Minisode: Get Connected with Heather R Younger and Debra Fine, Featured Speakers at Crestcom’s Virtual Leadership Summit

Get to know Heather R Younger and Debra Fine, Featured Speakers at Crestcom’s Upcoming Virtual Leadership Summit


Jenn DeWall:
Hi, everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall. And if you’re tuning in with us each week, we know you’re invested in yourself and furthering your leadership journey. At Crestcom, we believe great leaders aren’t born; they’re made. They turn skill into habit and habit into instinct. Continue your growth journey and learn to make leadership instinctual by joining us for a complimentary leadership summit around the theme: Connected: Compassion + Culture + Courage. Connected is a two-day virtual leadership event where we’ll discuss what it means to be connected, whether that’s creating meaningful connections with customers, building connected teams and inclusive cultures, having the courage to innovate, leading with compassion, or becoming more authentic in our professional and personal relationships. We have a packed lineup of speakers ready to help you build authentic and strong connections. So save your seat now and get connected with like-minded individuals on April 28th and 29th from 11 to 1 Eastern. You can register at And on this week’s episode, you are going to hear from two of the speakers that will be appearing on April 28th, Debra Fine and Heather R Younger.

Get Connected with Heather R Younger

Our first clip is a recent episode with Employee Loyalty and Leadership Expert Heather R Younger, called Developing Resilience in Yourself and Your Team from July 20th, 2020.

Heather R. Younger – Developing Resilience in Yourself and Your Team

Jenn DeWall: Hi everyone, it’s Jenn DeWall, and on today’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, we are interviewing Heather Younger. Heather is the bestselling author of The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty and the founder and CEO of Customer Fanatix. She is essentially an employee loyalty and leadership evangelist. And today, we are talking to her all about how we as leaders can be more resilient as well as how we can help others become more resilient, which is so important right now, given that the constraints or challenges that many of us may be seeing. I know that I got a lot from this podcast interview. It definitely inspired me, and I hope that it does the same for you.

Jenn DeWall: Hi everyone! We’re here on The Leadership Habit Podcast. This week, we are interviewing Heather Younger. Now, for those that don’t know Heather, she is an employee loyalty and leadership evangelist. Heather, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. I really appreciate having you, and.

Heather Younger: I’m excited to be here just sitting in the parking lot, and it’s, it’s like, awkward. And I feel like I’ve just parked crazily, and this lady has no choice but to squish in. And I’m sorry, this is on the call now, but that’s what’s happening. I’m excited.

Jenn DeWall: Hey, that’s real life. I’m sure many leaders can believe that we sometimes have to do things, whether it’s in our car, whether it’s in our office, we just have to get it done. I mean, that’s commitment. That’s passion. That, you know, and we’re going to be talking about resilience today and how we can be more resilient, which is obviously so important. Given the climate with the pandemic, given the impact of the protests here in the U.S., We’re talking about resilience, how to build a workforce that can overcome adversity to hopefully achieve your strategic goals and just help your organization. So Heather, for those that haven’t met you yet, please just tell, tell our listeners a little bit about you.

Heather Younger: So I, I run an organization called Customer Fanatix. We focus on helping organizations create a list, a better listening culture for their employees. And that focus ends up being on, you know, helping them with employee culture teams and employee resource groups and things like that in employee communication. And, and then I also am a keynote speaker and author on loyalty and leadership. And then I’m a podcast host too on leadership. Leadership with heart specifically. So I do a lot of things, and then I have four kiddos. So it’s interesting.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah, yes, that is a busy life, but I love it. You have to be probably the favorite person who comes into an organization because every employee I’m guessing would love to love their job and love their organization. And you’re the one that actually helps organizations create a better culture or a place for people to work. So they’ve got to love you.

Heather Younger: And I think that he is that they love me. I love them. And when the feeling is mutual, I think we get a lot more done together. I feel blessed that way.

Jenn DeWall:  Good. Well, we’re going to be talking about resilience. I know for those that don’t know, Heather, Heather actually did a TEDx talk all about how we can overcome adversity, and that’s really going to be our focus for this podcast episode is how can we build a stronger workforce? How can, what do they do? So even right now, I know that the perfect starting point is how are you seeing organizations need to adapt given the pandemic and the, I guess, unforeseen consequences that have happened as a result of the pandemic?

Heather Younger: I mean, I think, I think the biggest thing is it’s listening. What happens often with leaders is especially in an executive-level leader. But even just that even the mid-level leader, they are thinking they have to solve problems by themselves and they feel like they kind of have to do it alone. They have to stay strong. And, and so I think in this moment, I think what’s needed most is to show you a level of vulnerability and strength combined. So compassion, vulnerability, and strength, all balanced out. It’s kind of the most critical thing that leaders need to focus on. As far as building, you know, building resilience inside of their team, you cannot give what you do not have. And so you have to assess whether you are resilient first, because there’s no way for you to help others do that. And, and so that’s, that would be the first thing is to assess where you are as a leader. And do you feel like you are kind of adaptable to change and more open to the possibilities of what things could be and what they could look like in order to be able to pivot right now?

Jenn DeWall: Gosh, I love that expression. I’ve never heard that before, but it makes total sense. You cannot give what you do not have. So if you are thinking that you can just create a resilient team, but you’re inside, maybe, you know, freaking out you’re nervous or you’re just not feeling confident, then how are you going to be able to inspire people to buckle up, hold on and still stay committed?

Heather Younger: Yes, but I want to be clear that, you know, for those who are listening, that all of those emotions you just mentioned are 100% natural and I don’t expect anybody not to have those emotions. So we that’s part of building resilience is first recognizing how we currently feel. So there’s this level of emotional intelligence or self-awareness about how we feel in our shoes, given our circumstances. And then it’s deciding, you know, from there now I feel these how long I’m gonna allow myself to fill this, what am I going to stop myself from feeling this? And, and then what, how do I get myself out of the place where I’m feeling this, or at least minimizing it so I can move forward. So that’s kind of the, I just want to make sure I put that as a foundation. I don’t expect you to be non-human or don’t show emotion or have, because that would be just silly of me.

Jenn DeWall: Oh my gosh. You know the one thing that I love about this pandemic, I’m sorry. I know that’s probably a weird thing to say. You love it, but I do feel like it’s brought this unique opportunity for us to finally be real, to recognize that we all have this shared experience and you can’t hide and pretend that emotions don’t exist anymore. The pandemic is showing you that people are afraid. They’re nervous for their jobs. They’re nervous for their families. Emotions are there. You can’t just avoid them and say, well, this sucks and kind of seems awkward. So let’s just focus on this Monday morning meeting because it’s a part of it now.

Heather Younger: It is, exactly.

Jenn DeWall:  And I think, you know, you talked about vulnerability and strength, you know, what does vulnerability look like as a resilient leader? What does that look like?

Heather Younger:  Well, I think vulnerability looks like what vulnerability looked like all the time, which is, you know, being open about kind of where you might stand. It may not be a hundred percent open. So I, you know, it’s not like you’re just going to stand and sit there with your team members and just start to break out into tears and start to go like crazy and nuts. All the things that you’re feeling inside, not every bit of that needs to be released, but some of that does, number one, you will gain more respect and trust and loyalty from those people right now, in this moment, when you show them that you need them and that you cannot do this alone. And at the same time, you will also get that same loyalty by showing in spite of those things that there’s a level of strength that you’re exhibiting and that you want to be there to help them to, to get through it.

Get Connected with Debra Fine

Jenn DeWall:  Our next clip is from a recent episode that we did in January of this year. We sat down with bestselling author and speaker Debra Fine to discuss The Fine Art of Small Talk.

The Fine Art of Small Talk with Best Selling Author, Debra Fine

Jenn DeWall:  Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall. And on this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, I sat down with Debra Fine. Who is she? Well, a former engineer, Debra Fine, is the author of bestselling books. The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills- and Leave a Positive Impression; as well as The Fine Art of Big Talk; along with her just-released third book in the “Fine Art” series, Beyond Texting: the Fine Art of Face-to-Face Communication for Teenagers. All of these books are translated and published in two dozen countries across the globe. So, Debra is a 25-year member of the National Speakers Association, and she presents on stage and virtually as a keynote speaker and trainer to hundreds of audiences around the world that include the National Electrical Contractors Association, Google, Amazon, and so many more. Now you can find her as a regular Huffington Post blogger. Her recent media appearances include the TODAY Show, NPR Morning Edition, Fox Business News, the New York Times, and CNN. I am so excited to welcome Debra Fine to the show as we talk about The Fine Art of Small Talk.

Jenn DeWall:  Hi everyone, it’s Jenn DeWall, and in today’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, I am sitting down with public speaker author, and some might consider her the dominant driving force behind the art of small talk, Mrs. Debra Fine. Debra, how are you doing today?

Debra Fine: Jenn DeWall. It’s a bleary day, but I feel sunny because I feel sunny for many different reasons. The new year ahead, a vaccine in my sights, and my health and your health, too, Jenn DeWall, more than anything. At heart, I’m feeling great!

Jenn DeWall: Well, I’m having you on because you’ve written multiple books on the art of small talk. So, but my audience doesn’t know you yet. So, could you just go ahead and introduce yourself and talk about who you are and what you do.

Debra Fine: Thank you for asking Jenn. I’m excited to say that I used to be an engineer. That’s what my education is. That was my background. And that’s what led me to where I am today is that I did not choose engineering because I was an engineer at heart. I chose engineering because I was great at math, and I did not want to really talk to anybody. I thought it was the perfect profession. Seriously. If I had wanted to chat with people, Jenn, I would have chosen your profession. I would have been in an interviewer, or I would have been a host. I would have been a leader. I would have been in sales. I would have been a teacher, but I was not born with the gift of gab. As your audience can tell you were- I was not born with it.

And I used to think, wow, you know, how is it that people are so charismatic? But I knew that I wasn’t born with a gift of gab. So I gave up right away. It was just like, I knew I didn’t have that talent. I had other talents, obviously. And that was just how it was. So I plotted along and another key ingredient to why I started a business talking about small talk, which, trust me, most engineers think is a waste of saliva. And my guess is your audience might’ve thought that when they originally started listening as well. Because if you’re in leadership, you just think, you know, I have projects to lead. I have people to manage. I have tasks to get done. We think small talk is like talking about the Denver Broncos or talking about the weather, but there is so much more involved.

And I didn’t know that either. I had a very bad attitude about small talk. So with that in my life, I thought, how are people like Jenn DeWall doing it? What are they doing that makes them so good with people? How is it that they seem to hit it off with everybody, that there is chemistry? What, what are they doing? So I spent a year’s worth of time on research. Honest to goodness, only an engineer would do this. And so, how do you launch conversations? How do you get through those awkward moments? Sometimes in the good old days before the pandemic, when there would be a table of eight of us sitting there at some sponsorship table, everybody would go around the table, say their name, say who they worked for, what they did. And then sort of everybody would bow their heads and start to play with their food.

Unless, of course, you brought your spouse or your girlfriend or your buddy, and then you automatically turn to each other and sort of used your crutch. They were your conversation crux to talk to. I mean, how do you get through those moments? I researched listening skills, body language. I even researched exit lines, Jenn, so that you never again, in order to get away from me, do one of these numbers. Debra gotta go, gotta call the babysitter. And five minutes later, I find out from a colleague that you don’t have kids. I mean, there are ways to get away from people without lying to them, but ways to get away from people. So they can’t hold us, hostage for one more moment. So, you know, I really, I just thought, how are people doing it? I did the research. I created a program. And I learned something really important.

I used to think it was just me that struggled. And I was just thinking I was dorky people. So I’m, I’m truthfully a dork. You know, I’ve obviously put on red today. I put on lipstick. I’m trying not to look dorky, but I am a dork, but I learned that other people besides engineers, so dorky. Do you know that CPAs can be dorky? Lawyers can be dorky, fourth-grade teachers can be great at being teachers, but then they have to talk to parents at back-to-school night, and it becomes awkward. I learned that all kinds of professions. What’s it like, you know, when we go back to get our hair styled, and we sit in the chair of someone who may be a marvelous hairstylist, but they’re awkward with the chitchat. It feels uncomfortable. We don’t want to go back, even though they did a great job.

I mean, unless we can, you know, I have learned to say, how about I’m just exhausted. I’m out of saliva. How about there’s no talking unless you can go in that route. If it’s awkward, you don’t want to go back there. The same as a ski instructor up in Vail. So that’s my background. I created a business where I was a keynote speaker, which I still am today, and a trainer. Some of my clients include Google and Amazon and Lockheed Martin and NASA and Duke Power, and even Van Cleef & Arpels. Now I don’t have their jewelry because I still can’t afford it, but they’ve trained all their salespeople in The Fine Art of Small Talk. So but so have they done it, Lockheed Martin, at Cisco systems. If you would like to be a director level or above at Cisco, you need to take The Fine Art of Small Talk because even if you’re an introvert, you have to behave like an extrovert in order to meet their expectations of what leadership looks like. That may not be your expectation. Those of you who are viewing this today, but it is Cisco’s, and it is at Google as well. And that’s why they’ve used me. So I also, as you mentioned, Jenn, thank you very much have written books, and The Fine Art of Small Talk is published and translated in two dozen countries. A few more actually, and has been on the bestseller list for many, many years. I won’t tell you because then you’ll guess my age,

Jenn DeWall: Can I say, well, first and foremost, congratulations on that level of professional accomplishment. That is, yeah. That’s a big deal. And to know that yes, there is a place for small talk. And I think you hit it when we opened this, recognizing that initially, people look at small talk as this begrudging tasks that we have to do that takes us away from our other bigger responsibilities. It’s almost annoying. I mean that for probably someone like me, that’s more- I do have more of that expressive or extroverted personality, but I know that some people might see me coming on a Monday morning, and they’re like, how do I get away from Jenn? Right. Like, I know I absolutely get that. But the thing that I also want to call out too is that you came from what I would say, a stereotypical engineer or a stereotypical industry where people just assume, well, they’re an engineer.

Jenn DeWall: They don’t, they don’t really talk. They don’t like talking. My husband’s an engineer. He’ll even tell you that. Like I love going to and like networking events with him because it is funny. I know that I can at least, hopefully, if anything, just make them laugh because they’re like, who is this bananas person? But you know, it’s an industry that often gets pegged of individuals that don’t do that. And maybe part of the reason that they don’t just because there is a label there or because we just don’t know how, and that’s what I’m hoping to be able to just really walk through today. What, like, so why is small talk so important?

Debra Fine: It’s the appetizer for any relationship, Jenn? I mean, you mentioned that you’re married. I have no idea how you met, but you met one of two ways. Here’s my guess. You either met randomly and via small talk. It developed into a romantic relationship. So that’s the appetizers, the small talk. Then it developed into a relationship, or it’s possible someone fixed you up used an internet site. Okay. So that’s where you meet somebody, and then you have to revert to small talk in order to build the relationship. So the same holds for business. By the way, we can have a negotiation with someone. We can sell a widget to someone. We can provide a service to someone, but unless we integrate small talk into that appetizer, we won’t develop a business friendship with them. And all things being equal. People do business with their friends.

The same thing goes for social. I can meet you randomly, right? And if small talk ensues, it builds into a friendship, but it starts with small talk. And so that’s why I think it’s important. It now, you know, you made a wonderful reference to yourself. You know, Monday morning, here comes Jenn DeWall and people like me are thinking, Oh my gosh, first of all, I have a list of everything I have to do. Secondly, oh no, I don’t have time for 15 minutes of small talk. Okay. But here’s the other thing about that’s up to me to exit her conversation, her small talk, but the thing about Jenn DeWall that you can, you, you just feel it, even over this virtual thing that we’re doing, you feel warm, you feel charisma, you feel, and that’s what we all need to be able to project in our own authentic way.

Get Connected! Join us on April 28th and 29th for our Virtual Leadership Summit!

We  hope you enjoyed this Mini-Sode Mashup. Don’t forget to register for the free leadership event at I hope to see you on April 28th and April 29th at Crestcom’s Leadership Summit.