Unserious

Leading Creative Work in Challenging Times with Courtney Kaplan

November 02, 2023 J.B. Skelton and Molly McMahon Season 1 Episode 1
Unserious
Leading Creative Work in Challenging Times with Courtney Kaplan
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this first episode of Unserious, J.B. and Molly speak with design leader and coach Courtney Kaplan about practical ways to manage creativity and personal growth during a particularly difficult time in the workplace. She shares advice from founding design operations at Facebook, highlights how leaders can create safe spaces for their teams and manage stress effectively. Finally, Courtney discusses coaching and the benefits it can bring from navigating fast-paced work environments to working toward larger personal transformations.

“The promise of being your best self or transforming that self - people get excited about those promises. But the truth is that true transformation comes from practical ways of being a little bit different over time.” - Courtney Kaplan

00:00 - Intro
03:02 - What’s keeping creative people up at night?
06:30 - Demonstrating value to the business
12:24 - Hire, Fire, Boss!
15:24 - Creativity through structure
25:44 - Navigating stress and finding moments of calm
27:56 - Transformational coaching
35:58 - Wrap-up

Follow Unserious in your podcast app, at unserious.com, and on Instagram and Threads at @unserious.fun.

J.B. Skelton:

It might be the most often repeated observation about modern living, but it's undeniably true. The only constant is change. David Bowie wrote his classic Changes 50 years ago, when people felt like they couldn't keep up with transformation in society, in values, in technology. That was true long before he wrote it and it feels more true now than it possibly could have been. It seems there's nothing more human than the feeling that the roller coaster is just rounding up the top of the climb and about to fall fast. We can't get off the ride, we can't slow it down, whether we like it or not. The only way we can go is forward Change, generative AI, automation, corporate downsizing, industry transformation. So if we can't stop the onslaught of change, how do we manage to work, create and communicate during what feels like a constant barrage of disruption? As creative people, part of the answer is to band together and try to have some goddamn fun with the problem. Laugh, fail, scream a little, because when we can get some distance from the seriousness, we see the problem space in a new light. We see opportunities we might not have otherwise, and lowering the stakes helps us take care of our teams and ourselves. In this first season of our podcast, we're going to explore how we manage and manifest creative impact amid constant change with some extraordinary industry leaders who we know and admire. I'm host JV Skelton.

Molly McMahon:

I'm host Molly McMahon, and our producer is here as well.

J.B. Skelton:

And this is Unserious. There's an old trope that creative people are disorganized or they can be chaotic to work with. But we know that creative inspiration doesn't just come from a bolt of lightning while you're pouring your orange juice, and developing great creative ideas can require big teams from lots of different disciplines. A successful career of creativity requires structure, planning and rigor to consistently solve problems in interesting ways. Nobody knows that better than our guest today, courtney Kaplan. Courtney has a knack for helping designers and creative leaders find their path to greatness. With over 25 years of experience in the design world, she's seen it all, from agency life at Hot Studio to founding design operations at Facebook, to now her transformative coaching business iconic leadership coaching. She's been in the trenches and today she's going to share her insights on how individuals and teams can maximize creativity in these turbulent times. Let's give a warm welcome to the one, the only, the truly incomparable Courtney Kaplan. Courtney, welcome to Unserious.

Courtney Kaplan:

Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be with you all.

J.B. Skelton:

This is a really odd time for a lot of people working in Silicon Valley and in the tech sector more broadly. Resources are constrained, trust is low and people are tired. In your business iconic leadership, coaching and as an industry leader, what are you observing out there? What's keeping professionals in the creative industries up at night these days?

Courtney Kaplan:

Yeah, I mean. I think the truth is it's difficult times. Either you're looking for a role, and that has a lot that comes with a lot, or you're in a role without most of your team. You're either overwhelmed or out looking for work. I think what keeps people up at night is we've heard this happen in other industries. You hear it happen in different industries across time, but it hasn't this is the first time that this digital world is cannibalizing itself of. Let's take these principles of efficiency and doing more with less and apply them to ourselves and get rid of all of this talent. That's really hard to reconcile. As I talk to my clients, they're concerned. The rules of the game are still there. Expectations are high performance, requirements are high, review cycles happen a couple times a year, plus, plus, plus. But they don't have the resources to make these things happen. Their bosses or the people they're reporting to still maintain the high expectations, because they have high expectations of them, plus, plus, plus. There's no adjustment of focusing, condensing, slowing down, pivoting, doing more with less. With it, at some point, you just hit capacity that people just don't have the capacity to do more.

J.B. Skelton:

How should leaders be thinking about getting great creativity in an environment with very resource constrained?

Courtney Kaplan:

I don't think the constraints aren't the problem with creativity. Any kind of great creativity usually has some kind of constraints or parameters that you have to perform with it, unless you're an artist out in the world doing your own thing however you want to do it. Any professional field where you are creative, there's a budget, there's a timeline, there are constraints. I don't know that the constraints are wrong. I think it's the expectations or the ability to really focus of what's absolutely most important, what we're actually trying to do, and included in that mix having some care of those creative folks, because a burned out creative is not going to be very creative. Constraints are fine. Reduced resources that happens. We've all had very creative moments under reduced resources. But if the expectations are still sky high and people are feeling burned out and not cared for, that makes it tough to be very creative. I think that good leaders are going to need to through this whole moment, remember their own humanity, care for their teams, make their teams feel trusted and cared for. It's a difficult time, but we're in it together. We'll get through it. Just make sure that I'm supporting all of you to get through this moment instead of operating from fear and being like hey, the expectations are still the same. Keep cranking it out.

Molly McMahon:

I wanted to talk to you a little bit about design teams. You have been one of the leaders in design operations or design ops, and we're going to talk about this a little bit later. But design ops is basically where organizations operationalize and scale design processes and teams to make design more efficient and effective. But I'm curious to know your thoughts about why so many design teams and designers were cut by tech companies this year, particularly when you think about what designers can do, their ability to do more with less creative problem solvers. It seemed to be a field that really took a lot of heat in the layoffs that have been happening across Silicon Valley.

Courtney Kaplan:

I feel like there's this belief of as long as we have engineers, we can build it and everything else is secondary to that, for better or for worse for the rest of us, for consumers who have to use those outputs or those what is actually shipped. I think that there's that core belief, especially out here, that engineers are the most important and if we can build it, that's the most important thing. Then research, design, content strategy, some of these other roles are really nice to have and can be super useful, but we just don't need as many of those folks. We don't know what they do all day. Then I think that even in sophisticated organizations that can somewhat be the attitude In organizations that aren't as sophisticated certainly they don't value or feel that they can't put resources towards design, user experience, content strategy. Those things are nice to have.

J.B. Skelton:

How do designers demonstrate their understanding of business objectives better?

Courtney Kaplan:

Yeah, it's interesting I've seen it happen really well in many cases across my professional experience where a designer will latch on, usually not to a big, big, big KPI or a really big problem, but something that they can get their arms around. That offers a great case study or a great example of what design can do They've been able to put together. This is what we're trying to achieve and why. Here's how design could help that. Because I've done some research and I've unpacked the problem more deeply than just making the chart go up and to the right, and so I can represent what's actually happening and what the real problem is and how we can change it, and I've even shown a couple of solutions that we could test to see if I'm right. I might be wrong, but we could try it. Then someone's like we could try it. Then, if you try it, then if you're saying, oh wow, this person has, there's some actual relevance here. This makes a lot of sense, then you gain trust and I think that for most designers you're probably not gonna understand the big business capital B, capital, b, big business. But if there's a feature on a product or a specific way that you see huge inefficiencies, jump in, dig in, articulate it and tell the story to everybody you know Don't assume that they see the problem the same way you do and then come up with solutions and explain how you got to the solution. Those kinds of conversations can be really illuminating and great practice for designers.

Molly McMahon:

Yeah, it's interesting because I've been recently doing work consulting for product teams and design teams inside of product teams and one of the biggest challenges that I've been seeing is that the design teams really focus on process or they're like this is my design process and this is how we problem-solving this way, but sometimes that can be really isolating to the product designers or the product managers and the engineering team because they have a different process for problem solving. What advice would you give when you think about designers today and thinking about all these challenges that they're facing, and what advice would you give them for how to work inside of their current organizations?

Courtney Kaplan:

One of the things that I tell people right now is to kind of define what's your commitment, because right now people are burned out, they're resigned, they're resentful, they're angry, right, but they're still pushing themselves to do great work, and so they're still working late but they're bitter about it. Plus, plus, plus. This kind of builds this bitterness snowball, if you will. And so I say look, step back. What are you committed to? Are you committed to getting a promotion? What's that gonna mean? Are you committed to being home with your kid? What does that mean? Where is your commitment? And then be in it with both feet because that divided resentment, but I gotta show up, resignation. Nothing changes around here, but I gotta be here. That's not a creative, generative, exciting position to take. You're just kind of, you know, hamstringing yourself a little bit. You're a little hamstrung to actually take action that's going to get you anything you want. Listen, if you're like look, this is just a terrible time in the industry, I'm just going to put my head down and do my work and do my thing and not expect to promotion or not expect anything specific for the next couple of years, because it's terrible. At least that's where your commitment is and you can sleep well at night knowing that's what you've decided. But there's a lot more. There's a lot more you can open up and decide. What am I committing to right now?

J.B. Skelton:

Let's take a sharp break and when we get back we'll dig deeper on design operations with coach and design leader Courtney Kaplan. So, courtney, we've all played Maryfuck kill before with our friends, but we put a different twist on it here at. On serious, it's a rapid fire game that we call higher fire boss. The rules are the same, except you will have to choose one of the three people on your fictional list to hire, one to fire and one to be your boss.

Courtney Kaplan:

OK.

J.B. Skelton:

You ready.

Courtney Kaplan:

Yes.

J.B. Skelton:

OK, jalo Beyonce or Shakira.

Courtney Kaplan:

Oh gosh, I would say Jalo hire Beyonce boss, shakira fire.

J.B. Skelton:

OK, oh.

Molly McMahon:

That was fighting words. I don't know. I'm a big Shakira fan. I'm like, oh wow, shakira got kicked to the curb. Oh, wow, ok.

J.B. Skelton:

Molly, do you want to give the next three?

Molly McMahon:

Oh sure. Well, Courtney, you have been a coach to some of us here, including myself, and we were thinking about who in the self improvement section of the Kepler's bookstore would you want on your team. So the options are Brene Brown, adam Grant and Dale Carnegie.

Courtney Kaplan:

I think Brene Brown. I'm kind of a Brene fan girl. Adam Grant is great, but Brene so where is she?

J.B. Skelton:

Where is she? Is she your boss? Do you hire her?

Courtney Kaplan:

Oh she's, I hire her.

J.B. Skelton:

Congratulations.

Courtney Kaplan:

And Dale Carnegie fire, because I don't. I think he's kind of done, you know what I mean. And Adam Grant's boss, I think, because he's level headed and very calm and rational. I'm.

Molly McMahon:

Molly, your face still looks like. It's not cool. You're like what? No, no, no, no, I can get behind that. I can get behind that. We were chuckling over Dale Carnegie being tossed in there with those two as well, dale yeah, he's old school.

J.B. Skelton:

We were trying to decide Tony Robbins or Dale Carnegie. Do you want to hear something?

Courtney Kaplan:

so earnest and so sadly earnest. When I was 13 years old I was super, super shy, like really shy, and I could tell I wanted a better social life and I was kind of in like the Bible study girls social group and I read Dale Carnegie's how to make friends and influence people. But because I was 13, I earnestly put each suggestion to work. Wow, and it was really popular in high school. Okay, one of the things that happens is an engineer can build something and it works or it does not work. Right, they kill a bug and they can check a box or not check a box. For a designer, that's just not the case. They generally have to connect across multiple teams, have research, understand what's going on. I have a conversation with engineers. So so much of their job is communication, which is fine, but having design operations have a way. Where does this communication live? How do we structure it in a way that we're having conversations that move us forward, work in the next new person that joins, find these conversations from the past and get up to speed really quickly? All of those kinds of things make it so that the design team can actually be effective. Otherwise they would just be in meetings all day and, by the way, a lot of folks that are amazing, incredibly talented designers might not care for the political hustle of going around setting hey, let's make our comms plan. Hey, let's set up what we're going to do for our all hands. They're not interested in some of the work that goes behind the scenes to do all of these different roles that help them stay robust and healthy.

Molly McMahon:

Yeah, I always think about design operations and or design program management as an opportunity to set structure, and so I'm curious what your thought is around what the importance of that structure is for catalyzing creativity and catalyzing problem solving Right.

Courtney Kaplan:

Right. So for anyone to have kind of their container for creativity, having a rhythm of what your week is going to look like makes it's a big help. Knowing Wednesday is your maker day. You don't have any meetings on Wednesday. Knowing every Monday you'll meet with your full team and have an opportunity to present if you need to. Knowing quarterly there's an all hands and there's an opportunity to finish work and present to the larger group. Knowing what your review cycles are like, or your design reviews or your critiques If you know all those things, you can work and work freely within that structure and container. But if no one's setting that up in a way that's well designed itself, you kind of have a get yanked around like oh my God, critiques today. Oh my God, we've got to present to our leads tomorrow. Wait, we can't present that to our leads, we haven't presented it to our cross functional partners. It can be really messy and really churning. And so, being able to have design program managers set up a logical path or some logical checkpoints or some logical ways that this work can happen, let that part of your brain relax so that you can focus on doing great design work right, because someone else is making sure that there's a check-in and there's next steps available in a predictable place.

Molly McMahon:

Yeah, I often think about that structure creating certainty in an ambiguous process. Yes, I love that. So it's like calms you a little bit. You're like, oh, okay. Well now you have the chance to be expanded. I'm not going to be offensive here, but I can only do it for a certain amount of time and then we're going to have to make a choice at this moment, and I think it's really powerful.

Courtney Kaplan:

That's right, creating those kind of packets of those containers of creative time where you can think how the discussions, have explorations and not just be on a constant hamster wheel of to-dos and meetings. Yeah, yeah, but that's a conscious creation, it doesn't happen naturally. You have to actually make those little, that design, that structure, so that you have that space to be creative and thoughtful and connect and have deeper conversation than otherwise.

Molly McMahon:

Yeah, I agree.

J.B. Skelton:

Now, courtney, I remember this story. It was in the middle of this. I think it was the summer of 2012. And I was working with Kate Aronowitz, who was the head of design at Facebook, on a client presentation to a big European fashion house that she was helping me on, and she was like so I came over to her desk on a Friday afternoon and she was just like we just made the biggest acquisition I just closed, the biggest acquisition that Facebook has ever made, which, of course, was the acquisition of Hot Studio. At the time where you were, and at the time, that was the single largest acquisition that Facebook had made. We went on to spend $23 billion on WhatsApp, but we started with Hot Studio, and that was really the introduction of design operations to Facebook. So what are the lessons that you have for people that are at that starting point? What are the things that you would absolutely say are essential and the things that you would never do again?

Courtney Kaplan:

Yeah, I think that things that are absolutely essential is there are going to be fans that are excited to hear about what design operations can do and the support that's available. Work with those people and there are going to be people who aren't fans. They just don't buy it right. Just stop selling. You don't need to find. Let them run their team the way they want and sooner or later something will happen and they'll be like oh well, that would have been really helpful to have design ops. Then you can be gracious and help. But don't try and sell people who aren't ready or who aren't bought in, because there are plenty of folks that are excited, they're ready, they're eager to learn and understand how to partner, and there's more than enough work among them, and there's more than enough work, so for sure, that's one of the things that I think that's really important. Secondly, I think that a lot of new design ops teams myself included was we were like a small team of generalists at the very beginning and we were willing to do it all right. Anything you need help with, I'm happy to help. That wasn't a great strategy. I think we are still feeling it out to feel where let's do it all and then see what we're actually best at or where we add the most value. But in that doing it that way, I think it's easy to burn people out or make people more confused about what you're doing because it's unclear. So if I had to do that part again, I would at least start with a stake in the ground. So here's what we do. Here's probably what we don't do. That could change, but for now here's what we do. Pick a major, do well in your major, and then you can always expand and kind of have different flavors later.

J.B. Skelton:

I love the way that you put that. How has managing creative operations influenced your own personal growth? How has it changed your perspective on creativity?

Courtney Kaplan:

There's a lot of pressure to do something new and amazing and flawless and seamless and frictionless and all these things. There's a lot of pressure and that these designers can be kind of sensitive souls that need some TLC and some care. As a leader realizing it makes sense to put in some time to connect with people as a person, let them know they're cared for and that they can, you can calm down. Keeping people calm and feeling like it's okay, they're safe and Safety, then you can be creative and generative. But if you're worried constantly that something bad is gonna happen or some something you don't know is you know that you can't expect is gonna happen around the corner that's not a great creative place to be. So if you're a leader and you can kind of like Keep people chill, reassured, to be a transparent communicator yeah, you know, be honest and upfront and be a trustworthy person that helps create kind of the environment that you're gonna want to see creatives working, thrive, stay and grow and Tell their amazing friends to come work for you too.

J.B. Skelton:

So that's something that comes very naturally to you, like you are able to, you are, you were able to and I say this is someone who worked on your team and you, you, you show a lot of care, you, you create safe spaces and you lower the stakes Of projects and not everything feels like this do or die situation. What is your advice to folks who are, who are in new management, who may not come by? That is naturally and as Instinctually as you, you do. What is your advice to them in ways to create that and to create saver spaces for everyone?

Courtney Kaplan:

right. I think for new managers, a lot of times they act out of fear, right. Yeah, they just got a new role, they just got that promotion. They don't want to let anybody down and they're gonna finally be able to show everybody that they've got some control and power. You know, they've got an ounce of power and they're gonna use it. So, I think, to be able to not act out of fear, to be able to trust your team People make mistakes, but you can also work through mistakes. There are performance issues, but you can also work through performance issues, and that's the job. A lot of my clients come to me Talented, amazing people. They've just gotten their newest role and they've hit their edge right. I was pretty confident when I was the manager. I was pretty confident when I was a manager of managers. Nah, I'm a director, I don't know what the heck I'm doing. I'm terrified, yeah. And so when you can admit that to yourself, say I'm terrified, then it's time to kind of say okay, what kind of support do I need? You know, what kind of help do I need? Is it a coach? Is it a mentor? Is it a group of peers I trust? How can I make myself feel more safe, to create a more safe space and operate from a sense of care and dignity, not a reign of terror.

Molly McMahon:

I love that, and I say that because when you do move up into leadership roles, it's isolating and you can really feel like you're shooting from the hip or you're alone in your decisions. Because, and because it's hard to get time with your, with your peers, you're also Earning trust with your peers. The people who can help and support you in that leadership role tend to be even busier. Yeah, absolutely.

Courtney Kaplan:

Absolutely. I couldn't have said it better myself. It's true, when you're a leader, you are alone, you are shooting from the hip, you are navigating really tense situations on uncertain moments, and then you layer that with some of the other things that we're all experiencing on this planet and you know political scenes plus, plus, plus, all these Things that kind of piled on everyone's a little bit. You know fried, yeah, yeah, finding those I call them Stress management strategies, to have a true strategy that you're committed to to reduce your stress. It's not gonna happen, naturally, it's not gonna become easier, it's not gonna happen over the weekend. So, what is your strategy to reduce stress? You shut your phone off at night. Do you Meditate, yoga, run, get a dog, whatever the heck it is, so that you that you know the stress is a part of my life. Yeah, it seems like it's getting more intense. I need to actually actively address this and not hope that it goes away. I used to do a thing at Facebook that I called meeting meditation and all I would do is realize I'm in a meeting room with people. I don't need to clench my jaw, that's not helping. I don't need to hold tension in my shoulders might they aren't doing anything. In this meeting I can actually fully relax my body, still pay attention and participate. Follow my breath, participate, follow my breath, participate, and then your body is.

J.B. Skelton:

Existential life-changing?

Courtney Kaplan:

Yeah, you don't have to have. You don't have to hold a meeting with your face like a scrunched you can. Physically relax, like go sink into those beautiful chairs that they have Focus on your present Zen out a little too much.

J.B. Skelton:

No, she says that with a huge smile on her face.

Molly McMahon:

A little.

J.B. Skelton:

Colgate glint on a teeth. I know I was known as a shitty degree.

Molly McMahon:

When we come back. Transformational coaching with Courtney Kaplan more and serious in just a moment. Courtney, so you and I met because I was seeking a professional coach. I was also curious to learn more about design operations and I was wondering if I should become a coach myself, and I'm actually not alone in that. There is a rise in coaching right now. The number of professional coaches out there has risen 30% in recent years and there's something like 71,000 coaches worldwide. As One of those 71,000 coaches, what's driving this increase in demand for coaching? Is there a paradigm shift that's happening around what it means to lead organizations today? I think things are changing so fast Right now.

Courtney Kaplan:

Things are changing so quickly and you're expected to kind of like be an expert in whatever is happening now, when that's really difficult to do. And someone compared it to professional baseball players practice, and practice and practice all week long. They practice spring training, they practice, and then they do one game a week, right, For a couple hours. You go to work and you're on the spot doing it. There's no practice work, it's all just doing it, expecting to hit home runs Left and right.

Molly McMahon:

That's very hard. There's no rehearsals.

Courtney Kaplan:

That's very hard. There's no rehearsal, there's no practice. So I think that bringing in coaches helps shortcut a lot of the learning cycles that people would otherwise have to go through, helps people realize and get more honest with themselves more quickly, right? Oh, you know what? I'm not a good listener. I've kind of heard that from a few people at work, but I haven't really taken any action because I don't know what to do. A coach can help you figure out what to do. Hey, you can do this. Hey, you can practice this. Let's do that, let's do this. That's very useful, and so that takes. So, for leaders today that are working in fast changing environments less resources dependent on their leaders, all the way down to brand new managers to keep things rolling you want all of those people to be trained and have some kind of support, and it's not gonna come naturally. And I think also in the olden days it was easy to kind of ask the older people at work. Sometimes now there are no older people at work, right, things have changed so much that either industry is new and it's a lot of younger folks, or the way that older people did it isn't as relevant to what you need to do in your role, right? I think about it like I wouldn't be able to ask my dad how to resolve something over Slack. It's just not. It wasn't his world right. So in a lot of cases things are just moving so quickly that that support even making the space to give yourself the support, have the conversations reflect, unpack the problems that you're having makes a big difference.

Molly McMahon:

Can you talk to us about what transformational coaching is? That's your promise at Iconic Leadership Coaching. Can you tell us a little bit about what it is and how it sets you apart from other coaches?

Courtney Kaplan:

Yeah, for sure, I think. When I talk about transformational coaching, I think there's a radical shift that we have a possibility to make. That's not far away, but we resist making it because we think we're gonna have to give up too much, right? So, for me, I wanna be a coach, but if I am a coach I'd have to give up my job and that means I have to sell my house and I'd have to be. We make it so hard for us to just do what we want to do, and so in transformational coaching with my clients, we make this space to just let you explore what might be possible for your life, professionally and personally and a lot of my clients are coming for professional reasons. Let's break down some of the stories you've created about why it can't happen or why it's not happening, or who's preventing you from happening, from making that happen, and then let's make a little, have some little experiments where you can try a few things. Right, If you're like, oh, I'm introverted, I just don't speak up in meetings, let's make a commitment just to speak up in a couple meetings, not the big ones with the CEO, but some smaller meetings with people you trust. Push through some of these old stories that you've got to see what might be possible there, right? And so suddenly, slowly and surely, I'm moving people from where they are, square A, to square B, C, D, E, whatever, without the fear and terror of that big, huge jump. I have to make a big, huge leap. You don't have to make a big, huge leap. Let's start with some experiments. Where do you feel comfortable? What might be possible, right? So that allows people to have that creativity and freedom to explore things. So I've had clients that are like I want a promotion, that's all I want to do. I want to get a promotion. So I'll say listen, let's talk to some of the people that have that job and see if that's what you want to spend your time doing. And they've changed their mind. I don't want a promotion, I want to stay in my role.

J.B. Skelton:

I want to do exactly what.

Courtney Kaplan:

I'm doing, but I want to do it in a different way, or I do need more money, or I do want a bigger bonus. That's fine. You know a lot of times the promise of being your best self or transforming that self. People get excited about those promises, but the truth is that true transformation comes from practical ways of being a little bit different over time, unpacking uncomfortable topics and understanding them better so that you can understand yourself better and make changes in your life. And so I think that I really get excited when I get to work with clients and help them actually shift the way they show up at work and at home and then realize promotions, new jobs, moves, new relationships, traveling the world, whatever it is. That is a blast to not only supports people in what they want to accomplish, but to see them accomplish. It's super fun.

J.B. Skelton:

Courtney, you are just an incredible design leader, thought leader, people leader. You're a coach, you're a founder, you're a writer and now you're even a teacher. Where can people keep up with you online?

Courtney Kaplan:

You can find me at my website, iconicleadershipcoachingcom. You can also find me on Substack under iconicleadershipcoaching.

Molly McMahon:

I do a bi-monthly newsletter twice a month newsletter which I always send out to my pals. I'm always like this is gold, so get on the newsletter.

Courtney Kaplan:

Love writing that newsletter super fun. Yeah, those are probably the best spots. And, yeah, this fall I'm teaching at California College of the Arts. It's a blast. I just had one class so far. My class is Communication by Design. So excited to get in there. Yeah.

J.B. Skelton:

I love it yeah. Thank you. Thank you for being a friend, thank you for joining us on Unserious.

Courtney Kaplan:

Thanks, Courtney. Thanks for having me. This is a ball. So great to see the three of you.

J.B. Skelton:

You're a star, thank you.

Courtney Kaplan:

Oh, thank you.

Molly McMahon:

Oh wow, courtney, really named the complexity. The plus, plus, plus we are all facing in our personal and professional lives and sharing transformative ways to commit to ourselves amidst constant change. Jb, what were your takeaways from that one?

J.B. Skelton:

Well, first off, I'm always struck by how Courtney creates space for humans to work as humans and that safety turns just a group of random people into a very connected team Totally. I also was really struck by her story from Junior High about saying hello to everybody in the hallways. It's something that I do to create more community and real warmth and communication among the people I work with as well.

Molly McMahon:

Yeah, I love that too, and I also am taking away with me the meeting meditation. I'm definitely writing a sticky note with meeting meditation in my notebook for my next complex meeting, yeah. But additionally, I also admired the radical candor Courtney shared in asking us to be honest about addressing our own areas for growth, being clear that it's up to us and our commitment to transform or not.

J.B. Skelton:

And that's the show. Unserious is in its first season. Please subscribe, rate us, share it with your friends. It means so much to a new show like ours. Keep tabs on us on our website, Unseriousfun, or find us on Instagram, also at Unseriousfun. Special thanks to our incredible producer, Micah Vonow, who's had a huge hand in shaping the content and the soul hand in editing it for us today. Thank you so much for tuning in.

Intro
What’s keeping creative people up at night?
Demonstrating value to the business
Hire, Fire, Boss!
Creativity through structure
Navigating stress and finding moments of calm
Transformational coaching
Wrap-up