This is the life and business advice that the Dr. ordered

In this video

This is the life and business advice that the Dr. ordered

- [Chris] On this episode of C Level, I talked with Doctor Shelton Goode, President and CEO of Icarus Consulting.

- So Shelton, thank you for having us come out. I know a little bit of your background and today, we're gonna be talking about diversification of workplace and team building and stuff.

- Right.

- And I wanna hear it from you. So, how did you get-- Where did you come from, grew up, how did you get started, how did you get into all these?

- Okay, so, let's go backwards.

- [Chris] Yeah.

- Let's go to backwards. So I'm currently the CEO and president of Icarus Consulting. Icarus Consulting is a veteran-owned firm, and we specialize in human resource management consulting.

- [Chris] Okay.

- But our superpower is helping companies recruit in a very competitive landscape. Make sure that they get their share of the talent. But we do some a little bit better than some other folks. We also concentrate for our clients on their current workforce. So many companies are so focused on getting you know, that talent in.

- Right, right.

- It's diverse, it's young, it's people of color, it's women, and everybody's so focused on that, that sometimes their current workforce feels like they're being overlooked. So we make sure that while they're trying to get that diverse talent from the emerging workforce, that they think about and focus on their current people. And then, once they do get that workforce, that talent in, that they keep it.

- Right.

- Because it's really competitive, and it's almost cheaper and easier to poach from other companies than go out and source for a new talent so we make sure that companies have a inclusive workplace which we believe is the secret sauce to retaining employees.

- Yeah, absolutely. And I love the fact that your current employees, right? That's important too.

- Yes.

- 'Cause you're bringing new talent and sometimes people that have been around for a long time, it's like, oh there's this new talent coming in, so making sure that they still feel as important.

- Right.

- [Chris] And stuff so I love that.

- Right, yeah, and that comes from the fact that before I started Icarus Consulting, I was a chief diversity officer for a number of companies.

- What does Icarus stand for?

- Icarus doesn't stand for anything so if you know anything about

- [Both] Greek mythology

- Okay, yeah.

- So, you know, I like the fact that there was this guy in Greek mythology who wanted to defy gravity.

- [Chris] Right.

- If that, that's our tagline. Let's defy gravity. So but before starting the firm, I was a chief diversity officer for a number of large and small companies, and I'm proud that-- to tell you what those are. It was the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority,

- [Chris] Yeah.

- Better known as MARTA, right here in Atlanta. And before that, it was Oshkosh Defense Corporation, Pennsylvania Power and Light, and then again back here in Atlanta with Southern Company, Georgia Power, where I was in human resource leadership and diversity leadership. So I've taken all that experience, and brought it into my company. Oh, I can't forget to mention, 23 years, six months, eight days serving this great country in the the Air Force.

- Thank you for time. Thank you for your service.

- [Shelton] I appreciate, thank you, yeah.

- So while we're talking about that, so tell about coming from the Air force going into the private sector, what was that transition like for you?

- It was interesting because I knew that I had a lot of training, knew that I had not only education but advanced education. The Air Force-- Thanks to the Air Force, I was able to get both a graduate and post-graduate degree but it think I overestimated how tough it was to make a transition. You can't just step out, and step right into a new world.

- [Chris] Right.

- And so if I had to press rewind, and do it again, I probably would have sought out a coach, someone specifically in the line of work that I wanted to go to, and then help them tell me the unwritten rules, and there are a number of them. For an example, in the Air Force, the budget is sort of seamless and invisible. You know that it's gonna come, it's gonna roll over. In corporate world, you have to put together a business case and from a budget year to budget year. You have to compete for your priorities. I was not-- I should've known that, but I wasn't prepared for that, and I wasn't as prepared for the quarter to quarter pressure to have to perform.

- [Chris] Right.

- You know, paint your own as good as the last quarter.

- [Chris] Right.

- Other than that, the leadership, the working with people from different backgrounds, different nationalities, that again was, I think that gave me a competitive edge on coming in. So there was some good, there was some bad. In fact, I do a lot of mentoring now of vet transitioning from the military into the corporate sector, and I share with them some of those lessons learned.

- That's awesome. And what I love about the military is that it does prepares you for that fundamental leadership foundation.

- Right, right.

- Incorporating when making that transition into corporate life, I see a lot of that stepping into the management roles

- [Shelton] Right.

- Are you finding the same thing that you're stepping into management roles or CEO C-suite type roles?

- Yeah, I think one of the things that I learned and stays with me, and I've brought it from the military, to higher ed, to corporate, and now into mine, is themes. That every-- It's organization where everybody knows their role, everybody knows their position, everybody's prepared and trained to execute and play.

- [Chris] Right.

- And I'm not just talking about my play, I'm talking about play-- I mean, let's talk about a kicker. A kicker can kick a 60 yard field goal if you're up by 42.

- [Chris] Right.

- But can you kick that same field goal when you're down by two and there's only one second to go into the clock.

- [Chris] Right.

- You know, and everybody's counting on you.

- [Chris] Right.

- That's the difference. That's the thing that I think makes my consulting firm special is we have a very, very good team. Everybody's qualified. Everybody knows their role. But everybody knows that you have to help everybody.

- [Chris] Yeah.

- In order for everyone to succeed.

- What I love just hearing you when you walked in here, like, "Hang on, let me holler at my family."

- Yeah, yeah.

- [Chris] I love that!

- Yeah, yeah.

- 'Cause that is the same thing I say in our company too 'cause you guys are family.

- [Shelton] Yeah, yeah.

- I joke I say, when I hire somebody it's more of an adoption process than anything because you know, I'm taking you in and like, I want the best for you.

- [Shelton] Right.

- I wanna get you to where you wanna go in life. I wanna know what the desires of your heart and support you. That's what I'm supposed to do as a CEO is support you and get you to where you want to go.

- Right, that's exactly correct. That's exactly correct. And you spend a lot of time. I mean, I travel extensively and so I'm on a roll with my team. You get to talk about wins and losses so yeah, when you have that functional family, that sort where you can disagree.

- [Chris] Yeah.

- But in the end of the day, you know that at the end, we're trying to get that win.

- [Chris] Yup.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, and it's funny 'cause I mean you know, just like any family, like, bickering, these things do happen, right? But at the end of the day, I still love you as an employee. I may not like you right now because of something that you might have done

- [Shelton] Yeah.

- But that doesn't stop the love and the care that I really truly care about you as an employee to still get you to where you are.

- So while we're talking about families, let me tell you, how many old companies call me up. And they say, well we have a strong culture, it's family. But then once I start my assessment which includes a formal survey, which includes talking to employees, talking to executive, talking to people that have been there for one day, or people that had been there for 30 days, people that's been there for 30 years, you start getting a profile of this family.

- Right.

- And some companies I've had to help--

- The broken family.

- I'm not sure if they were the Addams family, or the Corleone family.

- [Chris] That's awesome.

- But it's like, look, I gotta get you to be a functional family.

- [Chris] Right.

- A caring family where everybody knows that they belong, and knowing that the absence of conflict is not the test of the family. It's can you have that conflict, push through it, and what we say in my business, does everybody still walk them away from there, from the situation, feeling respected, because I am a family member

- [Chris] Yeah.

- So I deserve your respect simply because, I'm not gonna hear bro, there's my brother, but he deserves respect simply because he's my brother.

- [Chris] Right.

- But do I value you. You know, you pushed back, you challenged, you questioned, and do I value that and your courage to do it, and then do you still feel like you're a part of the family, that you belong after that?

- [Chris] Right.

- That's what we're trying to do with all of our clients. And you know, we have clients where the organization is on a hundred and 20 people. And we have organizations that let's see have more than 20 thousand employees.

- Wow, so when you have a company-- so I can see like, say, smaller start-up companies, they only have a handful of employees, it's a lot-- It's easier to have that relationship, that family.

- [Shelton] Right.

- 'Cause you don't have very many employees but some of them has got have 20 thousand employees. How would a CEO still stay connected and have that family relationship when you got 20 thousand, 30 thousand employees?

- Right, you do it through, you do it through your leaders in your organization where you want that connection. The connection is not so valuable, and this is what I tell the CEOs of my client organizations, you is not so important that the person at the front line has that connection with you. But have you created an environment where that manager of that person understands that your job is to make sure that that person feels connected and belongs to your team. I mean, you know, that person, for an example, could be in a call center somewhere. The CEO could be in an other state but have you created the expectation that you can be evaluated by not only do you need timelines and budgets, but do the people on your team feel like they're member of your team. And trust me, employees would tell you that.

- [Chris] Yeah.

- And oftentimes, they may do something as explicit as to voice a concern or to let the people up the chain know

- [Chris] Yeah.

- Or worse, they'll stay, and just won't produce or produce less than they could,

- [Chris] Right.

- Or they leave.

- [Chris] Right.

- But in this day and age, people just don't leave organizations.

- [Chris] Mm-hmm.

- They leave and then they go on to social media sites

- Social media, Glassdoor.

- [Shelton] like Glassdoor.

- Yup.

- And put the company on blast and then future employees, if they see enough of that,

- [Chris] Right.

- This is, oh...

- [Chris] It paints a picture.

- Yeah. Maybe that's not the place. So that's the-- When I'm talking CEO to CEO to my client organizations, I have to help them understand that yes, you have a responsibility to your stakeholders, your shareholders, your suppliers, your customers, your community, but let's not forget about the most important aspect which is the people.

- [Chris] People, yeah.

- And you can go into companies and they'll tell you if they believe the CEO has set that-- if she or he has set that tone.

- Right, and I think it's important, just based on what you're saying, it's important for the CEO to work directly with management to instill those core values, right, and what the company stands for, to then pass that on, pass that on, because that's how you scale, and I love that when you said keeping connected, I have this vision in my head of like everybody holding hands from the top down. You know, it's we're all connected, right? So if the company's moving this way, I'm gonna instruct all my leaders to then pass it down to everybody else.

- Yeah, and today, there's a lot of talk about the generations, so we'll say the generation entering the workforce, or those that have just entered, they wanna be connected. But they wanna be connected to something that's important.

- [Chris] Yup.

- So, I just don't wanna be connected to you. I wanna be connected to something that's important to me whether it's the society, or whether it's you being ethical.

- [Chris] Yup.

- You know, we wanna make products, but are those products made and the people that's making the products are earning less than a livable wage.

- [Chris] Right.

- So these kids--

- [Chris] Millennials and younger too. They see that.

- Yeah, they wanna be connect. So that's the big thing now. We're telling, make sure that your employees know what you stand for and that means back in the past, you may have to step out and take a position on issues then in the past it's like, hey, look, doesn't have anything to do with us, as long as it doesn't come inside these four walls, you can't do that. Your employees now are saying, where do you stand on X?

- [Chris] Right, right.

- And whether it's been fueled by the environmental causes, gun violence, "Me Too" movement, Black Lives Matter, people wanna know what companies say. And trust me, the senior leadership of the organizations that are my clients, they're struggling with that.

- [Chris] Yeah.

- 'Cause they're not used to, it's like, no, if it doesn't, it's not our crisis, then...

- Lets not touch it.

- [Shelton] Let's not touch it.

- But they got to understand that the millennials and the younger generations, that is what they're looking for.

- [Shelton] Mm-hmm.

- I think it's really important, and I talk about this a lot in our company, is what is our why?

- [Shelton] Right.

- I believe every company, you need to have a why, why you do what you do and that needs to be completely transparent to all of your employees because they need to know why they do what they do. It can't just be generate profits.

- [Shelton] Mm-hmm.

- It's not about that. It's something so much bigger, and I believe that when you're working for something that's bigger than yourself,

- [Shelton] Right.

- You're gonna put in that extra hour, you're gonna put in that work that needs to get the job done.

- [Shelton] Right.

- My wish is that more companies would start seeing it that way whereas closing the doors and burying your head in the sand, it doesn't work.

- Nope, it does not. Not now, with the paradigm is shifting. So I'm trying to get leaders of organizations, small and large, to understand that and then embrace it.

- [Chris] Right.

- You know, you've got the powerful tools at your disposal, your website, and the CEOs are out speaking, you've got the bully pulpit. Grab that mic and make sure that you're telling your story. If not, someone else will tell it for you.

- I always say, be the lead character in your own movie, not somebody else.

- Yup, I like that.

- But it's true.

- [Shelton] Yeah.

- I mean think you need to speak your mind and stand up for what you believe in.

- Right, right.

- So, we're talking a little bit about millennials. I know there are some business owners that they're trying to learn how to hire millennials. They're trying to incorporate millennials in their teams. Some of them are frustrated 'cause they don't know how to deal with millennials.

- [Shelton] Right.

- So how do you guys instruct a CEO that's been it for years that is now trying to hire on younger employees?

- Yeah so, it's not that complicated. Again, the folks that have just entered the workforce and the ones that are entering, when that phone rings at two o'clock in the morning, for Icarus Consulting, it's like, hey, I've got-- I'm not getting the talent that I want.

- [Chris] Yeah.

- Help me. It's like, okay, let's find out what you are doing. So, in some cases if they're not getting the talent they want, they're not looking at sources that they haven't looked at in the past.

- Right.

- If you've always gone to school X, why aren't you looking at school Y and Z that has similar talent but it's outside of your footprint? Who's talking to them?

- [Chris] Right.

- Who's talking to them? One of the things that we help companies do, and I think Ictus Consulting is really good at this, is most companies I would say, let's take the top 50 on that's been recognized by someone as being the best for diversity, all 50 of those companies have employee resource groups. We go in and we help the companies leverage these employees to go out and help with sourcing. Help with recruiting. If you want to recruit that, it may be a good idea to have some employees who have recently transitioned from the military into your company to go back and talk to that about this company and why it is a great place for veterans. Likewise, if you are going after engineers,

- [Chris] Mm-hmm.

- And you've traditionally gone to the same place, why aren't you partnering with organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, those organizations, why aren't you partnering with them to help you get the talent that's emerging from engineering schools which is tilting toward more people of color and women.

- Right.

- And if you don't have that in your organization, or you're not gonna be appealing, you're gonna need someone speaking and advocating on your behalf.

- [Chris] Right.

- And so, that's what we try to do. We say, okay, whatever you've done that's been successful so far,

- [Chris] Yup.

- May not be successful going forward.

- [Chris] Right.

- So let's talk about what the new recipe is.

- [Chris] Yes.

- And oh by the way, having been a chief diversity officer for a company, I know that what they wanna know, how much is that gonna cost me?

- [Chris] Right, right.

- Can you give me a cost-effective budget-friendly approach and we say, hey, these things are very budget-friendly things do some are even free.

- I love that having your employees kinda be like your advocate.

- Oh yeah.

- Like going to these different events and stuff and we've hired from KSU, and we've hired from different colleges and stuff, but to have someone that came from KSU, or somebody that has a certain background speaking to others in that certain background, and if you're doing your job as a CEO and you're paying that culture and you're excited and they feel as a part of a family, that's gonna come across in them.

- [Shelton] Yeah, yeah.

- You know, they're gonna be your biggest advocate as the people that you currently have.

- Imagine if you would, a conversation where you have a group of employees that are veterans and they have a veterans organization inside of the company. Imagine that part of that first conversation with that recruit is we have a group that once you sign on, and you go through onboarding, part of that is, you have the option of joining our group, and this is all the things we do for the company. Here's all the things we do for employees. Here's all the things we do for the community.

- [Chris] Right.

- And I would tell you, for a vet being able to step from one team, he's looking for--

- [Chris] Yes.

- [Shelton] He or she is looking for another team.

- Another team, yeah.

- And so that's what we help companies do. We say, guys, that's not gonna cause you any money. You already have the group. Let us help you position them to speak and do the heavy lifting on your behalf.

- That's awesome.

- [Shelton] Yeah.

- So diverse, let's talk a little bit about the importance of diversity in a corporation.

- [Shelton] Yeah.

- What are some of your thoughts on why it's so important for a company especially nowadays to have such a diverse group.

- Yeah. And let's make sure when we talk about diversity, we're talking about the most broadest definition. So in addition to race, ethnicity, gender, we're talking about different backgrounds

- [Chris] Backgrounds, yup.

- We're talking different schools represented, different thinking styles.

- [Chris] Yup.

- That's super, super, super critical. In an age where agility, innovation and creativity are really the new super powers. You've gotta have people that can say excuse me, have we thought about X?

- [Chris] Yes.

- And people say, well, what would make an organization diverse versus one that's not diverse? The diverse organization is like the new guy... You know, didn't you just get here from X company?

- [Chris] Yes, yes.

- How did you all do it or what did you-- What do you-- What do we we missing?

- [Chris] Yup.

- A non-diverse company would say, you just got here. You know, this is the way we've always done it.

- Oh, I hate that term.

- So just sit there and listen, and when we want an idea from you, you know, we'll...

- We'll let you know.

- Yes. You see the difference?

- [Chris] Yeah.

- So I want to make sure that we emphasize that because people that's gonna watch this, the first thing they're gonna think, if you ask 10 people in a room what diversity is, you're gonna get 12 different definitions. When really in, you know, we're a few months away from 2020.

- [Chris] Yeah.

- And I've been at this for a while we kept telling people, by the year 2020, by the year 2020, you're gonna have in the workforce five distinct generations.

- [Chris] Yup.

- Each with their own way of wanting to do work, how they're gonna approach it, what's gonna motivate them, and you're gonna have to respect and value all of those different perspectives. And so, that's what we're trying to help people understand. Everyone, you know, I think if I had to have a tag line for diversity 2020, diversity is not about counting people, it's about making people count.

- Oh, I like that.

- Yeah. That's, that-- You can have that one.

- Yeah!

- And I know when we started this, the environment we may have been in coming out of the civil rights movement, some of the affirmative action initiatives, public policies that had to bring about equity and equality, but now we're in 2020. And now it's about everyone on the team feeling like they're valued, respected, and that they're connected to something that's bigger than them.

- There's so much value behind that. In the movie business, when I'm producing a project, I'm putting it together.

- [Shelton] Right.

- I'm respecting all the different viewpoints that are coming in. It's no different in corporation. We have a-- We brought on a female producer from Kenya. And we have another guy that his family's from Mexico. And young and old too. We just hired on somebody that is relatively young you know, I just can't-- But when we have our meetings, our grind of work, our creative meetings are a little bit smaller of a leadership team, but it's open.

- [Shelton] Right.

- So I would kinda facilitate and then we'll have an open discussion about it and I just love hearing the input from everybody and I try to allow everybody to speak,

- [Shelton] Right.

- And speak their mind,

- [Shelton] Right.

- Because that's what I believe makes a beautiful project. It's like a movie. A movie is not made by one person. Can you see all the credits?

- [Shelton] Right.

- [Chris] It's made by a lot of people, right?

- Yeah, I mean to ask you about that. Who are all those people?

- Yeah, there's a lot of different roles but in corporate-- in corporate America, it's the same thing. A company consists of people, so the more plugged in your people are, the more beneficial the organization is gonna be in achieving its objective.

- Right, I couldn't agree with you more. However, when we're called, we're often called because an organization or a company is facing some tensions. And let's face it, today, because of what's happening outside, that's coming right through the front door with employees everyday.

- [Chris] Right.

- So whether it's, again, whether it's immigration, whether it's gun control, whether it's religion, religious freedom, or expression, or identity, these cause tensions because people, and this is what I would tell anybody that's listening, and this is what I tell my clients, respect and value doesn't necessarily mean agreement. I don't have to agree with your position but I do, I should respect you,

- [Chris] Yes.

- And the fact that you have a position that's different than mine, and that's where the tension comes, because there are people that's like, well, if making people feel included means I have to agree with X, Y or Z, and I'm just not in agreement with that. No, that's just not what inclusion means. Inclusion means that you respect the fact that as human being, they are entitled to have a different perspective and the fact that they're showing to work everyday, they're producing, they're member of the team, they should be still, still be valued.

- [Chris] Right.

- And, if people would just take a deep breath and just listen.

- [Chris] Yeah, yeah.

- And see where there could become a ground for possible agreement.

- [Chris] Right.

- You know, people are taking these polar positions and no one--

- Nothing moves forward that way.

- But that's because people are not listening.

- [Chris] Right, right.

- I found myself shifting on a number of positions I didn't think I would shift on but it was only because I wasn't listening.

- So you have a few books at this point, right? So what's the latest and greatest?

- So I've got a number of books. One that I'm very proud of is my latest, and I think it was motivated by what's happening right now. It's entitled "Winter in America." And what I tried to do in addition to being a person that has some expertise in diversity, I got my post-grad in public policy, so what this book is about is as a result of the 2016 election, what public policies, How are public policies affecting diversity in the workplace, in the communities, and in the country? And then, you know, one of that what are the implications for 2020 based on what we've seen the result of some of the public policies, what's gonna happen in 2020? So it doesn't provide a lot of answers, it asks a lot of questions, and it shares a lot of anecdotes. One of my favorites is being at a coffee shop and hearing-- This was a couple of days after the 16 election, and hearing two guys talk about their feelings and thoughts about the elections, and I didn't-- First, I was gonna just let it go.

- [Chris] Yeah.

- But then I followed them outside of the coffee shop and we had a 30, 40 minute conversation outside of the coffee shop and these were two guys who view things differently than I did, but by talking to them and listening to them, I realized that just because you voted differently than I did, just because you happened to be in a state that maybe voted differently than I would've liked, that doesn't make you a bad person.

- [Chris] Right.

- The chapter's actually entitled voters in red states are not barbarians at the gate.

- [Chris] Ha, yeah.

- And again, the purpose of that chapter is to get people to say, if you listen, I'm not saying I agree, but I do understand a lot better than I did before. So I'm real proud of that.

- That's awesome and a great takeaway is just listen.

- Hear people out.

- [Shelton] Yeah.

- Hear people out, get their view point.

- Well, people are listening but they're only listening to people that have the same viewpoint.

- [Chris] Yes.

- People only talking, but they're only talking to people--

- Willing to listen to the other side.

- Yeah. Reach out, reach out, and you'll learn.

- That's awesome. So in wrapping up, if there was one piece of advice that you were to give to somebody in leadership, management, CEO, entrepreneurship, what would that be?

- It would be that in trying to make a team, the most productive, the most successful, that shouldn't be looked at as something extra. That shouldn't be looked at as, "Oh my goodness, this is something else that I have to add to my plate." No, my friend. This is essential to you being successful. So, the other thing that I would want leaders to understand that it's on you. As a former military leader, corporate leader, educational leader, it is one thing I understand. Leadership sets the tone. The exact quote from Remember the Titans escaped me but there was a great quote in there which is like attitude reflects leadership.

- [Chris] Right. I think it was something like that. And so, that is what I would want people to remember is that when it comes to having a diverse work team, having a team where everybody on that team knows their role, is performing it, and knows that they have to do that in order to help the rest of the team, that leadership has to set that example and set that tone for that to happen. It doesn't just happen by itself.

- That's awesome. Hey Shelton, I really appreciate. Thanks so much.

- Thanks, man. I appreciate. This was fun.

- [Chris] Yup. Hey guys, thanks for tuning in to the episode. If you guys enjoyed it, show some love. Give me a thumbs up and subscribe. Also, make sure you check out our exclusive C Level group on Facebook.
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