People whom we meet make quick decisions about us. Should they hire us? Trust us? Follow us? Work with us? Buy from us?
Sylvie di Giusto is a professional keynote speaker and trainer who uses her corporate experience and multicultural background to help audiences around the world understand how people make up their minds very quickly about them and either open the door or slam it shut. With a cutting-edge approach, a competitive mindset, and a passion for visualization, Sylvie takes audiences on an entertaining and engaging journey that reveals how others perceive them and thus perceive the value of their abilities, their services, or their company. At the core, Sylvie wants her clients to understand how making an impactful first and lasting impression can help attract and keep customers.
Sylvie is the author of The Image of Leadership and the creator of “How You Impress,” an interactive mobile learning platform for professionals and organizations who place great importance on the impression they make. With her unique and thought-provoking keynotes, breakouts, and online training programs, Sylvie opens participants’ minds and closes the gaps between personal impact and customer attraction for male and female leaders in sales and customer-facing roles all the way from entry-level employees to C-Suite executives. As a professional keynote speaker, Sylvie takes great pride in being easy to work with, delivering content-rich presentations, and surprising participants with the unexpected.
Learn more about Sylvie and how perception works here: https://sylviedigiusto.com/audit/
Bryan Wish: Hi, Sylvie, welcome to the One Away show.
Sylvie di Giusto: Hi, Bryan, I’m so thrilled and excited to be with you. Thank you very much for having me.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, of course. As I shared with you when we hopped on, I said my dad told me growing up, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” You are the top of the space on understanding what that means, so we’ll dive into that.
Sylvie di Giusto: [inaudible] that’s all I say.
Bryan Wish: Well, cool, let’s dive in. So what’s the One Away moment that you want to share with us today?
Sylvie di Giusto: My One Away moment happened on November 20th, 2008, at 8:24 AM in the morning. Now you might be surprised why I’m so specific and remember that, but every good mom knows that, because that was exactly the moment I gave birth to my daughter in a hospital in Germany. You might think, “Well, that is not very unique.” It is actually not the One Away moment that I’m referring to, but my husband was late and he walked into the room where I just delivered our baby at 8:25, and the first thing coming out of his mouth was saying to me, “I have a job offer in America.”
Now, you need to know that since I’m five years old, I’m dreaming of living in the United States, I tried everything to make that happen. I applied for visa, green card, jobs, colleges, I always say I probably dated every single American that ever crossed to Europe to make this happen and it never worked out until November 20th at 8:24 AM in the morning, 2008. So he said, “I have a job offer, but the company knows we just had a baby, so they’re going to fly me back and forth and you just come in half a year or so.” I said, “No, I’m waiting for this moment my entire life, since I’m a child.” So nine days later, I was on a plane with a newborn baby on my lap leaving behind a corporate career of 20 years in Europe, and moved to the United States.
Bryan Wish: I love the start of this and where this will go, I appreciate you sharing, one, such a special moment in your life, and clearly a special moment on multiple frets.
Sylvie di Giusto: It’s very personal, but it has to stay here on the internet, nobody else can know.
Bryan Wish: That’s right, no one else can now. So your daughter now is 13? Is that right?
Sylvie di Giusto: Exactly.
Bryan Wish: The years it gets real fun, I have a 12 year old sister and she is a basket-case, I mean a good one. So for you, I want to ask, you had a dream of always being in the States, and for maybe global perspective or global context, why was it such an important thing for you to make a life in the States, coming from Germany?
Sylvie di Giusto: I have a theory, of course I don’t know if the theory is true because I was five years old, and it was actually my brother who told me, it was the first time he heard me say, when people would ask me, “What do you want to be when you are grown up?” The typically question you ask children. So many children said, “I want to be a teacher, a police officer, a nurse, a doctor, whatever.” When people asked me, “What do you want to be when you are grown up?” I happened to say, “An American.”
I’m not sure what triggered that, because I had never been in the United States, I moved here, we don’t have any relatives here, I didn’t even watch, back then there was nothing like internet or streaming, I have no idea where that urge comes from. Today, when I look back, what I love about the United States is that you can just dream your dream here, it’s open, it’s wide, people are open-minded and wide in their thoughts and ideas, and really everything is possible here. I just love that.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. Well, I think it’s so important to always be evolving and expanding in all the ways. It’s neat that maybe the United States represented that for you. So on another layer, you grew up in Germany, that’s correct?
Sylvie di Giusto: It’s a little bit more complicated, you hear a Spanish grandmother, an Italian grandfather, a French father, then Austrian mother.
Bryan Wish: Okay, so European with some other Latin influence.
Sylvie di Giusto: Yes, it’s a wide mix, but there was always good food in our home, I can tell you that.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, I can smell, feel all of it, I wish I could travel in the time thing just to experience that. So for you, with the way your family grew up and how that was, was an open-mind embraced, was a push for innovation, a push for multiple perspective embraced? Or was that something that you maybe had to find outside the home?
Sylvie di Giusto: Well, so for me, there was never really home. Many people I think grow up and have, are anchored somewhere, have roots somewhere, I didn’t never have those roots. I was home in France and in Austria and we had Italian influence, and then I moved to Germany and the UK. There was never a place I felt really rooted, until I came to the United States. It’s actually the first time that I feel home, and I think I feel home here because it represents in some terms my family, I lived in Manhattan 10 years at the very beginning, and even in Manhattan it is the most diverse city to live in. You have people from all over the world, you hear probably a dozen languages per day, you can eat food from all around. It was that diversity in human beings, but also in ideas and thinking, it felt always very attractive to me.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, absolutely. I know, New York definitely has that, the diversity. You get off the train and there’s 14 cultures, it’s unbelievable.
Sylvie di Giusto: For my children, because you mentioned your sister, my daughter now is a 13 year old, I have a son too, for both of them it was the most amazing place to grow up, to grow into such a diverse world. I can tell you one example that I always carry in my heart, my daughter, until she was six and a half years, she did not know that there are different skin colors. She just didn’t understand, it was just programmed in her brain, because everybody in New York has a different skin color, and at six and a half years was the first time she asked me a question about it and I thought, “Dammit, now it’s over.” Now she realized that there are some differences. Luckily for her, it doesn’t make a difference, because she grew up there.
Bryan Wish: Right. Which is great, without growing up with bias or growing up with making and forming opinions, and the fact that you can cultivate your kids in an environment that was open and inclusive to all demographics or all types of backgrounds, I think it’s special. So the United States felt like home, you never were anchored really growing up, but when you came to the States, maybe it felt like this, did it feel almost like this liberation? You got here and it was like, “Man, now I can really anchor my feet in and come into this person I’m supposed to be.” What happened once you got here?
Sylvie di Giusto: Well, as I told you, nine days earlier I just had a baby, so I realized I have to take care of myself and my baby for a while, so the first year I was a mom. Then of course, at one point thought, “So what am I going to do now with my career, my business?” Back in Europe, my last job in human resources was to build up a management academy for a huge international tourism and retail company. While I did that, I realized that, very often the academy was evolved to be for the top 100 leaders in that organization, but very often we hired people from the outside to become one of those top 100s and have very responsible jobs in the organization.
During the interview process, they said all the right things, they did all the right things, they behaved exactly the way they wanted them to behave, they looked exactly the way we wanted them to look like. Years later, I had to fire them because of a total lack of performance. So I came obsessed with that idea, why do we think specific things about people, why do we perceive them in a specific way and make decisions just based on that? Call it our gut feeling. Why, for example in that organization, there were so many young ambitious people that could have done that job probably three times better, but we did not identify them as potential leaders?
So I started to study perception and human behavior and thinking and decision making process, and so after one year I decided to go back into that area, and instead of going back into corporate, try to find myself and became a speaker and trainer and executive coach helping people understand what others think about them, and how it impacts their decision making process.
Bryan Wish: Wow. I love the evolution, it took you the self awareness to reflect on something that you worked to build, maybe some of the things that didn’t work, maybe not because of you perhaps, but because of the certain behaviors of people in the program. So you came to the States, it was, “I have all this intel and know, but how do I go deeper or evolve what this was into something I can really sink my teeth into?” So one, I just want to acknowledge, I think so many people, obviously you’re different, but so many people they bounce one thing to the next, and you were able to more or less transfer what was built. So you got the itch and the bug to say, “How do I really pursue and dive into perception and people and how they’re perceived?” So I want to start on a high level, what was your maybe perception about what perception meant then and how has it evolved since your learnings and all the things that you’re up to today?
Sylvie di Giusto: Well, I had a long corporate career in a very safe environment in Germany, and I did not have that entrepreneurial buck in me at all, because I didn’t know anything else but corporate and having a boss and having a secure job and going to work and loving it, but all of a sudden I was out there by myself and had to find my clients. To tell you the truth, I’m doing this now since 12 years, the first two years, oh my god, I was so unsuccessful, what a failure.
But I’m glad I did, because I learned the hard way that, I positioned myself on the market in a way that when people reached out to me and said, “Do you want to speak about body language?” I said, “Sure, I’ll speak about body language.” “Do you want to speak about communication?” Sure, I’m going to speak about communication. “Do you want to be our keynoter?” Sure. “Do you want to be our trainer?” Sure. “Do you want to be our moderator?” Sure. As long as you give me a check, I’m going to do whatever you want me to do.
So being and offering anything to everybody was probably one of my biggest mistakes I made, but I’m glad that I made it so that I learned the hard way that if you, Bryan, this morning would have woken up and your heart would be in pain, you have heart pain, you have trouble with breathing, you get hot flashes, cold flashes, you realize there is something wrong in my body and probably it has something to do with your heart, would you rather go to a general doctor or would you go to a heart expert? Most people opt for the heart expert.
So I had to learn for me, my career, the way I’m perceived on the market, that I really have to niche down and become the expert in one topic, even if it’s tiny, as tiny as first impressions, which are milliseconds, that whenever somebody’s looking for an expert in that area, they’re going to come and call me, because they don’t waste their time with a general doctor or in my case, a general speaker.
Bryan Wish: Well, what’s the quote? The riches are in the niches. On one hand, it’s a mistake of trying to be everything to everyone, like you’re right, the doctor to the heart, amazing analogy for this. At the same time, and I think for many people who are able to maybe lock into a niche, it’s like they’ve given themself that lived experience to follow the signals of what’s right and wrong for them, and sometimes you’ve got to start wide to go narrow, because if you start too narrow and don’t know why you’re going narrow, it can almost have the opposite effect. So I think it’s so easy for us to look at, I share a similar experience, but in retrospect it’s a great gift you gave yourself to say, “This is where I can really thrive.” So on that note of thriving and niche-ing down, how did you know first impressions and presentation was your thing to really lock your teeth into, versus maybe topics around that niche?
Sylvie di Giusto: I think that was just a natural process, doing a lot of research, creating my own content and my own expertise around it, and having the guts of walking on a stage and talking about it in a language, for example, that is not my first language. I’ll give you another story, I’ll share another story with you and the audience, I for example thought that becoming a professional speaker that this accent that you hear, that wide mix, that mess, would be a huge problem. There was somebody who gifted me with probably the greatest gift I have received throughout my career as a speaker, when I lived in New York one day somebody from a TV station called and said, “Do you want to come into the studio and talk with us about a politician,” back then who ran for a very important office.
I said, “Sure.” As a business owner, you take every media opportunity, especially at the beginning. I walked in, they invited me again and again, and again, and again, I became part of their show. But when I watched that show and heard me speaking with that accent in between all those well spoken political experts, it was horrible, Bryan, I couldn’t hear it, I couldn’t listen to myself. So one evening at the holiday party, I was sitting with the producer of the show and I shared with him and I said, “I can not understand why you invite me again and again, and again.” He said to me, “That accent is exactly the reason why we invite you, you sound like an international expert and you say things, because of your lack of words, so simple that anybody in front of the TV understands you, while they often have no idea what the others talk about.”
That gave me such a push, such a push to my self confidence that now I realized I’m not only niched in my topic, which is very small on first impressions, but the width, the wideness I get through my accent, because usually I get booked for international companies because they are looking just for that, for somebody who is not the cookie-cutter perfect American presenter or German presenter or English or French presenter, it’s a mix for everybody.
Bryan Wish: It’s great that they gave you real time feedback on why you stand out. In American culture, you came from more European roots and you could … Yeah. By the way, I’ll give that guy a confirmation, it’s a nice accent, it is different, and it’s just nice to hear something unique. So to go in those areas where you can be a little different, and for you it might be your accent, for others it might be something else, and that’s probably part of making a first impression. So you got that gift of knowing, “Hey, maybe here’s why I might stand out at first impression.” For you, when you’re working with individuals, organizations, how are you going about helping other people think about how they make a first impression if they don’t have the accent or they don’t have X?
Sylvie di Giusto: That’s a very, very good question. So let me first share with you how first impressions actually work in general, on your audience. There’s an idea of the concept that we judge each other every single day, like it or not. It has nothing to do with the fact that you’re a good human being or that your female or male or whoever you identify, that you are old or young, it is just brain performance. There is scientific proof that we make up an opinion about somebody within milliseconds or seconds, and we do that based on a framework I have developed, which I call the ABCDE.
The A stands for your appearance, how people look, people just look at you and they think they know something based on your body image, your clothing, your style, your hair, your makeup. B for behavior, how you behave, how you interact with them in those micro moments. The C stands for communication, what you say and how you say it. Then there is the D for your diction, because nowadays most often we don’t make a first impression anymore in person. I just made a first impression on your guests in a digital way, they are listening to a podcast, we are not in a room together, even the two of us are not, right? Then there is the E, environment in that you operate, the people you hang out, the places where you hang out has a huge impact too on how people see you.
That is how people imprint an impression about you, and obviously it’s just a first. You have the ability to change that, the challenge is that a powerful source works against you called unconscious bias. Because for example, people just want to be right. They have an opinion about you and one example, confirmation bias will make sure that they look for confirmation of their initial opinion by ignoring everything that goes against their opinion. If people want you to be lazy, they’re going to find proof that you are lazy, even if you are not a lazy person, but they’re going to pick out those pieces of information to confirm their own opinion.
So this is what I try to help leaders and organizations to understand that it’s just a process that happens to you, and you can either ignore it, which is wrong obviously, you can fight it, which is hard, or you can use it to your advantage. You define how people should perceive you, and you give them hints of that perception during the first encounters, and confirmation bias will make sure that they find proof in a good way. Because if you want to be perceived as somebody who is energetic and positive and optimistic, and you give them hints in your ABCDs about those qualities, their brain is going to look for proof.
Bryan Wish: This is great, this is why the impression here is beautiful. So I love what you said about people, they like to form their opinions and they love to confirm that by looking for specific clues around it, by environments we show up in, words we use, digital surroundings. We’re giving people data to go out and gain a perception of us. What I find so interesting, probably I have to imagine to be extremely stimulating in your work is helping people understand maybe their perception today, and then understanding how they want to elevate or change that perception. So for you, how do you, and by the way, share whatever you’re comfortable with, but how do you help people understand and get a maybe baseline for their perception, and then what’s the process of evolving perception into something that is different, if they want to be?
Sylvie di Giusto: So there is a triangle, I want you to imagine in your head, and there are three parties that are very important for the way you are perceived, and I’m going to walk you through one time as if you and I would be in a room and I would be your speaker, because then I would walk you through an exercise and then I’d tell you where you can do the same online. The triangle is first and foremost, you are the most important part of the perception game, you need to know and define how you would like people to perceive you, how would you like to be or what would you like to be known for?
As long as you don’t do that work, every adjustment you make is just a layer, it’s just fake and you want to be authentic. That includes, what are your values and beliefs? What are your natural talents and gifts? What are your skills and expertise and experiences and accomplishments? What clients do you want to serve? So there are a lot of criteria that you have to pin down to two or three words that describe your picture perfect perception. So for most of us, how we think about ourselves doesn’t pay the rent. So we need somebody who buys something from us or buys into us, and would like to have what we have to offer, but they have expectations too and those expectations are different from industry to industry.
If you work in finance in Manhattan, people want to perceive you very different from you are a healthcare provider somewhere in the suburbs of I don’t know where. So you need to take into consideration what is expected from your industry and your role, and how would they describe their picture perfect coach or their picture perfect podcast host or their picture perfect doctor or their picture perfect sales professional? In there, there will be a gap. It is your responsibility to fill up that gap as far as you are willing to go, that doesn’t mean that you should appear or behave or communicate it different just because your industry or job requires that, but you can, what I say is sometimes oral elements or adjust a little bit to get it right, if you’re still authentic, but you serve your client.
Bryan Wish: So it seems like there’s two parts to that, you are going to be judged by a vocation in a certain degree, by how you show up, what you’re doing with that vocation, but then once you’re in that vocation there’s a built in community of people that will then judge you. So there’s this external perception to who you are to the outside world, then there’s that internal perception of who you are to the people while you’re in that world, in a job complex. Is that, just to clarify, that’s what you’re saying?
Sylvie di Giusto: Yes, yes. Because when we talk about perception, we start with thinking about them first, but what if the real problem is not the way how they perceive you, the real challenge is how you perceive yourself first and what perception you would like to have to thrive. So I always start there and what I said before, two ways to do that is, in my presentations, I let people go and experience physically the way of being labeled. I sit them around in a room with a sheet of labels and then I walk around, and if you see Bryan, the first word that comes to your mind, write down on a label and put it on his back.
So if you watch any videos of my presentations, you will always see people with dozens of labels on their back and probably wonder, “What are they doing?” But that is the physical experience of being labeled and perceived by others, and then we compare those results on your back with what you have written down before how you think you are perceived and how you would like to be perceived. If you want to go through a similar experience, you can do that online on my website, maybe Bryan’s so kind and can add a link somewhere.
Bryan Wish: Of course, absolutely.
Sylvie di Giusto: It is a free assessment where you answer questions for about 10 to 15 minutes, and the result will show you a mixture of how you perceive yourself and how the world perceives you based on your choices throughout that audit. That will show you a little bit of that gap that is up to you to fill it or not.
Bryan Wish: Wow. I just appreciate how you’ve broken it down, and I like how you differentiated it between self and external and what that means. To get that level of intentional thought is important. Now, where I think your work is fascinating is especially in this sea of digital, not that it’s not in a conference room or a board meeting or a big presentation. So I also see a lot of tie-ins with your work with a theme around really belonging, knowing yourself. So let me back into my question, so in the digital world, for some reason I’m constantly trying to look up the subliminal behind people’s posts. Some post with their shirt off six times a month, or always posting about their girlfriend or boyfriend, I’m always trying to look at the deeper meaning of saying, “What’s behind this?”
I’m always constantly asking the question, “Are people comfortable with themself?” Because yes, perception is, sure, what do people think? But another layer is am I comfortable enough with my self perception where I don’t also care about external perception? So in your work and working with individuals maybe on a deeper level before it moves to external, how are you helping clients maybe just get comfortable in their own skin? That’s a hard enough thing to do, especially in this day and age.
Sylvie di Giusto: Well, the key word is always balance, balance in everything that we do, because it goes from what you described, somebody putting out everything on the internet, what they experience every single day without any filters, some go over creating a fake life online that has nothing to do with the reality, and that also goes up to the CEO of a company wondering, “Can I even have a social media life in my role? Should I even post something?” To people saying, “I don’t want to be seen on the internet at all.”
The reality is always in balance, and not just balance in what you post, because nowadays we have understood the social media 101, that what you put out there is out there forever, so be a little bit careful with pictures and certain situations. Everybody gets that. What becomes more dangerous nowadays is what I call the unintentional digital footprint you leave behind. Because people are more judgmental about that, and the difference is intentional, those are the posts you put out, they the headers that you pick, the names that you pick, everything that you intentionally put somewhere into the digital space with a click.
But there is more to it, the unintentional digital footprint, the amount of posts per day. We all have that one friend in our network where we think, “Oh, my god. Do they don’t have anything else to do other than posting all day long?” The amount of time then spent online, the friends in your friend list, who you are connected to. So there are a lot of things that we send out in between the lines that are not clear and therefore people just take that information of whoever and however they want to. You might think about your shirtless friend, something is wrong with his self esteem, because he’s constantly putting out those pictures. Somebody else will be thinking, “Oh, my god. He’s in such great shape, he must be mentally and physically totally healthy.”
Perception is never right or wrong, it doesn’t say anything about the fact that a person does something, but perception is always right to you, because you create your opinion upon it.
Bryan Wish: Wow. That’s so interesting, because I don’t think when people form, it goes back to bias, I think when people, or maybe this is your area, but when people form a perception, they probably think everyone else should think that or have that same perception too. But what you’re saying is perception’s unique to you and we can look at what you might see is completely different from what someone else might see, which is perhaps informed by that person’s experiences, life experiences growing up.
Sylvie di Giusto: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Look, I’ll share an example of one of my former bosses, when I worked in Germany, the CEO of the company, after a few years, turned out had some business next to the business, illegally got involved. He ended up in prison for some of the decisions he had made to his personal advantage, under the umbrella of that company we worked for, both of us. He was the CEO, he was my boss. To today, I would still describe him and perceive him as one of the greatest leaders I have ever had. Because my experience with him was very different than the public perception of him having that financial crime attached to him. I had nothing to do with those financial decisions, I was in HR and I just got support from him for my HR position. He was an amazing leader, I would work for him any day again, because I had such a great experience having him as my boss. So you see, those are the extremes.
Bryan Wish: Right, wow.
Sylvie di Giusto: So we all have different opinions and we need to be aware of that, that how we perceive people is just true to ourselves, it has nothing to do with the truth.
Bryan Wish: Right. What’s so interesting is some people work so hard to create an external perception, but what you’re saying is no matter how hard you might work to create that external perception, because of people’s certain experiences, it can be perceived multiple ways. So what would you say, what’s your advice to the people who work so hard to create an external perception that maybe isn’t one that’s true to themselves?
Sylvie di Giusto: Well, I would advise them to rather put their energy into creating a perception of themselves for themselves that makes them happier and fulfilled and self confident about themselves, before [inaudible] you control your perception on the outside a little bit, but if that takes over, if that is your main concern, you’re doing something wrong.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, for sure. So there’s a quote, there’s a book I read this summer called Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown and it talks a lot about belonging, and I think a lot of people think of belonging as let me join a group and I’m in that group, I’ll have elevated status or this or that. But I think what the book really points out well is that sense of belonging is belonging to yourself, and when you are your full self, you will bring along the right people for the ride who will perceive you perhaps in the way that, in your truest form and the other people won’t follow, and that’s completely okay. So I just think the space you’re in is so interesting, because it’s almost helping people give people the license to be themselves, and I think in a very authentic and pure form. Have you ever thought about it like that? Or you disagree?
Sylvie di Giusto: No, I totally agree and I totally disagree.
Bryan Wish: Great, I love this, challenge it.
Sylvie di Giusto: So here’s the part I agree, you absolutely must be clear who you are and what you stand for, and you need to stand your woman or your man. However, reality is you either are going to be working in a corporate environment where you serve clients internally or externally, or you are a business owner. So you can not just focus on yourself alone, you need to play that game a little bit if you want to succeed.
Bryan Wish: I love that answer.
Sylvie di Giusto: People very often give that advice, “You just do you.” I have given it too, “You just do you, you just be yourself.” Yeah? I would like to reframe that, you just do the best version of yourself. Show up as the best self, and you might have relationships after a while where you can show people the rest of you, but for the very beginning and in a corporate environment or as a business owner, you can’t just do you, there are only a few cases who are successful with that model. Trust me, those were not overnight successes, they worked very hard creating that brand and that perception that they can just do whatever they want to do, it didn’t come overnight.
Bryan Wish: Right.
Sylvie di Giusto: I’ll tell you an idea, you need to play that game a little bit.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. It takes one level of extreme self awareness, maybe some proactive-ness and forethought. My mom always said growing up about peeling layers, don’t show the core of the onion the first impression, let people really get to know someone and then … I think what you’re saying is be yourself, but the world we live in today, if your true color is just bashing something you don’t disagree with, you can’t do that in a corporate setting because you’re going to come across not easy to work with or something. So I think all your work, it spans so many different parts of just I think the human experience, I just think it’s so interesting. So I would love to hear from you maybe a story of someone that you’ve worked with or an organization, but maybe a person if you can maybe speak to that, because I just see it singular, of someone who came to you and said, “I need help in this area.” You did a 180 with them and because of that 180 it led to a new direction in their life. Does anything come to mind when I ask you that?
Sylvie di Giusto: Well, there are a lot of clients that I coached that hopefully had that experience and can confirm that. There are some politicians I have helped during their campaigns to get there, and find the balance in between how can I be true to myself and my own beliefs, but direct people to buy into me? I would say they don’t just buy products or services, first and foremost they buy into you. I’m going to add to your question what we just spoke, very often during that process people ask me, “Well, why can’t I just do this? Look, Mark Zuckerberg goes to work with flip-flops and Steve Jobs had a black turtleneck every single day, and Gary Vaynerchuk can swear and curse on the stage and why can’t I?”
Then I always try to explain that for that transformation, because even for those people it was a transformation, it took time and hard work. I have seen Mark Zuckerberg more often in a suit than you have seen him in flip-flops and a T-shirt, because whenever Mark needed money, he thought a suit is a very good idea to wear with his investors. Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, even if you swears and curses on stage and just says whatever crosses his mind, that wasn’t always the case. He worked very hard for a very long time to have the permission to be different and have this transformation as a result that people don’t care about it anymore. You and I couldn’t go out on stage and say the things that he says and just [inaudible] about everything. So it takes time and effort and consistency to get that permission.
Bryan Wish: Yeah, wow. So I want to lean into that too, I think that’s such a great example, because you’re right, everyone’s like, “Yeah, just …” I think you’re right, for the people try and come across like Gary Vaynerchuk, it smells really bad. But when it’s him, it doesn’t have as bad of a smell, because I don’t know, there’s such a respect about his journey, whatever. So what is that transformation? That transformation’s going to be different from the corporate employee leader to the founder or everyday life, what is that messy middle transformation process look like? How does one know they need to go through it and what are thoughtful steps you can take maybe in that tunnel before you come out reborn 10, 20 years later? In timeframes around it, I know it’s a loaded question, but it’s an interesting one.
Sylvie di Giusto: Well, first of all, there is not cookie-cutter solution, there is no one-size-fits-all formula, everybody has different goals, operates in different environments. What I encourage you to do though is when you have that idea of starting the transformation, such a transformation, very often we make this mistake, we only think about the next step ahead. Where do I want to go next? Let’s take a corporate career, I’m now in this department and my next step is I want to become the head of the department, then the next step is I want to become this and this, and this, and this. Same as a business owner, same for your brand. You always just think about the next step.
What I encourage you to do though is go at the very end, at the very, very end of this path and envision that there, tell me what that is. Do you want to be the CEO of a company? Do you want to have the ability to walk on the biggest stages worldwide and curse and just cheer? What is the end goal? Because then you already have to start today to be perceived as that person, and you will find people around you that help you through that transformation. Let’s take a political example, none of the presidents, as of my knowledge, neither in the United States or any other country, has been identified as a potential president shortly before they ran for that office.
That decision very often has been made 10, 20 years ago when somebody saw you and thought, “You could be presidential material. What can we do to make this happen?” So if your goal is to become the president of the United States in 10 years, then you have to appear, behave and communicate like a president already now.
Bryan Wish: What you’re saying is it takes a lot of reflection and forethought and intentionality to drive a perception aligning to who you want to become. You can do that in a true form, but it needs to be well thought through. Yeah. It’s funny, when we got on Zoom, I was like, “Just you look very polished and put together and nice.” Obviously, was I expecting that? Probably. But then it made me think about, “Oh, I’m wearing a little turtleneck, or not a turtleneck, a little long sleeve shirt, I wonder what I look like to her?”
So it’s interesting how just the smallest things in a person from dress or all the things can really drive perception, and I’ve got to give it to you, it’s so niche and I think such important work that spans so many topics. It’s just fascinating. I want to thank you for sharing. For you, when you look at your line of work and you look at what you’ve been doing, it’s clearly compounded, where do you find the most satisfaction and joy and reward in your work?
Sylvie di Giusto: I think when I speak to audiences and I speak with my clients about the potential of transformation in the room, I always group every audiences in three different parts. I say, “Look, we’re going to have a conference together, one-third of your audience isn’t there because of me, they don’t need my help.” They are already quite okay, they know what they’re doing, they might take away a few tips and tricks, but I’m not going to transform them. They are already on a very good path.
One-third really have an aha moment, it will be eye-opening to them, because they never took the time to think that through and I promise you they are going to leave with such a push of self confidence, self awareness and at least people have started the transformation and it’s going to be amazing. But one-third I can’t fix them, they are there, they think it’s superficial or they understand it but don’t want to change, or chances are high they are the wrong people for the wrong job in the organization. I can not fix that, that’s something you have to fix yourself.
So to answer your question, first of all, I love serving audiences and I love coming for that middle group where I know they are there, I can see them and they reach out to me afterwards and just there is such a connection between me and that one-third knowing, “I get it.” I knew that you knew it somewhere else, that’s happening, but you never took the time to sit down and explore yourself and explore the way you are perceived and what impact that had, and I’m so happy for you that you started today.
Bryan Wish: The student who, the teacher shows up when the student is ready type of thing, and what you’re saying is there’s those students in the audience, they’re ready.
Sylvie di Giusto: Yes.
Bryan Wish: There’re those students in the audience who will probably learn the material and it’s nice reinforcement. Then there are those students who just, it goes completely over their head and they don’t have the care to understand why it’s important, because they haven’t had a reason to care. So it’s interesting, meeting the people in the middle who are ready to absorb, and what a powerful opportunity, such momentous change in someone’s life, whatever that journey ends up being for them.
Sylvie di Giusto: Yes, yes. I’m very, very grateful for that opportunity.
Bryan Wish: So I appreciate you, this has been so stimulating and just so … I’m excited about just all the work you’re doing. Thank you for taking the time to be here with me, us, and where can people find you, reach out to you, work with you, all the things?
Sylvie di Giusto: Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me. I truly enjoyed the conversation with you, so excited that I have the opportunity to meet some of your guests and audience members. You find everything you need on my website, which is SylviediGiusto.com, it’s not the easiest name to spell out, so I’m still hoping that you add a link for me, Bryan. If you already added that link, just add at the very end, “/audit.” So SylviediGiusto.com/audit, and then you can go through that self assessment and find out what the world thinks about you.
Bryan Wish: Awesome. Well, I will ensure our team on the backend includes it on all the channels and all the places, so really appreciate that and we will make sure we share this with great care. Sylvie di Giust…: Thank you very much.