Chats with Jenn: Embracing Vulnerability And Leading With Courage

Today’s episode is an extract from my interview with Jenn Fenwick, who’s also a podcaster like me and we talk about my career and leadership.

This is a fun chat where we talk about navigating fear, opening ourselves up to vulnerability and making courageous decisions… oh and Beyoncé gets a mention too!  

This is a gem of an episode, jam-packed with insights and tips for everyone, including the following topics:

  • Leading without the job title; how to influence cross-functional teams
  • How he overcame the fear of public speaking
  • How to build and manage a virtual team
  • Creative thinking in an analytical discipline
  • Being comfortable with not being the expert as a leader
  • The power of storytelling; the stories we tell others… and ourselves!
  • Why you need to be conscious about how you start your day

Listen to this insightful episode and share this with your friends and colleagues!

Here’s the link to the complete episode on Jenns podcast:

Jenn Fenwick

Founder and Leadership Coach at Rebel Road Coaching & Onboarding Ltd

Coaching is a powerful tool and I love being a secret weapon, supporting leaders accelerate their transitions and step up to the next level. I work with STEM leaders across the globe to confidently navigate the complexities (and anxieties) that come with career transitions and change. I remove the “noise” and overwhelm from the busy-ness of modern life, so leaders can focus on what is important, their growth and development. My leadership transition and onboarding programmes are both supportive and challenging, and my clients find the process hugely empowering.

Where to find Jenn:


Alexander: You’re listening to The Effective Statistician podcasts, a weekly podcast with Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Piske, designed to help you reach your potential, lead great sciences, and serve patients without becoming overwhelmed by work. Today, I have a bonus episode for you, a short part of the episode that I recorded together with Jenn Fenwick on her podcast. So, If you liked this episode, then head over to her podcast, and you can find a link to her show in the show notes, and listen to the complete episode. So have fun with this short clip with Jenn. 

Jenn: Hi, welcome to the Chats with Jenn podcast. I’m Jenn Fenwick, a leadership coach with thousands of people over the years to make bold career moves. I love nothing more than working with modern leaders to find that sweet spot to tweak career and life. Yes, you can have both. I want this podcast to be a breath of fresh air, bringing insights and stories and hot tips to help you make confident career moves and to navigate growth and change, so sit back, relax and enjoy. Today’s interview is an absolute cracker. I’m so delighted, I’m going to be speaking to Alex Schacht who is the Exec VP of Data Science at Veramed. He has had an awesome career so far. From the very first time that Alex and I chatted and met over virtual coffee, we just absolutely hit it off. We’ve got so much in common, we both shared some of the similar values, creativity, trust and courage and we just had such fun chats. I’m really excited to be bringing this to you. We talk about navigating fear, true leadership, opening ourselves up to vulnerability, making courageous decisions and there Beyonce gets mentioned too. But there’s so much good stuff today about, you know how to lead without the job title or how Alex overcame the fear of public speaking, you’re managing a virtual team, creative thinking and analytical discipline, you’re being comfortable with not always being the expert, the power of storytelling, and why you need to be conscious about the way you start a day and plus so much more. It’s a cracking interview. So sit back, relax and enjoy. 

Awesome Alex. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s great to have you here.

Alexander: Hello Jenn, great to talk to you,

Jenn: Amazing. Now we have only virtually met very recently but I did a shout out to my network actually about a month ago to say, you know, please send me the names of inspiring leaders, role models, who you think would be awesome guests on my podcast and we share someone in common, Liz Cole who said that she admired you creative thinking and an analyst cool world. So I’m just thanking you Liz for making the introductions but Alex it was so cool we had a virtual coffee only a few weeks ago and even in that half an hour, there’s so many things that we shared or aligned on. So I’ve been really looking forward to this interview. 

Alexander: Thanks so much, yeah. Liz, thanks so much for the connection. 

Jenn: Amazing. So Alex, I know at the moment you are about eight months into a new leadership role as Exec VP in Data Science. But I’m intrigued and we’re both lovers of stories. Tell me, you know, your career story, how did that all unfold? Where did it all start? 

Alexander: It really started me studying mathematics and I’ve never ever thought about going into the pharmaceutical industry and doing something with statistics and for the health of patients. Yeah, I initially wasn’t really sure what I’d do with it. I was just studying mathematics because I had a passion for it. And said, okay if nothing works I’ll become a teacher. That was so to say my plan B, but I really didn’t have a plan A. During my study, I think I got in contact with statistics and especially medical statistics, biostatistics. And at that  time, data science wasn’t really a thing. Yeah, so at the time we were talking about statistics and analytical skills and things like this and over time, that became kind of a part of data science.

Fast forward, I went to do the pharmaceutical industry and never really thought about myself as a leader, I was more thinking about myself as a statistician that helps others to do the right things. Yeah, that consults the team in terms of this. Only when I changed to my second position, I had this interesting discussion that I still remember. In my first review, there was this one section in the review forms, that was about achieving results for others or something like, successful delegation and things like this, and I thought well I don’t have someone to delegate to.  I’m not a supervisor. So who should I delegate to? And my supervisor helped me understand that this wasn’t necessarily about being a supervisor. It is about collaboration and influencing others to act on your ideas. And that was a kind start of the journey where I more and more sort of myself less as a consultant, where teams come to me and I give advice and then they go away and they implement it or don’t implement it? It is some kind of outsider but I was more seeing myself as a team member, as an influencer. Influencer not the social media type of thing but in terms of someone that wants to influence others for thriving, you know, going the right direction. And making sure that, you know, the things happen and not just informing or recommending things. Couple of years later, I also became a supervisor. And at that time I had my first real direct reports who were located across Europe, one in Madrid, one in Vienna, one in Paris and one person was sitting in the office next to me.

So I was always kind of used to working remotely in that way. Yes, it’s much longer than, you know, the pandemic forced many of us to work in that space. Yeah, I never had the opportunity to look over the shoulder of my direct reports and see what they are doing. So I needed to directly kind of trust them. There’s no way you can kind of micromanage someone that sits in another country. Let alone micromanage three other people that sit in other countries. Unless maybe you’re doing that all day but I didn’t want to do that. And so I was thinking okay I need to help them but in a way that is, it’s based on trust and at that time I was and kind of thing, okay,I really need to learn more about leadership, about supervising people and I was still commuting to the office quite a lot. And the commuting time was my time where I thought, okay, this is the time where I can actually, you know, learn something because we also had our first son at the time. And so at home, can you imagine, I have a lot of other duties. And I found a couple of really, really great podcasts to help me become a better leader.

And since then, I’ve really become passionate about this topic more and more. And for a couple of years, I now also have my own leadership program through which I help others become better leaders. And especially kind of in the sense of leading without the title. So even if you don’t have direct reports, how can you lead? How can you lead cross-functionally? How can you lead a team where there is, you know, not a supervisor and many team members, but it is a typical cross-functional team where you have people, maybe someone from marketing, someone from sales, someone from production, someone from all kinds of different areas. And they come with very, very different experiences and expertise and they don’t report into the same person. So how can you act in these teams and take these teams with you? Because that is especially kind of the area where my listeners from my podcast actually do come from. So that’s a nutshell in my career, how I came into being interested in leadership. 

Jenn: Well, I love it. Here, a really important point is I think people are almost obsessed with or that they think about leaders as people managers but actually, and I think we discussed this before they actually here when you looked even to children and I think about my the first time I took on the role of his leader was actually, you know, as a sports captain, you know, in the network or even as a teenager, you know. So I was demonstrating leadership as you know at school, you know. So  leadership is about inspiring people and empowering and enabling and getting them by building behind an idea and taking action, it isn’t just about managing people and I think you hit on a really key point is we get everyday leadership. 

Alexander: Exactly. And these kinds of activities like sports or community or church or these kinds of things where people come because I want to come. And they buy into some kind of common goal that we can really learn about leadership. Because you can’t just sit back and say I’m the boss here, so you do what I say. You need to convince people. You need to take them with you and that is in a way, of course harder but it’s also much more productive and much more efficient. Because one of the things that I really learned also, actually interestingly when I was doing my military service, it’s not so much about telling people what to do but why? Those were some interesting concepts. Interestingly if you look further into this concept of leading by goals and leading in that way, it doesn’t come from the business world. It actually comes from the military space and one of the areas which especially also came from is the German forces. And so it’s much more important to speak about what to achieve, why to achieve it then what to do because you can, you know, you help a person to x then y then that. And they start with x and then they run into a roadblock. Something doesn’t work as planned. If you haven’t told them what to do, they don’t know. If you haven’t told them what to achieve, they don’t know what to do next. They can’t find any kind of, you know, the different route, a different task, you know, some kind of things to move around and they get stuck. Whereas if you can say to them, go there, achieve this,  then they can find their own ways. And especially, when you work in situations, where your team members have complementary skill sets that you don’t have, it is even more important. I have some amazing programs in my team. I don’t tell them, you know how to code things. I am a terrible programmer. Who am I? I tell them, you know what to achieve? What are the causes of why that is important? These kinds of things. And then I coach them to get there, but I don’t tell them, well you need to use this package and this software whatsoever. 

Jenn: I love that because actually what you’re doing is you’re hiring and bringing in great people. You’re getting them bought into a kind of a vision, a destination to know where you’re going and, you know, and why and what their role is. You’re providing, yes, supporting them with their learning but then comes back to that trust aspect as well. And something jumped out  when we spoke the last time, was when you said about trust and you have to trust forwards. I really love this. 

Alexander: Yeah.  Especially as a leader, you always need to trust forward. And that is one of the things that feels so uncomfortable because if you trust forward, you make yourself vulnerable. You make yourself for rejection, for failure, for mistakes, whatsoever. And I think, especially as a leader in both the sense of supervising and not supervising, you need to go first, that means you need to trust. And sometimes that, you know, doesn’t work out but that’s it, you still need to go first. 

Jenn: It’s funny because I do think back to my first leadership program of managing a team and actually that was something I found quite difficult and it’s not because of the individuals, you know that trust piece I was managing virtual team wasn’t because of those individuals because they were awesome people. It was really my own confidence, you know. And actually I was really finding my feet and it was the trust in who I was as a leader and sometimes so caught up in that internal piece, that leading yourself, that it can then filter externally and that lack of trust, you know. 

Alexander: Oh yeah, that is, this feeling of fear of failure and fear of not showing up well, or fear of am I enough of different things. 

Jenn: Absolutely, yeah. And I think this is something that we all forget is actually as humans, you know, regardless of level seniority, when we’re going through growth and expanding in our roles and taking things to the next level, we all share these things. 

Alexander: Yes and unfortunately, they never really go away. I think it’s sometimes I say, you need to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable if you want to grow and especially as a leader, if you want to do something new, if you want to change something, if you want to push things forward, you constantly feel uncomfortable.

Jenn: People fight it, you know, people think because I feel uncomfortable, you know, maybe there’s something wrong but you know, I think I get to do this and you also as a podcast host and you have honest conversations, we realize that we’re all feeling these things. We just don’t talk as openly about it, you know

Alexander: Yes. There’s one story that I very often tell about it, it’s that nearly everybody has this kind of problem. Even when someone you don’t see goes onstage. He feels rejection and you can think, wait a moment, we don’t see, you know, this supermodel, supposedly a singer, sold millions of records whatsoever. That person? That woman? Yes, even these people fear that. And so it’s completely normal to feel this. I think what is more important is what we tell ourselves about it. I’m like, you know, many people I was afraid of speaking in public. And some people can’t believe that, if you have published 200 episodes, you would frequently be on stage. I was there like everybody. And I know that very often people fear speaking in public more than death actually. But over time, I learned to tell myself a different story, when I go on that stage. So, just before I go onstage in a big auditorium, I see a room full of people and this may be hundreds of people at a conference. And I know my blood pressure goes up, my eyesight cannot focus a little bit and maybe even you know I hear things more kind of differently. Everybody has these kinds of symptoms. And now you can talk to yourself and say I’ll fail. I’m bad at presenting. Or you can talk to yourself,  this is your body, making you prepared for top performance. You’ll go out there and you’ll rock the stage. 

Jenn: I love it.  

Alexander: You’ve done it before and you know you’ll perform and get your message across to the audience because they need to listen about it. 

Jenn: Yeah absolutely. 

Alexander: And this very, very different story that you tell to yourself is so powerful. 

Jenn: I love, and again this is something that we spoke about last time and I was just like we both are such believers in the power of storytelling. Not just the story that we tell others but the stories we tell ourselves. It’s funny when we talk about standing in public speaking. Even just imagining it, my heart started to already race and we’re all like that, but as you have, I’ve had to try and tell myself the story and my story is actually, you know, you have the power to help someone today, by starting the podcast or by putting myself out there, even if just one person out there, it benefits from the story I’m telling, or from seeing me be more visible. Then that’s enough to push me through the fear because that drive to help others. There’s something that vision is more powerful than my fear. 

Alexander: Yes, absolutely. I think that it is so important to have this vision of helping others. I’m just reading this book, The Happiness Advantage and it also speaks about having this kind of purpose, helps you to become happier and that helps you to deliver better. So it’s having this kind of service mentality in terms of you wanting to do something for the greater good, having this kind of purpose is such a big motivator. Also Dan Pink talks about it. And so that is also something that is so important as a leader, you need to provide this kind of purpose or you need to make sure that everybody understands it. You need to remember about it, you need to kind of repeat it. It’s so often lost in our day-to-day work, isn’t it? You go to work and you’d read it because there’s this meeting, this phone call, and all these kinds of nasty emails. But it’s about some mindset. How are you going to get into it? Do you go into the meeting and you think, ‘oh in this meeting, I can really push this topic forward. I can really help my colleagues. I can you know make my overall organization better to deliver on its purpose’. 

Jenn: Yeah, absolutely.

Alexander: That is so important. 

Jenn: So important, I think because now more than ever is busier than ever. So many organizations and leaders I’m speaking to say that meetings, virtual meetings, are heavier and back-to-back more than ever before. But I feel like people don’t have these conscious thoughts before going into meetings, you know, like actually what you know? What do you want to get out of today? What impact do I want to make? You know, what is the outcome I’m looking to know? All these things and they don’t have the time because they’re just jumping from one to the other, to the other, so reactive. 

Alexander: Yeah. That’s really the worst thing that you can be in this kind of reactive mode because reactive is everything but not leadership. And people start sometimes already when they open their laptop, go into the emails and then, ‘oh the first meeting comes up’, and they are already kind of in a hurry and then everybody is busy. I start my day differently. One of my, I would say, virtual mentors is Michael Hyatt and so lots of things but I will talk more about is credited to him. I was at the same point, I was having lots of lots of meetings. I had, I think, at a time 75 meetings per week, on the average, on top of all the emails and all the other stuff. So I was completely overwhelmed and only in the reactive mode. And I was really really struggling with that. I was kind of, I felt unproductive, I felt unfulfilled, I felt really really bad about work, frustrated. Now I learned a couple of things that really changed a lot. The first is and that’s my biggest productivity tip, as I always have is having clear goals. Because if you have clear goals, then you can actually do the things that really matter and leave out all the others. So how do you determine whether you need to go to this meeting? Whether you need to respond to this email, whether you need to do whatever. It’s only based on your goals,  do these things help you to achieve some or not. And if they are not helping you to achieve them or if you don’t even know why is that the purpose of this meeting. Well decline it. Say, ‘sorry I don’t see how I can help here’, that’s it.

Jenn: It’s funny. People don’t realize how much power they have to make changes like this the right way. Leaders across the globe like, let us try that, try that, let’s just ignore it. 

Alexander: It’s a wrong belief. You need to set boundaries very very clearly. And if you’re not setting the boundaries, nobody will. I worked in this American company. So I had a lot of calls with the US. And I had this clear boundary, if you want to have a meeting after 6 p.m. my time, you need to be at least at the time it was VP level. Everybody below it, nope, you can find a better time in the calendar. You know I communicated that and one colleague said ‘that’s good you’re setting clear boundaries, that’s fine’.

Jenn: Yeah. At least people know it otherwise. But I think it’s so funny because when I go through this with people I think I actually said to my US colleagues,’I don’t take meetings late European Time on a Friday because that’s my family time’. And then the US colleagues say,‘Okay of course, you no worries. But actually you know so often people are much more reasonable than we think, or actually and how we can also our behavior, and our boundaries can then inspire, empower and enable others. 

Alexander: Exactly. And that goes in both directions. If you are the leader, you don’t have boundaries. What kind of role model are you for those you are leading? If you work 80 hours or something crazy like this, do you think your direct report will work a lot less? Will they keep a healthy life work balance? Although I don’t really buy into this concept, will they set boundaries for themselves? They don’t because as a leader, you always set an example. And so how you work, that’s a way your team will work. 

Jenn: Absolutely. And I think this is, you know, why it’s so powerful to explore the role of being a role model. I think, sometimes we talk about leadership, we talk about management, but actually, who are you as a role model? And it can be, again, quite uncomfortable. So, a lot of people say, ‘oh, you know, don’t really like the fact that I’m a role model’. And I always think that’s quite telling about, how are you as a role model? How do you want others to see you? And then often their behavior will shift because I think actually, you know, I want to be a role model, work-life boundaries and blend for my people. Am I role modeling that now? It’s a really bold thing to look at but such an important one. 

Alexander: Yes and all these unconscious things that you do. When I became a first time supervisor, I had a really really nice mentor. Shout out to Simon, we also recorded an episode very early. And he shared with me that whatever I do, be really conscious about it because people are watching all the time. And he told the story, at a coffee machine, we are standing then and some others and also some direct reports and he was just kind of, you know, talking about stuff, you know, some random salt. And of course, a person from the team directly implemented these. ‘No, no. I was just  kind of, that was not a command or that was not like, you know, you should do this, whatever. This was just some random salt’. And he realized as a leader, you need to be really conscious of how you come across. And that is really difficult at times because you can’t see yourself from the outside really well. So you need to have someone that tells you the truth about what you do and you need to be very very good at listening to how others react, how others perceive you, what can go wrong and you can always fall into this trap.

I recently had a discussion about I think I made a remark , ‘that’s great work, maybe you can share that on LinkedIn. Just kind of ‘no, nice’. I thought it was really, really good, but the person who I made this remark had a lot of fear about sharing that on LinkedIn, about sharing anything on LinkedIn. And so that person became really, really anxious about it and felt really bad about it and didn’t even have the, you know, wasn’t thinking about the fact that he would be in the position to actually tell me about it. And only through someone else gave me a hint I was made aware that something is wrong and then I made it really, really safe for the person to talk to me. And then with tears and everything kind of it came to life and we could resolve it. But it’s, you know, as a leader you think for yourself, ‘oh share it on LinkedIn, that’s not a big deal’. What is not a big deal for you might be something for someone else. 

Jenn: Absolutely. No assumptions. Yeah, exactly. 

Alexander: No assumptions. You can’t work without assumptions. But you need to check your assumptions again and again. 

Jenn: Yeah, I think this is such an important topic and something there’s a lot of leaders I speak to, the importance of feedback, you know, it’s again, it comes back to that sometimes being open that vulnerability that comes with opening ourselves up to feedback, but how important it is to evolve as a leader also to but to make sure that you’re supporting your people. I mean, and this comes up in conversation all the time, what would you say to a leader out there who would benefit from getting feedback, but it may be feeling, you know, not feeling as confident to go and ask people for feedback. How would you approach that? 

Alexander: I think, if you want to stay where you are, be exactly the person that you are now and you want to stay there for your whole career and run into the same problems again and again and again and again, you don’t need feedback. If you want to improve, if you wanna learn why certain things are not working, why certain behavior, certain tools that you’re applying are not working? It doesn’t work without feedback. It’s the only way you can learn. Of course you can learn through reading all these kinds of things and reflection and things like this. But only through feedback you see what’s really happening. You can see this outside perspective. You are made aware of your blind spots and things like this. And what others see that you don’t see. And honestly most of the things, we don’t see ourselves so feedback is really, really important, asking questions, staying humble is such a big thing. If you stop staying humble, I think you stop developing.

Jenn: Yeah, absolutely. I actually do think asking for feedback helps us to better push the boundaries, it can help us get to our goals faster but also, you know, my sweet spot is working with leaders and as they transition into new leadership roles, so often, you know, I’ll say,  have you asked for feedback from? How are you getting on? How do others see you? And that can be quite uncomfortable especially when you’re new to an organization or newly promoted, but it’s so interesting that when people do put themselves out there, how often it gives them a confidence boost because actually they’re so focused on what they haven’t done or they haven’t learned to what could go wrong, what people might not like, actually they get a lot of despot in positivity with maybe some development areas that to comes back with a boosts and motivation. 

Alexander: Yes, feedback is not only about the critics. Feedback is also so many positive things, especially as a supervisor. I learned, when you give feedback 10 times, 9 times, it should be supportive feedback, only once constructive feedback. And so having this mindset and then also asking for feedback constantly is so important. Otherwise you end up in the situation where you get a surprise at your don’t know half year met review or something like this. And that’s the worst thing ever that can happen. You think you’re doing great or the other way around also. You think you will probably get fired within the next three months and you are already searching for a new job. Where’s your supervisor things? Well, get some promotion? All kinds of different things can happen just because you haven’t kind of checked your assumptions like you’re just talked about. 

Jenn: Yeah. Actually, how many people, I think also with virtual working so many people are in their own heads. You know, when you’re working from home, you’re not interacting with colleagues, you’re not having those opportunities to just bounce off each other so sometimes it is again, that story that we are telling ourselves, we have to be so clear that it’s a more positive one, you know, because actually, I spoke to someone last week who had their review from last year and was just so emotional, because it was so positive. But in her head, she’s like, I could have done more, this is what I didn’t do and that she just had that negative.

Alexander: Absolutely. Be careful what you talk and who’s listening.

Jenn: On your LinkedIn, I was noticing and I love that you could have got this mantra that is up on there and it’s that ‘Fear is a reaction, Courage is a decision’ and I love that. I just love to explore that. Where did that kind of come from or how has it been useful for you? 

Alexander: That is a reminder to myself basically because like anybody, I fear a lot of things. I fear rejection, I fear failure, I have looking stupid, all kind of different things. And that’s normal. That’s, that’s a usual reaction you have to all kinds of things. Courage is when you act despite that fear. And it puts you into a proactive role, into a role where you can control things. When you are just in fear mode, you end up as victim mode. Several tests have done this to me, my supervisor has done this to me, my colleague has done this to me and I am the victim and I can’t do anything about it and everything is so bad and really I can’t work here and and you know this is how Martin Seligman calls it ‘Learned helplessness’ and that’s where I want to get out. I want to be on the other side of that. I want to acknowledge the fear but still act. Acknowledge that maybe if I’m you know giving this presentation, it will be controversial maybe. Or else do it anyway? Or maybe if I’m calling this new customer, maybe they will say, no. Maybe they will be, you know, in a bad mood or whatsoever. I’ll do it anyway. 

Jenn: Yeah. 

Alexander: And that is where puts me into this proactive mode, that’s so important because I think we’ll all have been there where we are in this victim mindset, nothing good comes from that. 

Jenn: And it’s so funny because it really resonated with me because as well, you know, for me my mind kind of mentors us, back yourself because again, when I fall into that fear zone or on our own, can I do this? I just had that I say to myself, you know, back yourself. What is the courageous decision right now? If you were feeling confident right now, what would you do? And then I do what I think.

Alexander: Yeah. 

Jenn: I’m scared but nothing, really nothing bad is coming from, actually, I’ve made really awesome decisions and it’s been a massive learning worth. But nothing that, you know, operates from a place of fear and nothing looks. 

Alexander: And usually we overstate things. 

Jenn: Exactly. 

Alexander: What is the worst thing that can happen? There’s a person who could say no. Meeting could be over in five minutes. Will I care about it in three hours, in three days, in three months? Probably not. So let’s go for it. And the other thing is, how probable are these things? Will this whole auditorium stand up and shout, ‘throw away your stupid’? Never seen that. So it’s highly unlikely. 

Jenn: I know, but it feels, isn’t incredible how it can feel so real. I had this as well, I’ve always been that person who for the most part, what’s the worst that could happen making those decisions, but when I had cancer and went through all that kind of that curve on the treatment, when I came out the other side, I very much was in a fear zone because actually the worst thing had happened. And so, then my mind was like, ‘oh don’t do the thing’ because something bad, that catastrophizing and actually, ‘ah but it felt so uncomfortable, you know, it felt awful’. So it just took a lot of time and effort and that conscious effort to kind of get back into that you’re leaning into courage and I think it’s something that you have as a muscle reflex, but again it just can sometimes take time.

Alexander: But these kinds of really bad experiences like having cancer, isn’t that something that actually puts you into a mood that or into a stage where you can actually be more brave because you have faced it? 

Jenn: Yeah. It almost had two parts. I was being more, I was what’s the worst, why not, I’ve got the second chance to go after things, but it was that kind of internal conflict and conversation that we have with ourselves. So, well, here’s the worst thing. I think that that voice wasn’t very loud prior to having cancer but it just got a little bit louder so again I think we’re always going to have that voice. We’re always going to have that you know.

Alexander: But it’s always there. Just this morning, I was kind of walking back from the city and was telling myself all kinds of you know bad stories about what will happen at work and I realized, ‘don’t tell yourself these stories’. Wait a minute.You just sent yourself down this dune spiral. Get out of it. It’s this kind of mental thinking, you’re thinking about your thoughts. Is something that I only learned very, very recently I need to admit. So if you don’t have that, don’t feel bad about yourself. Took me nearly 50 years together.

Jenn: And I think again this comes back to time. They think how glad I go on about this all the time as leaders or do as individuals, we all need time and space. We need to get off of this kind of conveyor belt and out of the busyness because just to check in with ourselves, on how we are doing, what stories we are telling, how we are feeling in it and how important it is to focus on things that make us feel good. Keep our bodies healthy but also our minds. 

Alexander: Yeah. Exercising is so important for me to keep me healthy. If I’m not running every couple of days, I feel really, really bad both physically and much more even mentally. And give yourself a treat that is so important. And afterwards, you can be so much more energized and faster. This is really nice and as I look at the Formula 1 race cars. Say, take a break to go faster. 

Jenn: Absolutely. 

Alexander: That is, they consciously take a break to go faster and everybody should do this. You need to take a break to go faster to be more effective. There’s so much research about working long hours doesn’t help. It’s much more important that the time you do the work, you do it effectively. 

Jenn: Absolutely. 

Alexander: I’ve recorded many podcast episodes about it, if you do things consciously, if you make the most out of a meeting, if you have a one-to-one with your direct report and you really go into it and you’re not just kind of see it as I need to pick that off and here’s a form I need to fill in and I need to have this one-to-one because you need to have one-to-one as a supervisor, but if you really go in there and be there for your direct report, listen, completely listen there, not having your phone buzzing or reading emails or things like this but really having your direct report in virtual meeting full screen, completely focused there, just having your notes for you to write, with pen and paper maybe you can enjoy that. And then you can move the needle in this time when you’re with your want to run really well. And that is so much more effective than hurrying from one meeting to the next and being busy. That doesn’t move you forward.

Jenn: I love that. I thank you  so much, so many wonderful things. I know we could keep talking about the power of storytelling, creativity, courage, you know, conscious leading, how to use our time and I love that, take a break to go faster, so much great stuff. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it. 

Alexander: Thanks so much Jenn. I really enjoyed it myself. 

Jenn: As always, don’t be a stranger. I would love to hear from you. So wherever you are in the world, drop me a message, send me an email. Come find me on LinkedIn. Send me a message. I really enjoy hearing what’s jumped out at people and what are the key takeaways from these podcast episodes or even just to say hello and say that you listen to and that would be awesome and I will catch up with you soon. Bye. 

Alexander: So if you like that head over to Jenn’s podcast to listen to the complete episode. 

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