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Episode 82: Upping Your Facilitation Game—with Leanne Hughes

Deb Zahn: Hi. I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. If you're a consultant and you work with human beings, which I imagine you do since most of us do, one of the top skills you need is facilitation skills. In fact, I'd put it in my top three in order to get business and to be successful in your business. You got to have them. And the better you are at them, the more you're going to get business and the more you're going to excel when you're working with clients and keep them coming back for more.

I brought on somebody who knows facilitation better than anybody I have ever met. And I'll tell you, I make a living off of the facilitation I do. And she knows it better than I do. That's how impressed I am. So this is Leanne Hughes. She is an expert at facilitation. How to do it. She's going to walk us through some of the key things that you need to do to be able to facilitate well, as well as throw out a whole bunch of resources that you can tap into, including her resources to get better at it. So let's get started.

Hi. I want to welcome my guest today, Leanne Hughes. Leanne, welcome to the show.

Leanne Hughes: Deb, it's so great chatting with you always. And I can't wait to chat to you today.

Deb Zahn: Oh, good. Well, let's start off. Tell my listeners what you do.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. So I actually have two different markets. So for individuals, I help create the most profitable learning experiences in the world. I do that through helping people run amazingly engaging workshops so that clients want them back for more. Just spreading the word of mouth.

And then I bring it also into the wholesale market, which is corporate. Helping companies really overcome resistance to internal change by, again, arming their employees. Creating employee evangelists that can spread the message on their behalf. So kind of two different audiences but really spurred by word of mouth and creating a great experience that just...I don't like using the word viral, Deb, this year, but yeah, it's...

Deb Zahn: But in a good way?

Leanne Hughes: Go viral. Yeah, that's it. Internally.

Deb Zahn: That's great. Well, and what a time to be doing both of those things because those are so needed right now especially. Now as I understand, you used to be in corporate and then you transitioned out. So what was that like? What made you go independent?

Leanne Hughes: Well, it's funny. Was it...How many years ago? I keep saying 10 years but now that I'm getting older, it's probably longer than that. So 12 years, perhaps. I read Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Workweek. And back then it was a game-changer because everyone was told to work hard and climb up the corporate ladder. This was something completely different.

So the first thing I did then was I wrote a book about a sport called netball and decided to sell it online. I loved that you could wake up in the morning and you've made some money.

Deb Zahn: Wow!

Leanne Hughes: And I thought, "Well, this is great. Yeah." But I didn't really know what I wanted to do. And I've always, Deb, I love workshops. As a participant, I'm always the one answering questions and participating. And I just love them so much. And there came a time where I was sitting in workshops, in corporate life, and the person at the front. I just thought, "I don't know. I think I could possibly do a better job with this one." In terms of the content because reading put a lot of personal professional development and I really loved the workshop experience.

So yeah, it became an opportunity. Well, not really actually. I put up my hand in a previous role. I lived in a really remote town some years ago and they used to fly facilitators up from a capital city to facilitate and it was getting expensive and there was a program on presentation skills that our local shire wanted.

And so my friend and I just said, "Look, I think we could do it." And gosh, in those three weeks, all we were doing was preparing and talking about it on Google. And we delivered it. And nothing bad went wrong. I mean, when I reflect on that experience, I think, "Gosh!" It was pretty much lecture style. But it just gave me a bit of confidence in doing that.

And then more recently, yeah, I left corporate about 18 months ago. Prior to that, I was working in a talent management role for a global mining company and just got a ton of experience facilitating leadership on onboarding workshops all around the world. So Mongolia, Canada, Indonesia, all around Australia. Yeah. I was actually in Canada, the nicest country in the world where I had my worst facilitation experience where someone just refused to participate.

Deb Zahn: Yes, we all know those people. We know who they are.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah, that's right. I got back home, and I just rang up all my facilitation friends. And I explained the context and said like, "What would you have done?" And that really gave birth to the podcast First Time Facilitator.

And then I was working internally. Doing the podcast. Building an audience. Got to a point where I'd facilitated our company's executive strategic three-day planning session. And I thought, "I've been to all my favorite countries. There's nowhere else for me to really go. There's no role that I want. I'm doing what I want now. But could I do this externally?" And I thought "Maybe it's time to leave." So that's how it all happened. Building up an audience and the confidence through that.

Deb Zahn: In some sense you have to thank that person at the beginning, who didn't do the best job because they inspired you to go for it. That's wonderful. I love that. Now, you know I love facilitation. It's one of the things I love doing more than anything else. And I think it's a skill that all consultants should have.

And then plus there are people like you who are really the specialist for how you create those amazing experiences when people are in a room but everybody needs to know something about facilitation. So describe a little. What do you think a really excellent facilitator does? What does that look like?

Leanne Hughes: I'd love to say they give you some X-Factor tips, and they certainly have some sort of X-Factor. But I really think it comes down to the basic principles in that there is a clear direction. People understand what they're in for. They've set up a certain level of safety so people can contribute. They're very aware of the dynamics that are going on in the room.

They consider things like, "OK, for the outcomes that we want. What is the medium that we're using? Where is the meeting? Is it a town hall? A webinar? Is that the right medium to drive that?" So they can take all these considerations into their planning. Planning is really key. In terms of their ability to communicate. I've seen on my podcast, so many amazing facilitators that have a wide variety of skill sets from the basic extrovert introvert. It doesn't matter.

Deb Zahn: Oh, yeah.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. It's just all about, and it's never about, this is the thing that I learned. I guess that moved me past being a first-time facilitator is that I always thought it was about me and how prepared I was. How funny I was. And it's all about the group.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Leanne Hughes: And you kind of want to just enable them. Enable the conversation. And I think the best part of being a great facilitator is when the group is having the conversation, and they're doing their thing. And you can sort of just sit back. I think that's the true mark of a great facilitator.

But there also seems to be...there's the word, facilitation. People talk about training facilitation. And then there's something in the middle. So as you said, Deb, I think facilitation, the ability to, the second that you have two or more people talking about something and trying to get a decision. And you cure decision-making disorders.

Deb Zahn: I do, indeed.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. That's where you need to start using that facilitation skill and use those open questions and things like that.

Deb Zahn: What I've heard from a lot of new consultants is they often think, or sometimes even clients, they think you only need a facilitator when it's a big deal. As opposed to really, how did your last four meetings go? Did you get where you wanted to get in those meetings?

Because if not it's because you likely didn't have a facilitator who was guiding. As you said, not putting themselves in the center of the process. So let me ask you this. The flip side of the coin is what doesn't a good facilitator do? So what are some of the no-nos? And you've spoken to one of them, which is you don't put yourself at the center. But what else shouldn't they do?

Leanne Hughes: My personal thing is about timing. And I believe you can create a really strong culture. It's funny, when I walk into organizations and meetings are starting late, right? So there's already a culture of is there some accountability that's happening here? What kind of discipline is going on? I recognize that very quickly.

But I guess a poor facilitation is when they expect that they bring all these people together. But it's just a one-sided dialogue.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Leanne Hughes: I see this often. I don't know whether it's because leaders think that I'm the leader. That I have that position so I must tell all the information. I remember when I first became a leader, I was not taking a facilitative approach. I remember I'd host these Monday morning catch-up meetings, but all it was me reading off a list of what we were going to do that week.

Deb Zahn: Exciting.

Leanne Hughes: And I thought, "Oh, this is great. I'm communicating. I'm keeping people informed. I'm being transparent. But there was absolutely zero buy-in. It was a one-sided conversation. So I think that they create an illusion that we are collaborating but what they're actually doing in terms of hosting a meeting is not that. It's more a one-way, one-sided form of communication.

Deb Zahn: Off track.

Leanne Hughes: Think meetings go off track all the time. Meetings have a very poor brand, everywhere.

Deb Zahn: People don't like them.

Leanne Hughes: The brand of meetings. It's just the status meeting. There's something that I like to model. It's like the spaghetti and the star meeting. It's kind of what I was referring to earlier. So what I was doing that Monday morning, I was holding a star meeting. Where one person talks directly to me. People aren't talking to each other.

Now, if you have a meeting, you've got to think about the intention of it. The purpose. The outcome. And who is really important to have in that room. And usually as a default, if we're a manager, we'll just invite everyone in our team. Without even looking at what we want to do.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Leanne Hughes: And the relevance then, for some people, it's not relevant. And so they tap out and at the same time. It's just each individual talking to that one person, rather than what we want in meetings is spaghetti. Because that's the point of bringing people together.

So I think it's those things. It's having clear objectives and a set criteria. This then allows you to sort of dictate what is relevant and what we need to move to another forum.

Deb Zahn: That's right. I love that. And so most of what you're saying is planning that you do ahead of time. So if you have a client. A brand new client. And they bring you in, what are some of the first steps you actually take with them?

Leanne Hughes: It depends on if we're talking about the facilitation side of things. I love asking questions. Same as you, Deb. So it'll be basically, "Talk about your last session. How did it go? What worked well? Even better?" Do some reflection on that.

Also, "What type of leader do you want to be or facilitator?" And then there's sort of some basic philosophies. And I think I always ask them, "What's your experience of meetings and workshops?" You know, "What did you love about them?" And try to find that process out as well. So just use a lot of questions to understand where they are at the moment and then where they want to be.

And then figure out is it the design element? And that tends to be it.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. Like you said, the skill of actually...the craft of doing it. That can come as you get experience and get more exposure and things like that. And there's certain activities that you can do and how people plan. But one thing I love to do, this more comes into the corporate training aspect of things, is something called an instructional design map. I don't know if you've heard that phrase.

Deb Zahn: Do tell more about that. No, I know what one is but I think my listeners would love that. Describe that.

Leanne Hughes: One of my first jobs was working for Accenture in writing training programs. And actually, I didn't love the job. But I learned some really cool tools from it. And so one of those things is actually mapping out, if you can, on a page, what the objectives are. Where are you going to put them? What activities? Assign to them times and what it does. It just gives you a really great overview of what you're running, at an eye's glance.

And you can look at that and also determine, "OK, is this logical? Is this sequence logical? Does it make sense?" And then you can move things around. And that's something that I also love to do with clients, Deb. And get that approved before I move into any further development work.

One thing I thought, as a first-time facilitator, was that the outcomes all had to be about at the end of this session. You will have the skills and knowledge to…

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. And I realized it's two different types of objectives. So what I was talking about there were the rational objectives. Which are skills, knowledge, that side of things. But I think that something that's even more important is the experiential outcome. So how do you want people to feel as a result of having attended this session? This meeting? Inspired? Settled? Ready to take action?

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Leanne Hughes: How do you want them to feel? Do you want it to be fun? What do you want it to be? That also helps and informs your design.

Deb Zahn: You know what I love about this is you're such a Jedi with this. You're sort of casually describing it. But I can see the little Jedi moves that you're making in it. So I want to highlight some of those because I think those are important for people to think about.

So one thing that you said, which I just loved, is you ask them how their last meeting or their last session was. And I know what you're trying to do, which is clients often sort of just get into a rut with, "This is how we do things." And they don't actually know because they've never experienced that there are other ways to do it.

And so I love how that question gets them to open their mind to, "Oh, yeah. Wait, I didn't like that." Say a little bit more about that. If they answer, "Well, it kind of sucked, and we didn't get done." What do you then do with them to sort of shift them into this new world of thinking?

Leanne Hughes: Well, I love throwing out questions like, "If you could have..." Right? So let's talk about the session that didn't work. What were the elements of that? And then I like casting a vision, which is pretty bold and go, "If you had a magic wand and you could craft the most perfect meeting where everything went to plan. You walked away feeling excited. Your team was invigorated. What would that look like for you?"

So it's not my idea of what that perfect vision is, but what would it look like for you. And people, when they hear that, initially it does take them some time to really think about it. Because whoever thinks about that question and, Deb, as you absolutely said, a lot of the time people, shouldn't say people, I was doing it myself. We live life on default. And we don't really question, I think the value of having a consultant or someone in asking those questions is to shift people out of default mode. And, absolutely, as you say, show them what the possibilities could be. Or get them to think about what that would look like.

And culture in organizations is a massive dictator of that. What you see other people doing. And that's the thing. The role models that you're seeing possibly aren't the best role models. And so I won't be like, "OK, you can do this and bring in…" I won't go all that way. But I'll sort of tease them with, "OK, what would you like? Would you like people to show up on time? What would it take for that to happen?"

I'm like, I've got all the answers myself, but I always put on my coaching hat.

Deb Zahn: Of course.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. And just use those open questions. Sometimes a leading question.

Deb Zahn: Ah.

Leanne Hughes: Even just to guide them a little bit. Just to get them thinking about what that would look like. And then following that, I've got a stack of resources that I'll just send through and just visit inspiration on that. And it doesn't take a lot of tweaking to make something better than what it is.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah.

Deb Zahn: And then once they experience it better, now they're open to a whole new realm. So there were many Jedi things in there. One of the other things was laying it all out for them and being clear about the outcomes you want at the end. Both in terms of learning, but experiential and emotional outcomes.

Describe a little bit more like, how do you, when you're talking to them, they're not necessarily thinking, "Oh, I want people to feel energized and ready to take action." How do you get them there?

Leanne Hughes: They get really thrown with that. And I think when you were on my podcast, I said to you because of this strategic planning day, I was also surprised because these are the executives of this company, who I really admired and I feel really grateful to come in, and I'm asking them this question, "What would you like to achieve at the end of this three-day session?" And then when I hear things like, "Oh, we just want to have a conversation."

Deb Zahn: Ruh-ro!

Leanne Hughes: It's pretty expensive. And I know you're all busy. But is that what you really want? So the key question I like is, "And what else? And what else?"

Deb Zahn: Oh, yeah.

Leanne Hughes: Because with that, that's also Jedi and that's Michael Banga's second question in his book, The Coaching Habit.

Deb Zahn: Oh yeah.

Leanne Hughes: What it does, it implies that there is something else.

Deb Zahn: That's right. And it needles them to get out of the rut and now have them take it to the next level. And not just have you say, "Well, you could do this or this or this."

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. And I would also bring again, bring it forward and cast the vision. "So at the end of the year, how do you want your team to experience? And then how do we then bring that back into your experience at this event?" So it's always like casting it out and I just love, I'm a big person of casting out a vision and go, "What is it? And then how do we work back? What's the gap? The delta that we need to do to get there?" But yeah, you're right. When I say, "What kind of experience do you want?" They're like, "Huh?"

Deb Zahn: I want people there?

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. Then I'll throw in words like, "Do you want it to be a time where people can feel real comfortable to ask the question? Do you want honest conversation? Is it more a team you want to build cohesion? What's the focus for this?" And so I'll kind of just drop some words and phrases for them to play with. And they'll usually latch on to one of those.

Deb Zahn: I love that. So there's a whole bunch of planning and conversations you have to get up to that point. And then you're in the room or virtual as we mostly are today, definitely in the States we are. What sort of special techniques do you think bring excellence to this room?

Leanne Hughes: Oh, I love that question. This brings excellence. And it really depends. I think that depends on the context of the workshop. So you're right. I do a lot of pre-work, talking to individuals and then it's the big day.

My standard of excellence. I did the strength-finder tool and in my top five is something called maximizer. So it's turning good things to great things. So I always really, the detail kind of really matters to me. And I'm also inspired by a book by Priya Parker called The Art of Gathering. It's an excellent book for anyone running an event.

So I spoke about the pre-work in terms of just having the conversations, but something I'll also do, particularly if it's an external client and I haven't met everyone. So I just want to give these a bit of, just highlight them for your listeners.

I'll have individual conversations with some key stakeholders. A variety of people. I'll send out, usually, a survey just to find out the lay of the land. A few quick questions. Nothing too intense. Now, when I send that email out, I'll actually create a video where I'll introduce myself.

Deb Zahn: Nice.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. So I'll be like, "Hey, I'm Leanne. I'm coming to your organization next week. We're going to talk about these three things. This is what I need from you. Look forward to seeing you at this time. This is what you need to bring."

Now, the reason I do that is I don't want people feeling uncomfortable in any way, which is usually the case when they come to these things. And particularly an external facilitator. They're like, "What's going on?"

Deb Zahn: "Uh, not again!"

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. So I do a lot actually to mitigate. I want them to feel comfortable. A little bit like a sense of familiarity with me before they even step in. There's a model that has truly inspired my facilitation work. It's called The Scarf Model by David Rock. Have you?

Deb Zahn: I don't know that. Yeah, please share.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. So it's neuroscience-led. Scarf stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.

Deb Zahn: Oh!

Leanne Hughes: So what he says…

Deb Zahn: The good ones.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. All the good ones that there's like, these social constructs don't want to get too technical. But basically status. It can either threaten you or you can feel rewarded by it.

Certainty. You feel threatened when you have uncertainty. You feel rewarded when you have certainty. So me doing that video is a way to show certainty. Then when people come into the room, one thing I did as a first-time facilitator, we were talking about excellence. I was always messing with my slides and shuffling around paper and trying to appear busy. I don't think that gave a little, what that reflected on them was that I was feeling a little bit nervous and stressed.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. So if you're talking about excellence, in that moment when people arrive, the best thing that you can do is show a level of like, "I'm relaxed." You lead the energy. So whatever you want your participants to feel, you would demonstrate that yourself.

So it was a case of getting in early. Setting things up. Making sure I'm prepared. So then when people come in, it's just having casual conversations with them beforehand. So again, build that up.

Deb Zahn: What I have found is that the reason the video is so brilliant and I've never done that. But also what you're describing now is they sniff you out, essentially. It's sort of like dogs at a dog park. And they want to get a feel for who you are and what this is going to be like. And you've taken care of that at the beginning, so you've set them up for a good experience. I just, I think that's fabulous.

Leanne Hughes: Funny that you say you sniff them out because yeah, you're right. I see an increase in LinkedIn views from that company a couple of days before. They must've heard about the event. Leanne's coming in so we'll just check you out. So yeah, I agree. It's the best way to do it.

And people don't expect it. So it depends on your brand as well as a consultant or facilitator. Mine is all about, I talk on my podcast, creating unpredictable experiences. So as a result, I've got to role-model that and send a video out, not many people are doing it.

Deb Zahn: Well, maybe they will, but no, I think it's brilliant on so many levels. So you've raised the level of excellence from the get-go. And I want to skip forward because I also want to talk about how you raise the level of excellence among facilitators. But what happens after? So then it's all over. People are jazzed or they're ready to take action or whatever it is you've helped guide them towards. What happens afterward that makes things stick or move forward?

Leanne Hughes: That is the number one question. That is the question I ask every person on my podcast as well. And I think it's the toughest one to deal with, honestly, because what you want to do is effectively hand over the reins, so someone feels compelled to do something.

What I'll share is something that, as a participant, worked for me and then it will go to answer your question. But I went to a three-day workshop on how to write a landing page. And after the workshop, the facilitator said to us, he goes, "Right, I'm hopping on a plane now. You've got eight hours. I want you to send me your first draft so I can review it on my flight." Anyway, I did it. So I was busy, but I still, I was like, "Oh, this is a great opportunity." I wanted him to review it, so I sent it to him.

And I was reflecting on why I did that. Why did I take that time to embed something after the workshop? And why did that work? I think a couple of reasons were the timeliness of it. Now, Deb, I don't know if you've seen The Curve of Forgetting. The second…

Deb Zahn: I live the curve of forgetting, so yes.

Leanne Hughes: The longer we leave something, and I went to an Outlook course last week and I was training some people on Monday, just showing them what they missed. And I could not believe how much I'd forgotten. I had to keep referring to the handbook. This is four days after. So it's actually an exponential, well, the opposite of exponential, going the other way.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Particularly if they don't use it right away. Then it's just information. And now it's competing for their working memory and something else is going to replace it.

Leanne Hughes: That's right. Yeah. Everything gets in the way. And I think the other reason it works is because he said, "Look, this is a draft. I haven't given you much time, so please just give it a go." As opposed to, "I'll give you two weeks to write a first draft," which to me goes, "If I've got two weeks, it's got to be perfect." And I won't do it or I'll work myself up so much.

So I think it's something that the best way to embed, in terms is what is a task or something that they could do immediately or close to following that workshop that is simple to execute. I think that would be a first step.

Deb Zahn: Right.

Leanne Hughes: And you can, if people are busy, they can actually schedule that into an email or use the company's existing platforms to do that. Like an intranet, to promote whatever that task is. Yeah. That's key.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. I always liked the next steps, which are generally the, you know, everybody can start getting your stuff together but if you can make the next steps interesting. And it's like, "All right, guess what. Things are happening afterward. Here's what's going to happen. Are you doing this? Are you on this?" And you sort of make it almost like an evangelical experience, which I love that you use that term. Then they're more likely to also take action afterward. But you're right. There's got to be some kind of follow-up, otherwise, they fall off the cliff.

Leanne Hughes: Yeah. And also scuba diving is a great example. You've got a buddy there, right? That will check things. I always love the accountability groups or mini huddles or something that you can do where there's group accountability to something. That works well too.

Deb Zahn: So I want to get to your Obi-Wan Kenobi role. Which is, you are not just a Jedi. You are also trying to create other Jedis. So talk about how you help other folks who are doing this type of work evolve what they do. So they really create those amazing experiences. Describe a little bit of how you help folks with that.

Leanne Hughes: Well, it's funny because the number one tool I'm doing that is just through the podcast and that's just through conversation and sharing ideas. And everything I do is all about this comes back to just sharing an idea. What I tend to, and I guess why that's important is when facilitators do something well, I don't know if this is my personal bias, but it seems they want to keep it to themselves.

I'd go online and try and find things, "Oh, let's just find the same activities, like two truths and a lie." And there's got to be, what are people doing? And so the goal of my podcast is I was getting really frustrated with the standard of workshops. I thought, "We can all do better." So the number one way I do it is by interviewing great people like yourself, Deb. Finding out what you do. Sharing that with the world. Having a Facebook group as well.

But this is then spurred on, people want more. So I've run a few first-time facilitator boot camps. Now a program called Virtually Possible. And how we do that is we target specific areas. With Virtually Possible, everyone thinks that this is about helping people get better at facilitating online.

Deb Zahn: Oh yeah.

Leanne Hughes: Everyone's obstacle, it seems, is the tech. So the tech is one thing, like "How do I get my sound and camera all set up?" And the second thing seems to be, "How do I create engagement with people on these zoom or WebEx meetings or teams meetings? Particularly when they don't have their camera on or they're not comfortable contributing?" So those are two things.

But what it also comes down to and people get really, we talk about mindset a lot when it comes to virtual sessions. Because even I have this idea in my head that this is not going to be as good as a face-to-face workshop. Everyone's going to be bored. All of these inherent assumptions that we have when we compare it to an in real life experience.

And when you have those assumptions in your head, you don't then really explore what the opportunities are. So the first thing we do is break the assumptions of what is possible online. And that's where it starts with any of our virtual facilitators. And then go, "OK. Tech is the enabler. Never let it be a blocker."

Deb Zahn: Oh, yes. Yes. I always tell people. Everyone. So we've been in COVID for a while. So everybody is doing these and the tech still sucks. The tech should not suck anymore. You should have figured that out so that your meeting is the best meeting they've had. Your session is the best experience they've had because the tech is invisible.

Leanne Hughes: Absolutely. And do you want the key? My key tech is audio. Audio, number one. Because the reason we're so exhausted from these virtual sessions is we're having to listen to this audio. That's just people were just using their standard headphones. It's just really hard to listen to. They've got to pay more attention, which creates more of an energy burn. So my number one tip would be get your audio sorted first. Deb, you sound great. I think we've got the same microphone.

Deb Zahn: We might. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The one Pat Flynn suggested. It's funny because I was talking with someone about this because I'm doing a big meeting actually next Monday and her point was, "Well, you're an introvert." So really, if you think about it as, "Wow, can I really do this? Can I really do remote meetings?" And that helps you get over the mindset blocks of, "Yeah, they're just not as good," instead of "Wait a minute. I could make my life better if I figure out how to do this."

Leanne Hughes: Definitely. Yeah. There's a lot of opportunity. And even if you think about a global audience as well and who you can talk to. And a lot of my really good friends now, this is embarrassing to admit, Deb. I've never met them in person.

Deb Zahn: Isn't that amazing?

Leanne Hughes: Yes. And so if you think a lot of people are like, "Oh, we can't make connections. Oh, we can't build connections online." It's like, "We are already. You're connected to people you've never even met before through the power of the internet." So yeah, there's a lot of existing assumptions that I think are just not true.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. I think that's right. Now, you mentioned in passing your Facebook group and I have to say, I'm now a member of your Facebook group. And I got on and I immediately reached out to and invited somebody that I do a lot of facilitation with. And I'm like, we are neophytes. We need to get on this because people are talking about stuff that's just mind-blowing because they're obviously trying to solve real problems to make things better.

And I just loved your community for that reason. So I'm going to have a link to that in the show notes. Anyone who does any type of facilitation should listen to your podcast and should be on your Facebook. I'm just going to say that in a blanket statement.

Leanne Hughes: Oh, thank you! I can't believe it. Yeah. I was like, "Uh, maybe I should start a Facebook group." I remember when I had 40 people in there. I was like, "This is amazing."

Deb Zahn: 40 people!

Leanne Hughes: Yeah, it was absolutely great. And yeah, it's great to get inspiration from there.

Deb Zahn: And I love your idea of, we don't need to guard our secret sauce because even if somebody is doing the same exercise or using the same approach we're doing, they're them. We're us. It's still going to be different and you don't have to worry about it. But the more we share, the better things get. And we're in the business of making things better.

Leanne Hughes: Oh, that's it. And we're all about co-creation as well as facilitators. So we should be the group that, and that's what I like about the Facebook group, is you see an activity posted and someone says, "Oh, I did it this way." And then I think how would I do it for this group? Same activity, just tweaking it to the context of leadership or strategy.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Leanne Hughes: And you've got something new. Yeah.

Deb Zahn: And they're the only ones that get facilitator jokes because we have those. I say them to my husband and mom, and they just stare at me blankly. But I'm like, "Oh wait, they'll get this. They'll get that it's a flipchart joke."

Leanne Hughes: I love it how whenever Zoom publishes an update, everyone's like "Zoom update!" Like it's a huge thing and everyone's like, "Yeah, how are you going to use this feature?" Like it's the biggest news.

Deb Zahn: Oh, that's fantastic. So I love this. I could obviously talk about this forever, but I want to ask you a question because obviously, you do a lot. You're building your business. You're building two businesses, sort of side by side. How do you find balance in your life? However it is you define that?

Leanne Hughes: I'm not up to your level yet, Deb. Actually, it's funny pre-COVID, I thought, "Oh," it sounds really sad, but when COVID hit, I was like, "Great. I get to slow down now." I was doing a lot of traveling and just publishing a podcast every week. Because you know, Deb, it's something consistent, but it gets hard to do.

I've just been really busy since COVID as well. Just picking up some subcontracting gigs, as well as keeping some online communities going. The podcasts. So in terms of balance, to be honest, I don't have it at the moment. And this is my goal for 2021. And my favorite James Claire quote is from Atomic Habits. You don't rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. So what I'm discovering at this time is I'm just doing things that I need to do a day ahead.

So please don't, as an example, listeners, don't listen to me as an example. I do have a high level of energy and a pretty good work ethic, so I'll just do things that get done, but I'm looking forward to creating that space and even I love that you take Fridays off.

So my challenge for next year is actually just booking out, going into my Google calendar. And I might just book out Fridays all of next year just to get that balance back. So yeah, it's been tough because my mental load has been in this contracting gig that I'm doing at the moment.

Deb Zahn: Yeah.

Leanne Hughes: Which I love because it's a challenge. But yeah, keeping everything moving? It's been tough.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, it is. And I know you run because I follow you on Instagram.

Leanne Hughes: Oh, yes. Yes.

Deb Zahn: So she's got that going.

Leanne Hughes: Actually. You're right. That is probably the biggest savior. I'm doing a running challenge to run 2020 kilometers this year.

Deb Zahn: Wow.

Leanne Hughes: So there's a few daily disciplines that actually do help me keep balance. Running is one of them. I don't meditate. But running is my form of meditation. I get real clarity out there and it sets me up for the day.

Deb Zahn: That's fantastic. Well, Leanne, it has been an absolute delight to have you on the show. I would love to have you on the show again because goodness knows there's so much more we could dive into. But I will have a link to everything fabulous about you on my show notes so that people can come find you and get help from you.

Leanne Hughes: Amazing, Deb. I love your work and just love your value proposition document, everything that you offer the world. So it's been awesome connecting with you again.

Deb Zahn: Thank you so much.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or if you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up and a lot of other great content and I don't want you to miss anything. But the other two things that I'm going to ask you to do is, one is, if you have any comments, so if you have any suggestions or any kind of feedback that will help make this podcast more helpful to more listeners, please include those.

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