Episode #17

Up Close and Personal, Time with Talent Industry Legend, Dr. Beverly Kaye

with Dr. Linda Ackerman Anderson

Guest Interview – Dr. Beverly Kaye, Founder of Bev Kaye & Co. 

Dr. Beverly Kaye is an internationally recognized expert in the field of career development, employee engagement, and retention. In this episode, I talk personally with Bev about her lifelong path in this work, her insights for leaders and Talent Management practitioners, and about the need to strategically support employees as human beings and valued contributors. Bev will share both her achievements and challenges in pursuing this as her life’s work. If you have read any of her many books, come experience the gift of Bev as a heartfelt and deeply intentional person. 

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Video of Episode


04:19 – 07:06

Welcome to Ask Dr. Change.

07:22 -10:03

I’m Dr. Linda Ackerman Anderson.

10:15 – 19:06

I’m happy to have you join me today to explore how to seriously uplevel your leadership and consulting to transformational changes all through conscious change leadership.

23:20 – 02:52:07

Who is that person? And thank you. Thank you.

02:52:09 – 03:24:22

You know, the truth is accidentally. I, I in my other life was a college dean for a while. I made you got a masters in higher ed and did that. And one day across my desk at Pomona College came an announcement that there was a change management fellowship that was being offered and would pay a good deal of money.

03:24:22 – 03:58:20

And it said, Please post. And I said, I’m not going to post. And I took it and applied for it myself and went back to UCLA for my doctorate. And my doctoral dissertation was on career development. It was an 0da systems approach to career development, and I failed my doctoral orals three times because I was doing I didn’t understand it.

03:58:21 – 04:31:14

Phenomenological research. And that means you study a phenomenon, and whenever all the data comes together, you build a theory, your own theory. And that was not what a fast moving, fast talking Jersey girl does. And I tried to build that theory several times, and my committee would say, No, that can’t be it. Start again. And I would leave in two years.

04:31:16 – 05:05:19

And at the time, my mom said, Why do you need this? Just stopped. My dad said, Don’t you dare stop. And I hung in. And little did I know that experience would lead to my first book, which was titled Up is Not The Only Way, And it would open the door to what is almost 50 years in the field of career and engagement and retention.

05:05:21 – 05:40:22

So it wasn’t my aim, but I certainly dove in and followed my nose. I guess.

05:40:23 – 06:15:09

So when the the Prednisone book came out, I started getting a lot of calls from people who said, We like what you wrote. Can you come here and do that? I’m sure I can not realize how every single company was different. The issues were different. The leaders were different. And as I kept getting more and more calls, I needed more and more pals of mine to help me.

06:15:11 – 07:12:12

So slowly but surely, I started building an organization and we started producing paper tools that were great assessments and great wheels that you spin. And great because I wanted everything I did to hold an audience, to be to be easy and to be engaging and fun. So one thing led to another, and I built a nice sized global company that delivered training in the area of the career conversation and talent mobility and in the area of engagement and retention.

07:12:14 – 08:24:07

So I’ve been lucky because those specialties have stayed moist and have stayed alive for all those years, morphed and changed but still needed were evolutionary, and maybe my subjects were evergreen. Like I never realized that that always people have to grow their careers and always managers want their talent to stay. So those two subjects were what I was able to stay buried in, where many of my friends became eclectic.

08:24:09 – 08:58:20

You know, consultants around change like you with a wide variety of things they did. I stuck with those two areas.

08:58:22 – 09:36:17

You know, I would say challenge in Capital nine letters. You know that, Yes, I was making a success of that business and had built it. And yet and you know this with every success comes all the angst of can I keep doing it? Can I keep my name out there? Can I use other people to help deliver the message?

09:36:19 – 10:54:19

So it is never without angst. You know, you shared those little those awards that I got. And instead of making me thrilled, in a way, those awards depress me because it’s like, can I keep going and all of that? And maybe they’re signaling enough. Bev, You’re old enough, you know, move on. And so I couldn’t put them inside of me, although they’re lovely and they mean so much, but they didn’t make me jump up and down.

10:54:21 – 11:37:20

I think it was the people that I dealt with. It was my own team that I had grown to about 48 around the world, and I believed in everyone and loved everyone and their successes became mine. So it was that team and then it was the clients. When I did the work directly, I got attached to the client and attached to making that client successful, and many of those relationships I still have.

11:37:22 – 12:54:15

And that’s why, you know, I’m so I get into helping everyone who’s helped me. So a lot of what I do is not a dollar thing, you know, it’s I can’t resist adding this or helping you with that. As a change consultant, I noticed you use the word shift a and that’s not easy. You know, my desire is to make it so easy for leaders or managers who who come into contact with anything I do the training, the work, the books.

12:54:16 – 13:26:05

I want them to say, That’s not so hard. I couldn’t do that. I never realized it was that easy. And maybe that is what drives me. And early on, when I began to build a business, I had four words that start with a D. I’m big into alliteration and all of that, and I wanted everything to be one deceptively simple mean.

13:26:07 – 13:58:18

My husband’s a rocket scientist. I want him. So he says, Don’t say it’s not rocket science. Say it’s not brain surgery. So it’s not brain surgery. I want it to be easy. So the way I teach and the way the books are are all memorable. So deceptively simple. I want it to be delightfully engaging. I talk a lot about the smile factor in in what I wrote, what I write in, who I am.

13:58:20 – 14:35:08

It should be. It should engage you. It also should be decidedly flexible so that nowadays, especially someone says, I want it in 20 minutes. Well, yeah, we can give you a taste in 20 minutes or I want it in 2 hours. Gone are the days of two and three day workshops. Like boo hoo. Right. And I wanted to be definitely business centric.

14:35:10 – 15:47:05

So every organization industry is fraught with its own issues. So it’s got to have that thread going through it that differentiates each industry. You know, and I will say I turned 80 in October and everyone is saying, What about retirement? Bev and I am not ready. You know, I told my husband that on my grave site he should engrave save Now Beverly up is the only way and that might get me up there, but I don’t want to work this hard.

15:47:07 – 16:27:01

I don’t want to work. I’m a slave to all that I have to do my to do lists, and I want to leave my legacy now. So to anybody out there in organizations that want to do the career work, that want to do the engagement work, I have some new ways I’m still working on to give my IP to organizations that want to say, Let us have it, let us play with it.

16:27:03 – 17:20:23

And in the old days, you couldn’t do that. Now do it my way. It’s my brand. So I’d like people to add to it and monkey with it and make it fit their organizations. Is is a desire and and the how to is is challenging me now. Right now, I mean, what comes to mind is make it simple.

17:21:01 – 18:13:12

The managers are over burdened and they did not grow up being trained the way we were in human connection and touch points and change. They grew up in their specialties. So what is easy for us is hard for them. That way I have this desire to make it practical, understandable and doable with everything else on plates. All right.

18:13:18 – 18:50:13

Well, I learned how to cook. I learned how to order in those prepackaged things that you just have to put together. I loved and I know you connect with this, that I didn’t have to get on a plane and I got adjusted to this kind of interaction. You know, I was on a plane almost, you know, all week, all day, you know, many, many, many days.

18:50:15 – 19:44:18

I did some of my best work in airplanes. The minute that seatbelt was fastened, something happened in my brain and my creativity jumped out and my husband said, Can I just buy you a seatbelt and put it on your office chair? And so that’s what I miss. You know, without the travel. So I. Right, right, right. Can’t you just tell me what it is and I’ll go do it?

19:44:20 – 20:25:00

You’re very right. You know, I. I’ll go back to the legacy thing. I want to figure out ways to give people inside organizations the IP they need to. To do what they want to do. You know, I thought maybe I’m not a coach and I’m not a coach because I want to fix it for every coaching that comes my way.

20:25:02 – 21:03:11

But maybe I move into and I was calling it Lightning consults, like come to me with a problem and I’ll give you 90 minutes and we’re done. And not that I couldn’t solve it, but I know who to introduce you to at least, and I’ll give you the tip of the iceberg idea, because in the end I’m a great idea or I’m not a great leader.

21:03:13 – 21:39:20

When I had the bigger company, I was always saying we could try that. And my team would say, Yeah, we have a strategy that’s outside the strategy. I couldn’t stay in those confines. So I drove my leadership team crazy because I had too many ideas. And even now that I have a smaller team, I’m still driving them crazy with ideas.

21:39:22 – 22:41:00

I needed to. That’s right. But for for for normal people, it’s Beverly, enough already. Let’s get this done. Then we’ll look at that and how God would like to say drugs. But no, no, I, I, I do take a little gummy to sleep at night and that helps. But, you know, I think it’s the the business I do, you know, that keeps me alive and energized and it’s friendships.

22:41:02 – 23:48:19

It’s long term, like you, 40 ish years. I mean, I remember you and you were someone you were one of my idols back then because you knew change management like I didn’t. And I love that we’re still in it. And friendships, friendships and girlfriends and support from colleagues is one kind of I don’t know about eating healthy, but right on my desk is breakfast, which is a little Fig Newton package and well, stop that.

23:48:21 – 24:20:21

And I’m like, This is part of peanut butter cracker. Thing is that I love so and you know, the thing that I was just when I was thinking about doing this, I pulled two books for my shelf that have been important to me, one that my husband sent for and gave me titled I Didn’t Do the Thing today.

24:20:22 – 24:57:02

And the subtitle is Letting Go of Activity Guilt. This is me. I’m always saying I didn’t do anything today. And of course I did. I’m never it’s never done. I mean, never. And and the other one that I’m trying to live by is my free time by Jedi Blake. And the subtitle is Lose the Busy Work. Love your business.

24:57:04 – 25:42:04

I’m trying. Trying, trying to maybe live with these things and I want them just to go into my head and change me without any more effort. Maybe I do sleep with a pad next to my pillow, and I do wake up in the middle of the night and write. And my husband hates that I do that. So I have to sneak out, go to the bathroom and write down the idea.

25:42:06 – 27:03:08

But and then it’s reading those notes in the morning. What? What did I say? But, you know, that’s who I am. I guess, right? That’s right. That’s right. You know what comes to mind? And I don’t do it. Well is be open to what’s new. Don’t write it. Chat. At first I’m never going to use that. I broke it, you know, and I have forced myself and I’m not I’m so non-tech and luckily that I have some people who help me.

27:03:10 – 27:34:09

But I would say to everyone in our field, don’t close any door, you know, And opening the door is always going to be scary. And, you know, you’re going to pull on your hair to figure out how do I make that work for me? But I don’t think we have a choice. And we in our field now is changing so much.

27:34:10 – 28:14:18

A part of me says, I’m glad I’m 80 because I don’t have to walk this earth forever. You know, because things are coming and turning our work upside down, really upside down. And like the way I the way we deliver what we know, you know, how do I shrink it? How do I get to the essence of it faster?

28:14:20 – 29:56:21

How do I give people tools? You know, I come from paper. Paper tools. Little wheels is to turn. And how do we get into the flow of the new way and yet bring our identity, bring our humor, bring our charisma to those new tools instead of shutting the door and saying not me, I’m not using that right and yourself three and a half days to clients, right?

29:56:21 – 31:37:22

You’re right. I love that. And but you’re saying you can promise, you know, that it will work if you and I, I miss the days of really shaking a groove up and having consecutive days, you know, And that night in between, that’s how we grew up right? Right. Well, thank you. But, you know, in in our work, there always seems to be somebody who does it better, bigger, stronger.

31:38:00 – 32:56:20

And we do a lot of comparison, you know, and that’s hard because comparison, it never works, never makes you feel good. So we have right now, I know. Yeah. You know, and yet I you know, because of how fuzzy so much is around the thing we do, you want to deliver and sometimes it’s just not possible given who they are, given the circumstance, given all of that, it’s hard it’s hard work.

32:56:22 – 33:44:04

Right right right. It is. You’re right. You know, I think it’s if you don’t have a group, a support group, if you don’t have a group of pals that you can call, like right before this interview, another friend in the field, big, big in the field, was talking to me yesterday and I was having a really bad day and I was teary and, you know, just a bad day.

33:44:06 – 34:28:14

And she called right before this to say, how are you? And and and it’s just knowing that you have a group who you can say, I’m ready to jump out the window, you know, stop me and you and I could do that to each other for each other because we know that road and it’s right, right, right, right, right.

34:28:16 – 35:05:20

That’s it. See what I’m doing? Look what I’m doing. That’s terrible. Well,

35:05:20 – 35:31:09

I’m going to save this and play it for when I want to, you know, jump. Thank. I will.

35:32:06 – 35:48:01

Today’s subject is one of the key topics that we feature in our leading transformational change online program. If you’d like to learn more about leading transformation social change, go to beingfirst.com/LTC.

35:50:12 – 36:03:02

Thanks for spending some time with me today. I hope you gain some valuable insights for your work. Please send me your questions and challenges by going to askdrchange.com


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