Jessica Higgins, JD MBA BB is a culture design solutions expert. Her clients include Microsoft, Zappos, Roche, AT&T, Pfizer, L'Oreal, US Bank, Babson College, and many others. Ask Me Anything.

Jessica Higgins
Nov 21, 2017

From leadership tools to mindset change to physical space design and formalized programming; ask Jessica anything as it relates to your organizational culture. #AMA

She is a strategic consultant on assessments as well as execution methods that create more collaborative, innovative, engaging and production cultural mindsets, leaders, communications, organizational environments and even physical space design. She consults in end-to-end culture design solutions in healthcare, higher education, governments and large corporations. Her clients include Microsoft, Zappos, Roche, AT&T, Pfizer, L'Oreal, US Bank, Babson College, and many others.

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New technologies have changed the way we consume information.  The music and television industries have been drastically impacted.  What innovative business models could help us survive and thrive in this new environment?

Nov 21, 1:14PM EST0

People look at digital transformation and new technologies to help them survive and thrive, but these are just tools. Like any tool in your toolbox, it comes down to the proficiency and skill of the person swinging the ax, more so than how shiny the blade is.

What you need, really, is for people to use and embrace tools. Yes, digital tools, and all of your other business tools now that you are probably not achieving the quality and impact of outcomes that are possible.

So long as you have people in your business, and aren't solely running on machine learning or block chain, any transformational or change efforts rely on people. 

Most digital investment today achieves little to no financial gains. 

It's because businesses mis-use business tools by providing them and then just expecting social systems to comply. What you need, are social tools with business implications. This will eventually be the current state of business, but right now, only my most advanced clients truly understand this.

Nov 21, 1:32PM EST0

Will reflect on your last paragraph. Would be nice to sit with you once my product  is at a more advanced stage of development.  

Nov 22, 10:48AM EST0

How does your day go usually?

Nov 20, 11:41AM EST0

When I'm home, my day starts with a bit of coffee, a turmeric shot and a pilates class. I then do a quick team call every morning (it is a core Rockefeller Principle, check them out), and then find a place to work that creates the mental space i need for the day. If I need to grind, I go to an empty meeting room in my WeWork office. If I need to write, for some reason I do better at a crowded coffee shop. 

When I travel to see clients, I try to do my best to mimic this routine, but it's never quite the same. 

Nov 21, 11:54AM EST0

When did you start working?

Nov 20, 11:07AM EST0

When I was 14 years old I figured out how to build websites and sell them to my community. That was very early web days. I've been working non-stop since. I'm just curious about things, and love making a difference.

Last edited @ Nov 21, 12:46PM EST.
Nov 21, 11:57AM EST0

How did you get to be a consultant?

Nov 20, 4:52AM EST0

There are two main ways to be recruited into consulting. One is to go to an ivy league school, and the other is to get a Juris Doctor and/or Masters in Business degree. I did the second.

Nov 21, 11:58AM EST0

What are the most burning issues in healthcare nowadays?

Nov 20, 3:45AM EST0

It's so wide open that no one knows what to do right now. I see a building fear, and a focus on best practices that favor old solutions over effective ones, which just makes things worse.

Healthcare is a sinking ship. I do a talk to healthcare professionals for how to make it a rising ship. Most of them don't get it, but some do. 

So despite all of the issues there, it takes a forward thinking mindset to create solutions. I know a few such people, like David Berg for example. The forward thinking people create huge successes, especially now because there are so few of them.

Last edited @ Nov 21, 12:49PM EST.
Nov 21, 11:58AM EST0

How do you get leaders to listen to you?

Nov 19, 7:31PM EST0

Be ruthlessly passionate and curious. Read daily. If you have an innate drive and curiousity and diligence about your continuous learning and growth, you will naturally have valuable insights and people will take notice. Remember, every leader has a daily grind to do. The job of an advisor is to absorb all the knowledge out there and distill it down to be useful, applicable, and allow leaders to understand and take action. The job of a great consultant is to do this, and the job of a great leader is to then take the right actions. When you over deliver value, and you're right, and the leader does her/his job, it's all just natural. 

Asking for someone to listen to you is like asking for respect because you can't ask, you have to earn it.

Nov 21, 12:04PM EST1

Where do you live?

Nov 19, 2:15PM EST0

Miami Beach, FL

Nov 21, 12:04PM EST0

What is the most common mistake entrepreneurs make in your experience?

Nov 19, 4:03AM EST0

Understanding how to separate egos from competencies. Entrepreneurs have this delusional belief that because they had a great idea, it qualifies them to lead, or to manage, or to be the CEO. And that's what gets in between entrepreneurs and their own success. If you can't recognize your skills and delegate the rest, as your company grows it becomes a fiasco waiting to happen at that inflection point when your incompetency clashes with your own growth.

Nov 21, 12:07PM EST1

Do you ever stop working?

Nov 18, 5:37AM EST0

I integrate work and life in a way that I'm never working and always working. I take my conference calls from the nail salon, run data analysis on the beach, and integrate work and life in an extremely efficient way to  give myself shots of happiness throughout a work day and get everything done. I can't recommend this for everyone, and did get in trouble for bringing my laptop to a friend's wedding once. But I think we each find our own balance.

If I had a 9-5 schedule i would be productive for maybe 3 hours of it. 

If you prefer your 9-5, you better use it as a 9-5. If you aren't at your best, learn to break it up and find what works for you.

Nov 21, 12:10PM EST0

What did you do for Microsoft? Are you a fan of their products?

Nov 17, 10:16PM EST0

When Satya Nadella came to be the CEO, he wanted to shift the focus of the organization from products and services, to empowering humanity. My team and I helped this shift by creating and telling powerful stories and shifting mindset, both inside and outside the organization. You can't demand that employees become mission driven, you have to spread the mission like pollen. That's what we do at my company. 

As for their products, they are absolutely amazing but the humble culture keeps us from being able to tell the full story. It's depressing when a shitty product with a great marketing plan like Watson can beat out a killer Microsoft product. I wish to one day tell the full story in a meaningful way. 

Nov 21, 12:14PM EST0

What was your dream job as a kid?

Nov 17, 4:04PM EST0

I always wanted to be a writer but my parents pressured me become a lawyer. It took until 26 to realize that I needed to follow my own path. 

Nov 21, 12:15PM EST0

Do you travel a lot?

Nov 17, 8:53AM EST0

I take full control over my travel schedule and keep it within reason. If you travel for work, it is mission critical that you don't let your clients own you and your hours or you'll go nuts.

Nov 21, 12:16PM EST0

Do you think your work life would have been easier as a man?

Nov 16, 10:32PM EST0

This is a funny question because when I saw it, I posted it to my facebook page because I thought "how could someone even question this?".

Then, men AND WOMEN commented that women don't face unfair treatment at all, citing two reasons: 1. we can always be strippers or 2. we can flirt to close deals. This is exactly the problem.

If you want a job that gives you respect and authority, you're going to be institutionally held back over and over, and you're going to not have any community to bring you up. You will succeed despite your gender in an industry and position that deserves respect, and not because of your gender. Whatever the perceived competitive advantages are from outsiders, I can say with 100% certainty that every very successful woman I know would absolutely agree with me.

Randi Zuckerberg recently told me that when people ask her how to succeed as a woman, her best advice is still to "have a man's name" and that she hopes the working world will one day be less sad, but that's just our reality today.

Even once you achieve success, the respect you should have earned for getting there won't be what you think it is. 

If you're a man and you succeed, you create envy from others. But if you're a woman and you succeed, you create doubt from others about how you got there.

This used to make me so angry, but now I just try to help others around me feel more empowered to do better for themselves, so they spend less time acting ignorant and more time being productive. 

Every very successful male friend I have says I would be at least 10x more successful had a been a man. 

Look at Randi Zuckerberg. She created Facebook Live and people attribute her success to her brother. I mean, yes he hired her, but that was clearly a smart decision because look what she did. The only thing he had to do with it was to be man enough to give her all the credit for her work.

Welcome to business as a woman in 2017.

Last edited @ Nov 21, 12:57PM EST.
Nov 21, 12:24PM EST1

The drawings on gaping void twitter are brilliant, who makes them?

Nov 16, 1:42PM EST0

@hughcards. Follow his personal account for his really funny stuff. He's a genius. 

As for that @gapingvoid account, I can't even look at it.  We aren't a gif company or an illustration company. Its managed by an intern with no strategy. If you're good at (smart) social media I'm hiring! LOL

Nov 21, 12:28PM EST1

What is culture design?

Nov 16, 10:17AM EST0

An organizational culture, from a performance standpoint, are the core drivers that define how humans interact with the systems and processes  within your business. By redefining the physical space, the leadership, the mindset and the interactions of the people in your business, you can drive better performance to systems and processes. That's what deliberately designing culture really means in the business setting.

Nov 21, 12:30PM EST0

What is your background, what did you study and is it related to what you do now?

Nov 16, 9:04AM EST0

Everything you study is somehow related to everything you do if you actually want to be excellent. An accountant who sits around reading accounting books all day will never be the best. It's the curious person who gets creative and applies across principles that will be the best. I have a bunch of degrees, read at least one book a week and listen to podcasts daily. It's all relevant. 

Nov 21, 12:31PM EST0

How do you know when to stop, as in when someone is not willing to change/hear you?

Nov 16, 7:41AM EST0

This is one of those areas where everyone has a ton of perfectly sound theoretical principles that then go completely out the window when you actually try to use them. Anyone who's ever spoken to a Trump fan knows exactly what I mean by this. 

You can't actually make someone listen, but you can make them hear you. I know this sounds counter-intuitive but it's based in neuroscience. 

When you tell someone a story, their brain begins to light up in the same areas as yours which can be shown through fMRI scans. 

If you're trying to be heard, but people are not listening, take the desired outcome you would like to achieve and put it into narrative format. It can be a personal story, a fable, or even better, a heroes journey.

If you want to be effective, I recommend you grab a storytelling book. And conveniently enough, we're publishing one with LinkedIn soon so look out for it.

Nov 21, 12:35PM EST0

What was your favourite company to work with so far?

Nov 16, 2:15AM EST0

I don’t think a particular group is as important as a particular context. We are moving into a hyper creative world i think, and things therefore change more quickly than ever within any context. Those who can’t keep up are increasingly defensive and over sensitive. I notice that a lack of capability increasingly exhibits itself as an oversensitivity. The things I'm seeing in teamwork now wouldn’t have happened a few years ago. I see us moving toward a lack of empathy that is rampant across all teams, and that i try to bring back into business. I think we are increasingly in a scarcity mindset and i try to only work in a growth one. That’s getting harder and harder as the speed of change increases, and incapable people feel afraid. To say the least, teamwork has gotten a lot more challenging.

Last edited @ Nov 16, 4:48AM EST.
Nov 16, 2:59AM EST0

Are you a programmer?

Nov 16, 12:29AM EST0

I had to google what a programmer is to answer this :) technology is constantly changing, and coding is no longer a human skill. Creativity is. I can code about as well as I can clean my house...but we do have developers and programmers that build solutions in my group of culture design solutions badasses.

Nov 21, 12:37PM EST0
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