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Katelyn Davis knows how to create a personal brand. She’s a marketing expert with diverse experiences in mobility, making her the perfect person to help Jan deconstruct her recent interview with Assembly Ventures’s co-founder Jessica Robinson.
New mobility — especially for EVs and autonomous vehicles — is a fast-moving, rapidly changing industry driven by startups. Katelyn says the internal company dynamics are different from what she's experienced in traditional automotive, and leaders are the ones who can empower others and create a positive company culture.
“It's now about who has the ability to…inspire people,” Katelyn says. “Who can make the culture be better? Who's cracking jokes here or there? It's really fun to see how you can have different leaders come out of your organization.”
Jan and Katelyn discuss the importance of giving professional development opportunities to everyone on a team. Effective mobility leadership requires the right mindset to maintain a stable team culture in a constantly evolving work environment.
Reflecting on Jessica Robinson’s advice that leaders should sit with their fears rather than quickly push through them, Jan and Katelyn draw practical takeaways. Leaders should welcome honest discussions and constructive feedback, and they should be quick to say no rather than be “too nice.” It’s also important for leaders to embrace all professional backgrounds and recognize the validity of non-linear journeys into a particular workspace.
Join Jan and Katelyn to find out what dancing, bingo, and tier-one suppliers have in common. Reinventing company culture can happen at the team level, even if no other group in the corporation operates the same way.
Themes discussed on this episode:
- How new mobility startups differ from traditional automotive
- The importance of setting a positive tone in a company culture
- Having the right mindset for an ever-changing work environment
- What it means for leaders to sit with their fears
- Why honest feedback and disagreement are vital to a team’s success
- Advice for mobility industry leaders
Featured Guest: Katelyn Davis
What she does: Katelyn is the communications lead at Cavnue and the co-founder of Women Driven Mobility. She is also a board member of the Automotive Public Relations Council (APRC) and a member of Inforum's AutomotiveNEXT.
On leadership: “You don't necessarily need to be the person with 35 years of experience, who's managed a hundred people over the course of their career…It's now about who has the ability to lead people, inspire people…who can make the culture be better.”
Timestamped inflection points from the show
[0:58] Welcome back: Jan introduces Katelyn, a former guest and ambassador for millennials and mobility. Katelyn is recognized for sticking to her value system and her personal brand.
[2:41] Build who you are: From her first interview with Jan, Katelyn recalls entering the workforce during a recession and recaps her professional journey from working for traditional automotive companies to late-stage mobility startups to her current role with a company building road infrastructure for autonomous vehicles.
[7:08] Mobility moves faster: In Jessica Robinson’s interview, Jessica shared that new mobility may not have the traditional customer-supplier relationship we’re used to in automotive. Katelyn agrees. New mobility is aggressive, fast-moving and largely dependent on startup funding.
[9:15] Set the tone: Jan and Katelyn discuss how the culture of the mobility industry has impacted internal company operation dynamics. Emerging leaders are the ones who can inspire others in the organization and set a positive tone in the company culture.
[13:11] Share the mic: More and more, companies are offering professional development opportunities. It’s important for leaders to uplift their staff and value their opinions.
[14:55] 21 traits: Jessica Robinson said that of the 21 traits of authentic leadership, mindset resonated with her the most. Katelyn agrees that the right mindset can help leaders thrive in a fast-changing company environment.
[16:07] Embrace your fear: Acknowledging fear leads to greater self-awareness. Katelyn compares the process to leaning into a stretch in yoga.
[19:54] Just say no: Jan’s mantra for 2023 will be Jessica’s quote: “A fast no is better than death by a thousand meetings.” Many mobility startups are still in a honeymoon phase during which everyone is too nice to each other. Honest discussions help good work get done quickly.
[22:52] Advice for auto industry leaders: Many startups focus their messaging on consumers, but their primary business will be with the supplier network, not end users. Companies need to consider their audience.
[25:39] Roundabout way: Jessica’s pathway into the mobility industry resonated with Katelyn. Hiring managers need to recognize the validity of non-linear journeys to an industry.
[30:12] Disrupting auto: Jan and Katelyn share unique ways leaders can reinvent company culture even in the traditional automotive industry.
[36:01] Closing comments: Katelyn encourages company leaders to stop looking at things so linearly, to humanize themselves, and to include more people as decision-makers.
[24:00] Katelyn: “In mobility, most of this technology is not going to be acquired by you and [me] at Best Buy. We're not going to go out and buy a LiDAR sensor…the grand majority of all of the mobility tech, or any automotive tech, is really coming through the supplier network.”
[30:21] Jan: “We have the power to choose who we want to be…and how we show up and what our brand is all about. But we also have the power to choose what we want our companies to be.”
[34:10] Jan: “Start changing things up, people. Why do we feel that we've got to be so straight-laced and fit this mold, otherwise we're going to be judged and we're not going to be liked. Get over it.”
Mentioned in this episode:
Welcome to the automotive leaders podcast, where we help you prepare for the future by sharing stories, insights and skills from leading voices in the automotive world with a mission to transform this industry together. I'm your host, Jan Griffiths, that passionate, rebellious farmer's daughter from Wales, with over 35 years of experience in our beloved auto industry, and a commitment to empowering fellow leaders to be their best authentic selves. Stay true to yourself, be you and lead with Gravitas, the hallmark of authentic leadership. Let's dive in.Jan Griffiths:
It's time to deconstruct episode 84, Meet Jessica Robinson committed to the future of mobility. They thought who would be the best person to get on the microphone with me and deconstruct Jessica Robinson. It's quite a task. And then I thought of the perfect person, certainly somebody who is no stranger to the mic, and that is Katelyn Davis. And when I recorded Katelyn's a couple of years ago now, her episode was titled, Meet Katelyn Davis, ambassador for millennials and mobility, which is a title that I bestowed upon her, and she has lived up to every little bit of that and much more. So Katelyn, welcome back to the mic.Katelyn:
Thank you for having me. And I've also loved that title, by the way. So, thank you for that.Jan Griffiths:
It suits you. It's perfect. It is who you are. And one of the things that I often talk about is that you are Katelyn Davis, when I grew up in automotive, my career, I would always identify with the company that I worked for the job that I had, and I think a lot of people do that. But now that's changing. And you're one of the first people that I met that really has a personal brand. You are who you are, you have value system, you have a belief system. And that doesn't change. It doesn't matter what company you work for. I was used to assimilating into whatever culture they wanted me to be. And I became that person. I discovered authentic leadership now. And so here I am. So thank you, Katelyn, for being you and staying true to the course.Katelyn:
No problem. I'm glad I could be an inspiration. It was really kind of a byproduct of the time that I entered the workforce, one at the very early onset of probably the more more personable social media that we know today influencers were on the rise. And not to say that I had started my just at being an influencer. But it was also the recession when I entered the workforce. And so I was always trying to figure out like, How can I set myself apart, I once found out that a job I applied for head 150 applicants, were all just coming out of college at the same time, and like how do I make myself sound different or look different? Or, you know, how do I get a leg up and I started building a professional persona for myself online. And it's been great. I've met a lot of great people had a lot of great opportunities. And yeah, it's a different way to sort of look at how to present yourself.Jan Griffiths:
It is. Well, you've been doing it really well. And to those listeners who would love to know more about you go back and listen to episode 19. And I'll put a link in the show notes. But you you are today and we're going to talk about Jessica Robinson and one of the areas that we covered in Jessica's podcast interview was this idea of traditional automotive versus mobility. Katelyn, let's talk about mobility. You've been working in the mobility space for several years. So tell us what have you been doing? What have you been up to since the last time we talked?Katelyn:
Yes, since the last time we talked, we've been through a lot went through a pandemic. But a lot has changed with my career as well. So I went from working in PR and communications agencies where I serviced a lot of very traditional automotive companies, auto shows. Sort of what we think of as the traditional industry cars and such. I then moved into an agency that specializes in mid to late stage mobility startups. So I spent a lot of time with companies who were reshaping the way we look at movement, whether that's on the road, it's in the air, it's on in the sea, and looking at things like autonomy and electrification and all the little pieces that go into it. From there. I jumped ship into working in house and now I'm representing a company called Cavnue, which is building roadways and road infrastructure for autonomous vehicles.Jan Griffiths:
That sounds fascinating. The more I learned about Cavnue. I'm not I'm not going to pretend to understand what they're doing. But they're really setting the stage for the world of mobility is that fair assumption?Katelyn:
It is, there's been a lot of money invested and a lot of time and resources invested into the in vehicle technology. So the things that we need for the vehicle to be able to drive itself and to automate some of the components of the driving experience for drivers. But there hasn't really been a concerted effort to really think about the roads that these vehicles are going to be driving on. And for those of you who have spent a lot of time in this industry, know that with autonomous vehicles, there's going to be a lot of AI training, around different instances on the roads and how to react to certain things and environmental training. If we can standardize the operating environment that these vehicles are going to be driving in and working in, then we should be able to make that leap to full autonomy much faster. That's what Cavnue is trying to do. We have a 26 mile route that we're working on right now in Michigan. And from there, we hope to scale and do a nationwide network of these, these roadways.Jan Griffiths:
Again, you remain at the forefront of mobility. That's not changing. In the interview with Jessica, we explored this idea that definition between automotive and mobility, and certainly mobility is much more of an ecosystem to it, because it's not just about the car, like you say it's about the whole infrastructure to support it. But one of the things that Jessica said it really struck me is that people who think about traditional automotive, and she said, they might not find themselves at the center of the story anymore. And it might not be this sort of linear, customer supplier type relationship. So what what are your thoughts around that?Katelyn:
I really enjoyed listening to Jessica talk about this, because I think she talked about it in a way that I hadn't really thought about it before. And she's absolutely right, I spent the first half of my career in more of the traditional automotive space before moving into to new mobility. And that sequence of how business is done. And how even staff works on projects and is brought into things has been the same for a very, very long time, the way companies bring product to market has been the same for a very, very long time. If you've been in the industry for a while, it doesn't matter what company you work at, if you're at an OEM or if you're at a supplier, you really understand how the ecosystem operates and what to expect. When you get into mobility, which is really born out of the automotive industry, in part, but also a very big mixture of the technology industry with a lot of Silicon Valley vibes. It's a much different beast, it moves much faster, it's much more aggressive, things change very, very quickly. And out of that two is what Jessica was telling you about is you might not always be the star, or you may be a star and part of it, but not all of it. In the mobility space. There's a lot of startups so you can see like this big funding ecosystem. And so someone might get a big fundraise, and they might be this shining star and autonomy while there's a shining star of electrification or aerial mobility or something like that in a different area. And then it could come down to pilots and deployments and who's doing certain things. It's very interesting. It changes really, really rapidly, new players coming in old players going out. It's very different than anything that I've experienced in automotive, and probably a lot different than most people who have worked in these historical industries that have existed for a really long time.Jan Griffiths:
If you take this idea of mobility being an ecosystem on many different players and interacting together, sometimes in a linear relationship, sometimes not all these parts moving at speed. To me, I draw a parallel between that definition of the industry and leadership and culture within the industry. As I've said many times, we're great at the product side of this, we're great at saying hey, look at my new EV lineup. And you know, I'm going from ICE to BEV and that's great. But we don't focus so much on the people and the processes and the culture. And I think the same thing applies if you can wrap your mind around the fact that automate motive is no longer traditional automotive with this buyer supplier kind of relationship, that it's more of an ecosystem. And there's all these parts moving together at speed, and you have to kind of figure it out, then if you can do that you can be a leader for the future, because you can then apply that thinking to the culture and to the people.Katelyn:
I think that's absolutely correct, because I think this change in industry dynamics also has a change in internal company operation dynamics. I've seen it a lot with the startups that I was working with before coming Cavnue and then now at Cavnue is that to be a "leader" you don't necessarily need to be the person with 35 years of experience, who's managed 100 people over the course of their career, like, that's not it. It's now about who has the ability to lead people inspire people. And sometimes it's even like, who can make the culture be better, who's you know, cracking jokes here or there, it's really fun to sort of see how you can have different leaders come out of your organization. And what it is that they specialize in, being that Cavnue is is a small company. And I spend a great deal of my time doing thought leadership with people getting the ball on stages and speaking opportunities, and getting to find people who really haven't been in this position before. And they're like, Ah, I don't know if that's for me, I don't know if I want to do public speaking. And I'm like, here's why you're great. Here's the thing that you bring to the table that someone over, you know, superior to you in the ladder of things may not be able to bring to the table, it's really kind of a different way to look at leadership and look at dynamics of teams.Jan Griffiths:
You remind me of something, you're going to cringe when I tell you the story. So you just said that you work with your teams, and you encourage people to get on in a speaking gigs and panels. And it's important for the development, it's important for the brand or the company for their personal brand. We all know this right? Many years ago, I was told directly do not encourage people to to get exposure to the outside world on panels and speaking gigs, because people will want to hire them away. I mean, how short sighted could you possibly be? And I remember I had a speaking gig once it was in London was on a business trip and I was going to stop by this. It was a riba at the time, which was like a purchasing software I was gonna stop by their conference and do this speaking gig wasn't a huge deal. My boss didn't like the idea, because he thought that it was too much exposure, while other companies might want to hire me away. And I what, you know how short sight is, but there again, Katelyn, there's an example of the culture changing. That's the way that we used to think in the past. And now it's different.Katelyn:
When I was working in the supplier world, which is very, very traditional. I was very limited to my chief engineer, my department. VPs are head of product. And it was a very small group of people like maybe five or six. And that was really it, to see that change over the last couple of years really, like share the love. I think the mindset has really changed on let's not hide them, because we're afraid someone's going to hire them. Let's give them these professional development opportunities so that they know that we value their opinion. And we value it so much that we want other people to be able to learn from it. And I think there's always the possibility that someone could see someone at a conference be like, I want that person, I'm going to hire them. But that could also happen on LinkedIn or anywhere else. It's more about the experiences that you can offer your staff and uplift them and make them feel like you value their opinion.Jan Griffiths:
And then guess what? They'll stay instead of living this life of fear that oh my gosh, they're gonna leave. How about you invest in the people, give them the exposure, challenge them, make them feel great about who they are so that they will stay and even progress to more challenging roles and more responsibility in the company.Katelyn:
And Jan, this isn't just external facing things as well. And for everyone else at the company, it's also good because let me tell you, they're tired of hearing from the same five people all the time, and they want to hear from someone else.Jan Griffiths:
And that's one of the things that I like about Jessica's career. She's seen It all, right? Because she's from tech startups from Zipcar well, starting as a tea taster, but all the way through to working at Ford, and now assembly ventures. She's been there and done that. And she has taken the best bits of all of her experiences, to put it together to be the leader that she is today. And she said in you mentioned the word mindset. And she said, when I asked her about, what's the number one trait of the 21 traits of authentic leadership that resonate with her the most? And she said it was mindset.Katelyn:
Absolutely, I think getting your mindset in the right way, being flexible to change. I'm seeing a lot of people coming out of the traditional industry into the startup. And it's not an easy, it's not an easy move. It's not an easy change, a culture change, a way of work change. But if you have the right mindset, it becomes much more manageable. And that transition period is much faster, and you really get the hang of it much quicker.Jan Griffiths:
Let's talk about fear. Jessica talked about fear. We talked about it quite a bit. And she said it's not about pushing through the fear or avoiding the fear. It's about learning to sit with it. And then choosing to go on and do the thing anyway. And that's the first time I have heard somebody say that, because most people talk about pushing through the fear. And she says no, no, you know, you've got it, you've got to sit with it, you've got to just let it sit with you and, and take it on board, and then move forward. And I thought that was that was really interesting.Katelyn:
I did as well, it's an incredible way to look at a very uncomfortable situation. And I think you're right, for the most part, we always thought just push through. And as soon as we're past it will feel better. But you don't really learn a lot about yourself in that moment of pushing through. And so Jessica hit the nail on the head by sitting with it, you'll end up learning a lot about yourself in which you can then use to help your team help others also identify those feelings of fear and work through them.Jan Griffiths:
It's a bit of a self awareness exercise to you saying, Okay, now, why am I afraid to do this? What's going on here? What am I afraid of what could possibly happen. And when you go through that mental process, that's incredibly powerful.Katelyn:
That's really sort of starting that fight or flight response that your body has. And so if you can delay the flight or the running through it, you'll end up growing more as a person, the next time that that comes around, you'll have less of a fearful reaction or less of a negative reaction. And it's just very, it's a much more calming mindset. It seems so simple when you think about it. And I don't think until I had heard Jessica talk about it that I had really ever stopped and thought about it that way.Jan Griffiths:
Well, the people I've interviewed nobody had ever described fear thatway. But this about sitting with it. And I agree, I think it's a really powerful really, yeah, it you know, Katelyn would what I love about doing these episodes where we deconstruct an episode, when you're interviewing, when you're doing a recording like this, I'm in it, right? I'm in the conversation. And then I listened to it, I listen to the recording, I think, oh, I should have gone deeper on that. And I have a chance to sit with it right to sit with the actual conversation. And so it gives me a chance and to go deeper into some of these areas, and then get a different perspective from somebody else.Katelyn:
I do this practice of yoga, that is part meditative part deep stretching, and it primarily deals with same thing, this fight or flight response, you get into a deep stretch, and then you hold it for two to three minutes. And your body gets to the point or the muscles get to a point where you start to feel discomfort, you can feel the stretching, and it's all about slow breathing, ease and work your muscles through it. And by the time you're starting to get close to the three minute mark, that pain has subsided, the discomfort has subsided and you can almost lean into the stretch further than you could two or three minutes ago. And when I heard Jessica say that that's the first thing that I thought of and I was like, Well, of course that makes sense. I've been doing this practice for a very long time with my body but I had never thought about how I could apply that same principle to something else.Jan Griffiths:
Yeah, you're so right. Okay, let's talk about a quote that. I'm going to take this as my mantra for 2023 That's how powerful this is, okay. I'm often talking about command and control versus authentic leadership. But there's another side opposite to command and control is this culture where we're too nice to each other. And when we're too nice to each other, we don't like to say that we didn't like an idea, or there's a better idea, we just want to play nice and then leave the room. And that I think can be more soul destroying than command and control, quite frankly, because at least was command and control, you can typically get into a fight with something. I've worked in a culture like that. And it really is it's it's exhausting. Believe it or not. Because you want to shake people you want to say, Come on, talk to me, tell me what do you really think? And it came out of our discussion, we were talking about startups and startup companies engaging with tier ones and OEMs. That whole mess. I call it a mess, because nobody's figured it out yet. She said, a fast no is better than death by 1000 meetings. And I thought, Oh, that is so true. That gets right to the heart of that. We were talking about startup companies doing business with tier ones and OEMs. It can be applied to a number of different things. And I it's just my mantra now for 2023. Right? I'd much rather have a fast No, than have somebody delay the process because they didn't want to offend you know, that goes right to the heart of culture, don't you think?Katelyn:
Yes, absolutely. And I think that's one really large difference not to keep comparing traditional auto to mobility. But I think the time I spent in the supplier world and at the OEM world, much more used to hearing No, or that idea is not going to work for X, Y and Z. I had a conversation recently with someone who also works at a mobility startup. And they were like, Yeah, I think we're still in this honeymoon phase of startup where everyone is nice, but it's really not. It's not useful. At this point. When do we just start yelling at each other. And at first, I was like, wait, you want to yell at each other? That is an accurate reflection of how good work gets done quickly, is because you can have these open and honest discussions with people. And if you all know this arena in which you're playing in, you know that you're doing it because we need to move things along faster, and that it is going to be death by 1000 meetings, if we just keep politely not telling you how we feel about something. I think that's also like a very big cultural change between the two industries and one that the mobility industry could probably learn fromJan Griffiths:
was your experience. Caitlin, what advice would you have for startups who are trying to engage with tier ones or OEMs? As you know, with my background with supply chain, I just have this fear of 50 Page Terms and Conditions document being thrown at a startup and I can just see him running away screaming, as most normal people would if they were not used to it or traditional terms and conditions that we have in the auto industry. What advice would you have for startups coming into this?Katelyn:
I've worked with a lot of startups, I've probably worked with almost two dozen across autonomy, electrification, ICS, battery technology, battery recycling, like the whole nine yards. And what I will say is that all of these companies are really great at talking about their company, their company's value proposition as it applies to the consumer, or whoever the end user is, in a very public manner. The truth to it is that especially in mobility, most of this technology is not going to be acquired by you and I at BestBuy, we're not going to go out and buy a LIDAR sensor. So why are you spending so much time messaging to me? Also, it is very unlikely that that technology is even going to be picked up by the OEM market. In some cases, it will. But the grand majority of all of the mobility tech, or any automotive tech is really coming through the supplier network. And so they're the ones that are able to move a little bit faster than then the automakers. They're the ones whose timeline works a little bit better with startup world. And ultimately, they're the ones that are you know, selling and getting all of this stuff into the vehicles. If there's one thing that I would say, kind of need some more work from these companies is who you're messaging to. And what that message is. If you are looking at the suppliers, which is my recommendation, you really have to figure out what is the return for them? Why is this a good thing for them to then go to bat for you with the automaker to include? I don't think that is happening really well, there are some that do it better than others. And obviously, it's a very hard thing to sort of gauge from the outside. But in my experience, they're just not doing a really great job at understanding the needs at the supplier network and how to work with them.Jan Griffiths:
What resonated with you the most from Jessica's episode?Katelyn:
I think what resonated with me most about everything that Jessica talked about was her pathway into this industry. And so I think so many people in this industry see, career pathways as very linear, and have a hard time really understanding the vastness of this industry. And what it really takes to understand the full gamut of it. And Jessica, I believe is one of those people who really understands, many, if not, I would like to say all, but she would be like, Katelyn, that's not true. But Jessica really understands all of the different pieces that go into the industry. And that's because her career has not been linear in this industry. It has been here and it's been there and over here. And some of it has been out of the industry in education in being a tea taster. You learn something from all of that. And I think it's a good reminder for people, especially people who are doing hiring, hiring managers, or people in HR, other people in leadership that everyone's journey may look different. And sometimes it's this odd mix of things that kind of makes you scratch your head may actually be the better fit for your team.Jan Griffiths:
You're an early adopter of understanding the value of a personal brand. As you look at Jessica, and she has a tremendous amount of credibility and integrity. She's very well respected in the industry. What is it about her personal brand that gives her that from a personal leadership perspective? What is it?Katelyn:
I think it has been that she has so many different areas of expertise and has become a subject matter in so many different areas. And she has always been sort of comfortable with being a front facing person in the organizations that she's been at. And so people have always sort of gravitated towards her. Because they know they can trust her for her opinion, they can trust her for the information she knows. And that is really helped her a lot. I'm trying to think back. As I say this, I think I've always known Jessica as a thought leader, I think she had always sort of been in this public eyes since I've known her. And that was one of the things that I gravitated towards, because I was still young in my career and to see another woman up and talking about all this great stuff who didn't really come from a technical background, this is what I want. Like I don't come from a technical background. But I want people to feel like what I have to say is important. And Jessica was really one of those first people for me that really validated that a career doing different parts of the industry that is not on the technical side, could really pay off in the long run.Jan Griffiths:
She's very mission driven. And we started off this podcast talking about you and you are Katelyn Davis, you have value system, you have a mission. And it doesn't matter what company you work for, that's not going to change. And Jessica strikes me as somebody who's very much the same way. She believes deep down deep in her heart and soul, her passion from moving mobility moving the industry in a big way. And she's committed to making that happen. And that may take different forms. It may be different companies along the way. But that belief system doesn't change. And that is authentic leadership in its finest sense.Katelyn:
Exactly. And now with assembly venture, she has the ability to work with different companies who fit the individual pieces of her value system and really work with companies that speak to her and make her heart sing get her really excited to go to work. And that's something I've always strived for like I I only want to represent technologies and in platforms in which I feel are doing something good for the world or for people. And that's what I've, I've always lived by.Jan Griffiths:
In another part of the interview too, she said, we have the power to choose what we want our companies to be. There's two parts of that, first of all, we have the power to choose who we want to be. Right, and how we show up and what our brand is all about. But we also have the power to choose what we want our companies to be. And I think in the past, we've lost sight of that. We didn't think that we could do that we've accepted the culture in automotive for decades, it is what it is, I hear that all the time. It is what it is, you know. And we need to step back and say, Hey, we know what we do we have the power to choose what we want our companies to be to choose how much of our call it EV, startup culture, California culture, how much of that we want in our culture, traditional auto was not all bad. There's some really good things in that culture. So we do we really do have this power to choose our culture. Do you think that's right?Katelyn:
I do. I do. And as you're saying that thinking about your audience for this podcasts, and a lot of them are, are in more of the traditional auto sense. And I'm sure they're like, Jan, I can't change my company. It's been around 100 years, like I just can't do it. I think there's a lot to be said in how you, your team is what you build and the environment that you have internally is what you build. I remember this was probably like 15 years ago, 10 years ago, I was at a supplier and we had this, it was our supply chain and purchasing team. And they were crazy people like they had spirit weeks. And they were doing all this like weird stuff. And at the time, because I had only ever known the very traditional working environment. I was like, this is weird. This is so strange. They're having so much fun at work, and I don't get it. And I look back on that. And being that's not strange, that was just sort of my first exposure to what different workplaces could look like. And although our workplace was very structured, and authoritative, and it was very layered in levels of leadership, they were trying to find a way to keep their teams engaged in a way that was more friendly and upbeat. And we see that a lot in the in the startup space, when Google first started talking about culture as a recruiting tool. That's what they wanted out in the world. And so I think there's a way to still transition some of this into the big organizations. Even if you don't have a lot of authority to make big changes, you can at least do it with your team.Jan Griffiths:
That's so true. And I felt that in my last corporate job, more than more than any other time was the time where I was facing my peers and my boss, I'm not gonna say it was a different person. But there was a different kind of behavior. I learned to fit the mold as much as I hate to admit that, but I did. And when I was facing my team, that was a whole different thing. That's when I came alive. And we were talking about our mission and what we were going to do what we were going to accomplish, how we were going to do it, what the global organization was going to look like it was a much more inspiring conversation. And I decided to introduce dancing at the beginning of my staff meetings. And as you can imagine, in a conservative tier one, imagine walking by the hallway past my office and hearing ACDC blasting at nine o'clock in the morning. You know but I did it because I just wanted people to have a different feeling I want to change the energy level in the room. And why not? Why not? Just because we've never done that before in automotive, start changing things up people, why don't why do we feel that we've got to be so straight laced and fit this mold, otherwise, we're going to be judged and we're not going to be liked. Get over it.Katelyn:
We did something similar with not dancing. But when I was at the tier one we on Fridays, we would have a some sort of prize sometime it was like a gift cards and pairs and actual like little prize. And we would play bingo throughout the day. And so there was a little ball basket with the Turner and you would you know pick a ball or whatever. And anytime someone went to the bathroom or walked past the desk where it was they'd spin it they'd pick a ball and they would yell it out to the whole department and people in the morning I would come in I would They have a bingo card on everyone's desk. And so they would mark it off. And sometimes it would take us four or five hours to get someone to call bingo, because you might call a number. Now the next one might be in 15 minutes. And it was like a really fun way to sort of end the week. And we would have guests come through the department, and they're like, What on earth are you all doing? Like playing bingo. And it doesn't have to be disruptive to work 30 seconds out of your day, you know, here or there. And it's not that big of a deal. But people loved it, people loved coming in for bingo day. And it's just something different that you don't really see everywhere else and gives people the opportunity to smile and laugh with each other. And those are the things that I think you take for granted. But it wasn't always that way. It was it sometimes was, you know, fitting into a mold. It was you know, being quiet, keeping your head down and just doing the work and going home at the end of the day.Jan Griffiths:
To wrap this all up. Jessica's number one trait was mindset. And we can see mindset play out in her interview in so many different ways, this ability to sit with fear, this idea that we have the power to choose what we want our companies to be this idea that you're no longer at the center of the story anymore. That mobility is an ecosystem. It's an all encompassing ecosystem that's changing and moving at speeds not this linear relationship anymore. All of that comes together and then manifests itself in authentic leadership. What message Katelyn would you have to our audience, to take the ideas that Jessica has, in her interview, and authentically to ship forward to prepare for the future in automotive?Katelyn:
I think the biggest part of is something that sort of encompasses all of that, which is stop. Stop looking at things so linearly, by including more people as as decision makers or thought leaders and the open and honest transparency with your team. Just because you're their supervisor doesn't mean you need to know everything and being able to admit that you do sometimes don't. Being able to really like humanize yourself outside of some sort of hierarchy with your team goes a really long way. And ultimately, your end product is better. Your team culture is better. All around that ends up being better for everyone and for your company.Jan Griffiths:
Absolutely right. Katelyn Davis, thank you so much for joining me on the mic today.Katelyn:
Yes, thank you for having me again.Jan Griffiths:
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