177 Erica Keswin: The Spaghetti Connector

We talk about the transformational power of connecting with Erica Keswin, the “professional dot.connector”, author, and workplace strategist who has worked with a lot of the world’s biggest brands to create company cultures of connection and collaboration. We talk about the transformational power of relationship, what she’s discovered as founder of the Spaghetti Project, and her new book Bring Your Human to Work: Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Design a Workplace That is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World.

Melinda Wittstock:         Erica, welcome to Wings.

Erica Keswin:                     Thank you so much for having me.

Melinda Wittstock:         I am so excited to meet another connector. You have leveraged your natural connecting talents really into a business. I’m fascinated by this. I want to know when you first really understood that you were this connective tissue between people and figured out a way of really bring this into your business and your life.

Erica Keswin:                     Great. And I do, I feel so fortunate that I’ve been able to do that because it is so authentic to who I am as a person. So a little bit about me. I have always been a connector. My father is a divorce attorney, who one day told me that children of divorced parents tend to have some of those connected traits. When you’re in family where things aren’t going perfectly, you tend to reach out to and connect with the parents of your friends, a coach, a teacher. So I think from a very young age, whether it was by choice or by necessity, I was always reaching out and connecting to people outside of my nuclear family.

so I would say that started very young, and if you were to ask friends of mine in grammar school and college and business school the one word descriptor of me, it would be that of a connector. I enjoy it. I love hearing what you need and connecting you to someone else, not because I’m going to get anything from it. It’s almost this natural high and something that I’ve always enjoyed, and funny enough, I’ve connected, not even on the professional front, but on the personal front, I’ve set up three marriages. Which according to the Jewish tradition means that I’m going straight to Heaven. So, I’ve done something right.

Melinda Wittstock:         Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t there so much that comes from this, when you connect two people together who wouldn’t have otherwise known each other and magic happens?

Erica Keswin:                     Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s awesome. I think often as women in business we can easily fall into the trap of being isolated, and at the same time we can easily forget to ask for the help that we need. So the more of us that go out and do what you do and just connect people, just make it happen for them. “Betty you should know Sue.”

Go for it. Have at it. I think transformational things happen when-

Erica Keswin:                     Yeah. I could not agree more. And one of the things that I started to see, and then how I even got into all of this new work that I’m doing, the book and the research, is that pre technology these connections were more natural. And as, at least in my own personal life, when I got my first iPhone and saw the benefits of being able to work remotely and all the great things that were happening, I also began to see some of the downsides.

So I think where that brings us is that, we as people, we as women, we need to be more intentional to make sure that the day does not go by without connecting with ourselves, with our colleagues, with our clients because the business will not move forward without those connections.

Melinda Wittstock:         You mentioned something there just a moment ago, connecting with ourselves. That’s fascinating. How does that relate to connecting to others? I’m fascinated.

Erica Keswin:                     To me, women, we put ourselves last on the totem pole. We are caregivers, many of us, you can’t completely generalize. But we are caregivers by nature, we are taking care of the people with whom we work, we’re taking care of our significant others, we’re taking care of kids if we have them, we’re taking care of our parents if we’re in that middle, but we don’t take care of ourselves.

So when I talk about the importance of honoring relationships and connecting, we need to make sure that we take the time to stop, to think, to think about our goals, our own values. And it’s not that we need to do it everyday or every week, but I think if we don’t plan for that, it doesn’t happen. So for me, once a year, I go away by myself and I’m with some other people, but I don’t go with anybody that I know. And I do a lot of thinking, I end up doing a lot of exercising, which tends to bring out different creative thoughts. And to say what’s working in my life, what’s not, what do I need to change. If somebody can’t get away for a week, you set aside one hour a week to do it. But I think if we are not intentional to do that and know what our goals are, we are very likely to miss them.

Melinda Wittstock:         Hmm. I think that’s true. Being connected to yourself in that way is vital in business. If we’re showing up in the world as leaders, and we need to be able to be authentic and be able to walk our own talk to inspire others. The only way you can build a great company is by inspiring others, whether they’re your customers or your team members but that all starts inside ourselves doesn’t it?

Erica Keswin:                     Right, 100 percent. And so we need to know not only what our own values are and what are the values of our company and the first chapter in my new book Bring Your Human to Work is actually called Be Real, Speak in a Human Voice. And so it really is the number one thing that we need to do I think both in our personal lives and in our professional lives. If you can’t articulate what those values are to your point you certainly can’t walk the walk or embody them or empower other people to live them.

Melinda Wittstock:         So assuming that we do that inner work on ourselves and I love how you go away and invest a week of time just in yourself to be in touch and know where you’re going. Assuming that you’ve done that work and you’re ready to actually benefit from connecting, from connecting with other people and helping other people get connected. How do you start? What’s a great thing for a woman in business, an entrepreneur, an executive to do to really kick start the connecting that we all need to be able to feel our best frankly?

Erica Keswin:                     I would say you can do it in a couple of different ways. One, a very natural place to start in the workplace is in meetings. Executives spend on average and I think this is low but up to 23 hours a week in meetings and presumably that is a very natural time and opportunity to connect. However what is happening in most of these meetings around the country and around the world is that people come to the meetings and they set up all their devices, they open up their laptops and have their phones next to them. And while you are physically in the same space or you might be on Skype or let’s say for purposes of this example you’re all in a conference room together. In many cases you are not really connecting because physical presence and mental presence are not one in the same.

So when I’m leading a meeting or when I’m consulting with leaders who are running meetings I talk to them about being more intentional about how they are running these meetings. And I personally prefer meetings without technology. If that doesn’t work there are ways to, maybe you’ll have your technology in the beginning and at the end to schedule your next meeting. But if you really want to get a return on that investment in time both in terms of productivity but also the depth and the substance of those meetings you need to do a much better job managing the role that technology is playing.

Melinda Wittstock:         I think we do tend to bring our devices to meetings perhaps as a crutch but also because a lot of people dread the meeting because meetings are often run like really badly. So what are some ways folks listening to this and have to run meetings or go to them can really change the game and inspire that kind of connection that is transformational for businesses?

Erica Keswin:                     So I break it down into three buckets. The first is purpose. So before agreeing to attend the meeting or before sending out that invite to a meeting pause and ask yourself is this meeting really necessary and if so what is its purpose. And I think too many people don’t stop and do this. Are there other ways that we can address this issue or solve this problem than having a meeting. And I think meetings can be great but we need to make sure that there is a reason for having it and making sure that the right people are there. So that is the first test.

The second is about being present and that comes back to the rules around technology and some of the ones that I’ll share from companies that I’ve spoken to may not work for every organization or for people who are listening. But think about your own company, your own culture and come up with protocols that work for you. So my favorite example in the book is an interview that I did with a guy named Todd Gehlen who is the Senior Vice President of Product Strategy at Netflix and he has very clear rules of the road about his meetings and the biggest one is that when you’re physically present in that room there is no technology. Now he also leverages technology by having a Google Doc so if you want to weigh in on an issue that’s going on with a product or anything in the company there is a way for you to share your voice. But if you decide to physically come to the meeting there is no technology.

And my other little thing that he says is that he is the no wallflower rule. So you also can’t just come to a meeting and just listen. You are expected to do the pre-work and to participate. And when I spoke with people about his meetings they say that they are more productive because everybody’s done the pre-work and they’re not saying wait what when they’re looking at their phones and somebody calls on you and you’re not paying attention and they’re much more substantive because everyone is focused.

And so it’s purpose, it’s being present and then it’s also protocols. And so the Todd Gehlen example is sort of an example of both. But protocols they’re saying these are the rules of the road. And I think that those are three strategies that a meeting leader can take and design them in a way that works for their organization and culture.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s great, great advice! So I want to pivot a little bit in to how you came up with The Spaghetti Project and I love that, spaghetti, it’s great. You know what I love about it actually is spaghetti is kind of messy and women we all fall into this trap of perfectionism where everything has to be perfect and we get isolated and all that kind of stuff so spaghetti to me is the exact opposite of all of that.

Erica Keswin:                     And so many people are not even eating carbs. Especially women.

Melinda Wittstock:         I know.

Erica Keswin:                     I did a Spaghetti Project event at a women’s event recently and some woman came up to me, she’s like “What are you doing? You don’t serve them spaghetti. No one even eats that here.” And I’m like “well I have gluten free. And I have vegan meatballs and spaghetti is a comfort food and once people are actually eating it everybody feels pretty good.” So the way that The Spaghetti Project came about was I was doing research for this book about connection at work and the impact of technology on connection and corporate culture. And I came across this very cool study out of Cornell University that was spearheaded by a professor named Kevin Nithan. And Kevin’s father was a firefighter and so he grew up spending time in firehouses. And so when he went to get his advanced degree in organizational development it was natural for him. I mean that was who he studied were the fire fighters. And what he found sort of long story short is that within a firehouse the firefighters who were the most dedicated to the long standing tradition of the firehouse meal and sitting around the table and building trust it actually correlated with higher performance. And those firefighters saved more lives.

So for me being a connector my whole life and seeing the results just anecdotally in my own life of what happens when people connect and build relationships this was a goose bumps moment for me saying wow there’s actually science to back this up, that if we invest time to connect it has a positive impact on performance, both from a business perspective and from a personal perspective. And I have since had so many interesting discussions with firefighters about what does this look like in real life. And it’s been amazing.

So to answer your question as I got more in to the research and the firefighters and you watch shows about firefighters and see pictures, what is the stereotypical firehouse meal. It is spaghetti and meatballs. And so thus The Spaghetti Project was born. And it’s a name, it’s an umbrella for good things happen when people connect. And many times I go into companies and bring together disparate groups of people or teams or departments or senior leadership to come together to talk about why we’re not talking, how we can do it better and sort of using the concept of The Spaghetti Project as a platform to do that.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh gosh, that is the most wonderful thing I think when you bring people together who wouldn’t otherwise meet. So they come from a completely different perspective, a completely different discipline. And there’s so much leverage in that. I think that’s where real innovation happens. So many great companies are born of that, the kind of chocolate peanut butter moment. We all learn so much when we can see through others eyes and soon in being the connective tissue to make that possible it really does have the effect of lifting everybody up.

Erica Keswin:                     Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         And so what are some examples of really interesting things that have happened for you along the way when you’ve say for instance got the engineers talking to the sales people or whatever, people who otherwise would be like chalk and cheese?

Erica Keswin:                     Exactly. So there’s a lot of correlation between connection and creativity. And one of the interesting places where I see it the most is let’s just say you’re starting a business and you have five people and in any kind of a startup everybody does everything in the beginning, including the CEO. Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh yeah, I know that one.

Erica Keswin:                     So we’re all in, we roll up our sleeves and everybody does everything but if all goes well and as you grow you need structure, you need different parts of your organization and it becomes more siloed. So you have to think more strategically about the ways in which you connect to different people because it’s not happening as organically as it once did when you were small and everybody did it everything. So some of the fun examples to share are you can do this through a variety of different ways. So one is even physical space. I mean there are some companies in the book that I’ve spoken to, dosomething.org is one. There’s a company called Betterment that’s a robo-advising company. And they get people to switch seats. I mean not rocket science and not expensive.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh God, you’re making me-

Erica Keswin:                     [inaudible 00:34:43]

Melinda Wittstock:         You’re making me-

Erica Keswin:                     Oh sorry.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh no. I’m sorry to interrupt, you just made me think of something. Way way back in another life when I was a television news anchor and I worked for the BBC and we had this experiment where the radio people had to do TV and the TV people had to do radio and it wasn’t just switching seats like we actually had to switch roles. And it led to such tremendous respect for the other. Just because you could see through different eyes and you could apply principles to really advance yourself in what you do just by understanding where the other person was.

Erica Keswin:                     No. It gives a sense of empathy walking in someone else’s shoes and the bigger an organization gets there’s less opportunity to do that. And another example that comes to mind was I was at a company where there were a group of senior executives and when they did an analysis and they looked at their schedules and found that they were just in so many meetings that if I got in touch with you and said “Hey [inaudible 00:36:14] I have a question. I need to get with you.” You would say to me “Well I’m free two weeks from Tuesday.” And I’m like “Well two weeks from Tuesday, this issue is going to be so far over that really doesn’t do me much good.”

So the head of this group decided to try something and he got all of the vice presidents, they were all similar level but across different functions and he said okay once a week, let’s say the office opens at 9:00 typically even though we know now there’s so much flexibility people kind of come and go at different times but let’s say most times people got there at 9:00. He said “Once a week this whole group we’re going to get to work an hour early and we’re not going to have an agenda. We’re going to have coffee. We’re going to talk.” And what ended up happening was just by bringing people together informally the amount of work that got done because people were physically seeing each other their calendars went from being 90 percent full and booked and lowered to 70 percent. So it was just we’re going to intentionally get people together for this hour, invest in this and not only were they building relationships but they were getting real work done just being able to be physically in the same place and answering each other’s questions. Again, not rocket science.

Melinda Wittstock:         I love that you’re doing this work because so many companies frankly really do need to transform their workplace cultures if they are going to survive. It seems right now that some companies when they stick to that old command control corporate culture or not inclusive or not helping employees connect or not aligned on mission or values or a purpose they’re going to have a hard time succeeding in this new world. So I know that a lot of the work you do Erica is also around company mission or values or getting companies to have sort of a purpose bigger than the quarterly bottom line. How does that manifest? What are some of the things you see where companies are getting it wrong and what are some of the areas where they’re getting it right and to what extent is getting it right having a bit more let’s see quote unquote feminine values of inclusiveness and intuition and connectedness?

Erica Keswin:                     Yeah it’s funny when you say feminine values. When I was doing the research for the book I came across this article where one of the founders, his name’s Dave Guilbault, one of the founders of Warby Parker said that he hires for empathy. And I thought to myself oh my gosh we’ve made it. These feminine values, more and more people are seeing the importance of bringing them alive and having them valued in an organization. So yeah I feel like that moment has arrived. I would say on the mission and values front most companies out there have one but many of those companies put it on a piece of paper, they’re platitudes and people can see right through it. And what’s driving a lot of this change are the millennials and Gen Z that want to work for purposeful organizations that truly live their  values. And I know I’ve used this phrase a couple times but it’s not rocket science, but it’s hard, and it takes a lot of discipline to align all of your processes within the organization to those values.

[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]One mistake companies make is that they have way too many values. To me, the sweet spot is three to five, maybe six. But three to five really is the best. When you have ten values, who can remember what those values are, let alone trying to live them. @Erica_Keswin #WINGSofInspiredBusiness #WomeninBusiness[/tweet_box]

So a few tips that I can share for listeners out there who are starting companies or growing companies. I would say one mistake companies make is that they have way too many values. To me, the sweet spot is three to five, maybe six. But three to five really is the best. When you have ten values, who can remember what those values are, let alone trying to live them.

I’ll give you a great example, Uber for example, right before it imploded, I was actually at a meeting at Lyft, one of the competitors and what really impressed me at Lyft was that they had four very, very clear values. And you walk around that office, everybody knows what they are. Their processes are aligned with them. They use them for hiring. They even align the design of their physical space to one of their values. So one of their values is create fearlessly. Which I have to say I love that phrase. And in the world of open offices today, many people complain. They even take … that could be a whole other podcast discussion but they even take days off from work because they can’t concentrate or get any work done let alone create fearlessly. And so the founder is a big fan of Willie Wonka and created in their San Francisco office, this Willie Wonka room where it kind of looks like a library, but you go in there and no one’s talking and you can go in there to create fearlessly.

So I had a really cool meeting, Lyft is in the book. I think they do a very good job, they have again, four values that are clear. They celebrate them. In contrast, after I left that meeting and I have not done any work for Uber, I know they’re working on their values right now. I said to myself, I wonder how many values Uber has. Because clearly something’s not working. And at the time, and this is under the old regime, they had 14 values. And so the litmus test that I recommend to people, I call it the fork in the road test. Which is, when you’re at the fork in the road and you don’t know whether to go right or left, your values should help drive that decision. And when you have 14, that’s just not going to work.

So I think the companies that are starting to get it right are really honing in on, and prioritizing and forcing themselves to really go deep and say, “What truly are the things that define us and our brand? And differentiate that, because we can’t pick everything.”

Melinda Wittstock:         So let’s go back in time a little bit. When did you first know you were an entrepreneur? And also a connector, you’ve mentioned a couple times that you knew that very early on as a young girl that you were a connector.

Erica Keswin:                     Well you know, up until recently I don’t think I saw myself as an entrepreneur, but I think that because I’ve always invested time to connect with people, I’m able to put myself in situations where I’m meeting people, hearing about new ideas. And if you don’t put yourselves in those situations it’s hard for something new and interesting and exciting to evolve. And so it was because one day I was out in Aspen, Colorado at the Ideas Festival, and it was funny my twins were six years old and my son was four. I was walking around with an iPhone and a Blackberry. I was [inaudible 00:44:04] because I loved my Blackberry so much, which is aging me, but I already said my age so that’s no surprise.

And I was feeling and seeing how this technology was impacting things. And I saw that there was a woman named Sherry Turkle who was speaking at the Ideas Festival. And I didn’t know Sherry or know much about her work. And she had written a book called Alone Together. And I said to my husband, “Hey I’m gonna go to this talk this morning to see if I could learn a few things and minimize any psychological damage I’m doing to my kids given that I’m walking around with two phones.” And I went, I bought her book. And we ended up chatting and went out for coffee. And in that moment, she was describing how she was working on a new project, looking at how we as a society can reclaim conversation, which became the name of her new book. And it was sort of this light bulb moment where my innate nature of connecting and passion for connecting and workplace strategy. All of these things came together in this a-ha moment where this entrepreneurial nature in me came out.

So I wouldn’t say I was a born entrepreneur, but everything leading up to that moment, making a lot of connections, investing time in people, and being aware of what was going on in the workplace culminated in this moment where I said to Sherry, “I know you met me thirty minutes ago but I would love to work with you on the business section of your book.” And that’s how the whole thing happened. And I worked with her, helped her. Her book came out, and then I went off on my own and decided that I had a message to get out in the world and I’ve learned a lot along the way about being an entrepreneur as we talked about it. Especially being a woman entrepreneur and some of those challenges. But I think you can become an entrepreneur at any time in your life.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s interesting that most women become entrepreneurs later in life. There’s all sorts of research about it, but I think it’s mostly because we feel that we have to have credentials.

Erica Keswin:                     Right. Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         We need real world experience. We go out and we accumulate all of this. But I also think there’s an interesting time in our lives where we go into our 40’s wanting to reinvent. We’ve done it everybody else’s way. And it’s kind of like, wait a minute. How can I step into my own authentic feminine power? And perhaps our kids are a little bit older, but most women are really succeeding in entrepreneurship in their 40’s, 50’s and even in their 60’s.

Erica Keswin:                     Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Whereas men tend to be in the sweet spot in their 20’s and early 30’s.

Erica Keswin:                     Maybe it’s correlated with that study that I’m sure you’ve seen when a job description gets posted and there’s ten things that you need ideally to do the job and the man has one or two, and he puts his hat in the ring, yet the woman feels like she needs to have eight, nine or even ten of the ten to be considered. Maybe that sort of weighs into what you’re saying. Because it’s not until later in life that we feel like there’s even a chance that we have all of these skills needed to be successful as an entrepreneur.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah I think that’s part of it. I mean, it really is about getting in that confidence and there’s part of it also that’s just, “Oh screw it. I’m just gonna be myself. I have nothing to prove.”

Erica Keswin:                     Right. Right.

Melinda Wittstock:         Just go for it. But I do see a real trend that more and more women are stepping into this, whether their head hit the corporate glass ceiling. And that was enough. Or they took a break and they were stay at home moms for a little while. Whatever the case is they have some side hustle or some expertise that they can turn intoa coaching business. But then the next really big hurdle I think, for many, is scale. There’s only three percent of women owned businesses that actually hit a million dollars or more. And I think what keeps us stuck on that start up sticky floor is not being able to ask for help. And going back to where we began the conversation about connection. We’re not asking for help, we’re not finding good mentors necessarily or paying it forward by mentoring others ourselves and we should be lifting women coming up behind us just as much as we’re asking for mentorship ourselves.

And networking, getting out and creating those relationships. We’re good at relationship. And yet, you walk around-

Erica Keswin:                     Exactly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Corporation, and all the women have their heads down, working hard. And the men are out there creating relationships. What’s that about?

Erica Keswin:                     Well I tell people, and it goes back to some of these other responsibilities that we as women often bear. That the men are taking clients to lunch, and doing different things, and especially if you’re a woman balancing all of the care taking. Again, whether it’s with kids, or with elderly parents, or even with friends, I tell people … and I call them the tray takers. You cannot take your tray of food back to your office every day for lunch. And I’m not telling you you need to go to lunch every day, but you need to be more intentional about building these relationships. And actually there’s a really interesting article that just came out in Harvard business review about women’s challenges in creating those informal networks. And trust me, it will not happen if you’re sitting in your office. My advice to people is to go back and look at their calendars and they have to build in time. Maybe they entertain one night a week, and that’s what their committed too. Maybe they can’t even do it that much. Maybe twice a week they go to lunch with their teen.

But left to our own devices, many of us will sit in our office, get through our emails, but that will not help us scale our business in the same way that going out and going for a walk with someone, having a coffee, making time to truly connect. I mean, if I didn’t make time to truly connect with Sherry in Aspen after her talk, I wouldn’t be here today talking about this.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah exactly. For me it has to go in my calendar.

Erica Keswin:                     Exactly.

Melinda Wittstock:         So I’m in a whole series of entrepreneurial mastermind groups for instance. They’re all a little bit different from each other. I make sure that in my calendar I go to lunch with somebody at least once a week, or do something like that. I will try and introduce people to each other. At least do three of those a week, I’m trying to get more consistent, and do one a day.

Erica Keswin:                     Wow.

Melinda Wittstock:         Where I’ll just introduce people.

Erica Keswin:                     One a day. That’s amazing.

Melinda Wittstock:         I started with one a week.

Erica Keswin:                     Wow.

Melinda Wittstock:         I’m now up to three a week. It’s really just a discipline. You just start doing stuff and before you know it, it’s just in there and it becomes a habit.

Erica Keswin:                     You will definitely go straight to heaven for that one.

Melinda Wittstock:         But it’s amazing though, how that works. And then the other thing I added a couple years ago, is I have to do a lot of travel, and so whatever city I’m going to. I’ll put something out on Facebook and through my networks, and just say, “Hey, having dinner, who’s in?” And usually get a group of anywhere from eight to twenty has been the biggest and we have-

Erica Keswin:                     I’m telling you. We are soul sisters.

Melinda Wittstock:         We are, you do that too right?

Erica Keswin:                     I do the same thing. Yeah. I mean, and it was funny, I just attended the Fortune Tech conference in Colorado. Yeah, many more men come than women. And this is actually a really cool example and it fits with one of the chapters in my book, which is called finding the sweet spot between tech and connect. So I think you’ll love this story. So I’m on the app, many of these conferences have an app which is great. You can see who’s there. You can ping people. And try to hook up and connect and have a deeper conversation.

So I’m sitting in one of the sessions and I see that this woman Dawn who’s happens to be the chief brand officer for Planned Parenthood. She put out something in the universe, saying, “Hey, I’m here. If anybody wants to get together, to talk about XY or Z, using tech for good. I’m around.” So I ping her right back. “I would love to join uptown. That sounds great.” She said, “Okay, a bunch of us, there are a few women. We’re all gonna go to dinner. You’ll pull up a chair. We’ll make room for you.” I said, “Great. But also just know I actually am staying somewhere where I could host something if this group got too big for a restaurant.”

So long story short, word starts getting out. There’s this woman event as part of this technology conference and later that night. Dawn and I hosted 20 women at my house. And amazing connections and relationships. But it goes back to being intentional and setting goals which is exactly what you’re doing.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah. It’s so true. Amazing, amazing things happen. I think the funniest things was just a few weeks back I was in Los Angeles. And I brought together a group of really wonderful, high performing entrepreneurs and a couple of them new each other, but most of them didn’t. And then what was really funny was that one of the women who was there, she had been on my podcast and it was awesome. I was meeting her for the first time. And then there’s this incredible filmmaker. Who actually just was the director for the big Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible. Who I knew through my entrepreneurial circles. Because he’d done a lot of work for Richard Branson. And so I knew him, so I invited him to the dinner too, because I was like, “Oh God, Rob’s in LA. Okay. So that will be great.” And then it turns out that he says to me, oh I don’t know about twenty minutes into the dinner he’s really, really quiet. And he says, “So Melinda, this woman that you’re sitting next to, my friend has been trying to fix me up with her for three months. And I come to dinner with you and there she is.”

So really funny magical things like that happen. And I have so many more stories than that. And you never know. In connecting people, magical, magical stuff happens. And it’s always wonderful because people feel grateful for it too. And everybody’s happy and all kinds of opportunities present that you wouldn’t otherwise know. And yeah you feel good. You were saying too, for women, you get a real kind of boost, is it oxytocin that floods through us when we’re connecting?

Erica Keswin:                     Yeah. Your oxytocin, your feel good hormone goes up and your stress, you’re cortisol goes down.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well that all sounds good to me. So Erica, as we wrap up the interview. I want everybody to know about your book. Because you’ve got a book coming up, which I’m excited to read. Tell us first a little bit about that and then where you people can find you and work with you.

Erica Keswin:                     Great. So the book is called “Bring your Human to Work”. And the subtitle is: “Ten Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That’s Good For People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World.” And the book, it’s ten chapters, and provides what I call a menu of options for changing the way we do business. And what I really like about it is that it’s not rocket science. A lot of the tips and tools and anecdotes and stories in the book don’t cost an arm and a leg. You don’t have to be Google or Facebook to adopt some of these practices. And it’s really important for companies who are starting to scale, because culture becomes more and more important. So I’m very excited. It’s a labor of love. There’s tons of cool companies that are in the book from Melanie Whelan who’s the CEO of Soul Cycles to Linked In, to a travel company called [inaudible 00:57:16] the list goes on and on. There’s just companies everybody’s heard of, and new exciting companies that I’m excited for people to learn about.

And you can find me at www.ericakeswin.com which is E R I C A K E S W I N and you can sign up for my newsletter and hear anecdotes and stories and about my book tour and road show because I’m gonna be coming all over the country. Including to DC a few times in your neck of the woods. So we’re gonna have to meet face to face.

Melinda Wittstock:         Maybe what we should do, is we should hold a dinner together? How about that?

Erica Keswin:                     Yes. 100%.

Melinda Wittstock:         Okay. You’re on.

Erica Keswin:                     So if any of your listeners are in DC they can come too.

Melinda Wittstock:         Exactly. And I know I have quite a few and some great entrepreneurs here as well. So let’s make that happen.

Erica Keswin:                     Great. For sure.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s wonderful. Erica, so delightful speaking with you. Thank you for putting on your wings and flying with us today.

Erica Keswin:                     Thanks it was so great talking to you.

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