Brian Tolle – Partner of The Re-Wired Group

[quote style=”boxed”]You influence others by speaking their language, not through some magical gift of persuasion.[/quote]

Brian Tolle is a partner at The Re-Wired Group, a business development consultancy that uses Demand-Side Innovation to drive the creation and commercialization of new products, services, brands and businesses. His work focuses on designing strategies to secure employee buy-in to organizational change as well as influencing consumer behavior through Re-Wired’s Jobs-To-Be- Done framework.

Brian also works with senior leaders of organizations as a leadership coach, helping them to apply techniques or approaches to take their ability to get things done through others to the next level. It all comes down to “do you understand the impact your behavior has on others?”

Before starting his consulting practice, Brian worked for two hospitals in the Chicago area as an internal management consultant. He will tell you the best training he ever received was the hard work it took to earn the trust of the critical care nurses.

On a personal level, Brian enjoys finding the next best physical challenge for himself (less extreme and more “holy ____!). Last year it was hiking the Grand Canyon, rim to rim. This year, boxing lessons?

What are you working on right now?

Working with the head of Global Quality for a Fortune 300 company to transform the function to be a driver of the business, not just the inspector.

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day is on-site with the client, embedded in project teams, doing what I love to do (just-in-time leadership coaching and helping teams communicate and connect the dots). An atypical day is me in my office, plowing through emails and writing.

What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I was hired as a “quality improvement specialist” for a small community hospital in Chicago. The hospital was always in financial trouble so the task of teaching staff new ways of working was quite challenging. On top of it, after 9 months my position was eliminated. Lesson learned?
Never let someone else be in the driver’s seat of your career, always be prepared for the tap on the shoulder.

3 trends that excite you?

  1. Smartphones re-defining accessibility, simplicity and value. Example: Postagram
  2. Technology re-defining what’s possible in learning and education combined with the economic recession hastening the collapse of the antiquated public education structure.Big changes are coming.
  3. Low cost entrepreneurship – start a business with less than $50. Amazing.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Given my introverted intuition, I need to spend a lot of time reading and reflecting to start seeing new ideas and connections. Then I go to my partners, Bob Moesta and Chris Spiek to get their input. They always have a completely different angle on the idea that just explodes my original idea (in a good way).

What inspires you?

Individual smarts, creativity, and action. When these are found in one person, those are the people who inspire me.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

I talk about this in my book, Shortcut: Getting Through to People Who Slow You Down. I won’t bore you with the details but it had to do with “get to the point-Brian” working with “let’s avoid conflict-nuns.” Lesson Learned: Think like the person you’re trying to influence.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

You influence others by speaking their language, not through some magical gift of persuasion.

What do you read every day, and why?

HootSuite so I know what’s going on in my little world (and to boost my Klout score) and the New York Times to know what’s going in the bigger world. Which reminds me I need to get Flipboard up to date.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

Finite and Infinite Games; A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James P. Carse. It first came out in 1986 and when I discovered it recently, it completely blew my mind. It’s a perfect example of a self-help book disguised as a philosophy book – descriptive, not prescriptive.

Here’s an example:

Finite speech informs another about the world – for the sake of beingheard. Infinite speech forms a world about the other – for the sake of

OK, maybe not the clearest message but wait until you read the whole thing.

I heard about it from Kevin Kelly in his book What Technology Wants. This is what he says about it.

[quote]This tiny book holds a universe of wisdom. Written by a theologian, you probably need to read only the first and last chapters, but that is enough. It altered my thinking about life, the universe, and everything.[/quote]


What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

I’ve got the whole world at my fingertips with my iPad and Kensington keyboard.

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

  1. No surprise, Seth Godin – I just like the way he thinks.
  2. Disrupting education niche – Michael Horn with Innosight Institute. He’s a colleague of mine and as we say back home in Baasten, “he’s wicked smaht.”
  3. If he were alive today, my grandfather Henry Blaeser, for his intellectual curiosity and preference for knowledge over opinion. Any recommendations for a contemporary Henry Blaeser?

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Freddie Wong of YouTube fame or Nicholas Felton, the data visualization guy. I’m getting tired of thinking “how did they come up with that?”

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.

Two weeks ago when a friend of mine described the jazz tuba recital by a former colleague of ours. Sorry Howard, nothing personal.

What does the jobs-to-be-done approach to innovation have to do with recognizing people’s communication styles?

Both require large amounts of empathy – of putting to the side your personal approach, or values, and diving in to discover how the other person sees things and what they value.

What’s more effective than therapy?

Starting your own business.


Shortcut: Getting Through to People Who Slow You Down
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