Corey Blake is the founder and CEO of Round Table Companies (RTC). Prior to starting RTC in 2005, Corey starred in one of the 50 greatest Super Bowl commercials of all time among a dozen commercials for Fortune 100 brands. His work with books and graphic novels has yielded 17 independent publishing awards and mentions/features in the NY Times, WSJ, USA Today, Inc., Forbes, and Wired. In 2021, Corey launched Round Table Storytelling Academy, where he focuses on his passion for creating courageous company cultures where employee purpose is connected to organizational purpose. He is an avid supporter and sponsor of Conscious Capitalism who has appeared on their main stage at seven national events. In 2019, Corey launched Conscious Capitalism Press in partnership with Conscious Capitalism, Inc. He is also the creator of the Vulnerability Wall—whose clients include Microsoft, ADP, Marketo, and Workday— and the Vulnerability is SexyTM card game. His documentary of the same name won 2017 ADDY and HERMES awards for branded content.
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[00:00:00] Nathan Hurd: All right. Welcome back. This is Nathan Herd, your host of Rich Life Lab, and this week I have an amazing guest. His name is Corey Blake. He's the c e o and founder of Round Table Companies. Prior to starting Round Table Companies in 2005, Cory starred in one of the 50 greatest Super Bowl commercials of all time among a dozen commercials for Fortune 100 brands.
His work with books and graphic novels has yielded seven independent publishing awards and mentions. Featured in the New York Times Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Inc. Forbes and Wired. In 2021, Corey launched Roundtable Storing Telling Academy, where he focuses on his passion. And this is something we talk about for creating courageous company cultures where employee purpose is connected to organizational purpose, which.
You know, something I have really never heard described the way he does. He's an avid supporter of and sponsor of Conscious Capitalism, which is where I met him, and he's appeared on their main stage at seven [00:01:00] national events. In 2019, Corey launched Conscious Capitalism Press in partnership with Conscious Capitalism.
He's also the creator of the Vulnerability Wall, whose clients include Microsoft, adp, Marketo, and Workday, and the vulnerability is Sexy Card Game. His documentary of the same name won 2017 Addie and Herman's Awards for Branded Content. Corey is also just a fascinating and passionate leader and his artistic approach to helping people discover their own story.
You know, the, the, the arc of their life and how it really is a story and identify exactly. , what that story looks like and sounds like. Um, but also their hero's journey, which is something we talk about, uh, in our conversation. You know, we've all heard about Joseph Campbell and the story, you know, the, the Hero's Journey.
But Corey really has a remarkable way of guiding individuals and companies through the [00:02:00] Heroes journey to discover their own story and their purpose, and then ultimately give leaders of teams the ability to connect their teams deeply with the core values and the purpose of their organization to completely change the power and the success and efficacy of the company, the way it shows up in the world, and how close and connected each employee feels to the mission and the business without further a.
Here is Corey. Blake.
Corey. Blake, it is so great to have you here, man. Thank you so much for joining
[00:02:46] Corey Blake: the podcast. What a pleasure, Nathan. I'm just absolutely thrilled for the conversation we're about to have. I'm already, uh, all lit. Yeah. Yeah. Same
[00:02:54] Nathan Hurd: here. Same here. So I guess we should say upfront, you and I had the, I had the pleasure of meeting you at the [00:03:00] Conscious Capitalism Summit that we, we both recently attended in Austin, which is a, uh, a movement, I, I guess we could say, um, an organization, a nonprofit organization, but also a movement that I know you've been an advocate of, of a practitioner of, uh, an Ambassador of for quite a long time now.
And, you know, when we were talking, you were describing your work, um, and some of the ways that you are working with companies to enliven their culture and some of the elements that have gone into that. And I just thought, like, you have such an interesting perspective when we spoke, it really, it really lit me up.
So I'm really excited to go through, uh, all of that. And maybe we could start by, um, for anyone who's not familiar with your work, could you just briefly describe what is. Um, what is the most recent iteration of your art in the world? What does your company do and what are you most [00:04:00] enliven by currently?
[00:04:02] Corey Blake: Uh, your language is such a, a warm invitation. Um, and, and I, I, I would, I would, uh, it, it would be, it would behoove me to mention that, that I was drawn to you first because on stage you did such a lovely job of inviting us into a very personal experience you were having within your own business. And, uh, that was a magnetism to me.
Absolutely. And so, um, so I had the pleasure of meeting you before you, you knew of me. And, and that's a, that's a treat for me. Um, so thank you for showing up so authentically so that I, I knew that you were somebody that I wanted to have some interaction with, um, and your invitation into my, you know, the latest version of my art, I, I appreciate.
Uh, I'm, I am for, for my company's 17 years old. So, um, we've been involved in, in storytelling, um, for the duration of [00:05:00] that, but also, um, kind of inadvertently found our way into leadership and, and a tremendous amount of human development. And then suddenly we found ourselves holding space for really significant leaders to develop themselves.
And that wasn't an intentional strategic pathway, but, but it's where we found ourselves as we were helping significant leaders to write the book. They were born to write. Like, how do you hold space for someone to say things out loud that they don't wanna tell their spouse much less themselves, but it's an important part of their transformation so that their reader eventually has the opportunity to be transformed.
Um, and this latest iteration of our, our work has me shifting pretty dramatically away from that specific execution of my purpose and into this artistic space of, of, um, Of elevating the entire company culture, of impacting each of the individual human beings within organizational culture by helping to develop their relationship to [00:06:00] themselves in a profoundly unique way so that they become more whole and more powerful within their life.
Or they have the opportunity to, I should say, become more whole and more powerful within their life and therefore within the organization that they serve. And then how do they do that? Right? As, as, as they do that at the individual level, how does that impact the team level, the departmental level, and eventually the overall organizational culture?
I'm absolutely fascinated with it. And we, we really found our, our way into it. Um, in some ways on accident, in some ways, you could say by destiny, I think. Uh, but I had to be willing to rearrange all the pieces on the board to accept that destiny. And that was, that was the hard part, um, where I had to surrender.
But the impact that, that we're able to have, uh, on so many lives is, I, I'm overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by it is, uh, is the best way that I can, that I [00:07:00] can put it. And I'm, and I feel so committed to, um, to figuring out how do we, how do we continue to leverage what we've, what we've been able to, to do that I don't think anyone else in the world is doing the, the perspective that we're taking on, on how to approach culture, uh, and what we can actually do to measure it so that, so that it's not just about human development, but it is also about profitability.
[00:07:25] Nathan Hurd: That's amazing. I, I was really, um, I was really grateful. I recently you gave me and some others at the conference at an opportunity to go through and experience some of your work firsthand. And one of the things that I. Was unexpected to me. Honestly, I didn't really know what the process was was gonna be.
But what was unexpected was there's so much conversation about work-life balance. And I think, you know, in the pandemic people have reevaluated their priorities and what role does work play in their priorities and so forth. And what's really beautiful about [00:08:00] the way that you approach the work, at least from what I've experienced myself, is this unveiling of and connection to one's individual sense of purpose and how that relates directly to the company's purpose.
And that alignment is, Both incredibly important and powerful, at least from my, from my own perspective, but also lacking, um, in, in, I think a lot of organizations. So what I'd like to do is kind of leave a cliffhanger right here, and I, I'd like to circle our way back to this. Um,
[00:08:32] Corey Blake: oh, you're evil. I love it,
But, um, but I'd love to talk
[00:08:36] Nathan Hurd: about you a little bit, um, as, as, as we go through this and, and then we'll, we'll work our way back to the, the culmination, which is the work that you're currently doing. So, can you just talk a little bit about, um, yourself, I mean, I'm, I, as you know, I'm very interested in what does it mean to live a rich life?
What is, uh, what's one of the more amazing or enriching experiences you've personally had over the last three [00:09:00] to six months?
[00:09:03] Corey Blake: Uh, well, you know, this, this last c e o summit was a big one for me, and that just happened in the last few weeks. Uh, It was a big one for a number of reasons. I, I didn't attend last year, so I'd been isolated for a few years in many ways.
And so just being with the community again, um, I have so many friends. I've been there since 2014 and, and it's an important community in my life. So, so just being together with people that I care so much about was, was moving. Um, and there was absolutely a richness to that. Um, and, uh, being able to use that time together to, to introduce this, this new iteration of our work was deeply meaningful.
And to do it on the one year anniversary, uh, anniversary of my mother's passing was, um, I don't have the words for that. It was coincidental, right. If that's possible. Mm-hmm. . [00:10:00] So, so when you, yeah. Right. So when you pull me into the moment, uh, like the, the, the rich moment I gave my, I offered my workshop. Um, on that anniversary, and there was a moment after everyone left and there's just stuff thrown all over the tables and, and like the messiness of the room afterwards.
And, and I took a moment, I actually took a, took a photo of the empty room and, and I just savored that experience we had just been through and all that I had carried with me into that moment. And I, it was like 10 seconds long, but it was so meaningful to me. And I think I texted my wife and I was like, and I texted her the picture and, and, and shared a little piece of that moment with her.
And then as I say that out loud, I'm pulled into the next, the very next morning, um, when, when Patrick, the musician, you know, sang this song called Dark and, and the [00:11:00] whole community, he, he asks us to close our eyes. , which gave me a certain, um, amount of freedom. Um, in, in the exercise that I led you through, you'll know this.
Like there's a piece of, there's, there's, there are things that arise and light and darkness is a huge piece of mine. Mm-hmm. . It's the piece that my mother is instrumental for both of those pieces. She was the light in my life and she was also the introduction of darkness. And so for him to sing a song called Dark that Next, like I just sat there and wept like a child.
Mm. And the freedom to do that because, you know, everyone's supposedly eyes were closed. Like that, that allowed me to just sit and, and bask in that moment and share that, spend that, spend that time with my mother. And it was so moving. Uh, It was a, it was cleansing. I, I, there was so much about that experience that felt, um, transformational for me.
[00:11:55] Nathan Hurd: That's really wonderful and visceral. Um, and yes, quote unquote [00:12:00] coincidental, but, uh, there's, there's people listening who probably are not familiar with conscious capitalism and certainly with the c e O summit. Why don't we, just for a second, linger there, and for anyone listening, I know you've been part of this community a lot longer than I have.
Um, could you just briefly describe Conscious Capitalism and the c e o summit? And we'll kind of just give a quick overview for anyone
[00:12:22] Corey Blake: who's unfamiliar. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, the Moment was founded by John Mackey of Whole Foods, uh, and the concept was developed by him and Raj Sisodia, who co-authored the book.
And it's, it's been around now. I wanna. 15 ish years, and it may uphold the, the belief that we can be capitalists. Um, but that doesn't mean that we have to be in search of profit at the expense of humanity. And, and how do we actually uphold and utilize capitalism as a force for good in the world? And it's attracted, you know, over the years, quite a, um, quite an expansive range of people.
Um, it's still a [00:13:00] relatively small movement, but its principles have been adopted by other movements that, that, you know, have some similarities. So it's a rather pure attempt at it. And it's, and yet unto itself, it's a paradox. There's an inherent dichotomy that exists because we are all at different levels of our own consciousness journey, right?
And coming into a room where I think there's this per perception that we all understand what it is, but I, I think we all actually see it very differently. Uh, but it's people who care about asking some of those questions. What is, what does this mean? And how do I live this within my organization? How do I lift my people while we are trying to do something that is also valuable to the world that we get compensated for?
So I think it's a, it's a beautiful movement. It is a messy movement at the same time, inherently as it probably, I guess you could say, should be. And I've found that I have, um, uh, I've made so many incredible friendships. Through that group. And I just for practical purposes, I'll said the, the four tenets of conscious capitalism [00:14:00] so people are aware, higher purpose is certainly key.
A winning stakeholder model where everyone who's part of the business ecosystem wins as opposed to a win-lose model. Conscious leadership and conscious culture. Those are the four tenets of conscious capitalists. Mm-hmm. .
[00:14:16] Nathan Hurd: Yeah. That's very helpful and so well spoken. And so this is what I think one people, one thing people probably are familiar with honestly in news, in the news headlines, it, it's much more prevalent as stakeholder capitalism.
Mm-hmm. , and this is not that. Right. Can you draw some distinct differences between the two?
[00:14:35] Corey Blake: Well, uh, I read a piece recently from Harvard Business Review that actually came out in 2020 after BlackRock, you know, had had made their. Their big statement and all these people signed on. And then Harvard Business, you know, does a study a year later about how few of them actually did anything and , and it's kind of horrifying.
And how many boards [00:15:00] didn't, you know, didn't ratify anything that CEOs had committed to. Um, conscious Capitalism is, um, is really built around. Um, like I said, it's a winning stakeholder model, but it is not, um, it is not investor first. Um, it, right, it is. It is. Investors are an important part of the equation.
But in some ways, uh, I think there's the ethos of its, uh, no lesser, no lesser or greater than any other stakeholder. How do we, how do we create fairness around all of them? And, um, and it's also not, um, it is not, we take our profits and do something good with them. It is, we do something good as part of the process of generating our profits.
Mm-hmm. . So, I dunno if I'm exactly answering the question. Cause I'm, as I'm talking, I'm trying to remind myself exactly what the stakeholder capitalism, uh, um, uh, framework is. I know it's not that, [00:16:00] but Yeah, you might actually. That's very helpful. That's very helpful.
[00:16:03] Nathan Hurd: I do have the sense, as, as you just described, that stakeholder capitalism has become in vogue partly because it's.
Uh, in lip service to like, uh, almost a brand or an appearance as much as it is like a fundamental, deep-seated belief system. And, and that's probably totally unfair in some cases, but I do think that conscious capitalism and everyone I've ever met that's part of the community has sort of stumbled into the, the, it's, it's almost like they found a book that matched their heart, you know?
Oh yeah. Not the other way around. And, and so it, um, it does seem to have a, uh, just a deeper sort of essence to it than my perception of
[00:16:48] Corey Blake: stakeholder capitalism. I think you're nailing it with the, with the book component. I think the average person coming in had a spiritual moment. Oh, this thing that I have been feeling my way into for so long, there's a [00:17:00] name for it.
There's a group that assembles around it as opposed to, I read this and it changed my thinking about how I should be in the world, which I'm sure happens also, but absolutely the vast majority are, are having that moment of belonging suddenly to something that they didn't realize they were a part of.
And that's a, that unto, unto itself is a pretty experience. It really is.
[00:17:20] Nathan Hurd: So let's talk about some of the work that you've done. And one of the things that, that actually is, is related to this is, you mentioned this earlier, but, but storytelling has been a really big focus of your, of your life's work. Um, and the way that a company tells its story, as I've heard you describe, is just, I mean, can be remarkably impactful on the way that they relate to the world.
And I mean, two different versions of a story, two different wordings can, can be completely. Uh, received completely differently. So how did you stumble into storytelling? Like, where did this original interest come from and how did it, you know, ultimately become
[00:17:57] Corey Blake: part of your work? Uh, so [00:18:00] when my mother, um, who had spent my childhood pouring her light into me, she, she had a, a year of very severe depression and she was institutionalized for a period of time.
And that, that pulled me, um, into a place where I felt incredibly unsafe. Cause I kind of did like the way I, I look back on it now, of course, you know, not how I thought of it as a five year old, but how I think of it in retrospect is, um, that I, I felt very much like I was, I, I didn't know who I was while I was in the dark.
She had so much light, um, she was so bright that no one compared to her. So in the absence of her light, it, it really just felt dark in the world. And when she came home from the institution that was supporting her for a period of time, she still wasn't on the right mix of medication. So it was like her light might flicker once in a while, but for the most part it was, it was out.
Mm. But I found that if I made her laugh or I entertained her mm-hmm. , that her light would come back on. And even if it was for three to five seconds, like I got to bask in the glow of safety for [00:19:00] that very small period of time. And, and I think in many ways, as we do as human beings, you know, we, we call this what's creative adaptation, and I don't, we might get into gestalt therapy and gestalt training, but as children we find our way back to safety by being creative in some way.
And my way was learning how to be a little performer. And so storyteller is, is one framing of that. And it became my addiction because, It was the muscle I flexed, you know, to make mom happy so that life felt better and, and then suddenly in every other situation, right, that's the hammer and everything's a nail.
And I used it everywhere I could. Uh, storytelling, you know, it was my approach with the ladies. It was way to win favor with the teacher, any problem that I, that I perceived. Um, that was the approach that I, that I used. And it worked often enough that it became a winning formula. And, and then I went off to Los Angeles and, uh, after I studied theater, um, south of Chicago, I went off to Los Angeles and, and built, uh, a career mostly in, in the 32nd [00:20:00] story, the commercial, 30 seconds and one minute.
And, uh, and was the face for a number of major brands for, for several years, many years. And, uh, and sometimes got to do some TV and some film stuff. But that, that, that the love of the 32nd story was, uh, was a, a really fascinating time until I started hating it. mm-hmm. . There, there came a point where I wanted to do other things, but it was like, you know, it was my living.
And so I would get pulled back into it. Um, but then I, I really started expanding and the first two companies that I started that also then imploded from my Bad Decisions mm-hmm. For storytelling companies. And then the third one that I started in 2005 and incorporated in 2006 is, is R T C. That still exists today, although it's, like I said, it's in a, in a major pivot right now.
But storytelling, it always felt like a piece of my identity since at, at that very young age. It became the, the thing I could do in the world that helped me feel safe, [00:21:00] helped me feel like I could take risks and contribute. Hmm.
[00:21:06] Nathan Hurd: So for an, for an individual, I know that you. There's an element of this that's like company focused, like a co the way a company articulates its own story.
How do you think about a story for just a person, their own story?
[00:21:19] Corey Blake: I think every single person on this planet has a brilliant and beautiful story, and I have yet to be proven wrong. Uh, not everyone knows how to tell it. Absolutely. That's certainly true. And when someone can find their story, to me it's, it's such a transformational point in one's life.
Mm-hmm. Because story is tension, right? Story is tension between the light and the dark of, of an individual. And so to find our story is also to accept our story and in accepting particularly the shadow of who we are. Um, not just my amazing storytelling, but also how I can use it to manipulate and get what I want if I'm not careful.
And I, if I have an agenda attached to my superpower. I can misbehave [00:22:00] in ways that can sabotage actually what I'm trying to accomplish. Well, wow. As soon as I acknowledge that and can own that, there's a kryptonite to my superpower, I can also become safer in the world, which expands my capacity and my, and my power and my ability to impact and influence and be of service.
All of that is possible through the unearthing and accepting of our story. Mm-hmm. . So the opportunity for individuals to become more whole and larger in the world, uh, that unto itself is really where the juice is for me. I happen to have right now, particular fascination with what happens when we do that in cluster is what happens when we do that in groups.
What happens when we do that in departments or across cultures of an organization. Mm-hmm. . Um, and it's a, it's such a fascinating dynamic because I've watched how it can play out in such a fashion where like, you know, when one person changes their energetic size, everyone else in the room intuitively.
Has to reorganize themselves to that shift. [00:23:00] And it's not always friendly and it's sometimes like, it's all reactionary stuff, but it begins with that, right? That individual empowerment that comes from connecting the dots of understanding that there's something I do in my life that the universe has been preparing me for this whole time that is very different than I do this out of coincidence, which, particularly when it comes to organizations, you know, I ask people all the time, why do you work where you work?
The most frequent response is, is something that's coincidental. It was the first job, you know, I, I fell into this industry, or, or a parent worked there and I got a job easy, and so I stayed around and this and that. But then when we actually get into the, the, the marrow of their life, oh no, it's beautifully deeper and it's usually quite prof.
I, I, it's always quite profound as to why they're there. Now. It doesn't mean that, that it's the only place that they can. That they can live out or execute what the universe has been preparing them for. But there is a version of that that's occurring right there, right [00:24:00] in front of them every moment. And simply the awareness of that.
How can it not change your perception of what you're doing in the world in that moment? Whether it's filling out a report or serving a customer or, or picking up a tray that fell over, right? Or, or, or leading a team of people. Um, there's, there's something in that pathway that has been destined and brought us to that place.
When I can realize that, when anyone can realize that, I feel like that moment becomes so much more sacred, and how do we treat a moment that we feel is sacred, I imagine quite differently than something that we think is arbitrary. Mm-hmm. .
[00:24:39] Nathan Hurd: Yeah. Yeah. You know what I really like about this? Way of articulating that journey that people go on is, I do think that there's an element, there can be an element of life that at times can feel like you're reacting to life and at times can, it can feel like you're pursuing life or you're in designing [00:25:00] life or something.
But when we feel in reaction, uh, it can feel less meaningful sort of, because we're not, we don't feel like we're authoring our, our own, our own path. But in fact, uh, what I'm hearing in, in your invitation here, in your description is there's actually a story that's already being told and has been told that has very much influenced the current circumstances in life and, and everything that's transpiring as, as a part of that, it seems like very therapeutic, to be honest with you, to, to kind of go back and, you know, revisit your life through the lens of a story.
Uh, if someone has never done that before, What's a good place to start
[00:25:43] Corey Blake: with something like that? First off, I love what you unearthed about, about what I'm feeling into as suffering. Um, the reactivity cycle that, that we can get into is a, is a place where there is often a lot of suffering. And I would say it's a, a fair amount of it is unnecessary suffering.
[00:26:00] Like we can, by being intentional in certain areas, we can elevate ourselves out of, uh, a lot of that reactionary mode. And for anyone who's interested in, how do you do that, let go study Barry Johnson's polarity model. It's fascinating and it's a real key to how to get out of a reactionary loop where the fairy thing that we avoid is what we end up getting a bunch of.
So shifting out of that reactionary mindset and finding, how do I be more proactive? I'm not sure that's quite the right language, but maybe more intentional right, in certain areas of my life so that I reduce my suffering and I can show up more fully and contribute. That I think is such an exciting opportunity and my goodness, just the raising the awareness of how this works through us as human beings, to me has been one of the major keys to less suffering.
When I can be aware in a moment of my own reactive suffering, well in that moment, I am not the thing that's suffering. I'm the thing that's aware of the suffering, [00:27:00] and in creating just that little bit of distance, I can have that moment of. I'm suffering less because I'm actually not , not in that, in that physical state.
I'm the thing observing that state. I mean, this is probably, you know, a bit of a rabbit hole, but I just, I find it fascinating and so fascinating that I forgot the question that you originally asked . No, I,
[00:27:19] Nathan Hurd: I love it. So the storytelling, as you've described it up to this point, at least on the individual level, it's kind of like re casting the experience of your life up to this point, and then it kind of lends itself to the future.
Another thing that I know I've heard you talk a lot about, and it seems closely related, but you tell me, is the hero's journey. We've all heard of Joseph Campbell, most of us. You know, when I, when I first started the Hero's Journey, it was Star Wars and, you know, these big classic heroes journeys. But I can't say that I've, I, I've thought of my own life as a hero's journey that often.
So where did that come in for you? How does this relate to storytelling and how does it relate to, to anyone listening to their life? [00:28:00]
[00:28:00] Corey Blake: I don't think we actually studied it in college, but shortly thereafter, like one of my big first calls to adventure that I accepted, I was studying acting at Playhouse West in Los Angeles, which is a, a prominent school that teaches the Meisner method of acting.
And coincidentally, or or not, Jeff Goldblum was, was one of my teachers. And um, and he was someone who loved teaching so much. Like, sorry, what's the Meisner method? So in college I was taught the Stanovsky method, which is you take a script, you break it down into components so that you can essentially rebuild the same performance night after night.
Meisner throws all that out the window. And Meisner method of acting is super presence focused, being in this moment and it's gonna show up. However, it's gonna show up. Yes, I have my lines and we have the script, but that's backdrop for whatever energy is between you and me right now, in this moment. It's intense presence work is, is really at its essence what it is.
And so I got to practice the intensity of presence. And like I said, Jeff Colan was a remarkable person to learn that [00:29:00] from. Um, cuz he loved being in the moment like, oh, like I've never seen before. And so that process was this huge awakening for me to kind of throw away a bunch of what I had learned before, even though it still remained, you know, my embodied wisdom, but to then focus on the present moment.
So I fell in love with that process. And then I was doing really well in commercials and I was generating really great revenue. You know, I call it, you know, it's like free money in the mail is what it feels like when you start, like you get paid to show up on set, but then you get paid when they use your commercials.
Mm-hmm. , I don't know if it's exactly the same anymore, but back then you make really good money when stuff got aired. And you, I had done a, a really prominent Mountain Dew commercial Super Bowl spot. I loved it. Sang Bohemian Rhapsody and it's a great commercial and I'm one of the four people and they, that thing aired.
In front of hundreds of millions of people. And literally every day I would go to the mailbox and, and there'd be another check in there. It was a surreal experience. So like, I had play money, so I invited, um, some of the other actors [00:30:00] from this group that I, that I really enjoyed. Um, getting together and rehearsing with, like that whole methodology is you get together twice in class, but you're expected to work 20 hours minimum outside of class classes where you get adjusted, but you do the work outside of class.
So these people I was getting really close to, so I invited nine of them to go on a trip with me to learn more about storytelling and I took them up to Mammoth. Eight of 'em said yes. So it became a group of total of nine of us. We called ourselves Elevation 9,000 films. We went over to Mammoth. and we started watching videos on filmmaking and, and learning how to become storytellers in this different capacity than just acting.
But how do you originate the material? And the hero's journey was one of the things that we were really leaning into pretty heavily at that point. I just understood it though, as a story structure, not a life structure. Uh, and yet he kept showing up. And as we were working with people to help them tell their life story, really, like the way we phrase it is that that book they're born to write is that [00:31:00] story of how I was destined to lead this conversation or this organization, you know, effort to do this thing.
And, and the hero's journey was just, It was constantly showing up. And then, uh, I got involved in Stagen right after my first conscious capitalism, c e o summit. Eric Harrington, one of the other members of the community, he wanted to write a book with us, but he made me a deal. He's like, he had just gone through the Stagen Integral Leadership Program, which is their first full year program, and he wanted to do it again.
And he says to me, uh, I'm gonna write a book with your company, but I want you to come take this Stagen process with me this year long development program because I know I'm gonna work with your staff. I'm not gonna work with you on the book, but I want you and I to grow alongside each other while I'm working on this book.
So he pulled me into the Stagen ecosystem and there's, there's, which, which
[00:31:48] Nathan Hurd: is, by the way, the, the Stagen Institute is a really remarkable leader. training program,
[00:31:54] Corey Blake: right? It is. It is. And it is, and had been around for over 20 years and put thousands of, [00:32:00] of CEOs and presidents through their program, and now they're expanding to, to really be able to, to reach into organizations quite beautifully.
They offer that integral leadership program, which I descr, this is totally my description, not there, but I'm like, it's, it is 95% doing and 5% being, and then they, they offer for some people, not for everyone, but if you're of the right mindset, um, you might get invited into their dragons gap program program, which is the advanced leadership program.
And that's like, again, my language, not theirs. Uh, 95% being in 5% doing. And, and, and I believe that the, the value of that is like by focusing so much on how we're being, when we pull the lever, right, it, it, it extends much wider into the world. Well, the hero's journey is the central theme of. Program, the advanced leadership program.
We are constantly coming back to the hero's journey. And I've, I did, I did four years in a row of that program. So it's like hero's journey stacking one upon the next. So I am, I am fully bought into the to the, to the [00:33:00] hero's journey is a piece of our lives. And you could say birth to death, that's one single long hero's journey, depending on your belief system, right?
There can certainly be a, a longer arc of a hero's journey. But the big significant ones in our lives, um, they tell the story of why we are who we are, because every hero's journey has transformation in it. I was one way, then this thing happened. I did not think I would survive this thing. I had to figure out and learn how to do something new so I could survive this thing.
And in learning how to do that, I became something more right? And now because I'm something more, I can do these things and then that becomes the beginning of the next hero's journey. It's, it's, if you think of video, any video game that you've, that you've probably played right? You're on a quest and you gotta veer off of that main quest in order to win this certain amulet or this power or this treasure that you'll need later on in the major quest.
So it's like I'm on the big hero's journey, but then I gotta go do this little hero's journey so I can win this [00:34:00] reward and bring it back to the main through line so that I can eventually be powerful enough to meet the big quest. This, we're playing this out in our lives. That's why I guess we're so attracted maybe to the, to the story model that it's that we see all over the place.
But you're right, we don't correlate it to the fact that no, we, we are all living within this hero's journey. Some of us can hear the call to adventure more quickly than others. Some of us need a two by four across the face before we hear it. Some of us get pulled into the hero's journey. Not voluntarily, other people opt into it.
Those are the, like me, the crazy ones, , right? Like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna put myself in a painful situation where everyone around me who's invested in my consistency is gonna have to go on this ride as I transform. And they're forced to some degree to wrestle with doing the same cuz they're part of my life.
But yes, that's my very long answer to, to your exciting question. It is everywhere. And I, I love paying attention to it. I feel like there's a tremendous amount of power in seeing and, uh, putting words to the hero's journey that each of us is on. All [00:35:00] right, let's take
[00:35:00] Nathan Hurd: a quick break and if you like the interview, if you like what you've heard so far, take a second and subscribe to the podcast by hitting the plus or check button on your first podcast player, your favorite podcast player.
It'll make sure you don't miss any future episodes and you'll receive them as soon as they come out. So just tap that subscribe button and let's get back to the show. Oh man, you, you know, it's, it's like right now when you and I are filming this, It's a very uncertain time in our country, in the world economically, for lots of different reasons.
Yes, it's, and what I'm really getting excited about as I listen to you speak is there's, there's something very empowering about the frame of a hero's journey in that, you know, when you're going through something difficult, it's really constructive, I think, to imagine it as part of a hero's journey. And there's a purpose and there's a lesson [00:36:00] and you know, this is going to transform who I am.
Um, it's huge. And isn't it so easy to forget that, you know,
[00:36:09] Corey Blake: like ridiculously easy. Uh, I appreciate so much that you surfaced that because I have these moments because I'm so familiar with it now. I do have these moments of recognition. Oh man, I'm, I'm in the innermost cave. Like, I know exactly where I am in the journey.
I know why it feels terrible. Mm-hmm. . And in the knowing there's a normalizing, and in that there's less suffering. Right. As opposed to when I forget, life's just brutal and I gotta deal with all the emotion that comes up with. Why is it so brutal? You know, what have I done? You know, all, all the, all the mental chatter.
So the awareness of how the hero's journey plays out and where I might be in a cycle at any given time. I know for myself when I can be aware it is, uh, it's a place where I can, I can shift from terror to excitement. [00:37:00] Uh, and I had it, I remember specifically, um, being down here in, in the, the space at my home where I work and being on a Stagen call actually, where I had this moment of recognition of, oh my, this is everything I'm always asking for
I know it feels rough. And this like levity that came with this moment, momentary realization of, oh, I will never be as creative as I will be when I'm trying to survive. And suddenly there was so much joy. Um, Joseph Campbell's, one of the quotes, I'm gonna paraphrase it here, but it's that we are far less interested in the meaning of life than we are in the feeling of being alive.
And, and holy smokes, when I'm in some of those rough patches of the Hero's Journey, man, am I alive? Mm-hmm. . So that, that recognition of, oh, it's not the version of alive that I was anticipating or hoping for when I heard that quote, but, ooh, it's dead on target. And, and can I lean in with some gratitude and [00:38:00] appreciation as opposed to leaning in with complaint or, or those feelings of suffering.
I think what you've highlighted is a real key to. Really getting out of our own way sometimes and, and being more of our participant in our life as opposed to, um, going on a ride where we don't feel like we have nearly as much control as we probably do. Hmm.
[00:38:22] Nathan Hurd: Yeah.
[00:38:23] Corey Blake: Yeah. So I love that.
[00:38:28] Nathan Hurd: So where would I start?
Have you ever come across a good thread that, that someone might pull on to explore the hero's journey? Like, I think there's an element of it that you could just sink right into, uh, by just starting to, you know, kind of reframe your circumstances. But have you ever come across anything or have you ever created anything that that speaks to this?
[00:38:48] Corey Blake: Uh, I think the reason maybe, maybe the reason that I created it was because I couldn't really find it. There's so much out there about story theory and so much of it that is applied to creating a [00:39:00] fictional story. . But in terms of how do we apply it to our own life and how do we actually unearth and capture the language around our own experience within the hero's journey and what our path has been.
I didn't see, not to say that there aren't, but about about four years ago, I created kind of an entry point without realizing it was exactly what I was doing. Um, but I created an exercise where people kind of didn't know where it was going until suddenly it appeared before them, what they stood for. And I didn't go any further at that point.
It was just, you know, finding the one word that represents what I stand for, above all other pieces of language accessible to me. You know, 250,000 ish words in the English language, like, this is my one. Mm-hmm. . So I got people to that point, and that was used as a vehicle for some things, and I did it on stage a bunch, and it was a really exciting moving thing.
And people felt like it was a magic trick. . And then more recently, I was literally sitting in a dragons gap class. This only happened seven, eight months ago now. And some of [00:40:00] my fellow CEOs in that community expressed the desire for, Hey, hey, why hasn't someone figured out how to connect my employee's personal purpose to the organization's purpose at scale?
Like, how has that not been figured out yet? And a number of people voiced how important that would be and invaluable that would be. And I'm sitting there like, my whole body's going, I'm pretty sure I can figure out how to do that. . And, and ultimately it was, it's a hero's journey model. It's kind of disguised, but in essence, we're capturing right, all of the elements of the hero's journey and putting them into a, a purpose related formula.
It's like 60 to 75 minutes. And, and they can unearth elements that they, that the whole point of my methodology that I think is so imperative is, is this is not an intellectual. Pathway into what we think our hero's journey is, uh, because I think we actually get in our own way when we think our way into such things.
This is more of how do I pull the elements out of my embodiment, out of the wisdom of what I've been carrying with me my whole life? [00:41:00] And so we do it in such a way where people don't quite know where it's going, so they can't get in their own way. That's the intent, which is why sometimes it gets described as a magic trick.
We call it my powerful purpose, and it is a one sentence story of my hero's.
[00:41:13] Nathan Hurd: Is that on your website, your
[00:41:15] Corey Blake: main website? It's our, our round table companies.com/my powerful purpose with the hyphens in between my powerful and purpose. And people can find it there and it's a very low cost and, and they can go through it.
Um, and it you, when it comes to personal purpose, um, and again, it's not that people go into it because of like, I want the story of my hero's journey. They're, they're looking purpose is popular language. So people are trying to figure that out. This blew my mind and I'm, I'm curious at how it hits you.
Like the first 300 people that we put through that, um, as we're, as we're collecting data on their experience, we asked people upfront, how many times have you attempted to articulate your personal purpose? The average, out of those 300 people, it was six times that they had tried. And then we asked them to rate the results of what they've unearthed, how happy are they with those on a scale of one to 10, and the [00:42:00] average was 4.5.
So like there is not. There, there are not great models out there to articulate this stuff that people have been really over the moon about. Our workshop gets an average like 8.5 out of 10, which I'm thrilled with and we'll, we'll keep improving it, but that feels like a dramatic improvement on, on what else people have been trying and I don't even know what else they've necessarily specifically been trying, but it certainly struck me that, uh, holy smokes, people are really making an effort here and there is not a, a great solution out there.
[00:42:28] Nathan Hurd: Well, I certainly can speak from, from my experience, and, uh, there's something really powerful about the process that you go through. So thank you for sharing that secret page. And, uh, you're welcome. I hope people will check it out for themselves. But also the, the way that the, the process itself, you're right, it, I didn't know where it was going, and that was so great because I was just taking each step for what it was.
I was present with each step, and that allowed for truth to surface that I, that I didn't really anticipate. I mean, this is something I've [00:43:00] thought of personally, thought about a lot,
[00:43:02] Corey Blake: and I imagine you strike me as someone who's been thinking about it for many years. Right?
[00:43:06] Nathan Hurd: And, uh, and nonetheless, it, it, I uncovered stuff that I had never really considered in that way and in that articulation.
And, and, um, and then there's another element to the work that, that you do, or at least the process. Which is almost formulaic. You just take the component pieces and then you sort of lay them into a really nice structure. I just really admire the blend of both the feeling into certain truths and then taking those truths once felt and putting them into a nice structure that really brings it to life in a, in a powerful way.
[00:43:42] Corey Blake: Would you be, before you, before you transition so eloquently, and you can, you can of course say no to this, but I'm curious if you'd speak a little bit more into the, what was surprising to you, because I think that is, there's something so meaningful in that because I think you're, what you're highlighting is, um, everything that we've thought about it, In relation to our [00:44:00] purpose.
Like there are things that we miss when we, when we approach it intellectually. I'm curious, what, what, and are you willing to, and again, you can, you can, you can say pass of course, but, um, but I'm challenging you as the podcast host, so mm-hmm. peer pressure is, is is certainly on the table. , are you willing to share a few words about what surprised you?
[00:44:18] Nathan Hurd: Um, well, I, I think first and foremost what you described before, which was you, you, you took us through a really nice process that was, that I really had no idea where it was headed, but it was designed both to calm and put me in a really, a place of curiosity and reflection and interest and openness.
And once some of those truths came out, they just felt very, Judged and uninfluenced almost just like naturally. It's almost like I felt like there was a portal that just was opened and it just was allowed to flow. Mm-hmm. , I would also say that, um, it felt like you took these [00:45:00] component parts and addressed each one separately.
So I remember that there's a part with, as you described before, is what do you stand for? There's another part that's, what are some of the major challenges that you faced? And these are the, some of the pivotal moments that were, that were the most difficult. And I, and I felt that the way that you guided through taking these individual parts in and of themselves and then weaving them together in the end.
For me personally, I, I would say that my purpose that I ended up articulating went a lot deeper. So I think when I've th thought about my purpose of before it's been more focused on, it's been a little bit higher level. Yeah. And you took me a layer or two deeper. Yeah.
[00:45:45] Corey Blake: Can I, can I share one, one word that I'm remembering from your statement?
Yeah. That was it. Illuminating? Is that, yeah. I'm remembering that. Mm-hmm. , and maybe that's, maybe that's part of what drew us to each other, the, the light component. Mm-hmm. . Uh, but, but I remember [00:46:00] specifically like, there was a point when you were sharing your purpose statement where that word came out and it, and it, and it really pulled me forward in my chair.
And that's what I'm always looking for is language. That, that physically does something to me. I experienced you as, as an illuminating force in the world. I think that's like when I saw you on stage, you're willing, like you were willing to. I love this. You were willing to shine a light through yourself so that we could better see ourselves as we were listening to your story and you did like, when people are willing to do that, your willingness to do that when, when people are willing to step forward on stage and exemplify that, that it's safe to do that.
So you, you were an illuminating force, whether you realized it or not. But then to be able to articulate and realize exactly how you used your light, right, as an invitation. Like some people can use their light to blind people, some people, right? Like some people and some people get nervous about, if I'm on stage, the light is on me.
Well, it's very different when you're someone who's willing to shine it through your story, [00:47:00] but in a way where we can see our own humanity because you're willing to expose yours. So I just wanna reflect that how your purpose statement showed up was deeply in alignment with how I experienced you at the.
[00:47:10] Nathan Hurd: Thank you so much for saying that. And I will now, now that I'm hearing you say that, I would say that's probably the most interesting thing from the exercise that you took through, is that you allowed me to articulate something deeper in a way that feels really, really real and powerful and.
it, it is the words and it's the articulation that's tied to that really, really deep emotion that makes it powerful and made the exercise powerful. Hmm. Um, thank you for sharing that. Well, I want to go to the culture piece that you reflected in the beginning, but before we get there, can we just quickly touch on Gestalt?
I know you went through the Gestalt Institute at or uh, cuz Gestalt training. Yeah. You tell me. But what is it and how does it relate to the work? So it's a
[00:47:55] Corey Blake: therapeutic methodology. Fritz Pearls founded it many years ago [00:48:00] and there are many, there are a number of Kalt Institutes. I went to the Kalt Institute of Cleveland, which is one of the most prominent, well-known institutes.
That was also the first year that I'm in the state leadership program. Part of that 18 months where I was also special because I was the only creative c e o in my cohort of 20 people. So I was the one who was willing to be vulnerable first and then everyone else appreciated that they got to lean in more fully and take greater risks because I made it safe, right.
For other people to, to try and do things. So, so I kind of stood out in that class and at the same time, I'm being brought down to the value of ordinary in the Gestalt program and the intensity of doing both at the same time became this really pivotal intersection of all the work that I've done since of how do we celebrate what is both special and no more or less special than the next person in everyone?
Like how do I, how do we celebrate your brilliance while not making it more brilliant or less brilliant than whoever standing to the left and the right of you? So Gestalt [00:49:00] for me, like everyone, you know, it's a cohort of about 25 people. I was the only c e O. There was an architect, there was a C O O, and everyone else was social workers and therapists.
That's the majority of people who go through those programs. But I was there to. Like, how do we be with one another? How do we support from a coaching perspective, from a leadership perspective, how do we, how do we help other people become more whole and more powerful? I feel like that that was the training ground where that stood out as the, as the primary lesson.
I got to walk away with whole range of tools to, to be with people in a way where I'm not doing their work for them, but I can help source powerful questions that they're ready to answer. And that's certainly all that found its way into the exercise that, that you did the other day.
[00:49:46] Nathan Hurd: That's, that's amazing.
And so what, in, in its simplest form, like what's the book definition of
[00:49:51] Corey Blake: gestalt therapy? Uh, you, it, it, the hole is greater than the sum of the parts is a common known aspect of Gestalt. Um, one of the, [00:50:00] one of the methodologies that's, that's overly popularized and actually wasn't used a ton in the, in the 18 months that I was there, but was used was the, was the object in the chair, like you're talking to the empty chair.
So conversations that I need to have with, you know, with my mother that's no longer here, how do I do that in a way that's still healthy for me and gets it out of my body, even if she's not there to be present, whether she's passed or not. Um, the structure that I took away from Al is how do we create life experiments that.
That are embodied, that are not just things we think about, but we actually physically do things that then change our relationship to those concepts that we carry around. Those stories that we carry around, we can, we can revise those stories very powerfully by putting them into some kind of action. And they were miraculous facilitators at, at creating experiments that everyone gets to opt into the degree of difficulty, how much discomfort like you can modulate up or down.
And they were just those people I, I found to be so [00:51:00] masterful and, and to get trained by them. And in, and that's where I learned polarity modeling too. In that KAL program, it was actually developed by, in 1975 by someone who was in that program. Barry Johnson was in that program when he developed polarity management.
So there's a number of phenomenal tool sets that, um, that Gestalt offers. Ultimately, it is, its intention was, it's a therap specific form of. Of approaching therapy for a social worker, a psychologist, but I, I see so many more ways
[00:51:28] Nathan Hurd: to use it, . I see. Actually, you know what, as I listened to you to describe it, it makes complete sense because it really actually does relate to the storytelling and the hero's journey in the sense that it sounds like it has a lot to do with observing your present moment and your relationship with your present moment and
[00:51:45] Corey Blake: kind of, and what's the story you're telling about what's happening right now?
Totally. Yes. Yes. Great observation for sure. Okay. All right,
[00:51:53] Nathan Hurd: so this is coming full circle. So let's, if we could, let's get back to the, what we started with, with the expression of the work [00:52:00] now, and just to maybe tee it up a little bit. I, my experience and the exercise that you took me through was a, we, we've already talked about, was a much deeper and more articulate reflection of, uh, what I'm here for my purpose and what.
What I've also had experience with is being involved in a company and trying to create a culture and trying to figure out how all the parts of a team are connected to and are aligned with that culture. I mean, we all have seen, you know, value statements on and mission statements or vision statements on a wall, but having that really live and breathe inside a group of humans is a whole different story.
And so, please, if you could, how has this all come to fruition in, in your current expression of
[00:52:52] Corey Blake: work? Well, thank you for the invitation. So right now what I am fascinated with is how can we better understand what is [00:53:00] really happening within a company culture because it is so ephemeral. What I realized that back in 2014 when I first entered the conscious capitalism community, conscious culture, I think I, I feel like we were all walking around like, yeah, we totally get it.
Yes. And for the most part, like I really thought I had my head around it and. We were spending a lot of time on culture, but what I hadn't realized yet was, was how out of alignment we were some of the time with what we said we were. And this is I think, uh, prominent in most cultures because we haven't yet surfaced how to exist out of alignment with ourselves.
It's not something we talk about all the time. Like I think there is this preconceived notion of, well, we tell 'em what the values are and we expect that they're relatively easy to adhere to. And if we are slightly more aware than that, then we know take some effort. But the recognition in myself, I had one, I had my C o O back in 2000, maybe [00:54:00] 15.
Love is one of our values. And he had to sit me down at one point and say, if you don't stop acting like an asshole, we're gonna lose some really good people. And that was a red light moment for me of, well, that certainly sounds like the antithesis of love. So maybe I need to recognize that I'm using my values when it's convenient to use them, and I'm setting us them aside when I have rationalized it's okay to do so.
Mm-hmm. , because someone doesn't deserve me to live the value this way. If someone else misbehaves, I'm entitled to behave. However, I feel like behaving right. . So that was the recognition of we actually have to have to put language to the behavior we expect of each other in relation to our values. And then we need a process for actually, how do we support people when, when they're human beings and they forget because emotion is taking them over and that client just acted like a jerk.
So they're entitled to, to a, a response that that [00:55:00] meets them where they, where they showed up. Well that's tossing aside a value when it's inconvenient to uphold it. And what we found as an organization was those moments were really hard to hold onto the values and not let them go. They took so much extra time, so much extra effort and like I really had to be my best self.
When a client, you know, who our team had adored, suddenly someone said something where they. Really unsafe that client. And as a result, they took out a bazooka and fired a shot. And my staff was like, you need to fire back. For me to be able to take a breath and put myself in the line of the bazooka and be able to come at it from the standpoint of I'm suspecting that there's some hurt going on, that we've done something that, right, that that's making you feel unsafe.
Can we talk about that? And then that client settles down and like, okay, okay. That's what, that's what love is. That's what, [00:56:00] right, that's the behavior of love in that moment. So like to me there is, there are all these components that are under-addressed and that leaders for the most part are crossing their fingers that people are doing well and that leaders don't realize that we're not doing well a fair amount of the time.
So we don't have processes in place actually to help support people when they fall out of alignment in a way that's not just punishment. Right. But it actually encourages them to risk and try. We don't have processes for how do we reward someone who lived into the value but didn't get the result that we were hoping for, right?
But they took the risk that was appropriate by living the value and maybe the result, right, is actually not what we wanted. Uh, but if we don't see that in the mechanism, then they get punished for not delivering the result. In which case next time they're like, screw the values. Like, I'm gonna do whatever I have to do to get the result.
That's what I get rewarded for. So, so [00:57:00] we're creating, I hate this, like it kills me, but I think so much of the work around values and culture has been damaging inadvertently. It's not the intention, but as soon as we started saying, here's what we stand for, and then we don't live into it. All of the people who work at a company, they're confused.
right? And, and, and, and, and then, and then they act out and, and it's this whole cycle. So, so I feel like there is so much work to do, um, to truly uphold a culture. But when we do that, the beauty of it, and why I'm so passionate about it is that at a diagnostic level of an organization, when we can address the human components, so many of these symptoms we're running around reactively trying to solve, they just dissolve, right?
Like, if we can actually support the human mechanism in such a way where people feel psychologically safe to take risks to attempt to live the values and be messy about it, because it's a very messy thing to be [00:58:00] human and try to actually live these values. Like what is integrity? Like holy smokes. You know, how many companies have integrity as a value?
Well, do we like when someone's actually not living in integrity? Do we have a safe mechanism to say that in a way where they don't get shamed and then mm-hmm. Or punished for it, like mm-hmm. , all of that. It, when we do that, when we can actually create that kind of a culture. Holy smokes. Like people's willingness to risk innovation for the organization goes through the roof because we've, we've helped them to, uh, to be more comfortable with their humanity by accepting the fact that this is hard and messy and it's not gonna be easy.
And sometimes your shadow's gonna come out right, but, but we're not gonna shame you for that. We're gonna just, we're gonna help support you in however that shadow shows with some tools so that you suffer less when you're in that place and that you do less damage to the organization. Like all of these factors, and I'm all over the place, but all of these factors, um, when addressed, they just [00:59:00] elevate the whole tide in the way that I think we were intending when we first started focusing on culture within organizations.
But in the absence of actually, Teaching people psychological safety at the individual level. How do I help a single employee who is interfacing with customers to, to judge themselves less as a for their own stuff, knowing that if we can help them to do that, they will judge their coworkers less. They will judge their customers less.
They will show up with grace more for themselves, and then show up with Grace more for other people and what can they accomplish. Right. And, and what miraculous things will they do for the organization in those moments that count
[00:59:43] Nathan Hurd: so much? It's actually moments like that. Why is the reason you have a value most, or it's the, it's this, it's the, it's the strongest articulation of a value is when it's hardest to do sometimes.
Right. It's like that ability to do the thing. The reason that client is looking at you [01:00:00] like, holy smokes, like I really trust you, is because you did something that most people wouldn't do. But that's why you had the value in the first place is so that in a moment like that, you know, you is it,
[01:00:09] Corey Blake: is it, I don't know.
There's something about like the feeling that it's gonna be easy. Mm-hmm. and then so like, so we blow past the moment when we really should have used it cuz we didn't see it as, oh, this is actually what we've built this for.
[01:00:23] Nathan Hurd: Well I think that's a really great question with something like love, let's say, right?
So, um, you've got the aspirational side of love. Just the beauty, the great intention. Then you've got the, but, and what you're really describing is what do you do when things are, it's at the moments where it's hardest to feel loving. Right. And that's really where the rubber meets the road. I mean, for, from, from a culture standpoint, is how do you deal with the situations that are hardest to deal with?
Yeah. In, in, in alignment with those values. I, I think one thing that you have taught me in our conversations [01:01:00] that really resonated with me is I ran sales teams for a long time and for years I used something called disk. And disk is a personality assessment, sort of, it speaks to the natural tendencies in humans.
Mm-hmm. and, you know, so for example, some people are shorter to the point, much more direct. Some people feel extremely uncomfortable having conversations like that. Mm-hmm. are much softer and slower and gentler, and these are very different kinds of humans. . Yeah. So if I'm a, I'm, if I'm an employee of a company, and I'm listening to this right now, I started working for a company I was in, I was conveyed the mission, the vision, the values, and now I'm expected to live up to those things.
But in some ways I'm more, I'm more naturally in alignment with those things. And it's easy. It feels easy, and in some ways it might not feel easy. There are certain values that might feel hard. So anyway, what could you say about that? Because I think that's [01:02:00] really what the process that you took me through, but also some of this work has just incredible to uncover
[01:02:06] Corey Blake: some of that.
Uh, thank you. I, I love it. So, my, my belief after, you know, doing this work for as long as I have and paying so much attention to people's individual heroes, journeys and looking at that in relation to values is that most of us, like take a company that has an average of five core values, most employees are gonna be great at one of those good at another one, maybe two.
And then there's two that are gonna be relatively outta sight outta mind. Like occasionally they might lean into it, but they're in their far periphery. So to lean heavily on, on what they're good at, and they'll be likely known for even or, or celebrated for their, their ability to lean into that value.
So to answer your question, like, like at the employee level, if your company has not actually, um, articulated the behaviors that are expected to be associated, like, here's what that looks like in action, and here's a story that helps really, [01:03:00] uh, bring that to life in a way that, that you can hold onto that's sticky.
That, that hopefully you can carry with you in your pocket. And then when you see it in real life, you can go, Ooh, that's what they're talking about. This is what I'm supposed to do. That if they don't have that stuff, ask. I think that's an appropriate question, and it's certainly one that that demonst demonstrates that you wanna live the values, but because language is, we all make meaning from it differently.
It's really important to get clear on what's the company's definition of this and what are the associated behaviors with each of the values. And then it's also important that at the individual level, the employee has an opportunity. They either do this on their own or they do this through some kind of company organized opportunity to figure out what's the story that connects the dots between their life and that value.
Because if we don't personalize it, it's transactional and they're doing it because the company told me to. Right. That's why I'm doing it. But if I can actually recognize, no, this is really important to me in my life, [01:04:00] it's gonna be more prominent. I'm going to be able to reach for it more frequently, and I will recognize it when I see it, and I'll recognize the absence of it when it's not there.
So I think individual employees, there's some responsibility that they can take. It takes probably a little bit of courage and bravery to ask. Yeah. Um, why, you know, are, are there behaviors associated with this that I just don't know about? Or, or maybe. They inspire people to start actually putting pen to paper and creating those if they don't already exist.
But I think we have to. We have to build out the ecosystem. The storytelling is where we have ultimately found. There is so much tremendous value if we can tell the stories of when someone risked a value and the outcome was achieved because of it, and we can also tell the story of when the value was risked and the outcome was not achieved and that that was okay and that we still celebrate that the employee took that risk because living in alignment with who we say we are is as important as generating the results [01:05:00] and should not be tossed to the side for the sake of the results.
When we do that right, we create all kinds of confusion and so I think just languaging that whole ecosystem is so integral and the absence of it is doing so much of the undermining that then leaders have to work. It's headwind, right, that you're then working against. Yeah,
[01:05:20] Nathan Hurd: absolutely. I think that's right and, and you know, for what it's worth, I don't know, I'd love to hear your experience with this, but I can't think of a leader that I've met that would ever be anything but appreciative really, if someone brought this to their attention, if someone from the team came up and said, I need some clarity on this value.
I want to live this value. And I don't know how like it is, you know, it's true that it is intimidating and I've definitely been in that situation where it would, where it would feel intimidating to question something like that. But I can tell you that like, you know, unless there's something really wrong psychologically with the person, [01:06:00] uh, they are are almost sure to be very appreciative and responsive and, Uh, and I think really respect it.
And from the flip side, as a leader, um, you know, I mean values is what we have so that when we're not watching the company lives up to it's, it's potential, right? It's the hope and , you know, if we don't have that, if we don't have the, the clarity in place, then that can be really hard. So maybe if you could just, could you speak to the business owner or department head or business leader for a moment about the promise and the potential in some of the work that you, that you do?
[01:06:41] Corey Blake: Well, from the leadership perspective, I think, I think we do a lot of finger crossing and so I think living our values needs to be one of the top priorities for a leader. Uh, because leading by example when it comes to your values can't be underplayed. Cuz obviously, you know, employees are listening and watching all the time.[01:07:00]
And so any moment where we're not living in alignment, Wow. Are they catching that? Like, like kids and parents, right. So, and we do it all the time. So I think maybe one of the most important things for leaders to be able to do is to acknowledge that this is messy. And, and when they don't do it well, to be as public as they can about, I did not do this, I did not live in alignment with this value.
I really love that. Yeah. Right. So again, trying to shift it from something that we don't talk about, because when we don't do it, we get punished for it. But we all know that no one's, you know, a bunch of people aren't doing it all the time. Right. . So we wanna take that, that all that chatter and all that energy, right, that, that can undermine or sabotage the results that we're after.
And we wanna shift that to a supportive environment. So recognize, lemme just real
[01:07:46] Nathan Hurd: quickly, I just have to put a pi, I have to put a pin in this because it's what you're saying is, I mean, vulner. Is a buzzword that is used to no end right. In business, especially nowadays. And [01:08:00] for whatever reason, as you're talking, I'm, I'm realizing that I think vulnerability is great in certain ways.
Like as a leader, people, people express sincere vulnerability, but I'm not sure how often it happens specifically around the sacred values of a company, right? , it's like that area is like the one area that I'm not allowed. A fail on. And so I really, really love That's interesting. This idea that the, the frame of it's messy, um, is, is a, is a really important and powerful frame because you're right.
I mean, that just, that alone and that expression and that example really does create safety for everyone else to explore. So I just wanted to love it.
[01:08:41] Corey Blake: I appreciate that you're, I hadn't considered that framing, and it's something that's gonna, I'm gonna wake up in the middle of the night with, um, , right?
That, oh goodness. That, that these values, uh, are, are so sacred that we can't, we can't be vulnerable about, about how challenging they can be to live. Maybe part of it is, um, I don't know that people, [01:09:00] leaders always realize that I, I didn't, for a long time, I really thought I was ace in it. Maybe occasionally an awareness, but I mean, my belief is it has been for a long time.
I started zero every day on these, and I, I try to get. You know, I don't know, a score of a hundred, right? Like, and, and some days I do it, okay? And some days I do terribly and some days I really rock it well
[01:09:19] Nathan Hurd: said, well said.
[01:09:20] Corey Blake: So let me,
[01:09:21] Nathan Hurd: correct me if and where I'm wrong, but in working with your company, um, part of the work you're doing is you're helping to, you're helping individual employees uncover their natural uh, tendencies, their natural inclinations towards purpose, their natural expression of their purpose, what they deeply feel, what they're naturally inclined towards.
And you're helping them, you're helping leaders, but you're also helping teams align those qualities, those inherent qualities to the qualities of the stated qualities of the business in a way that helps to bring light and clarity. [01:10:00] You know, who are our ambassadors for given value naturally, and then where's the opportunity and the messiness gonna show up?
I is that kind of the general picture? Because I, I will just say one thing, which is the, the experience I had, which, what helped me to create a clearer purpose of my own. But then a specific part of that exercise was directly relating that purpose to the co to the company's purpose directly. Yeah. I've never done that before.
I've never thought about that before. And it's really
[01:10:30] Corey Blake: powerful. Love that. So that this is like, this is just the en, this is the tip of the spear, which is super exciting to me. But that, but I'm so glad that it, it's working well. And I'm grateful that you've expressed that it worked well for you. Um, helping people to understand that there is a unique gift that only they bring to the organization that nobody else brings, that if they go away, will no longer exist.
I think that, Huge unto itself. And then there's a whole ecosystem of support so that as we open people's eyes to that, like we want their eyes to stay open to that obviously. And it's something that could be easily to, [01:11:00] you know, close your eyes back to in a short period of time. So there's a whole ecosystem around how do we support that story that's emerged.
What I love when we, when we aggregate the information right across, um, the data that comes in, like you said, there's all these pieces that get unearthed that then eventually become part of this formula while the individual pieces, two of the things that are revealed in this process, people get to recognize essentially what is a superpower that they have in their life that was part of that creative adaptation we were talking about earlier.
That thing that they became super intimate with, that became part of their winning formula. This thing that they're amazing at, that very few people are amazing at the way that they're amazing at we boom. It's right there. You can see it. Through this exercise, we also highlight and surface the kryptonite.
What's the piece that will take this person down? Like, and it's just this human, this is nothing more than, we all have light, we all have shadow, but we surface that. And when we, when we no, we share the results of [01:12:00] the purpose statement, but the employee gets to determine is their name attached to it or is it anonymous?
Um, and all of the other data is just aggregated in pools. So what we wanna look at is likelihoods, think. Who you are as a leader, you have personality traits that employees are attracted to. Things about your company that ex are exuded through you, right? That people wanna come work for you. Well, you attract, like using gravity, emotional gravity, you attract certain kinds of people.
Well, what we can do when we aggregate this data is we can say, what kinds of superpowers does your organization attract? And in what kind of percentages across the demo of your entire employee base. And then we can look at those in relation to your values. So you know, if you've got a value that is relationships, and we can see you've got 30% of your employee base where some form of connection is related to their superpower, then you, you know, you've got a large group of people who are gonna intuitively, [01:13:00] innately know how to live into that value.
I don't have to teach 'em anything. It's part of who they. , we can look at that across the whole employee base. So you like for the first time, I don't know any other way to do this. A leader can get visibility into which of our values do not have enough representation intuitively here. And can we then look at areas of our business, like one that we just did this for excellence.
Pursuit of excellence was a core value and, and it was not showing up. We put 15% of their employee base through the workshop and it was a goose egg in terms of number one. Doesn't mean it wasn't on the map, doesn't mean it wasn't something that got attention, but it meant that that not one of 15% of the employee base was at their number one go-to thing that they were gonna fight for above everything else.
So then that company has an opportunity to look at, is quality a problem here? And if it is, is it that we don't have enough of this kind of person? And if so, well then how can we shift around [01:14:00] aspects of our hiring process so that those people realize they have a home here? So we attract more of that, and ideally we find other of our core values that come in second and third place for that person so that they're, they're not just, we don't want someone who's all excellence and gonna crap on everything else, obviously.
Right. So, so there's balance there, but so we can unearth that. And then the shadow piece, if we can recognize across employees how the shadow shows up in, in the people that an organization has attracted, again, this is not about the individual person, but in the likelihood in clusters, well then we can create all kinds of support mechanisms, which we have created.
And we ha like, that's part of the whole process is what gets unearthed. We then have programming for. So, um, how do you leverage superpowers to help model more of the behavior that you want? Well, g, now we can get those people comfortable to start revealing at their own discretion. Some of what came up through the purpose workshop, right?
So it's always voluntary, super important part of psychological safety. You cannot demand vulnerability from [01:15:00] people that is not psychologically safe. So there's all this sudden information that we can utilize and then all kinds of programming. So we can, and all these ways that we see that employees could potentially undermine the company when they're highly stressed or feeling unsupported, great.
We can help give them tools so they don't damage the business when they inherently do that thing that us human beings do, which is live from our shadow sometimes. So we can mitigate risks, we can leverage gifts across the company, we can shift hiring practices. So this temperature check that we offer, unearths that information, and then there's all kinds of programming to support the results that we see all the way through.
Um, how do we, how do we support psychological safety? Like plenty of companies have low psychological safety. Well, we can actually, like, we can elevate that ground. We can teach methodologies and tools so that, Not just conscious leaders, but everyone across the organization can help be a part of the solution to manifest more psychological safety.
And then how do [01:16:00] we actually, um, use storytelling to reflect an image of the organization back to itself as it's changing so it can see that it's changing and acknowledge and appreciate, wow, we're doing hard things, right? Companies don't express that authentically and as a result, they express, right? The more perfect image.
And then people get employed and come and find it's not what it says they said it was, and then they either leave or they stay begrudgingly, et cetera. And then now that's how engagement right, starts to plummet. All this stuff is in way more, uh, of our control. And so we've developed all this programming around how do we, how do we lift all that?
[01:16:41] Nathan Hurd: It really is amazing. I think that you've done such a, you know, I mean, it, this really is very deep stuff, but bus business is a human endeavor. And what you are describing, just the, the, the level of clarity and introspection and, um, [01:17:00] self-exploration involved in this exercise, just that, uh, is really raising the consciousness of every human being involved in an organization that's attempting to be more authentic, more conscious, and so forth.
And that's my hope, you know? Yeah. I mean, it's really, it really is amazing. So, and I, and for, and for what it's worth, I mean, let's, we'll go back to the beginning of our conversation, uh, before we close here. But, you know, I was, I was just with you at a conference with dozens and dozens of CEOs of companies, and I think not a single one there.
Could say honestly and sincerely that they really understood. Deeply how their culture was conscious and was, you know, fully authentic to what they, what they had intended, because it really is tricky. So you've, you've, yeah, so you, I just, I just applaud you for bringing clarity to something that's not easy [01:18:00] to, to find clarity for.
And you know, the results are data driven and. And they're fascinating. So,
[01:18:05] Corey Blake: um, appreciate it so much. It means, it means a tremendous homo tomy. This is still, it's so personal. It feels very personal, right? It's related to my mother, so thank you for seeing me. It feels really nice.
[01:18:17] Nathan Hurd: All right, so if I'm a business owner listening, or if I'm an employee of a business who wants to try to help, uh, the company to become more clear and more conscious and more connected to core values, where can I find more information about your business and your.
[01:18:34] Corey Blake: So business owners can, can, uh, code around table companies.com. On our homepage, we've got the temperature check. Um, if people opt into putting 25 of their people through, it's a great way to just kind of get that initial check. If they use a code, Nathan five, we'll we'll throw in an extra five people on their staff, which is $1,500 value that they can take advantage of.
We've kept the cost really low for individuals, so they can go to our company website, round table companies.com/my [01:19:00] powerful purpose with the hyphens in between my powerful and purpose and, and get a real low cost just to reveal that, that personal purpose statement that is deeply authentic to them.
Would love, love, love anyone to take advantage of that. It's such an outer to deliver. And I review all of the results personally still, and people often hear from me, you know, after they've shared. When companies come in and do it, we aggregate the data and then I personally deliver the results to them.
So I can highlight also what, what can we, what can we do as a. Uh, with these, this is not just, Hey, here's all your problems. Good luck, right? , we wanna see what is, what is some truth or some likelihood where, where do we need to investigate further and where potentially can we make more strategic investments in culture as opposed to crossing our fingers and hoping we're doing things that are gonna return for us.
[01:19:48] Nathan Hurd: it. Thank you so much, Corey. It's been a real pleasure. This conversation was, was a ton of fun. Thank you. Really was eye-opening. I mean, I, I feel like I learned a lot and, um, so I just, thanks for, thanks for sharing and thanks for being [01:20:00] here.
[01:20:00] Corey Blake: Thanks for holding space for me, man. You're incredible. I feel so connected to your illumination.
Love you brother. Thank
[01:20:06] Nathan Hurd: you brother. All right, before you go, if you liked what you heard, don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast player and if you enjoyed the conversation or any other, please leave a review. It's the single best way you can support the podcast and I would be so incredibly grateful for your support.
So thank you so much. I hope this was a good one. And until next time, this has been Rich Life Lab.