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ET-031: Sharpening Your IQ, EQ, And FQ To Build Strategic Effectiveness For Your Business

With Mr. Faris Arank

ET-031: Sharpening Your IQ, EQ, And FQ To Build Strategic Effectiveness For Your Business

and your host Wayne Brown on January 24, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Mr. Faris Aranki

By now we should have settled into the new year and be coming to terms with how much there is to do. In our episode today, our destination is London. London baby as you will hear me say – a line I like to borrow from Joey Tribbiani of the TV series FRIENDS.

Our guest is Mr. Faris Aranki – a strategy consultant and to use his own words, he’s someone who’s passionate about strategic effectiveness for all business and individuals. Faris founded a consultancy company with the unique name of “Shiageto” – more on the name during our discussion

So my own take on this consultancy is that it’s really quite an interesting operation. The conversation with Faris is relaxed and we not only speak about how to use innovative consulting to support businesses in sharpening their operation, but also about making sure they follow the right strategy with the right effectiveness and the right focus, using the three pillars that Faris applies, and you’ll hear us talk more about that in the episode.

If you are a business leader of any size I’m confident you will find this conversation today of value.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…And so I went back to the drawing board and I was literally making dinner a few nights later and I have a Japanese set of knives and my knife was dull. So I had to sharpen my knife. I don’t know if your listeners out there have this similar thing. Way to sharpen your knife is using a sharpening stone. I started sharpening my knife and suddenly I thought Eureka, what is the Japanese word for this stone?This is a perfect metaphor for my company, because what I want to do is sharpen other companies

Today’s Guest:      FARIS ARANKI

AS FARIS SAYS, it doesn’t matter about age, experience, size, industry or objectives, we can all improve our effectiveness. It’s something Faris personally tries to do every day and it’s an area where he’s been able to add the most value to his clients. These are the very reasons that he founded Shiageto Consulting.

Having spent over 20 years delivering strategic change for the corporate and non-corporate worlds, Faris has experienced firsthand the fine differences between strategic success and failure. His work has spanned numerous companies in various countries across a range of sectors, supporting them all to unlock strategic success.

Faris came to realize that often what hinders institutions from achieving their goals goes beyond the quality of their strategy, it’s in their ability to engage effectively with others at all levels and remove barriers in their way. Over time, Faris has worked to distill his knowledge of how to solve complex problems in a structured manner, combined with his skill on engaging effectively with others and his ability to quickly determine the barriers to a strategy success. This knowledge has formed the foundation of Shiageto’s workshops, courses and methodologies.

Faris believes that any team can adopt these improvements, all it requires is a little of the right support, which is something that his company provides. On top of leading his business, Faris is now an accomplished speaker and contributor for a variety of outlets. So my own take on this consultancy is that it’s really quite an interesting operation. I found the conversation with Faris to be really enjoyable, not only speaking about how to use innovative consulting to support businesses in sharpening their operation, but also making sure they follow the right strategy with the right effectiveness and the right focus, using the three pillars that Faris applies, and you’ll hear us talk more about that in the episode.

Final words from Faris Aranki: 

“I think the key message is, always look around for greater effectiveness. There are definitely… I almost guarantee ways to be more effective. And if ever you’re in your comfort zone, it’s probably the time to get a second opinion. But a lot of it comes from, think of the pillars.

Really, really push your creativity and your ideas. Really, really engage more people rather than less. And really, really try and do less rather than more. It sounds simple, but it’s really hard to do. And that’s why sometimes you need an external focus to help.

I always say the old saying, which I’ve kind of adapted ’cause I’m Middle Eastern. Homeless can’t read its own label or a jar of jam can’t read its own label. Whatever it is, you can’t read your own label. Sometimes you need that external perspective to just say, “You know what? You’ve got too much sugar. You’ve got too little fruit in there. Let’s change that ratio.”

0:00:01.0 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m Wayne Brown and welcome to the ET Project and this our fourth episode for month one of 2023. A special shout out to all those that reached out after last week’s episode with Susanna Lahteela. Great to hear that you enjoyed the conversation. As always, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. In our episode today, our destination is London. London baby! Faris Aranki is a strategy consultant and to use his own words, he’s passionate about strategic effectiveness for all business and individuals. It doesn’t matter about age, experience, size, industry or objectives, we can all improve our effectiveness. It’s something Faris personally tries to do every day and it’s an area where he’s been able to add the most value to his clients. These are the very reasons that he founded Shiageto Consulting and there’s a great story behind the name to that company. So more on that during the conversation in the episode. Having spent over 20 years delivering strategic change for the corporate and non-corporate worlds, Faris has experienced firsthand the fine differences between strategic success and failure. His work has spanned numerous companies in various countries across a range of sectors, supporting them all to unlock strategic success.

0:01:28.2 WB: He came to realize that often what hinders institutions from achieving their goals goes beyond the quality of their strategy, it’s in their ability to engage effectively with others at all levels and remove barriers in their way. Over time, Faris has worked to distill his knowledge of how to solve complex problems in a structured manner, combined with his skill on engaging effectively with others and his ability to quickly determine the barriers to a strategy success. This knowledge has formed the foundation of Shiageto’s workshops, courses and methodologies. Faris believes that any team can adopt these improvements, all it requires is a little of the right support, which is something that his company provides. On top of leading his business, Faris is now an accomplished speaker and contributor for a variety of outlets. So my own take on this consultancy is that it’s really quite an interesting operation. I found the conversation with Faris to be really enjoyable, not only speaking about how to use innovative consulting to support businesses in sharpening their operation, but also making sure they follow the right strategy with the right effectiveness and the right focus, using the three pillars that Faris applies, and you’ll hear us talk more about that in the episode.

0:02:47.4 WB: Please get ready as we’re about to launch into this conversation with Faris and I in this episode titled Sharpen Your IQ, EQ and FQ to Build Strategic Effectiveness for Your Business.

0:03:01.1 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:03:17.0 WB: All right, so Team ET, welcome back for another week and today we’re off to Old Blighty. So some of you probably don’t know what that means. That’s for me the Commonwealth Mothership of England or Great Britain as it used to be known and in particular we’re Zooming into London where our guest is Faris Aranki. What would you call yourself, Faris?

0:03:43.4 Faris Aranki: Well, that’s a great question. I’m a strategic facilitator and trainer. So I deal… Well greetings, Wayne. I deal with helping companies become more effective through their strategy and emotional intelligence.

0:03:58.3 WB: Great to have you on the show and I look forward to our conversation.

0:04:01.5 FA: Yeah, likewise, likewise and hopefully for the listeners we will provide some warmth through the words that we say and the ideas that we generate, Wayne.

0:04:09.2 WB: Oh, I love that. The wisdom of age.

0:04:15.2 FA: Exactly. Exactly.

0:04:18.7 WB: Fantastic. Kicking off with a couple of questions around fun facts. Do you have any fun facts that you’d like to share?

0:04:23.9 FA: I do, Wayne, I do. And the fun facts, going to talk about surprising facts about peoples and nations. So the first one is about which country in the world eats the most ice cream per person?

0:04:38.9 WB: Let me guess. Let me guess. So I’m going to guess that it’s probably a hot country and somewhere where, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Australia.

0:04:52.4 FA: Australia would be a great guess. Australia and… Unfortunately it’s not. It’s actually a cold country. It is Russia, which always surprises people and surprised me when I first discovered that fact. And it goes to show it’s all about the mindset, which we’ll probably talk about today. And similarly, at the other end of the scale, the country that buys the most convertibles in the world is the UK. It’s good Old Blighty, right? And we don’t actually have great weather here. So that is, it must be a nation full of optimists for that one or two days a year that isn’t raining.

0:05:26.7 WB: Excellent. The British optimists. That’s not a word that I would use to describe Great Britain in particular with the politics at the moment, but.

0:05:39.0 FA: Well, I’m trying to do my bit to raise the positivity, but you may be right, Wayne.

0:05:44.7 WB: Anything going on in the world that’s exciting you at the moment?

0:05:46.9 FA: Yeah, I mean, I think the exciting things are just even in tough times and different parts of the world having different tough times, certainly as a small business owner, there’s always an opportunity for optimism and growth. People say to me, “It must be tough being a small business.” And I say, “Well, it is on one hand, but it’s great. Everything in front of you is virgin territory. You can go for it and not have any fear.” So that for me is things that are exciting me. And what does that mean in a concrete level? It means working with new clients, working in new countries and expanding my team. So in the space of, we’ll probably talk about this, but listeners will love to know that I started a company three years ago, just before COVID. So my first year was atrocious. So really I’ve been running it for two years and it’s been great. It’s been sort of doubling in size every year. And that really excites me.

0:06:42.4 WB: Three years with this company, but not the beginning of your career by any stretch. When did you launch out of academia, I guess, into the corporate world?

0:06:55.5 FA: Let me take people right back. Yeah, you’re right. I’m not only 21 years old, I’ve had a bit of an occurrence. And actually my career, yeah, picked up after my studies. I studied a maths and economics degree at university, very much enjoyed those two disciplines and actually ended up becoming a school teacher teaching those subjects. So a high school teacher teaching those two subjects, which was fantastic. And I taught around the world in different regions of the world, different countries, which was also a great learning experience. But I eventually reached a point that I decided that teaching wasn’t going to be my vocation. As great as it was, as much I enjoyed it. And I flipped over to the business world. So that would have been in my mid to late 20s. And I made the transition and joined an energy company as an analyst back then and ended up working in their strategy team. So I learned all the things to do with the energy value chain, everything to do with big oil and gas and water and power, how to service customers, how to generate it, how to… And I became fascinated by that.

0:08:00.8 FA: But I became fascinated by the strategy side of things. So that’s where my career would then fixate as I moved into strategy consulting and spent 12 years working for a variety of well-known strategy consulting firms around the world. Until three years ago, I decided, you know what, I’ve learned enough. I’m going to set up my own company and kind of come at this at a slightly different angle. And that’s what I’m doing today.

0:08:22.3 WB: Extremely interesting. Was there anything pivotal in making that decision to go it alone, step away from the corporate world and start on your own?

0:08:32.3 FA: Yeah. I tell you the real pivotal moment without me knowing it was a conversation with my boss who said to me, “what are you going to spend your L&D budget on this year?” I was in a very senior position and we had a learning and development budget that we had to spend. And I said to her, “Look, I’ve pretty much done every training course that I can think of.” And she said, “Look, just get a coach. We need to get HR off our backs. The company will pay for it. You can just meet and have a coffee with this coach a couple of times a year. It doesn’t really matter.” So I did that and I met this coach. And the first question this woman asked me, she said, “Do you enjoy your job?” And I think I answered something along the lines of, “Uh, yeah, umm, I think so.” And she went, “Mmmh, that doesn’t sound very good. Let’s explore that.” And through the right questions and the quality of a good coach, I realized that I was bored in my role. It wasn’t stretching me anymore. And actually I was just living day to day on the enjoyment of the friendships I had with my coworkers, not the work I was doing. And so then rightly we began to explore what kind of work I wanted to do. And that took me on the journey of setting up my own company.

0:09:40.0 WB: Let’s talk a little bit about this company. It has a fascinating name. So I think we should unpack that first. Now I’m going to try and pronounce it and you can correct me by all means, but I’m going to say Shiageto.

0:09:54.5 FA: That’s… Yeah, very good. Very good. Shiageto. In fact, I met a Japanese, it’s a Japanese word and I met a Japanese person recently who pronounced it perfectly for me. But Shiageto is how I pronounce it. And as your listeners might guess, I’m not Japanese. And so, you know, why did I pick a Japanese name for my company?

0:10:14.0 WB: Exactly.

0:10:15.0 FA: I’m now asking my own questions to myself. Who needs a podcast host? Let me tell you. So I was trying to come up with a name and I don’t know if your listeners have ever tried to come up with a name for a project, a company or anything. It’s not as easy as it seems, right? You rattle through loads of ideas, you go, “That sounds great.” And then my… And so I rattled through lots of names in English, you know, the strategy house, the strategy, blah, blah. And every one of those had gone in terms of websites or there was something vaguely similar. So I decided to change tact and I happened to be, speak a couple of different languages. So I switched to Arabic, which is my mother tongue.

0:10:56.0 FA: And I tried a few words that I thought were good. And I went and tested them on my test group, which were my friends in the pub. Over a bit, one of my friends turned to me after I’d said these Arabic words and he said, “Yeah, it sounds good, but I’ll be honest with you, it sounds a little bit terroristy.” And that’s the kind of customer feedback you want from an honest friend. And so I went back to the drawing board and I was literally making dinner a few nights later and I have a Japanese set of knives and my knife was dull. So I had to sharpen my knife. I don’t know if your listeners out there have this similar thing. Way to sharpen your knife is using a sharpening stone. I started sharpening my knife and suddenly I thought Eureka, what is the Japanese word for this stone? You know, as I’ve got a Japanese knife, because this is a perfect metaphor for my company, because what I want to do is sharpen other companies. So I then went on the internet and lost four hours of my life reading about Japanese sharpening stone culture because Japanese have whole websites dedicated to this. And I discovered that the stone they use last for the finest polish is the shiageto. So that just for me was perfect. And that’s the name of the company.

0:12:02.6 WB: Wonderful story. I’m sure the grandkids are going to love this when you get to that point. Fantastic. So Shiageto Consulting is focused on working with companies to work with strategic initiatives, strategic thinking or… In that direction. So what exactly do you do when you’re engaging or a company’s engaging you?

0:12:30.3 FA: Yeah. So we go in and we help companies across three main dimensions. So first of all, we say to them, because it’s all about strategy, “Do you have a strategy? Do you have a vision? Where do you want to end up? What is your objective? If you don’t have that, we’ll help you think that through.” So that’s the first thing. And once they say, “We have that,” we say, “Okay, well, let’s look across three pillars about getting there. One is your IQ. Do you have enough quality ideas of how you can reach your vision, how you can reach your goal? If not, we will help you come up with more ideas. Not just from us, but we’ll show you ways to get more ideas out of your team. We’ll show you ways to stress test your ideas so that you’re not just picking the first one that comes out of your head.” You know you’ve got a bit more confidence that it’s a great idea.

0:13:16.8 FA: “The second pillar that we’ll help you with is emotional intelligence, EQ.” You can have a great idea, but if people do not buy into it, if you do not take others on the journey, all it’s going to do is just sit with the person who came up with the idea. And often in companies you see there’s not great environments, they’re not able to communicate the strategy, there isn’t a safe environment for people to challenge it or say, “I disagree.” It’s just not sold in the right way. So we often help around that aspect. And then the third pillar that we help on is focus quotient. You can have a great idea, you can have people bought into it, but if there’s not sufficient focus in the company or in the individuals, it’s not going to take off. You’re not going to succeed. And a lot of that is down to prioritization, as well as removing barriers that are stopping people from dedicating as much time as possible on focusing on these things. So make sure there’s a goal, work on the IQ, the EQ and the FQ. That’s how we help as a company. And we either do it by facilitating or we train leaders in the skills that we bring to the table so that they can do this work around their own business.

0:14:21.8 WB: Got it. And I see on your website, you state this as your formula for success. So I guess that’s the math teacher coming out in you.

0:14:29.9 FA: That is the math teacher coming out of me. And I’ll let you listeners into a little side story, a little secret, which maybe jumping the gun in a little bit. I did invent this equation. It’s the math teacher in me. Pardon me, the math teacher. I’m unhappy because it’s not a balanced equation as any math teacher will tell you. It’s got to be balanced. And I was surprised. So I put this out there and I’m surprised a couple of months later to receive a letter from a law firm telling me that they’d noted my equation and that they were representing a larger company who wanted me to stop using the equation. So I was very, very surprised. And I engaged with this letter, replied, and I thought it was initially a little bit of a joke from one of my friends, but it turned out to be quite serious. So I had to engage legal counsel and a bit of back and forth, which I’m just coming through to the end of it. That’s why I can talk about it now. Where… Managed to convince them that it isn’t stepping on their toes, so to speak. But it was a fascinating insight. Suddenly as a small business, I never anticipated having legal action for a simple statement that I put on a website and a way to communicate with people.

0:15:48.1 WB: I can imagine. I mean, in IQ and EQ, okay, they’re fairly well-known constructs, but the FQ, the focus quotient, this is something that’s fairly unique, at least to me. So I’m surprised as well. You wouldn’t have thought there would be something out there already. Very interesting. And I know you talk about you’re passionate about working with companies to help improve their strategic effectiveness. So would you like to just explain a little bit about, I guess the formula leads to that, but can you elaborate on it?

0:16:28.5 FA: Yeah. So the formula leads to it. So we don’t use the formula just to make people feel happier. That would be great, but it’s to unlock strategic problems. And so often there is a more human, and this is certainly where the EQ part comes in, way of solving a problem. So let me bring an example to life for you. Working with one of my clients. I have a lovely client, a big FMCG company. So they do consumer products around the world. And here in Europe, they have what they call the $100 million conversation every month. And this is between two parts of the business. So it’s all internal. It’s the supply chain team and the sales team. And what happens every month is the supply chain team model how much of each product they need to make. So bottles of shampoo, cans of cola, whatever. They model it. And then these guys then go into a conversation with the sales guys and say, “We’ve modeled this number. We reckon we can sell 100 units.” The sales guy looks at the number and says, “Are you joking? I can sell 1000. Let’s make 1000.” And the reason it’s a $100 million conversation is because the supply chain guy is right. They can only sell 100.

0:17:40.9 FA: But because the salesperson is so confident, they make 1000. They then have 900 extra units they have to buy warehousing space for. They have to write some of that stock off. And this happens every month, the same thing. So the company’s response was to invest in new IT systems. Maybe we can get better models. They invest in new processes. They never invested in the conversation until they hired me and my team. And I looked at this challenge. I said, “What if we could fix that monthly conversation? Would that help?” “Oh, yeah, that would help.” So we worked with both groups to get them to understand where the other side was coming from. What was their strategy versus your strategy? How did it combine to the company’s strategy? And we coached them in how to have a better conversation together. And you know what happened? Those meetings went much better. They didn’t agree necessarily on the number 100, but they agreed on 150. And it saved the company tens of millions of dollars. So that’s the kind of thing that we did. Just to be more effective in your strategy. We know where we want to go. And sometimes put barriers in our own way that just need to be removed or refined. And that’s where we can help.

0:18:46.6 WB: Yeah. When I look at the services that you offer on your website, you list services under each of the IQ, EQ, FQ areas, right? If I look at the IQ, you have some interesting ones there I just underlined. You talk about hot houses under IQ. So what’s that all about?

0:19:09.1 FA: The hot-house, it’s very much like a greenhouse. A hot-house is… I don’t think I’ve met any senior person who doesn’t want everything yesterday. So I often get asked, Can we do strategy in a day?” I said, “Yes, we can.” That’s what I call a hot-house. As long as you give me the right people for the day, and with the right information coming into the room, then I can get a strategy out at the end of the day. So that’s what a hot-house is. It’s a working strategy session. Okay, yeah. It’s a bit of a give it something a title, but it’s a very collaborative, very interactive, high energy where you have lots of really important conversations in a structured way in the right environment to focus on let’s get agreement at the end of the day.

0:19:51.1 WB: Hmm. Okay.

0:19:51.8 FA: But for that to work, it might take one day, but the preparation takes a bit longer.

0:19:58.9 WB: Yeah, for sure. And then you have another one called premortems as opposed to postmortems. What’s your premortem involved?

0:20:06.2 FA: A premortem is, so take any idea, Wayne. Any idea, strategy, new product, any concept, and assume it’s failed. So this is a great thing to do before you invest tens of millions in R&D or whatever. Assume it’s failed, throw it on the wall. Get your team to have a creative session around why has it failed? You literally want them to explain every potential reason it might fail. And this is really powerful technique. Most teams go, “What? You want us to imagine our own idea has failed.” But do you know what? It really empowers the negative people in your team. The people who are naturally very pessimistic.

[laughter]

0:20:41.0 WB: The ones that they like to throw the mud at the wall, right?

0:20:44.6 FA: Throw the mud at the wall, right? And you say, “Great.” Throw as much mud, right? And you know what? With human beings, they can only throw so much mud. They will eventually punch themselves out. And that’s when you get all the ideas out. And sometimes you get ridiculous ideas. Like this idea will never work because I can imagine two people falling out over a lunchtime argument, and then we never get the product built. And you say, “Okay, let’s include that.” Then the point is you turn the energy around. You say, “Okay, we now have literally every idea that might hold us back. Let’s work out which ones we’re most worried about and mitigate them. What could we do today to make sure that never happens? So fantastic, fun brainstorming, change of energy, end on a positive note. And you come out with a whole bunch of ideas. So basically you’ve filled your entire risk register, and you’ve got solutions, and it gives the team confidence that what we’re doing is the right thing so…

0:21:33.9 WB: Yes. So I can imagine your EQ element is also at play there, right? As you’re building this interaction between the individuals who are normally at loggerheads, now you’re starting to build this team cohesion.

0:21:48.4 FA: Yeah, and that was my key takeaway from 12 Years in strategy. So much of strategy is done in a dark room by two or three individuals, and then they come out and go, “Eureka, we’re now gonna just tell you all and you all have to adopt it.” No, strategy should involve as many people so they can touch, feel, buy into it. So when by the time it comes, they’re not scared by it. They actually feel they own it. And they go, “Yeah, I’m gonna do that. I’m gonna really concentrate to make sure this is a success.”

0:22:12.3 WB: Very interesting. I was listening to a Harvard professor, I think he is recently. It’s not new. This was just a rehash that he was explaining. He was saying strategy is different to a plan. I’m interested what your take is on that.

0:22:29.4 FA: Yeah, completely right. A strategy is often clients say to me, “What’s the output of the work that we’ll do with you if we get a strategy, if we get a hot-house? Is it a piece of paper telling us what to do?” And I said, I’ll say, “No. It’s great if you have a piece of paper. But the real outcome is the 10 people who sit in this room all leave the room with exactly the same view and energy and able to explain it to 10 new people who will then explain it to 10 new people. And it’s that clarity and that’s what you’re buying, that strategy.

0:22:58.4 WB: Yeah.

0:23:00.5 FA: The other thing is just a piece of paper that you might refer back to. If we never get that piece of paper, that’s fine, but we will probably create that as well so. And too many people look at it in reverse that we need a really polished piece of paper that… What happens if, heaven forbid, if we did a pre-mortem, what happens if that piece of paper got lost or burned? You still want the person with the idea be able to explain it excitedly. So that’s really what strategy is about.

0:23:26.3 WB: Based on that, I’m just wondering, do you do any training around communication skills?

0:23:31.4 FA: Yes.

0:23:32.2 WB: Because I’m thinking about the cascading, disseminating of the information throughout an organization with strategy is quite often where it falls over. So I’m just wondering, what do you do there?

0:23:42.1 FA: Yes, we do a lot around. And one of our most popular is communication and influencing. Because you’re absolutely right. Just the other day, I was talking to a CEO about potentially helping his company. And he said, “Look, we’ve got the biggest change program in our life.” So I said, “Okay, explain to me why you’re doing the change program.” He then began to talk at me for 10 minutes without pausing. Which was all very… There was a lot of richness there. And I stopped him. I had to stop him. I said, “Look, let me just play back to you. You spent 10 minutes without taking breath explaining at me something with very technical jargon. You never smiled once. You didn’t seem excited a bit. And forget even what you were saying. I said, “I was bored. And I’m trying to win your work.”

[laughter]

0:24:27.9 FA: And I said, “A large part might be how you communicate what you’re trying to do. That might be the problem.” He said, “Nobody has told me that. In the year I’ve been trying to push through this change program. The way I explain it is really boring.” And I said, “Well, people are either lying to you or don’t know what your culture is like in your company but… So yeah, we do a lot around that because that is such an important part of it.

0:24:48.0 WB: So you mentioned two of your key pillars, facilitation and then training. If I was to come along and say, “We wanna engage you. We have this strategy already. Please have a look at it. But then come to the organization and help us roll this out. So what…

0:25:05.7 FA: Yeah.

0:25:06.7 WB: So how would you approach that?

0:25:08.4 FA: So the approach is looking for what barriers are holding you back or creating more drag. So we tend to look across those pillars. So if they already have a strategy and they’re pretty confident in it, it’s probably not the IQ part. It’s not the generation or the ideas. Probably more the EQ. But if they’re struggling or if you look at their idea and you say, “This isn’t great, right? ” And just from a lay person, and it’s not necessarily you should be doing this. Often the questions I ask around it is, “Who was involved in developing this? What information came into the room?”

0:25:41.3 WB: Yeah.

0:25:41.8 FA: “Are you sure it’s the best idea? Have you tested it?” Otherwise, it is much often looking at the culture in the firm. What is the response to the plan? And that might be that second pillar of, “Right, we really need to engage more people. We need to get people excited about this.” But if that’s all good and we have some health checks, then it is usually the third pillar, which is that focus. And so often, Wayne, so often I go into organizations, they’ve got a great plan, people are bought into it. But the problem is, they also have 10 other great plans and they’re trying to expect their workforce to deliver on 10 things at the same time. And it’s just…

0:26:15.1 FA: You know, you say to someone… I would say, “Look, would you do this in your personal life? Would you take on 10 major new things like moving house, learning a language, getting married, all these things at the same time?” And they say, “No, of course not. Are you crazy?” I say, “Well, why are you expecting your organization to do that? We need to help you.” So often it is a lot of the times it is the focus side of things. But there is always a problem or something that is creating that drag. And that’s what we’re there to remove.

0:26:41.2 WB: Yeah, that is such a critical point. I mean, my own experience coming out of a Fortune 100 Organization that was prolific in change initiatives. And within every division, there may be 10 specific initiatives underway. And then of course the divisions have cross-functional elements to them. So what they’re changing has an impact. It’s like the systemic picture. So everyone is doing something and it’s having a ripple effect across the whole organization. And it’s absolute chaos and nobody really gets anywhere. So I can really understand where you’re coming from with this. Based on what we’ve spoken about so far, what is the key message around what you do that we haven’t touched on yet?

0:27:33.4 FA: I think the key message is, always look around for greater effectiveness. There are definitely… I almost guarantee ways to be more effective. And if ever you’re in your comfort zone, it’s probably the time to get a second opinion. But a lot of it comes from, think of the pillars. Really, really push your creativity and your ideas. Really, really engage more people rather than less. And really, really try and do less rather than more. It sounds simple, but it’s really hard to do. And that’s why sometimes you need an external focus to help. I always say the old saying, which I’ve kind of adapted ’cause I’m Middle Eastern. Homeless can’t read its own label or a jar of jam can’t read its own label. Whatever it is, you can’t read your own label. Sometimes you need that external perspective to just say, “You know what? You’ve got too much sugar. You’ve got too little fruit in there. Let’s change that ratio.”

0:28:25.0 WB: Yeah, very wise counsel. Where do people connect with you?

0:28:32.8 FA: They obviously can visit the company website which is www.shiageto.com. Or I hang out a lot on LinkedIn. Look for Faris Aranki. That should only be one of us. And I love to carry on the conversation. It’s part of the fun of working across continents and meeting amazing people like you, Wayne.

0:28:55.6 WB: One thing I didn’t ask you, and just to clarify, this is a global business or?

0:29:00.6 FA: It is a global business, yeah. We work with organizations across the globe. And that’s part of the richness ’cause a lot of… Particularly that EQ part, a lot of it comes from cultural awareness. So I think a lot of my… That I’m very grateful for my experience is the first five years of my career where I spent working in different countries and absorbing different cultures that definitely comes to play in the work that we do.

0:29:27.3 WB: Which part of the Middle East by the way are you from?

0:29:30.4 FA: My heritage is Palestinian. So we could have a whole another podcast about that.

[laughter]

0:29:36.1 FA: And I’d love to bring my skills there. But that’s a bigger matter problem to talk about.

0:29:42.1 WB: Sure. I spent some time in the Middle East myself, but not in that specific region. But yeah, nice locations. The other question I didn’t dive deep enough into, I just wanna finish with it, is the trainings that you offer.

0:30:00.0 FA: Yeah.

0:30:00.8 WB: So I’m guessing these trainings are available stand-alone as well as with the corporations or not? It’s part of the…

0:30:07.4 FA: We don’t offer them stand-alone at the moment.

0:30:09.5 WB: Okay.

0:30:10.9 FA: So it’s not… That’s something we’re looking at down the road, partly ’cause we’re lazy. It’s much easier for a corporation comes to us and says, “We have 12 people that you can train rather than trying to find 12 individuals out there. But hey, I always say everything starts with a conversation. So if you have a need, I’m more than happy to talk to you and we’ll see how we can make it work.

0:30:30.6 WB: Excellent. Excellent. Well, Faris, it’s a wonderful conversation. I know it’s short and we could always talk forever, particularly around things like World Cup football and the outcome of that and all the rest. But yeah, great to connect with you. I really think that the audience will get a lot from this conversation. I’d highly encourage anyone that has a need for some, let’s say strategic priming or strategic rethinking to reach out and to make contact with you and wish you all the best. I hope the business continues to double in size year on year. Look forward to keeping in contact.

0:31:19.1 FA: Yeah. Same Wayne, same. A real pleasure to have joined you today. I really enjoyed the conversation and very much look forward to working with you again in the near future.

[music]

0:31:28.4 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for Executive Talent Development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs @coaching4companies.com.

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