Dr. Soren Kaplan grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, went to UCLA for his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, and attended Alliant International University for his master’s and doctorate in Organizational Psychology. In this podcast, he shares his academic and professional journey (and some of his personal journey), offers practical advice for those interested in the field of psychology, and discusses his new book, “Experiential Intelligence: Harness the Power of Experience for Personal and Business Breakthroughs.”
During our discussion, Dr. Kaplan recalls what sparked his interest in psychology, in general, and why he focused on organizational psychology for his graduate work. When asked why he selected Alliant International University, Dr. Kaplan responded “I wanted what was being called, at the time, a scholar practitioner model” so that he could “do things in the real world that bridge academia and practice.” He emphasized this by stating “I wanted the knowledge, but I also wanted to make change.”
Dr. Kaplan has been creating change for himself and others ever since attending graduate school. As a graduate student, he worked as a consultant for one of the first innovation consulting firms, IdeaScope Associates. One of the many pieces of advice he has for anyone looking for a graduate degree in psychology, especially those in organizational psychology, is to get real-life experience. He states, “I realized very quickly, business wants experience, not just letters after your name.” Therefore, he worked very hard to beef up his resume with real experiences which included internships, working part-time or full-time at organizations or businesses in the industry, and even doing volunteer work. He states, “I loaded up my resume with real experiences that were very short and quick and kind of easy to get for somebody like me.” For example, he shares “I volunteered for a community mediation organization nonprofit where I got trained as a mediator.”
Change happens through innovation and breakthroughs, so it is no surprise that Dr. Kaplan is the founder, or co-founder, of three Silicon Valley startups. He was the co-founder of iCohere with is father (Pascal) which was one of the first online learning and collaboration platforms. He is the founder of InnovationPoint, a strategic innovation consulting firm and, more recently, the founder of Praxie which is an online marketplace of business best practices from industry experts, book authors, and consultants. When discussing Praxie, he states “it’s all about trying to take what I’ve gained from my life experience and make it accessible for other people so they can then do what’s important to them. That’s been the most rewarding for me.”
His life experiences have contributed to his success. Dr. Kaplan is a best-selling and award-winning author, an international keynote speaker, an affiliate at the Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) at USC’s Marshall School of Business, and a columnist for Inc. Magazine and Psychology Today. His first book, “Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs” was named the Best Leadership Book. His second book, “The Invisible Advantage: How to Create a Culture of Innovation” received the Best General Business Book distinction by the International Book Awards. We discuss his third book, “Experiential Intelligence: Harness the Power of Experience for Personal and Business Breakthroughs” which came out January 24, 2023.
Although Dr. Kaplan didn’t coin the term “experiential intelligence,” he states “I have expanded upon it and kind of tried to give it life through this book in a way that the world hasn’t yet embraced.” Dr. Kaplan shares that Dr. Robert Sternberg, Past President of the American Psychological Association, coined the term “experiential intelligence” which may also be referred to as “creative intelligence.”
To put things into perspective regarding intelligence, first, we had Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Then we had Emotional Intelligence (EQ). And now, we have Experiential Intelligence (XQ). Experiential Intelligence is the third leg of the intelligence stool and is more than just “street smarts,” it reveals how our past life experiences impact our present and future success and how you view opportunities, challenges, and approach goals and goal-setting. The three legs of the intelligence stool (IQ, EQ, XQ) work together to help us better understand and predict success in our personal, professional, and social life.
Another piece of advice Dr. Kaplan offers to those interested in the field of psychology that he feels is “invaluable” is “to actually have real conversations with people in the field, meaning you don’t have to go at it alone.” He says don’t be afraid to connect with alumni or other students and do some work upfront and “that one action will give you so much insight and you might be surprised you’ll build relationships and maybe friendships…and you’ll get real practical insight and advice and things that you will not get from a website or a brochure or a social media account.”
Near the end of our podcast discussion, Dr. Kaplan and I discuss the concept of “cultural lag” as he believes that “we are experiencing massive cultural lag right now in terms of how we understand how to use artificial intelligence” and other issues. You can listen more about cultural lag around the 44-minute mark of the podcast.
Connect with Soren Kaplan: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin | Website
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Interests and Specializations
Dr. Soren Kaplan received his MA and PhD in Organizational Psychology from Alliant International University in San Francisco Bay, CA. He is an award-winning, best-selling author and an international keynote speaker who has led professional development programs for thousands of leaders and executives around the world. Business Insider and Thinkers50 have recognized Dr. Kaplan as one of the world’s top management thought leaders and consultants. His areas of specialization include innovation, business breakthroughs, and expanding experiential intelligence.
Bachelor of Arts (BA), Sociology (1991); University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA.
Master of Arts (MA), Organizational Psychology (1995); Alliant International University, San Francisco Bay, CA.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Organizational Psychology (1997); Alliant International University, San Francisco Bay, CA.
Other Sources and Links of Interest
Soren Kaplan at Amazon
Soren Kaplan Video Blog at Thinkers50
Soren Kaplan at SpeakInc
Soren Kaplan: Wikipedia
Welcome to the Master’s in Psychology Podcast where psychology students can learn from psychologists, educators, and practitioners to better understand what they do, how they got there, and hear the advice they have for those interested in getting a graduate degree in psychology. I’m your host, Brad Schumacher, and today we welcome Dr. Soren Kaplan to the show. Dr. Kaplan holds a master’s and doctorate in organizational psychology. He is a best-selling and award-winning author and affiliate of the Center for Effective Organizations (CEO) at USC’s Marshall School of Business and a columnist for Inc. magazine and Psychology Today. Business Insider and the Thinkers50 have recognized Dr. Kaplan as one of the world’s top management thought leaders and consultants. Today, we will learn more about his academic and professional journey, learn more about his recent book Experiential Intelligence, and hear his advice for those interested in the field of psychology. Dr. Kaplan, welcome to our podcast.
Thanks, good to be here, Brad.
Well, I’m excited to talk to you. You have a very interesting background and that, I was just telling you before we started recording, that’s half the fun for me is to start looking at your background and learning what your journey looked like throughout your undergrad and graduate career. So, to start us off, tell us a little bit more about your undergraduate studies and what sparked your interest in psychology.
Undergraduate was a degree in sociology from UCLA, and it didn’t start that way. I started out studying design because I felt like I wanted to do a lot of photography and design work. But then I just I got this pull to understand groups and people, you know, people and, and the social nature of, and how we operate in our communities. And so, I gravitated to social psychology and got a BA from UCLA that then I kind of used to get into the field of organizational psychology from there.
Well, it sounds like it. I did see that you went to UCLA and then you attended Graduate School at Alliant International University in San Francisco Bay. Tell me a little bit more about that process, your thought process. There are many schools in California that offer graduate programs in psychology, so why did you decide on Alliant International?
I wanted what was being called, at the time, a scholar practitioner model. And so, the idea there is that as a scholar you’d, I’d get a PhD and I’d get to do research and learn about how knowledge is created and, and find my own kind of niche in terms of what I could study and contribute back to the field. And the practitioner side of it, scholar practitioner is really about how do you, in a practical context, apply the degree to make change to get a job and, and, do things in the real world that bridge academia and practice. And so that scholar practitioner model for me was very important because I, I felt like I wanted the knowledge, but I also wanted to make change. And so that’s, that’s where, that’s how I chose Alliant, and there’s a number of kind of dimensions within that, but that’s that was the focus.
Well, it sounds like it, and I know that after you graduated with your, did you go to Alliant for both your masters and your PhD, then, I couldn’t tell?
OK, did you apply directly to the doctorate program, or did you go one step at a time, apply to the Masters, and then eventually the doctorate?
It was straight into the doctorate program.
Yeah, and because I knew I wanted to get it and at the time that’s what the application was, it was you were applying for the doctorate program and you’d, you’d commit to that multiyear journey and you’d get your masters along the way after a couple of years of full time study. But the line of sight to that PhD is what I was most interested in.
Let’s talk about funding for a second. A lot of our audience members look at our website and then look to these podcasts as how did you fund your, your graduate career, and I remind them that if you’re applying for a master’s only, terminal, chances are you’re not going to get as much funding as if you applied directly to the doctorate program, so can you share a little bit, if you don’t mind, if you did apply for any funding going through that PhD program?
Yeah, so I had a little family support, I had a loan, and then what I realized part way through, I think my first year, was that I was probably had one year of work experience and that I needed to get practical life experience because I didn’t want to have a PhD without any work experience in the scholar practitioner model. So, I actually pulled back, went part time in a moderated program that Alliant was offering, and then started working part time to also fund my education so it was like a multi a mix of multiple funding sources, including you know, kind of work, a little support and loan.
I noticed, now maybe the timing is off here, but I noticed that while you were a graduate student, you might have referred to this as, as getting some other funding, you acted as a consultant for one of the first innovation consulting firms, IdeaScope Associates. Tell us a little bit more about how you found that opportunity and tell us more about that experience.
Yeah, and I think that for anyone looking for a graduate degree in psychology and, and organizational psychology especially, especially because of the connection to business. And business, typically I realized very quickly, business wants experience, not just letters after your name. And so, what I realized very, very quickly is that I didn’t have the context that some of the other students who had been in the work field force for a number of years had and so what I did, I did a few things. The first thing I did is I went out and I found internships: 2-month internships, 3-month internships. I did something at the city and County of San Francisco and I just did like a work culture survey. It took about three months but I got great experience there. I volunteered for a community mediation organization nonprofit where I got trained as a mediator. And so, I, I loaded up my resume with real experiences that were very short and quick and kind of easy to get for somebody like me or easier like volunteering. But then what I did is I went to, this was before, I’m sorry to say, before the Internet was really ubiquitous and I went to UC Berkeley and I went to the library and I got this book of consulting firms in San Francisco, and I contacted probably 20 to 25 of them and I said here’s who I am, here’s my very sparse resume. Do you have an internship? And I think two of them got back to me. One of them brought me in, gave me some kind of an assessment. I’m not even sure what it was and then said they didn’t want me then I don’t know what they, I don’t know what they found, but apparently I wasn’t a fit. But one of them, which was a new small consulting firm in San Francisco doing innovation. This was in the mid-1990s. They were doing strategy and innovation consulting with like Kodak and Hewlett Packard and Procter and Gamble and they, they brought me on for a three-month internship. That then turned into a part time job that then turned into a full-time job and it was sort of a dream come true for me because I was in school and had a lot of flexibility with that work to apply what I was learning to actual engagements with very big name brand organizations. And so I kind of bridged the gap financially as well, as you know in terms of building experience, to complement the degree.
Well, it sounds like you were able to build up and boost up your resume by going through that process. Let’s get back to some advice. I know you already shed about two or three bits of advice already for grad students. Any other advice that you’d have for somebody considering going on for Graduate School, especially in psychology? And we’re going to talk about organizational psychology in a moment here too.
Yeah, well, you know, I think that finding a program that is a, a fit is important and I think fit can mean different things to different people. So geographically can, you know, it can be important where you are and for me the San Francisco Bay area was where I had my family and my network, so that was important. I think looking at the level of practical practicums internships that are, formally, part of the program, or at least talked about in terms of you know, the level of placement that you’ll support that you’ll receive versus not receive. How much is it up to you to figure it out? Those can make a difference in terms of your overall experience and how, you know, difficult it may or may not be given the location to find those opportunities that kind of bridge the, the academic with the practical experience, whether it’s clinical or whether it’s organizational.
Well, that’s a good transition because my next question is how did you decide, OK, psychology but then there are so many different branches or fields of psychology. I’m sharing a screen and you can just see a sampling of this and so how did you decide organizational psychology is where I want to be?
That’s a great question. I felt like I wanted to apply my experience and learning from UCLA and sociology to psychology and understanding how people you know, kind of why people do what they do and kind of what makes them tick to the business world. And so, as I was thinking about what that looked like, I had some advice from some friends and family and mentors that I had talked to and this field of organizational psychology was up and coming. And even Alliant, I applied in for the first year, they were offering their, their degree in organizational psychology very first year like who knows what I was getting into, but it felt right in terms of bridging business and organizations with teams and the individual as a mix in terms of my interest but also where I felt like I could make some change and so that’s, that’s really and have a positive impact. So, I those are the things that factored into my decision.
While you were attending Graduate School, did you have in the back of your mind, this is what I want to do afterwards? I want to go into consulting. I want to become a public speaker. I want to actually be a writer. I’m throwing a few things at you but, you know, the summary of your, your history and your journey is that you’re an author, a speaker, a motivational speaker, you also consult. You have worked with some of the top corporations out there and I saw that in your resume that you, you have actually worked at different corporate, you know, in the corporate environment as well, so I’ll go back to my question. In the back of your mind while you were going through Graduate School, what was going on? What were you thinking you were going to do with that graduate degree once you received your PhD?
Simple answer, I had no clue. I had no clue. It was a journey for me and, and I think that I’ll go back to when I was, I was interviewed to get into Alliant, one of the I think the head of the program was doing, you know entrance interviews as part of the application process and I was asked what is your research? What do you think your research focus is going to be? And I wasn’t even prepared for that question and I, I, I answered honestly, I said I don’t know. I don’t know much about the field. It interests me and her response was good answer because you’re going to learn a lot and you’re going to get exposed to things you don’t even know exist yet, and apparently, I answered that correctly, so to speak, but I answered it honestly because I didn’t know, and I think that that’s part of going into one of those programs, it’s a multi-year commitment and if you know if you believe you know exactly what you’re going to study and what you’re going to research and exactly what you’re going to do, you’re probably wrong because it’s going to change. You’re going to get exposed to amazing people and research and other experiences that you just can’t forecast. And so, I, I think that really being open to, you know, for me, being open to the learning process and finding, proactively finding, a diverse array of experiences through those internships and volunteer opportunities and networking was really key to discovering what those opportunities were like. That internship I mentioned that led to that full time job that then led to because Hewlett Packard (HP), as a client, I was running the change management group at HP later. It came from just someone out a whole bunch of cold emails or cold letters even cold calls. So, I, I think that to the extent that we can be open to the fact that we might not have the full answer, the direction and be comfortable with that uncertainty and the exploration of that learning experience. That’s really a success factor, I think.
Many people going through Graduate School either have to think of I’m going to stay in the academic field or I’m going to go outside of the academic field. If I go outside, I can do consulting, government work, anything else, open up my own business, private practice. Did it ever cross your mind to stay in the academic field or you really didn’t know at that point, but it slowly evolved while you were going through Graduate School.
So, it’s interesting and this is in retrospect. I think I have a different view of it now than I did back then. And so back then I knew I wanted to get into business, and I didn’t think that my PhD would qualify me in a scholar practitioner model to just be a pure scholar. What I’ve discovered since then is that there’s actually a lot of contribution and learning in an academic model because I’ve had so much real-world experience. And so that scholar practitioner model whether you’re in business, in organizational psychology, being in business and then connecting in the scholar or being a scholar and then being able to connect in the business, that’s the sweet spot that differentiates you because most people go one way or the other. So how do you blend the two? That’s kind of my looking back insight and I’ve and I’ve tried to. First, I went straight into business and I was really focused on that, and since then I’ve done a lot of executive education through various universities around the world to create that bridge, and it creates credibility on both sides, really, in terms of you know how you’re seeing in the world and, and also the, the, the value you can bring because you’re, you’re bridging research with the real world and the real world with research and just it’s a nice positive feedback loop.
Now that you brought that up, I’m looking at my little cheat sheet about your journey a little bit. You, you served as an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School for three years. You were also and I think you still are, unless you need to update your resume, an adjunct professor at Breda, or is it Breda, University of Applied Sciences in Imagineering Academy. And so that’s been 13 or 14 years now, and so you even mentioned overseas you were also at a couple of other schools and then eventually I think you still are an affiliate with the USC Marshall School of Business in the Center for Effective Organizations. I like the acronym there, CEO, Center for Effective Organizations. So, tell us a little bit more about your experience with CEO and how you found that opportunity and how it’s helped you kind of develop yourself not only on your Vita, but become more well-rounded. And as you said, the academic route practitioner and being able to meld the two or, or, you know, put those two together.
So those experiences that you just listed are varied. Some with Copenhagen Business School I got brought in by one of their professors to work with their executive program and had a few different kinds of workshops and seminars. It was, it was sort of limited with Breda University in the Netherlands. For the last 12-13 years, either I’ve been there for a couple of weeks, or I’ve done some virtual workshops with their Master’s degree students in Imagineering, which is kind of a combination between psychology, sociology, and innovation as well as some of their executive students. And so all of those, those two, opportunities came because I’ve done a lot of writing and I have done a lot of speaking and so somehow, I’ve been discovered and then invited to participate, not as a you know full faculty member or even adjunct in terms of living there, and kind of having a whole you know course but really, as a guest lecturer and coming in and, and, owning a few different modules of a overall program. So, those are rich opportunities that I’ve experienced going to the Netherlands and sitting in a classroom with 20 master’s students from around Europe from Bulgaria to Poland to the Netherlands to France and not just being able to share my work with them, but to look at what everybody knows from all these incredible examples that they’re bringing as young students using technology and seeing different cultural examples of how work is done and, and teams are built and things like that, so it’s as much a learning experience for me, don’t tell those schools that, but it’s so much as a learning experience for me than it is for those schools and, and most recently with the Center for Effective Organizations at USC, I’ve had sort of a similar relationship. They have an affiliate program of a number of folks who are scholar practitioners, and so they bring me in periodically to work with specific companies or do workshops for some of their members who are mostly chief human resource officers in the Fortune 1000 typically.
Well, we’re going to talk a little bit more about that and then your writing and your books in a second here. Before I do that, I wanted to bring up, uh, based on my research, I believe you are a founder or co-founder of multiple Silicon Valley startups and one that stood out for me was back in 2001, June, co-founder of iCohere actually with your father I believe. Is it Pascal or Pascal?
And this was one of the first online learning and collaboration platforms. Then I found founder of InnovationPoint in March of 2003, a strategic and innovation consulting firm upBOARD. And then the co-founder of Praxie, which is current as well and that’s one of your newer ventures back in 2018. So, you know you’ve been busy and and I, I think back then you were just trying to make yourself very, very experienced and, and follow that scholar practitioner route and then making yourself well known. And as you said, somebody discovered you well, I think you deserve that discovery. And so, tell us a little bit more about what you were thinking when you were starting these startups and kind of give us a little bit of your thought process of why did you engage in starting them. I know it’s, it’s, I’ll, I’ll keep it there I, I based on my research, I have an idea of why you did, but I, I want you to answer.
There’s always a. There’s always multiple levels, and because I know that you’re focused on psychology, there’s the really deep stuff. And then there’s the, the other types of answers. I’m going to go to the deep stuff first. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, but my when I was three, my mother developed mental illness. It turned out to be schizophrenia. And I grew up, we didn’t know it at the time, so I grew up in a very chaotic, confusing environment. My father actually was hardly ever around, working multiple jobs and focused on some spiritual pursuits of his based on some kind of eastern guru he was focused on and by the time I was 15 years old we had moved 16 times.
So, I grew up in an environment for a child that was, you know, if you know the ACEs, Adverse Childhood Experiences, study that was done, I, I scored quite high on the Aces assessment, which means that I’ve had to overcome a lot of my trauma and I’ve worked done a lot of work from EMDR to men’s groups, you know, discussion groups. I guess it’s I’ve done a lot. So that’s a long way of saying certain things have driven me in life, like some self-limiting beliefs like I’m not worthy of attention and focus believe it or not. And that led me to do a lot of things in life that I, that would give me visibility, I guess you could say. Those are the drivers I was not aware of for a long time. So that’s your deep answer. The other answer is, which is equally true but uhm it’s it has earlier on it was combined with that deep answer is that I felt like I had something to share and contribute and scale in terms of just my experience meaning I worked at Hewlett Packard for about 6 years, HP, globally helping build teams and design organizations to be effective and build communities of practice, we were calling them at the time, using very rudimentary technology, and I felt like I wanted to take what I knew how to do and scale it through a digital platform and this was really early. It’s early 2000s. Since that time, I’ve done a couple of other startups and, and my latest start up is taking a lot of the tools and templates of doing organizational development, team building, strategy, innovation, and making it easily accessible to people around the world. And so, I’m, I’m still doing those things, but I think I’m more aware of what’s driving me and then what I can contribute back to, you know, the world and you’re on Praxie, exactly, which is my latest software company. But you know that I also like to contribute knowledge, that’s why I wrote my latest book also. So, it’s kind of a combination these days of trying to really contribute and give back. And be more present in why I’m doing what I’m doing.
I like the multiple answers and and I agree with you. There are multiple reasons why you do what you do, and this is your most recent one, Praxie so, of course, I’ll share all of these websites when we go live, but I wanted to highlight since we’re sharing the screen, here’s USC Marshall School of Business. And then here’s your bio on the CEO USC Marshall Center for Effective Organizations. I like the write-up here. And then, as you mentioned earlier, here’s the ACEs quiz, and so this is the reference that you could go to for, and this is from Harvard University, they just give a nice summary of what this quiz is, what’s missing, and then a little bit more information for you there. You already mentioned your book, so that’s a good transition to talk about, hey, you have that academic background, that practitioner background as well and you loved doing these startups and then, now, you’re going a little bit more into your book and this is your latest one and I, I should mention that you have multiple books as well, I will share this website as well, but you have a few of them here and the first one was “Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs.” And then after that “The Invisible Advantage: How to Create a Culture of Innovation.” And then your latest one that just came out I think about a week, week and half ago, is “Experiential Intelligence: Harness the Power of Experience for Personal and Business Breakthroughs.” I should switch to this page because I liked this write-up near the bottom here where we used to have, oh maybe I’m missing it, here it is, we used to just look at IQ, Intelligent Quotient, and then we got into Emotional Intelligence, EQ, and I remember that going through school as well. Now we’re looking at the XQ, or Experiential Intelligence, so in your own words, tell us a little bit more about XQ and why that is important. Why, why do we have to look at that in addition to, or in place of, and that’s a trick question for you right there, instead of the EQ and IQ?
The cultural assumption for the last 100 years was that the smarter you are, the more successful you’ll be in business and even life. And we learned in the 1990s, Daniel Goleman wrote a book called “Emotional Intelligence” and we complimented our IQ and said if we’re in touch with our own emotions and then the emotions of others through empathy, we will be more effective as leaders and as teams, and will be probably more satisfied in our own lives. And those two intelligences have complemented each other for a long time. In today’s world. I think if we were to say if I were to ask you Brad, what percentage of your success is your IQ score or your ability to be just in touch with your emotions? My guess is you would probably not be super, super high. You, you, there’d be a gap there. And so, the idea is that our experiences in life give us a real intelligence, and some people have an informal way of calling them street smarts. It’s just that street smarts is this term that you know for someone who’s not really formally educated, they’re, they’re sort of able to operate effectively in the world. Well, the reality is, we all have street smarts, we all have experiences from the moment we’re born and those experiences shape us. They, they, I talked about my childhood, a lot of our experiences, whether they’re very difficult and traumatic, or they’re very joyous and exciting, they impart on a certain ways of thinking our attitudes and beliefs about ourselves, other people in the world, as well as lead us to do certain things that can turn into real abilities. Coping mechanisms are abilities, but also real abilities because you’ve discovered something that you have a passion about. And so our experiences shape us and, but we don’t have language yet to talk about how it really contributes to this third leg of the intelligence stool that we, has been there all along, we just haven’t seen it. And so, I’m trying to bring it to life. And I do want to say Robert Sternberg, the former president of the American Psychological Association, is the one who came up with that term experiential intelligence. It wasn’t me, but I have expanded upon it and kind of tried to give it life through this book in a way that the world hasn’t yet embraced.
I like that summary and you picked up on the fact that it was almost a trick question. The three legs of the stool, they all work hand in hand, and I was going to mention that that term street smarts, but there is a slight difference between just street smarts and, and experiential intelligence. I should say a couple of things. Your first book, “Leapfrogging” was named the Best Leadership Book. Your second book, “The Invisible Advantage” received the Best General Business Book distinction by the International Book Awards. And then this next one just came out January 24th, 2023, I’m excited to look at it, and for those who are interested, you could actually download the chapter, chapter one, and then he gives a nice little video here on his main page and I should be sharing my screen again. Let me go ahead and share that so everybody’s on the same page here. But it’s nice to kind of look at this and, and kind of hear what you are saying in chapter one here and, and here’s that that audio that you can actually go into and, and listen to that and then kind of focus a little bit on the differences between and among all three of these IQ, EQ, and XQ. At what point did you come up with the idea to, to write this third book? My guess is, and correct me if I’m wrong, but my guess is you know based on your two previous books, they almost led you to actually come up with this third book.
It was, that is correct, but I would also say what led me to write this book are 53 years of my life experience and a lot of other experiences working with organizations, nonprofit, and government, and for profit, and leaders where I have observed externally with others, what some of the enablers to success are, but also the limiters to success and self-awareness and understanding one’s strengths. And then what, how some of those things have played out in me also. I had to heal from a number of things in order to see my strengths and so I think that those, those are and, and it, I’m an ongoing work in progress. I think we all are also just to say, but those are what I tried to do with this, this book is really bring all of what I have experienced and done into the book and I sort of discovered that it’s our whole of all of our experiences that give us our unique internal fingerprints. And I was trying to understand myself better in relation to all the other leaders I’ve worked with and, and I stumbled upon the concept of experiential intelligence and realized there were some real nuggets there that hadn’t been developed in the way that I thought they could be, and so that’s what this book tries to do.
I should share my screen one last time and it might, might not be the last time I might be lying here, but let’s, let’s go ahead and share it. I mentioned that you are a writer as well and, and I should bring up this page, Inc.com, this tells a little bit more about you, some of your writings for Inc.com as well. And then as I mentioned in the intro, Psychology Today and then I also mentioned Thinkers50 so I’ll share this website as well. I like the write ups and some of the videos here. You have a bunch of different videos. I actually like this Pop Rocks Video. I looked at that one, that was kind of a fun one to watch and then you had some other group dynamic activities for some of your clients as well. So, a lot of these, I really enjoyed some of these short little video clips. And SpeakInc also has a little write up on you and has some videos as well. And then your social media so you do have Facebook and, and you just yesterday I believe posted this one and this one was kind of talking about we were talking about streets smarts, how, how timely that is. But, obviously, talks about your book. And then you have Twitter and then you also have, let it refresh, and then LinkedIn and what I did is I’ll, I’ll include all these when we go live with your podcast, but I also wanted to bring up the fact that some of the other places, UCLA has a LinkedIn, Alliant International University has LinkedIn and then I will provide the websites for Alliant University and then UCLA as well. And so, we’ll, we’ll give everybody all of the information that we’ve kind of referred to or discussed here. But the last thing I kind of wanted to talk to you about is anything else you want to say about your, your new book that you haven’t said already?
Well, the, the thing that I’ve learned is that you can have some big ideas, but how do you make them practical? And that’s that scholar practitioner model. So, what I did in that book and you showed the video. That video actually I have a, I have a QR code printed in the book and also in Kindle where you can literally go to the intro video for the chapter. And I think that, that for me is bridging, you know, what I learned around how do you train people? How do you give people an experience? Because experiential learning is where it’s all about? We talked about that early on in terms of the programs that you’re looking for, so that’s one connection point. And then I also created when you, when you get the book, all you have to do is send an e-mail and you get access to a toolkit which has an assessment of your experiential intelligence, a group discussion guide, a PowerPoint presentation, and a whole bunch of other tools that are very practical. And how do you just start using this for yourself today to complement reading. Because I think that we want to bring to life through experience, how do you? How do you bring to life through an experience ideas in a practical way to make personal change as well as change for teams and organizations and society? And so that’s, that’s what I tried to do very differently with this book than some of the others.
And I’m just sharing this screen again. I lied last time I was going to share one more time. I kind of knew it, but here’s your bonus toolkit that has the discussion guide, assessment, video library, PowerPoint, and then a little bit more information on the process. And then a quote library so wanted to share that with everybody who was listening and/or especially those who are viewing this podcast. Let me, let me ask you something. When you were working on your undergraduate and your graduate degrees, did you ever think that you would achieve all of this success? I mean, in other words, did you ever think that you would become a best-selling author, award-winning author, a globally recognized keynote speaker? Or you knew back in the in the back of your mind, yeah Brad, I knew this, I knew this was going to happen. Talk to me about that.
I’m going to give you the same answer before, as before, it’s simple. I had no idea. A lot of this was following what I was, what I thought was the direction I needed to go. Sometimes it, I wasn’t successful in those directions. Two of my startups did not really work very well, but I gained so much out of those experiences that I’ve applied to Praxie.com, which is my third which is going well. So, I, I think that part of it is being, being able for me, being able to try a bunch of things, not be so attached that it is so devastating if something doesn’t work out. But having a mindset that I can move through the uncertainty, learn from it, and then move to the next thing, and so the, the, the notion that there’s directionally I, I’ve always had a sense that I understand people. I understand group dynamics and I can help move people in a direction in a collaborative way that helps them achieve their own purpose, and so that’s been my purpose. And if I follow that purpose, I’ve been able to do things that help amplify my strengths, my strengths that I’ve gained from my experiences, and so I, I think that principle right there is what I’ve followed and trusted because I don’t know where things are going to go and I still don’t even know, we’ve learned with COVID, it’s hard to predict anything anymore. So, I, I think being able to just follow those principles and then adapt and be resilient and flexible has been the way I’ve approached things.
What do you love most about your jobs? I should say responsibilities. So, tell me what you love most.
I’m going to be a little abstract for a second, but I what I love most is being able to provide to other people resources that allow them to be more effective in whatever they’re trying to do. And that looks like a book. It can look like a speaking engagement or a leadership program, or it can look like a tool or a template you can download from my, you know, Praxie, but it’s all about trying to take what I’ve gained from my life experience and make it accessible for other people so they can then do what’s important to them. That’s been the most rewarding for me. And of course, when I get an e-mail here and there saying hey, I used that template, it really helped with my team and we’re getting along better now. Like that’s just the best. You know, just that positive affirmation that what I think I’m trying to do actually is having some real impact in the world for other people.
Looking toward the future, what other goals or plans do you have for yourself?
I’m going to answer this one in kind of a funny way, which is I want to keep doing what I just said is my purpose, but what that looks like, I don’t know. I don’t, I don’t have some big plan to have a dozen books on, you know with my name on the bookshelf, it’s not, I don’t think like that. I what I let happen is I focus on what am I trying to do right now that’s of that’s aligned to my purpose and my way I want to show up and then a lot of things that are really unique start to happen. I, this morning, I was speaking virtually to 100 people at a Business School in Kiev, Ukraine, who are trying to understand how do you operate business in a war zone and, and cope with all of that. And so that was an opportunity that came through me through the Thinkers50 they, I’ve done some work with them, they made that introduction, and I was able to contribute back in what I felt was a meaningful way, but that came out, that came about three weeks ago and I followed, I leaned into that and I supported it. So, I think being open to those positive surprises that come at us and just figuring out what makes sense and what doesn’t. That’s, that’s how I’ve started to approach things more and more.
You’ve already given us some very good practical advice. Even though I didn’t really ask, “Hey any other advice” I’m going to ask right now. Anything else that comes to mind to provide some advice for those who are interested in breaking into the field of psychology? You’ve, you’ve given a lot of advice, but I know that most of your background and your degrees are in organizational psychology. But for those undergraduate students who listen or watch this podcast and think “Oh my gosh, I could take organizational psychology and apply it outside of the academic world.” Any other suggestions or advice for those who are considering coming over to the field of psychology?
So in general, the field, for the field of psychology, whatever you put up, you know dozens of different, you know, sub areas of focus and expertise, I, I think it’s invaluable to actually have real conversations with people in the field, meaning you don’t have to go at it alone. Go at it alone. Usually there’s alumni networks from the schools. There’s the programs themselves and they’ll connect you with alumni or other students. Do the leg work up front. It takes a little time and a little courage to maybe step out and ask for a cold meeting, but that one action will give you so much insight and you might be surprised you’ll build relationships and maybe friendships also with the people you talk to. And you’ll get real practical insight and advice and things that you will not get from a website or a brochure or a social media account. And so that’s really, if that’s one thing reach out to real human beings and connect with them through Zoom, on the phone, or whatever makes sense.
Very good advice. At the end of most of our broadcast. I mean podcasts, we actually ask some fun questions of our guests, so we have a few minutes left here. I have a few questions for you. Tell us something unique about yourself.
I collect fur coats. That is one thing that I do. I know it’s strange. My grandfather came to the United States during World War II to escape from France and, and what was going on there and he was a fur designer. And he got out of that business, he was one of the first fur designers to actually denounce the industry and get out, but his furs are on eBay periodically. And so, I think for me, and why did I even say that, it’s because having, looking at one’s life experience and connection points and history and heritage can reveal things like that represents to me creativity. It represents innovation. It represents kind of connection to my family in a way that has given me a hobby that reinforces the things that are just important to me. So that, that’s kind of probably a answer you’ve never heard before. But that’s a unique thing about myself that that I don’t always share, but it’s, it’s, it really connects a lot of things for me.
Well, that is an interesting answer. I’ve never had that answer. Here’s an opportunity for you, think back in the academic world a little bit, what is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why?
So, it comes out of sociology. The concept of cultural lag. Cultural lag is when technology get moves so fast the culture cannot catch up with it or hasn’t caught up with it and there’s disconnect between what we’re able to do with technology and how we are operating as a society because of it. And it, it’s from the I think 1950s and it had to do with, you know, kind of nuclear development and kind of the disconnect and the worry and the fear that that created and we’re might be getting ahead of ourselves. Well, the reason I like it is because I have worked in Silicon Valley and I’ve done startups and right now we have artificial intelligence. You have blockchain, you have all this stuff that exists. And our culture, we are experiencing massive cultural lag right now in terms of how we understand how to use artificial intelligence, ethical issues, whatever it is and it’s now I always resonated with it, but now it’s just, it’s everywhere and it gives us a way to understand what’s happening today and in a way that I think sorts through some of the chaos that, uh, that, that all that technology represents.
We could talk for hours about cultural lag and the examples there. I have one other final question for you. If you had the time and money to complete one project or go on one trip, what would you do?
I think the project would really be about creating ways to engage people using technology. Right now, we’re on Zoom. We’ve made great advances, but it’s not like face to face. The depth of experience, the depth of human connection making is difficult through technology and I know that there’s certain things like virtual reality et cetera that are going to be on the that are on the horizon. I think that figuring out how to create real human connection through technology, the depth of connection, I would like to really understand and put focus on because it has huge implications for psychology, clinical psychology as well as organizational and teamwork and group and collaboration and culture change. So that’s really where I think, who knows, maybe that’s, that is where I will focus in the future. But, uh, there’s a big opportunity there is my point.
I agree with you. My background is interpersonal communication and especially in psychology you normally would have that face-to-face interaction and to pick up on the nonverbal cues in order to diagnose and, and help your patient. They’ve found, obviously, through COVID that, that the virtual, you know, meeting is just enough to be able to help them but you’re still missing out on something there. So, I agree with you. Soren, is there anything else that you’d like to bring up or discuss on this podcast?
Well, I, I appreciate all of your questions. They’re sort of unconventional in terms of all the interviews that I’ve done, and I think that’s important for, for your listeners who are exploring the next phase of their lives through graduate programs and, and understanding psychology. Usually, people who are interested in those topics are interested in themselves and their personal experiences and their growth as well. And, and I think that, you know, part of what I think is so important is to figure out what motivates oneself and the kind of experiences that will allow oneself to grow in new ways that align to your purpose, and so that, that’s you know what I, that’s the journey I’ve been on, it’s what my latest book is about and it’s what I hope everyone can you know kind of achieve for themselves because that’s, that’s where our you know our, our growth and our contributions come from that’s, that’s kind of how I view it.
Well, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. I really enjoyed learning even more about your journey and your, and your plans moving forward. Thanks again for being on the show.
Thank you, Brad.