Patti Johnson is the CEO of PeopleResults, a successful change, and learning consulting firm. She hosts the podcast Be a Wave Maker: Conversation on Change and is the author of the bestseller Make Waves: Be the One to Start Change at Work and in Life. She and her team have advised clients such as PepsiCo, McKesson, Microsoft, 7-Eleven, JLL, Frito-Lay, and others on creating positive change in their leaders and organizations.
Previously, Patti was a Managing Director at Accenture and held numerous global leadership positions while specializing in client projects with complex people transitions and led the global People & Talent function. Patti is the Adjunct Faculty for the SMU Cox School of Business. She has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fast Company, MONEY Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Fortune, and many more.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Patti Johnson: At PeopleResults we help our clients learn to change. We are a talented team of people experts that work hand-in-hand with some of the most impactful and exciting organizations in the world to develop a capability that will change their organizations for the better. Since 2006, we’ve helped these organizations deliver their top people and business change priorities in a rapidly changing marketplace and world. Our goal for the future is to bring new ideas and recommendations for our clients that fit the new and evolving workforce — that is no longer like it was at the start of 2020.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Patti Johnson: I wanted to be a leader. I had new ideas and I cared about relationships and experiences. I liked sports. When I was in elementary school I couldn’t have imagined the possibilities that would eventually be available to me or even what my career could be. But, funny that when I think back on what I enjoyed, the activities I gravitated to, and where I felt most comfortable – today isn’t that different than when I was in high school. It was knowing how to apply it and the connection to a career that was harder. I figured it out bit by bit, step by step and eventually, I could see the path to starting this consulting business.
I was also very determined and persistent in goals that I cared a lot about and that was the undercurrent for me and helped me as I was figuring out my career.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Patti Johnson: Maybe that in another life I’d be a creative designer or movie producer. I get lost in creating family videos, designing presentations, or thinking about how to make an experience great – whether it’s a family vacation or a work event. My true love is the creative design of experiences and products and then seeing them come to life. I love to picture something and then create what didn’t exist before.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Patti Johnson: I was not a born entrepreneur! I’ve met many people who knew this was their path very early on – but that wasn’t me. I was in big roles in big organizations with all of this structure around me – so my jump to entrepreneur was big. I had to internalize what it would take from me – the risk, the vision, the need to adapt to the market, and have the right people around me. I learned a lot by interviewing lots of people before I started my business and I began to absorb many lessons.
But, the real learning came from starting a business and realizing that at first, it was solely up to you – which was scary and exciting. I think an entrepreneur creates a company that didn’t exist and also can absorb and integrate new information, market feedback, and adapt. You have to be curious and be willing to learn as you go.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Patti Johnson: An inclusive culture is everything. It means everyone’s perspectives and experiences are valued and included. An inclusive culture isn’t the latest trend or a company program – it’s how organizations really value all of their people and talent. You can’t contribute to your maximum potential if you aren’t included. This culture permeates everything – who your leaders are, who you hire, how you make decisions, and the unspoken values that everyone knows. An inclusive culture doesn’t happen by accident – it happens with an intention in everything you do.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Patti Johnson: Leaders are now realizing that the way they’ve always done it, how they were advanced in their careers, and their formula for success needs a reset. As with all internal changes – it first begins with this awareness. Do you recognize that the best answer in 2019 may no longer fit? Do you understand your internal tendencies that undermine a fresh perspective? The biggest way to be constructively disruptive is a willingness to completely reassess and clear your prior assumptions with a blank slate. This past year talent expectations have changed dramatically in how and where people want to work. The talent market is very competitive as people reassess their priorities.
Most markets have gone significant change and some will never return to resemble their pre-Covid position. All of this change around us requires new strategies that can’t be just a ‘dust off’ of what we were doing pre-2020. This willingness is step one.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Patti Johnson: We help companies do important things that matter to people.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Patti Johnson: There are many! Perfectionism on things I care a lot about. This leads to unrealistic expectations and a feeling that I, or we, could have done more. High standards are positive and constructive. Perfectionism is unrealistic.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Patti Johnson: “Juggling School” — I have always juggled work, life, parenting, friends. My work life has always been high volume and demanding so my master skill has been juggling it all. I added the word “School” because I continue to learn how to do it. I’ve also realized that what worked well ten years ago no longer fits. So, the idea of juggling a lot and always adapting and updating resonates with me. Not a best-seller title, but pretty accurate!
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Patti Johnson for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Patti Johnson or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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