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HRExaminer Radio

Guest: Tish Squillaro, Founder, CANDOR Consulting
Episode: 176
Air Date: May 11, 2016


Tish Squillaro is the founder of CANDOR Consulting, a management consulting firm that advises executives. Tish employs her bold style and goal-oriented, self-confident mindset to work with CEOs, managers and decision makers. She specializes in helping business leaders become “unstuck” and driving success through leveraging human capital.

She’s an expert in change management processes, business strategy development and behavior and organization dynamics. She believes human capital can be leveraged to do more than support a business’s success; employees can drive a company towards its goals.

Tish has written for Wired Magazine and is a regular guest on several radio programs. She’s co-authored HeadTrash and HeadTrash2 drawing on her experience as a consultant and businesswoman.

Tish graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of the Philadelphia non-profit organization ACHIEVEability. She lives in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, with her husband and two children. She is a firm believer in that anything is possible.

Audio MP3





NOTE: The first 45 seconds of this show have some poor audio quality but it clears up after that. You can skip to 45 seconds to avoid the audio issues and pick up where Tish  shares her bio. 

Begin transcript

John Sumser: Good morning and welcome to HR Examiner Radio. I’m your host, John Sumser. Today we’re coming to you from beautiful downtown Los Angeles, California. Can’t wait to get back to the north.


Today, we’re going to be talking with Tish Squillaro, who is the founder of CANDOR Consulting. Good morning, Tish.


Tish Squillaro: Good morning.


John Sumser: You’re sitting in Boston. I wonder if you’d take a moment to introduce yourself to the audience, please.


Tish Squillaro: Sure. My name is Tish Squillaro. I have a company called CANDOR Consulting for the last 18 years, which is predominantly working with individuals going through transition, working on career management, with organizations going through change, and all about leadership and being a leader. I’m here today to talk about my second book, an installment to a series called “Head Trash,” where we talk about the emotional barriers that get people stuck from making decisions that are right for them. Our second book, which really focuses on living and working with others’ trash, or other people’s head trash, because it’s not enough to know what your emotional barriers are. What about those that you have to live or work with that you have to deal with? How do you manage through that?


John Sumser: How did you end up becoming expert enough to write a book about that? How did you get here?


Tish Squillaro: Well, I would imagine it’s because I have all of these head trash emotions myself. When you live through them and make choices that are wrong and have to re-live and do it over again, you start to really get comfortable with the topic. I am an Italian, so emotion is a big part of my upbringing. What I found was, when you’re emotional, it becomes part of the paradigm to how you look at things and how you make choices. When I started by consulting business, I started to recognize that emotions come with you from home to the office. We may be suited up or in a corporate environment or in a startup and very relaxed and know our stuff, but our emotions of who we are as people do come with us everywhere we go, from college to high school to a career. We form ourselves.


What I enjoy the most is helping people realize what those are. Many times, they are our strengths, but if we’re not paying attention to how they integrate into our thinking, they could become a detriment to us. That’s really what the Head Trash focus is on. When do our emotions start to turn and become things we have to watch out for?


John Sumser: The next question is pretty obvious, then, and it’s got two sides to it. One is, as an individual, how do I know when that’s happened? The other side of that is how do I know when it’s time to call you?


Tish Squillaro: One is, I’d say look in the mirror before calling me. The truth is, you have to humble yourself to rationalize. If you’re in a situation and it’s out of hand or a bad decision has been made, you’ve got to ask yourself why. We all struggle with talking to ourselves about things that are that difficult. It’s usually because some emotion drove us to it. For example, there are 7 in our book that we look at because, over the course of my consulting, my co-author, Tim Thomas, and I found that the same 7 are the ones that always are there in the way. I’ll rattle them off quickly because, when you hear them, they’re going be everyday emotions that you and I live with and sometimes have all in one day. It’s things like control, insecurity, arrogance, paranoia, anger, fear, and guilt.


When you’re starting to think about just those emotions, you see that they’re relevant for everybody. When do one of those emotions actually make the decision for you? That’s when you have to think about when did a healthy emotion of, say, control … Which means you need boundaries, rules make sense, I’d like to know what’s going on. That’s healthy control. When all of a sudden you’re the only one that can make decisions, you have to see everything before it gets out. Nothing gets done unless you put your stamp of approval on it. You decide everything that the family is going to do. That’s unhealthy. That’s where it goes from being a healthy sense of emotion with control to, all of a sudden, what we call crossing the line to become unhealthy. We label it head trash. It’s those thoughts and emotions that become a problem and no longer helpful.


John Sumser: This sounds like a variation of that wonderful movie, “Inside Out.” Is that what you teach people, how to identify emotions?


Tish Squillaro: It’s funny you should bring that up. When I took my children … I have an 11 and 12-year-old, and we went to see that. My son, who is the 11-year-old, turns and goes, “Mom! They did a movie on your book. This is exactly what you did.” Yes, do I think the concept, which is becoming more and more relevant and prevalent in today’s marketplace and in the world, is that emotions are bigger, emotions are more relevant, and emotions are things that cause people to do stuff, sometimes good and sometimes very very welcomed, and sometimes not good. Seeing them and having that physical appearance of what those emotions could look like was really important because the visibility of seeing them makes people realize, “I don’t want to be angry,” or, “My goodness, my guilt is holding me back of making good choices.” It was very much in line with the way I work with folks, is very practically and logically show them. By writing the book and putting it into these terms, it’s given people a feeling that it’s not clinical and it’s not bad, but it’s a part of life. “Now that I know that, what do I do to make it better? How do I make it better?”


All the coaching and the development work that we do at CANDOR, and when we have people that we want to work with get to the next level, we make it very humble to say, “Look, these are things that are attainable, but these are also things that are very practical. Let’s look at which ones we want to focus on.” We even have an index that anyone can take off of our website, which is free. It’s about a 10 minute investment, and it’s basically the index to looking at where are you looking at certain emotions that impact you. You can go to it by going to our website, which is headtrash911 dot com. It’s headtrash with the numbers 911 dot com. It’s called the index. It’s 28 questions. Immediately upon your last question, you are going to get an index of all of the 7 with a numeric scoring. The 2 that are the strongest for you, the 2 that get in your way, the 2 that become the junk that stop you from doing stuff, will get highlighted with examples of things you might want to start thinking about because we’ve raised the awareness to you that these are things that could become crossing the line emotions into head trash.


John Sumser: You talk about crossing the line. Tell me more about what that means.


Tish Squillaro: We don’t want people to think that having emotions is bad. We don’t want people to stop having emotions. That’s not natural and I do think that everyone’s emotions kind of carve out who you are. Those are important elements in being people and being different from each other and having the uniqueness. There is … Nowhere in any of our direction or our techniques do we say, “Wipe away that emotion of insecurity. Wipe away your fear.” It’s not practical and we’re not recommending that. What we are saying is, “Let’s not make it manage you. Let’s not make it have more power over you.” That’s the crossing of the line.


Through our books, we show you where one goes to the other to cross the line. For example, insecurity. Insecurity is where there’s a voice of negativity driven by that person in their head. Many times, they’ll do things that they are feeling wrong about, but they’ll still do them. For example, someone who is insecure has a real difficult time taking a compliment. You can say to someone, “That was a fabulous presentation,” or, “You look really great today,” or, “I like that outfit you have on,” and their immediate response will be something like, “Oh, I could have done better.” “Oh, this outfit is old.” “Oh, no, I’m going to have to work on that, I didn’t like that.” They immediately have a defensive trigger. What we show them is you don’t want to do that and make yourself feel that badly about yourself, or show the other person that you’re not as secure with your decision-making. Instead, say, “Thank you. I appreciate that. That was great. I felt good about that, too.” In the book, it talks to you about how to overcome your own defensive mechanisms that force you to make insecurity cross the line.


John Sumser: Okay. Why don’t you tell me that same story with a couple of other emotions? That’s good.


Tish Squillaro: Sure. Anger. Anger is a perfect example, and it’s my #1 head trash, which was a surprise to me because I would have never assumed that I’m an angry person. I’m really not. What anger is is when somebody has the inability to have patience, to take “no” for an answer, or to not be able to think before they talk. I am a very impulsive, passionate person. If something doesn’t go the way in which I’d like it to, I don’t always have the strength to hold back. I usually say exactly what’s on my mind. If I get an e-mail that I didn’t like, I’m ready to respond.


What I’ve learned is, when it makes me make those bad choices like sending that bad e-mail back or responding to someone’s quick wit with the wrong tongue, my foot-in-mouth disease as I call it, I automatically realize, “Well, that emotion took over my best thinking. I didn’t make a good choice.” If I thought for a second, or took a 5 second breather, I may have said something differently. I may have written that e-mail differently. That’s an example where my ability to be resilient, confident, passionate could cross the line and actually cause me to be impulsive, reactive, and maybe make a bad choice in my words. That’s an example of where anger could cross the line.


Guilt. Again, being an Italian Catholic, guilt was another thing that we grew up with where you always do things to make sure everybody else is happy. Guilt has two sides to it. Doing the right thing is never wrong. I know til today I have listened to my mother with, “You always do what’s right by others by sending a nice thank you note,” or, “Be apologetic,” or, “Always make sure you do the right thing to what someone needs.” When it crosses the line and you make decisions in business where you put people in roles that they shouldn’t be but you’ve known them forever or they’ve been with you since you started your business so they have to have a home with you even thought you know it’s wrong, those are making bad business decisions and bad people decisions, even for the person you think you’re helping. No one wants to be set up for failure. Many times, guilt has us make unobjective decisions that we think are right for the moment but they’re really not right for the cause. You have to be able to be more objective to separate. That’s another example where you think you’re doing what feels right, but it isn’t really right by any means.


John Sumser: Before the show, we were talking and you said that everyone works the same way. Would you mind explaining a little bit?


Tish Squillaro: Sure. I think there’s a process to how people make choices and react to things. It is really their emotional processes of how they feel about it. We all make decisions with emotions. We’ll make buying decisions by emotions. For example, I would spend more money in a store if I felt treated nicer or if someone accommodated me than going to a place that didn’t treat me well but I could save money. We all make decisions with our emotions. That was what my comment meant, that, as someone is about to embark on something, make a choice, pick someone for a team, or make a major decision in their life, there is going to be an emotional element to it. That is where we’re all very similar. How we process our emotions is where we all get different. What Head Trash is about is how do you process emotions so that you can deal with things with a clear head and not filled with junk that stop you from making the right decision for you.


John Sumser: Tell me about a typical engagement with just an individual. Let’s do that first. Somehow, I figured out how to get in touch with you. I guess I’ve got some kind of trouble that makes me think you can help me. You arrive on the scene on your white horse and you hop off your white horse. What do you do?


Tish Squillaro: Well, not sure I bring the white horse to be the savior, but I certainly try to be a support mechanism. When we’re working with clients, we’re not the decision makers ever. We’re there to help people think through and prepare for a decision. I like to look at us more as the preparation vehicle. We come in, listen objectively to what the story is, usually gather information by what’s happening around them, and then try to understand where do you want to go.


For an example, one of our clients had to scale their business rather quickly. Trust is very important when you’re scaling a business. You want people who you feel comfortable with, you want people who you think are going to do well by you, and folks that you can trust. Trust can only go so far. You also have to have skill. You don’t ever want to outweigh skill needs with just being able to trust someone. Someone who you trust maybe have your best interests, but they may not know what to do. We had to help that person look at their environment of who was on the team and where were the gaps in what they needed for skills to really continue to grow. That meant change. Most organizations, either it be one person or a group of people, have trouble with change. Change requires uncertainty, change requires decisiveness, and change makes others feel uncomfortable.


Heading into it, we had to look the current folks on the team and then what was missing, if anything was missing, and what was still needed. We had to help that person remove people from roles that … Yes, they were trustworthy. Yes, they were loyal. They weren’t necessarily capable. Either look for roles that they would be successful in or perhaps this was no longer the right fit for them. Those are hard because they are emotional and they are personal and because the person that you have to make the change with hasn’t done anything wrong. You can’t blame anyone. It’s just companies tend to grow in scale faster than the people in the businesses with them, sometimes even for their very own leader who can’t scale as quick as their business is scaling. That was a major project where the support, the ability to have a good plan, the understanding that we were taking care of things in a very respectful yet pleasant bu effective way, and making sure we were making smart business decisions to help that company grow.


Eventually, we were able to make some correct changes in where people’s roles were, redefine roles, bring on new people. It was not an easy process but, at the end, it was a solid, strong team that will drive that company where they need to go for the 150 people that they needed to know that leadership was that right team to follow. Before that, that leadership team was not the right team to drive that force.


John Sumser: That’s interesting. That’s a great conversation to get involved in. How often do you do projects like that? That’s a really wonderful project.


Tish Squillaro: Change management and scaling of business is CANDOR’s 100% focus. The coaching individuals becomes a result of that. People typically call me and my team in because there are visions of where we have to go pretty much laid out, but questions as to whether we have the right people to get us there. That’s where you need … In my opinion, a third party who is objective can come in and help those individuals make those choices because the emotions, once again, for that third party aren’t as extreme. We have to help those individuals who have the emotions really think clearly, work through those emotions, and make those good choices.


John Sumser: I don’t mean to be overly simplistic, but it sounds like you’re saying that the limit to a company’s ability to scale is the head trash in some senior executive’s head. Is that the story here?


Tish Squillaro: I do think that the ability that companies have to scale are really around the people. No matter what your product or service is, if the people running the business and those that they hire are not the right people, it can crush the most greatest product, the most fabulous service, just by not having the right people. The minute we bring people involved, there is going to be an element of what people have that makes us great, but also have that make us challenged. It’s our emotions, it’s our thinking, it’s our freedom of will. Those elements together are what drive individuals. If people are driving a company’s success, then everything about what makes up people is going to be a product of that. Head trash and emotions is certainly up there as one of the top few.


John Sumser: Okay. I’m just trying to see if there’s sort of a complete relationship between the two things. It sounds like the relationship between head trash and your core business is a tangent, that sometimes you find that people have emotions [inaudible 00:18:45] in their decision making process and head trash is [inaudible 00:18:49] processing people as part of your toolkit. Is that right?


Tish Squillaro: We do. I have yet to meet, in the 18 years that I’m doing this and all levels of companies, from startups to very late-stage decades-long, where, when we found out what the issue was, it was not related to a people-related issue. Didn’t mean their skill, could’ve been their behaviors. What it boiled down to, even if the product was broken, somebody’s managing and development of that product, someone’s arrogance in saying the product isn’t broken, there’s always going to be the element of that human being that we have to work with to get that to be fixed. I have yet to find an issue or a growth pain that didn’t evolve around a someone.


John Sumser: You were saying earlier that it’s often a case of competence rather than sort of emotional maturity that …


Tish Squillaro: That was that case. Many times, you have to balance it. I think today, the way we hire people … Hiring is a big proponent of really taking a look at someone’s behaviors matched to their skill. We can look at a resume and see that someone is extremely skilled to do this job with their eyes closed, but, when you meet them and you engage with them, their style, their behaviors, their emotional tendencies may not fit into the culture of your business or the team to which they’re going to work with. You’ve got to marry both. You have to have both. It’s not enough just to have the skills, you have to look at their behaviors.


I’ve worked with a ton of people who are extremely bright, very well-versed, excellent at what they do, but, if they have a sense of insecurity, they’re not going to hire strong people to build teams. If they have a sense of arrogance, they’re never going to be able to be a team-oriented collaborator. There are going to be parts of their behavior that will alienate them from being able to do the right thing for that company or in that relationship. It is an equal marriage. The example I gave you was, yes, the emotions of someone were there from the loyalty and commitment, but the person who was the decision maker was caught up in just emotion and wasn’t looking at the skill. I can give you examples where the people are spot-on, perfect for the job, but they don’t know how to communicate or engage with other people, which is causing a lot of the drama. It really is a balance.


John Sumser: That’s interesting. A lot of the figures in popular culture who are known as great leaders strike me as emotional basket cases. Do you find that you have to swim against the current of popular culture to help people see a better way of decision making than the sort of … what’s en vogue now is the visionary who has got a good feel of certainty and a wickedly negative personal style. I assume that your model doesn’t include that sort of emotional behavior.


Tish Squillaro: I can’t say I’ve had every type of person to work with, but I’ve had a diversified group. I do find that self-awareness is key. Many times, the individuals that have some of the quirkiness about them could be a lack of self-awareness. I guarantee you I could tie it to one of my 7 emotions. Many times, insecurity is masked by being very quirky so people don’t get to know who you really are. Fear of failure, they become someone else so that no one knows that they don’t know all the answers. They act a certain way. I do think that a lot of it stems from a self-awareness. I’ve had to work with some interesting individuals because they are very bright and extremely successful but their ability to communicate and engage with another human being took a lot more work than the actual brilliance of what they built or what they formed. A lot of it was lack of self-awareness and, sometimes, just good self-awareness. Their only awareness was bad self-awareness. It was a matter of drilling down and …


I don’t think that there’s anyone out there, no matter how eccentric they are, doesn’t know that they’re eccentric. I think they do. It’s a matter of the game they play. If it’s something which they want to work on, everybody has the ability to alter their behavior to allow another person in. Could be a limited in, but you can still learn how to communicate and engage. I think those are some of the things that they struggle with.


John Sumser: That’s great. We have blown through our allotted time. Are there a couple of things that you’d like the audience to take away from the conversation?


Tish Squillaro: I would. When you have been in business for as long as I have, I look at each person and each company as wanting to get where they’re going. I try to inspire people that life is hard and choices are tough, but, if you feel good about yourself and you find the confidence in the things that you can do well and stop comparing yourself to someone else, there isn’t anything that you can’t set your sights on attempting to do. I think the challenge that we face today is we compare ourselves sometimes to people who have things that we may never be able to go to because it’s of means that just … It’s not practical. I think if you could just get happy with who we are and how we operate, it’s going to be a better life for them. Then, they’ll be able to work and live with others better because you’re happy. I do believe that happiness and humor play a role in how people can lead and how others can inspire.


I don’t know if today, with all of the access to information and things so easy at your fingertips, that we’ve lost track of recognizing that we are all simple, same people. Some of us do things differently, but we all have something good. Head Trash was to get you to start to look at, “Who am I? What are my strengths? Where do I sometimes need to kind of revisit and look at those blind spots? I want to try to be the best I can.” Without a road map to know what to do to do that, it’s hard to do. To me, I just want people to start to find their road map of where is it right for them. If it’s right for them, it will be right for everyone around them, as well.


John Sumser: I couldn’t agree with you more. The world needs a good deal more introspection than it’s currently using. Would you take just another minute, re-introduce yourself, and tell people how to get ahold of you?


Tish Squillaro: Absolutely. My name is Tish Squillaro. My business is called CANDOR Consulting. I’ve recently authored two books on the “Head Trash” series with my co-author Tim Thomas. You can reach us by our website, which is headtrash911 dot com. That’s headtrash911 dot com. If you get the opportunity to go there, please take that free index. It’s 10 minutes. Immediately, you’ll get an overview of your 7 head trash elements with numeric scoring, immediate satisfaction to what does it mean to me? You can then look at that next minute of your day differently knowing that much more about you.


John Sumser: Fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and talk with us today, Tish. You’ve been listening to HR Examiner Radio. We’ve been talking with Tish Squillaro, who is the founder of CANDOR Consulting and the author of the “Head Trash” series. Worth a quick scan. Thanks for tuning in, everybody. This has been HR Examiner Radio. Have a great day.

End transcript


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