Dr. Ellen Burts-Cooper is the senior managing partner of Improve Consulting and Training Group, a firm that provides personal and professional development training, coaching, and consultation. Improve has been featured in Time Magazine, Black Voices, Smart Business Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Cleveland Jewish News, Cleveland.com, and Crain’s Cleveland Business. Ellen works across numerous industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, education, retail, utilities, governmental agencies, not-for-profit, and small businesses.
Dr. Burts-Cooper is on faculty at Case Western Reserve University in the Weatherhead Executive Education Program and The Institute for Management Studies (IMS). She currently serves on the Board of Directors of First Federal of Lakewood and Sea-Land Chemical Company. She is the author of the books aMAZEing Organizational Teams: Navigating 7 Critical Attributes for Cohesion, Productivity and Resilience and Canine Instinct: A Guide to Survival and Advancement in Corporate America.
Previously, Ellen served as a Senior Vice President and Senior Director of Operational Excellence, IT Performance Management, and Governance for PNC Financial Services. Prior to the financial services industry, Ellen worked in the electronics industry where she led global teams in several functions at 3M Company in St. Paul, MN.
She earned a BS in chemistry from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL, her Ph.D. in organic/polymer chemistry from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, her MBA from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Business, her Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification from 3M Company, and her Multicultural Competency and Wellness Certificate from the National Wellness Institute.
Ellen is also an active volunteer and supporter for a host of community-related organizations across the US and provides college scholarships through her fund at The Cleveland Foundation. She is a member of the Private Directors Association and the National Wellness Institute.
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Scott Allen 0:02
Ellen Burts-Cooper, Ph.D. with us on Phronesis today. Good afternoon. Good evening. Good morning, everyone, wherever you are in the world. Thanks for checking in with us. And today I have a friend. And we have crossed paths and a few different ways over the years. She teaches at Case Western Reserve University. She has her own firm, she does work with the Institute for Management Studies (IMS). She spends part of her life in Cleveland, part of it in Florida. As I understand it, she's looking out the window right now. And there are boats. That sounds very awesome. Ellen, before we jump into our conversation today, maybe share some details with listeners tell listeners about you a little bit.
Ellen Burts Cooper 0:50
Hello, Scott, good to see you, I am excited to be able to have a conversation with you a little about me, I globally reach out to teams to help them do three big things. I want teams to be more productive, more cohesive, and more resilient. That is my life's work. And I get to do that. And cities globally, about 30 different cities a year. And I visit about 60 companies now that I can just video right in, and I'm having a ball. And we get to do a lot of education and training, assessment, coaching, and my favorite strategy. So that's how I'm hanging out these days.
Scott Allen 1:33
I love it. Well, and we were talking before we started recording about some of the benefits of moving to this virtual world. I mean, for the last, it's probably about 18 months. Now, Alan, you have been doing all of your work remotely. And that's really where I want to spend some of our time today, talking about teams talking about your work with teams. And maybe just some of what you've observed some nuances that you've noticed. But like I said, we were talking before we started recording, and there are some benefits to this new space, there are some benefits to opening up the zoom, doing a three-hour session, closing it up, and going on a walk outside, you aren't getting back on an airplane.
Ellen Burts Cooper 2:16
Exactly. And I will tell you, I would likely be the first one to reject this because I was on a plane every week, I knew how to go. And I was going to be in this city in that city. And I love being live and I'm extroverted. And I like shaking hands and high fives and I realized I can still do all of that now. But I'm not running in six-inch heels through the airport chasing my flight. I mean, I but here's...it really hit me the convenience of it. Now, not everybody got the privilege to be able to work in this way. And for some people, if they're introverted, this may or may not be the best platform for some they love it. Others may not. But I actually saw my clients differently. Well, I got a chance to see things about them. They didn't see it in person. So we always say I want to be back in person, but even their backgrounds, you have kids. Wait, wait, who's that running behind you introduce me? I've met kids and people I've known five or six years, I would have never had the chance to do that. Hey, tell me about that painting behind you. You know, that's the art I paint? No. So I've gotten to go into people's homes, I get to see him a different way. So if you're observing, it really has been a tool to create workplace intimacy that really starts to help with those social connections. So I have actually enjoyed it.
Scott Allen 3:42
Yeah. Well, let's talk about that. Let's jump into that. Because I am sure you have heard over and over and over and over, you know, when we get back or if we were, and I think it's a little bit of a mindset shift, I think I so for instance, I've had colleagues who have said, well, online will never work. Well, how can we make it work? Because we're going to have to, and I started class last night, and I said to the students, I want this to be the best class you've ever taken. That's my goal. And we're, you know, 25% synchronous, 75% asynchronous, but that's my objective. Am I going to hit it with all of you? No, but that's what I'm shooting for. That's where I'm going because I think we can do it. Help me get there. Provide feedback, share your experience. What did you like, What didn't you like? So for me, there's this mindset shift of, and I'm sure you've heard it a lot. Well, it's hard to build relationships, virtually. It's hard to Team virtually, how have you been challenging your clients to continue that work to thrive? And that mindset of thriving and the benefits of this new space? How have you been thinking about it?
Ellen Burts Cooper 4:50
Well, the first thing I've been asking people is to not focus on what you're giving up. It's just how do you do that thing in a different way? Yeah. And to give you an example, you know, my favorite and this is everybody's fun. So we can still have coffee together, right? You just happen to bring yours I bring my right I got my stuff here. But the other thing is we can do lunch together, though happy hours, all those things, and I get we're not physically present. But it was interesting Scott, I don't know if this will stay in or not. But my girlfriends and I did our first happy hour. And we're kind of sad about it. And somebody said, Wait a minute, this is our best happier we go, why? You could choose, we don't have to Uber home, no one has to worry who can drive? Right? We didn't have to guess who's gonna pick up the check. And we all got to drink whatever we want it. And so what I'm asking people to do is think about what they loved about "in person?" And can you recreate that in a more creative way, for instance, office hours, one client said, Ellen, you can't do office hours anymore, I would go into a company, say Wednesdays two to five, I would sit there and anybody who needed me could come in and help. I can still do that. So I leave my camera on Wednesdays from two to five. I'm sitting at my desk. Now I have to put a reminder, you're on camera because I don't want to do anything weird. And for two to five, they begin. And I'm right there just like I was before. When you think about coaching, actually people can start to be more observant. When we're present with each other. I sometimes will say take out your background, I went completely white background. So I focus on you. So we're finding different ways to do that. But whatever you loved about the in-person recreated. But I want you to also sell clients at MIT. There's some fun stuff about what we're doing now that you can't do in person. I can't get everybody from 15 cities here the very next day. Come on. That's good stuff.
Scott Allen 6:44
Yes. What other good stuff are you seeing? What are the other benefits of this transition? I love the happy hour example. Because you're exactly right. Again, it's kind of like the equivalent of I just shut the zoom and wander upstairs.
Ellen Burts Cooper 7:02
I've seen a lot of digital fun. So even just some silliness. But they're icebreakers where, you know, I had everybody put their baby picture up before they got on Zoom. So turn off your camera, we were guessing who's who I have them renamed themselves by a word that describes them. We've had pet bay where you show if you happen to have a pet we've had kid day. Those are things that were not easy to pull off in a five to 10-minute icebreaker digging right to be able to do that in a way they felt comfortable. We have you sit with something in your background that describes you, we have to figure out what that is, what does that picture say about you, or sit in the room that gives you the most comfort in your house, we've been able to do some really cool things. But what I like about it as an educator, it is the tools, you know, so people tend to like those little sticky notes. All right, I got a ton of them here for we do in virtual now. And we have people in six countries putting up sticky notes all over the virtual board. there ways that we can do things together now in real-time that we weren't able to before. And so I like the use of the tools, the idea of being more creative. And again, I can't stress enough for those of us who have had the privilege, the convenience of being able to when I'm not feeling well, I can just turn my camera off for a few seconds without having to get up and walk across a room of people and disturb them. If we really focus on the benefits we've gained. I think we can make this school work. I do want to put in one more piece that I am pushing, pushing is wellness. So we sit here a lot and I sit and stand so I don't sit all the time. People all LM sitting all day been stand up like that was easy to figure out. And so people are getting standing desks Well, I can't afford a standing that stack up some shoe boxes and put your computer on and stand and I have people do stretching about every hour just some upper body stretches just to say well and healthy. And then when I teach a class with students until somebody can get the air so we walk in place for those who can walk or they have to move until somebody gets to answer so they're like how long do we keep walking until somebody answers this question. Trust me I get so much participation out for people who don't want to do it. But I think it is we do have to be careful that we're making an assumption that we can't make this feel natural to us we just have to start to get past the part of this is I'm at home when I'm sitting you can move your environment sometimes sit outside if you're able to do so.
Scott Allen 9:37
Well even before we started recording this morning you were telling me that I almost thought of almost a theater in the round that you have these different views depending on the setting that you want to share with the people you're working with. You can be seated you can be standing you can have this background you can have I think you had like three different backgrounds. Is that accurate?
Ellen Burts Cooper 9:56
Yeah, I did what I did was take my computer all like this guy Just for you, I know people listening can't see it, but I literally put it on a turning table. And so I can just swing it around and turn it. And you can see my whiteboard on one side, you can see more my office on the other side. And you can see outside a little bit too sunny this morning. So I'm happy about that. But usually, in the evening, I'll turn it that way. What it did was it gave people things about hey, are you in a different office? Nope. Same 10 by 10 room. But the other thing again, for me is when I complain about something, if I hear it come out of my mouth twice, I do something about it because that's what I teach my clients. Well, I said, Oh, I don't like sitting in this room all day. Change the view? Yeah, I got a table on wheels. And now I can literally change the view. So I think if we look at it with that mindset, how do we solve for it versus happening to us? Yep, we're gonna start to really enjoy this and we'll enjoy the hybrid, it won't mean I'm going to post it, you know, going back at some point or some kind of hybrid, but I just want us to enjoy both.
Scott Allen 11:05
Exactly, exactly. And that's going to provide so many other new options as well, when we really get into the, to the heart of that experience where on a consistent basis, we work with a similar organization. And I was speaking to this organization the other day, and a bunch of people was in the room, and then a bunch of people are online. And this was now a new little conundrum for me mastering that space is going to be interesting. So if we have lived down, if we have all online down, if we have hybrid down, it really provides and again, I've said to so many people, Elon, people will say, Well, this class can be as good. I said, Yeah, I think it can be as good I really do. Because now I can have someone from Tesla speak in my class. And if I have someone from Tesla, or Apple or Microsoft, and they're speaking to my students for an hour, no one thinks that they're online, no one remembers they are listening to someone from Tesla. And that probably wouldn't have happened previously. But now it's a new option that I have. It's a new tool. It's a new strategy that I can employ. And I love your creativity, your creativity when we're in person, because I've been in your facility and some of how you're thinking about space and, and working with teams is amazing. And then I love the creativity that you bring. Have you found that enjoyable thinking, Oh, how to do the sticky notes? And I mean, I was saying earlier, I've had a little bit of a creative storm these last 18 months. I've kind of enjoyed it. Have you enjoyed that part of it of figuring this out?
Ellen Burts Cooper 12:39
Yes. I love it. That's the space. I like being in not knowing. And I actually secretly brainstorm. I get people to brainstorm without knowing it. I said, Okay, fine. 111 of my first sessions, they were like, We don't want to be on this video. And I said, Okay, Let's list all the stuff we learned about in person. It's got that list wasn't as long as they thought. And it was interesting. I said, Whatever you give, now, it was a big challenge. So I'm like, Okay, I hope I can pull this off. Whatever you give me about in person. I'm gonna imagine we use the whiteboards up, boom, got a whiteboard, I have an electronic whiteboard. And we can all write on it before in class, only one person at a time will come up or whatever, we can create breakout rooms up that those two. So everything they listed, it was because I always dance in my classes, we can dance up your music right now get up, let's go. So anything that they came up with that they enjoyed about it, guess what? We still haven't actually, it may be more fun in certain capacities. So it was interesting that people came to the conclusion. Maybe it wasn't as good as we thought this is just different. Because they couldn't give me a list of more than eight reasons why they love the "in person" so much. And we couldn't think of any reason not to match it. Yeah. Then we did the opposite. What do we have online now that we're virtual that you couldn't get? Hello, that list was actually a lot longer.
Scott Allen 14:04
Hi, coffee versus the, you know, that places coffee?
Ellen Burts Cooper 14:09
Yeah. But I will tell you my most fun is I had somebody had to meet over lunch. And she was not happy when that camera came on. I'm like, Whoa, turn it off. But no, she was just not happy. And I knew she didn't like meeting at lunch. And when she was sitting there, I started eating my lunch and she said "I didn't have time to prepare my lunch." And I said okay, she said, What are you eating? And I tell so that sounds good. Her doorbell rings. She says "Who was that?" I said you may want to go answer it. I had her lunch delivered to I've never heard her complain again about it. Like I was like, okay, we can still eat the exact because that was our thing. We go to lunch, we eat the same thing. And it was just like, alright, this is great. So I started gifting people with things like that if we had to meet at lunch. Let's make this fun.
Scott Allen 14:57
Again, your creativity Ellen. It's just It's top-notch it ordering someone's lunch on the fly. That's amazing. And so I want to transition a little bit into teams. What have you noticed in your work with teams? In recent months? Is it really kind of a similar concept that we've been discussing? For the whole? It's just a little bit different? What are some norms may be that you really think are important that teams should be focused on? How do you feel about things like being on camera or off-camera? What are your observations, I just want to hear that...
Ellen Burts Cooper 15:34
The good news is that we've been collecting data from every team that we visit, we collect data we virtually visit. And so we've been compiling that when we walk the things that are critical for teams, those haven't changed, but how we apply them. So my suggestions are always just to answer a few of us very quickly, cameras on where possible, so we can engage, when it's just maybe like yesterday, there was an announcement to I don't know, five 6000 people Oh, cameras off, right. But make sure you still check-in. But if there is a need for us to communicate back and forth with each other, definitely cameras on, if you're some of your in office, and some of you are not making sure we have equal sharing time and space, things are set up where everybody can hear. So make sure the technical details are worked out. But even getting down to just daily team things. You know, I talk a lot about trust with teams and building trust, you've got increased the frequency of how often we're showing appreciation to people, we got to find new ways to stay socially connected. So those don't change is just the frequency at which we do them are going to change. Learning Collaborative platforms, Scott, there are so many out there with interesting tools that can be used for real-time collaboration, I encourage them to learn more,
Scott Allen 16:53
What are some of your favorites right now that you've found to be beneficial.
Ellen Burts Cooper 16:58
I don't want to do advertisements for people. But I do like Padlet. That's a tool Google has a bunch of in Office tools. And if you go on, if you're on Zoom, I know people probably see that new app button Nalin, zoom, if you've seen it, you can go in there tons in there that you can use as well. I also use a few of the tools that Microsoft has. But if you go in and just say, tools to help with coaching, boom, they pop up tools to help with engagement, they pop up. That's part of the research process that I think people are gonna have to pick up. And it actually is fun to see them out there.
Scott Allen 17:39
What else what other observations,
Ellen Burts Cooper 17:42
I would say get used to delivering messages by video, which are going to be different than in person, hiring, firing tough conversations, giving constructive feedback. There are methodologies to do that online. I had never hired a fire somebody who wasn't global. And I had to do that for the first time. And I'm going whoa, how does this work? What do you have? This is what how do I know somebody's not listening in their home? Their kid could hear them getting fired? So I would never say, are you? Oh, are you by yourself? Is there anybody in earshot who can hear me? Do you have to ask those things? Do you want the person seven-year-old here, mommy just got laid off? Right? So confidentiality. So in other words, you can't customer information up on a screen without some kind of filter. I don't know that somebody in your house doesn't work for a competitor. So getting smart about asking the right questions, they were doing coaching, training, but because the setting has changed, we have to adapt to new ways of doing that same thing. And it just takes a few tweaks. I've also worked with a lot of teams on problem-solving and strategy sessions, we tend to want to rush more to get off the call. Yeah, stepping back and doing a lot more root cause analysis. And everything doesn't have to be done on video. Some of it can be done separately, and you bring it back together. The other thing I think a lot about is the challenging historical ways that we've operated. I had a challenge that a lot of things weren't that great. We were just used to them. They really weren't right. And so the basic rules still apply, you still need to define roles and responsibilities for people, you still need to have standard practices and documentation. That didn't change because we're on video. So what I was finding is this virtual platform actually called out a lot of not-so-great behavior that we were able to mask over in person. And so it's making us be a little bit more robust about our approach.
Scott Allen 19:45
Well, it's so interesting, and I love even your comments. I mean, I loved all of that. And then there's one thing in there where sometimes maybe it's not a zoom sometimes maybe we go back to that thing called the conference call me Maybe we work independently and come to present our options versus sit for an hour and a half trying to brainstorm together all of those options. And so, to your point, I think it requires design. And how are we designing how we're using people's time? And what are the tools we have in our availability to use people's time, maybe groups of three have a conference call for an hour, and they come back to the zoom, or enter Zoom and then present, but we don't, I love the challenge in figuring out some of those puzzles? Because you and I both have a passion for this. When we're live. I want it to be fast, fun, fascinating. I want them to go at the end of four hours. Wow, that was four hours, huh? Shoot, you know, and, and, and I want it to be fun. That was a good time, we had a pretty good time. You know, I was with a group of plumbers the other day. Wow. Okay. And they said at the end, you know, this is pretty good. I'm like, okay, winning.
Ellen Burts Cooper 21:00
Exactly. That's, that's the idea
Scott Allen 21:02
and walk away saying, you know, that was really insightful. And I picked up some really cool things there. And, and the puzzle of transitioning that to just a different space, it's so much fun.
Ellen Burts Cooper 21:14
And I just say a few more practical things that just basic team stuff that really didn't change because the platform or our setting change was just, you mentioned one of them. What's the right communication method for this? Yeah, don't Video Call me at seven in the morning, Scott, it takes time to get all this together. Right? That could have been a phone call. So understanding what's the right method? Maybe that should have just been a memo? Yeah, right. Well, email, the social connections were critical in finding ways to get to know each other, asking more questions about people's backgrounds, we didn't do enough of that we made assumptions and found out kind of how their history might influence how they feel about this. And that that's really critical. I have a number of people who didn't have a good experience on video before, but this was, what 1015 years ago, we didn't have the same technology. The other thing is frequent check-ins, making sure you establish a process to check-in and stay committed because we can go days and days and days. Think about your colleagues who are living by themselves, who may not get to engage in the same way. So frequent check-ins, frequently asked questions list published that for new employees, they're walking and going, I have never met my colleagues, where do I do this? What anything is related to work process technology, create an FAQ sheet so they're not struggling. And the last one is, I would say being clear about expectations. We seem to have forgotten just because we're not in the same space, doesn't mean we don't need to check to make sure expectations are level set. And we have the right resources, the job, those things are still they were complaints before. They were critical before. And even more. So now. So we still need to go back to the basics.
Scott Allen 23:07
Exactly. And if we need to create an FAQ, we can pull up a Google Doc, and literally spend five minutes all co-creating it, and probably get about 20 things out on a piece of paper questions and answers in about five minutes. It's amazing.
Ellen Burts Cooper 23:24
It's got I'll tell you, here's my new favorite about this. Remember, when we were in sessions, and everybody had 10 cards with the names on them. You tried to memorize them where they were sitting, and then you want to change up the seating. And now I can't remember what Scott was on the left by the door. Now, Scott. So if you don't know this guy, that's bill. So I would get all mixed up. Then they see you in the hallway, I'm going I have no idea you are where's your tech card, and I can't read your name tag. Oh, my goodness video has done wonders. I can call everybody by name. And at the end of every session, I do a screenshot of Smile for the camera and I send out everybody a picture of us all together. We didn't do that in person come on. And there is no way I would know 50 people by name. And no matter how much I tried them, I would always try to memorize your names and a one-day class by noon by lunchtime. But if I saw you in the cafeteria, I have no idea who you are. You got to be sitting in the seat by the door for me to know that you're right. That was another plus with this that we can actually get to know each other in a way that we didn't before. Just by even having our names present. It sounds simple, but it's huge.
Scott Allen 24:31
Oh, for sure. What haven't you figured out yet? Is there anything that you haven't been able to replicate to the same level? I'm sure there are a few things that you're still just experimenting with to see how we solve for what
Ellen Burts Cooper 24:48
and that's sometimes the tools for the team making sure that you've studied enough ahead of time to know that okay, I'm going to use this particular tool what they can post for this one Session. But in this one, they're peers, and they're sort of competitive. So they're not going to share their data all at the same time. So I need to collect that before. So still understand how to work with teams, but that was no different. But which tool will be appropriate for that team? The other thing is somewhat out of my control, but distractions. Yeah, so at work, we're all probably in the same room a little bit differently. We'll get called out for meetings. Now you've got 50 people, if they're all in a different location, you have 50 potential ways that people can be distracted. Yeah, delivery services. I didn't know how many people got packages that often like I am and I'm nosy What did you just get? I heard your doorbell. And I did that one session, we had eight deliveries, and everybody had to tell me what they got. It was hilarious. I just made it fun with it. But you have kids at home, your partner spouses, significant others, you have lawn Moore's and neighbor seem to cut grass right as I start teaching is a thing. That's the one thing figuring out how to habit at a time that minimizes disruptions when you got 50 sources of distractions. That's a tough one.
Scott Allen 26:13
So Correct. At least when I'm when we're all in the same room, that's minimized. You have a device, right that people can get on. And that can be a source of distractions, but you are completely correct, right. My lawn probably will start being mowed. Next minute now that you said it.
Ellen Burts Cooper 26:31
Always give you two more people thinking they can do more than they can. So while you're on here, I hadn't I am not making this up. He was mowing the lawn while he was on with me and had the camera the phone line filled that does not work. We can't. So people think they can do more than they can. You know, I could see somebody literally you're stirring you're cooking. Like so. Like that was the one and all of these home remodeling people do I get it? You're in your house. And the one thing no one's mastered yet. It's got you know what it is? I don't care what video I use about six, seven video platforms. you unmute the mute button. I don't even say anything anymore. I just wait. I just and I've learned to read lips. That's my new skill and put it on LinkedIn. I have learned how to read lips. So I am an expert.
Scott Allen 27:27
I will say I kind of jokingly chastise someone the other day I said, Hello, we are 18 months into this thing. You are on mute. Everyone laughed. And it just kind of created a light-hearted environment. And then I said some I know of course I'd done it probably two weeks before. So yes.
Ellen Burts Cooper 27:48
I do want to share what Okay, I just get in my mode. One more with the mute when I first started it and we've stopped it, but I did it for about a good year. Anytime you forgot to go on, take off your mute button, you have to donate to a charity near your home. And I wouldn't double it. And so this happened with I believe 3040 teams do this. And they will go on mute. That's five bucks to the charity and I wouldn't double it. So one goodwill wants to know why are you bringing all this cash to us because this is legal like yeah, I went on mute today, I didn't hit the mute button like I was supposed to. But the other thing it was it was good and bad. People didn't want to pay the money. So they got better coming off mute, which is what I wanted. We didn't get as much to charity. So it was torn. But we just made fun out of it. You know, if you forgot to come off today's is 10 bucks, or you got to go don't donate a couple of items of clothing or something like that. I think if we get together and realize that whether I see you by video or at our breakfast place, you're still human, I'm still human, we still contact just to a different space. You back the only thing that really changed them that's you're still human right in front of me.
Scott Allen 29:01
Well, one challenge I had at the very beginning was humor, for instance. And obviously, listeners can tell that you infuse humor into everything you do, and have a light-hearted tone but great, incredible content. It was my Achilles heel that I had this kind of taken from me so to speak. But there were interesting to your point your two times. And it probably took me a few more than that. But I kept working this puzzle of okay, well, how do I infuse humor into this experience? So it was about three or four months in and I kind of figured out the question before I started the session, I would say, Okay, the first concert in the chat right now, and oh my gosh, it was the best you know, John went to Milli Vanilli and I'm like John, tell us a little bit about Milli Vanilli when you tell them it was happening or that they were lip-synching. And, you know, I had I was at a law firm and one of the women was Jimi Hendrix. And I said, Wow, Alice, that is Awesome. Tell us about Jimi Hendrix. And so she unmuted and then you know, Paul went to Slayer and I'm like, wow, Paul a little angry in your use. So it creates this tone, right where you can, you can really enjoy and listen and just kind of have a little bit of humor, and use the chart as a tool to facilitate that and mine the experiences of the people to really help set that tone. Right?
Ellen Burts Cooper 30:25
Absolutely. And that's what's so interesting is that we forgot sometimes about our nonverbal processors who are loving chat right now consumed me, that's another big feature, they can send me a private message, Elon, I'm uncomfortable with this conversation, can you get me on this when my boss is in the room? Or do I need a little bit more time? And or Ellen, this is the ball saying, Hey, could you ask this, find out what they're thinking about this, I could never do that because we'd have to wait for a break to stop me in the hallway. And so first, we have to remember that everybody processes differently, and people love to be able to be nonverbal. And body language is still critical. I use a lot of body language. I only want hand signals on this one, in or out things to do this, they can do a thumbs up thumbs down head nod or what have you. But engaging all the senses where possible, is really critical. But we forgot that everybody's not verbal. And this platform allows you because it wouldn't be weird. If somebody wrote on a card and just held it up in class. That's their answer.
Scott Allen 31:26
And you couldn't do that activity live because it would take 20 minutes for someone, you know, well, I was you know, I was 18. And I went to blah, blah, blah. And I saw Slayer and you know, Okay, thanks, John. Next, no, they just all show up, I kind of scroll through, you've got some in sync, and you've got some, you know, there you go, the country, the country fans. And so it's just, I, I love how you're thinking about the space. And I of course, love the creativity that you bring to this space. It's just inspiring.
Ellen Burts Cooper 32:01
Thank you, I appreciate it, and there there are times when I want to be able to give you a hug. And I know I can't do that. But we can do Virtual hugs we get if we just decided that we're going to take the enormous tragedy that happened. And we grieve for that. But we're going to be grateful that we get an opportunity to kind of reinvent in this space. And we keep focused on that. And my biggest thing is just being service like I have poured myself into doing more service, I always do my 11 hours of community service every month, don't ask why 11 No clue, just made up that number. And I've been doing it for years. And I increased that number quite a bit. And I just noticed, you know, we're in a high-stress state. So people can find ways to express gratitude and be of service to others, whether that's mentoring, whether that's sending Scott and message, just check-in and see how you're doing whatever that is some form of appreciation. It actually is counterintuitive. It's actually filling us up more. So watching our tanks and making sure we're staying for service is the way to do it. If people are still feeling a little apprehensive right now.
Scott Allen 33:10
Yes. As we wind down Alan, what have you been reading, watching, streaming listening to? It could have nothing to do with what we've just discussed. But what's good your eye lately? So for instance, I've been watching a show on Apple TV called C, which is this futuristic space where humans have lost sight. And I've also had, I'm almost finished with Mayor of East town. But then I'm reading the book range and streaming some other podcasts. And so what are you listening to what's keeping you in your mind cooking right now?
Ellen Burts Cooper 33:48
Well, one of them I'm glad you said it doesn't have to be related food, network food, any food, say anything where somebody is cooking. I never cooked before this paper was still in my oven. The packaging was still on there. I don't cook. And now I'm cooking two sometimes three meals a day. So the creativity of what's behind cooking has just been really fun. I try to incorporate it into my classes. What does everybody eating for lunch? What's your best ingredient you put in this and that source a huge debate. Do not ask people about ingredients they put in stuff because you cannot put raisins in potato salad. It was just craziness.
Scott Allen 34:23
King Arthur Flour?
Ellen Burts Cooper 34:26
Oh my goodness. I didn't even know what that was at one point. So that's one but I actually have been no avoiding the news. I do have a few sources for news. I can get some objective points and very perspectives. But I actually do searches for good news. And what are some of the feel-good channels. So literally, I just put in good news happening in the country. Yeah, global stuff. That's fun. I mean, I'm putting in and I'm literally filling my brain. So I have to watch the news and I see fires. I see floods. I see Fill it with that there are some amazing stories about person Nevada, who gave everybody scholarships, leaving this particular town, a person here who rescued somebody's dog and brought it back to them. A person who set with goes and sits with elderly people to give the caregiver a break and just spends 10-15 minutes here and there. You're giving all those types of stories? I think we forget about those.
Scott Allen 35:25
Yep. Well, such a giant spotlight is placed on the four or five things that went wrong today, in the world or in our country, in our community. And it's hard to lose. It's easy to lose sight of the millions of good things that happen in our communities. My wife and I were just talking about that this morning. It's so easy to lose sight of all of the good. And of course, there are, there are challenges, there are struggles, there are things that need to be fixed, for sure. But I love how you're balancing that out with food.
Ellen Burts Cooper 36:06
There you go. That's one of the same. Well, some of my meals aren't so happy for my poor husband. I do feel bad for him some days. He was like, What's this supposed to be chicken? Like? Is this what you meant? He doesn't know. I'm not complaining. But just what did you intend with this dish? And then sometimes he goes, Can you not what? Which was chef were you what you're watching today with chef today? I'm like, never my work. doesn't always turn out great. But it's attaboy, I
Scott Allen 36:31
think I think it's great. Alan, thank you so much. Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Ellen Burts Cooper 36:38
Yeah, they can see us www.improveconsulting.biz. This checks us out there and it tells all of our courses and where we're going to be hanging out virtually.
Scott Allen 36:48
Okay. Okay, well, I will put that in the show notes. And I know that you are an author of a book. And we will put that in the show notes as well so that people can learn more about you. And Alan, thank you so much for spending some time with me this morning. I appreciate it. Thank you for the good work that you do. Thank you for the creativity and the love and the passion that you bring to your work. I know it's making a difference in the world.
Ellen Burts Cooper 37:13
Ah, thank you, Scott. It was great catching up with you this morning.
Scott Allen 37:17
Okay, be well. Okay.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai