole podcast is, you know, da da da. Now that I look at things as a practice, I genuinely say to myself things like, Okay.

What went well there? And what did I learn from it? It also gives me permission to start. If I wanted to start a podcast, but I was so focused on showing up perfectly, I would research the hell out of it before ever getting started because my goal is to show up perfect.

If my goal is to practice and to learn, I might be comfortable starting next month. Putting some stuff out there, seeing how it goes, making improvements along the way. Obviously there are times where we have to show up perfectly. We want our pilots to be flying our planes perfect.

So I'm not saying that there's no place for that. Yes, please. Yes, please. But think what we need to remember is even in those situations, there are so many, so many systems that are put in place, so that if there is a mistake that's made, it's not fatal.

And so I think we need to think about ourselves that way too. It's okay, we have some room air, we can move things around, we can try, we can iterate. We can always try again tomorrow, so reframing our work is a practice.

Janine Ramirez: Thank you for that, Sarah. I really needed to hear that. I think they ready to launch the podcast.

Sarah Glova: You know, but if there's anything that you wanted to talk about again and redo, then I would have any do another interview with you and dive in deeper into some of the topics, but I really enjoyed this. Just attitude from a podcast host of we're gonna do our best and, hey, if we don't cover every topic that we want to cover, guess we have to do a follow-up episode. Yeah. We can just do it and let it go again. Beautifully done.

Janine Ramirez: Exactly. So thank you so so much, Sarah, for sharing your time and your expertise and your stories and your experience and all of that with us today.

Like I love your energy and your passion and I will definitely be messaging you and would want you back on the show soon.

Sarah Glova: No, I love it. Well, thank you for all the work you're doing to put these kinds of messages out there. I have so enjoyed following you.

Can't wait to see more of the show and really enjoyed this chance to have this conversation with you. Thanks for all the the prep and attention that you brought to it.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

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