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Unlocking Potential: NLP Tools for Leadership Success

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Show Notes


In this episode of the Executive Connect Podcast, host Melissa Aarskaug interviewed Kylie van Luyn, a Master Practitioner of NLP therapy. They discussed how neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) can be a powerful tool for enhancing leadership skills and decision-making, especially in high-pressure environments. Through real-life examples and detailed discussions, Kylie explained the practical applications of NLP techniques in professional settings, and how they can lead to personal transformation and professional success.

Key Takeaways

0:00 – Introduction

2:23 – Understanding NLP and Its Benefits

  • Definition of NLP: Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) involves analyzing strategies used by successful individuals to achieve personal or professional goals.
  • Components of NLP: The neuro aspect refers to the brain, linguistic to the language used, and programming to how our brains are wired to frame and reframe beliefs and perceptions.

4:27 – Key NLP Techniques for Leaders

  • Timeline Therapy: Used to address and release negative emotions and limiting beliefs rooted in past experiences, crucial for sustained behavior change.
  • Anchoring: Involves associating a specific stimulus with a desired emotional state, helping leaders access confidence and calmness during high-pressure situations.

9:18 – Success Stories with NLP

  • Client Case Study: A new executive struggled with perfectionism and people-pleasing due to a controlling childhood. Through timeline therapy and reframing techniques, she transformed her mindset, improving her leadership effectiveness and personal confidence.
  • Impact of NLP: Highlighting the significant positive changes in clients’ professional lives after addressing deep-seated limiting beliefs

15:11 – Essential Qualities of Effective Leaders

  • Emotional Intelligence: Vital for understanding one’s own behaviors and building trust and rapport with teams. Leaders lacking this often struggle with connection and trust.
  • Visionary Skills: Having a clear vision and the ability to communicate it effectively is crucial for gaining team buy-in and navigating through change.

19:43 – Aligning Values, Purpose, and Mindset

  • Identifying Core Values: Knowing your core values is essential for discovering your purpose and achieving fulfillment in both personal and professional life.
  • Growth Mindset: Embracing a mindset open to learning and viewing challenges as opportunities is key to personal and professional success.

Guest Bio:

Kylie van Luyn is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Elevated Coaching & Consulting Global. She is an international speaker, best-selling author, award-winning coach and consultant.

Kylie is a Harvard Business School graduate, a Psychotherapist, an emotional intelligence coach, an NLP Master Practitioner and an accredited Human Rights Consultant. She has Master’s qualifications in Human Resources and leadership and her first book was published in 2023 on Emotional Intelligence. Kylie is an Executive with over 15 years of international experience specializing in workforce development, workplace psychological safety and diversity, equity and inclusion.

About Melissa Aarskaug:

I’m an energetic executive with 15+ years of experience steering companies to new heights of growth and scale. An engineer at heart (I started my career as an engineering manager on one of the world’s largest concrete bridges), I’ve become a trusted leader and business builder in the technology and cybersecurity space.


Kylie van Luyn 00:00
I always say without really strong emotional intelligence skills, you cannot be an effective or successful leader because emotional intelligence. For me, I pictured it being the very heart, the very center of what leaders need in order to do what they need to do, and engage with their teams in a particular way to be really effective and successful, not just in as individuals, but how they then take their team on the journey to success or how they take their team on the journey through change effectively. So I always say emotional intelligence skills, they just they can’t be underestimated.

Narrator 00:45
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast, a show for the new generation of leaders. Join Melissa Aarskaug as she speaks to a wide variety of guests that bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth. While no one has all the answers by building a community of open minded and engaged leaders, we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success

Melissa Aarskaug 01:15
Welcome to the Executive Connect Podcast. I’m so excited to have Kylie van Luyn with us today to talk about NLP therapy. Now Kylie, before this podcast today, I was doing some reading on NLP therapy. And I read that 83% of people who use NLP therapy have a reduction in anxiety. Is that true?

Kylie van Luyn 01:39
Well, I can only speak from my experience going through as a Master Practitioner, but also my clients and that sounds accurate to me as far as client experience and, and my own as well because it is it’s a really powerful modality for psychotherapists, so yeah, I think that’s why it’s gaining a lot of traction and popularity now.

Melissa Aarskaug 02:02
That’s unbelievable numbers. So leadership is a big passion of mine and I’ve been reading recently on NLP. So from your perspective, can you explain how NLP can be a leveraged to enhance leadership skills and decision making for people that work in high pressure environments?

Kylie van Luyn 02:23
Sure. So maybe for your audience, the best thing is for me, we throw acronyms around like NLP. If for anybody listening that doesn’t know what NLP is, because I have consulting clients and coaching clients all the time saying, What is this NLP? So for those that don’t know, it’s Neuro Linguistic Programming, that’s what NLP stands for. Now, the neuro in NLP refers to your brain, like neurology or neuroscience, because there’s parts of neuroscience embedded in NLP practices and techniques. The linguistic is the language that we use, or the words that we use. And then the programming is, I’m sure what we’ll talk about shortly, which relates to, I guess, how our brains are wired, I hate to use the word programs, but programs and how we frame and it can reframe through NLP, a lot of those beliefs about ourselves and how we perceive the world, ourselves, and also things like challenges. So that’s just to let people know what NLP stands for. But NLP itself is actually a psychological approach that involves analyzing strategies used by I would say, like you said, 83% of people are saying they have a reduction in anxiety. So it’s typically used by people who are successful individuals. And then they apply them to reach a personal or professional goal. So NLP provides insights into forming and changing habits, changing behaviors, and like I was referring to before, reframing the way that we perceive challenges and situations that are critical to goal achievement and success. So you know, when we get that awareness about us, we know there might be something we need to change how we respond to a situation particularly as leaders, that’s where NLP can really help.

Melissa Aarskaug 04:14
I’m fascinated to talk about this subject. So from my from techniques, you know, I love tips and tricks to do things and when you’re coaching people, what type of techniques do you use with your clients as it pertains to NLP?

Kylie van Luyn 04:27
Well, there’s, there’s a load of them, but when I was sort of think about this often and I go back, you know, through my clinical notes, and there’s probably four or five that I typically use the most when it comes to executive or leadership coaching in particular. The first one and this will make sense when I explain it is called time based therapy, or timeline therapy. So you can call it either or. And timeline therapy is a technique that we use in NLP to work with a person’s internal timeline, to release negative emotions that you know we all carry around with us and beliefs that we carry around with us all our lives. And we refer to those as limiting beliefs or their particularly negative emotions. So timeline therapy can be really helpful in bringing leaders and executives back into his or her past to discover the situations that developed the limiting beliefs that they might be carrying around with them. And those are things that typically trigger unhealthy or unhelpful behaviors, responses to certain situations, how they perceive themselves, and also how they perceive, you know, challenges and the world. So, timeline therapy is a big one. Because if you don’t go back to the root cause, which is typically it could be something that happened in childhood or adolescence, it’s really difficult as a practitioner, or a psychotherapist to, to support somebody to move forward and have sustained behavior change, they have to really take them back and sit with them and work with them. And it takes some time, as you can imagine, to get them to understand that, that actually isn’t reality. It’s something that happened in the past, and they can address that and move forward successfully as a grown adult now. So that would be that would be my most favorite, and probably the most powerful that I use. Then there’s another technique called anchoring. Anchoring is a technique in NLP, that involves associating a specific stimulus. So a word or a gesture or an image with a particular emotional state, or resourceful state. So anchoring, now I’m thinking about the best way to explain it. Anchoring can be used to help executives or leaders access a state of confidence or a calmness or an emotion or motivation when they need it. So anchoring can be used, you know, if somebody’s about to go on stage and do a big keynote, or address the board, or if they’re going through a particular particularly challenging time, disruptive time, you know, where they’re going through a big a lot of change management in their organization. So that that’s another key one that we use for our executives. And then another big one would be reframing. So when I was talking about the definition of NLP earlier, that reframing is really what we need to do after we identify, you know, the origin of certain behaviors and habits in timeline therapy, then we kind of move forward, and we think, okay, so we know why I behave in this way, why I have these beliefs or limiting beliefs, why I respond to certain things in a certain way. But now how do we reframe and reprogram it, and then creating what we call new neural pathways in the brain, so that we don’t continue the same behaviors and same cycles. So reframing involves changing the way that an individual perceives a situation. And it could be a fear of public speaking, I do a lot of work in that space with latest as well. And looking at it from a different perspective. So replacing things like fear, and replacing it with, you know, look at this, maybe as an exciting opportunity rather than something to be, you know, death scared of there, three of probably the the ones, the key ones that I would use. And then there’s others like meta modeling, outcome setting, which is quite self explanatory. That’s just around the importance of setting clear, measurable, specific and smart goals essentially. And, and helping executives and leaders really clarify their goals and develop a plan to achieve them through things like visualizing and attaching feelings and anchoring feelings to their ideal self or their ideal state.

Melissa Aarskaug 08:48
Those are great examples of ways to use NLP therapy. I know I’m a big, I love biographies. I’m a big biography reader. And so I always like to learn about success stories through, you know, people in the past or people that have businesses. So could you have any success stories that you can share with us about some of the executives that you have mentored? And maybe some of the outcomes from some of those coaching sessions?

Kylie van Luyn 09:18
Yeah, absolutely. So the first one that springs to mind is one of my clients back in Australia. She was new 20 her her executive role. Her CEO said, Look, I’m you know, she was very keen for some leadership coaching. And it’s really funny when people engage with a leadership coach, because typically very quickly within the first I would say 40 to 45 minutes you go into a mindset coach, because you can’t coach successfully or develop effective leaders and successful leaders without first getting the mindset right. And so for me with her, you She was a new executive. She was already very much walking into the coaching, we knew each other, we’re familiar with each other. So we already had established some degree of trust and rapport. But she was very open minded. So I would say she was already in what what we call a growth mindset. She wasn’t shut off to the coaching experience, which was wonderful. But very quickly, not only was she aware of it, but I picked up on the fact that she’s very much operating or she was she doesn’t now there’s still twinges of it very much operating as a perfectionist, she, she ran perfectionism, like a pro, this lady, this lady. And what she was doing is, as we know, with perfectionist, they tend to burn themselves out because they’re usually perfectionism goes with people pleasing hand in hand. And she was not only, you know, trying to, I guess, not trying to be a perfectionist, that was her natural behavior and tendency. But she was really trying to prove her worth. So there was a whole bunch of things at play. And so very quickly, I said to her, where does this come from? Like, we’re all who we are because of something. And it’s usually childhood, upbringing, cultural beliefs, and backgrounds. And she said to me, we did some timeline therapy together over a number of weeks. And what I found and lots of tears through lots of tears and emotion was that she had a very controlling childhood, in a very religious family upbringing. She was only accepted if she had if she was a straight A student, anything but an A was you’re not good enough. Why don’t you try harder. So really difficult parental relationships as well. And so all her life she had lived trying to not only prove her worth, I think, to her parents, but then everyone around her subsequently as she grew up. But also, she had that perfectionism trait, and that she wasn’t even it wasn’t just that she was a hard worker, she was going like above and beyond to the point where her own health and well being was, would suffer. And before I met her her previous role, she’d been an attorney or a lawyer. So this was a new industry, a new role. And after we did that timeline therapy, we did some meta modeling together, we did a whole bunch of outcomes setting and a lot of reframing. What I started to understand was not only where that perfectionism and people pleasing originated from, but also what were the limiting beliefs that she was carrying along with that, she wasn’t aware of her limiting beliefs until we pointed out because limiting beliefs typically we carry them around. And that is to us our reality. That’s the world we live in. That’s the world we’ve created. And by the age of 30, who we are as typically not only our values are established, but our persona and our personality is established, it’s really difficult, after the age of 30, to identify that you need to pull it all apart and start again. So through all of those sessions, she realized why she approached life and her work the way that she does with that perfectionism. She also realized that her inner critic is her own worst critic. And that, I guess, the limiting beliefs she had that she wasn’t good enough, it just wasn’t reality. So she had a lot of feelings about, you know, her boss and her team that they they didn’t feel she was worthy of the role, the new role, but also that she wasn’t good enough at at what she was doing to be a leader. And so what we came, what she can’t realize it and hopefully helped her along the way was that inner critic was not reality. She was doing a phenomenal job. Her boss was actually very, very happy with the job she was doing. And it helped him manage up more effectively because she knew that she needed more feedback from her boss at the time, to I guess, continue to develop that confidence and I guess nurture herself as a new executive. So she she felt more confident she really stepped into her greatness. And the woman she is now compared to the woman she was then which is almost two years ago. She’s not unrecognizable. But she’s so so different. She’s just got this strength of character. And she’s able to handle the pressure in that high pressure environment environment much better. She’s also able which is really important for leaders and executives to establish those healthy boundaries. She she wasn’t able to do that before because she didn’t have the tools and the knowledge of you know, that people pleasing side of her and that perfectionism.

Melissa Aarskaug 14:42
That’s a great story. Thank you for sharing that. I think about as you were talking, I was thinking about just how difficult being a leader is in the world today and how you know, you have so many things besides that a lot of people are now working remote. There’s just a lot of new challenges these days? So from your perspective, as a leader, what are some of the top qualities that leaders today should possess?

Kylie van Luyn 15:11
A fake osseous lot. And I always say, and this is my opinion, but I always say, without really strong emotional intelligence skills, you cannot be an effective or successful leader. Because emotional intelligence it for me, I picture I’m very visual, but I pictured it being the very heart, the very center of what leaders need, in order to do what they need to do, and engage with their teams in a particular way to be really effective and successful, not just in as individuals, but how they then take their team on the journey to success or how they take their team on the journey through change effectively. So I always say emotional intelligence skills, they just they, they can’t be underestimated. I think the other reason I say that is that, if you, I’m sure you’ve encountered I’m sure some of your a lot of your listeners have encountered leaders who really lack emotional intelligence skills. Those leaders find it so difficult. And we come across this in our coaching practice all the time. They wonder why they can’t connect with their team members, why they can’t build trust and rapport, why people don’t naturally gravitate to following them as a leader or they don’t get buy in and credibility. But they also are those leaders that are just so unaware of their own behaviors, they actually a lot of them that that I meet, they’re not aware that they need development in this area, because they, they they’re not aware of their own behaviors, areas of improvement, and skills that they need to build. So it’s really interesting, when we have to sit down and say, you, you’re lacking a bit of emotional intelligence here, let’s work on that see what improves and things do they improve out of sight. They also are the leaders that those that lack emotional intelligence skills really struggle to build inclusive, positive and psychologically safe workplaces. And without that, you’re not going to succeed as a leader, but also as a team and as an organization. So that would be my first one, emotional intelligence for sure. The other things that I I see and don’t see in leaders are things like that visionary side of things. So as a leader, particularly the higher up the leadership chain, that you go, your team, you know, everybody wants to follow the leader. Everybody wants to feel the leader knows where we’re gonna go. They don’t they don’t know where we’re going, where staff we want be directed. And we want to feel that trust and confidence in a leader that they know where they’re going, and they know the why behind it. So not being a visionary leader, and not being and then not having the communication skills to communicate to your team, what the vision is, and why they essentially need to follow you on this journey. That creates things like you know, skepticism and lack of trust. And it does impact things like culture and psychological safety. So I’d say that’s another key one, as well as being a visionary or having a very clear vision, and then also having the communication skills to execute the vision very clearly to people, especially during times of disruption and change. And then the the other few that, I would say is knowing how to empower your team. And it comes back to emotional intelligence. But I’ve had a leader say, we hear the word empowerment all the time, but how do I do that? Like, what what do I need to do? And I would, I would say empowerment is a big one, how, like the how behind, you know, empowering your team and showing them that you trust them and giving them ownership over their roles and, and trusting them to make decisions and fail and try new things. So they would be some of the key ones. Resilience would be another one as well.

Melissa Aarskaug 19:00
Absolutely, I agree with all those. And I also am thinking change as well. Like we’re in such a world that is changing and adapting and evolving. And I think a lot of times in enrolls not being comfortable with change makes it really hard to navigate whether you’re in a small company or a big company, I think that’s another really important one is change. You know, thinking about, you know, mindset, your values, your purpose, you know, how does all of that contribute to people’s personal and professional lives? Like how do you align all of those to make sure you’re living really your best life?

Kylie van Luyn 19:43
I’ll use me as an example for this one, because before I started the firm three, almost three years ago, I thought I knew my core values, and I thought I was very clear on my purpose. I was in the nonprofit sector in Australia for 15 years and exec as an executive If, and I got to the point where I hated who I was at work, apart from the psychological safety that was really lacking in two workplaces in particular, but, and the overworked and the workload and the burnout. Putting that aside, what I realized is, I, until I went through all of my NLP training and psychotherapy training, I’ve never actually sat down and identified and deeply understood my own core values. And without doing that, you can’t identify or discover your purpose. So it’s all interlinked, right? So for me, it was sitting down and doing this exercise as part of my training, which took, I’d say, four hours. And what came out of it was core values that I thought I knew were not my core values at all. And my core values ended up being, freedom, connection, and purpose. And when I knew those three top core values, I thought, That makes complete sense, because freedom was the number one thing and connectedness that I’d been seeking, but completely lacking in my previous roles as an executive, which was causing that unhappiness, and that those feelings of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment. And so then what I would say is, then sit down and think, Okay, I need to identify my purpose, because I feel not completely fulfilled, or I feel like I’m not on the right track with my career. And the way that I typically do that with people is say to them, Well, what are your strengths? So what are the things that you do really well, based on your what you know, of yourself, but also based on what the feedback you might have received from others. The other thing is, we spend so much time at work, you have to enjoy what you do most of the time, you know, we can’t hate our job and just turn up for a paycheck. Because you’ll you’ll make yourself physically and psychologically ill at some point. And so I say to people, what’s the thing or things, and if you’ve got an example of, you know, a time in your career or time in a particular job, when you’ve had those butterflies in your tummy, when you felt like that thing you did really set your soul on fire? And I get people to answer that question, what is it? Or what are the things that set you set your soul on fire? What excites you, it could be working with animals, it could be for me, it’s I have to be in the service of others, I have to help organizations or help individuals or whatever it might be, particularly those that are facing disadvantage. But what is that thing that sets your soul on fire? And I always say to people, you need to do more of that. That’s your purpose, essentially. And then when the mindset comes in, is adopting, you can’t be successful. And I always dare people or challenge people to think of an extremely successful person that they know or celebrity. That’s a really negative, closed off person. And that the answer usually is well, I can’t think of one and I’m like, that’s because they don’t exist. Typically, very successful people are very successful and effective leaders, they adopt a growth mindset. And they, what that means is that they are open to opportunities, they see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. They’ve got a real willingness to tackle challenges with a positive mindset. So they’re real go getters typically. But they also you know, they never stop learning. They’re always those people reading and you know, what you were saying about yourself? You you were looking at NLP that people that are always hungry to know more and, and keen to develop themselves personally and professionally. So those are the I guess the the three things that values purpose and mindset and where they all fit together.

Melissa Aarskaug 23:55
Yeah, I want to focus in on something you said challenges they happen to all of us, I don’t think any of us no matter our age, are going to get through life without a lot of challenges. And I think you you you explained it really well that challenges are opportunities it’s how you look at things that happen to you whether you feel attacked or you feel oh, this happened and now I’m going to make this other decision so I love that you said that a growth mindset and look at things that happen as opportunities and you might not know today but just exploring those opportunities are really key and I think that is exactly spot on with having a growth mindset it makes you more positive right in you’re not blaming other people or you’re just saying hey, this thing happened and you know, now that I’m aware you have more information to make other decisions. So that is such a good piece of advice. Pivoting a little learn kind of talking about the you know not maybe not the negative side of things. But what are some challenges? You think that you know, we talked about positive qualities that leaders have today. Now, what do you think some of the challenges leaders are gonna have today leading these days? And how maybe how can they overcome? So what are the challenges and what can they do to overcome them?

Kylie van Luyn 25:23
Oh, some of the challenges, I think our time that was, that was my biggest challenge is time, but because of a lot of these interlinked, right, because I was lacking time, I was working 16 hour days during COVID. And I just, I couldn’t get on top of things. And my husband said, it doesn’t matter, it’s not going to the more you work, it doesn’t make the work go away. The more you work, the more work comes right, because if you’re high, highly productive high performer, typically, we say that those people get loaded with more and more and more work because they’re competent. So I think a lot of leaders that I work with, and I hear from say, I just don’t have the time. I know I’m not the leader, I should be I’m not giving as much of myself to my team. So they have shame and guilt. And I’m like, those feelings are not going to be all those emotions that you’re carrying around, they’re not going to be useful for you as far as carrying that around, but I think time and lack of bandwidth, to be able to properly engage with their team, but also for them to go off and do their own professional development and their own time to reflect on what’s working. For me, as a leader, I used to take block time out in my diary for reflective practice, I still do it now and think, what’s working or what’s worked this week, a lot of leaders sort of almost snort and laugh at me and go, Kylie, I barely have time to get through my inbox. And that’s me sitting in front of the computer. And that’s not even me engaging with my team or working on strategy, or, you know, the bigger picture stuff that I should be as an executive. So definitely time would be a restraint and a challenge. The other thing would be the burnout that we’re seeing. And a lot of that when we talk about mindset that a lot of, you know, what I talk to my executive clients about my coaching clients is when they’re saying, I’m so overwhelmed, and you can feel the anxiety coming through the zoom or in the in the face to face meeting often. And I just say to them, just take a deep breath. And remember, there’s two things here. One, you still have, even when everything is feels out of your control and chaotic and hectic, you still have control over how you choose to show up every day. And the choices you get you the you get to choose the behaviors and how you respond to what’s going on in the workplace, you still get to choose that. And so think carefully about the choices you’re making. And the reason we do that as coaches is because we want to come from a place of empowerment, so people who feel completely unhinged feel like hold on, I still have control over something. The other thing that I typically say is, think about what’s within your control. And what’s seeing outside of your control. You as hard as it is that leaders will typically try and fix and solve all the problems of the world in the workplace. You have to funnel your energy your time to and your mindset to only the things that are within your control. So forget the workplace politics, forget the you know, whatever, whatever else is going on around you can only focus on what’s within your control. And again, that’s just coming from a place of empowerment and trying to give them a little bit of calm within the chaos. But some of the other challenges that we typically see is a lack of skills, with with leaders, we see people have been in organizations or companies for a long time. And they’ve been subject matter experts are very good technically. And that’s the reason they’re promoted into supervisory or managerial positions. But they don’t necessarily have the people skills. And, you know, we get engaged by their bosses or by them directly saying, I’m having a real trouble leading this team of people. And then very quickly, what we find is that they’re lacking either the leadership skills, but a lot of that is linked to, you know, emotional intelligence and their, their own awareness about their behaviors and their areas for for improvement. So there’s some of the others. But I think that I think, gosh, there’s so many I mean, AI, technology disruptions, skills and workforce shortages globally. We do a lot of work in that space. And so we see people saying, I can’t attract and retain staff. So my culture, I’m finding it hard to build a culture with To nurture and sustain, or maintain a positive culture because I can’t, it’s so difficult to attract the right people and then retain the talent. And so we do a lot of work. Again, it all comes back to emotional intelligence, and how the leader shows up because you can fix all of those things if you’ve got really strong leaders.

Melissa Aarskaug 30:19
Yeah, and I think, you know, a timepiece is so true. We’re such a world and culture that expects everything today, right now, it should all be done. You know, here’s your task, why isn’t done. Just two points. I think when I think about time, all of us everybody is busy with things that they fill their day with. And really managing the day it shifts so much, right, we start the day with these 10 tasks. And then you get into your meetings, and then you have a, you know, a 911 at your work and your 10 tasks that you were planning on getting done today, they might shift to tomorrow. And that is part of Bill, like you mentioned, being a leader and making decisions. And and you know, one other piece kind of to that is, is when things are really stressful. And you’re really stressed out. standing up and walking away for a minute helps you regroup your thoughts, regroup your yourself and resetting. So whether that’s, you know, getting a drink water using the restroom, or just getting up and resetting and stretching or moving your body, and then okay, sitting back down and really focusing on what you need to solve today. Instead of looking at the list, okay, here’s my list of 10, I gotta get all 10 things done. And depending on the 10, it could be a ton of pressure for you to get done. One by one, what’s the most important thing to get done, and then you have nine and look at those nine, what’s top thing and then if you only get three, the other seven moves to the next day, don’t take that burden with you home or just moving on, right? I know that as a executive and leader, very few days to have I ever gotten all my to do’s done in a day. And they’ve moved. I’ve had to do’s sometimes that have been on my list for a month or more. And a lot of times people will come back and say, hey, hey, what about that one thing? And I’ll say, well, these other things took priority. Would you now like me to focus on this thing. And so I think it’s also having dialogue with your leaders as well. So if they’re expecting these 10 tasks, and you think those 10 tasks are going to take a month, it’s really up to you to communicate that to your leaders. And I think the more that we have that, like you said, dialogue and communication, the less stress we’re going to have on ourselves and pressure, and the more clarity we’re going to have in the workplace.

Kylie van Luyn 32:54
Absolutely. I was giggling Melissa, because when you said, you know you had tasks that move to the next day, I had one thing three would have been three and a half years ago. And I was and I knew that I was procrastinating. It wasn’t important, and it wasn’t urgent. So I was like, Well, I can go on the backburner. And it wasn’t like it didn’t sit in my fire me up zone. And but it was just a tough cut to get down. And my team said to me, after two weeks, they said it at a team meeting, we’ve noticed you keep moving that thing on your diary, because I used to put all my tasks unless they were confidential things and I’m like, Yeah, I don’t want to do it. It’s not urgent, it’s not important. And I used to teach them, you know, the cov model or whatever, whatever they call that matrix. If it’s not urgent, it’s not important. It can wait. But also I think they people appreciate your team or your leaders. They appreciate you being transparent. I’m not going to get this done today. And I think once you communicate and establish those boundaries and expectations, like you said, you just feel like you can take a sigh of relief going okay, they’re not expecting all of this from me this week.

Melissa Aarskaug 34:01
Yeah, and sometimes it’s the burden we put on ourselves, right? It’s maybe not your manager or your leaders that are putting all these things on you. It’s it’s you also putting the burden on you and not communicating when things are out of balance. And you know, that word balance I I’ve struggled with that word for many years. I don’t know if I believe in the word balance. I think there’s some days, you know, my personal life is, is balanced on there’s some days it’s unbalanced. It’s kind of that scale that tips one way and the other way. But I think communication is a two way street and it’s takes time and progress. It doesn’t just happen when you first meet someone you got to understand. You know, we all have different ways we learn different ways we communicate. And I think, to your point, time is going to be a really important thing as we move quicker and faster and people want things sooner than later. So it’s going to be really key easy to manage that with your peers and your leaders, as you know, you develop and grow within your organization.

Kylie van Luyn 35:08
Yeah, absolutely.

Melissa Aarskaug 35:11
So with that, I was just thinking like safety. You know, a lot of times I hear from people that they don’t feel safe at their job, or they’re, you know, they’re getting a lot of criticism. So, you know, in today’s world, why do you think that? You know, why is it so important for critical feedback in today’s work environment giving positive, or just dialogue with the people that you report to?

Kylie van Luyn 35:41
Because it goes back to psychological safety? So, if you’re not having an I always say to leaders, are you having regular communication? And they go, Yeah, we have a team meeting, are you having regular one on one of a creating regular one on one opportunities for your team, because not everybody. And again, it goes back, and I talk about psychological safety a lot. But not everybody, because of the diversity of of those in our workplaces feels comfortable saying, in a team open or open environment, hey, I’ve got a sick child, or hey, I’m not going to get to this task today. Or, Hey, I’ve got something happening in my personal life that I know is going to or is impacting my performance at work. Right. So I always ask leaders that that one question when they say, my team’s not working, it’s not functioning, right? I say, Okay, we have to let’s put the responsibility and ownership and accountability back onto the leader just for a minute. Are you creating opportunities for your teams to have regular, regular team and and one on one conversations with you? A lot of leaders say, well, they know they can come to me. And like, do they? Have you told them that but if it’s not in the diary, people typically, unless they’re friendly, or friends with the boss, they won’t knock on the door and say, I need to talk to you about something. And it could be related to the leader, or their leadership style, it could be something that they’ve got concerns about or even a grievance between them before it turns into an informal or formal grievance. Sorry. So that’s, that’s one of the first things I say is are you giving your teams those creating those opportunities. The second thing is if we’re not communicating regularly, or frequently, and we’re not providing open, honest, transparent feedback, whether it be positive feedback, or constructive feedback, they’re both the same. But if there’s, you know, issues around performance, a lot of leaders shy away from having those conversations, because it’s uncomfortable. And I always say to them, but if this continues, and then you end up with a performance management issue, you haven’t followed due process, you need to give the person an opportunity to know where their shortfalls are, or their areas of improvement, how you’re going to support them as their leader, what they need to do as a team member, or a staff member, training, whatever that might look like. And then you need to come together. And you need to explain when what your expectations are as far as that improvement timeline so that they can be fully functional and doing their job. So often, leaders shy away from what they call difficult conversations. And it comes back to what you were saying before, Melissa, it’s difficult because that’s how you’re perceiving it. And so you’re projecting your opinion on maybe how you feel about a scenario onto the person that doesn’t even know there’s a problem yet. So if if leaders can get into this normal natural groove, and routine of structuring, one on ones structuring regular team calls a team meetings, talking about the vision, linking back what the bigger picture and vision and goals are to every single person’s individual role. They’ll see that people buy into them as a leader bind to their vision and mission, be very clear on what their roles are, and what the performance expectations are. And they will, you know, go on that journey. It’s typically when people have got no idea what’s expected of them. And they’re confused that they either, you know, just turn up and get a paycheck, and they’re not particularly productive. Morale seems starts to suffer and productivity starts to suffer. And then it’s only really the people that are very intrinsically motivated, that are the ones performing and producing.

Melissa Aarskaug 39:46
Yeah, and I think about the year I’ve been managing people for 20 years, so I’ve seen a good amount of these kind of some of this dialogue. So taking it a little step further. So absolutely one on one super important and sometimes on one on ones, you’ll, you know, hit one of your direct reports with a question and they might not feel comfortable answering you. And you might have heard from somebody else in the organization, and you you decide to ask the employee and they might not feel comfortable sharing things with you. And so I think it’s a place where you have to continually build rapport. And then at some point, if they’re just, you know, if you ask him, how’s everything going, and you know, from other people, that it’s not going well, and that they’re very stressed out, you might have to hit it head on and just ask them questions like, you know, do you feel like you have too much work? Are you overwhelmed with this project, and you might have to actually hit it, hit it, hit it direct to that person, because there may be times where you’re like, I’m having my one on ones. And, you know, everybody’s telling me that things are fine, but their face tells me that things are not fine. And so I think, you know, when managing people, sometimes people don’t feel comfortable sharing with you directly, for whatever reason, so that’s, you know, you need to spend more time building rapport and relationship with those people. And then if you do, and they are not answering you, then sometimes you might just have to hit it, head on. And if they say everything’s great, then that just also might be their personality and how they communicate within the organization. But I think there’s so many great pieces that we’ve discussed, and so many great ideas, I’m trying to think we covered so much ground, I want to just give you the opportunity and closing any other things we might have missed or top three takeaways for executives and leaders.

Kylie van Luyn 41:48
For those of you that might be feeling. Hear that sigh, that overwhelm that we see a lot of leaders like I used to say leadership can be a really lonely place to be. And one of my team members wants during COVID said, we know the hours you’re putting in, and you’re looking after all of us, but who’s looking after you. And I thought, what a beautiful question. And so, if there’s no one looking after the leader, you really have to take that responsibility on yourself. So what I what I can say, because a lot of my clients are burnt out when they get to me or they have been bullied or harassed or experienced workplaces that aren’t psychologically safe. Really, you can’t get your health back. You need to nurture that now you, you need to make time for your health and your self care now, or you’ll need to make time for illness later, is what I say. So take care of yourself. Try and recognize some of those things that might be happening. But yeah, when we think about mindset and overwhelm, I always say calm happens in in sorry, magic happens in calm, not chaos. So when you’re running around crazy hectic, and we all have those days, just take a moment, when you recognize that you’re operating in that domain and think this isn’t serving me. It’s not going to get me the outcomes I need. It’s certainly not going to serve my team. Take a deep breath or go meditate for 10 minutes if you need to, like you said step away from the thing. And just remember that “magic happens in calm not chaos”. So just take it down a notch and find your center and then you can get on with it. That’s what I’d say.

Melissa Aarskaug 43:27
Yeah, I think you made me think of something I always used to tell myself, Kylie, I’m like how you live your life and your 20’s 30’s and 40’s is how you will enjoy your 50’s 60’s and beyond. And so if you’re, you know, not eating right, not sleeping, you know, drinking too much alcohol harming your body, it’s going to be really hard to unwind that as we get older. So you’re spot on with really paying attention to your health. And if you’re one of those people that can’t do that, sometimes scheduling it, just scheduling it. And if you schedule it and it changes, paying for it, like paying for a coach or paying for a massage or paying for things up front, you’re more likely to go to it if it’s scheduled and paid versus, you know, if it’s just kind of casually I’m gonna go to the gym in the mornings and the mornings happen and you make excuses why you can’t. Can’t do it. So I love that you mentioned that. Thank you so much, Kylie, for being here. I could talk to you forever and ever on this subject. I love it and all your great insights. Thank you so much. That’s the Executive Connect Podcast.

Narrator 44:40
You’ve been listening to the Executive Connect Podcast. If you have questions or ideas on how to bring leadership to the next level, email us at executiveconnectpodcast@gmail.com And don’t forget to subscribe so you can catch every new episode. Until next time.

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Bryan Hancock Headshot — Founder of Integrity Development

Bryan Hancock

Founder of Integrity Development

Integrity Development

Executive Biography

Bryan Hancock has been managing real estate investments—and overseeing development and construction projects—for nearly two decades. He has deep roots in Austin, Texas, and comprehensive knowledge of the opportunities and challenges in this fast-growing market.

Through his development and syndication companies, which he built from the ground up, Bryan has developed 50+ urban infill projects and managed $25M in real estate sales with approximately 35% return on investment at the project level. He also co-founded two private equity funds.

Bryan brings in-depth industry awareness, sharp business acumen, and extensive in-the-trenches experience to his work as co-founder and principal of Integrity Development. He partners with a team of professionals and industry experts (many have been involved in Austin real estate for 40+ years) to identify value-added and opportunistic investments that protect capital and reduce risk for lenders—while delivering outsized returns for investors.

Earlier, Bryan founded and directed Inner 10 Development, a residential development firm focused on Austin’s top zip codes and surrounding communities, and H2i, LLC, a real estate syndication company. He steered these organizations for 17+ years, overseeing the acquisition, buildout, and sale of single-family and multifamily properties, including a 350-unit urban infill joint-venture project.

Bryan was successful in delivering strong returns while minimizing risk for bankers and investors by taking a targeted, data-driven approach to opportunity analysis, due diligence, and strategic decision-making. He zeroed in on potential risks and developed proactive mitigation strategies to protect and grow investments.

Concurrent with his work at Inner 10 Development and H2i, Bryan established Gentry Lending Group, a private-equity debt fund. He also served on the board of Bullseye Capital Real Property Opportunity Fund. These experiences provided Bryan with a grasp of both investor and banker viewpoints, including an understanding of risk and liability on the lending side. This aspect of his background continues to shape his real estate decisions to this day.

There is another unique aspect to Bryan’s career—a corporate history that differentiates him from other investors and developers in this field. Bryan has built organizations, controlled multimillion-dollar projects, and supported billion-dollar programs for some of the world’s largest companies: Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Dell, CACI, and Charles Schwab. He managed teams and vendors in the US, China, France, and India, and often balanced up to 10 projects at a time. He was trusted with a Top Secret Security Clearance from the United States government.

A business-savvy leader and lifelong learner, Bryan holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Texas Christian University and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Bryan founded the Wealth Investment Network, co-founded RealStarter (a crowdfunding platform for real estate investors), and was a member of the Urban Land Institute and Central Texas Angel Network. He has been a guest speaker at 20+ national events, including conferences and meetups through the Information Management Network (IMN), SXSW, Rice University, Bay Area Real Estate Summit, Soho Loft Conference, Texas Entrepreneur Network, and many others.

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Melissa Aarskaug Headshot — Founder of Executive Connect

Melissa Aarskaug

Founder of Executive Connect

Senior Executive, Board Member & Advisor

Vice President of Business Development
Bulletproof, a GLI company

Executive Biography

Melissa Aarskaug is a global executive and business leader at the forefront of the technology/cybersecurity industry. She shapes strategy, leads teams, and partners with Fortune 500 companies and other enterprise clients to protect their organizations from risk and noncompliance—while improving operations and accelerating growth.

For 15+ years, Melissa has taken the reins to propel organizations to the next level of performance. By combining business acumen and revenue optimization with the sharp mind of an engineer, she uncovers and seizes opportunities for profitable growth in the US and around the world.

Melissa has established a distinguished career with Gaming Laboratories International (GLI), where she is a key member of the senior executive team. Throughout her tenure, she has assembled teams, developed new markets, and influenced P&L impact, ultimately positioning GLI as the #1 provider of testing, certification, and cybersecurity services to the global gaming and lottery space.

After achieving this feat—a big win for GLI and game-changer for clients worldwide—Melissa steered both GLI and Bulletproof (acquired by GLI in 2016) into untapped verticals: finance, government, healthcare, higher education, hospitality, and retail. An enthusiastic, knowledgeable growth driver who cultivates partnerships and rallies teams, she led GLI/Bulletproof to dominate these markets as well.

Before joining GLI, Melissa shaped and executed strategy as Vice President of Business Operations for LV Investments, where she built and optimized a portfolio of commercial and industrial properties. Earlier, in a very different role as Project Engineering Manager for Fisher Industries, she directed and mobilized a team of 550 employees and contractors to develop the world’s largest concrete bridge. Previously, she headed a major engineering project for Pacific Mechanical Corporation.

A curious, lifelong learner, Melissa holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering with minors including Business and Mathematics. She is a Karrass Master Negotiator and C4 Executive Coach who actively pursues ongoing education and inspiration as a member of Chief, Austin Technology Council, Austin Women in Technology, and Toastmasters International. In addition to her own personal and professional development, Melissa is committed to helping other people thrive both inside and outside of the workplace. She actively mentors and empowers team members at GLI/Bulletproof, and is an executive leader and coach for Global Gaming Women. She founded Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) Austin and is a current or past board member of many organizations, including Emerging Leaders in Gaming, Ballet Austin, Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, the Society of Women Engineers, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. She has been a Junior League volunteer in Austin, Las Vegas, and Reno for 15+ years.

Throughout her career, Melissa has inspired individuals, teams, and entire organizations to think differently about innovation, cybersecurity, leadership, and business development. She was honored as one of the “Emerging Leaders in Gaming: 40 Under 40” and she continues to share her ideas and expertise through publications, podcasts, webinars, and presentations.

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This is the Executive Connect

A show for the new generation of leaders. Join us as we discover unconventional leadership strategies not traditionally associated with executive roles. Our guests include upper-level C-Suite executives charting new ways to grow their organizations, successful entrepreneurs changing the way the world does business, and experts and thought leaders from fields outside of Corporate America that can bring new insights into leadership, prosperity, and personal growth – all while connecting on a human level. No one has all the answers – but by building a community of open-minded and engaged leaders we hope to give you the tools you need to help you find your own path to success.