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Harnessing the REAL Power of Collaboration

Welcome back everyone! This is another episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, and I have my guest for the week with me, Dr. Gail Hayes. Today we’re going to be talking about harnessing the real power of collaboration. Those of you that lead teams should perk those ears up because you’re going to want to hear what she has to say. 

The Difference Between What People Think Collaboration Is Vs. What It Really Is

Ruthie: I’m just going to jump right into it. What’s the difference between what people think collaboration is and what it actually is?

Dr. Gail: Well, of course, this is all a matter of opinion.

Ruthie: I love your opinion. So here you are.

Dr. Gail: A lot of people want to collaborate with someone, but they don’t even respect them. They just want what that person has. You want to get inside of their circle, and you usually have ulterior motives. You enter into that arena without honor. 

People sometimes work alongside people with ulterior motives. They know they’re not going to stay. They know they’re going in for something else, like taking something or finding out something negative about that person/company.

And let’s get real, when someone lets you in their space, there’s an intimacy factor. They expose themselves to you in a very unique way, authentic way. 

power of collaboration

Remember, It’s “Co-LABOR”

When you co-labor, that means you link with them and you become like them. So you have to watch who you connect with. I used to think, “You didn’t have to collaborate with people.” I don’t agree with that anymore. I want to work with people I know, like, and trust.

When you get in business with somebody, you’ve got to like them and what they bring. It may not be everything, but it’s got to be enough where you feel like you can stay for the dance. It’s got to be enough that they have an energy that’s like yours, and you believe that when you come together you can push both of your agendas forward. 

So many people will say, “They can help us get from point A to point B. We’re in partnership with these people so they can help us.” But what are you bringing? You have to at least be able to say, “Look, I’m going to let them lead.” You don’t need to always be in charge. And if you have that much ego, you need to stay by yourself. 

Co-laboring is knowing that sometimes you have to put your ego on hold and allow the other person to shine. That’ll come back to you. Whatever you put out into the universe will either touch your heart or hit you in the chest with a sledgehammer. You have to decide which one you want.

Ruthie: I really love how you use that. It never actually occurred to me that that’s the root of collaboration. It’s that labor piece.

When You’re Approached, You Have The Advantage

I got a LinkedIn connection request today that said something about networks and how they’d be interested in collaborating with me. And I’m like, “But you don’t know me.”

It just seems interesting that they would say it right out of the gate. I don’t know them, so I don’t know what they’re bringing to the table. 

Dr. Gail: But you have an advantage because you already know what they want. So you can sit back and say, “Convince me. I’m open.” Just be quiet and let them talk. That’s the advantage of that.

You’re not going after them; they’re coming after you. So they’ve got to sell themselves to you, which is a bonus. If they’re willing to sell themselves to you, they already understand the value of co-laboring. 

How Can Entrepreneurs Bring True Collaboration Into Their Spaces? 

Ruthie: That  goes into my next question. Looking at  the business sphere, how can entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives bring the power of true collaboration into our spaces and interactions?

Dr. Gail: The first thing is authenticity. That word is  overused, but I’m gonna say it anyway.

Ruthie: That’s why I say radical authenticity

Dr. Gail: People who are not really authentic tend to use it. I don’t have time to put on another personality. I have tried to be the really soft-spoken, very appropriate woman at work.

But I’m always that person that will say, “Excuse me, what is this over here?” Everybody’s ignoring the white elephant in the middle of the room.

No, I’m the black elephant in the room. I need to know what’s going on so we can move forward. Because of the space that we’re in right now, people are beginning to appreciate that. 

Part of authenticity is acknowledging how things are around you, and how you need to move them. Oftentimes it takes co-laboring to move the boulder, as opposed to one person trying to do it on their own.

It usually takes a team of people to move these social boulders that are being moved now. It takes groups of people who are like-minded to do things, and we’re finding those people don’t always look like us. And that’s the beauty of all of this.

It’s About Like-Mindedness and Authenticity

So it’s not about how a person looks, but it’s about the like-mindedness and the energy that they bring. It’s about respect. It’s about authenticity. 

It’s all right for you to say, “Look, I’m having some feelings about this right here. I heard you say this. This bothers me.” And we can come to a point. A lot of people don’t want to say that.

If you can explain that statement to me and help me to see your point without getting offended, then I’d probably want to work with you. People get offended all the time. Well, why did they ask me that then? I immediately know that’s not the person I need to work with. 

When you co-labor with somebody, you’ve got to expose yourself and you’ve got to be willing to be transparent. You’ve got to be willing to be vulnerable.

You’re not going to keep all your cookies by yourself. If you want to keep that bag of cookies, show me where your bakery is. 

So it’s got to be an openness to share, knowing that both of you come with something and you both need to move this boulder to get to that mountain. And there’s enough gold in that mountain for more than one team. Does that make sense?

Am I Creating My Own Competition?

Ruthie: I love that. It’s very reminiscent of something that I’ve said before when somebody asked me, “If I create a course and I teach people how to do what I do, am I creating my own competition?”

And my response to that was that there are over 7 billion people on the planet. Are you planning on providing services to all of them?

Dr. Gail:  I’m a multi-published author, and this woman had come up with a book title. She says, “I was so excited about doing my book, but now I can’t put it out because somebody took my book title.”  And she went on to tell me how this person already had a book with the title of her book. 

And I said, “So you’re going to sit on your book because this person has the same title?” She told me she couldn’t use it because it’s copyright. I said, “No, you can use a book title, just not the trademark.” I had to explain to her the difference in intellectual property. And she was like, “She stole my title!” 

Multiple People Are Getting The Same Message

I said, no, she did not. Let’s put this on a spiritual plane. The universe is talking to us right now as we’re doing things. When a message goes out, multiple people get it.

God’s mouth is huge. So if he speaks something to me and I’m standing right in front of his mouth, there are people all around me. They get a piece of it too. They may not get the full blast, but they get a piece of the puzzle.

So you can’t say they copied you because they all heard their ears in tune with what the Universe was saying. So of course she heard what you heard, but her message is going to be articulated differently because she’s different. Every person has a unique set of fingerprints, a unique set of eyes, hair, skin. All of us are different, and we’re all in an orchestra. 

Learning to Play Our Part

I am a trumpet. I’m very loud and I know that, but you don’t have a trumpet playing all the notes in the orchestra. The trumpet also announces the coming of the King. So I speak to other trumpets, I announce things and get everybody’s attention. And then the clarinets will play. And then the violins will play.

But I’m still a trumpet, and I know when I’m going to hit it so everybody can pay attention and wake the audience up. We all have to play our part in the orchestra. 

So I’m not going to get upset if a clarinet is playing a song that I know. I’m not going to get upset if the violin plays a melody that I’ve been singing. I’m not going to get upset when the drums beat the way that I move. You have no right to sit on your story, because other violins need to hear it. Does that make sense?

Ruthie: Oh, that’s so wonderful! I will credit you with that one. I was talking to someone just yesterday about how we can  talk about the same things, but the way that we talk about them will resonate with different people.

The way I say something and what I say about it will resonate with a certain group of people and not others because they aren’t my people. 

Instruments of Peace

Dr. Gail: I have a book that I’m working on, that deals with this concept. It’s called Instruments of Peace. How do we get to peace? We need to know what piece we play in the orchestra. Why are you going to try to play what a violin plays if you’re a trumpet? Why are you going to try to do the clarinet if you’re a drummer? Play the drums well. Play the clarinet well. Your turn will come to be in the spotlight. 

Your People Are Not Always Your Tribe

Referring to what you said about your people, your people are not always your tribe. I’ve had to live with that for most of my life. I was taken out of the Black community at age 5 and I went to live in the international community. When I came back to back to the Black community, they told me I wasn’t black enough. 

I didn’t know what that meant. I was 13 years old. They were coming after me because they said I talk properly, and I didn’t understand a lot of what they’re saying. So I left after a year and stayed gone. Honestly I will say that I have had some difficulty being accepted by my own people, because I see things through a different lens. 

And I can say “hold!” before I make that decision because we make major decisions based upon limited information. It’s what I call The Iceberg Theory. We do not wait to see what the real truths are.

The Iceberg Theory

In our society, people are making decisions about the political climate based upon what the media says. We can’t even see the good that’s being done behind the scenes, because we’ve been stirred up. 

I was talking to a woman the other day and she started slamming president Trump. It’s not so much that I’m a big fan of his, but I’m an American. It’s just that simple. I come from a military background. I’m a former law enforcement officer.

Some of my values are very traditional, but I’m still Black. And this is a woman who says she’s a Christian. She goes to church every Sunday.

I said, “When was the last time you had dinner with him? You act like you know him personally. You’re looking at him through the lens of CNN. Because if you listen to all the news, it’s so toxic. They take people like you and they manipulate you because you act like you know him personally. What has he done to you personally?” She couldn’t tell me. 

Go Deeper to Find The Root of Problems

What I see is The Iceberg Theory in operation. Because you’re only talking about what you see on the surface, and there’s so much more information beneath. You haven’t gone underwater to see what the real truth is.

Surely, there’s no one perfect who’s been in that office. Everybody has skeletons in their closet when you ascend to that level. There are no perfect presidents. I wouldn’t want a president who hadn’t done anything, who hadn’t experienced some stuff and made some mistakes. That makes them better leaders.

And then I started naming off some stuff that had happened that people don’t talk about because they’re so focused on the negative rhetoric. 

You cannot allow the media to dictate the terms of your level of involvement in America. You cannot allow the media to cause you to be dishonorable about some of the systems that we have in place, unless you want to leave our nation.

I’m not saying they’re all good. They’re all right. But right now, unless you’re willing to be a part of the solution, you’re being a part of the toxic people in our nation.

How was what you’re saying helping us? Unless you can be part of the solution, I can’t help you because I’m not going to entertain this. 

Go Vote!

She goes, “Who are you voting for?” And I said, “I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to do in a public forum. It’s private.” We all have one vote. Go to the polls and vote whoever you want, according to your conscience. It’s none of your business how I choose to vote. So let’s have a good conversation. She was taken aback, and this is a Black woman. 

I just feel like we need to be focusing on how we, as a people, can move forward. And don’t say that Donald Trump is the only thing standing in our way. He ain’t the one. He only stays for a limited time. What’s really keeping us back? It’s like you have a pot of fecal matter, and you keep tiring it. How’s that helping? 

Ruthie: That’s a fact. Everybody, get out and vote for whoever you feel like voting.

Dr. Gail: And stop stirring the atmosphere with toxicity. We all have to breathe. I want to breathe the air of positivity. We’ve got enough negative stuff happening without you throwing balls of fecal matter in the air. 

Ruthie: That’s our episode for today, and I’m really excited because we have 2 more to come! You never know what you’re going to get here. So be sure to join us for tomorrow and the next day, because we have still 2 more topics to go through as part of this interview series! 

power of collaboration