With featured guest

James Rodgers

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James Rodgers | The Remarkable Coach | Boxer Media

His mission is simple: to, “build leaders of color for a changing world.”

In this episode of The Remarkable Coach Podcast, Micheal Pacheco and Dr. James Rodgers talk about sources of ancient wisdom, diversity in multiple dimensions, and what it means to follow the nebulous call of the heart.

A bit about James:

Called the #1 thought leader and leading strategist for diversity management and diversity and inclusion, James is also an executive leadership educator and spiritual teacher.

Where you can find James:

Website: https://jamesorodgers.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/coachandstrategist/

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Micheal Pacheco 0:00
poured on All right, hello, everybody, and welcome once again to another episode of the remarkable coach podcast. As always, I’m your host, Michael Pacheco. Today with me, I have James Rogers. James is called the number one thought leader and leading strategist for diversity management, and diversity and inclusion, also an executive leadership educator and spiritual teacher, James Rogers, welcome to the remarkable coach.

James Rodgers 0:30
Thank you, Michael, it’s my pleasure to be with you.

Micheal Pacheco 0:32
I appreciate you making time for us. I always like to open up this podcast by simply inviting our guests to tell us a little bit about yourselves, and why you got into coaching?

James Rodgers 0:44
Well, I let me start from the time that I started my corporate career, I came into the corporate arena as a fast track executive in the OBL system. I have I’m a graduate of Howard University, which is an HBCU. So I came in with a lot of confidence, I came in with the belief that I have something of value to add to the world. And I had a very good career, though, I actually made it to top management within the prescribed time, spent a lot of time from going from department to department. So I really understood what it took to run a major corporation. So that tends to be my playing field is you know, fortune 500, fortune 1000 companies, because I know the landscape goodwill, and coaching people in that environment is just feels very natural to me. So I spent 17 years there. And later started my own consulting firm didn’t have any idea what I’d be doing just knew that I had some ideas that I thought would be a value to people. So I did total quality management I did career enhancement that then got into diversity management in the early 90s. Right after that first started happened to be a friend of the founder of the diversity movement, Dr. Roosevelt, Thomas, and adopted a lot of his philosophy. And because of my connections to the corporate world, I was able to go in and speak the language of the C suite, and get them to understand that this is not sociality, this is about enterprise performance. So to your point, the thing that happened, I’ve worked with over 300 C suite teams. So what happens usually is while I’m consulting with them giving advice and counsel, I also wind up coaching many of them. So that’s really how I really got into coaching 30 years ago, not directly the way I’m going to be your coach, but while consulting, giving advice and counsel, coaching became a natural, and as you’ll hear for me later, I’m not a certified coach, I don’t coach because I trained to coach our coach, because I’m a coach. That’s just who I am.

Micheal Pacheco 2:56
I love it. I love it. And you’re in that transition where you Was there something about being specifically in you know, let’s call it corporate America, for lack of a better phrase that were you disillusioned by that and you wanted to make more impact you thought you can make more impact as a coach? Or was it just just kind of a natural progression to point B?

James Rodgers 3:20
You can expedition spiritual. So you know, I rely on that foundation of ancient wisdom quite a bit. So it’s so happens. I had a great career. I was a fast track executive. You know, everything was looking good. And I got awakened in the middle of the night while I was in New Jersey. Just says,

Micheal Pacheco 3:41
what happened in New Jersey? Hmm, that’ll happen in New Jersey.

James Rodgers 3:45
It will you know. So, while I, I woke up and this voice in my head says, You’re doing great, but this ain’t it? Yeah. And so I made the transition over the next year and a half came back to Atlanta, with the intent of starting my own consulting practice to find out what it is. I soon did. But I was never going to find it while I was under the banner of any corporate corporate banner. So I had to make the hard choice and I did and never looked back. And the good news is, since I did that, I will tell anyone I haven’t worked a day since because I enjoy what I do. I just get up everyday being me and somehow everything just just comes accordingly.

Micheal Pacheco 4:30
I love it. I love it. I love I love anytime I anytime you can hear a story about someone who follows the the nebulous calls of the heart. Yeah. You don’t exactly know where it’s gonna take. You don’t exactly know where you’re going. But you know that wherever you’re at, at that time, it’s just doesn’t feel quite right. I’m gonna try something else and see if that feels better.

James Rodgers 5:00
Yeah, I, I encourage all of the people that I coach to experiment with that, I know it’s a little tricky and sometimes a little scary. But all the people that I have talked to who have really achieved great things in the life have learned this whole idea of let go, let go and allow things to go the way that they’re going to go. So you know, I believe everything happens the way it’s supposed to. So when I get a, I believe all of us are called and gifted and led to do something special in the world. And when you find it, go for it, 100%. And those who have, you know, seem to do okay, I was listening to one of my great teachers, early on in my career, because I listened to a lot of the old guys, Zig Ziglar. And those those guys, and one of them, told me the importance of just following your colleagues. And they said, the top 1% of anything you do in the world gets paid very well. And the only way you’re going to be the best. That top one to 5% is to do what you were called to do. And so I will tell you, I left corporate America, and I’ve been highly compensated for just following my calling. And so I feel that that was good, counsel.

Micheal Pacheco 6:23
Nice. That’s great. That’s great. Tell us more about who your current clients are. You mentioned fortune 500, fortune 1000. Are you working primarily with, you know, leadership teams? Are you working exclusively in the C suite? Who exactly are your clients?

James Rodgers 6:41
My target audience is primarily BP and above a C suite. Executives. Like I said, that’s where I come from. While I was in corporate America, I had the privilege of working with the near the top of the house. And in just about every assignment I had, when I moved to New York, I worked for Bill Elling house who was at the time the number two guy and all of the bill system, he was the President of AT and T when I came back to Atlanta worked directly with with John White, who was the vice chairman of Bell South. And before that I worked with, you know, the the CEO of south central Bell. So it’s always I’ve always had access to the top of the house. So I knew what life would be like if I got there. And I discovered one thing. Those are some really exciting, fun jobs, but the people who were holding them, were not happy. And my goal quest in life is not to be rich, but to be happy. Sure. So I when I got the call, and I said, you know, there’s always trade offs. But let’s see how this works. And it worked out quite well. Yeah.

Micheal Pacheco 7:51
So your, your goal, your goal in life is not to be rich, but to be happy. Why not both?

James Rodgers 7:55
What turns out, you get both. But one of the things that I’m telling people in a lot of my presentations now, there’s an old piece of ancient wisdom that says, Seek first, the higher goal. And then all of the secondary goals will come with it. And so even as we look at the work that I’m doing in diversity, I tell them, diversity is a relationship discipline, seek that first. And with that, you will get better representation, better recruitment, better retention, and a better corporate reputation. But if you seek any of those things, first, you’re not gonna get any of them. But if you seek first to get people to move past the artificial barriers, to relationships, you’ll get all of those things to come along with them. So the answer is, you know, I chose the quest for happiness. And in the process, I’ve done quite well. Yeah,

Micheal Pacheco 8:52
that’s great. That’s great. I love this a lot. James, I’m not gonna lie. It’s really resonating with me because I come from a similar background when I was 19 years old. When I was 18 years old, actually, just right out of high school, I started working at Intel as a software engineer, and worked in in corporate America until I was 26 or 27. When I finally realized how unhappy I was, yeah, and I didn’t know where I wanted to go. And I left I was a musician for a while I was a bartender for a while, I went back to school and I ended up getting a degree in Japanese language and literature, going to university in Tokyo, and move back here to Pacific Northwest, started my own business. Having nothing to do with any of the previous stuff that I’ve done. It was just, you know, I said before, you’ve kind of just falling following these like nebulous calls of the heart and not really knowing where it’s gonna take me or where I’m going to end up. But you just, if you do Do that I believe that their quote you mentioned, Seek first the higher goal. I mean, that’s like that’s, that’s beautiful chef’s kiss. So good.

James Rodgers 10:10
So here’s the thing, Michael, when you when you approach life that way, what I have learned is that everything in your path is part of your path. And it will lead you to where you’re going. I call that connecting the dots. So if you turn back and look at all of the events of your life, and you look for when was I had my best, if you start connecting the dots, it will tell you, this is where you are. And this is where you’re going. Because the dots do align. And they tell you, Okay, this is why you were put here, this, and you’ll never work a day in your life, and you’ll be highly compensated for just being the best you you possibly can be. So I believe in that. I want to go back to one of your other questions you asked, one of the things that I’m doing now that’s a little different, is I’m director of an executive Academy for the IT senior management for. And I took that position because all I’ve ever really wanted to do is to help others achieve beyond their own beliefs and their own expectations. So I’m working with a group of highly talented technology executives who have aspirations to know whether or not they want to seek a C suite job. So my job is to prepare them, to let them know what that life is like, what it takes to get there. And to disabuse them of the notion that I got to be the best technologists that I can in order to get there. Because it’s not about this is where the intersection of the work I’m doing and diversity come. It’s really not about how good you are technically, it’s about the quality of your relationships, when you get to that level. The same thing is true about executing diversity management inside organizations. It’s not about all of these different dimensions of diversity, it’s about relationships, how do you move past the artificial barriers to relationships, so that you can be with the people who you need to be at your best in life. And to help you succeed in life. You never know how that person is going to be packaged. So you can’t be triggered by oh my god, he doesn’t look like he’s from my tribe, or he didn’t graduate from the same school that I did. Those are artificial barriers, what you should look at, spend a little time find out what you have in common with that person. And all of those differences that you see, they won’t matter so much. Because now you know, this person was put in my life for a reason. I’m going to go forward and see what we can accomplish together.

Micheal Pacheco 12:39
Yeah, I think I mean, that’s a big part of the path, right? If you’re following your heart is you have to be open to whatever’s around that corner. Because you don’t know you know, for for me in my path, it was very strange thing to go from corporate America and earning six figures to being a bartender for years I did. It just I can’t say anything about it, other than it was the right thing to do at the time. And it was it was perhaps a step backward that I needed in order to get to where I am now. Yeah. And you’d like you don’t know what that package looks like, when you when you do that.

James Rodgers 13:17
Yeah. But you do know in the moment that whatever you’re doing there that’s not on your path is not going to get you to where you’re going. So you know, it’s like it’s an easy choice. This is not going to get me them, maybe this will get me there. So let’s go ahead and pursue it. And as I look at your story, you look back on it being a bartender, you might say, What’s that got to do with where you’re heading now? You learned something, there was something in that experience that taught you so that you are better you now than you would have been? Had you not had that experience. And that’s why I encourage people to go back, look back, connect the dots. What will you knowing it’s not about the location itself. It is about who will you being at that moment? And what did you learn about yourself that says, I am ready to be fully me now?

Micheal Pacheco 14:06
Yeah, for me, it was I was I was learning about people. That’s it. I was learning about people.

James Rodgers 14:12
Yes. Yeah. I say to all the time, my life journey is really about studying and understanding human nature. And, you know, everybody puts all these labels on he’s the diversity expert and blah, blah, blah, etcetera. But fundamentally all I do is collect wisdom from ancient from ancient wisdom sources and understand human nature, so that I am not judgmental of anybody in terms of what they do or what they are. I tried to understand it from the standpoint of, if I were in their shoes and had the same life story as them, it is likely that I would be doing the same thing. So I have to understand, rather than to judge, rather than to denigrate and choose to educate.

Micheal Pacheco 14:57
I love it. Talk about ancient wisdom sources.

James Rodgers 15:01
Well, you know, I grew up in a Christian Christian tradition, and have, you know, that was a good foundation for me. But of course, I have looked at all of the other great wisdom traditions, the Tao, and the bag of Ed Gita, the Buddhism, Hinduism and all of those things. And of course, my conclusion have been having looked at all of them, they’re all saying the same thing. So basically, ancient wisdom teaches us that there is a truth. In fact, one of my second, my second book was called finding truth without losing faith. Because so many people get this illusion with their faith tradition, that they say, Oh, this ain’t working. So I’m just going to check it out and look for truth. Well, if you look deeply inside, if you look past the church and look deep inside Christianity, you will find out that the truth is there. Just as if as if you were to look into the foundational principles of Buddhism, the truth is there, you look at the foundational principles of Taoism, the truth is there. So what you’re looking for, I used to be a big fan of Khan Armstrong, who is religious historian. And one of the things that she did is compared all the religions and she said, It all begins with this one fundamental truth. And that is what we call the golden rule. Most of us in the West believe the golden rule was first put forth by Jesus of Nazareth, or Rabbi Hillel and the first secretary. The first person to say it was Confucius in China. And every other every other faith tradition has basically use some version of that. If you want to be treated, treat the other guy did. You don’t want to if you don’t want to be treated, treated badly, don’t treat the other guy badly. foundational principles of what I call love, which to me is a an active verb. It’s not a sentiment not a feeling. It’s what you do is not how you feel. It’s not the tip is the titillation it is what you do. So that’s the foundation of my spiritual principles is to reduce it to the sample. And what are we do say to the sample, I can never judge anybody based on their, on their belief system called to me is just as valid as man.

Micheal Pacheco 17:23
Yeah, judge them based on their behavior, right? I mean, that’s, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Good stuff. Let’s circle back real quick, and talk a little bit more about your clients. Where do you get your clients? How do you how do you market your services?

James Rodgers 17:37
poorly? So? Yeah, I am, I’m, uh, I tell people all the time that I’m a great salesman, if you put me in front of someone who needs my service, and we have a gentle conversation like you and I have and I have almost 100% close rate. I suck at marketing. And I just discovered, you know, one of the reasons that I do that is because and this is true, many coaches, and you’ll find this Michael, many coaches, we are reluctant at self promotion, reluctant to, to promote ourselves. So interesting enough, you know that I’m a friend of Marshall Goldsmith, who’s the world’s number one executive coach. So I was just just before you and I talk, I was just on a private webinar with with the marshal. And he reminded me of the logic of being more self promoting yourself more, he says, Jim, would the world be better off? If more people heard your message? Or as it clearly clearly says, is selling yourself? make you uncomfortable? I say, Yes, it does. He says, so here’s the choice. Is it better for you to make a difference, even if it makes you uncomfortable? And I say, you got me. So I don’t do good. But I’ve been I’ve been fortunate enough that my work in diversity has sustained me for over 30 years. I don’t reach out to anyone. Usually, when I call people they think I’m trying to market to them and say, you know, I haven’t vetted you yet. How do you know that I would even work with you. Right? So I’ve been fortunate enough that when a client is really serious about the work, they call someone and say who you know, who should I be talking to? And my name quite often comes up. So I’ve sustained my career. And my practice for 30 years using that pattern, which has allowed me to like I say work with over 300 Different companies, probably over 200 Different C suite teams, coached over 100 C suite executives privately. It just fortunately that that’s been the path. I tell people the best the only marketing I know how to do is I do good work, huh? Yeah, that’s it.

Micheal Pacheco 20:03
I like it. Are you are you going to consider doing more, putting yourself out there more maybe on social media or something thought leadership, that sort of thing because of what Marshall said today,

James Rodgers 20:14
I am supposed to say something to me probably seven years ago that will go on island honestly upset me with him. He was doing a presentation and he was talking about his journey. And he says, and I decided I was going to be famous. I said most of it, you know, good Buddhists like you, why would you just say something like that seems kind of self serving, you’re going to be famous? Well, over the years, I’ve put it together, your fame makes you gives you access to more people. The very idea, your message needs to be heard. Sometimes in order to get your message out, you need some fame, so that more people will hear your message. So I have always been reluctant to put myself forward, I’m not the one that raises his hand first and says who? I really can’t do that to people. And you know, I’m almost ashamed to repeat it. But I say, you know, if you get serious about the work, you’ll find me. So sometimes, there are opportunities for me to put myself out there and say, hey, guess what, folks? When it comes to this, I’m without period, I’m the best is. And here’s the examples to demonstrate what you get when you get me. So I’m looking at ways to do that more proactively, if you will. But I have to admit, it still makes me a little uncomfortable.

Micheal Pacheco 21:40
No, I resonate with that, too. I struggled to promote myself, sometimes I had a sales coach, not not two months ago, telling me that if, if if I am able to help someone, and I don’t tell them about what I do and how I can help them, I’m doing them a disservice. Absolutely, absolutely. It’s an interesting way to frame sale marketing, right is if you can genuinely help someone, and you don’t reach out to them and let them know, hey, I can help you with this I can I can make this easier I can make this better for you might be doing them a disservice.

James Rodgers 22:20
So I’m in the process, as you know, promoting my new book and part of this promotion is going to be putting myself forth more I’m doing sessions like this. I’m doing webinars and doing speeches with different organizations, I’m actually going to reach out, believe it or not, Michael, I’m actually going to reach out to a list of 100 CEOs and tell them I am what’s been missing in your thought process. You know, we’ll see how it goes as the stock is going to be uncomfortable. But this message that I’m promoting now is so, so important for individuals for business, and for our society, that I’ve just got to make myself uncomfortable and do it.

Micheal Pacheco 23:07
James, while we’re making you uncomfortable. Let’s talk a little bit about your new book, tell us tell us all about it.

James Rodgers 23:15
It’s entitled diversity training, the generation will train we will change but it’s subtitle inclusive approaches that benefit individuals business and society. So while I publisher in insisted that we focus in on an aspect of diversity and inclusion that is training, we were able to really tell the whole story. Why is diversity and diversity training getting a bad name, because it’s being done the wrong way? Now, what gives us license to say that we’ve been doing it for 30 years, and we’ve seen it work. We’ve had the privilege of watching people have cathodic epiphanies right there in the classroom that changed their life, change their perspective, changed the way that they showed up. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about teaching people some obscure academic principle, like critical race theory, or anti racism or any of those things. It’s about an individual getting in touch with their own cells. And understanding. This is what triggers me. This is how I got this way. This is how I got conditioned to believe that this is the right way to be. But now that I’ve been introduced to a another way of looking at it, that’s something I need to consider not so that other people will see me as better but so that I will selfishly be a better person and have better outcomes in my life. And I tell people all the time, and they wish that so you have to do this work with a selfish motive. Your selfish motive is How good could I be if I got rid of some of the baggage that’s keeping me from having the right types of relationships, at work at home and in society. So my My co author and I lowered Candace and that we, we put it out there, we’re just, we’re just bold enough to believe that we can make a difference by getting this message out. So we are on a campaign now to do that. And the power of the message, Michael, I think is what’s going to get me out of my shell and allow me to tell more people. Um, what’s been what, what has been missing in your plan. I love it. I love it.

Micheal Pacheco 25:25
I love it. This is great stuff. This is great stuff. James, tell us tell us about cathartic epiphanies. That’s, that sounds like a big thing. Give us more.

James Rodgers 25:36
Yeah, so what the way what part of the magic of what we do in the classroom is that we are not to instruct but to facilitate. I don’t know if you know, the difference between facilitation and training, training is instruction, you know, I know something you don’t know. And out of the goodness of my heart, I’m going to share it with you. facilitation is a subtle process. We even call it the zen of facilitation, because it is about helping other people find their truth, not giving their truth to them, helping them to find it. facilitation is the art of asking quality questions.

Micheal Pacheco 26:13
It’s almost like your if it feels like you’re kind of describing the difference between coaching and consulting. Absolutely. Instruction is consulting and facilitating is more along the lines of coaching.

James Rodgers 26:24
Yeah, and like mentoring, you know, people, you have a mentor, mentor know something that you don’t know, they know the culture, they know the process, and you go to them to find out that information on coach basically gets out of you. What you already know, is one of the things that Marshall said today in the in the webinar is that coaching is not about fixing losers. It’s about helping winners. It’s about helping winners to be even more effective. So I’m very, very clear about when I take on a coaching client, I want someone who’s really, really good at what they do. And I want to help them find those blind spots that keep them from be being consistently excellent at what they do. Because all of us as human beings, we all have blind spots and things get in the way. I want to help them figure that out and move past it. So that’s, that, to me, is what coaching is all about. And that’s why I love the concept. And like I said, I’m grateful that I discovered that part of me that that’s the value that I bring to the planet. Yeah, I want to do it for more people who can benefit from it.

Micheal Pacheco 27:37
I love it. I love it. What is it? What does it look like in terms of, let’s say in terms of tactical methods, to take someone in a workshop, that you’re in a facilitation workshop, or whatever you would call it, and bring them to this, you know, quote, cathartic epiphany, where they’ve, they’re now like, challenging their, their pre their beliefs that they had when they walked in. And those those beliefs are being challenged. And they’re like, Oh, I know, I get it. What do you what kind of things do you do to help facilitate that kind of growth?

James Rodgers 28:14
Yeah. It’s called interactive training. And what it basically we do is we disarm them first, the first exercise in the day is to disarm them around believing that they know everything. So we give them a simple exercise in which they will catch themselves that is not me telling them that you miss something, they catch themselves missing things. And our message to you, that’s part of the human nature. That’s part of the human condition is that sometimes we see things and sometimes we don’t. So once we get them into that Mo, we just give them we have a learning model. That’s called Disk discovery, applications and application experience, discovery, application and applications. So my job is facilitate is just to invite you to an experience. So we give them a bunch of things. We have them read some material, we have them watch a video, we have them play a game. And my observation is so what are you learning about yourself as you go through this, and they have to compensate we create a safe space for them to have that conversation and to share as much evidence they’re willing to share. There’s no requirement that they share. But quite often, people will catch themselves at a table with people who are not like them. And one of the discoveries is wow, we have more in common than any of our differences. I never knew that. What I what I love is the epiphany when people are with people who they see quote unquote see as different from And when they discover, wow, we all have the same frailties, we all have the same needs, how same wants. And wow your dad huckster to wow a man does. Oh, you go to my church, I didn’t know that. You know, you went to such and such elementary school, we used to live there, those little things, this little things that trigger a connection, we call them seeking similarities spent figuring out what we have in common that overcomes this natural process that we call reactions to differences, left to our own devices, the old brain back here, will always try to protect us. So they see someone who’s not of our tribe goes all the way back to caveman when they see a saber toothed Tiger Tiger. The first reaction is that, hey, if you didn’t look like one of us, so I think about a fleet that has translated into modern society. So we have to have tools to help us work past this natural reaction to differences so that we can get to the place of saying, Wow, you were a bartender. Man, let me tell you what I learned when I while I was a bartender. And now no matter what differences are obvious or in obvious from us, we’ve got a basis now for a relationship that allows us both to be about helping each other. So we have had power, just so many examples of that I tell the story about a young lady in a company, actually downstair actually in Birmingham, Alabama.

It’s a very touching story. I’ll call her Ruth. But I was in a session with Ruth and doing all these exercises, people were opening up and telling things about how they have grown and how they have decided to put put some of the baggage that they have aside. And we just got up and said, you know, it goes happens to be a black female. She says, you know, something, I am so glad happy to hear all of y’all having these epiphanies. But I just can’t go there trusting white people. And here’s why. She said, I happen to be on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the first time that we tried to cross it. And I saw white policemen beating black people who were just kneeling praying to their God, and they were beating them. And he says that’s indelibly etched in my psyche, and I just have a hard time getting past it. The good news was the group, I insisted that they be silent and say, we’ll have some work to do. Let’s let Ruth do her work. The next morning, she came back in. And after thinking about it, she said, you know, something, I have to report to you all, I can’t change. I see now how that has handicapped me in my work. And I’m gonna move past it. And so that was a great Hallelujah. And we moved on. And the good news is, we don’t do that just for the emotional catharsis. Ruth was a superstar. Yeah, but her superstar status couldn’t be revealed until she let go of that baggage. From then on, she became one of the top performers at that company. And it’s all because she, you know, was able to get past it. So many stories like that we have senior executives who were Vietnam best could never say anything about it because of how they thought they will be responded to I come out of the Vietnam era. So I said, I sympathize with that. You all a baby killers and drug addicts and blah, blah, blah, that’s those are the labels get put on them. And so most of us don’t, we don’t talk about it a whole lot. But until you release that, that hang up, you’re never going to be able to be at your best. So those are kind of examples. I’m talking about him. The key to it, Michael, is that everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability versus disability, any of the dimensions of diversity, we all have a story. We all have something that is a potential barrier to our relationships. We need a process by which we can come to grips with it to be public. You don’t have to come come come out, like Ruth did. But you do have to have the internal introspection that allows you to say, that’s getting in my way. I gotta get rid of that.

Micheal Pacheco 34:40
Oh, that’s wonderful. No, I think I mean, it sounds like you guys are really, you know, what you’re doing is helping people rewrite personal narratives that are not serving them. Absolutely. Right.

James Rodgers 34:57
I want to I want to be better. That’s exactly the language is But that’s not serving them well, right. That’s the selfishness that I’m talking to myself is about being better than you show up in a better way, by just understanding you and what triggers you.

Micheal Pacheco 35:13
Yeah, that’s great. And I want to be, I want to clarify something, the coaching that you do around diversity, and all of its meanings goes well beyond just race.

James Rodgers 35:25
Oh, I don’t, I don’t talk about any dimension of diversity. So this is not about race, it’s about human to human connection. Yep. So if race comes up in the classroom is because somebody in the classroom brought it up, Lauren are very strict about that. We don’t bring any of our personal issues into the classroom, we have there as a guide, you know, Sherpa guide doesn’t say to you, you know, I’m going to take you this way, because I used to have an aunt who lived up here and she’s a member, they don’t have a personal agenda, they are just the guide to take now a path so that you can figure out who you are. So we’re very deliberate about that. I don’t speak about race. She doesn’t speak about gender. We don’t talk about sexual orientation. But if it comes up in the classroom, we create space for people to have honest conversations about anything.

Micheal Pacheco 36:10
Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s super important. And I think that’s another phrase that I really like is creating space, right? When you’re having when you’re having these delicate conversations, when you’ve got people who are opening themselves up and becoming vulnerable in ways that they’ve never done before. They’re challenging, previously held beliefs, they’re rewriting these narratives that are not serving them? Well, you’ve got to, you’ve got to facilitate that.

James Rodgers 36:42
Yes, that is precisely the language you have to facilitate that. And you do that, by expert crafting of the right questions. You listen intently, you feel where the person’s coming from, you kind of empathize with how difficult it is, will be for them to, to pose the question. So you help them pose the question, what else? How would it be if that? What would success look like? What would happen if you did this versus that, and you pose those questions and give them room to, to examine it, and then to express it. But one of the things we are encouraged to do, we’re not there to educate people and to fill their hair with information. We get there to facilitate learning. So there is a process, information gets converted to knowledge, not because either teacher made it into knowledge, because you accepted it as knowledge as a student, that knowledge converts to learning is learning because you say there’s something here that I can use. And that learning is what creates behavior change. So our objective and all of our work is to create behavior change. And by the way, guess what? That is the objective of good executive coaching. Exactly the same thing. Yes, it is. So that’s why I tell you know, being we live in an integrated life, everything that I do is kind of the intersection of all of these disciplines, you know, classroom training, executive coaching, coaching and consulting on diversity and inclusion. It’s all the same process for me.

Micheal Pacheco 38:31
Yeah, I like it. Nice. Can you? Can you talk a little bit about how this training and coaching that you do translates into, into ROI, right into some kind of like bottom line? Like how does this translate into into forward momentum in ROI for the company?

James Rodgers 38:53
Absolutely better people make better teams, better teams make better get better outcomes. And as a firm’s performance, is the summation of team performance. You know, as you can tell, I’m an engineer. I’m a geek by training. So you know, logic means a lot to me. So that’s what we have seen. And we have helped organizations to realize actual bottom line benefit by stalling again with the bigger thing, create an environment, using your managers so that your teams don’t look past relationships that they need to be at their best. They start performing better, that team starts performing better, it creates output. What happens? Interestingly enough, Michael, is one team starts to outdo all the other things and people the other managers come they may What are you doing?

Micheal Pacheco 39:50
I’m not doing what are you doing differently than

James Rodgers 39:51
that? I’m not doing hook a brother up. Give me some of that. And they start it starts to spreading. And one thing that most people don’t realize my work is about focusing on frontline managers. It’s not about getting the executives, the executives, I want them to understand it intellectually so that they will allow it. But the actual benefit happens on the frontline, when you have managers matter of fact, my my thesis, my dissertation, a PhD dissertation was on that very idea how frontline managers practice not talk about, but practice diversity management to get better results. And the good news is, sometimes you don’t have a really good managers, you don’t have to teach them to do this, this is just something that they know, I’ve got a team of people, I got to get the best out of all of them in order for us to be at our best. And so let me figure out how to do that. All of that figuring out is helping them to get past those artificial barriers to relationships, they just figure that out. So part of what I’m doing is teaching executives what they can learn if they just walked around with some of the very best managers. Yeah, they didn’t same thing.

Micheal Pacheco 41:06
Yeah, cuz it’s the middle management, right director level and below that are that are spending time with the people?

James Rodgers 41:12
Absolutely. Absolutely. You learn that from being a bartender

Micheal Pacheco 41:22
seven or eight, eight odd years in in corporate America helped?

James Rodgers 41:26
Yes, it did. Yes, it did. But it’s all part of the path for you for to enhance your understanding of how this world works. Which goes back to the ancient wisdom. All ancient wisdom is about trying to figure out how this world works. By observation, I see oh, this seems to be a truth. Oh, this seems to be a principle. That seems to be a principle. And when you collect them all, you wind up with the faith tradition.

Micheal Pacheco 41:53
Are you just a quick aside? Are you familiar with the apana shots? Oh, yes. Okay, that’s that’s that’s a great one. That’s one of my one of my favorites. I like I’ll just flip up into a random page there and, and just read WhatsApp,

James Rodgers 42:09
I say it’s good stuff in it.

Micheal Pacheco 42:11
Yeah, it is. It is. I love that. I love your your kind of how do they say like eating your own dog food, you’re you’re really open to different stuff grow up as a Christian, not afraid to look at other theologies? To see what you can learn from it. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

James Rodgers 42:29
Yeah. You know, one of the things that I’m most proud of as a coach and a teacher, is for seven years, I facilitated a group south of Atlanta, was called an interfaith group. In this group were traditional Protestant Christians that were Christians of the Orthodox tradition, Catholics, there were Jews, there were Muslims that were bonus. And there were at least for atheists, we all studied together. And it was my privilege to talk about issues that affect us all, to use all of these different sources of from wisdom traditions, and create an environment where no one was right, no one was wrong. We’re all still just human beings trying to do what all religion does, trying to figure out how to navigate this thing we call life. And to me, it’s been one of the greatest experience of my life to see this possible that I have that we’re all saying the same thing. So when you get people from who have firmly interest in different faith traditions, and set them down together, and we can work on the same things without putting your beliefs down, and my beliefs down, I just think that’s a beautiful thing.

Micheal Pacheco 43:51
That’s great. I’m beginning to understand a little more about what you said at the beginning of the podcast. You don’t have the credentials. You’re just a coach, it’s who you are.

James Rodgers 44:04
That’s what I’ve discovered. Interesting, Mike, you know, I started calling myself coach, not because I say, Well, that looks like a good title. It’s because of my clients that are calling me that. I’d be working with clients on career advancement or anything like that. And a CEO will walk in there he is the coach. What do you mean by that? I don’t get it, you know, but people have seen that coaching gene in me back as I can remember, especially in my corporate career, I think I saw on your promotion for this. You were talking about the time that I was playing volleyball that one of my teams that I was that I was managing, and I just couldn’t help myself. I just say every time the ball came, I said, Okay, dig set. Spike, you’re done. Time is just came out of me naturally. And what I found is whenever I’m one Working with the executives, I found the blind spots, I found out what the is, is really getting in the way. And it just leads me to start asking questions to get them to discover what I just saw. Nice. Yeah.

Micheal Pacheco 45:19
Jameson, can you talk a little bit about imposter syndrome?

James Rodgers 45:24
Well, this executive academy that I worked with has just clarified that whole thing for me, I coach people of all ILX, male, female, black, white, all of them. Senior executives are rife with this idea of the imposter syndrome, here’s what it looks like, wow, they got me in this big pollutants, position here. Got a title that makes me a big muckety muck, for any minute, now someone’s gonna come and figure out that not as good as they think that I am. Because we’re operating out of our own sense of who we are. So I have to help people to understand, you don’t have the whole picture, they see something in you that you don’t see. But the imposter syndrome is rapid amongst particularly senior executives, because we’ve all been conditioned to believe that those people in those positions are supposed to know what they’re doing. Sure. And one of the interesting things I do with my executive Academy is, I asked him, What does a C suite person actually do? And they go through a whole bunch of stuff, you know, all the can language that we’re supposed to live with what to do, about what they do? And the answer finally, being is nothing. They do nothing. I’m gonna leave you with that, because that’s deep. But they they finally get it. And the minute I say that, you know, they just pounce on me with both feet. That can’t be right. You know, why is one sitting up there making $7 million a year and he does nothing. I said, just think about it. But the bottom line is, we don’t put people in those positions for what they can do is what they can get done. What they can get done through other people. So if a widget company, you asked they asked to see you, I mean, a witness did you make today? The answer is none. Because my job is to do nothing. Right? My job is to see that all the rest of the team is operating at their best. That is a big shift in the way people think about positions. But when you have a position like that, there’s an expectation that you know what you’re doing. And in many cases, they will say, you know, I show up, stuff is coming at me, I don’t have a clue what to do about it, I asked for help I bring people to and from my organization, they fill in the blanks for me, I hire consultants to give me a different perspective. Everything that I need to know come out, or that I want that knowing comes from other people. That is a part of the beauty of being an effective executive, is that you know, you don’t have all the answers. So the imposter syndrome is ramping. And part of my job is to help them to understand, you don’t have the whole picture, someone sees something in you that you don’t see. Please accept that they’re right. And you may not be fully right. You gotta

Micheal Pacheco 48:33
you’ve got to accept that you’re in this position, you’re not expected to have all the answers necessarily, right? Because you’ve got you’ve got a team of advisers, you’ve got the board to go to you’ve got all these different people that you can go to for advising mentorship information, right? You’re not gonna have all the you gotta get information from your subordinates as well. You know, it’s almost like the, that executives job is is to leverage people. Yeah, right.

James Rodgers 49:11
Relationships, is all about relationships. And I tell them all the time, you ever watch a CEO and I do this a lot, I’m sitting in their office, and something will come up someone say, David, we need to, we need to fix x, y, or z. They will look through his Rolodex, pull out a number, make a phone call. Bob, can you help us with that? And this may be another CEO of another company. But they’ve got the relationships so that they can solve problems in 10 minutes that would take the average person two weeks to solve. They can solve it because they got a relationship with the person who has dancer. It’s all they do is develop these relationships. So they can very quickly move through problem solving, without having to go through the strain and stress of doing all that we Searching everything somebody knows the answer. Their job is to make sure that they know and are known by the people who have the answers to whatever they’re the challenge with, which is, by the way, and going back to what I was talking about. That’s how most of them found me. really seriously. I remember I was had done some work for Coca Cola. And then I started working. I got called in to Georgia Power. And I asked him, How do you find me? Well, you know, Cole was just on my board. And I asked him, Who should I be talking to? And your name came up? That is, that’s the story of my practice. That’s how it works. There’s no

Micheal Pacheco 50:37
no subtle irony there. Is there? I mean, I don’t I don’t have the answer to this question who I need to talk to someone to help me figure out why I don’t have the answers. But I don’t know who to talk to. I don’t have the answer to that.

James Rodgers 50:47
Absolutely. Absolutely. Interesting.

Micheal Pacheco 50:51
That’s great. James, I want to be respectful of your time. And now we’re coming up here at the top of the hour, is there anything that you are dying to chat about that we haven’t touched upon? Thus far?

James Rodgers 51:06
We’ve touched on a lot. And the one thing that I’m encouraging that I encourage all of my coaching clients to do is to get in touch with who they are the very first question I asked him, in this part of my vetting, you know, a lot of people said, I’m going to hire you as a coach. I said, No, no, you’re not Not until I decided that this is a good match. So the first question I asked him as part of the bedding is, who do you think you are? What I’m looking for is take a moment, sit back, think about what your strengths, your weaknesses, and most importantly, what are your gifts and talents. And all of those things being put to good effect in the role that you’re playing? If they’re not, that’s where we’re going to start. We’re going to start figuring out what’s getting in your way of you using your gifts and talents, to the benefit of the role that you’re playing in your organization. And believe me, that winds up being sometimes a three day conversation. Because it’s the first time that I’ve been asked that, who do you think you are? I know a lot of people tell you who you who they think you are, I don’t know who you think you are. Because that self introspection is the basis of a good coaching relationship. Yeah, I remember my CEO told me when he says the value of a good coaching relationship is less about the coach and more about the coachee. So if it’s going to be effective, that’s why I bet so so very tightly. I won’t coach everybody who asked me to, I want to know that they’re ready, willing and able to be coached. And that we can have the kind of relationships where we can be fully open kimono with each other so that we can actually make progress. That’s really what I want to share with anybody who’s interested in the coaching process.

Micheal Pacheco 53:00
Good stuff, good stuff. Yeah. Being being coached is infinitely more work than hiring a consultant to tell you what to do.

James Rodgers 53:10
No doubt, no doubt,

Micheal Pacheco 53:11
no doubt, different things. Yeah, that’s, that’s good. This has been great. James, I appreciate you making time here. Where can our viewers and listeners find you online?

James Rodgers 53:22
Well, I’m on LinkedIn, and the James Rogers. Also have a website. It’s being redone that because James o rogers.com. Also the diversity coach.com. And you can reach me at my office at 770-331-3246. I am interested in anyone who wants to make progress. The name of the book is how to create real change. As one of our consulting partners used to say, I’m interested in those who are serious, not just curious, and all a lot of things that I said, people will get curious about and say, Boy, I really wish I understood what he meant by that. But I want you to be serious, there’s work to be done. We have a process by which you can do it. So if you’re serious, give us a call.

Micheal Pacheco 54:20
I love it. The book is diversity training that generates real change. It’s available on Amazon, go get it today. We’ll have links to the book, James, links to your website, and everything else that you mentioned. We’ll include those on the show notes for this. James Rogers, thank you so much. I appreciate your time. And this has been a great conversation.

James Rodgers 54:40
Thank you, Michael and Michael, be you be Michael.

Micheal Pacheco 54:44
I’m gonna do my best. I appreciate it.

James Rodgers 54:47
You’re on a good path. I can feel it coming.

Micheal Pacheco 54:50
Thank you, brother. I appreciate thank you to our viewers and listeners for for paying attention for giving us your attention. That’s the most valuable thing that you guys have to offer us. So thank you for that. At and we’ll see you guys in the next episode cheers

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