My guest in this episode is Gary Danoff, a global leader at Google with a very diverse team and a Coach who works with people from different nationalities around the world. Gary is known for leading across generations with empathy, clear objectives, humor, and humanity – and he’s here to tell us how he does it.
Gary always inspires me. I’m glad you’re here to listen in.
About the Guest:
Gary Danoff is an Advisor, Executive Coach, Content Creator and Global Leader of Alliances for Google Workspace at Google. Gary loves working with people in leadership and contributor roles regardless of title. What matters most is the curiosity they have to overcome obstacles, create new paths for themselves and their organizations, and do so while employing a mix of humor, determination and with an open heart/desire to create work they and others love.
As an executive coach, Gary serves founders, entrepreneurs, executives from all over the globe and those around them. With a focus on improving human connection in a digital world, Gary is the executive producer and host of What’s Next Now! Guests share their stories of blending business goals, public interest, personal passion, and their best human strengths to create positive outcomes for themselves, citizens, customers and the employees they serve.
What’s Next Now podcast: https://anchor.fm/gary437/
About the Host:
Amy L. Riley is an internationally renowned speaker, author and consultant. She has over 2 decades of experience developing leaders at all levels. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Deloitte and Barclays.
As a trusted leadership coach and consultant, Amy has worked with hundreds of leaders one-on-one, and thousands more as part of a group, to fully step into their leadership, create amazing teams and achieve extraordinary results.
Amy’s most popular keynote speeches are:
The Courage of a Leader: The Power of a Leadership Legacy
The Courage of a Leader: Create a Competitive Advantage with Sustainable, Results-Producing Cross-System Collaboration
The Courage of a Leader: Accelerate Trust with Your Team, Customers and Community
The Courage of a Leader: How to Build a Happy and Successful Hybrid Team
Her new book is a #1 international best-seller and is entitled, The Courage of a Leader: How to Inspire, Engage and Get Extraordinary Results.
Links mentioned in the episode
The Verge article, File Not Found: https://www.theverge.com/22684730/students-file-folder-directory-structure-education-gen-z
What’s Next Now! Podcast Episode: Describing ‘Sales’ to 5th Graders: https://anchor.fm/gary437/episodes/Describing-Sales-to-5th-graders–A-new-way-to-think-about-communicating-and-being-persuasive-whether-you-are-a-professional-salesperson–doctor–business-owner–chef-or-barista-ec463j
Cloverpop article, Future of Work: Research Shows Millennials, Gen Xers And Baby Boomers Make Better Decisions Together: https://www.cloverpop.com/blog/future-of-work-research-shows-millennials-gen-xers-and-baby-boomers-make-better-decisions-together
Harvard Business Review article, Harnessing the Power of Age Diversity (subscriber-only article): https://hbr.org/2022/03/harnessing-the-power-of-age-diversity
Via Inventory Character Strengths Report: https://www.viacharacter.org/
Gary’s “Don’t Just Text, Connect!™” framework: https://www.garydanoff.com/clients
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Teaser for next episode
Tune in next for “Innovative Ways You Can Create a More Sustainable World” with Simon Bailey, the Managing Director of LSP leadership. This is a thought-provoking and inspiring episode with a range of ideas about how you can contribute to our world with ease and in ways that most interest you.
My guest today, Gary Danoff is a global leader at Google with a very diverse team, and an executive coach who works with people from different nationalities around the world. He is known for leading across generations with empathy, clear objectives, humor and humanity. And he's here to tell us how he does it. Gary always inspires me, I'm glad you're here to listen in.Amy Riley:
Welcome to the Courage of a Leader podcast. This is where you hear real life stories of top leaders achieving extraordinary results. And you get practical advice and techniques, you can immediately apply for your own success. This is where you will get inspired. And take bold, courageous action. I'm so glad you can join us. I'm your host, Amy Riley. Now, are you ready to step into the full power of your leadership and achieve the results you care about most? Let's ignite the courage of a leader.Amy Riley:
Gary, you're a leader of leaders, a leader of alliances. You're an executive coach. So there were a lot of different leadership topics you and I could have talked about on this podcast episode. For sure. You suggested that we talk about age diversity in the workplace and on a team. Why did you want to talk about age diversity? Gary,Gary Danoff:
I'm so fascinated by the fact that there are at least four different generations in the workforce today. I know that's true in America. And I'm sure that it's true in EMEA, and APAC and Latin America as well. And it just presents such a great opportunity for learning from one another. But it's also fraught with challenges and fears. And so the opposite ends of those two things opportunity and fear are so intriguing to me and how we work our way through that. So that's why I thought it'd be a great topic for us to just kind of explore about around some today, and I've got some ideas to share with you about it.Amy Riley:
Excellent. Why is it important? Let's say we've got a leader of a team, you've got eight to 12 people on this team? Why is it important for that leader to look at age diversity in their group?Gary Danoff:
Yeah, that's really where it starts is with that leader, to set the tone for the rest of the team. If you've got, you know, 15 people eat three people who are a couple from a baby boomer generation, a couple from a Gen X a couple from a millennial generation, a couple from Gen Z generation. And by the way, those four generations were all together in the workplace now. And there's, you know, numbers as to how many there are, there's like 72 million baby boomers and 71.6 and 72 million millennials. And there's a lot of folks in different generations. And so the reason it's important to become aware of and sensitized to our differences, which are formed by what we grew up with. Yeah, we should back up for a second and maybe just explore what a generation is, you know, what does that word mean? So to me what it means and from the research that I've done, a generation is a period of time, which is about 20 years, where people who in that 20 year period, kind of starting when they're like eight or nine years old to when they're like in their early 20s things around food, politics, that art, adventure, space exploration, you know, world events, all the things that shape our experience in our taste of life, that we experience as that group moving through that 20 year period, that's kind of what affects the psyche of our generation. So like, I'm an early baby boomer, kind of a little bit closer to the Gen X side, and, you know, Woodstock and rock and roll and music of the 70s and disco, whereas Gen X is probably shaped by the shuttle disaster and being latchkey kids and millennials you know, kind of will they never had to look at anything but an iPhone, you know, because that's what was You know, kind of a marker for their generation. So because we have these experiences that shape our generation, it's important to understand what the differences are. Because there's so much a lock with each other, when we can understand what people are showing up with in their experience set at work. And that's why I think it's important to focus on or think about.Amy Riley:
Excellent. Gary, I love that you're talking about food politics, a popular event. I mean, so many people think about generational differences in there. Like we all grew up in a different stage of technology. Right, it will, it will over oversimplify or over index on technology differences. Yes. How important are the technology differences? You work at Google?Gary Danoff:
Well, let's see. So I was reading an article in The Verge recently called file not found I love this article.Amy Riley:
file. Okay, like the Okay, the error message.Gary Danoff:
And the error message Exactly. But there's a whole nother interpretation to file not found. And I'm gonna wrap this into your question about, you know, why is technology important. But the gist of that article was, is that there's a generation of people who were in elementary school who grew up with the iPhone, around 2007. And they grew up with Google search. So they're used to, they're used to searching for things on the phone, my son, who's a millennial, I mean, his Google foo, as I call it foo, as an ability, like Kung Fu, is leagues ahead of mine, and he's taught me so much. Whereas for myself, when I was their age, what I grew up with was something called the card catalog, or something called a dictionary, or this really funky weird machine that was kind of like a movie projector called a microfiche machine. And these things like they're probably in the Smithsonian Museum. So, because of that, professors, teaching kids today, or younger people today have a different way that they look at technology, and more importantly, how they organize information in their mind. And on paper, or in computers. They're used to nested file structures, whereas many people today, don't even think about that sort of logic because they can just hit the search button. So that was one of the key points in that article in The Verge, people should look it up if they're interested. It's called file not found. Now, it speaks to the technology difference. And really, I think the technology difference can create a fear in different generations. And that's the thing that we have to address. Kind of what we don't know what we're not what we're not familiar with him what we're not comfortable with. And it goes both ways. It really does go both ways, like Millennials can be uncomfortable with what boomers know, or how we do things, and certainly vice versa. And I can tell you a story, or a couple of stories about that from having led a multi generational team at Google.Amy Riley:
I want to hear those stories. First, Gary, let me tell listeners a little bit more about who you are. Oh, Gary Dan off is an advisor, executive coach, content creator, and he's the global leader of alliances for Google workspace at Google. Gary loves working with people in leadership and contributor roles regardless of their title. What matters most to Gary is the curiosity they have to overcome obstacles create new paths for themselves in their organizations, and to do so while employing a mix of humor, determination, and with an open heart or desire to create work they love and that others love. As an executive coach, Gary serves founders, entrepreneurs, executives and those around them. With a focus on improving human connection in a digital world. Gary is the executive producer and host of what's next now, podcast show. Guests on his show share their stories of blending business goals, public interest, personal passion, and their best human strengths to create positive outcomes for themselves, citizens, customers and the employees they serve. The show focuses on grading executive presence, mentoring others, and building career mobility and a multigenerational mobile workforce. We'll make sure the link to what's next now is in the show notes and thanks for being here today. Jerry,Gary Danoff:
it's just great hanging out with you, Amy. I love how we built our relationship and happy to spend time with you and your listeners and viewers today.Amy Riley:
Excellent, honored to have you here, I feel the same. Thank you so much. Share with one with us one of those stories you referenced.Gary Danoff:
So, you know, I feel like it's a privilege to work at Google. It's such a fascinating company with endless exploration, challenge, and opportunity. And I mean, that's, I could drop the mic on that statement as to how I feel about working at Google, because it just does all of those things for me. And one of the chapters that I've had there, is leading a global team for Google workspace during the pandemic, and my team consisted of people who were across generations, couple of millennials, a couple of Gen Xers, myself and early Boomer, so we kind of had, you know, we kind of touched the three largest ones in the workforce today. And I learned so much, by having that opportunity. I learned from the millennials, that they want information quickly, they like less structure. They want quick availability to me and access to me, they want rapid response around how they're doing, they want what I call in the moment coaching or, or reactions to things. You know, Chip countries work on reaction being a better word than feedback or observation being a better word of that feedback. And so those were great opportunities for me to better understand how to be more effective as a leader with that cadre of on my team. And there was a little bit different for the Gen Xers in terms of them having kind of a different work ethic hours that they wanted to work with, that was a little bit closer to how I was. But what so that that would alone have been just an interesting little experiment and tremendous learning opportunity for myself. Now layer on top of that, the frightening ly weird and hard and sometimes heartbreaking world of the pandemic the last couple of years in it, it added just a whole nother dimension to it. But that's the circumstance which I was thinking of.Amy Riley:
Mm hmm. So, Gary, you learned that millennials want information quickly released those on your team, right wanted information quickly, they wanted a rapid response is primed and ready for in the moment coaching? How you'll say there's a leader listening, they're early Boomer, they're a Gen X leader. So you know, we have our perspectives, we just have ingrained in us what we think people need and want and prefer. Now, obviously, we can find out by trial and error over time, any streamed line techniques approaches, like how do we find out what the different generations we're working with want and need.Gary Danoff:
It's really simple. It's really very simple. And this is what I, when I advise and coach people, I help them bring the strengths out that I'm about to tell you about. And that is curiosity increase is the most important thing. And really, I'm going to use the L word here. And that word, AMI is love. And I think you have to love, you have to love being a leader. And you've really have to love people. And actually, I'm going to go a step further and be even more vulnerable and say, You have to love the people you're leading. Now, obviously, I don't mean you're in love with them in a romantic way. But I mean, you I believe you have to be a heartful leader in in how you show up for your people, and that spans all the generations. So I just kind of say that it's a foundational statement, and I work with people to help them do that. Because not everybody is comfortable with it or knows how to do it. And that's okay. That's okay. It's a great thing to kind of move into. Um, so now in terms of specifically, you know, if you listen and you love, then you can figure out what people want from you and how you show up for them. And that's kind of kind of it were me, that's what I do. So curiosity, listening and loving. And I have one of my podcast episodes and it's called Teaching seals to third grade. units, and I think the acronym I have there, it's like, listen, learn and persuade, you know, that break selling down into those three things. And in a way, in a way, being a leader also involves those things. So those, that's how I work with folks and recommend that.Amy Riley:
Yes, I love these words curiosity, love and listening, I'm just, we ask questions for what what do you prefer in front of the lens of, I'm gonna love what you have to say, right? Like, I'm gonna love that you have a different perspective or way of looking at this or way of working, or approach. And whatever that is, there's going to be value inherent in that there's going to be I'm bringing my curiosity. So there's going to be ways that I can learn from that. Well, it depends so much more. I feel it in a different way gear I hear lots of people talk about we need curiosity, come at it from Curiosity, right, but when you bring the love with it, I'm hearing that a completely different way.Gary Danoff:
Oh, I'm glad to know that, you know, it took me a while to get there to be able to use the love word in a work setting. But when I think about the human experience over the last three years, when I when I look around at people, I think it's time to say that word but you know, in a proper context and framework, but nonetheless, I believe to be a really strong and effective leader. That's one of the elements that you lead in that I coach people, I'm certainly not the only one. And it doesn't mean that you are acquiescing or that you're a pushover or that you have no boundaries or structure. Certainly goals. Absolutely not. Tough Love is where you set those things. And you have to, and by the way, all generations, it doesn't mean you know, we can throw the word generations out. People actually like to have boundaries and frameworks that they can work into and know that they can can achieve through. So that's part of the love word also.Amy Riley:
Yeah, I just gotta say, I love it. Yeah. And that you said, yeah, it's not just I love you. And I let you do whatever. And I let you walk all over me and the rest of the team and, and whatever. I just got the tough love built in there as well.Gary Danoff:
Yeah, for sure.Amy Riley:
So Gary, I gotta imagine, this isn't just about the leader, understanding how to interact most effectively with each team member giving, given the generation that they represent and any other preferences and perspectives that they have. How do we get folks on the team working well together?Gary Danoff:
Yeah, I mean, I'm just gonna take a breath on that one, because that's where, you know, it's one thing if you're the leader, and you have positional authority, or line reporting authority, or even broader designated organizational influence authority. So those are all positions that are workable, or more easily workable, then you helping other people to work well amongst themselves creating that environment where they can do that and need to do that. There was some interesting research done by Clover pop, that when you had an age range of 25 years, from kind of youngest to oldest on a team, that 73% of the time, the expectations for success on whatever project it was, that they were working on were exceeded. So that that that age difference helps people and I thought to myself, Well, why is that the case? And how did? How did that happen? Anybody can look it up on on clever pop. So I think the leader has to help point out the differences in a very concrete way to people early on in their team sentences like, of course, one never knows and should not know unless in a very restricted and appropriate channel, kind of people dev people ops or HR discussion about people's age, we don't know that. But we can make broad statements that might seem obvious, just from anything that we can pick up on visual acuity that, hey, we've got the benefit folks here together, of having different generations probably among our team. Let's talk about some of the things that we have in common. And some of the things that we might find to be a little bit different, one amongst the other, and then there'll be silent, nobody will want to talk. They're scared. And then the leader should probably say, I'd like to raise my hand to start, and I'm not asking anybody else to do this, but I'm just gonna say, I'm a baby boomer, and I'm comfortable with, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, working hard sitting on hours rock and roll, and classic rock music, disco, and you never would know it about me. But I like to throw down rhymes and raps. Okay, now was somebody else like to throw something up on the board that they're happy with, or familiar with or comfortable with. So just to try and get people talking. It's not easy. It's not easy. And it may not work, quite frankly. But just airing the topic. And then the the other thing to do around this, because it's hard work that a coach can help with quite frankly, is having conversations with people one on one, when you see a conflict occur between people, and calling that out and just investigating curiosity. Kind of what was that about?Amy Riley:
Yeah, dig in when there's conflict to create the the understanding. Great, this, as the leader, make the broad statement. Alright, make the broad acknowledgement, observation. Invite people to share from their own perspective and go first. Yeah.Gary Danoff:
I love that. I love that. Thank you for distilling that down to exactly what it is. Yeah, that's good. If somebody asked for a little note on that, I think what you just said would be the note, guy. Yeah, for sure. AreAmy Riley:
you willing to go first? Yeah. And then then when we see work differences, style differences, different approaches, when we think that might be at the heart of a conflict, have the one on one conversation, don't sweep it under the rug, let's let's bring the understanding to the surface.Gary Danoff:
Totally, if I may, I wanted to share one other thing on the topic, related to an article I read recently in Harvard Business Review, called harnessing the power of age diversity. And it was written by three authors whose name escapes me, but anybody can look it up harnessing the power of age diversity. And it was so insightful to me. Because they, they talked about some of the same things that that we're talking about. And they talked about taking advantage of the differences bracing, mature mutual learning, because without that, what can happen is collaboration will be limited. People can can kind of quickly form I don't want to say graduates, but opinions that can be unhelpful. This can lead to lower T performance and discrimination. It can spark emotional conflict and employee turnover. So a leader in the world today, I think, needs to be aware of generational differences. And I want to expand that, you know, cultural differences, ethnic differences, sexual orientation differences. And, again, it's such a privilege to work at Google, because we blend all of that together, we embrace that, you know, we respect the opportunity. We respect the customer, and we respect each other. And I think, not to sound too pollyannish. But I think the world could use a little bit more of that today. And so, when you summarized a minute ago, it made me think about that article that I found so useful.Amy Riley:
Okay, great. I love it take advantage of the differences. Yeah. So Gary, once we have one of these elite leader led conversations, where folks start saying, you know, here's my view, here's what I prefer, here's, here's what I what I like, then, do we co create and go into deciding how do we leverage those differences? How do we get there?Gary Danoff:
Well, I think we can I think we can co create on a one on one with people, when we listen and observe what the differences are. And really when we as leaders and or coaches might use other instruments to determine people's top five strengths and there's a number of instruments to do that. I like the VA inventory, their strengths finders, you know, on and on. So in the in the one on one sessions that we would have with people or in the meetings with our managers who are, you know, we as managers of managers are in that role. We understand people's strengths and we look to encourage And then into activities, objectives and accountabilities that leverage their stents. Great example, a kind of this is where I kind of get tired of using the generational labels. And I like to talk more about people. So there's an individual on my team, who, because of their generation was more comfortable and strong, and having a structured agenda, driving that agenda, bringing people in when they when they needed to, and reporting it out, getting it done on or before time, or some other people on my team, who were more efficient and have strengths in unstructured to change. Let me just go figure it out, I'm not sure that this agenda is going to be what we're going to end up with, what's the goal post you need me to get to, and I'll figure out how to get there. And I'll call you if I need help. So, you know, directing people in ways that they work best, because we've been curious and wanted to learn about them. And we as leaders, we're it's incumbent upon us to do that, then we actually get back out to people in ways that they, they can consume best.Amy Riley:
Okay, a lot. That's another access point, right, talking about our strengths. value, we can bring in different kinds of situations. Excellent. Yeah, it's so important. I want to get your opinion on something, Gary, because I know you've been thinking on this and researching in this arena and having your experiences. I think this is from the tickets from that same Clover pop article, you reference, you shared that with me earlier in life. And there was a statement that I pulled out young and old workers have similar career goals, work attitudes, and learning patterns. And I thought, wow, there's, I just makes me wonder if this labeling is not serving us. Because it makes us assume that there must be such drastic differences between the different generations as we're, we're labeling. What are your thoughts here?Gary Danoff:
I agree with you, I kind of have been enamored around the generational labeling thing for a while, and now I'm becoming less enamored with it. I think it's, I think it's useful, only really to understand the differences in just people in order to get to the similarities. You know, it's it, because what, in my view, my own personal experience having two sons who are millennials, and now that they're moving into the early phases of their professional careers and lives, respectively. And when I have the privilege and the blessing to spend time with them, I realized, you know, what they're going through really the same motions that I went through it their age, I didn't mess like not that different. Now, what's happening in their day in time is different. But you know, what they want to provide for themselves in their families, they'd like to grow their career, they'd like to make an impact in the world, they have a different set of things that they have to deal with around global economy, the environment, global impact, the ways people communicate is so much more rapid, you know, split, but really, in terms of what they want, and not just in America, like and I feel like in many democracies and quasi democracies around the world, people still want many of the same things. Virtues righteousness, justice, freedom, sense, success. So in that sense, like, do we really need labels, I don't think that we need labels except to understand where we have differences and how we can kind of get unstuck or bridge those differences. And, and that's what they talk about in that article that I referenced earlier. And it's also what I talk about greatly in one of my frameworks called don't just text connect. So I work with people to try and get to a better place around the commonalities instead of the differences. So yeah, I agree with the aim yet. I don't know that. I mean, the labels are useful to a point. But the whole objective of having them is to understand differences so that we can narrow those differences in first place.Amy Riley:
Yeah, yeah. I think it starts to not serve us when we start to think gosh, they're a whole different species. You know, like, they're so different. Because I've read these articles. You know, let's say Millennials love this, or Gen Z loves this. And I'm like, oh, okay, this is so great to know. And then I pause for a second and I think I want all that to Yeah, yeah. That's what I want. to a show that different. But yeah, we get enamored with the labeling. What else? Do you want to tell us, Gary? Because I know you have been looking at this for time first quite some time.Gary Danoff:
I don't know that I want to tell anything else. I think I just like to come back to that generation, you know, differences, there will always be generational differences in the world and in the workforce. Hopefully, we'll just keep going on. I mean, we need generational differences, like the youngest generation right now, or there was the call generation Alfa born after 2012. There's 48 million of those people. And I walk around and I see like little kids like, they're so used. Here's a great example. My nephew was at a store and he did Apple Pay, and he tapped his phone to pay for pay for whatever it was paying for. Yep. And his son came home and started tapping his wrist, tapping his wrist, you know. So that's what he's seeing growing up. He's used to that just like my son grew up with the Apple phone, the devices in the metaverse and the way that the next generation will experience human interaction, and human machine interaction, that's going to be a whole fascinating thing to to view, but they're still going to be people and human to human communication isn't going to change. And so yeah, there'll be generational differences, but they'll still be people. And so and so my final point on that is, is that if they're people, then leading with love, and leading by listening and leading with curiosity, is, I think a formula for success. I think it's a formula for success, regardless of the generation, regardless of the generation.Amy Riley:
Yes, yeah. It's talking about the technology changes, Gary, there's this one scene in my head, that's, that's popping up for me. And my kids are cheap. Our kids are teenagers right now. And they've walked into the room. You when I've had my earbuds in and I'm on a phone call. And I'll and I'll hold my hand up to my face to indicate I'm on the phone right now. Anyone watching on the website, or YouTube can can see the gesture. But my kids don't know what this means. Like I'm holding a phone up to my face. They never have held the phone up to their face. I mean, if anything, they're you know, they're just shouting towards their, their iPhones. So what is our universal symbol now to say that we're gesture to say I'm on the phone? I don't know. I don't know what anymore,Gary Danoff:
I think I think it is, as you grab your phone, you'll hold it up. And you just say,Amy Riley:
just okay, you're just pulling into that phone.Gary Danoff:
I'm on the phone, or you go like this, you go like this?Amy Riley:
I'm making this up as I go. I'm giving you the little things that I'm figuring out as I go.Amy Riley:
Yes. But is that in that was like I made that mistake. And then I thought, Oh, they're not going to know when I'm what I'm trying to indicate here. Is that piece of asking ourselves, is this translating? Is this coming across with its intended impact? Yeah,Gary Danoff:
you're so right about that. And absolutely, Amy, and I think we will, I think all of us are going to continue to experience that with the people who have a different relationship to technology than we have had, even as ours evolves, because mine certainly has, and the technology that is even born yet that the generation that comes after generation A, that they're their successors will have so we're all going to have the equivalent of that experience of going like this and people looking at us like wait, what? Why? What are you talking about?Gary Danoff:
Right. We're gonna say, what is the phone? What do you mean you're on the phone? What are you scanning on the phone? What is aAmy Riley:
fight? Right? At some point, that fate that phrase might not even make any sense.Gary Danoff:
Since it's,Amy Riley:
it's all fascinating, Gary, thank you so much. You gave us so much great content to think about love coming at it with curiosity, love and listening. And as a leader, leading a team, make the broad acknowledgement statement. Invite people to speak from their own perspective and go first. When there's conflict, dig in with the one on one Conversations. Let's let's co create let's take advantage of differences. Speaking to strengths is another access point. A lot of great food for thought, Gary, thank you for being with us and for talking about age diversity.Gary Danoff:
What a pleasure, Amy. I think the topic fits so well for for you as a leader in courage as a leader because doing these things requires courage. So, thanks. Thanks for having me on to talk about this and look forward to chatting with anybody who wants to talk more about.Amy Riley:
Excellent. Thank you, Gary.