Aligning Your People with Your Purpose to Build a High Performing Organization
About This Episode
The foundation of every business is its people. Every organization has a diverse set of employees with different backgrounds, personalities, beliefs, and behaviors who all contribute to the organization’s success. However, achieving alignment among employees and instilling shared company values can often prove to be challenging.
In the wake of the pandemic, organizations are finding themselves increasingly compelled to establish meaningful connections with their employees, customers, and communities. One powerful way to achieving this connection is by fostering a cohesive team culture from within. In fact, it’s proven that alignment work can help significantly boost employee productivity and engagement, enhance customer ratings, and drive overall profitability.
In this episode of The Edge, host Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek is joined by Mark Iorio, a marketing strategist and fearless entrepreneur who is committed to connecting professionals with the tools they need to succeed. Together, they discuss Mark’s innovative approach to helping organizations align their employees with their purpose in order to inspire trust, leadership, and a commitment to building high performing organizations.
Learn more about Skillsoft’s Leadership & Business solution portfolio.
Michelle BB 00:00:07 The views expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft. Welcome to the Edge, the Skillsoft podcast, where we share stories of the ways in which transformative learning can help organizations and their people grow together. I'm your host, Michelle Bebe. My pronouns are she and her. And over the past four seasons of hosting the Edge, I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting and introducing listeners to a wide and fascinating group of people. And I've noticed something no matter who our guests are, the remarkable work they're all doing is in service of alignment of brand and culture of purpose and profit. That elusive state of peak performance flow we all aspire to as business leaders. The thing is, right now, we are working and living through a time of change, if not downright disruption. So it is little wonder that so many leaders in their teams are feeling misaligned.
Michelle BB 00:01:08 So what does that mean for an organization and its workforce? Well, think about your spine. Now, bear with me for a minute because I promise the metaphor works. Has your spine ever been so out of whack that you couldn't stand up straight, much less walk forward? It's pretty excruciating. And as a runner, I know this firsthand, but with proper assessment, adjustment and behavior changes, it's possible to get back into healthy alignment and even grow stronger. Now, look, we're not talking about cracking bones here clearly, but aligning the spine of your organization is equally as important and the spine of your organization is your people. Diverse people with different backgrounds, personalities, beliefs, behaviors that bring both challenges and rewards to work without team alignment. A brand promise is just another sign on the wall. It only comes to life when you can see it in action and who brings it to life?
Michelle BB 00:02:08 Your people. Which brings me to our topic today, aligning your people with your purpose to build a high performing organization. And I am so thrilled to have Mark Iorio with us on the Edge today to talk about his innovative approach to helping organizations do just that. Now, mark is the co-founder of Pro Fit for Teams, a partner at bcat now that's Brand and Culture Alignment Toolkit, and a co-host of the advocates streaming on RV and television. He is known as a fearless entrepreneur, relentless in his pursuit of connecting professionals who will accelerate impact simply because they've met, he immerses himself in endeavors that challenge others to put their best foot forward wherever they invest their time and energy. A former college baseball coach and father of two mark's, favorite Word family, I can get behind that one. Mark, thank you so much for joining us today and welcome to the Edge.
Mark Iorio 00:03:06 Great to be here, Michelle. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure,
Michelle BB 00:03:10 <laugh>. Well, before we begin, you know, I think it's, I think it's important to give people a little bit of context. I, I did an opening and, and told them all about you, but I, I couldn't do you justice. So tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to develop this exciting brand and culture work that you're doing today
Mark Iorio 00:03:29 Thanks, Michelle. I mean, it started 20 years or more ago, I was asked by a large corporation of ours, a client of ours, to come in and take a look at their internal brand. And, uh, we didn't really know what that was. I mean, we did a lot of external work on marketing, marketing communications, and, uh, you know, bill challenged us to, to help his, um, internal brand deliver his, his 3,400 employees to deliver on their brand promise. And we started to go to these, uh, these networking conferences, these, um, programs that were put on by the Advanced Learning Institute, where they were talking about internal branding. And they had wonderful organizations there like Motorola and, uh, Tiffany and Southwest Airlines and Ritz Carlton on how they really delivered on the brand promise, how they made some of their, turned some of their employees into brand ambassadors. And it was just so impressive to me that, uh, we came back with best practices and we built a curriculum for, uh, this client, and then we were off and running. It was just so much more gratifying than, than developing a brochure or electronic media and, uh, very rewarding work that we started doing. So that's how it got started.
Michelle BB 00:04:49 You know, I, I I find people's career origin stories so fascinating. It sounds like this was a case where stars align. You go to a conference, you learn all about this idea of not just sort of corporate branding, but the importance of brand and culture together. So you start thinking about that working through and, and building essentially a business around it. And, and gosh, isn't this the right time for that kind of work? So take us forward a little bit and tell us a little bit about Bcat and Profi for teams. Maybe explain a little bit of what, what each are and how they work. And, and maybe if you could start with Bcat and did I say that correctly? Is is that Bcat?
Mark Iorio 00:05:35 It's Bcat Ex. Exactly. It stands for the <laugh>. Thanks, Michelle. It stands for the Brand and Culture Alignment Toolkit. It's, um, it's more than a toolkit. It is a, uh, process. It's very interesting. So we start with a, an incorporating question. A lot of this work began with my partner and I understanding the work that Carl Young did back in the 1930s on psychological or personality archetypes. And we basically took that and distilled it into four patterns of, of, uh, team behavior. So we asked this incor incorporating question, we want you to imagine your entire team as though it were a single person doing its best work on its best day to deliver all of its promises and achieve all of its goals. What does that look like? And when you start to describe this avatar, this role model, this role target, the words that are in our exercise start to manifest themselves, you start to select certain words that you think of when you're thinking of this team.
Mark Iorio 00:06:41 The whole idea here is that your frontal cortex lights up. It, it actually lights up when you look at PET scan data of when you say words that are innovative words, or a word that is more of a driver word or more of a, of an expert word or more of a caregiver word, certain parts of your brain light up. And the beauty of it is that that's the psychological or scientific side, emotionally, there's a connection there as well. When you use certain words, you start to behave that way. When you start to behave that way, it becomes a habit. When you start to make that a habit, it becomes who you are and, and the way people see you and view you. But the, the beauty of Bcat is that it's ongoing. And once we understand who this team is, we have this quadrant, right?
Mark Iorio 00:07:35 And we move them in the direction that I explain either more of an innovative company, more of a caregiver company, more of a driver company, or more of a an expert company. We move them into those quadrants, and there's certain attributes that they gain out of that. And we build from that, what we call aligned inspirations. This is how we behave as a team, as an organization, how we act toward one another, how we act toward the community, how we care for ourselves as as human beings. And once we understand that we build these aligned inspirations out, these, these codes of conduct, and then we pass those around to every single person in the organization, and we ask them to commit to doing two or three things that they can change that are like that role model or that avatar or that north star, that they can see that everyone can see those modified changes in their behavior, observable changes in their behavior, that everyone can see that they can take the culture of that organization and migrate that toward that north star.
Mark Iorio 00:08:45 So that's the ongoing effort there. It's connecting the head, the heart, and the hands. Profi on the other hand is, you know, B Cat's a hard thing to sell, Michelle. It's, it's not an easy thing to sell because it takes commitment financially. And, and people wise, and most organizations shy away from that hard work, right? That, that commitment, that ongoing commitment, it could take six months, it could take 18 months. We built Profi as a workshop, a half day workshop, so that instead of making that long-term commitment, we do this whole consolidated thing in four hours. And then we say, okay, now that you feel like you've got everything under control, you can do this yourself. Make sure that the folks that are inside have accountability partners rather than us being your accountability partner and try to do this internally. So it's a workshop, and then we kinda walk away and they can do it themselves. And in some cases, they'll call us back in and say, you know, we're falling flat on our face. We need your help
Michelle BB 00:09:58 <laugh>. Well, I mean, you know, it, it, it, you know, you describe the process, and this really is a massive shift. So when we use words, we change behavior. When we change behavior, it becomes, or when we use this behaviors over time, it becomes habit, and then habit becomes who we are. That does take time. And it sounds like when you do this the right way, you can really create a new perspective for a team. You can transform the way they think about their organization from this sort of big corporate entity to a psychological being all headed, pointed in the right direction. Yes,
Mark Iorio 00:10:35 Yes, yes. Absolutely. You know, we use, a lot of times we use the, the metaphors, everyone rowing in the same direction, or is everyone singing from the same sheet of music? Yeah. And, and oftentimes you'll hear, no, we're not, we, we don't feel like we are. Once you understand that and they get that, then, you know, people start to say, well, I understand this is a lot of work. I'll go into the first, first session and say, look, I'm not gonna fool you. I'm not gonna lie to any one of you. This is not gonna be easy. This is hard. I want you to think about it. Like you think about your workout regimen or a diet. You don't stop and start these things. These are things that you do every day. You don't just work out one day and say, oh, I feel like I'm in shape. Or, you know, go on a one day diet because you wanna lose 15 or 20 pounds. It takes an effort. It's the same thing with behavioral change. But the whole idea here is that you're doing it together. You're doing it as a team. So you're collaborating and you're working together to break down those silos inside the organization. The, uh, backbiting the passive aggressive behavior that you might see inside the organization
Michelle BB 00:11:46 And all of that. You know, it's interesting because I, I did a, um, I had a, a session yesterday where we talked about coaching leaders to deal with burnout and everything you've described, the the importance of having a regimen, the importance of setting boundaries, of non-negotiables, of managing your stress, of recognizing it in other wor in others. It, this all feels like we are working to create the best possible high performing organization, but one in which people feel that they are well taken care of, that they are well regarded, and that, that this is a place that values them, the whole person, and not just the work that they do.
Mark Iorio 00:12:34 Could not agree more. I mean, that is exactly the whole idea here. Every, every person around that table, no matter if it's a profi workshop or an ongoing BCAT program, has an equal voice. I don't care if you're the C E O, I don't care if you're the person answering the phones mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you have an equal voice in the say of what's going on inside that organization. So by, by its she sheer nature. It's an inclusive process. Also, if you don't feel valued, it'll come out in those, it'll come out in those workshops. And oftentimes it does. And you know, it stuns people because no one feel, wants to feel trivialized. They want to feel like they're big part of a bigger picture that they can contribute and that they're respected by their peers. Like they respect their peers themselves. Right.
Michelle BB 00:13:26 I think that is so true. And you know, you, you said something earlier that really I really, really loved, right? We are working together, working together as one towards this common goal that we all have. And to me, that's about building a sustainable workforce, which is something I talk about all the time. Yeah. Probably a separate podcast. But I did love how you described the workshop, right? So, so to me, that's giving people a taste. It's a short-term experience, but it probably has long-term reach because it gets people thinking. It makes your content more accessible to organizations and hopefully helps them understand that this is just the start on their journey. But I also noticed that you offer a diagnostic survey, and I am assuming that this is a way for people to really get a sense for how they are performing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, tell me a little bit about it and like, share an example of a survey question. What if I took this survey, what would the results tell me?
Mark Iorio 00:14:27 Yeah. That's a great question, Michelle, because
Michelle BB 00:14:31 <laugh>, I'm a little scared. I don't know.
Mark Iorio 00:14:35 No, no, no, no. It's a self-diagnosis thing. I mean, it's, you know, a lot of times you're looking at, you know, what am I doing right? What am I doing wrong inside the organization? Yeah. And you'll, it will give you a very quick, like, system checker on what's going on inside your head and inside your organization. Is everyone included in, in, in decision making? I'm not saying that you have to, you know, uh, you know, it's not cons, it's a consensus here, but I wanna hear what everyone has to say so that when I make the final decision, final decision, everything, everyone has weighed in, right? So it'll tell you that it, it, it will give you that kind of under understanding of the team's performance and some of those important factors that impact, you know, your SA job satisfaction, a little bit of productivity, and certainly your revenue and the valuation of your business.
Mark Iorio 00:15:28 That, that's the whole idea here. It's, you know, am I operating like a well-oiled machine, or am I sort of clunking around? Like, you know, I have no direction. And I remember Covey saying this years ago, and his, and probably in the seven habits of highly effective people, was, do you feel like you're, you're in a vessel in the middle of a vast ocean, and there's no compass, there's no North star, and you're never gonna get anywhere. If you do that, you're not, where are you rowing to mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So what we try to do, mm-hmm. <affirmative> is get people to, you know, I'll say this is, you know, in the very beginning of the process and ongoing, every time we meet, it's a change in the way you think. And if you can bring that to, to the forefront of your mind, you're thinking differently. It's not about, it's not just about you, it's about your teammates. And if you can do things together, and you're looking at this North star together, and I'm not talking about core values or vision statements or mission statements, because they end up hanging on the wall and no one ever does anything about them. This is actually changing the behavior inside the organization. You know, one little increment at a time. It doesn't have to happen overnight, but little bit at a time and, and then people start to see it.
Michelle BB 00:16:54 Well, I have to tell you, um, I'm a fifth habit person, seek first to understand and to be understood. It's probably my favorite. I use it all the time. So it's good to hear you quoting, um, Covey. So, so I wanna get back to this survey for a minute because I'm, I'm really interested, it's a series of statements, right? So it's going to pop up and tell me, or, or, or give me something that says, our organization is non-inclusive, or communication throughout our organization is effective. And, and it is, you know, I rate myself or, or my team based on that, and then I get a score mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's gonna help me gauge my team's health in terms of, of all sorts of various aspects. Yes.
Mark Iorio 00:17:34 Okay. So when, when you take the actual survey itself, either the Yeah. Bcat survey or the actual Profi survey, when you start to, to imagine, I want you to imagine your team as though we're a single person doing its best work on its bay best day. There are no wrong answers here, Michelle. You, you can think of your team as a highly innovative, outside the box thinking creative organization. I might look at our team if we're on the same team as a very expert driven organization that, that looks at attention to, pays attention to detail and dots. Every I and crosses every t and maybe Kathleen might look at it a lot differently. Like, we're more of a caretaker organization when we, when we put all those, um, results together, we have an average, right? And if there's 20 of us, there will be an average on that quadrant somewhere.
Mark Iorio 00:18:31 I don't know where it's gonna land, but it's gonna land somewhere. And we're gonna say, is that really who we are? Is that who we are as an organization? Are we c more like what Kathleen described? Are we more what, like Michelle described? We more like what Mark described, or what, you know, Francesca or Lily or anyone else described? And once we get through that process and understand what each of those little elements means, then we can say, okay, now we're cohesive. Now we're collective. Now we're going forward, you know, to, to drive this together. No one's wrong. You're, you're just thinking of the organization a little bit differently and some of the, uh, bias is that you're taking your own thinking to the table. You're thinking about yourself. That could be the case. Yeah. You're describing your own personality and it's really about the team. And no one's really ever asked that question before. It's a weird question. It's like, imagine your entire team as though we're a single person doing its best work on its best day. I've never heard that before. Oh,
Michelle BB 00:19:35 I love it. I actually think it's really interesting. And I, I think it's probably something that we should be asking ourselves more of. And thanks. It's interesting because I, I can, you know, I, when you and <laugh> Mia, who is listening in, is probably going to hate this because she, uh, rode like road. Um, but when, when you see a team on a boat like rowing together, it is such a beautiful, powerful thing. And I'm sure I did not get that right, Mia, but I love the idea of watching such perfection on water mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I imagine though, you get one person kind of out of alignment, and all of a sudden it's not performing as well, you're not going as fast, you're not working as well. And so it sounds to me like what you're really helping people do is get into that state of alignment where you are, as you said, rowing together. But it is in that, it's a very sort of beautiful, organic thing that helps you be so much more productive together.
Mark Iorio 00:20:43 Boy, that's, that's such a great analogy. And me, me and I, we can talk about that, uh, at some point with Mia, but she'll tell you that, you know, it takes a whole lot of work to make sure that everyone is, you know, bringing that or back properly at the same time in the same rhythm, mechanically similar, right? And the coxswain is out there talking to everyone and giving them the, the instructions and everything, right? So that takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of effort. And that's, that's one of the metaphors. It's also singing from the same sheet of music. You know, if you have choir director who's, you know, he's hearing, or she's hearing one person singing out of tune, you know, you've gotta, you know, you've gotta get over there and help them out and make sure that they, uh, they're singing in the right note or the right key or whatever. So yeah, it does, it takes a lot of work. But it's fun when it happens, when it starts to all come together. It's, um, uh, very gratifying, sometimes very emotional, actually.
Michelle BB 00:21:44 Yeah. You, you, you definitely don't wanna hear me sing. I would be that person out of pitch <laugh>, but <laugh>, um, I would love, I would love to understand how this alignment work translates into high performance. Can you help us, whether it's through example or, or you know, some of the things that you've seen, benefits that companies can realize as they do this hard work and move into alignment?
Mark Iorio 00:22:11 God, I love that question. Um, so yes. Uh, you know, what ends up happening, Michelle, honestly, is that, you know, people start to collaborate. Productivity starts to rise. You know, not everyone's gonna be your best friend, but there's a level of respect inside the organization because roles are, begin, begin to, uh, become more clear. They're identifiable. Um, I know what you do, you know what I do. We can work together to finish this project together so that it's beneficial to the team. You know, once we become more productive, we become more profitable. The leadership teams in the organiz in, in the, uh, workshops and all the workshops. So everyone starts to understand that because we're all together on this, we're all rowing together, or we're all singing together. That become, because we become more profitable, that'll be beneficial to all of us as an organization.
Mark Iorio 00:23:11 Um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, the, the business becomes more valuable. We have what's called the index of alignment. And as we start to, we take the survey, maybe today, six months from now, we'll take it again. And as that alignment, that dial goes up right toward the green area, in our index of alignment, the value of the organization rises along with it. So if there's a potential for an exit or an ESOP or a merger, um, of some sort, the value of that business starts to go up. And it's benefiting everyone inside the organization. At least it should. And if, if the mm-hmm. You know, the leadership is, is who they say they are, and they're being authentic and real and transparent, then everyone benefits from that. And so, you know, I, you know, there, there's so many benefits to this, and everyone comes up with their own contribution.
Mark Iorio 00:24:11 I wanna give you one example of this, um, that, you know, let's say an organization is primarily innovative. Okay? Primarily innovative, maybe secondarily a caretaker. So on our chart, it's yellow for innovation, green for caretaker now mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you might look at that and say, what does that mean to me? Well, what that might mean to you is that you are thinking a little bit more outside the box. Maybe you become a better listener. Maybe you become a person that instead of, you know, I coming to you with, uh, these great ideas, and you know, because you're busy, Michelle, you might look at me and say, you know, mark, I, I got a lot, I have a lot on my plate right now. Maybe we could talk about this at another time. And then I forget about the idea and I become discouraged over time.
Mark Iorio 00:25:04 And you kind of sense that you start to sense that, and you say to yourself, this poor guy keeps coming to me with all these great ideas. I need to be a little bit more open-minded and sit down with this, this guy and this mark. And, and, and think through his ideas with him. Give him five minutes. And I can see that. I can start to see that in you. And we start to relate a little bit better toward one another. We might have a situation where, uh, because we're an innovative company and someone comes up with an idea about being a little bit more sustainable mm-hmm. <affirmative> inside the organization, it's not about turning off the lights. It's not about put picking up the trash and putting the recycles in the, in the, in the right spot. Maybe there's something I can do outside, or might be something I can do on the roof that can help with the sustainability of the building that we're in. I'm thinking outside the box where it becomes more of an innovative process and, and something that's near and dear to who I am and what this organization, you know, what it means to me, the, the role model that it is. So that's the kind of thing that happens. And, you know, it just, um, it, it's an amazing feeling when you start to see people doing things that are benefit. They become a better version of themselves, and the organization becomes a better version of itself.
Michelle BB 00:26:26 And is, is there a way to translate that into numbers? 'cause I know oftentimes, right, it's what's my r o i, what am I getting out of it? How much more productivity, um, maybe higher employee sat? How do you measure the effectiveness of these programs,
Mark Iorio 00:26:44 Mark? Oh, our index of alignment correlates, uh, 86%, uh, 86% of the Gallup Q 12 study. So the Gallup Q 12 study measures employee engagement and employee engagement has historically, since 1998, hovered around 30 or 31%. Um, we can see the correlation between when, when you start bcat and when you get in the middle of it, and then the end of it, how our index of alignment goes up and how it correlates to the Q 12. So employee satisfaction starts to go up. Now, in some cases, Michelle, we've seen it go from 30% to 60%. So people are really happy with, with where they're working. Uh, I just got a testimonial this morning from a client up in, uh, north Jersey, and they talk about employee satisfaction, collaboration, cooperation, um, that's a, a research facility. So they're not into the R O I that, you know, return on investment part, but they can see productivity go up.
Mark Iorio 00:27:48 Hmm. And a lot of times what we'll do, since I don't want to go to them, or, uh, my partner and I don't want partners, and I don't want to go to them and say, uh, we'll give you the metric. We want the metric to come from them. Right. What's the most important metric, numerical metric that you want us to measure? And we'll measure it. And, and I'll hold my feet to the fire. If you want it to be employee engagement, let's measure it. Do you want it to be productivity? Let's measure it. If you want it to be sales, let's measure it. If you want it to be valuation, we'll measure it. But I want them to tell us, because that's the thing that's most important to them.
Michelle BB 00:28:26 You know, I, I, I love that. And I think that, you know, it sounds as if every organization may value or view things a little bit differently, and it's probably where they are in their journey. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and, you know, you're taking something that I think could be really a hot button for a lot of organizations, but you know, it's based on science, it's non-emotional, but it's still deeply human. You are helping people understand that, again, when we change behavior and make it habit, when we all work together towards the same common goal, when we're all singing from that same hymnal, we are going to be in alignment and thus working towards a common goal. And it sounds like organizational alignment needs to do a couple of things, right? I mean, as individuals, we have to understand who we are mm-hmm. <affirmative> and what perhaps we might need to work on, but also who our team is. And it sounds like the survey helps to do that a little bit as well. Like, who is everyone else on this team and, and what do I need to know about them in order to help this team move along successfully? Because you can't have one without the other. Yeah.
Mark Iorio 00:29:42 Right? Yeah. I mean, and, and, and the, the important part is, uh, and there's a lot of important parts, but you bring yourself to the table, right? Every single team member has a role to play. They have a skill to bring to the table. Uh, none of it's ever, ever trivialized. We're not asking anyone to become a robot. I want you to bring your skillset to the table so that we can co collectively become better, better versions of ourselves basically, um, each and every day. So, yeah, I mean, it's, it's a, uh, it's a difficult process to go through. It's, it's worth it, um, for us. It's very gratifying for the client. It's very gratifying, and it takes that commitment. And I, I, I just, I'm just so amazed at the clients that we've had for so long that continue to do this month after month, because we meet with them every single month.
Mark Iorio 00:30:37 It's, it's not like a one and done or every other month or every quarter or whatever. It's every month. So those commitments that you made, how are they coming along? Michelle, you said you were gonna do this, this, and this. Is anything getting in the way, is there anything we can do to help you get to that po that place that you committed to? That idea of being open-minded? There's an accountability partner sitting next to you. It's Mia. Mia is, is Michelle doing what she said she's going to do? You listed her as your accountability partner. Do you see her becoming a better listener every day or, or listening to some of these out, off the wall ideas that come to her each and every day? And if she says, absolutely, I see it. And it's really wonderful. It's not a, we're not, you know, we're not stopping there. We're ke we're gonna continue to become better each day.
Michelle BB 00:31:34 I really, really like this notion of accountability. And, you know, it makes me think about the role of leaders, right? It, you know, because it, it sounds like accountability isn't necessarily coming from the top, but there has to be buy-in from leadership, correct? I mean, do you find that when you work with leaders who are then arm in arm alongside their team, that you can build trust, that it can be a better experience, that you see more productivity? Like how, where does leadership play a role here?
Mark Iorio 00:32:05 Mark, Michelle, that's such a great question because, uh, you know, you, you end up with, with emergent leaders, right? So you, you get me people that emerge from the team that are quiet, that are maybe introverted, that don't say a lot, maybe some people that do say a lot, but you know, when the leaders are, one of our pillars is leadership from the top. You have to get people at the top of the organization to embrace this and work or walk in lockstep with their teammates. But once they do that, it, it's just a, a feeling of, um, joy, comradery, um, that, that level you asked earlier about productivity and, you know, and, and people being happy and joyful. When you're productive at work, when you feel like you're productive at work and you feel like you're contributing to something larger, you become happy. It's not the opposite. You don't show up at work happy, and then you're not productive. You sit around moping around when you're productive and you're really contributing to the team effort. It makes you feel good about yourself, and it makes you feel good about your team. So those leaders are, are critical to, uh, to this process. Without great leadership, this is very, very difficult. It's almost impossible.
Michelle BB 00:33:23 All right. I, I, look, I agree. You know, here at Skillsoft, we focus a lot on leadership coaching. We do it at scale. Um, you know, I'm a big believer in leadership at every level. And I think that a team becomes great when each player, regardless of their position, is seen for their potential to lead and then given an opportunity to grow. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I, I, I love what you're saying. You talked a little bit about the research company you worked with. Are there any other success stories or examples that, that you wanna share? Teams that you've worked with where it's been like, oh my gosh, I didn't know they were gonna be able to get there. And they did. And it was fabulous. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,
Mark Iorio 00:34:02 Lots of them. Um, <laugh>, yeah, lots of them. We, we worked with a, uh, very, very large healthcare wellness center. We'll just call it, it's not, it, it's healthcare because it's got seven different departments in it. So it had a salon, it had a field house, it had personal training, it had an aquatic center, it had a cafeteria and, uh, personal training and all that. And it was really interesting in the beginning of this one because, uh, there were 24 members of the leadership team in the group, and the founder was all about, they were all about the expertise that, that the members would, would, would come to this organization and feel good about themselves. It wasn't just about, you know, equipment in, in a, in a gym. It was about, Hey, Michelle, why don't you visit our salon? We have, you know, your skin is the, the largest organ in your, in your body.
Mark Iorio 00:35:03 So we've got this wonderful skincare product that the head of our salon can, can share with you. It's about the health and wellbeing of, of each person. And each group inside that organization, the entire 23, other people didn't see the organization as that. They saw it as a, a community center with a bunch of equipment in it. So in the cafeteria, they were serving french fries and, you know, like bad stuff, not bad stuff, but just not nutritional food. Once they understood that they were, they were really about the health and wellbeing of the membership, they changed the menu because interesting. It's, it's, it's really about the overall health and wellbeing of that organization, the aquatic center, not just don't jump in the pool and start swimming around. Why are you in the pool? You're in the pool to become healthier in some way. And so that whole, everything changed there. I didn't think we were ever gonna get there because you had 23 people honestly, thinking that a very different approach than the founder. They all migrated on that quadrant toward Kevin. And, and then over the course of time, they built themselves into an organization where people go there because they feel like they're gonna get, they're gonna become healthier.
Michelle BB 00:36:33 Well, thank you, mark, for sharing that story. I, you know, I, I think it's really interesting when you've got a group of people who should be working together, ostensibly are working together, but their view on what they do and how they do it is out of alignment. They don't necessarily have the same view of their brand or what their, you know, what their culture should be. And I think that was a perfect example of how that misalignment can actually have a detrimental impact. But when you switch the thinking of people, and everyone has that same common framework from which they're working, same common shared set of values, same common brand view, it really can change the makeup of the company. And then ultimately that has an impact on customers. Now, I have to ask you, are you Ted Lasso fan by chance?
Mark Iorio 00:37:30 No, I haven't watched one episode, Michelle.
Michelle BB 00:37:32 Oh my God. Okay. Well, that's one thing you need to do. But, um, I, I, I ask you, because I'm a huge Ted Lasso fan, um, and one of his coaching mantras is be curious, not judgmental. And so would, you don't need to necessarily have watched it, although I I will judge you for not doing so. No, I'm just kidding. <laugh>. But do you have, do you have a favorite quote, a piece of advice or a saying that that, that you'd like to share? Something that you wanna take away or you want people to take away?
Mark Iorio 00:38:04 Yeah. I, I think it's, it's that, um, you know, you're, you're right about, about, uh, being curious and not, uh, not being judgmental. There's, there's no right or wrong answers in, in this, uh, process. And, uh, we, we talk a lot about not being judgmental, but, uh, you know, it's, it's really about, uh, following, I don't know if this is a specific quote, but, you know, people follow, they, they follow something they believe in, and it's, that's really important. Uh, they didn't follow, they didn't necessarily follow Steve Jobs at Apple. They followed what Steve Jobs believed. And that's really what we're looking for, is you don't necessarily have to, don't follow the leader of this organization, but we have to follow collectively what we believe in as an organizations. So, um, you know, that's, that's my favorite quote here. I I love that. Um, it's about the team.
Mark Iorio 00:39:01 You know, I saw an interview last week with Harold Reynolds and, and Arod, uh, Alex Rodriguez, and a separate one with Derek Jeter. And when Harold Reynolds asked Arod about his accomplishments, he talked about himself. He talked about, you know, his M V p years and his home run records and so on, and Jeter, Derek Jeter talked about the five, uh, championships. It was about the winning as a team. And so when you look at that, I try to look, you know, give Arod the benefit of the doubt and say, you know, he became a real team player, but he was never a team player. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, this is all about teamwork, you know, because collectively, we, we can do much better together. So, yeah, I
Michelle BB 00:39:45 Don't think there are any wor, truer words said, mark. I, I, yeah. I, and I think that's a really powerful example of, you know, how focusing on the self, we, we might do well for ourselves, but focusing on the team, we're gonna do better for everyone, right? All of our constituents, our team members, our company, society at large. Now we're just about outta time, which by the way, it really flew by <laugh>. Um, and it's been a real pleasure having you on the edge, and I, and I look forward to having this episode come out. But before we wrap up, I have to ask you three questions. Yeah. It's the same questions I've asked every single guest since we started this series back in 2020. It's actually one question, three parts, just so you know. So it's, what are you learning right now, or you've learned recently that's had an impact? Number two, how are you applying what you've learned? And it could be in or outside of work. And then third, what advice about learning would you share with others? So what are you learning now, how you applied it, and what advice about learning would you share with others?
Mark Iorio 00:40:53 Yeah, they're great. Three great questions, Michelle. Thank you so much for having me on the edge. I, I just enjoyed this so much. I <laugh> sort of flipped around, right? I've been doing these programs for the last six years and, uh, you know, interviewing people, and I love when I'm interviewed. So, uh, thank you for that. I appreciate it very much. Of course.
Mark Iorio 00:41:13 So what am I learning? Well, I am learning now that, um, being busy is not, uh, optimal. It's, um, detrimental to health, wellbeing and, and, and actually the productivity day by day, um, you know, I'm applying that by, by trying to say no to certain things that are not, not right in my, you know, specific wheelhouse. And I, I've always, always been the kind of person that says yes to people, because I, I want help. I'm a, I'm a I, I am just by nature, I'm a go-giver. I just like to give to others and help others. But what I find is after a while, you're just so damn busy that you've got so much on your plate that it's, uh, it's, it's not, um, beneficial. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And the advice is that, uh, pick and choose the things that you love, you know, the passion, uh, that you have for doing what you do. And I, I have a ton of passion for helping other organizations and teams and giving back and watching these organizations become better versions of themselves. And, uh, I wanna stick with that. I, I want, you know, whatever it takes to, uh, continue to do that. You know, I wanna focus on those things. And so I'm trying to learn to say no. Um, more often, I'm doing better.
Michelle BB 00:42:37 Well, uh, you know, I, I, I am right there with you, but I love that piece of advice. Pick and choose the things you love. Thank you so much for joining us, mark. And thank you for sharing your expertise on aligning people with purpose. I know everybody will get a lot out of this episode. And here at Skillsoft, we propel organizations and people to grow together through transformative learning experiences and to everybody out there, I hope you've enjoyed this episode of the Edge as much as I have. And just remember, being busy is not optimal. Try to say no to certain things and pick and choose the things you love. That's what we've learned from Mark. In addition to so many other things. Be sure to tune in again as we unleash our edge together. I'm Michelle Bebe. Until next time, keep learning, keep growing and be well.
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About Our Guest
Mark Iorio is an executive with a demonstrated track record of generating new business for a wide range of industries including software, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, pharmaceutical and marketing firms. BCAT Partners and The Mega Group focus on the alignment of an organization’s people and their purpose. The Brand and Culture Alignment Toolkit (BCAT) was designed to bring teams into alignment around their collective purpose and inspire each member to become the best version of themselves, in support of the people and communities they serve. This science-based solution consists of instruments that measure and map the collective perception of an organization’s north star (role target), and practical behavioral methods that help each member embrace and align with it.
About Our Host
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle leads a global marketing organization, focused on transforming today’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Since joining the company, she has been responsible for Skillsoft’s global marketing strategy, which includes generating awareness, driving preference, and building affinity for Skillsoft. Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – Michelle serves as the company's brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and strategy experience, Michelle has made it her personal mission to support the advancement of women in business. Prior to Skillsoft, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson, where she was instrumental in developing the first “Women Leaders in AI” program, which honors women who put AI to work across industries and around the globe. She also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helping companies understand how to anticipate, plan for, and ultimately make better decisions – with greater confidence – in the face of weather.
Michelle is a prolific speaker on a range of topics, including the war for talent, digital transformation, and marketing in a post-pandemic world. She covers these topics and more as the host of Skillsoft's podcast, The Edge, now in its second season. She has authored countless papers covering a range of business and marketing topics, was at the center of Skillsoft’s leadership role in DEI through free “Leadercamps,” and has taught two Percipio courses on the Pink Pandemic and Public Speaking.
Michelle is also a founding member of CMO Huddles, a group dedicated to bringing together and empowering highly effective B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Michelle holds a Master’s degree from Simmons University and sits on the pro side of the Oxford comma debate.