Give precise directions- The most crucial thing you can do to make sure jobs are finished in a timely and professional manner is to be clear and direct about what you’re asking an employee to perform. Giving your staff precise instructions — both verbally and in writing — will literally put them on the path to success.
We are all competing in an attention economy. From pings and dings to blinks and rings, companies and content constantly compete for our limited time and attention. How do great leaders turn down the noise and tune in to the messages that matter most? What does it take to be heard above the noise? And how do we create communication that cultivates community and connectedness in a distributed, distracted world? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” As a part of this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Zofay.
An entrepreneur who has found success, Ryan Zofay also speaks motivationally. He shares personal development techniques that measurably enhance connection, performance, and thinking. Ryan can support profound transformation for people and organizations by drawing on the lessons of his achievements and mistakes.
Thank you for making time to visit with us. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is one of your most memorable moments, and what made it memorable?
One of my most memorable moments was when I took the stage in front of fifteen thousand people as part of Tony Robin’s event, as a lead speaker. The experience was wonderful. It felt electric. As soon as l heard my name announced. “Please welcome Ryan Zofay to the stage,” l opened and raised my arms as I walked forward. The audience was roaring and hand clapping so hard it was deafening. “Here l am”, l’m thinking to myself as I smile to a sea of people. I hear cheers but I know just a handful of these people actually know me. The vast majority have never heard of or met me before.
Then l start to take real joy in talking and sharing my story and personal message of inspiration and experience overcoming life’s challenges right there on the stage. I feel like I can’t go wrong telling my life’s trials and how I overcame them. It is both thrilling and inspiring to the audience. All in all, it was a magical and thrilling experience to speak in front of so many and share my personal journey. At this event, like many others, I spoke from my heart and could feel the audience tuning in and finding solace in that they could accomplish anything too.
Best of all, at the end of this amazing speaking engagement, one of the participants, one that I had never met before, came up to me and expressed how he found my prior work inspirational. He went on in detail how he tuned in to my business and life coaching online and was already my biggest fan.
Impacting people that I never personally met felt awesome. It totally proved that my message, teachings, and coaching are impacting people I don’t even know and will never meet one on one. Getting here has been an amazing journey and inspires me to do more.
As background, I became Tony Robin’s Platinum Lion Member in 2019. Since becoming a Lion Member, I have traveled across the country to meet with people from all backgrounds, from business leaders to notable entrepreneurs, physicians, attorneys, models, designers, and others. Each time I learn from them and their experiences.
I use the teachings of my life, my setbacks, my failures, and my successes in my organization and as part of the coaching I offer. Teaching through experiences brings on a whole new level of interest with a real life connotation to what’s being said. This is what sets my personal development events apart and on a level that can really help everyone in their daily life. Because I don’t share teachings on what should work, but on what actually worked for me, my team and businesses my story stands apart.
What is the most unexpected twist in your career story, and what did you discover from your detour?
When I first embarked on learning and absorbing the lessons of personal and business success I came from a place of having lost everything. I lost my fiancée, prior business, my job, and entire life savings, while facing devasting litigation as a result. I had to start from scratch all over, yet again. But, that set me up to become a sponge of knowledge, strategy and creative thinking. It allowed me to connect with myself first and the people around me like never before. I quickly realized that through my growing communications skills, coaching capability and my personal development business, I could help myself and others grow. Coming from a place of utter devastation as a child having lost my sister and then my mom, to where I am today is a journey people relate to. I share and offer lessons from my pain and lead others to how they too can grow to become the best version of themselves.
According to a recent Harvard Business School study, the most essential communication skill for leaders is the ability to adapt their communication style. How do you adapt your communication style?
I adapt my communication style by analyzing the group to whom I am talking or presenting to. I make sure to use words that people easily connect with. For example, if I am talking to a room of young adults, I’m able to adapt my speaking style to include slang and other “trendy” words and topics. So, to capture the audience’s attention and make my oration that much more relatable to them.
Moreover, I like to mix current topics in the headlines while monitoring the audience reaction to what’s discussed so to pivot to where the audience is most emotionally engaged. I do this by watching their reaction from applause to cheering, and especially their body language, which tells me all I need to know.
Clarity is critical as well. What lessons have you learned about how to communicate with clarity in our distributed world of work?
I’ve learned that it’s essential to be concise, use appropriate tone and language, and be clear about expectations. Furthermore, it’s important to use consistent messaging and to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Taking the time to create detailed and organized written documents can help create the energy and effort to achieve maximum clarity is communicating goals and tasks.
Moreover, good communication requires effective planning and execution. It’s important to set clear expectations and goals at the onset of any project or conversation. Effective communication involves considering who your audience is and tailoring your message accordingly. It also involves being able to not only express, but also interpret and understand the messages of others in a timely manner.
We often discover what works by experiencing what doesn’t. Tell us about a time when your communication didn’t lead to the desired results and what you learned from the experience.
In the past, I’ve had times when my communication hasn’t led to the desired results. Through these experiences I learned that it is important to be assertive, clear and concise in my communication to make sure my message is heard and understood. I also learned that recognizing and understanding the perspectives of those I’m communicating with helps to ensure successful communication. Additionally, I learned that while it is important to be assertive, it is also important to be respectful of the people I’m communicating with.
What advice would you offer to other leaders who are struggling to have their messages heard and actioned?
My advice would be to encourage them to be sincere and truthful. Find your own voice; refrain from speaking in corporate jargon or sounding unrecognizable. Your communication should reflect who you are, where you are from, and what you value. Genuine leadership is what people want, respect, and will adhere to.
Leading a distributed team requires a different communication cadence and style from leading a team in person. What are five strategies any leader can deploy to improve communication and clarity when leading a distributed workforce? Please share a story or example for each of you can.
1 . Invest and utilize efficient communication tools- Use smart communication tools at your disposal from virtual meetings to regular video conference calls. These tools will allow you to implement your communication strategy effectively and seamlessly. Effective communication tools will enable you to realize any communication strategy, no matter how ambitious.
2 . Meet in person with the staff- Despite the fact that many of us have been forced to conduct business increasingly remotely over the past year, I believe we can all agree that our interactions with coworkers have suffered. A lot of crucial non-verbal communication takes place while we are speaking to someone face-to-face. You should not ignore these non-verbal indicators because they influence conversation flow more than you may realize. Additionally, when you’re physically present, people are more inclined to focus entirely on you. As a result, even though it may not be feasible for every organization, we advise holding significant conferences and meetings in person.
3 . Give precise directions- The most crucial thing you can do to make sure jobs are finished in a timely and professional manner is to be clear and direct about what you’re asking an employee to perform. Giving your staff precise instructions — both verbally and in writing — will literally put them on the path to success.
4 . Create a welcoming atmosphere- When people feel comfortable expressing ideas without worrying about being rejected or mocked, they tend to be more creative. It is crucial that you make an effort to foster an open environment at work because of this. If your budget allows, one method to achieve this is through organizing team-building getaways for your personnel. Retreats can be inexpensive or costly in scale, but they always provide an opportunity for coworkers to connect outside of the workplace over shared interests. By allowing for anonymous input in meetings, you may foster an open atmosphere in the workplace. Although maintaining anonymity may seem to go against the spirit of transparency, allowing for this kind of feedback might actually give workers the impression that they can say whatever they want without worrying about punishment. Not only will your staff feel more at ease with this level of independence and transparency, but it will also encourage innovation.
5 . Celebrate successes- Everyone values being praised for a job well done, regardless of their position within a firm. In addition to occasionally offering their staff members congratulations, managers have a duty to create an environment that encourages both constructive criticism and good feedback.
What are the three most effective strategies to diminish distractions when there is so much competing for attention?
The three most effective strategies to diminish distractions are:
- Build a distraction-free workspace.
- Block out time to prevent distractions.
- Take regular breaks that will help you concentrate more.
Of course, creating a list of achievable tasks and completing them one at a time should be your end goal.
What is one skill you would advise every leader to invest in to become a better communicator?
Listening is one of the most crucial communication abilities for a leader. You can’t gain feedback from others or understand what team members like about the projects they work on if you lack listening skills.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would want to create a movement highlighting how one can transform their life for the better. I want to be able to help create a world that allows people to grow and prosper into their best lives and have the ability to positively affect others as well.
How can our readers stay connected with you?
To find more information on me and my businesses, click the links below:
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!