Lisa Patrick of Belongify: “Specificity builds credibility.”

Specificity builds credibility. This advice was given by my friend and Hall of Fame professional speaker and speech coach Patricia Fripp. She taught me the more specific I am with my actions and my words, the more credibility I will have with others. The more specific you are, the more clarity you provide and the […]

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Specificity builds credibility. This advice was given by my friend and Hall of Fame professional speaker and speech coach Patricia Fripp. She taught me the more specific I am with my actions and my words, the more credibility I will have with others. The more specific you are, the more clarity you provide and the more likely your message will be heard. You will be remembered and repeated. Opportunities will land on your doorstep.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Patrick.

Lisa is an entrepreneur, investor, speaker, personal branding strategist, founder of mastermind The TLR (Thought Leaders Roundtable), Chief Entrepreneur Officer and partner of Belongify, a system that helps leaders of any organization close the gap between high performing teams and average or even under performing ones creating truly inclusive workplaces where everyone belongs.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

It all started, as many great things do, over a glass of good whiskey with a stranger and ended with a cup of coffee with a friend.

I had been doing some strategic business development work with NorQuest College in Edmonton two years ago when I met Lorne Rubis. At that time Lorne was the Chief of Culture and Transformation. We were talking about creating interruption in the education marketplace using online training and market invention.

During those conversations, Lorne and I took the opportunity to meet outside of the school to get to know each other. It was there over a glass of whisky that a connection was formed, a relationship forged where two strangers found a place that they belonged, and the launch pad for Belongify perkulated.

A year later, over several cups of coffee and finally another glass of whiskey, those same two people took a chance on each other and launched “Belongify.” A five-step system, facilitated by a Belongify Certified Coach that helps leaders of any organization close the gap between high performing teams and average or even under performing ones, creating truly inclusive workplaces where everyone belongs.

The chance was that neither of us had ever worked with each other before. Though we’d become friends, we did not know each other’s work ethics or if we could step up to meet each other’s expectations. What we shared was a set of values, an aligned vision, we understood the risk-reward equation and both of us knew we could help each other go-to-market faster together then apart. I say often, “when we believe the same, we are unstoppable.” We both took a chance.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The evolution of technology, while creating incredible tools, has allowed human beings to expect correct, brief and practically instantaneous responses to our communications with others — all the time. When we do not receive responses as expected, we start to wonder what’s keeping them. We assume everyone has their phone on them all the time and that because we can communicate instantly that everyone will.

That expectation and lack of fulfillment of our requests leads to disconnection and could bring up feelings of isolation. The disruption we are creating is to form a deeper awareness of the basic human need to feel connected. It’s part of our survival mechanism. Yet many are terrible at it.

I believe that without feeling connected it is virtually impossible to experience a sense of belonging. This experience of connection and finding our place or places where we belong, is something as humans we need to live happy and fulfilled lives.

The pandemic, globalization and digitalization are making people and things more accessible, but we are, ironically, truly connecting less than ever. Most of our communication is fast and superficial. Expressing real genuine feelings to others to feel connected as a result is a rarity.

Having shared experiences, relatable feelings, and similar ideas or conflicting ideas that we feel comfortable enough to express helps us forge connections with others. The feeling of connection has the power to heal the traumas of everyday disingenuousness, loneliness, and even isolation.

It’s funny you would think that most of us, since it is a human innate need to survive that we all would be running around sharing and caring and taking the necessary actions to create a connection and find places where we belong.

Previous bad experiences or fear is what often stops most from putting themselves out there to be vulnerable enough to make that connection. The key is that we have to be willing enough to find a way, to get it done and recognize that moving forward, not perfection is the key to let it loose. In fact, those are my four pillars of philosophy of values and we do this by being intelligently curious about others.

Forward Not Perfection: Steady, strategic, forward-focused, consistent action for constant improvements.

Find A Way: Try new ideas and workarounds to get results and then document the shit out of what works and discard what doesn’t.

Get It Done: A fast-paced decision-making process that achieves the goals. No emotional attachments, or what I call “hurt feeling reports,” required.

Let Loose: Feel safe enough to show up as yourself, contribute, and have fun doing it.

We may believe that we must be good enough to have a connection, but the real deep genuine lasting connections are forged when we are willing enoughto push past our superficial comfort zones to make a deeper connection with others. That’s really when we find where we belong.

I’ve been labelled “THE Powerhouse Connector.” I’ve been told by others that I am an Angelic Creator. I am Fearlessly Forward, A Catalyst, and always Distinctively Unforgettable. I believe that these words have been used to describe me because I am relentless in my commitment to make them the focus of my attention: Be present in the moment, and make others feel like they belong with me.

Teams across the globe are struggling with solving the ‘how to’ create safe places where people can show up, be themselves, feel they can contribute, be recognized and ultimately belong. At Belongify our mandate is “We put the ME back in WE” in the right kind of way. This very basic simple premise is disrupting the world — by activating a system that helps people form deeper bonds with each other which in turn creates a greater sense of belonging with each other.

When working with thought leaders on their personal brands, more specifically their brand stories, the biggest mistake I see is a failure to focus on the aspects of their offer that will help others connect to their messages in a meaningful way. The aspects of their offer are often more focused on making themselves the hero of their own story. When they connect the hero to the customer, clarify and focus on the aspects of the offer that will help the hero not just survive but thrive, people feel more connected to the message which results in finding a place where they feel they belong.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ve made more mistakes than I have done things right. Sounds like a cliche but it is very true. Each mistake has always been a series of moments of learning and clarity to continue moving forward, but none of them have been funny.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Yes, having mentors throughout life is important. We all need somebody to lean on and learn from. However, not all mentors are created equal.

One of the greatest mentors I’ve had is someone I met in 2015. He had no idea that he was my mentor for five years. I watched and studied how he treated his business partner, his clients, his employees and people in general. When you look for a mentor, you seek out those you respect. Some of the greatest lessons in life and especially in business come from those learning moments that happen with those you don’t respect.

I learned what narcissism looked like and how to deal with it. I learned that this particular type of person is the person my mother, a positive role model in my life, taught me so many years ago to “kill them with kindness,” with whom “flattery will get you everywhere,” and that “there is always more going on behind closed doors than you can see.” Other great words of advice from her that have served me well when working with mentors is to “control what you can and have enough empathy to let go of what you can’t.” Those are valuable lessons I’ve learned from that particular mentor.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

By definition, disruption is perceived to be non-conventional. Disruptive activities or businesses are often underrated by those who are set in their ways. Disrupting is not always good. However, the good it brings about is to point out the flaws in the conventional. Even if a particular disruption doesn’t bring about positive change, it can point out what does need to change or at least that improvements could be made.

As we are driven into our homes, a new normal is emerging where meeting virtually to get business done and gathering at each other’s tables or pulling up more chairs to our own is becoming more of a distant memory. But just as those weekly work meetings have become virtual, so have happy hours, cocktail parties, attending university and participating in conferences.

But can this ‘new normal’ withstand the test of time? With everyone not making use of the mute button when they should, and conversation doesn’t flow like it would in person, the question seems to be this: Are we combating isolation? Are we making genuine, real and lasting connections or fostering new places to create loneliness?

We humans crave physical interaction with other humans. We want to be part of a tribe. In fact, our brains thrive on being around people. So, although we are forced to have our interactions with others virtually for now, it’s not sustainable as the only means of communication and connection.

There is no greater evidence of the necessity of human connection and physical touch than the requirement of kangaroo care in babies. When a baby is born prematurely, one of the first things doctors recommend is skin to skin contact. This is called Kangaroo Care. There is scientific evidence of the value of doing so. A study in The Journal of Perinatal Education (2017) documents that an infant’s heart rhythm and neurodevelopment are better with regular kangaroo care. Such connection improves the blood supply, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain and other organs which guides neurodevelopment. It is also documented that kangaroo care reduces a mother’s stress, and increases her breast milk supply.

The positive disruptive work we do at Belongify is to strengthen the connection and contribution of each individual (the “me”) and thus the team (the “we”). Connectivity allows all of us to be more productive. When we amplify me, we create the best version of we and can address the issues related to being apart from but not alone.

One of the major disruptions happening now is in post-secondary education, and I don’t believe it is entirely a positive disruption. It’s centered on how we are facilitating learning experiences. Those institutions are being forced to confront the value in today’s times of in-person schooling versus online attendance. The shifting of classes to online was already underway for most universities. However, many institutions are learning the hard way that simply delivering course materials through digital platforms is not the best way to teach students. Students are not succeeding. Students have different learning styles that need to be addressed and personal human connection is required. So, moving forward, educational institutions at the collegiate level as well as at the k-12 level will be forced to discover more hybrid approaches that enhance virtual participation while also accommodating in-person participation and the learning styles of the individuals for all courses.

The importance of human interaction has now more than ever been brought to the forefront of our attention. We absolutely can survive without human physical interaction for periods of time, but it’s very difficult and not sustainable long term. Even if you just see someone for 10 minutes at 10 feet apart that can have a profound impact on your feelings of loneliness and isolation. It allows you to fill your emotional tanks. You get that same ‘recharge’ when you see your colleagues and interact with them face-to-face. You just can’t get that same sense of ‘recharge’ in a Zoom meeting. A hybrid model seems more likely the best fit.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

I’ve been fortunate to have many great leaders, advisors, coaches and mentors along the way.

One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve received is this: Specificity builds credibility. This advice was given by my friend and Hall of Fame professional speaker and speech coach Patricia Fripp. She taught me the more specific I am with my actions and my words, the more credibility I will have with others. The more specific you are, the more clarity you provide and the more likely your message will be heard. You will be remembered and repeated. Opportunities will land on your doorstep.

It was a cold winter day over a decade ago here in Edmonton. Patricia had arrived at the airport and I was waiting to greet her. The hallways in the airport were busier than usual. As I stood there waiting, I thought to myself, “Patricia is a petite little thing. How will I ever find her in the crowd?” No sooner had I thought it and down the hallway walked a woman with a bright red furry winter hat, a bright red flashy coat waving and saying “hi” to folks as she walked by them. Missing her in the crowd was not going to be a problem after all.

What I didn’t tell you was this was the first time Patricia and I met in person, despite the fact that we had known each other for a couple of years and were doing business together. This was the first of two very specific times with Patricia that I learned impressions matter and that being specific about what you wear, what you say and how you act makes a difference in the results you get.

As Patricia approached me and the entourage waiting for her, she stopped dead in her tracks, paused for one moment and then threw her arms in the air and said, “Welcome!” One word that meant so much, with one word she made me and everyone waiting for her feel like we belonged with her! One word, one action, one moment in time.

A couple of days later, I had to speak at the conference, and I will never forget the moments before walking into the room. Patricia pulled me aside and said, “You are not wearing those earrings, are you?” I looked at her puzzled. At first, I thought she was going to impart some great wisdom and then I thought, “What? I just bought these beautiful gold dangles to wear for this event. I am about to go on stage, why the hell is she asking me about my earrings?”

She looked me dead in the eye and said words I will never forget, “Lisa, you will not wear those earrings. Take them off immediately! They will distract from your message!”

Then she said the following, that has stuck with me for the rest of my career, “Remember, you need to grab their attention in the first 30 seconds. What is your opening line?” Now I was really nervous, sweating profusely and to this day I don’t remember what it was, exactly but it was something like “How are you doing today? Thank you for joining me.” “NO! No! No! This is what you say, ‘How often have you heard these three words, Continuing Education Credits?’ And then pause, Lisa, and count to three and take one step toward the audience as you continue.”

This particular presentation was to a group of professional speakers who were attending to learn how to position their expertise as continuing education approved. Needless to say, despite the fact that she took a seat in the front row dead center in front of me, making me even more nervous, I had captured the attention of everyone with her advice. She taught me three things that day:

  1. Specificity builds credibility.
  2. Move with purpose.
  3. Open with impact.

The second bit of wisdom acquired happened around Christmas time a couple of years ago. I had the distinct honor of being invited to the home of Tom and Michele Hopkins. Tom is a master at the art of selling anything, a sales legend. Naturally I was nervous but excited about the opportunity.

Tom has a beautiful home in Scottsdale, Arizona. When you walk into his home the first thing you cannot help but notice is that every inch of the walls is covered in artwork. I’ll get back to why that is important in a moment.

I spent the next 4 hours in his home hearing a plethora of stories about times when Tom made some of the greatest sales of his career. However, as great as those stories were, the stories that stuck were the stories about the challenges he overcame that were focused on his survival.

It was in those hours that I learned the power of connection between a great story of survival and how to connect the story to the real hero, the customer. I will have Tom Hopkins to thank for that. What’s interesting is Tom is known for his ability to teach others how to sell products and services. Yet, he taught me how to sell connection.

Back to the artwork. Tom walked me around his home and told a story about each piece of art. It wasn’t any words of advice that Tom said to me specifically during that time but rather, his approach or process of how he was selling me the stories of the passion of each piece of his artwork so I could buy into the beauty of each even when I believed at first sight they were not. Tom is a master at selling anything. The sales approach matters.

Although the art was beautiful and the stories were interesting, when I reflected about why that time was the most powerful of the entire time we spent together, it was because every single story had a single identifier that was consistent. Each story evoked a greater feeling of connection between us. Not a connection to the art but a deeper sense of connection between Tom and me. The art was the vehicle in which Tom, and I could be more vulnerable with each other in a more real and meaningful way that ultimately created the opportunity to belong in that moment of time.

It was Tom who taught me the power of connection with story and how to make anyone feel the hero of someone else’s story.

“Do the heart work, so you don’t have to do the hard work.” My client, Denise Oster told me that just yesterday. I asked what that meant and here is what she told me: “When we come from a place of compassion for ourselves and for others, we are aligned with who we really are, and we speak our truths. The heart work allows us to begin to trust ourselves and others through the process.”

Therefore, the heart work gives us permission to not only believe in ourselves and others, but the possibilities that result from the work and the recognition that is necessary.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

It’s the future and no one can predict the future. My hope is that I continue to create an impact with every connection I make and that they in return pay the impact forward.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I’m probably going to get crucified for saying this, but a headline like, “Women Face Daunting Roadblocks in Male-Dominated Tech Industry” is a mindset that I don’t buy into. I don’t buy into it, not because it doesn’t exist, it does for many women. I cannot speak to these kinds of statements because it’s just not my story. Nor do I want to provide ammunition to those whose story it is. I am just not willing for that story or experience to take up space in my life. I don’t allow that perception to enter my sphere of thinking. Trust me when I say that I don’t put my head in the sand and say it doesn’t exist. It’s just not a roadblock for me because I don’t consider it to be a truth for me. I do great work and I work hard, and I surround myself with people who are interested in what I’m accomplishing and together we believe in what we are doing and the greatness that surrounds that work. Sabotage and negativity are not part of that equation.

Seriously, if someone gets in your way, don’t play ball with them. You have a choice. Don’t waste your time playing their game. There are 7.8 billion people on the planet and 10X that in opportunities. If one person or three people are acting as your roadblocks, either find other opportunities or make your sphere of people big enough to help you charge through the roadblock.

At Belongify, my team is designed with purpose. We share the same values and mantra, therefore it’s not about me, but more specifically “we “and as a collective it’s difficult to be harnessed by those types of roadblocks. I believe when we believe the same, we are unstoppable.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I love the book “Rocket Fuel” by Gino Wickman. In it, he details the integral roles of the Visionary and Integrator and explains how an effective relationship between the two can thrive. When these two people come together to share their natural talents and innate skill sets, they have the power to reach new heights for virtually any company or organization.

My source of frustration is that not only can I be a visionary, but I also have an ability to integrate because I am process and system driven. But if I could find someone who was process and system driven to focus on the inside of the company and allow me to sit solely in the visionary role, I would be happier, less frustrated and could move even faster.

Working as an integrator in other people’s brands has been the best fit for me. Most business professionals struggle on the hamster wheel and need someone to come in and help them operationally. They also don’t have the long-term vision to scale and are often stuck inside the picture frame of their own business. I am unique because I can make the complex simple for others, deploy the systems and processes they need and be the strategic big thinker at the same time.

Both seeking and giving advice are central to effective leadership and decision making. When the exchange is done well, not only do the people on both sides of the table benefit, so does anyone else listening. When I started my podcast, Coffee With Lisa, it was by design general in nature but specific in intention. I wanted to have real conversations with world leaders and the brightest minds in business so I could have the opportunity over a cup of coffee ask them anything to help me, selfishly gain more knowledge from their experiences. I could quickly identify systems and processes that they used and ultimately avoid any possibilities of making the same mistakes they did. Coffee With Lisa could influence my own trajectory as well as that of anyone who chose to listen. This ultimately led me to my most recently launched podcast, Culture Uncorked. This podcast was designed not to be general in nature but rather very specific about the topic of culture and intentional about how teams and people create connection and belonging. Similar in nature to Coffee With Lisa, only the greatest leaders in business and experts in the subject matter of culture are interviewed to help us fast forward our ability to understand the impact of culture on teams and individuals and the best ways to foster great places where people belong. Both podcasts’ goals are to shape stories about important decisions while empowering others to act.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d never given the idea of creating a movement any thought. If I had to spark a trigger, it would be to start a movement toward greater collaboration through connections.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m a big fan of nuggets of wisdom. There are so many quotes that have impacted me. The one that’s been most relevant to me lately is The Platinum Rule® by Dr. Tony Alessandra: “Treat others how they’d like to be treated.” It’s way better than the Golden Rule of “treating others, how you’d like to be treated.” It’s how you create stronger and deeper connections and relationships.

After all, not everyone wants to be treated the same way I want to be treated. We are all different and I believe that I am not doing my job well as a human being if I don’t treat you the way you want to be treated.

Before I had met Tony, I was practicing the Platinum Rule® in my relationships but was unable to articulate how I was doing it.,

How can our readers follow you online?, and

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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