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As we step into 2024 with a fresh episode of the Automotive Leaders Podcast, Jan Griffiths sets the tone by highlighting the power of a restart. Drawing on the significance of the new year, Jan emphasizes the opportunity for a clean slate and renewed energy. Building on this, Jan delves into the philosophy of "The Gap and the Gain," urging listeners to shift their focus from unmet goals to acknowledging achievements and progress. This mindset, she emphasizes, is the key to success as we embark on a new year.
The episode unfolds with a broad overview of Jan's experiences in 2023, featuring milestones like her five-year journey at Gravitas Detroit, hitting the 100th episode milestone for the podcast, and engaging in thought-provoking discussions with automotive industry leaders. Throughout the recap, the episode subtly includes the ups and downs, highlighting Jan's role in dealing with challenges like the UAW strike and emphasizing her dedication to tackling crucial industry issues.
Looking ahead to 2024, Jan shares exciting plans, the upcoming release of her book, 'Roadmap to rEVolution,' and a commitment to 'swift execution,' where getting things done is the focus, but not at the expense of quality. The episode concludes with Jan expressing gratitude to loyal supporters, urging them to spread the word and invite others to join the movement towards authentic leadership and cultural transformation in the auto industry.
Themes discussed in this episode:
- The transformative potential of a fresh start
- Measuring success through progress
- 2023 Recap - milestones and highlights
- Prospects for the year 2024
- Automotive transformation, OEM challenges, and disruptions
- The importance of quality and ease in driving successful outcomes
- Cultural transformation in the auto industry
- Fostering a new mindset for success in 2024
Featured: Jan Griffiths
What she does: Jan is the founder and CEO of Gravitas Detroit, an organization dedicated to cultivating authentic leadership in the automotive industry by providing courses, workshops, speaking events, and more. She is also the host of The Automotive Leaders Podcast.
Mentioned in this episode:
- The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior
- The Gap and The Gain by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy
- Wayne State University’s Global Supply Chain Management Advisory Board
- Tor Hough, CEO of ELM Analytics
- GlobalWelsh USA Hub
- The Automotive Leaders Podcast’s 100th podcast episode with John McElroy & Jason Stein
- Next-Gen Automotive Leadership with Volkswagen CSMO, Andrew Savvas
- The Authentic Leadership Course
- The podcast that Jan co-hosts and produces for QAD and Quistem: Auto Supply Chain Prophets
- Marques McCammon, President of Karma Automotive
- Meet Stephen M. R. Covey, global authority on trust, leadership, and culture. New York Times best-selling author of Trust & Inspire
- The Unicorn Within, written by Mach49 CEO Linda Yates
- UAW strike episodes: Leadership in Crisis: Navigating the UAW Strike & My Love-Hate Relationship with Shawn Fain
- Dave Kinchen from Fox 2 News
[00:01:02] The power of the restart: Jan explores the profound impact of restarting, encouraging listeners to harness the transformative energy of fresh beginnings.
[00:02:49] The Gap and the Gain: Jan discusses the importance of measuring progress and achievements, shifting the focus from unmet goals to recognizing personal and professional gains.
[00:05:44] Recap of 2023: The key moments that shaped Jan's 2023 experience and a highlight of the podcast's achievements, celebrating milestones such as the 5-year mark at Gravitas Detroit and reaching the 100th episode milestone.
[00:30:22] Plans for 2024: Looking ahead, Jan shares exciting plans for the upcoming year, including the eagerly anticipated release of her book.
[00:00:08] Jan Griffiths: 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.
[00:00:40] Stay true to yourself, be you, and lead with Gravitas, the hallmark of authentic leadership. Let's dive in.
[00:00:56] It's 2024; a brand-new year lies in front of us. It is so exciting. There are so many things that we're telling ourselves that we're going to do in 2024, right? Yeah. Some of us will say, "Oh, we're going to go to the gym five days a week. We're going to lose weight. We're going to work on all these projects. We're going to meditate." And on and on and on and on, and then by early March, somehow, we've convinced ourselves that that goal is no longer attainable. Well, okay. What I want to talk about today is a couple of things. There is indeed power of the restart. And what I mean by that is a new year is an opportunity to restart something.
[00:01:38] The same way that we tell ourselves a new month, we're going to start something new, maybe a new quarter and a new week. You know how sometimes we get to the end of the week, we'll say, ah, but next week's a new week. There is power in the restart and I like the research that was done by Hengchen Dai and Katy Milkman.
[00:01:56] And I will quote from their research, and they say, "This restart creates a temporal landmark, and temporal landmarks spur goal initiation when they signal new beginnings or the start of new time periods," a temporal landmark. "Temporal landmarks that open new time periods can help people relegate their missteps to the past and elevate their self-image with confidence."
[00:02:24] So, there's this idea of putting a milestone or a landmark between our past and our future. And at this point in time, in the year, we tend to think, okay, we're all future-focused, right? It's all about the things that we're going to do. And we tend not to want to look back in the past because we say things like, well, you know, I can't change the past. So, what's the point?
[00:02:49] Well, I used to subscribe to that way of thinking, but now I've changed. And one book I would recommend that you read, it's called "The Gap and the Gain." And it's by Dr. Benjamin Hardy, who's an organizational psychologist. And Dan Sullivan, who's an entrepreneurial coach. And they say, and I quote, "When you compare who you are now to who you want to be, you're resigning yourself to a life of unhappiness. Your ideal self is constantly changing, making your goals impossible to reach." And if you think about that, right? How often do we put these lofty goals in front of us, whether it's professional or personal? And if I think about it from a work standpoint, you know, we always start the year with these massive objectives, the strategies that we put goals behind. And then we measure the gap, right? Basically, what we didn't do or what we have yet to do. Basically, what Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy say is that it's really important to look back to see how far you've come. In other words, measure the gain and not the gap. And before I read this book, I'm not sure I would have believed that, but there's power in projecting what you want for your future, yes. Putting yourself on the top of the mountain and visualizing what you want in terms of your goals and what you want to achieve in the year, but also look back. And a friend of mine reminded me of this just the other day. And she said, you know, she said, "Jan, I'm really proud of you." And I said, "What, why, what?" she said, "Well, look at all the things you've learned and all the things you've done this past year." And I honestly hadn't even thought about it because I was focused on the gap. I'm more focused on what I haven't done. Instead of what I have achieved. And when you look back and you think about what you've achieved, it does fuel you and it gives you confidence to gain traction, to achieve even more.
[00:05:05] So if there's one thing I would recommend you do for 2024, it's read "The Gap and the Gain," and start to think about what you have accomplished and do that with your team. Don't just start a strategy meeting or a goal-setting meeting for 2024 with "This is what we've got to do, and we're going to set the bar higher than last year," because come on, we tend to do that a lot, right? That doesn't make people feel good. Make people feel good about their progress and fuel their confidence with what they have achieved in 2023. And then use that momentum to drive success in 2024. As I look back into 2023 and I look at some of the successes, I'm going to start off at a macro level, and then I'm going to walk you through what I think is some of the best of 2023.
[00:05:56] So, for me, I passed the five-year milestone at Gravitas Detroit. And I'm thrilled, quite frankly, because, you know, most businesses fail; a high percentage of businesses fail the first year. And if you don't fail the first year, you're pretty much out by the fifth. So, the fact that I'm still standing and loving every minute of it is a great accomplishment. I feel good about it. The mission stays strong. I am the architect of cultural change in the automotive industry and I love saying that. And every time I tell people that, somebody if somebody comes up to me and they say, "What do you do?" And I say, "Well, I'm on a mission to change the way we work in the auto industry."
[00:06:35] They say, "Wow, you've got a big job ahead of you. Wow. That's so needed." The response is always, yes, yes, do this. So, the mission for me, stay strong. My passion around young minds entering our industry is also strong. I am still a member of the Wayne State University Supply Chain Advisory Board. My role on the board has changed over the years. When I was in my corporate role, I was there as Head of Global Supply Chain for a Tier one. Now, I'm not. I am there because I am indeed driven to help what Wayne State does on their curriculum to shape the young minds for the future. And we've had some successes, and one of those successes was actually a couple of months ago where my colleague on the board, Tor Hough from ELM Analytics, we did a joint presentation to the students in the auditorium in Detroit. And we talked about leading with impact. You know, how do you lead with impact? What is leadership? So many of us don't spend the time with our own people and our own teams, let alone young people entering the workforce, talking about what leadership is and what it isn't. And I'm going to continue to do more of that in 2024.
[00:08:02] The other big passion in my life is my home country, Wales. And in 2023, I was appointed as the leader of the Global Welsh USA Hub. It's the first time that the Global Welsh Organization has launched a USA Hub. And we are committed to connecting the diaspora in the US to benefit Welsh businesses and help elevate Wales onto the global stage. And I love that part of my work and my life. I continue to lead the daily weekday accountability lab; I can't believe that that's still going. We started that during the pandemic, and basically, we meet every morning at 7:07 on a Zoom call, we're done by 7:30, and we make three commitments. Something that we're going to do for work for that day. Something that we're going to do for our personal life, it can be health and wellness. And then a word to declare our mindset. And I know that sounds so simple and you're probably thinking. What? You get on a call every weekday just to do that? Yes, we've been doing it since COVID started. And there's so much power in verbalizing to a group of people what you're going to do that day. And it's not anything that you do every single day. It's something that you're going to do to move the needle forward. And yes, we report out on what we did the day before. But it's not in a, you know, you have to report out to a group kind of setting. It's a, "Yes, this is what I accomplished yesterday." And we're human beings, right? We're not all, it's not always perfect. We don't always achieve what we said we were going to do. And we have to be honest about that. And we laugh about it. And the one thing I will tell you when it comes to accountability, and I've got several years of experience now working with the accountability lab, people may come, and I will come and say that I did not achieve something. Maybe the first day. Maybe the second day I still didn't do it. Maybe on the third day, I still didn't do it. Nobody ever comes back on that call on the fourth day and says that they didn't achieve the goal. Positive accountability is something that I've become passionate about. And I talk about it with my clients all the time. Accountability doesn't have to be a bad word. It can be used to shape the future and to fuel accomplishment. On a personal level, I can continue to be a lover of oat milk lattes. It's my thing and I like it, and I love early morning coffee and conversation.
[00:10:42] I walk more in the mornings now than I used to. I don't run anymore because I hurt my knee. So, I continue to walk in the mornings. I like to walk about four miles. I would say I do that about four or five times a week. And I also meet a group of people at Starbucks in the morning. Cause I, there's something about that connection and camaraderie and conversation that I love in the morning. And the walk helps me clear my head and get me set up for the day. And what I found myself doing is, putting in my ear pods and listening to a book. I either listen to a podcast or a book. I can tell you that that's where I get my fix of Dr. Benjamin Hardy.
[00:11:27] So let's take a look at the best of 2023. The Automotive Leaders Podcast passed the 100th episode milestone. And a big shout out to Jason Stein and John McElroy. These two guys have supported me when I was in my corporate career and now in my new role, and I guess it's not so new now; it's been five years. And the one thing I stress about both Jason and John is that they have nothing to gain by jumping on the microphone and giving off their time and energy and insights for my 100th episode, and they are so kind and so gracious; they did it without even flinching. And I love the 100th episode because you've got two people there with Jason and John that know more about this industry than just about anybody else, I can think of, well, unless, of course, Sandy Munro might be in there too. Maybe we'll see if we can get Sandy in 2024. Our number one episode for 2023 was Andrew Savas.
[00:12:31] Now, if you don't know Andrew Savvas, you should, and you should definitely listen to that episode. Why was Andrew's episode so popular? I think it's because it was unexpected. Andrew is the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Volkswagen in the U. S. And with my experience with Volkswagen, I would not have put them up there as an OEM that would be the hallmark of authentic leadership. In fact, I would probably put them on the other end of the scale. And when you listen to Andrew Savas, you'll be surprised. You will. It's not that aggressive command and control type of leadership style that you might've been expecting coming out of Volkswagen, his vulnerability, his authenticity, his commitment to diversity. All of these things are palpable and you can hear them come through in his voice. So, I think those are some of the reasons why Andrew Savas was indeed our number one episode for 2023. 2023 saw the graduation of our very first OEM client. I developed an online course about two years ago that is based around the 21 Traits of Authentic Leadership. And I found that clients wanted an online option because people want to listen to short videos. Nobody wants to sit in front of a screen for an hour or two hours, you know, go through these long sessions. We spend enough time on Zoom screens as it is. So I created this course; it's got short videos, they're between five and 12 minutes, I think each video, and then there's a workbook that goes along with it, but what we did with our first OEM client was we added to that some workshops so that we could talk about the principles of the course in a real-time experiential setting because it's pointless learning something if you can't talk about what it means to you in the work setting. And that was such a wonderful experience. The OEM client is Mitsubishi North America. And we had some fabulous workshop sessions where we talked about, for example, accountability, and then we talked about what that meant at Mitsubishi, what that meant as a work team.
[00:15:03] And it was a personal success for me. To be able to take my first OEM client and graduate them through the course and the online sessions. So, I'm definitely going to do more of that in 2024. Podcasting; my passion for podcasting persists. Wow, that's a lot of Ps. I love podcasting because, of course, I love interviewing people, but I see it as such a powerful tool to drive employee engagement and change the game when it comes to corporate communications. We are launching another tier one in January 2024 for the internal podcast. If you don't know what an internal podcast is, it's kind of like your own company radio. So, we work on a strategy and we talk about whether we want to design episodes around executives, around what's going on in different departments, what's important to the business. And it's very, conversational. So, I host the sessions and I ask questions that we believe that the shop floor, that the workforce wants to hear and we're able to give access to the shop floor, which is obviously, you know, that we all know in corporate tier one world, it's often difficult to reach people on the shop floor and we found a way to do it through podcasting.
[00:16:32] So there'll be definitely more of that in 2024, and I'll be adding more clients to that roster as we move through the year. The other podcast that I co-host and produced for QAD and Quistem is called 'Auto Supply Chain Prophets,' and that's not an internal podcast; that's external-focused. So that means that anybody in the world, literally anybody in the world, can gain access to it. And we passed a milestone this year. We passed our 5, 000 download milestone, and that's really starting to gain some traction. Now, the mission is all about giving you the— I would say the target audience is really tier one supply chain, purchasing, IT, manufacturing executives— to give you ideas, to provide content that will help you prepare for the future.
[00:17:27] And it really is interesting. We were at the Reuters conference in Detroit and I was talking to some people that I met there from different OEMs and they like the podcast. It's starting to gain more traction. People are sharing it. And we love that because podcasting is a long, hard slog. It's not something that, you know, you just get immediate success at. If you think you're going to do a podcast and get 10, 000 downloads in the first six months, you know, you're probably kidding yourself there. So, it's a long, hard slog. But talking about Reuters, one of the highlights for me in 2023 was meeting Marques McCammon. Now, Marques is the president of Karma Automotive, and they have revealed beautiful line of luxury EVs. They revealed the first one on November 11th called the Karma Kaveya. And if you haven't seen that, take a look at it. He is definitely a leader to watch. I will, of course, be asking him to be a guest on the podcast. I love the way he thinks, I love his leadership. He truly is an authentic leader. The culture that he is creating and promoting there at Karma and, Karma Automotive is definitely a company to watch for 2024.
[00:18:41] Another highlight for me in 2023 was the MEMA conference in Novi, Michigan. Stephen Covey called my name from the stage. What? I know, right? I'm still smiling. I'm still in shock. Again, what a gracious guy. What an incredible human being. The fact that he remembered that we had done an interview together on the podcast when he released his book, 'Trust and Inspire.' and again, he had nothing to gain by doing this, but he wanted to recognize the podcast, the interview that he did with me and Gravitas Detroit, and he called it out on the stage. I got to admit, it was an awesome moment in my life, something that I will cherish forever. So, a huge shout out to Stephen Covey.
[00:19:36] The other things that I discovered in 2023, and I'm seeing this as a trend, I discovered a company called Mach49. And if you don't know them, you need to know them. Mach49 is all about working with legacy companies to help them generate their ideas and reinvent themselves, and really nurture innovation. Because when you're talking about a legacy company, let's take Goodyear, for example, and you know, we talk about transformation all day long, but we've got to really understand how do you take these companies that have these legacy systems, legacy processes, legacy ways of thinking that have been around for hundreds of years. Yeah, I know they've changed and evolved over the times, but now they've got to come up with dramatic change in their thinking, and they're almost carving out separate divisions or separate businesses within the corporate entity to be able to do that. We see some of the OEMs doing it, right, with Ford, splitting their business into two. But I'm really fascinated with what Goodyear is doing. And I met some of the people from Mach49 at the car conference this year. And you can expect to hear more about it. Their CEO, Linda Yates, she wrote a book called 'The Unicorn Within.' How legacy giants can tap into the magic of startups and innovation. It's a blueprint for reinvention. A guide to unleashing the true potential of auto industry leaders. And it is indeed. So, I think there's a lot more to come on the subject of innovation and what we need to do to transform for the future. And it's funny because right after I had met the people from Mach49 and I read the book, then I had a client that wanted me to come in and talk to their board of directors about transformation, which is a little bit out of my normal comfort zone because normally I talk about leadership and culture, but this is certainly a big part of it. And so I really leaned into the book and created a half-day session for their board of directors to talk about what they should be thinking about for the future and how they nurture innovation, really focusing on speed and agility. And the complexity of multiple generations in the workplace. So that was pretty exciting.
[00:22:14] Let's take a look at the UAW strike. I mean, we can't end 2023 without talking about the UAW strike. So, first of all, I know it had a massive impact on the supply base and personally, it hurt me a lot; clients, delayed projects, canceled projects, it hurt. But I saw it as an opportunity to lean into the media, and I started to talk to a channel for news: Fox 2, CBS in Detroit; I mean, everywhere. And I found myself providing a voice for the supply base, which, you know, I absolutely love to do because, yes, I have OEM clients and tier-one clients, but I don't have a massive portion of my revenue that's dependent on an OEM. And many of you out there in the tier-one space do. So, you can't be as perhaps vocal as you would like to be, but I can, and I see this podcast as a platform to do exactly that. So, I took advantage of that opportunity, and really made some great connections in our local media world. And I have to tell you, I'm totally impressed with the way these guys operate. I was working quite a bit with Dave Kinchen from Fox 2 News, and they would be here in my home interviewing me at six o'clock, six up till seven o'clock at night.
[00:23:53] They would have their segment edited and ready to go on the 10 o'clock news. I was amazed cause I know how long it takes me to turn around a video. So, big shout out to you guys in the media who know how to do this. I'm totally impressed with the way that you operate. But I digress. So, let's go back to Shawn Fain, shall we? I will tell you now publicly that I will be contacting the media PR people within the UAW to see if we can get Shawn Fain on a microphone with me. I very much want to talk to him, you know that. When I look at the UAW strike, I look at my YouTube channel because I did push out a lot of YouTube videos. Every time we record now with the automotive leaders, we have a video of the interview on YouTube, and the episode that got the highest number of views for me was Navigating the UAW strike, and then right behind that was 'My Love-Hate Relationship with Shawn Fain.' Because I wanted that to be balanced interview because I talked about some of the things that I love about what he did. I liked the way that he leveraged technology for communicating his message, quite frankly. But there was some things that I hated, and I hated the fact that he took a such an aggressive stance and I feel took us back decades in the way that we negotiate, in the way that we handle ourselves in this industry.
[00:25:18] But the one real bright spot for me in a whole UAW strike situation was the Bill Ford speech. I thought that was awesome. And I mean, I felt it to the very core of my being. I was so excited after I listened to that speech that I immediately jumped on social media and started hammering out a post where I talked about the correlation between what he said and authentic leadership, and the fact that he is indeed the kind of leader that we need in this industry. At the very beginning, his opening comments, he stressed the alliance between the UAW and Ford, setting the stage that we're in this together. And that to me is, you know, that's what this is all about. There's not this OEM and the UAW and we're against each other. We've got to be together on this. We've got to find a way to transform this industry together. And he said that this should not be Ford versus the UAW. We all succeed or fail together. And he's so right. It's about collaboration. So, there was a lot in there. I just gave you a sample of it. But that post on LinkedIn got 56,484 impressions, 51 comments, and 30 reposts. Now, for those of you who are familiar with social media, that's unbelievable. I've never had anything performed like that before in my entire life. But I think it was, relevant. I think a lot of you agreed with the points that I was making. So, thank you for the feedback and engagement.
[00:26:58] So 2023, as I look back, still feels good to me despite the challenges. And on a personal level, one of the other things I did in 2023, I was able to stay true to my commitment to myself, and that is to spend a month in my homeland and support Welsh businesses when I was there, and I did that. And I'm going to do that again in 2024. In fact, the trip is already booked. So, let's talk about 2024. I am bursting at the seams to tell you about the book. I've teased the book a couple of times during the year and it did take a bit of a backseat, but it's almost ready to go. It's going to be published February 2024. Right now, the working level title is Roadmap to rEVolution, leading the charge for change in the automotive industry. I'm sure we'll change it before we publish it. We've made a million changes already. But we know that there is a true revolution happening in our industry. You can debate all day long about when EVs are coming, whether it's 2030 or 2035, and what percentage. And I know we're all having those discussions right now, but it's happening. It's just a matter of when and those companies that understand that they need to lead the charge, both in terms of the culture and their people and their processes, as well as the technology. Those are the people who will succeed.
[00:28:31] Those who do not will get left behind. As John McElroy said in our 100th episode, he said, and I quote, "You have to go back to around 1905 to find a similar situation in the auto industry that we face right now. Tremendous change is going on. Back then, it was technological; today, it's technological. Back then, it was cultural; today, it's cultural." End quote. He's right. The purpose of the book is to provide a more focused view on cultural transformation. And I do that by sharing the stories and insights of some of the prominent leaders that we've interviewed on the podcast. We added, at the end of each chapter, some thought-provoking questions that you can talk about with your team. So, I want to open up the dialogue. So, I'm excited about the book. I've never authored a book before. And as those words come rolling out of my mouth, I have to be completely honest with you and tell you this: I used a ghostwriter. I didn't know what a ghostwriter was until I got into this process. Now, leadership is all about understanding your strengths and making sure that you have people in and on your team that bring the skillset that you don't have. You've got to have a nice fully rounded team of all the skill sets that you need for the job. I am not a writer. I'm just not. And so, I hired the right skill set for the job. More about the ghostwriter in the future, but she is awesome. She knows how to take my voice and put it into words beautifully. And so, I'm excited about the book and I hope you are too.
[00:30:22] For me, 2024 is the year of swift execution at the risk of sounding like corporate speak. You remember how we used to say, "Oh, it's all about flawless execution." And I used to be so proud of myself when I would say that, but you know what? I don't like that anymore. Because there's no such thing as flawless execution. Is there really? Be honest. And then if we set up this idea that, "Oh, it's got to be perfect, it's got to be flawless." Then what we're doing is we're making people feel ashamed if there's a failure. We're going to drive fear of failure, and that's not how we're going to learn and how we're going to innovate, and how we're going to drive the industry forward. So, I'm going to use the word execution because for me, it is all about making sure that the clients that I have right now, that I am really executing to the best of my ability for them. So that's why my word for 2024 is two words. It's going to be swift execution, and swift is not— it's not about speed. There is an element of speed to it, but when I say swift, it's an element of speed and ease. I don't want to race through the execution phase. I know I'm going to make some mistakes, but I want to focus on quality. I want to focus on ease. I want to focus on execution. So that's me. That's what I'm all about for 2024.
[00:32:05] And I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your loyal support for 2023. If you have found the Automotive Leaders Podcast to be helpful to you, please share it with colleagues and friends. We are building a movement here. We are building a movement of transformation for this industry, of cultural transformation, and I want you to be a part of it. I wish you, your business, and your team, and your family a happy and prosperous 2024. Let's get clear on what we want, who we are, and how we lead in both our personal and professional lives. Be your 100 percent beautiful, authentic self and lead with Gravitas, the hallmark of authentic leadership.
[00:33:03] Thank you for listening to the Automotive Leaders Podcast. Click the listen link in the show notes to subscribe for free on your platform of choice, and don't forget to download the 21 Traits of Authentic Leadership PDF by clicking on the link below. And remember, stay true to yourself, be you, and lead with Gravitas, the hallmark of authentic leadership.