Brandon Klein | How to Collaborate Better, from Davos to the Gates Foundation

John Corcoran  4:25  

Wow, and something like 75 million people saw the film.

Brandon Klein  4:29  

Yeah, we were lucky enough to get distribution on TV in several countries, and picked up by universities, you name it all different places that really wanted to challenge their thinking around Hey, how can we improve the way we give money by listening to who’s receiving it and not just candid out and feel good about ourselves? We’re doing that right

John Corcoran  4:53  

now. You know, if there’s a common thread throughout your career, it looks like collaboration and and managing change. And perhaps that is where that relates to the work that you did in Africa, because it’s about change and, and helping to manage that change you earlier in your career, you worked for Ernst and Young and change management, what drew your interest to the topic of change and collaboration?

Brandon Klein  5:25  

Oh, man, I, I did an internship in high school and got a first hand knowledge of I think it was for Coca Cola, when they were trying to shift away from some of their earlier products. And I got to work in a corporate environment that was one of the most collaborative ones, probably still to this day. And so as a teenager, I got exposed to this totally different way of working, you know, much different than the way offices and cubicles and everything’s lined up still to this day. I got exposed that as an early child and never left it no matter which industry worked in next.

John Corcoran  6:01  

That’s interesting is so many large companies struggle with collaboration. What did Coca Cola do, right, that made them so good at collaboration?

Brandon Klein  6:10  

Oh, I probably shouldn’t comment on a client from so many years ago, when I was a teenager, I’m pretty sure everything I thought or did was wrong when I was a teenager. So I, whether it be Coca Cola, or any other large organization actually not just large, I’d say most small companies face those same anti collaboration pitfalls. The most worst that I always find is, most people don’t know what their neighbor or seatmate or even boss is doing on a daily basis. Yes, some more agile companies do daily stand ups and some of the more trendy things. But I would wager that in most corporations, collaboration is breaking down right at the beginning, because we’re not talking to each other and truly understanding what problems we’re trying to overcome each day in our working environment.

John Corcoran  6:57  

So you mentioned stand ups explain to people what then for those who don’t know, and but it also didn’t sound like you’re a big fan of them, since you kind of set out it’s a kind of the trendy thing to do.

Brandon Klein  7:08  

I mean, yes, agile and the whole agile way of working coming from the software technology background and and it’s trying to make its way into the more everyday working of a daily stand up where you in your release your core team, share what you’re working on, at a certain level of detail, each stand up is different, obviously. But that’s just a daily touchpoint, we don’t get to see or hear the challenges that each of us faces. And most of us don’t even publish, what we’re working on were to last in our email or back to back conference calls, or persistent Slack channel, dolphin class, I believe is what my colleague likes to call them. Instead of truly understanding and spending time out collaborating in an in an engineered way, so when people think that collaborating is just talking to each other, but I don’t agree with that at all, I’m people spend most of their time talking about the weather, sports or how busy they are. So sometimes the entry point to better collaboration is banned those three things from conversations with your colleagues, and I guarantee your output will double.

John Corcoran  8:16  

So you found your way to United Health Group. And it was in that role that you You said you had p&l responsibility over a small for at least for United Health, a smaller area. And you were tasked with employee transformation and customer success targets. So tell us a little bit about what you did, then.

Brandon Klein  8:40  

Yeah, I mean, I’ve, for all intents and purposes, those are budgets buzzwords around, hey, if if a big company is acquiring a smaller company, or, hey, we need to increase sales over here, it really means you’re convening people together teams together, to find out ways to better integrate a company better onboard a new customer better reach out and when a new customer. And when you put people together, most of us fall back to our default patterns of collaborating or not collaborating. And so it was pretty cool that a company like united was willing to have a division dedicated to dramatically improving the way people collaborate together and our sort of claim to fame was in three days of working with a group teaching them going through the collaboration work, we could usually get nine months of traditional work done was a pretty good ROI, nine months into three days. Yeah, for for groups of between about 20 up to about 200 people, we could do that. consistently. Okay, so walk me, go ahead. I’ll go for it.

John Corcoran  9:46  

So walk me through this. So let’s say I’m United Health, and we just acquired a company with 200 employees. And I turned to you said, Brandon, all right, I need you to take this team of people, how much time do you need? What are you going do with them? Explain to me, what what’s your vision?

Brandon Klein  10:03  

So, first of all, it’s not my vision, it’s the acquiring company and the new company, what are they trying to achieve together? So what are the maybe three to five objectives that they know that they have to achieve? And it’s not just achieve from an employee basis of the 200 people that needs to be integrated in a new company? What what are you gonna actually walk out the door with after those two or three days or two weeks or whatever the timeframe is, where you can actually walk out the door and do differently when you do walk out the door. And so we follow a process was invented a long time ago by a couple named Matt and Gail Taylor. That worked for Frank Lloyd Wright and Maria Montessori, that’s where they got it from. We’ve evolved it to become more digital over time. But you do things that you don’t necessarily think so for example, if you told me that I had to get those five or 10 tasks or objectives done, the normal way to approach it would be to say, hey, if we’ve got three days and the first day and a half, we have to get those first five objectives done, because we got to stay on task. And on schedule, because we have a bullet point list or a PowerPoint that we got to follow, we say, Not a chance, we’re not going to do any of those objectives for the first two days or for half the time period. And usually people look at me and try to fire me right on the spot. But luckily, we’ve been doing this long enough that they don’t. And they thank us afterwards. Because when you begin to have people share and publish, what they’re working out what their real challenges are, when they get to go through a model or a simulation of what the future integrated company could look like, if you can simulate that late that in a couple hours. So that back to those objectives. If you did the first five, and then you got to the next five, and the first five, were undone, because the decisions made in the later objectives, then by golly, you know, you got to start over again. And so we force people to not make any decisions in collaborating for the first half their time together so that the decisions they do made, making the second half are exponentially better. Got it that makes total sense.

John Corcoran  12:05  

So in the first half, but nobody does it. I imagined it, you said it, lay it out and some kind of ground rules or something like that, when you’re going to come into a consultant project.

Brandon Klein  12:17  

Yeah, I mean, when we try to set the patterns right from the beginning, and one of my favorite examples, I started my career at Ernst and Young. And we were I was in a workshop with him. And I walked into the bathroom, and he was cleaning the bathroom. And I just thought, What the heck is the CEO of one of the biggest consulting companies in the world cleaning the bathroom. And he just looked at me and said, Brandon, everything speaks. And he, he didn’t know my name, but I had a name tag on so I first had to get over that. But he actually remembered my name. And then it says, Yes, everything speaks. So the bathroom can speak just as loudly as his knowledge and expertise on the client that he’s trying to sell. The most important thing for him at that moment was the bathroom is total mess that would make the company look bad. And so he prioritize his time to make the bathroom look good. Because everything speaks.

John Corcoran  13:09  

Interesting. Interesting. So what so there are some who hear the term collaboration, and especially in the business context, and they’re, they’re probably thinking, Okay, you know, you go and do some team building activity. And, you know, you do some activities around bonding and things like that. What do you do during that you said, the first half the allotted time, is the most crucial. What do you what are the typical exercises? Yeah, what do you do for those teams in order to help, you know, integrate, especially when you’re integrating these teams?

Brandon Klein  13:44  

Yeah. So the first thing is, is that those cheesy collaboration stuff, we stay pretty far clear those I’d like to say we ban icebreakers, but not quite fully. We also try to ban panel conversations, PowerPoint, and keynotes, when you’re what’s left, actually collaborating together and talking to each other, right. So by by banding, those will take what would normally be the keynote speaker. And we’ll put them in a small group, where we’ve already done the research and analysis and data to know that those people in that small group are the ones that need what the keynote speakers solution is the best. And so we’ll put them together in a rapid pace, give them probably half the time that would normally take them to do something, and have the keynote speaker design, the solution that’s trying to be achieved as the objectives for what they’re trying to work together on. It doesn’t mean that we don’t let the keynote speaker have a little bit of time on stage will give maybe up to a TED talk length, so that they can talk a little bit, but we’ll put them to work. So a lot of keynote speakers don’t like to work with us.

John Corcoran  14:50  

Right, they have to actually roll up their sleeves and do some work in a small group.

Brandon Klein  14:54  

Yeah. And then like panel discussions, you know, because we banned those two, instead of doing an icebreaker about getting to No, you better will take each of the panelists and make them be challenged individually by since we’re talking about business here by real business problems. And then and then ask the panelists, the individual person actually challenged the group back, and then the group will actually then come up with the questions in the way that they want to see those paint what would normally be 435, or however many panelists interact together. So we have a structured way so that the group actually designs exactly what they need to get out of the panel. And first, they do it on up to a one on one basis. And then we do let them do a little bit of a panel this thing at the end, but it’s controlled by the group or the audience, so that it’s directly tailored to them, not what the panel organizer happens to think the right thing to talk about his.

John Corcoran  15:48  

That’s a really interesting idea. So how do you keep that from going off the rails? Like people getting distracted? One person who’s got a loud voice in the audience dominating the discussion? Are you kind of tightly facilitating it? How do you allow the audience to control the topic which the panelists are talking about?

Brandon Klein  16:07  

Yeah. So I mean, the traditional way would be to have a very powerful front of the room facilitator or speaker, you know, I’ve even seen like at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where sometimes, for some sessions, I would not be allowed to facilitate because it had to be Bill Gates, or someone famous as the moderator facilitator. But when you are more in control, like within a corporation or organization, and you set those patterns of people working in these small intense groups, they actually respect the rules and the patterns that you’ve set forth. So a good facilitator or a good collaboration will not even need to speak at the front of the room, it’ll almost run itself. Now I realize that can kind of sound like Hocus Pocus. But when you do set those patterns correctly from the beginning, it usually almost always runs itself.

John Corcoran  16:57  

What are some of those patterns? How do you how do you demonstrate that gives us an example?

Brandon Klein  17:01  

Yeah, so first thing is, in every single meeting, no matter what, we play music. And so we don’t have to ever ask the audience to sit down or stand up or be quiet or do anything different, which is often a challenge you see in collaboration, and people keep talking, we set the pattern of music, kind of like a Pavlovian effect when you turn the music up. And sometimes we have to turn it up. So you can’t even talk to your neighbor, you you condition the group to move on to the next activity. So it’s so simple, but so many people don’t even bother to bring a speaker with them or even plugged into the wall of every Ballroom in the in the country, speaker system, because you can control and help facilitate and group entirely by just audio.

John Corcoran  17:48  

That’s a great tip. That’s a great tip. Now, what about Now you mentioned Davos. So that’s one of the projects you’ve worked on incredibly impressive. Tell all of us about some the work that you did there. And I’m curious to know a little bit about a little bit more about how you managed to cut. You know, there’s a lot of movers and shakers, you know, titans of industry, world leaders who attend that annual event? How do you manage to facilitate a group of that power, and get people to go along, because you’ve got probably lots of people who’ve got big ideas of the way things should be done. But tell us about working at Davos.

Unknown Speaker  18:31  

So

Brandon Klein  18:34  

a few examples. So the first one is that might make you unhappy to start with is a little known secret about Davos is that everybody gets transported around in these like, oversized minivans that have four passenger chairs, and they face each other in the back. So it’s two people sitting next to two people facing each other, maybe kind of like a London taxi, if any of your listeners have been in those. And it’s a first time where people are being transferred to the next place of interest, where you’re staring at someone with your knees practically touching. And across the board of all the participants I’ve talked to, that’s the most valuable time at Davos, because you’re sitting engaged, headed to a similar topic area, trying to figure out what you’re going to learn. And you’re meeting the most influential people need any over an extended period of time without the keynotes and everything else to have a real meaningful conversation. Internally, Yeah, go ahead. Go. So I mean, that’s, that’s one element, another element in terms of their that we started with the experimentation with them on and now they have a whole data science team. And this is partially where our software product collaboration came from, is, hey, all these people are coming together, it’s pretty much serendipitous of who they’re going to talk to, at each moment in time, who they’re sitting next to, for a particular panel or discussion. What if we started to use some of the public and or even survey questions of these people attending the sessions, and begin to just maybe what if To start with we just say, hey, what if you talk to these two people over the next course of these two hours. And it turns out that those two people that we recommended were some of the most valuable longer term business relationships that they developed out of the conference, not necessarily the coolest, or, you know, getting to meet some of the famous people. But the most valuable long term because we can track that data over time. And so that was our first foray or experiment in that. And so we decided to put it a little more priority on that. And so we started to form lots of little groups of usually between eight and 10, people that were trying to figure it out. What happened was, is the organizer said, Well, you know, there’s obviously a lot of financial and famous people to come to these sessions, how about if we do 50%, financial and 50%, like art, or some of the more creative folks that go to those conferences, and it was a total failure, everybody hated the breakouts, and nobody got business value out of it. And so we had to tweak the basically the data we were using, and use those percentages to try to figure out what the right mix of people is to drive the most results from who’s meeting who in those groups?

John Corcoran  21:19  

So you’re in these groups, what are they? What are they tasked with you given them assignments, or they just told to talk amongst themselves?

Brandon Klein  21:26  

it? So yes, both those are accurate. And it all it also totally depends on the type of session that was being involved in. So the one of the simplest examples of Hey, what charitable type of work could you be doing, in order to help improve the motto of the the forum is improve help improve the state of the world. And so we don’t grouping people by just exact charities doesn’t work very well. So we would get an assignment where they’d be grouped with perhaps overlapping almost in the sales world, like cross selling, or upsell and charity potentials. And so that one charity could benefit of what a similar thing but different was doing in a different charity, because people would logically place themselves together with like an upsell and cross sell. Because that’s not a normal human way to do it. And so by using data, we were able to do that. So all not all, but hopefully, many of these charities and these organizations trying to improve the world had direct benefits because of who they were introduced to in those sessions.

John Corcoran  22:26  

Okay, so one of the questions that I was alluding to, and my awkward and lengthy introduction to this topic was, how do you interact with state leaders and titans of industry and folks who are used to commanding a room used to being in charge, and get all those people in a room to listen to you.

Brandon Klein  22:52  

So the first thing, we have to pay attention to what we call terrorists and snipers, so who in the group of people are going to be terrorists and just cause havoc back in the room, and who are the snipers that are just going to make these comments or video things that could just totally derail whatever the collaboration happens to be at the time. So we keep that in mind at all times. better collaboration is not a solo art, I very rarely am on site with these groups by myself. There is a whole team of people I mentioned music earlier, there is music, the person dedicated to that to controlling it, so that they’re watching me as I facilitate this, and can QQ different music to help change if terrorists start to take over as the case may be, and that music is very effective.

John Corcoran  23:41  

So you can raise the music, if someone starts saying something you don’t want them to say?

Brandon Klein  23:45  

That’s a very simple way of saying that. But yes, that you just

John Corcoran  23:49  

like rub your nose and the music guy knows the crank, the music crank, or something.

Brandon Klein  23:55  

Exactly. We also use lots of other techniques as well. So you know, the first thing is, if you guys, have you seen it before, we’re those they’re called graphics facilitators are artists, where they are able to listen to a Converse. Yes, yeah. For it on the visually in real time.

John Corcoran  24:14  

Yes, yeah. Yeah. And actually, one of the things that I love about your website, everyone should check this out the difference, the difference. consulting.com is when you look at the the bios of all of your colleagues, you’ve kind of got a little drawing behind your picture, which is kind of cool.

Brandon Klein  24:31  

I’m not very happy with mine. You’re not. But that’s another story altogether, check it

John Corcoran  24:38  

out why they all look pretty cool. But it’s got it’s got what you’re talking about, right? The drawings?

Brandon Klein  24:42  

Yeah. So people in groups where the terrorists and snipers start to arrive is oftentimes because they’re, they’re collaborations, they’re having conversations at different levels of understanding of the topic. So you know, when people say, oh, that just went right over my head, it’s usually because they’re talking about something very strategic, or philosophical, instead of a tactical improvement that they’re trying to make. And so by having the artists along with you, they’re visualizing the conversation, so that everybody is talking about the same element at the same time,

John Corcoran  25:13  

God, and so that helps everyone to kind of coalesce around Oh, the artist is drawing about, you know, whatever. We all

Brandon Klein  25:22  

focus our conversation on that. Exactly. And so that reduces the number of instances of snipers, destroying things because everybody is much more aligned, because they can visually see that there really are talking about the same thing, and no one gets lost as part of the conversation. Well, so there’s a brilliant idea. Yeah. And then the flip that to the data side to that we, because we have been researching both data and network science of how people interact, we ahead of time frequently know, approximately what’s going to happen. So from in advanced personality analysis done by what you have published online, who your network of strengths of relationships that already are existing in the room, and we use those to our advantage to make sure that different people are interacting with people that will help progress the objective or the agenda forward, instead of just the classical way of, Hey, you know, 20 people, go do this 20 people go do that we would never let that happen. And so the facilitation and collaboration job becomes much easier because we’re using all these tactics to help achieve the objectives.

John Corcoran  26:33  

So let’s jump over to talking about collaboration.ai. Because this is a tool that that arose out of the work that you do with the difference consulting. But tell us a little bit about what it is. This is what you and I were originally introduced over. Our mutual friend, Marcos from I believe, introduced us because he thought it was something that we would be interested in knowing about it. Fascinating ideas, tell us about what it is.

Brandon Klein  27:01  

Yeah, I mean, we’re this this human experience of networking, of meeting a person shaking your hand, you know, be like you said to you instantly recalled who recommended that we should speak. And that human experience of networking based on a little bit of trust is entirely by accident, or entirely? What’s topical, in your mind on the day? So I don’t know what it was that you two were talking about when you know, our third party introduced us? But how can we begin to simulate that behind the scenes in a computer, so that whenever a person goes into a room or a networking experience, that the odds of them meeting someone that can help them in their future, whether it be just sell to help their spouse, you name it, whatever that need is? How can we use all these incredible computers and artificial intelligence and network science and all this stuff that exists out there? How can we put that down work for us, so that we’re so much more effective at these networking type events?

John Corcoran  28:05  

I love that I love that, because I’m constantly saying, What a waste of time it is, most of the time we go out to like, these Chamber of Commerce meetings, or general networking meetings, where we’re just by happenstance, end up talking to some random person, we spent a quarter of the time talking to this random person, because we’re too polite to try and leave that conversation. It’s just not the most effective. And, you know, it seems that where we are today as a society with computers, Ai, that we can do it better. And it sounds like that’s what you’re aiming to do.

Brandon Klein  28:34  

Yeah. And, you know, the fascinating part is that it can’t be a computer only exercise, you know, a computer, I hopefully will never be able to compete with our brains. You know, I think there’s more chemicals that happen. And neurons that fire in your brain, when you shake someone’s hand for more than six seconds, then all of Amazon’s computers combined. Please don’t quote me on that. But I thought

John Corcoran  28:59  

true, it sounds true. And quote you on it from No.

Brandon Klein  29:03  

Okay. And so, you know, but how can those person to person interactions, and you know, one person said to me, so you’re going to, instead of having 30 cups of coffee with people to figure out a solution I’m looking for, you’re going to let me have three cups of coffee to find the solution. You know, you’re hired. Yeah. And it’s sad that 30 cups of coffee aren’t bad. Well, they might be bad for you if you did it right away. But you know, that’s a lot of time spent, you know, for a return that could be mimicked in three cups, because the computer knows that there’s between these three people that we’re introducing you to, you know, there’s a better to or equal chance of the 30 people that you’d randomly connect with at a conference or whatever the convenient might be

John Corcoran  29:49  

it? Absolutely, I totally see that. So what are some of the applications? How is this, you know, going to be used?

Brandon Klein  29:56  

Man, my favorite application that maybe isn’t relevant as it but it’s fun is we did it at a university was study group, so people studying and just to test, you know, you know, there’s you kids in college are, you know, creatures of habit, just like you are in your business environments, you hang out with your colleagues, when you go to a new place, you hang out with your students, you know, friends in classes. And so we ran our software and students and every single kids grade went up the professor’s performance, like the feedback about the students how the class Went, went up. Everything changed in the class, because kids were like, Oh, yeah, I’ve seen you all the time. But we never talked. And we only just gave them an excuse to talk and excuse to study with different points of view. So everybody’s grades improved, because they learned from a different vantage point, they had more fun in class, enjoy their careers more, the teacher did better. Everything just worked better.

John Corcoran  30:50  

Because everyone learns differently. Some people want to talk it out, or the people want to do it in writing. And when did a small study group if you’re, if it’s a mismatch with other people, this is a group who learn a different different way can be really frustrating. I experienced that in law school where everyone does study groups, and I had a few that were just a total mismatch, and you just have to cut your losses and go to something else.

Brandon Klein  31:12  

Yeah, totally. In fact, we have one question in our software is, with whom would you prefer not to work alongside? Yeah, which is only ever used in universities, because you couldn’t say that no Corporation, you probably get in trouble with HR. But it’s incredibly effective, because people can anonymously say who they don’t want to work with. And the study group is automatically put together by the computer. magically, you know, the people who hate each other don’t have to be in the same group. Right?

John Corcoran  31:37  

I love that. What other applications do you see?

Unknown Speaker  31:41  

Oh, man,

Brandon Klein  31:43  

we right now in Minneapolis, we’re bringing together different community groups. And we’re using our software to target who and the different community groups that don’t know each other. So in addition to understanding who knows each other, it’s just as important to understand who doesn’t know each other, who has maybe two or three connections away. And so when you think about what’s popular and important right now, with diversity and inclusion, how do you get the underrepresented communities, especially in corporate America involved? In we’re treating this as a city wide experiment? How can you get them involved? How can you get the small businesses involved in projects with bigger businesses, and so we’re using our data approach to find those people bring them together, and sort of re stitch together some of the fabric of community I think we’ve lost in the last few years, as is probably evidence by our current political turmoil. So we’re trying to simulate read networking people within the city to improve not just political but well as many metrics as we can by combining them together.

John Corcoran  32:47  

Wow. So you got to get buy in from people, right? I mean, you got to get people who are willing to participate in these sorts of things.

Brandon Klein  32:53  

Yeah, you know, the thing is that, if if people are walking into a professional structured environment, they typically listen to the person organizing it. And the person organizing it is typically too dependent on their PowerPoint agenda, to allow for new stuff like this. And, you know, I think if you look at any feedback survey, from any event, meeting, conference, community, organization, whatever, they say, the most valuable time is the networking time. But yeah, that’s an afterthought of, oh, we’ll do a cocktail hour, or we’ll do you know, different things, right, really shifting this amazing amount of time that people are dedicating, where they think they’re listening to the experts in this space, but the experts are usually sitting next to that. And so I just wish that more organizers and facilitators and media managers, and, you know, bosses would say, hey, let’s rethink how we’re structuring our time. You know, our research shows that up to half the time to spend on intentional networking are ways to, you know, figure out how to help each other, about 50% of the time on that, and 50% of the time on, you know, the speeches or business updates, or whatever it is, you know, you can’t obviously can’t spend 100% of your time networking. But our research shows about 50% of the most allocated time, is what participants get the most out of.

John Corcoran  34:20  

That’s fascinating. This is really interesting stuff. Anything else we haven’t covered? I want to wrap things up. We’re getting slow and low on time here. And we’re just getting started. I know it goes by quickly. Yeah, but I mean, you’ve had such an interesting array of work. And the the clients that you work with, I’m interested in, in even the company, I mean, it’s the different consultant consulting your company. It’s such an interesting idea, to have this group of people come together around this idea of helping other companies collaborate together, how did that even come about?

Unknown Speaker  34:57  

So we,

Brandon Klein  35:01  

well, hopefully, everybody’s friends first before starting to come together. But we represent about probably about 300 people distributed around the world. And, you know, it doesn’t necessarily matter that we operate as the difference consulting, because individuals are experts in their own area of expertise. And they even this notion of a consulting company, like the really big consulting companies, where you have to have them all under one roof, you have to have them all paid as a W two employee, this whole notion of why not hire the best set of experts for the tasks that the client needs. And so we operate as a as a partnership right now. And I’ve mentioned this without diving into it, we’re are still starting to structure ourselves as it’s called the Dow, a distributed autonomous organization, so that each person can get more credit reputation for what they do. And by controlling that on the blockchain, you can deliver what we think to be about five times less expensive solutions for customers trying to solve problems, because you’re cutting out the middleman, which is effectively what the difference does in our partnership. But we’re trying to scale it by using some blockchain technology as well. Hmm. Interesting. I didn’t just scare away all of your viewers. I’m sorry.

John Corcoran  36:21  

Well, another interesting thing about your company we’ve already talked about the drawings behind your head, which you’re not too crazy about it. I guess we’ll have to blame it looks like it’s Adam Boosie areas. He’s the animation leads, and maybe he’s the blame. So we’ll have to blame him. But if you don’t even have a traditional BIOS, here you have, it just describes what you love to talk about. Explain that.

Brandon Klein  36:44  

Yeah, I mean, I don’t, I don’t know. But

was BIOS are so boring. I mean, come on. Like, we’re humans, let’s treat each other as humans, let’s work together as if we’re friends, and cut out all that bored, corporate, bowl, expletive, spent developed over time. And some of its been developed over time, for good reasons. But you can cut a lot of that out. And you can deliver much better than what you normally would like our one of our best or favorite customers right now is the US Air Force, we’re helping them lead complete re shifted in the way they think about innovation. And they’re opening up ways to innovate on Air Force products, directly to small and different sized businesses all around the country, so that more and more people can participate in supporting our democracy and our defense, and not just have it be this mysterious institution that, you know, has all the government bureaucracy around it. And so how cool them to be open to work with companies like ours, that are saying, hey, everybody’s got great ideas in the way they can improve things. Let’s figure out how to do it together in a human way. And you only can do that when you sit down and start truly collaborating together.

John Corcoran  37:54  

And this relates to my previous question about getting people to work with you. I mean, you go into the Air Force, you’ve got officers, you’ve got colonels got generals, you got people who are required to be there, whether they like it or not, that’s going to be such a tough job coming in and getting buy in from people who are required to be there. And I’m sure that’s not unique to the Air Force.

Brandon Klein  38:18  

Oh, man, the first time I facilitated an event or collaboration at the Air Force, there’s about 80 military personnel, I don’t know all the ranks, generals, you name it, she’s and they’re looking at you this guy,

John Corcoran  38:32  

we have to listen to this guy who’s got like drawings around his head on his website.

Brandon Klein  38:36  

Totally. And and I started talking and one of the I don’t know who’s general or not, but he stood up and he said, Sir credential eyes yourself. Talking about a sniper, a terrorist in front of people. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, what the heck am I going to say?

John Corcoran  38:52  

So what he means is he wanted to know what your authority was, I

Brandon Klein  38:56  

guess, basically, authority and experience, okay, by him, his colleagues, to follow my approach to helping them solve a problem when who that was I, you know, he’s fought one more, I’m going to use that at the next keynote. I’m out, I’m going to stand up. And I’m gonna say, sir, credentials, yours, and you should add, it forces you to think on your feet faster than then I’ve probably ever have had to before. So

John Corcoran  39:19  

Wow. So what did you say? Well, we’ve got this animator here, and I’m going to turn up the music.

Brandon Klein  39:25  

No, I. So I mean, I know it’s trendy to talk about stories right now, and weaving stories and everything you do. But I do believe in the authentic power of that if you really do have something meaningful that you can weave together. It just so happens that one of my grandpa’s, fought in the last air battle of World War Two. And so he’s in the Army Air Corps. And I was able to share with the audience some of the lessons my grandpa taught me as a little kid, and how I’ve applied those to my work, and how I’ve done this with, I think 17 of the Fortune 100 companies. And I just explained that quickly and succinctly. And he sat down and he said, Thank you proceed.

John Corcoran  40:06  

You want them over?

Unknown Speaker  40:07  

I guess. So.

John Corcoran  40:08  

Good work, before we wrap up the World Bank and Gates Foundation, or both of your other clients as well that you’re working with, in addition to the Air Force, talk a little bit about working with those organizations?

Brandon Klein  40:18  

Yeah, we’re doing really fun stuff with them the eye, I’m more focused on the World Bank side, the Gates Foundation is real quickly on that. polio, measles. You know, all these these vaccinations that are coming back to haunt us now, how do we tackle that not just, you know, local community level that are facing outbreaks in America but a global level. And so working on accelerating solution for that, on the World Bank side, we’ve I find this personally, really fascinating, because I find myself back in Africa, every few months, again, after making a film there are many, many years ago. And you know, organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, you know, these global institutions, having given away billions dollars over the years thinking that that would help develop economies and developing countries. And yeah, of course, parts of it has worked wonderfully. But they are now thinking, What if they use their money to help partner with smaller and other businesses in these developing countries to help local companies expand and grow faster to help build the infrastructure and development of these countries need? And so we’re helping me that collaboration with them with the local partners and local organizations. back to that nine months in three days, what can how can we cut months and years out of the time to transition to that new model of working? Wow, really interesting stuff?

John Corcoran  41:39  

Well, Brandon, I was really, really looking forward to this interview, you didn’t disappoint? I’m going to wrap things up with a question I was asked, which is, let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars or the Emmys and you’re receiving an award for lifetime achievement. And this time, no snipers is going to stand up in the middle, you’re given your opportunity to speak and you’re going to share with us who are the people that you think the mentors, the friends, family, of course, but you know, business partners, fellow collaborators who you would think in your remarks?

Brandon Klein  42:11  

Doesn’t everybody answer their parents?

John Corcoran  42:13  

Of course, yeah. That’s why I preface it so that, you know, we we cut straight to the chase as you would appreciate.

Brandon Klein  42:23  

I’m going to, I’m going to start talking as if it’s my my mom and dad that enabled me to think and approach things this way and start all these different companies. But the truth is, my mom in high school, she got sick. And it was a very rare disease. And there was no conventional medicine solution to help her. And so her sickness forced me, I guess you could say in the early days of dial up internet, to find alternative ways that could help her with this disease. And it led us on a search around the world to find a health solution for her. And because of that, I started my first company when I was 18. of helping other people achieve that same thing by making different types of medical information more accessible to people around the world. And so without my mom getting sick, and and her believing that I could find the way none of this other stuff would happened.

John Corcoran  43:17  

Wow. Amazing story. Well, Brandon, thank you so much the difference consulting com collaboration.ai. And the book is facilitating collaboration notes on facilitation for experienced collaborators. Where else can people learn more about you?

Brandon Klein  43:33  

Oh, I’d start there. That sounds good enough to me.

John Corcoran  43:35  

All right. Great. All right. Thank you, Brandon.

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