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Author, CEO, VisuaLeader - Todd Cherches is on Expert Talk with TGo...
Episode 2314th August 2021 • Expert Talk with TGo • Theresa Goss
00:00:00 00:24:19

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Todd Cherches is the CEO and cofounder of BigBlueGumball, an innovative New York City-based management consulting firm specializing in leadership development, public speaking, and executive coaching. He is also a Founding Partner of the Global Institute For Thought Leadership and a member of Marshall Goldmith’s “MG 100 Coaches.” A three-time award-winning Adjunct Professor of leadership at NYU and Lecturer on leadership at Columbia University, Todd is also a TEDx speaker, and the author of VisuaLeadership: Leveraging the Power of Visual Thinking in Leadership and in Life (Post Hill Press/Simon & Schuster, 2020).

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Expert Talk is sponsored by PodNation TV, the Podcast to Broadcast network. Hey everybody, welcome to the show. You know where you are Expert Talk with me TGo and today. Well, you know, I love bringing in experts. Yes, I do. I love figuring out how they took their journey and what made them do that. But you also know I'm dyslexic.

So reading thick books and all that kind of stuff, it took me time to be able to do that. So visual is my game. It's who I am and what I love to do. And today we have Todd Churches on the show and he's all about visual. She's all, he's all about visual thinking, VisuaLeadership. And he's got a great story about Superman.

So sit right there. We'll be right back. You guys know, I love bringing experts. I love bringing people that can show us the way down these paths and journeys that we're trying to take. But today is really special because I've said it many times, I'm dyslexic and I have issues from time to time, kind of dealing with that. And I live in a visual mind.

So if I live in a visual mind, what's the best expert for TGo, a visual thinker. And today we have Todd Cherches on, Todd are you out there? I am TGo great to see you. So before We started, let's talk about what is a visual thinker? What, what made you come up with that? Is it your own invention?

Well, Basically, if you think about it visual thinking is about thinking in pictures, right? So much, so much of what we do in the business world is not thinking in words and in numbers, but it's really about pictures. How do you get other people to quote? See what you're saying is the focus of what I do. So we'll talk a little bit about my background,

but coming from the entertainment and TV industry and being a literature major as an undergraduate and being a big reader from an early age, it's all about storytelling, metaphor, and pictures to get your ideas out there into the world. Okay. You, you just kind of skipped over the best part of what I love about this. Because as a child, you are literally addicted to television like me,

right? You love TV. Yeah. As a baby boomer, we grew up, you know, the parents would just put us in front of the TV and I used to start with the test pattern. People don't even know what that is anymore, but they're all in yellow. And there was nothing on TV. There was just like this pattern on the screen.

Exactly. But yeah, we grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons. How great was it? Every season watching Fat Albert or Globetrotters or, you know, all the, all Superman, you going back, all those shows from the seventies. And so, yeah, we grew up on that. So it was all about storytelling imagery. I mean, we grew up with that and the music and everything.

So that's that formed our, our conception of how the lens through which we view the world was very much based in what we watched as kids and what we read as kids. So True. So true. Do you remember, I remember when they would do the cartoon teaser, like on Friday night to tell you what was coming up for the new season.

Do you remember that? That was one of the greatest things in the world was when the fall issue of the TV guide came out with the preview of all the new shows that were going to be on. That was on the most exciting days of the year. I know it just doesn't have the same feel and now there's channels everywhere and TV everywhere. And the kids just,

you know, they can pick up their phones and, and watch cartoons. They'll even look at Saturday morning anymore. They're like, we can watch cartoons 24/7, if we want to. They're kind of missing out on our wonderful childhood. Yeah. I once gave my students a brain teaser and I said, what's the next number in the sequence I wrote on the board,

2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11. What's the next number? And they're all doing calculations and everything. They said the numbers 13, those were the only TV channels I had grown up. Like that was it. So they were like, and I had black and white TV. So that shows how old I am, but they just couldn't believe that all you had to choose from those,

like, what was that in seven channels or whatever. Now there's a million. So I'm with you and my Father, you know, I was the remote control for my dad. He'd scream out the window to come in and change the channel, you know, next, next right there with you. So did you really want to be Superman when You grew up?

I did. I had a little bit of a Superman obsession. So comic books and the TV show with, with George Reeves, Superman and yeah, so I did, so people would say when I was a kid, what do you want to be when you grow up? I'd say Superman. And they'd say, well, if you can't be a Superman,

what's your backup plan? I'd say, ah, Batman. So like, that was my, my vision of my two career options. And then when I grew up, I realized that that was not possible. So the next best thing was to work in the TV industry in some capacity. So everything I did was really geared towards trying to get the job in TV.

I didn't even know what types of jobs. And even though I talk loud and fast, cause I'm from New York, I'm an extreme introvert. I always say I'm a three B's kind of guy, a Back of the room, Behind the scenes, Bookworm by nature. So I always thought you were like, maybe be a writer or, or you want to like us network TV,

exactly. Whatever. And after graduating from college, I moved out to Hollywood when I was 24 and pursued my goal of working in the TV industry. And I was out there for 10 years, had a great experience and then moved back to New York and then found myself, just landed in management, leadership, development, and coaching, which is what I've been doing ever since.

Wow. Okay. But I saw a TEDx talk. I think I've watched it three times now because you did, you went to China, right? You went to Asia for this project and you didn't, you couldn't speak the language and you drew like hammers and nails and stuff? Yeah. Here you go. Here's the, here's the visual of the picture that right,

right there. Some of the sketches, some of the sketches I did. Yeah. I got there and it was just myself and two crew members, an engineer and the mechanical guy. And we got there on site. We had to produce these life-size animal figures for a cultural theme park in Shenzhen, China, which is just over the border from Hong Kong.

So they were shipped across the Pacific ocean. We got there where they do the installation and all the Chinese laborers, no one spoke English at all. Even the translator didn't speak English. As I mentioned in my Ted talk. So it was like, what do you do? How do you get an idea out of your head? How do you know what the other person is thinking and saying,

and we just started picking up pens and drawing pictures and saying, I need a screwdriver. I need a hammer or whatever. And like the light bulb went off, which is a metaphor, which we can talk about. Also, as you know, we don't just communicate in words, we communicate in visual language, but also, yeah, that's why a picture's worth a thousand words because it translates across other languages.

So that's become, that was like the origin story of how I originally got into visual thinking. And even though I didn't realize that the time it became part of the way I did things going forward, You know, one of the favorite sayings my Father used to say all the time is like, can you see what I'm saying? Yeah. And when I was a kid,

you know, being a smart Alec kid from the south side of Chicago, I wanted to say, no, cause you're talking, but you're not doing pictures, but you used to say that all the time. What does that phrase? Can you see what I'm saying mean to you? Yeah. It's how do you get an idea out of your, you know,

when someone says something and it's like, you're just not getting it or why, you know why isn't, I'm making it so clear in my mind, but why doesn't the other person get it? It's because what we need to do is translate the picture of what we have in mind into words or images so that the other person sees what we're saying.

One of the other images here is, is this one, you know, you have an idea, you need to frame it in such a way that you can get it out of your head and into the other person's head so that they can say, I see what you're saying. And that's the hardest thing to do in life. Well, one of the hardest things to do is communicate effectively.

And that's whether it's between significant others, parents, and children, or bosses and employees or companies and their customers, we need to get our ideas out there into the world. And visual thinking is just one way of doing it to help you be more effective. Is that also helping kind of bridge the gap between international business and you know, local business,

because now the world is so connected. I mean, we're talking to China and in one hour and you know, dealing with Mexico on the next, is that helping? Yeah, definitely. In fact, you just use the phrase, bridge the gap, which is a metaphor, right? We use metaphorical language. So you picture a gap is like a space between two things.

And what does the bridge do? It connects things. One of the stories I tell in my book, my Father we'd be driving from Queens to Brooklyn to visit my Great-Grandmother and we'd pass a sign. And my Father would say, you know, someone gave me a pencil and paper hurry up. And my mother would roll her eyes and say, why Harvey?

He said, don't you see the sign on the side said Drawbridge. Right. And that's one of those, that's what you just talked about. Your Father, that's one of those corny Dad jokes, every time we pass that. Right. So yeah, if you think about drawing, it's about creating, using an image and bridge is about connection, right?

So if we draw a bridge, we can connect and close that gap between whether it's us in China or us in Mexico. So I know a textbook I had in college was called bridges, not walls. So just like a brick can build either a bridge or a wall are what words can either connect us or divide us. So that's one of the great metaphors they use all the time.

I love this conversation so much, but if I don't take a break, our producer's going to hurt me. So we get back. We're going to talk about a lot of things, but we need to talk about the Oscar of management and what that means. So sit right there, let me right back. Expert Talk is sponsored by PodNation TV, the Podcast to Broadcast network.

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We're talking with Todd Cherches. We're talking about visual learning and the power of, you know, just being able to take advantage of communicating through our imagery and through vision. It, I love it. I mean, it really helps me with my dyslexia and everything that I'm doing, but we also kind of went at the break to talk about the Oscar of Management.

You've been nominated in the 50 Thinkers, right? Yeah. Thinkers 50 Thinkers 50 is considered the Oscars of Management and they have Awards ceremonies every two years. And I was already surprised and amazed to get that nomination on Monday morning, I got that email saying you've been nominated. So I was all the hundreds of people. There's, there's 10 different categories of awards.

And I was nominated in the leadership category with seven other nominees, as they say, you know, I get my Oscars, my speech ready for the award ceremony, but it's just like they say, it's an honor just to be nominated among esteem group of colleagues. So that was a really nice surprise. So that just happened this week. Well, I'm going to throw my 2 cents in and say,

yep, it's an honor for you to be nominated. And I'm very, very proud of you. But if anybody out there that has the power, you want this man to get this honor. He's awesome. I'm just going to we'll call him T-Bone for nothing. Come on now. He's definitely a Thinker 50, come on, click on Harry met Sally when T-bone met TGo.

That's that should be a movie. Hey, don't make me get the cameras out and start making this movie up. And I love That you guys do explainer videos, animated explainers. That's like right up my alley when it talks about talking about visual communication. Oh Yeah, definitely. Definitely. You know, I'm truly a believer of a picture's worth a thousand words,

then what's a really good, you know, video and explainer video. What's that worth, you know, I think it's millions of words. Yeah. Let's, let's talk about your book because I got mine in the mail the other day. Let's talk about your book. Where did it come from? What made you decide to do it? You know,

the VisuaLeadership. Yeah. Thanks Theresa. Yeah. I'm, I'm a big business book reader. Well basically was going back for a second. Once I started working in the entertainment industry, one of the patterns I found was I had one horrible boss after another and I realized there's gotta be a better way to manage and lead people. Then through tyranny and abuse.

One of my boss bosses, I w I was working on a TV network out in LA. I don't want to say which one, but I was sitting at my desk and I just felt something whipped by my head. She threw a box of pens at me because they were the wrong ones. She wanted the fine points. And these were the medium points.

And when teaching feedback like at my NYU and Columbia classes, I say, let's see if your boss, if you got your boss, the wrong thing, is there any other way you're giving them feedback, right? Other than throwing it out their head and like, Nope, I can't think of anything. That's the only way to do it. So it was a great visual image,

although it was kind of traumatizing at the time, as you can imagine, being on the receiving end of that. But then I realized that there are other ways to manage and lead. And then it's both an art and a science and most managers are just thrown into these manager jobs without any training or coaching. So I started reading. You could see like some of the books,

ne business book a week since:

people started saying to me, when are you going to write your own? And after years of writing notes and accumulating content, I finally got a book deal. I sat down, I wrote it and it came out last year, published by Post Hill Press, Simon & Schuster. So it was pretty cool. So What are they going to learn when they pick up this book other than the graphics is awesome.

And I love the title, what's the purpose and what are they going to learn when they, when they grab this book off the shelf, One, just from the title, VisuaLeadership, it's I actually have the trademark on the word VisuaLeadership as it's spelled. Wow. And the fact that it's a single word with a shared L represents the fact that who you are and how you lead is inseparable from the lens through which you see the world.

Right. We always talk about as a leader, whether you're Elon Musk or whether you're, you know, Steve jobs or, or, you know, whoever. Yeah. What's your picture of the future? Right? Martin Luther King Jr said, I have a dream, right? He didn't say I have a business plan. I have a S you know,

Excel spreadsheet. He had a dream, right? Idealize, a future state that was different from and better than the current reality. That's the foundation of what VisualLeadership is all about is how you make your vision a reality. And to do that, you have to get that picture out of your head and into the heads of other people. And I actually wrote a blog post called Martin Luther King Jr.

The king of visual communication. Cause no one that I've ever seen has ever used visual language and he didn't have PowerPoint slides, right. He got up there in front of millions of people and use visual language, imagery, alliteration, poetry of words, to create an image and other people's minds. So it's like, that is like, to me, that's the ultimate example of visual leadership.

So that, that's what the foundation, when the other concepts, if you notice on the book, there's a rainbow color of the eye and the rainbow represents two things. It represents, represents diversity and inclusion. And the fact that just as, no one in the world has a rainbow colored eye, no one in the world sees the world the same way you do.

So part of our understanding is that it's like, don't you get what I'm saying? No, because I'm seeing it through a different lens. So our job is to get other people, to see it. And the colors of the rainbow represents innovation and creativity, and that we need to be innovative and creative in terms of expressing our ideas. So that's the sole purpose of the rainbow color eyes.

So just before you even opened the book, those are like, you could spend an hour just talking about what the cover represents. Oh my goodness, I love it. I love it. And just going back for a second to dark, Dr. Martin Luther King, I mean, he's been gone longer than a lot of people that are on this planet have even been alive and we're still learning from this man.

You know, not just once a year, there's there's things that happen throughout the year, that touch on speeches that he made and, and events that he was in. And just how he, in his timeline, how it keeps going 50 years later. And it's really amazing to me. I wrote a blog post that basically I breaks out every metaphor that he uses and I'd repost it every Martin Luther King day.

And it just revitalize it. So sometimes if you just read the speech, if you just listen to the words or if you just watch them and listen to it at the same time, you're experiencing that speech in different ways. And yet every single time it takes on new meaning. So it's just like, that's that's to me like the ultimate example of visual thinking,

visual communication and visual leadership. Yeah. I totally, I totally agree. Now before I let you get out of here, because I promised you, I wouldn't keep you too long. We've got to talk about this. September shuffle was going on. I mean, people are scared to go back to work and people. Now, if people are watching us,

, if you are watching this in:

And people are having some issues with that. Can we touch on that for a minute? Sure. Yeah. It's it's early August in less than a month, companies are going to be saying, you know, everyone can get back to work and a lot of employees are gonna say, I'm not ready. So one of the things we talk about in the HR world is psychological safety,

but also physical safety. Do people feel physically safe going back to an office? Do they feel psychologically safe? So one CEO I was talking to said, all right, it's time for people to put that, pull on their big boy pants and stop complaining and get back to work. The party's over, as if COVID this pandemic was some kind of party. And people just sit around at home watching TV for the last year and a half.

This has been a psychologically, emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausting period. And we're calling it the great reset, the big quit, the great resignation futurists. Usually talk about what's going to happen three to five years from now. No one knows what's going to happen 30 days from now, right? So we're all just trying to figure out how you manage and lead in this COVID and post COVID world,

where some people are working from home. Some people are working in a Starbucks. Some people are in the office. There's out of sight, out of mind, thinking about visual thinking, who gets the attention and the promotions, the people in the office, or the people working from home. If you're a working mother who needs to take care of your child,

children or your parents, women in the workforce are being penalized doubly because they have these responsibilities. So there's so much complexity that it's going to take now, not just management cause the, the saying you manage processes, you lead people. We really need to put on our leadership hats and say, how can we get things done? Listen with empathy and compassion,

, We want the party like it's:

Like it's 2019. That's not happening. We can't go back. We can only go forward. And that's what we need to focus on. How do we go forward in a way that's productive, but that is most beneficial, not only to organizations, but to the people in those organizations. Wow. Well, We touched on this much and I hope you will come back often and often because we can go,

go, go. When you're talking about visual, for me, visually learning visual leadership, you're talking my language. So open our minds to new possibilities to create the space. Cause if we have closed minds, we're not going to be able to do it. So we need to open things up and I love It. I love it for people that are listening right now,

how do they find you? Because they can't see it on the screen. So how do they find You? Sure. The best way is just to go to ToddCherches.com, go to my website and there you can download my list of top 52 visual leadership books. You can watch my Ted talk and you can learn more or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

I live on LinkedIn. So just say you saw me on TGo's show Linkedin with me and we'll start a conversation. I Love it. Thank you so much, T-bone thank you for hanging out with the TGo. You are the best now for everybody out there watching, you know how I do. I always tell you, thank you for watching. I hope you'll come back next time as always I'm TGo

and I'll talk to you next time.

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