Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen

Dr. Matt Sowcik - The H-Factor

July 05, 2022 Season 1 Episode 130
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders with Scott Allen
Dr. Matt Sowcik - The H-Factor
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Matthew Sowcik has been teaching for over 20 years and is currently an Assistant Professor of Leadership Development at the University of Florida. Dr. Sowcik serves as a faculty member for the Challenge 2050 Project, a program aimed at developing human capacity and leadership to meet the challenges of a growing population.

Originally from Wilkes-Barre, PA, Dr. Sowcik earned his Bachelor of Arts at Wilkes University, majoring in psychology and business, and his Master of Arts in organizational leadership from Columbia University. He followed that up with his doctorate in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University.

Matt focuses his research on humility and the creation of organizational leadership programs. He also teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level courses concentrated on interpersonal leadership development, organizational leadership, and advanced leadership theory. Outside of his research and teaching, Sowcik serves as a consultant to The New York Times, where he focuses on the newspaper’s educational programming for faculty and students within leadership studies.

Matt's Latest Book

  • The H-Factor - The book covers the importance of humility, why we lack humility in leadership, who needs humility, and how we can develop humility. The H-Factor highlights practical examples, stories, interviews, and 10 years of research on the topic.

A Quote From This Episode

  • The H-Factor is, “A proper perspective of oneself, one’s relationship with others, and one’s connection to something bigger.”

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

About The International Leadership Association (ILA)

  • The ILA was created in 1999 to bring together professionals interested in the study, practice, and teaching of leadership. Plan for ILA's 24th Global Conference online on October 6 & 7, 2022, and/or onsite in Washington, D.C., October 13-16, 2022. Register for the 24th Global Conference here!

My Approach to Hosting

  • The views of my guests do not constitute "truth." Nor do they reflect my personal views in some instances. However, they are important views to be aware of. Nothing can replace your own research and exploration.

Connect with Scott Allen

Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.

Scott Allen  0:01  
everybody welcome to the Phronesis podcast. Thank you so much for checking in as always. Today I have a good friend, Dr. Matthew Sowcik. He has been teaching for over 20 years. He's currently an assistant professor of Leadership Development at the University of Florida. Dr. Matt serves as a faculty member for the Challenge 2050 project a program aimed at developing human capacity and leadership to meet the challenges of a growing population. Originally from Wilkes Barre PA, Dr. Sowcik earned his Bachelor of Arts at Wilkes University, majoring in psychology and business his master of arts and organizational leadership from Columbia University. He followed up with that getting his doctorate in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga another fellow Jesuit institution, Dr. So check focuses on research on humility and the creation of organizational leadership programs. He also teaches both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. And he is focused on interpersonal leadership development, organizational leadership, and advanced Leadership Theory outside of his research and teaching, Sowcik serves as a consultant to the New York Times where he focuses on the newspapers and educational programming for faculty and students within leadership studies. He has been awarded the Wilkes Barre presenter of the Year Award. He has won sages outstanding leadership scholar of the year in 2019, through the association of leadership educators, he has been Teacher of the Year. And he is just an all-around great guy. And I'm excited to catch up with you today, Matt, and have a conversation and hear what you've been up to. But before we do that, what else do listeners need to know about you?

Matthew Sowcik  1:40  
it's always nice to have a really big introduction like that, where especially when you end with awards, and then we jump right into how I talk about humility. That's, that's always a really good connection in that process. So I appreciate that that was so nice, I should have you follow around and kind of announce me when I walk into rooms. You know, the one thing you missed the one thing that's really important to me, probably the most important to me is I'm a father. I mean, that's, that's really the most important, you know, job role that I have. I have two wonderful kids, I kind of always tell the story. When I get started introducing myself, whether it's at a presentation, I have these two kids who are just amazing, they're wonderful. They're now 12 and 10, I can't even believe that they're that old, they're gonna be celebrating their birthday next month. Carter is the older one, he's kind and sweet and if he did anything wrong, he tricked me into believing that raising children was really easy. So we had Chase, and Chase is amazing too. But every gray hair on my head in that process. And when I introduce myself, I always say the two things that I had to do and you know, these two things, you take on different roles, the two things I had to do is the birds and bees talk. And when they turn 45 I can't wait to give that to them. That's gonna be great. And the second thing was the idea of potty training. And so when they turn three, and maybe you feel the same way I do, I kind of go into this research mode whenever I have to solve a problem. So I'm reading and I'm listening whether it's podcasts or looking online. And when Carter turned three, what I heard what the theme was over and over is you toss a couple of Cheerios into A into the bowl, and you line them up and I did my best Tony Robbins speech and I made him walk across coals and lined them up and he delivered and I couldn't be more proud at that moment, kind of pounding my chest earning my you know, number one dad mug and turn three the same thing as I went after it. Same Tony Robbins speech, same walk across coals, I threw them in there and chase lined up. And they reached in the eighth. And I thought like what that. So it's this idea of like human behavior. I can't wait to talk to you today about that. So I'm a father, I'm a teacher. I'm a researcher. All those good things.

Scott Allen  3:55  
Awesome. Awesome. Well, you know, I need to have an expert on. I need to I mean, yes, family, right. I mean, I think even through the pandemic, it was a leadership challenge for my wife and me, we were a team, how do you work together to how do you lead your children and influence your children? Yes, the potty training. And, you know, I've never told the story in the podcast, but when we were when it was time for us to have our children no longer use the oh my gosh, what they what are those things called when they when they are Binky or something? Yeah, like a Binky. When it was time to get rid of the Binky. That's what we'll call it because I can't literally think of the name of it. We said to our daughters, hey, here's how this works. We go to the zoo, and we give your Binkies to the elephants and that's what we do. They take them when you turn to and they were like really? You're like yep, so maybe this is not the best parenting because we are kind of lying to our children. But we said look, you know they need them. And actually, it was the monkeys. When we started off it was the monkeys. So my wife and I are driving to the zoo, the big day has arrived, and we're kind of the girls are feeling a little anxious about getting rid of their pinkies. And pacifiers is the word. I was looking for "pacifier." Yeah, yes, yes. And so we kind of built it up, you're gonna give them to the monkeys, it's gonna be awesome, it's gonna be great. My wife and I are having this kind of challenging day, we're kind of going back and forth with one another. And we get to the zoo, we get to the monkeys, and there isn't a monkey in the cage. We built this up for our daughters the monkeys. And my wife looks at me and she goes, elephants need them too so we put them on a little curb, and then we said goodbye. And we waived! You just reminded me of that story. And we then went to some store and got big girl, pillows, and blankets. And it was a day. So but you reminded me of that story. But that's not what we're talking about today. But it is it's a leadership challenge, right influencing. And

Matthew Sowcik  6:10  
I think what we are going to talk about is that idea of humility, and they're all humbling moments when you hit that, you build it up, and then your wife looks at you and you look at her and you're like, oh, that's that humbling moment that you have that parenting can like everything else can humble you pretty quickly.

Scott Allen  6:29  
Yes, well, let's go there. So tell me about your latest efforts. With your latest work, I'm excited to learn more.

Matthew Sowcik  6:37  
Yeah, you know, very similar to you found some passion in a particular subject area, and over the last decade, kind of put my time and energy into talking about it and researching it and finding people's stories and talking to people who knew far more than I did about it, and decided to write this book called The H factor. And it really talks about humility, how important humility is in leadership, and how so often it's overlooked. It's overlooked in our leadership education programs, it's overlooked in our organizational programs. And then it isn't practiced. And we're shocked when it's not practiced. And what really goes into kind of the why humility is important, why it's not practiced, who needs humility? And then ultimately, there's this, how do we develop humility? And how can we put that back into leadership programs?

Scott Allen  7:31  
So talk about that. So I have this is a topic I've never, I mean, obviously, I intuitively understand the concept. But take us into some things that you learned about the topic that kind of stood out for you, because I've never, I don't even know that I've ever really seen an academic paper on a topic, but I'm sure it's a whole universe. Is that accurate?

Matthew Sowcik  7:50  
You know, I think people tend to stay away from it. And I'll tell you why. In just a minute, I think where I came from, or how I got here is I was originally reading Jim Collins' book many, many years ago. And he comes out and talks about that level five leader and in the book has sold 4 million copies. It's wildly successful. It's on every manager, you know, bookshelf proudly displayed there. And he talks about the idea of humility and determination being the two key pieces that really great leaders have. Yet you don't see it often. And you don't hear people talk about humility a lot. And there's a story that goes into why I call it the H factor. But this idea of I was watching The X Factor show with my stepdaughter, and this young singer came up and he was saying in Spanish, and it was beautiful. And it was amazing. But then he didn't it came up and talked to the judges. And he was really chauvinistic. I mean, he was just like, hey, woman, would you think sort of thing, and at that point in time, I think it was like Demi Lovato or somebody who said, Jeez, you know, what's even sexier than singing in Spanish is humility. I can't believe it. And he just kept going, and he kept whacking at these judges. And I thought, like, geez, that's really important. This idea of humility becomes really important, even if technically you can sing really well. But then, out of the blue, all four judges, give them a yes and move them on. And it was like the shocking moment of like, but it's not like, technically we care so much more about what someone can do at the moment than that idea of humility, that idea of character. And the reason it resonated so much with me was my daughter was sitting there and didn't even faze her. And I thought at that moment, it was kind of the moment with social media, and it's where we've gotten to now and definitely something that I think you've seen where we really lacked some humility, in how we present ourselves. We lack humility in how we present leadership to some degree. The reason why and in Collins' book, he actually suggests that the X Factor isn't personality, it's humility, and that's kind of where this topic comes from. But the reason we don't is If you think about our leadership education, if you think about our leadership theory, if you think about us practicing leadership, it's very western-based, it's very US-centric. I mean, that's not something that, you know, I'm telling you that you don't know. And out of that comes this individualistic, you can do it on your own, you don't need other people, there's this thought that, you know, we have to put perfection out there that we only evaluate leaders if they win a certain amount of games, or they get reelected, or if they make enough money for the shareholders within a very limited palette that, you know, point of time in that process. And that becomes really problem some for humility because humility suggests that we're looking long term that we're understanding that everyone's connected, that we have a bigger purpose. And it's not just in those, you know, 10 wins or getting elected. So I think America is set up not to promote humility as being kind of that core value. And then I think our business schools and you know, I, we wrote a paper not too long ago, it's been a couple of years now, but we talked about business schools and their mission for leadership, yet 16%, higher narcissism rates in business schools than any other school in universities, then you start talking about what type of people are coming in, and if we don't train them to be humble, that becomes really problem, something that, you know, in this process,

Scott Allen  11:26  
what does the research say on humility, I mean, what academic work has been done, I again, I just, I kind of haven't seen anything but what stood out for you.

Matthew Sowcik  11:36  
You know, what I loved about the topic was, so once you start to explore it, and I had not seen much on it, other than Colin stuff, so the more I kind of looked into it, and the book really kind of goes into this. It's an amazing piece. I know, that when you write about emotional intelligence, there are some similarities in that. And I would argue that Goldman and Mayer itself like themselves set the stage for Abraham, to talk about vulnerability and be okay with that. And now I think we're at the point where we can start to talk about humility as being something that really resonates in our culture in our organizations. And I found that so in the book, throughout the process, I had some wonderful interviews. One of those was with Laszlo Bock, who used to be the vice president of Google. And he talked a lot about this idea of when he first got to Google in the 90s. They used to do those really crazy questions. Maybe you've seen the movie, the internship with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Yep. And they're in they're getting interviewed in the movie. And they asked you to shrink to the size of a nickel and you're trying to jump out of a blender, how do you do it? And they're brilliant. They say, you know, we wait for it to break. And then we jump out. And we're these tiny humans that save the world. And all the Google people are like, Oh, I don't know what to do with this. But those were really true questions. That was a question about how many manhole covers were in New York City was, you know, an interview question. It's 10 times harder to get into Google than it is at Harvard. They got really smart people. And their belief was that if we asked really crazy questions and shook them up at that moment, we could find out who had you know, who had the guts or who had the whatever to be able to make it here. And what Laszlo found was there were absolutely zero relationships, no correlation between those questions and the success at Google. So he completely changed it. And he started asking humility-based questions. And he changed the culture to really focus on humility. And Google's been practicing that for about 10 years now. And you find Zappos has it in their values, and Kellogg company and worldwide technology and Teach for America, all these companies are starting to embrace this. So practically, you start to see humility in there. And then the research starts to pile in. So over the last decade, there's wonderful researchers out there who are talking about humility, having this wonderful relationship correlation with all of these pro-social characteristics like perception and diversity and creativity, emotional intelligence, and humility are connected as you would imagine, engagement, fairness, forgiveness, generosity, intuition, performance, not only performance, and how well people perform, but focus on performance in this process. And then things like teamwork and systems thinking and well-being are all now being connected to humility. And then you start taking it one step farther, and you start thinking, is there some common sense around this? And it really is true. I mean, if you think about all the world's religions, the one core feature they have is humility, and you start thinking about great leaders. And you think about Benjamin Franklin and you know, George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln friendless, Frederick Douglass, there's books and books and books that talk about humility is Seeing their core characteristic and it really resonated with me more recently when I started to look into those thought leaders who would be kind of out there writing books. So Simon Sinek and, and Dale, Dale Carnegie and Warren Bennis and Stephen Covey, and Malcolm Gladwell, all talk about humility, not in a book, but at some point in their books, they talk about this. So where it really resonated with me was, that there are very few characteristics that Google and Moses and Dale Carnegie and Ben Franklin, all would suggest and leadership is important in that research would back up and it tends to be humility in that process. So just wonderful research. And I think where it goes, is this idea that we look at ourselves, and then we look at the importance of others, and then we look at the overall purpose, and that kind of gets us to humility.

Scott Allen  15:53  
How are you defining humility? Is there a definition that you use?

Matthew Sowcik  15:58  
That's probably the best question I get, because like, most of the time, people don't study humility, because of maybe even a like a branding issue. To some degree, we see humility as being like less than or lower than, and from a leadership perspective, people don't love that. I mean, they just they don't love that at all. So when I looked at a lot of the research that came out, and once again, there are these wonderful researchers who are putting a lot of time and energy into this kind of the common theme throughout all of it is this idea of having a proper perspective. So not, you know, an accurate or a perfect perspective, but just this proper perspective of ourselves. So understanding who we are a proper perspective of others, and then a proper perspective of our larger environment, our overall purpose, the bigger piece to that kind of that systems piece to that, in when I talk about that, in this book, we have to start with, and it's almost counterintuitive, but we start with yourself, and you start to understand that we are imperfect, incomplete, impermanent. And that's something we just don't practice at all and leadership. If I have one argument, and I think you, you, we have joked before about books that you would write about all the crazy, you know, theories or things that people say about leadership, but it really is true. Yeah. And more Moreover, if you just go on LinkedIn for one day, and look at the like one sentence quotes that people post, they're insane. Like they're insane. So yesterday that when I was thinking about doing the podcast, and it said, leaders return their shopping carts, if you're too, if you're too big to do the small things, you're too small to do the big things and you can look this up. I mean, it's plastered everywhere. I will tell you, there is no research that supports that if you don't take your shopping cart up, you're not going to be a good leader. And I've done research about shopping carts in a parking lot. The only thing it suggests and I did hours of research to find this out is that the more shopping carts that are in a parking lot, the more likely people are to drop trash. That is the only research that's out there. There's just no but we present in everyone presents this idea of leadership as needing to be perfect. And Beth Kempton in this book called Wabi-Sabi, does this wonderful job of suggesting the biggest problem we have, and maybe leadership right now is these folks who come out and say, you know, I used to be screwed up, I used to not be perfect, but I learned the secret to being perfect. So if you take my training or my workshop, or if you read my book, you'll be perfect too. And that couldn't be farther from the truth. It's what we battle every day as researchers as people who are pushing a really complex human behavior subject of leadership. So in the book, I talk a lot about, like imperfections, wonderful. Like, it leads to this idea of growth. And it leads to this idea of failure leads to all these pieces. And then I talked about being incomplete and up until the moment you take your last breath being incomplete in that process, there's going to be like, I think it was like 580,000 sanitarians people over the age of 100, in the next five years. So if you're gonna live to be 100, I'm 44 now, like, I've only downloaded 44% of my life, if I was looking at my computer, you just got a new computer, if I'm looking at my computer, and I'm only at 44% I'm like, God, this is gonna take forever, but yet, once we turned 40 We're like I know everything shopping carts and leadership. So I talk a lot about that in the beginning with this idea of, of being incomplete, you know, incomplete, imperfect, impermanent, and then once we can embrace that we can embrace what we're really good at some of our flaws, and then it gets to the point of having a proper perspective of others. How do we connect with others? And someone I'm sure you know, Edgar Schein talked a lot about humble leadership and I had a chance to interview him, and he just does an amazing job of talking about the relationships that we don't have, and how we only have those transactional relationships. And really, we need this caring relationship that kind of, we understand the importance of others, others understand the importance of us. And we stop treating people as a means to an end, more end, but in fact that we are a means to other people or a means to the bigger organization or purpose or causes end. And then the final piece is really understanding that transcendence and connecting to something bigger. And whether that's spirituality, I talk a little bit about that, whether it's nature, whether it's the planet, or whether it's our purpose, that's really where we need to get to, and that purpose has to be bigger than just self-serving. And I think Simon Sinek and others talk about that a lot. But, but when we're humble when we're truly humble, that proper perspective itself leads to a proper perspective of others, which leads to that proper perspective of something bigger.

Scott Allen  20:57  
We have my head going in a bunch of different directions. I never would have defined it that way. And that's something I just love about the process of this podcast, is that if you would have asked me in March 2020. Hey, Scott, do you know a lot about leadership? I would have said, Yes, of course. But week after week after week, as I'm talking with people like you from around the world, with different perspectives, different areas of expertise. I'm just having my behind kicked. There's so much and there it's really brought into perspective for me how little I do know. And so I love that framing in that phrasing because I'm kind of living it on a weekly basis as I'm talking with individuals on any number of different topics. And I also for some reason, my mind went to like a, you know, adult development theory. So if you go to like Kegan, do I need to be...I would love to just kind of go down with this conversation is, does an individual's developmental level, correlate with their level of humility, because if I'm someone who's the stage two and kind of at Imperial stage and Keegan's theory of adult development, that's my level of mental complexity. Humility may not be on my radar as much as if I'm that level for who is seeing the larger picture, and better understanding their own limitations. I just finished this book by Ray Dalio incredible book principles for the changing world order. And he has just done this incredible research, talk about exploring the context that we're living in this guy is just incredible at doing that, but throughout, he's communicating it with a level of humility. This is imperfect. This is not complete. I've triangulated this with the world's best scholars and the world's best practitioners. But this is a work in progress. This is my best thinking as of now. And I think it's just it's disarming. And it's, it's comforting, in some ways when you're in the presence of someone that is not, you know, presenting as if they've figured out the magic bullet that doesn't, that doesn't exist.

Matthew Sowcik  23:13  
You're 100%, right. And I think the research supports the idea of older individuals tend to be much more humble than younger. And if you think about when you were 20, and what you believed you knew you knew everything. And then when you get to be older, you believe you don't know anything in that process. I think from a research standpoint, developmentally, there are things that happen. But if we just look practically, at pieces, you know, Benjamin Franklin was a really great example of this, he kind of growing up had a tremendous amount of misfortunes, failed businesses, to a point where he, he got to this place where he was like, I gotta be a better person. So he came up with these, these 11 different characteristics he was going to work on. And then there as you can imagine, kind of normal ones. So he presented it to a friend and a friend said, like, Ben, you're never gonna be able to do you're an idiot, you're like, you're just never going to, you know, that kind of friendship that everyone has. And he said, Why don't you throw humility on there? Hahaha. And he did. And then every day worked on just this to this point where he kind of developed it over his lifetime in that process. And there's a tremendous amount of kind of conversation out there around. You know, whether he was at meetings or engaging with people, he would at first try to win, like he would win arguments. He was smart enough to win, but he would never change people's minds because they were so put off by it to the point where he had to learn humility and be able to give into the other side. Because if he was able to do that, people were willing to listen to him and he was changing people's minds in that process. So was that disarming of him? Like he was smart enough to blow people away, but it never worked? And I think that's what you're talking about. I think with humility, it's a really important point to say when we get to this point of proper perspective. We often see arrogance and overconfidence as being the opposite of humility. So arrogance, overconfidence, let's just take overconfidence. Overconfidence is the opposite of humility. And I think that's the biggest mistake we make about humility because the opposite of overconfidence, and you don't want to be overconfident in leadership. But the opposite of that is like, you know, lacking complete confidence and not being good. So nobody wants that either. What I talk about with humility in the book is it's like that sweet spot. Aristotle called it the golden mean, there are a lot of people who've talked about it. But what humility does is it gives that proper perspective that we are not lacking of confidence. But we're not overconfident. We're like the perfect amount of competence on a spectrum in that process. And that's what our humility does. You are no more humble if you say, gosh, I have nothing and I'm no good. And I'm sure the author didn't say I have no idea what I'm doing and don't read this book. And I'm an idiot. No, I mean, he had the perfect amount of humility to say, I'm confident, but I'm not overconfident in the person that I just got off a podcast a couple of days ago, and they asked me who I would, you know, have dinner with and one of the people, which I'm sure is on a lot of people's list is this Einstein. And the reason I would love to have dinner with Einstein is he was one of the most humble people in the world, he would consistently say, like, everything I've done is nothing compared to the universe like I know nothing. And all I'm trying to do is know a little bit more in that process. And that's what kind of propelled him. The final story with this is. Steve Jobs is a really good example of someone the first time around who had no humility at all in he was fired, and crushed, crushed to some degree. And during that period of time, between the first time he served as Apple's president, and CEO to the second time in that process, he found his biological mother, he went in and had a lot of coaching and engagements. And when he came around the second time, he was still narcissistic. But he had the humility to match that. So he had people who were saying to him, Steve, we need to listen to these people. And he would listen the second time around. Yeah, Bradley Owens from BYU did this amazing study where he looked at narcissists and compare them and narcissists, there are some good traits in narcissism, a lot of bad traits, but there's some good I mean, really confident, really engaged, know what they're doing are great speakers. And what he found is that the kind of counterbalancing element, that separated really poor leaders, who were narcissistic, compared to narcissism that works, to some degree was this idea of humility, that they had someone that gave them feedback that talks to them that they could engage with. So it really is that kind of sweet spot in the middle that counterbalances things on extremes.

Scott Allen  27:53  
Yeah. Go on the thought experiment with me. When is it not advantageous to display humility? What do you think?

Matthew Sowcik  28:01  
You know, there's this idea that I believe if we're really going to get to a place where we can solve complex problems, it's going to be really important for us when it's not good in the current world we're living in now. And I ran into, I was doing training, I'm sure you know, this moment, you're doing training and you're engaged, and you're getting your research and you're like, things are flowing, it's great. And I had this, this gentleman from India raised his hand and he said, I came in humble. And everyone in my organization said, You're too humble, you need to be more cutthroat, you need to go after people, you are getting locked all over in this culture. And the truth is whether we look at women leaders who naturally have humility, that a lot of research suggests women have more humility than men in their practice, or you look at individuals who are coming from a more Eastern culture, bringing in humility. They really have difficulty in our culture in our organizations who promote this idea of siloing and cutthroat and don't share answers, and you need to do whatever you have to do to get ahead. So we need to shift so that we can embrace it. But at this point, we're not at it. And it's really hard for folks who try to practice it.

Scott Allen  29:15  
Yeah, I mean, I have to imagine there are times where the person next year is going to promote themselves is going to not have that realistic perspective of self. But yet they still advance!

Matthew Sowcik  29:31  
Look at our world around us look at our politicians, look, look at our coaches look at you know, look at our business leaders. And it's funny, the short-sightedness we have so people like Lee Iacocca or even Jack Welch, to some degree is when they take over they're like in that short period of time are amazing. But then they leave an organization that just falls apart and doesn't do as well as it should, and we don't think of that as being pulled Word of them as soon as a coach is done after winning the Super Bowl, that's their legacy. It's not what they turned over, or how will the next person move forward. Bruce Arians who are down here in Tampa, you know, won the Super Bowl not too long ago, and he was gonna stay on for another year. And mostly it was because Tom Brady was retiring and Tom Brady comes back and then Bruce Arians, he leaves in a lot of the news down here in Florida is this idea, oh, my god, he must not like Tom Brady. And he just came out recently and said, I could never leave my assistant coach with the quarterbacks we have now. So that's why I was staying. But because Tom's coming back, it's the perfect time to leave the organization is in great hands. Who does that? Who doesn't say, Boy, I'd love to take one more round with Tom Brady in this press or whatever. And that's from a leadership perspective, thinking about that future is just so humbling in that process. So I think that's some of that point where we really need to understand how do we shift the culture? And how do we start to look at leadership differently, not charismatic, not short-sighted, but really bigger in that process now that we've evolved,

Scott Allen  31:13  
I think I think you said something in there that really resonated for me, it's just that that shift, right, moving away from that, that, quote, unquote, great man, that alpha. And of course, there may be a time and a place, and there may be situations where someone does need to assert themselves and display more Alpha characteristics. And can they also switch gears back into? Not that? And I think so it's, it's just a fascinating conversation, you know, as we begin to wind down, Matt, is there another kind of nugget that you would like to entice listeners with that kind of stood out for you as you explored this topic? Just something that just kind of hit you? Hard? You're like, wow, was there a moment that occurred for you that you want to share with listeners?

Matthew Sowcik  32:06  
Yeah, I think the one thing that I really loved is, so I'm a teacher first, I love teaching. I know you love teaching, but I'm not sure how you run your class. Exactly. But when students walk into my class, like, I love that moment, I love building that environment. How was your day, every single one that I do that every single class in that process is just like, completely engaged people as soon as they walk in, and then throughout the whole practice, and it's worked really, really well for me? I never knew why. I mean, it just, it was something that you did. And then you start to read about this idea of social contagion. And we just had a pandemic, so different kinds of contagion, and this, but this idea of social contagion suggests, yeah, it suggests that we are tremendously impacted by the people we hang out with, and the people they hang out with and that so we're more likely to be happy, based on the happiness of others. And we're more likely to be obese based on the obesity of others. And we're more likely and there's just so much research and just wonderful studies on this. But smoking is included in that. And not too long ago, once again, Bradley Owens from BYU did some research into the idea of would apply to humility, and it does, the more likely you are to be humble, the more likely others around you are to be humble. So if you're going to build a culture, or you're going to build a team, your humility, and their humility depends on it. And it's not just one degree of separation, he always talks about the seven degrees from Kevin Bacon. But all the research suggests it's three degrees. So your boss has an impact on your kids, or your boss has an impact on your wife, and you start to think that way. And it's like, am I impacting the people I love most because of the environment that I'm in. And I think if we knew that more, we would practice more happiness and humility engagements, it would really matter. And we would start to pick the places we work at, and the teams we're on and the community we build around us. Because nobody, nobody wants to be a smoker, and nobody wants to be like, but no one should want to be and put arrogance into their family or so I found that and that was just overwhelming to me of this if we're going to build great organizational cultures if we're gonna build a great America, and we don't talk enough about this. And this is probably a whole other podcast, we talked about the individual leader, but we talked about world leaders like what type of leader are we as America? Do we, if we really thought about it? Would we work for a boss who was like America? And maybe we would and maybe we wouldn't? But if we talk about it in a leadership role that way, do we have the humility that we would want the leadership to have, and then how do we build that into our culture? Because play, I think whether it's gas prices or wearing a mask, and I come from Florida, so Wow, we could talk about that forever. But the divide that is us at this point in time needs a great deal of that sweet spots or humility to have conversations around.

Scott Allen  35:17  
Yeah, I love that that would you work for America?

Matthew Sowcik  35:22  
Would you work for America? I mean, would you work for America? That's exactly

Unknown Speaker  35:26  
what's the good, bad, and ugly of that? Yeah. 

Scott Allen  35:30  
Well, you know, this whole conversation reminded me of a quote from our friend, our mutual friend Tony Middlebrooks. And when he was on the podcast, you were kind of talking about setting the tone for a class and how to how do you walk into that space? And what he says to his students is, I don't know better, I know different. And I think for me that, at least, based on my limited understanding of this topic, I think it, it doesn't devalue what he knows. He knows a lot. But he knows different. And together we're going to explore, and together we're going to investigate. And together, we're going to try and better understand this topic. And I think for me, at least, I have students listen to a podcast that I did with him, and they just always not just resonates like post after post. comment after comment. Students love that spirit. Because I think it enters the space and is just this contagious. Right? Yeah. Just contagious. To your point. Right.

Matthew Sowcik  36:27  
Yeah. Can I ask you a quick question?

Scott Allen  36:30  

Matthew Sowcik  36:30  
Tell me where does he work!?

Scott Allen  36:33  
Oh, that's right. The University of Florida. A little school in the South of the United States. 

Matthew Sowcik  36:40  
That's right. That's right. That's right. Okay. 

Scott Allen  36:47  
They're coming up there. You have it right.

Matthew Sowcik  36:50  
We have a lot of promise. We have a lot of promise. That's right.

Scott Allen  36:56  
Oh, okay. Last question. Sir. Please, what are you listening to? What are you streaming? What's caught your attention in recent weeks? It could have something to do with leadership. It could have nothing to do with leadership. But what's caught your eye?

Matthew Sowcik  37:08  
Yeah. And I hope that you will confirm this. Writing a book is one of those labors of love. And you get into it, and there are deadlines, and you're just stressed and you're given everything. And by the end of it, you're like, Oh, I'm never going to talk about this topic. Again, in my life. I think for the last couple of weeks, I have still loved this and still been engaged with this. I'm trying to find more pieces in a practical sense. So doing a lot of reading about the idea of humility but from other areas. So, Beth Kempton, is one of those that I talked about Wabi-Sabi is the book from a cultural perspective, talking about the perfection of imperfection. But then also trying to find ways to now and I'm trying to catch up on things like Ozark, which I really liked. And some others, I had to put all of those away and on the shelf during this process. So now it's a lot of kind of binge-watching and trying to watch this and that and enjoying my summer to some degree.

Scott Allen  38:07  
Well, we could, we could look at we could watch Ozark through the lens of humility, that would be interesting!

Matthew Sowcik  38:18  
That sure would.

Scott Allen  38:19  
Well, sir, I may see you in a couple of weeks. And I can't wait to do that in Kansas City. And I will look forward to catching up. I really, really appreciate your time today. 

Matthew Sowcik  38:29  
Man, this was great. Thank you so much for having me on. 

Scott Allen  38:32  
Yes, yes. And I will put resources into the show notes. So, listeners, you can tap in you can connect to the work that Matt is doing, and really investigate this topic a little bit further. I think it's a fascinating one. I love that definition. That's going to stick with me. Thank you, sir. 

Matthew Sowcik  38:49  
Thanks so much, Scott.

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