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Understanding the Challenges of Working in the Modern World With Ann Betz

The self-serving nature of corporations is part of what makes people feel disconnected from meaning and purpose in their work in the modern world. Margaret Graziano welcomes Ann Betz, an expert in the neuroscience of human consciousness and coaching. Ann talks about how people work harder when they can be a whole person and have a life. Working In The Modern World is a critical topic in transforming culture from the inside out. Join in the conversation and discover how consciousness and fulfillment increase human effectiveness in the workplace. You deserve to have meaningful work in your life. Tune in!

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Understanding the Challenges of Working in the Modern World With Ann Betz

Welcome, Ann Betz, to the show. Thank you for being our guest. This show is about reinventing work in the modern world. The whole premise is liberation. My company and personal vision are to forever liberate the human spirit at work, whether it means in your own business, working for someone else or doing whatever it is that you do. Tell us a little bit about you.

I love the whole concept of the show. I'm thrilled to be here, and thanks for having me. I am the co-founder of a company called BEabove Leadership. We focus on the intersection of neuroscience, consciousness, and human effectiveness at the individual, interpersonal, and group levels. We also do a lot of training for advanced coaches and people in the coaching field who want to learn about how to bring neuroscience to their programs. That is my passion. It has been my business for several years. The other thing we do in my business, as well as part of my site expertise in addition to neuroscience, is work on toxic personalities, both interpersonally and in the workplace.

Toxicity is the talk of the time. The advertisers will have you think the Great Resignation is happening because people want to make more money or they have a bad manager. It's a lot more than that. We will talk about that too. You and I know each other because I was one of those coaches who wanted to bring neuroscience and expertise to myself and KeenAlignment. Tell us a little bit about how you decided or when you decided that you wanted to go from teaching coaches to having expertise in neuroscience. Why was that important to you?

That links to this whole resonant work conversation that you are having on this show. One of the things that I have started telling people when they want to know, “Where should I go. What direction should I go in? How should I differentiate myself?” is, “Listen to the question that won't leave you alone.”

The question that wouldn't leave me alone several years ago was this whole idea of human effectiveness. We were working with a model. It is called The 7 Levels of Effectiveness. At the time, my joke about it was we had this great model but we couldn't get arrested. Nobody was listening to it. Maybe we weren't that good at marketing but part of it was that it wasn't grounded in anything other than research on consciousness. It wasn't grounded in more mainstream research.

I started seeing mainstream research come through my feed along with stuff about neuroscience and thought, “This relates to what we are talking about,” but I didn't understand it. I kept getting poked by this thought, “You should go study neuroscience.” I then would be like, “Shut up. I'm not smart enough. I can't do that.” Until I finally said, “I surrender.”

It was a big question and I had to go see if I could do it. That is what sent me there. The later part of the story was that I didn't go there thinking we were going to train coaches in neuroscience. I went there trying to figure out how humans are more or less effective in life and whether or not their brain patterning correlated with that.

When I got into the couple of different programs that I took, I started seeing all this validation for coaching that nobody knew about like, “This technique that is super common in coaching, like reflecting on your values, is scientifically proven in a clinical way to reduce the biochemical markers of stress.” I'm like, “How come no one in the coaching world knows this?” That’s what drew me over there.

At KeenAlignment, everything we do weaves in the seven levels of individual group and organizational effectiveness because we focus on culture. What I find interesting is that all the companies that focus on culture are like, “We are going to have values, and you are going to follow these values. We are going to focus on behavior, and this is our vision.” They don't understand how to tap into the hearts, heads, and brains of the people working there to make sure that people can take in whatever those missions, visions, and values are and operate congruently with them.

Effectiveness means less effort and more long-lasting results.

What they are not looking at is all the markers of stress that are already in people's way, the younger staff, the overwork, the lack of acknowledgment, and the lack of understanding of what people want to do. What I love about your work and Ursula's work is that if you are going to do it, and if you are going to get certified, you can’t coach people, and you can't get people where they want to go without being responsible for how their chemistry is changing when they are doing the work.

I love that KeenAlignment has found this resonance. That was part of our hope in being able to marry this model of consciousness to neuroscience, coaching, and organizational work. I love hearing your stories because you are out there doing it in the world in places that I'm not. There is a number of things that are cool in what you are saying.

One is that companies that come to me like, “Here are our values,” do not have bad values, and often, actually have good ones. But when they try to lay them on people, one of the things that happens is they don't take into account, as you well said, the context that their employees are operating in and whether their brains even have a moment to go, “Good values.”

The other thing about it, and this one is important, is that it is part of why coaching works. There is a difference between telling someone what to do and giving advice, versus activating within them a process where they reflect on who they are, what they want, and therefore, how to move forward. Even if you end up at the same place, and even if you, as the coach, are sitting there and going, “There is a part of me that knows what this person should do," you know you have to tell that part of yourself to shut up.

First of all, they may have a different idea that is valid, but also they need the process. Without the process, the brain is not engaged in a way that carries through and stays motivated. You need to activate it. It is called the ventral medial prefrontal cortex. It is what gets activated when people personally reflect, and it is what keeps them going. It has them take a company's values as their own. You can't order values because you haven't engaged the right parts of the brain.

First of all, we are talking about consciousness in the same sentence that we are talking about work liberated. I have a two-part question. What does consciousness have to do with being liberated at work or having work be liberated? We will start there, and then I will ask the other one.

What does consciousness have to do with being liberated at work? It is the big question. We talk about consciousness. A number of years ago, people in the field of philosophy, I can't remember who it was but it was a famous paper where this guy said, “We are all talking about consciousness but nobody has said what it is.” This is why we often refer to consciousness as effectiveness. If I were to do a simple definition of greater degrees of effectiveness, what I would say is, “Less effort, more results, and longer-lasting results.”

Through screaming, shouting, threatening, and all sorts of reinforcement, you can get your four-year-old to do anything eventually. But, first of all, you kill their spirit, and secondly, they might not do it when you are not there. It is much better to go the slightly slower route to work with your four-year-old to teach them to talk about their emotions, say how they are feeling, and learn how to calm themselves down rather than throwing a tantrum.

Less effort, more results, and longer-lasting results might seem like slightly more effort at the time but what is going to happen is you are going to have a young adult who is a wonderful kid and volunteering and things like that. It is the same in being liberated in the workplace. I can make that connection. If I do the work on myself to be more aware of my reactive tendencies, be patient, identify how I'm feeling, have a difficult conversation, and maybe come to you if you are my boss and say, “Maybe I'm not used to this because my parents didn't train me that it was okay to say how I feel. When you ask me to do this, I notice that I don't respond in a positive way. Can you help me with that?”

WOLI 1 Ann | Modern World Work
Modern World Work: Listen to the question that won't leave you alone.

If I can do that, we are going to have ultimately a much more liberated relationship. It may seem harder and more painful in the moment, but in the long term, it is more effective for everybody involved, including me. If I can learn that when I talk to you I don't have to react and fly off the handle, but that I can have a conscious, collaborative conversation with you, then the next time I have to do it, I'm not gripped by fear. It is the F word that is a huge part of work liberation.

When I think of consciousness, I think of being aware and awake. Not to what we think is, not to what our past tells us, but to what really is going on in the moment. I'm writing a book. I don't know if you knew this. It is called Ignite Culture. It is about neuroscience. The whole beginning is that culture begins with the chief executive officer doing his or her work internally. It is about cultural transformation from the inside out, and the work we do that takes longer. You've got to slow down to get there faster, and our clients experience massive results, 30% better results, than they do when they are using some app that helps them with culture.

When you do the work to connect the brain synapsis, and when you slow down your response time, you can be mindful and aware of how you react. In the research for the book, we talk about consciousness, being awake, and being responsible for our impact. Guess what percentage in our research we found out of the world's population that is considered to be conscious or awake and aware of their responses, their behavior, and impact on others. Out of 0% to 100%, guess what percentage of people are considered to be conscious.

I love that somebody did this research because it is a good question. I would say it probably varies greatly geographically but it is not a lot. What is the actual number?

Fifteen percent of the world’s population.

Given what I see in organizations, in the world, in the way people respond, and in day-to-day life and even driving on the highway, it does not surprise me. Haranguing people, “Get on the team, get on the bus,” and stuff like that, you got to help them become more awake and aware. I love your definition of consciousness because that is what makes somebody more effective. You are awake and aware of your impact.

If you are not aware of it, you cannot, in the words of one of my teachers, “Modify and moderate it,” because if you go along and something happens, and you don't get what you want, and if you are not aware of your own impact in your own role in that, you blame the organization and the other person rather than saying, “Maybe I was a little abrupt.”

I have a story because this is a lifelong process. I noticed that I was getting irritated with my partner because he has this way of getting a plan in mind. He was 3 miles down the road before I had even gone, “Do I even want to do that?” It could be little stuff like having a party. We were out to dinner. He was talking about this party and this and that. I noticed I'm disconnected because, back to what we were talking about earlier, I never had it. I didn't process it in my own brain.

He has great ideas. He is a good cook but I'm noticing that my response is, “I don't care.” I'm thinking about this, and I'm sitting with it because I don't want to yell at him. That wouldn't be awake and aware but I'm noticing like, “Why am I pissed when he is talking about tacos? Why am I so annoyed?” Here is the realization. I went, “It is because I wasn't involved. I needed to get my head into it to get excited about it and commit to it.” The next realization was, “Shit, I do this to my business partner.”

Consciousness makes you more effective because you’re aware of your impact.

I called her and said, “I think I do this thing. Do I do this thing?” I get an idea in my head. I'm off down the road, and I have written up the proposal. I got it all written before she had a chance to play. She said, “Thank you so much for mentioning it. Yes, you do that to me.” I said, “What is the impact?” She said, “I disengage. I think, ‘Why do you even need me?’” I thought, “Wow.”

That brings up this whole liberating structure. We use seven levels. We also use this methodology called Liberating Structures in all of our retreats and in the work we do in creating mission and vision values by taking them to the streets. Every level of the employee can digest these values. We do it through liberating structures, which is getting engagement and involvement from each person in the system.

When you have got these personalities like you, and many other business leaders and I have, we see the end, and like your significant other, “We are having a party. We are having tacos. We are going.” But we all have to stop and say, “Does everybody even know what we are doing? Is everybody onboard with what we are doing?” If they are not, they become sand in the gears. Well-meaning people who might take longer to get things done will bypass those in a rush and take away their power, or the people will let their power get taken away. They don't feel liberated. They feel disconnected.

I think this might be a curse of a visionary leader who has that particular skill. I'm not a visionary. I have no idea what is going to happen in several years but I have the skill of being able to have an idea and see the steps. When you have that skill, it is easy. My life partner, as well as my business partner, have that skill and do not realize it. When I talked to him about it, he said, “I thought I was doing you a favor.” I had the same thought with my business partner. It was like, “No big deal. I will figure all this out.”

In some of the research on dopamine, which is a big part of the reward circuit, you will find that dopamine hits the spike, if you are measuring it, before the activity has happened. The joke is that most people have more fun planning a vacation than they do on vacation. That is where you are getting the dopamine.

It is in the planning of whatever it is, the taco party or the leadership retreat, that we are doing business or pleasure. It is in the planning that the brain makes new connections. It is thinking about things and possibilities. That is the more rewarding part. Visionary leaders like that think, “I'm going to create this for everybody.” Not realizing that they are ripping them off from the fun part.

I want to talk about the Great Resignation. You work with thousands of coaches. You coach coaches to use this methodology when they are coaching. I know you are abreast of what is happening with the Great Resignation. What do you have to say about it?

You are probably way more up on that than I am. There must be many factors ranging from the way Millennials and Gen Z see the workplace to what happened during COVID. People had this time that they maybe didn't have before where their brains were able to do some reflection on, “What do I want? What do I value? What is important to me?” That is part of it.

I hope that it is a calibration toward people saying, “I deserve to have meaningful work in my life.” One of the trends that I know a little more about is of something that has been happening in the last several years. It is not the same as the MeToo Movement but it is somewhat similar to that.

WOLI 1 Ann | Modern World Work
Modern World Work: It's in the planning that the brain makes new connections.

We can look at all of the toxic workplaces, cults, and things in the whole bloom of people understanding narcissistic abuse and coercive control and that have taken off in the last several years. There may be something in the Great Resignation where people are starting to realize, “I don't want to be treated like this. I won't be treated like this. Life is too short to work for someone who's insulting me or harassing me. Off I go.” That is the part that I know a little more about than some of the other factors.

When I look at meaningful work, there is the toxic which we will get into, and there is the meaningful work. I don't want to push the paper. I hear a lot about, “I don't want to do mindless work that could be offshored. I want something where I'm using my whole brain, heart, gut, and soul. I want self-actualization now.” Tell me about the part of the brain in the seven levels or what level that would be, where I get to be self-actualized at work and why that is important to people.

It may be that some of what we are looking at is Maslow's Hierarchy, which he never meant apparently, as a total hierarchy. We look at it as, “This chunk has to be in place. You have to have safety, security, and shelter, and you can have this.” He never meant it quite that linear way but to a certain degree, the truth is that when there are certain basic needs in place, the mind naturally goes to this question of, “What is my life for?” You and I have come out of the self-help movement deeply for most of our lives. Since I was eighteen years old, I have been involved with various methods of looking at what is a meaningful life. This is much of our time.

Looking from the late ‘70s and early ‘80 to now, the last several years, what we have seen is a mushrooming of self-help programs, books, and Human Potential Movements. It has become more mainstream. There is also a lot of nonsense in it. There is also a fair amount of abuse in it. That goes back to the toxic thing. On the plus side, there has been a more public conversation that has said, “Life should have meaning,” which is different than my grandmother's life. It is a sign of the times.

The only problem is that human beings have evolved and say, “I want purpose and meaning or self-actualization.” The employers are like, “You should be lucky to have a job. I'm paying you benefits. I gave you a cost of living increase.” I almost think if they put the decision-making in the hands of the people who wanted self-actualization, most of the business problems would be solved in a short time. The executive team has to be in charge of all these decisions when they don't even know what is happening, and that commanding control squashes people.

You are shaking as you make those decisions because that is appropriate. It is fueled by a fundamental fear, quarterly earnings reports and all of that. I always tell this story that years ago, I worked in a corporation. At the time, we had a little department that was a corporate social responsibility, and this would have been in the early ‘90s. All they did is look at how their corporations should be responsible.

At some point, about 1993 to 1994, in that department the marketing went, “We should be using that.” Before that, they were separate. The ethics behind corporate social responsibility originally was: use the resources of our community, give back to the community. There was something clean about it. Marketing took over, and I saw in this organization the lens was not, what does the community need? The lens was, “Where do we get our name out? What is good for us, not what is good for the community."

The self-serving nature of corporations is part of what makes people feel disconnected from meaning and purpose as well. Interestingly, I go back to the past to say that there was a time that may have been regional. I was in Minneapolis at the time, and we had some strong corporate leaders. The head of the Dayton Hudson Corporation, which later became Target, was a staunch supporter of this. It might have been regional that that is how they saw it. This feeling that at some point, the organization I'm working for is only in it for itself. It kills something in people in what they want as human beings.

That brings up this whole B corp and conscious capitalism. Are you familiar with either?

You deserve to have meaningful work in your life.

A little bit, not deep into it by any means.

The theory behind B corp is similar to conscious capitalism. The reason we are in business is to serve. We’ve got to make money because if we don't make money, we can't pay people. It is how are we impacting our stakeholders, not shareholders but stakeholders. It means our employees, our community, and the families of our employees. Are we being responsible with the environment? How we are spending money, and who we are serving? It is this greater awareness, and I'm surprised that conscious capitalism has not taken on more.

There is a belief that loops back to this little golden era in Minneapolis. It was one of the Dayton’s who was like, “You should be giving away 1% of your income every year.” People were signing up for it because his leadership was cool. It goes back to those ethics. I believe I'm preaching the choir telling you this but there is a false belief, and it is a fear-based false belief, that if we somehow let go of this control focus thing, it is all going to go to hell in a handbasket, and no one will do any work. It will be a free for all.

What is interesting is one of the things that we saw during COVID was when you give people freedom, they work hard. You gave them the freedom to be home, and they worked hard. I remember our local gas company during COVID had a little recording when I had to call to switch over my gas. They were like, “Our employers are working from home. If you hear a baby crying or a dog barking, please have patience with it.”

I'm like, “I love to hear a baby crying and a dog barking.” It is human. There is this false belief that you have to be like, “No babies crying, no dogs barking. None of that because you won't get your work done,” but the truth is, people work harder when they can be a whole person and have a baby, a dog, and life.

I want to ask you because we have talked about it, and this is a show. There are people who would never have heard me or you that are going to reading this. Briefly, can you give us an overview of the seven levels of individual group and organizational effectiveness and why they are important for people to be aware of?

It is on our website, If you go to the seven levels, you can get the full description. Maybe the best way to talk about it is a brief history, not long but originally, this had to do with a lot of things. I was reading at the time, and this is several years ago. I remember a friend of mine calling me, and he was angry at something that was happening politically. I lived in St. Paul. Something was happening in education politically. He couldn't understand why people were acting in what he felt was a destructive way.

It was one of those times where everything that I had been reading came in, and I got. I had been reading a lot of Neale Donald Walsch at the time, who wrote the conversations with God. He talked a lot about love and fear, as do many other people. It is not the originator. Who the heck knows? The Buddha, maybe. Anybody takes credit for that. They are probably wrong. It is not Marianne Williamson.

I went, “I get it. They are making these decisions. They are passing these laws. They are asking for these education tactics because they are afraid.” It is love or fear. I get why people do what they do. I get it. They are operating out of love or out of fear. I called Ursula, who has been my business partner for several years, my best friend in the world, and my co-creator and said, “I had this hit.” She loved it. She said, “Let's make this into something organizationally.” She said this great thing, it is a little awkward in the way she phrased it but I still love it.

WOLI 1 Ann | Modern World Work
Modern World Work: The self-serving nature of corporations is part of what makes people feel disconnected from meaning and purpose.

She said, “Who you are being are the results of you are getting.” You have come from love. You get love. Sometimes it is more long-term. We started doing some work in organizations, and we did this fun thing where we had this organization that we knew allow us to come in and do a brown bag. This is the first organizational development thing we did. We said, “Think of a project that you had that went well. Tell us, what was your attitude, what were your beliefs and how did you operate with each other?” We grabbed a bunch of words, and they were 90% in the field of love, possibility, openness, and 10% that weren't as great because humans are humans.

We flipped it and we said, “Think of a project that you had that tanked. Who were you being? How are you approaching it? How are you coming at it? What were you thinking? How are you interacting with each other?” I swear to you, the percentages were flipped. Ninety percent in the field of fear, 10% in everything else. In our words, we call it below the line and above the line. Where the seven levels came in is we were like, “We are onto something that seems like it could be helpful in organizations but it is not subtle enough.”

Everything that we might put in the general bucket of fear is not the same. Anger is different than sadness. They might all be maybe less effective but what is this? The same is true above the line. We did some further research and looked into some other things. We looked into people like David Hawkins, Ken Wilber, and Margaret Wheatley. They have been some of our big influences.

We worked by saying, “Let's look at these in terms of what are seven different expanding and inclusive levels.” Three of which would be below the line. That is hopelessness, fear, and frustration, where if you are coming from there, you are going to be more likely to get those results you don't want. You might get short-term results. You are not going to get long-term results.

It is contagious. Those emotions and ways of being and thinking are contagious. Like cancer, they metastasize.

You have these contagious below-the-line ineffective fields, and you have courage, engagement, innovation, and synchronicity increasingly which are way more effective. As I said, in the beginning, about several years ago, I was the researcher in the family. I started asking, "Are there neural brain-body correlates as we look at these seven levels?" We have found research that would correlate with the idea of why one way is more effective or less effective. The thing that we say is, "We honor all levels." It is not, “Don't be in fear, and only stupid people are in fear.” I’m in fear multiple times during the day.

When I got rescued, I thought I had been in fear. I should have been in engagement.

Fear is a normal human experience. We don't denigrate it and make it bad. It is more of a question of how you work with it, are you living there, are you operating from it, can you honor and include it, and can you learn what its lesson is?

Let me ask you a question. In the world of work liberated, tell us briefly what happens even though we want to accept ourselves no matter what level we are in. Here is what I know from my work, wherever you stay long enough or too long, it becomes habituated. It becomes who you become. If you are a scaredy-cat all the time, soon you live in fear. Now you've got this personality of fear. I would like to have our readers understand the impacts and what happens to the chemicals when we are below the line for too long.

People work harder when they can be a whole person and have a life.

There is a biochemical state that is designed to keep us alive. It is not bad. I always give the example of if your kid runs out in front of a car, you want to be in a state of what we know as fight or flight. You don't want to be in freeze. You want to be what we would think of as reactive. You want to move. Everything is designed to help you shut down critical thinking and things like that because you don't want to go, “I wonder how fast the car is going. I got to go now.”

Fear, anger, and even sadness all have a role. We don't have resilience and the ability to look at what is possible in a grounded way, I'm not talking about a stupid way. I'm not talking about you taking one coaching class, and now you are going to quit your job. No, please don't. There is a difference between irrational optimism and being able to go to a coaching class and think, “I want to do this. This has meaning. This has a purpose. I might be good at it. Let me take some more classes. I will see if I can go to a four-day week and work on the other day. I will work on my coaching business. At some point, I will go part-time. Maybe I will find a platform that can bring me some clients.”

At some point, I say to myself, “I have never worked for myself before. I'm a little afraid but I have six clients. I'm working for this coaching platform. Somebody else is wanting to bring me in regularly. I have got my bills covered. I'm going to do it.” That is where you have to step into fear but it is calibrated.

Your prefrontal cortex has to be on to think that way. What are the chemicals in our body that hijack us in frustration, fear, and hopelessness?

It is slightly different depending on where you are. We tend to think of it as an executive function, where you are able to think more abstractly and things like that. It gets flooded with adrenaline and norepinephrine. It can get flooded with dopamine. You can have an imbalance of serotonin and things like that. You are not able to think as clearly.

This is why I say to people, “Don't take one coaching class and quit your job.” You might be high off of the possibility but you are going to get out there, and the bills are going to come in. Do it if you want to. If you are independently wealthy, have fun. If you are not, and you don't have a way to pay your bills, there is the benefit of a little bit of pressure, but too much can take you to a place where you can't even think clearly.

When you are above the line, and when you have taken those six clients, and you see a space and can have more, and you are ready to take the risk, you are in courage, engagement, innovation, or synchronicity. What is going on in the brain when we are there?

There is a number of different things. One of the things would be that in order to go to the more above-the-line levels that we have been talking about, we have to be below the line, and then cross over into courage. To go to a more effective place does require that one thing.

WOLI 1 Ann | Modern World Work
Modern World Work: Listen and pay attention to your body because that will be a huge aspect of your intuition.

There are a number of others because nothing is simple in the brain, it isn’t one thing. One thing that does seem to be critical is that this part of our brain needs to be stimulated but not stressed. We need to be engaged back to what we have been talking about before. We need things to have meaning to us personally and be stimulated by that and maybe a tiny bit scared. That brings in some chemicals. If there are too many and you are looking at, “I have one client and a $3,000 mortgage payment coming up,” that may have taken you way over until you can't see anything possible. That is one aspect that's needed.

The other factors that seem to be critical for being in a higher state of effectiveness are things like, are you able to hear messages from your body and not be overwhelmed by them, but listen to and pay attention to them because that is going to be a huge aspect of your intuition. It is going to guide you. It is going to tell you when you have had too much, and when you need to back off a little bit.

What is happening in certain other areas that are probably way too long to go into? Are you able to balance the big picture view of your right hemisphere with the more detailed view of your left hemisphere? What I see with people who are not able to bring themselves above the line consistently is there will be something off in one of these areas that we call areas of integration. If I'm working in an organization with an individual, what I'm going to be working with them on is helping them use all of their being, including their body.

I did a great program called The Hoffman Process. I don't know if you have ever heard it.

My ex-husband did it. If he had kept going with it, we would probably still be married because it was transformational.

What I love about it is they take the intellect, the emotions, the spiritual self, and the body and have you self-regulate throughout the entire week. It’s very powerful. I know we wanted to talk about the opposite of liberation or what happens when you are in an organization or working with toxic personalities, whether they are the boss or coworkers. Let's talk about this. What seems to be rampant among toxic personalities, running theories, and working for companies that don't know they are toxic. What is going on?

Unfortunately, the research shows there are more sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists in the C-Suite. They cluster there.

How did they get there?

Part of it is they want it badly, and they are often good at managing up. Managing up is a better way of saying kissing ass because kissing ass is a better way of saying it. Also, being strategic because what they are wanting is to move up in the hierarchy. Often, empathetic people and people with high scores on things like conscientiousness, responsibility, empathy, or who are integrated, don't necessarily want to be in charge of everything.

They don't want to rule the world. They want to have influence in a certain place, have a work-life balance, and work with a team in a good way. They don't want to run the whole company. It seems like a pain in the ass thing. There is something about that, and I also think that there is a misperception in certain companies. That is effectiveness.

Fear is a normal human experience, and we shouldn’t make it bad. It’s more of a question of how we work with it.

Some of what I would know as narcissistic qualities read as confidence. Often, people who are narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths are charming. Sometimes you also find that people in these roles can be good rainmakers because they can turn on the charm, even though working for them is hell. There is a good book. It is one of my books of the year, a couple of years ago. It is by a Stanford Business Professor named Jeffrey Pfeffer. You probably have come across it. It is called Dying for a Paycheck.

We have talked about it before.

What he looks at is the real cost of toxic workplaces. They get there because there’s a missed, “Look at all the business he is bringing in or she is bringing in.” Without saying, “Look at all the people who are quitting. Look at our higher healthcare costs. Look at how we can't seem to get anything done.”

I had a customer that we worked with, and we didn't get to do culture work with them. It is good because they are toxic but have an exorbitant mountain of people getting diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. They are busy but people can't seem to get things done. It is obvious to the outside eye looking in but not obvious to the inside people.

One of the people that I follow is a guy who looks at mind, body, spirit, connection, and health. It is a guy named Mario Martinez. You are familiar with him. He did some work around diabetes. He found a connection with diabetes, specifically to suppressed anger. That would be the first. Hypertension and heart things also tend to be related to anger.

This isn't woo-woo or mystical. This is what you can plot out. I can't do it because I'm not a psychoneuroimmunologist but I have heard him do it. If you plot it all out, you can see why suppressing anger has this effect on the system that regulates insulin. Therefore, for certain people probably who have other factors, you get diabetes. I do not mean to say everybody who has diabetes has an anger problem, but he found some correlation there. When you are looking at it as being rampant in an organization, that would be my suspicion.

What it seems like is that when you go back to the C-Suite, there are rewards from the board for bringing in all this business and projects, yet when it comes to people, people only have so much capacity, and not everybody wants to die for a paycheck. One of the things that KeenAlignment and I believe in is everybody should be paid full-time and work part-time. If we got the money, people should be working 32 hours a week and loving their life because they will bring way more to the table when they are happy and fulfilled.

I have never calculated how many hours a week I work but I don't think I work a 40-hour week and co-run a $500,000 company. It is nothing going on here but I probably work about 32 hours a week. It is spread out, and I am incredibly productive. It is probably spread out over the course of the year. There might be weeks I work 60 but I don't think 40 is necessary because my brain is usually fresh.

The last thing I want to say is I followed Joe Dispenza, and I know he was becoming popular but he is also connecting the brain and brain coherence from heart math, and heart coherence, and alignment. There is so much data now about this ease and disease. In hindsight, what advice would you give to people who want to experience liberation at work, beyond the goal, quit your job, and be a self-employed coach?

We can all do that, although there is certainly a need. Be an advocate in your organization for real effectiveness and look at the research on stress. There is a point at which the diminishing return is probably around 32 to 38 hours a week, where what is happening is you are not getting any better work out of people.

There are some exceptions to that but you want to look at, “How do you have a workplace where people are stimulated, rewarded, and challenged but not overstressed?” What you are going to get is the best capacity of their brain, and be an advocate for that in your organization. If you cannot find that in your organization, go find an organization that understands that.

There are many female-run organizations that are taking a stand for mental health, emotional health, physical health, and more effectiveness. There are some male organizations too but the women are taking the lead on this. Thank you, Ann Betz, of BEabove Leadership. We will have her logo and everywhere that you can find her. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much. It is always a pleasure.

Important Links

About Ann Betz

Ann Betz, CPCC, PCC

Co-Founder BEabove, Director of Research, Senior Trainer

Ann Betz, CPCC, PCC, MNTC, is the co-founder of BEabove Leadership and an international speaker and trainer on the intersection of neuroscience, coaching and human transformation.

In 2011, Ann studied neuroscience at the graduate level, and using this fascinating research, in 2012 co-developed (and is senior leader for) BEabove Leadership’s popular training program for advanced coaches: Neuroscience, Consciousness and Transformational Coaching. This program has been offered in-person worldwide and is now available in an in-depth virtual format.

Ann was a faculty member and served as the neuroscience consultant to The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) for many years. She provides neuroscience, leadership and coaching consulting to many other corporations and non-profits, including the International Coach Federation.

A certified professional coach for 20 years, Ann is the author of a groundbreaking white paper on brain research and coaching. She contributes to Choice Magazine, Coaching at Work, Coaching World, the ICF and CTI’s blogs, and other coaching and HR publications.

Ann is the lead author of Integration, the power of being Co-Active in work and life, an exploration of consciousness and the future (John Hunt Publishing, 2015), as well as a ground-breaking white paper on the neuroscience of the International Coach Federation coaching competencies. She is also a published poet, using her understanding of the brain and consciousness to bring to life the wonders of the human soul. Ann speaks internationally on neuroscience, leadership and coaching (and occasionally poetry as well), and she excels at making the complexities of the brain come to life with depth, humor and simplicity.

Ann lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her four (yes four!) highly entertaining cats.

Read Ann’s blog on the brain at and on poetry at


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