Data Driven Leadership

Guiding Principles for Data-Driven Leadership

Guest: Greg Layok, Chief Executive Officer, Resultant

In this episode, Resultant CEO Greg Layok shares his leadership experience and the importance of data-driven approaches. He emphasizes the necessity of putting people over processes in management, and he advocates for Agile principles as guiding principles for behavior, trusting teams, and providing them with the autonomy to excel.

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Data-driven doesn’t mean robotic.

In fact, using data in client experience and employee engagement actually helps you understand people more deeply. By leveraging data, leaders can make informed decisions while keeping the human connection at the forefront.

In this episode, Resultant CEO Greg Layok shares his leadership experience and the importance of data-driven approaches. He emphasizes the necessity of putting people over processes in management, and he advocates for Agile principles as guiding principles for behavior, trusting teams, and providing them with the autonomy to excel.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How using data enhances empathy and inclusivity in decision-making
  • How embracing an exploratory mindset in business leads to innovation and growth
  • How prioritizing people over processes is critical to effective leadership

In this podcast:

  • [11:08-15:58] Growing data literacy
  • [15:58-19:48] Improving effectiveness with a data-driven approach
  • [19:48-24:04] Creating structures to evaluate and embrace risk
  • [24:04-29:08] Using Agile framework in leadership
  • [29:08-40:22] Incorporating data into strategic planning

Our Guest

Greg Layok

Greg Layok

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Greg Layok was drawn to Resultant for its strong culture and commitment to client outcomes—elements he feels enable us to show up differently, develop deep partnerships with our clients, and get results.

Greg brings 28 years of consulting and business leadership experience to his role as CEO. Throughout his career, he has worked at the intersection of business and technology. As an accomplished consultant, he has worked across many industries, tackling complex problems with a pragmatic focus and an eye toward simplicity. Greg has a passion for developing leaders and has built industry-leading consulting practices through an unshakable focus on people: clients, employees, and communities.

Passionate about bringing new capabilities and offerings to market, Greg also is devoted to ensuring the highest-quality delivery as a means of scaling our organization.

Greg is fascinated by how technology affects individuals and organizations who utilize it and by the bigger picture: the impact of technology on global issues. Greg loves to be outdoors, is an avid F1 fan, and tries to get back to Boulder, Colorado, as often as possible to watch his favorite college football team, the Colorado Buffaloes.


Jess Carter: The power of data is undeniable and unharnessed. It's nothing but chaos.

Speaker 1: The amount of data, it was crazy.

Speaker 2: Can I trust it?

Speaker 3: You will waste money.

Speaker 4: Held together with duct tape.

Speaker 5: Doomed to failure.

Jess Carter: This season, we're solving problems in real time to reveal the art of the possible. Making data your ally, using it to lead with confidence and clarity, helping communities and people thrive. This is Data Driven Leadership, a show by Resultant.

Jess Carter: Hey, guys, Jess here. And on today's episode, you're going to hear from Greg Layok, the CEO of Resultant, the company that I work for. Greg has been our CEO since July of this year. And prior to him, as our company's grown pretty quickly, we've really had leaders of the company who were either the founder or who were around really early on. And so this episode is interesting because I think if you've ever been a CEO or a leader stepping into a new company or maybe you're getting that opportunity soon, it's really interesting to get to know Greg a little. Bit to understand how he ticks, where he came from, what kind of strengths he's applying to onboarding himself into a new company in a leadership role. And I also think he's really vulnerable about that. He shares a bit about sort of what is important to him. And I also think he shares a bit about what is his why.

Jess Carter: So I think it's always important as a leader for people to understand what your why is. And I think we are lucky that his why is deeply and aligned with our mission, vision and values at our company. I think that makes for a pretty smooth transition. But he does unpack more about his passion for data and tech, his history in his relationship with it. And also I think that he does a phenomenal job talking about some of the areas where he demonstrates thought leadership. He's absolutely a subject matter expert in how companies are thinking about leveraging technology to appreciate and generate the outcomes they want in the future. He's seen this for decades. He understands and appreciates the challenges that exist.

Jess Carter: And Greg certainly is not wearing rose-colored glasses. He sees things for what they are, and he anticipates where generative AI may be really, really effective and maybe where it's not the best use of people's time, energy, and efforts.

Jess Carter: So I think he's got some really interesting things to say, and I'm excited for you to get to know him, too.

Jess Carter: Welcome back to Data Driven Leadership. I'm your host, Jess Carter, and on today's episode, we're talking to Greg Layok, the CEO of Resultant. Welcome, Greg.

Greg Layok: Hey, Jess. Happy to be here.

Jess Carter: Glad you're here. And so the CEO of Resultant, this is newish, right?

Greg Layok: Absolutely.

Jess Carter: Okay. How's that going? How's it feel?

Greg Layok: It's going well. I joined in July this summer, about 100 days in, and it's been a fantastic experience. I was excited when I first heard about the company and even more excited now that I'm getting to know all the people and seeing the great work we do for our clients.

Jess Carter: Awesome. Have you had any surprises? Like anything that shocked you or pleasantly surprised you in the first hundred days?

Greg Layok: I really think the depth of talent that we have. I hadn't heard of Resultant prior to getting introduced to the company and interviewing for this position. And the more I learn about the impactful work that we do, about the depth that we have, particularly in the public sector across a number of verticals, I've really been impressed. I'm surprised I hadn't heard of Resultant sooner. And it's a great story and I'm excited of the caliber of people I meet. Like, I knew that people were going to be fantastic, but everything's even better than promised, so it's been a lot of fun.

Jess Carter: Okay, well, some of the things I'm curious about so when I think about a CEO, someone stepping into the CEO role of a fast growing data and tech firm, that is not a real casual move in a career.

Greg Layok: Yeah. So started my career as a developer in a consulting organization at Anderson Consulting way back in the loved technology. Surprisingly, my background in college I had an economics degree, but had always been a bit of a nerd and was programming ever since I was probably six or seven years old.

Jess Carter: Okay.

Greg Layok: So started to consult and just love technology and coding. And I think throughout my career it always was looking at the leadership roles in the projects or perhaps projects that didn't go well. And I always thought, hey, I could do that just a little bit better. And I think the story of my career is continuing to move into more and more leadership roles just because I was excited about helping teams, helping people, realizing client opportunities. So from that point gradually moved on to more client management and then eventually running practices at consulting firms. That's awesome. And for me, in my career, I've been fortunate. This is the third fast-growing consulting firm that I've worked for.

Greg Layok: In this case, I'm excited to be leading the firm and it's a great place to be. Consulting is some of the most rewarding work out there for individuals. You grow personally, you grow professionally. The outcomes that you create for clients are fantastic. And then also being part of a fast-growing technology firm, there's never a shortage of challenges, there's always new technological opportunities to take advantage of. The company is changing on an almost quarterly basis because the better the work that you do, the more customers and the more growth. So it's just a ton of fun and it provides awesome growth opportunities for our people.

Jess Carter: Do you have a moment? I'm just curious, what this? When you were developing at the age of seven, do you remember something you built or something you did back then?

Greg Layok: Oh, absolutely. Maybe it was seven, maybe it was eight years old. This was like old school TRS 8016K computers with the cassette tape drives. And I remember I would kind of choose your own adventure kind of coding along the way would be writing my little basic programs and then kind of evolving there into learning how to create graphics and little pictures on the monitor. So it was a ton of fun. Always had an interest in programming.

Jess Carter: Back in the day, did you have, like a computer class that taught you that or was this like, self taught?

Greg Layok: Self taught. My dad was an IT guy, so he'd bring home the computers from work or would go to Radio Shack and get me my awesome TRS 80 Radio Shack and mostly self taught.

Jess Carter: That's cool. My dad was also in, he was in computer sales, like kind of the hardware and printer sales. And so I remember when we had our first computer at home and he brought it home when I was about eight or nine and it was such a big deal and I just wanted to play Minecraft. Is that what it was? Maybe that was it, but it was like all the little games. I just wanted to play the little games on it. And he actually wanted to work. And so the kids would have to have our own time where we got to play. But I was not coding, I was just playing games.

Jess Carter: I was consuming coding. So let me ask you this. In the last 20 years, so you've been in tech for a minute here and doing, arguably, you're in consulting. So you're helping other people sort of leverage technology and data in meaningful ways. What would you say if you look back 20 years, is like, the most meaningful advancement in technology looking backward? What do you think came out in the last 20 years that really changed the game from your perspective?

Greg Layok: Yeah. Wow, there's a lot obviously, mobile, I think has changed the game in so many ways.

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: In terms of particularly the B to C space, how brands interact with their customers, I'd have to say probably in the last decade, what has happened with data, the tools, the ability, the democratization of data, perhaps across organization, the tools available to store, secure, manage, assess data. And then you can also then think of just sort of more of the integrating in more mature cases, integrating in insights into actual business processes, whether that's manual or automated, I think has become more prevalent. And then now you're starting to see with whether it's deep learning ML or Gen AI, which everyone's talking about kind of the opportunities there.

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: And so much of this is centered around data. It was interesting a few years ago, I was at a conference, I think it was a Gartner conference, and one of the speakers challenged everyone would be, would you let your AI make a billion dollar decision? Right. So if you start thinking of the evolution of first you're analyzing reports, looking for indicators, and maybe you're automating it, would you actually, based on a certain set of conditions or assessing a trend in data, let a computer make a billion dollar decision for your company. Right. And I mean that's quickly what we're moving towards, and I think that is very interesting.

Jess Carter: Okay, and same question for I'm really interested in what do you think about the next ten to 20 years? What do you think is coming down the pike that's going to be really meaningful for people? We've kind of moved into this. It's not just apps and tech. It's data. When you look forward, what are you the most excited about?

Greg Layok: Yeah, that's a tough question. Interestingly enough…and it's so hard because there's probably technologies and trends that are not even on the horizon yet that are going to be the big impacts. But if I kind of look at what's going on with AI and with Gen AI right now right. We're seeing products like Copilot that are helping developers be more effective, more efficient. And who knows, maybe these tools get further and further along where the interface from the business user to the computer becomes far more simplified. And we're able to kind of talk to a computer around getting the software or the programs that we want. Maybe we get there, maybe we don't.

Greg Layok: But regardless, we're going to get so much more productivity and be able to create so much more software faster. And when you start thinking about that, we already have a pace of change, which is ridiculously quick.

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: I think if you even just think of the pace of change with the iPhone, like 2007, it feels like it's been forever. Now we can't live without our devices. When you start thinking about the pace of change and what we'll be able to create and the opportunities and this is true for business, this is true for how you help governments, help their citizens, or even think about just solving big world problems. The pace of having more ability to create more software that impacts the world is going to be remarkable.

Jess Carter: I agree. Well, let me ask you this. When you look at yourself, they have these types. Are you an early adopter? Are you somebody who jumps right into new technology right away?

Greg Layok: Yeah, I'm a ridiculous early adopter.

Jess Carter: You're a super early adopter.

Greg Layok: Embarrassing. Lots of failed devices in my...

Jess Carter: Okay, so you're willing to try it. It breaks. You tried it. I have no idea how to empathize with that. I'm so not an early adopter. I want something that will work, and it's been tested by other people who come up with the bugs, and then it's fine. My experience is fine. And so one of the things that's interesting to me is when I look at all of the advancement in tech and to your point, how quickly it's coming.

Jess Carter: It's like you go to a four-year degree in computer sciences, whatever. By the time you're graduating, the industry has changed. And so I get really interested to see, how do we educate people for technology and data at the right pace, for them to consume it and jump in and be capable of jumping into a project. But also how do we look at those who aren't on the cutting edge? How do we help the greater masses adopt and lean into tech and data? Because I do think it seems like the data literacy is like, a giant sprawl. We have these early adopters and of course in a tech and data consulting firm, we ought to be that like, I will do it, but it's not my natural perspective or thing that I enjoy. But I will do it because I realize the value is you will get better outcomes in your business if you lean in. I don't do it because I enjoy being an early adopter. I'll do it because I know that it's the best way for me to get the best outcomes for myself or my clients.

Jess Carter: And so I think about in the future, do you think that sprawl will get wider and we'll have more early adopters and more innovation and this sprawl of data literacy will get there's just these people that are behind, or do you think the market will help bring that back together?

Greg Layok: I think the market is going to bring it back together.

Jess Carter: Okay.

Greg Layok: And if I think about it, is the divide between, let's say, ten years ago between business people and technologists was quite wide.

Jess Carter: Right?

Greg Layok: And heck, that's why there's been a lot of consulting dollars spent over the years. I think now is first off, I'll just think of the programs now, like at the university level and everything else, there is so much data out there. There's even data with sensors about the physical world. And so if you just even look at the MBA programs, they're focusing on much more data driven approaches towards analysis, towards developing strategy. So you're having business people who are more data fluent.

Jess Carter: Okay.

Greg Layok: But at the same time, when you start thinking of a lot of the programs now that are creating data scientists and data analysts, they have to understand the business issues and they have to have at least if they don't understand an industry or a particular sector. They have to learn very quickly how to come up to speed on that and understand the context very quickly to be good at their jobs. So I think you have a little convergence in the middle and then at the same time, the tools like Gen AI, the interface of Gen AI is fun. Anyone can go and ask a question or ask ideas for a party this weekend or whatever that is. The interfaces are going to get better. So I think it's going to get more embedded in our lives and there always will be early adopters, but I think it's going to be more seamless.

Jess Carter: Okay.

Greg Layok: You did bring up a good point though about the pace of change. Yeah, I do think, and again, a little off topic here, but society being able to adapt to that change as well, right? It's almost like our technology pace is perhaps faster than ability of our society to be able to figure out how our social structures work. You can see this with social media. You can see this in terms of the fragmentation of journalism and everyone having a podium with Twitter. There's a lot of implications of this that I think we as a society haven't figured out and there's of course going to be a lag with that. And what gets even more concerning, interesting or an opportunity is that that's only going to get faster. And I think all of our institutions, you think about governments, when you think about schools and you think about everything, it's going to be a lot of change for society to adapt to.

Jess Carter: Yeah, there's this okay, this is just super interesting. I completely agree with you. And I'm a liberal arts kid, so it's going to show here for a second. I really struggle with we might get more news faster than ever before, but I'm realizing it is paper cut surface level that I have to leverage my knowledge of geopolitics or history to appreciate it in its proper context. And so I'm realizing, I think that there is so much noise out there that the people who will succeed are people who can either understand how to make sense of things or build tools that will help people make sense of things. That feels like those are the opportunities next to be like the data is everywhere. You're going to get data and every tool you buy, you will be able to get the access to your extracts. How you leverage that or decide on the ways to integrate insights seems like the way to uniquely how you get.

Greg Layok: The signal through the noise.

Jess Carter: Yeah.

Greg Layok: And interesting. And that could be where an area where you think about Gen AI just for, like, the knowledge worker, being able to research something, being able to get information, that's an area where instead of digging through hours and hours of Google searches, you can at least get an 80% informed answer to help you make sense of things along the way.

Jess Carter: Reduce the research time.

Greg Layok: Absolutely.

Jess Carter: Okay, so then my other question for you is from a data and tech perspective, are you just into it because you're into it and you think it's neat and fun? Is there a part of you that is into it that's interested in data and tech because of the outcomes in your career? I assume you've seen quite a bit of both. Where are you sort of oriented when it comes to the data and tech for the sake of it versus kind of outcome-oriented.

Greg Layok: I think it helps organizations and people just be more effective. And when I think about it, when you think about business strategy, the more simple, the more measurable the better. And I think that because we have the ability to measure so much nowadays, you're able to make much more clear strategies to communicate to your firm, your stakeholders, your investors, everyone, what your strategy is and how you're progressing towards that. And by the way, it's a continuous learning process. You're able to, as an organization, learn from your mistakes, see where you take action and you're able to move the ball forward or not. And this is an awesome sort of feedback loop that you get by embracing data. And this doesn't necessarily mean that them talking like leading edge data science or even data analytics, this is just taking a data-driven approach to your business. And it's not just and again, it's not about the numbers.

Greg Layok: It's also how you take a data-driven approach to your people, to your employee engagement. Right. That's where it gets very interesting. And I think more and more data gets weaved into all business functions.

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: And you're seeing that I think leading edge companies, HR organizations, marketing organizations, which probably traditionally have used data a lot, are using it even more today. So to me, it's just doing things better. It's a better way to run a business.

Jess Carter: Well, okay, you brought up two things I wanted to touch on. So one is, I think a lot of people, when they hear about using data to handle client experience or employee engagement, it has this tendency to feel a little bit robotic and not kind of heartless like, oh, you're just using data. I don't feel seen or heard or belong. But when you understand and appreciate and, I had some other people educate me on this. What we're actually doing through data is creating a refined, simple listening architecture. We're not reducing the ability to be seen, we're actually killing, again, the noise to create themes and understand a structure in which people can feel more heard. And there's a diversity of thought and an actual appreciation for every voice through that funnel. And I'd never heard that.

Jess Carter: So I kind of was somebody who was in this perspective of, oh, if we just use data to look at our people, we're not really being empathetic. And it was actually the opposite.

Greg Layok: Yeah, I love that. That's a great perspective. And I also think too is a lot of it is trend, an engagement may decrease and there's a lot of reasons why that can happen. And the data is not going to give you the answer. There's a human element to it. You have to talk to your people, you have to understand where that is. But that transparency and showing that you understand there's a decline, engagement to start the conversation, to have those really sort of messy human conversations is important. Right.

Greg Layok: Maybe I overstated earlier. The data isn't the end. It helps you be better informed so you can address the challenges in front of you in a more effective way. And in a lot of cases it has to be in a very human way.

Jess Carter: Okay, so then I want to pivot a bit to like, your career. You kind of started really techie and then you got into some of the leadership. You stepped into those opportunities. I am curious how you would answer a question about, in your leadership approach. Where does risk fit? Are you like a hyper risk taker? How do you measure and make leadership decisions around risk?

Greg Layok: Yeah, I think it's informed taking chances at risk are important. I think an organization, particularly a fast-growing firm, like a Resultant needs to take some risk at times.

Jess Carter: Sure.

Greg Layok: I think it's important to understand what that risk is you're taking and getting people on board in your firm to understand, to do that together. And again, given the pace of change with technology and everything that we've been speaking about, you're going to have to place some bets. Right. How do you put the right structures in place so you know those bets are paying off or not? So it's the whole fail fit, fast mentality and you want to keep doing that. You want to encourage that in your organization. So how do you put those structures in place? Take the risk adjust. And if it's a horrible idea, let's toss it. Right? Let's not invest a lot and get rid of the idea and also celebrate that.

Greg Layok: So how do you celebrate the risk taking so you don't get into a position where you're frozen and you're afraid to make the next decision.

Jess Carter: Okay.

Greg Layok: Yeah.

Jess Carter: That's really helpful when you look at we were in the middle of doing some strategic planning too. And one of my thoughts, my observations has been that my perception is that you are a bit disciplined. Are you a pretty disciplined guy?

Greg Layok: Not really.

Jess Carter: You're not?

Greg Layok: No. Okay. No. I am the worst process follower and feel too much process always is stifling to me.

Jess Carter: That is so interesting. Okay. I've misread you. So it feels like we're going through this methodology that feels very thoughtful and there's a lineage to it and then we go through and we try. But it feels like you have this room for hypotheses where it's like part of the strategy, even if there's discipline to it. Are hypotheses, like, they're kind of time-based bets on what are we doing and why and what makes sense and if we're going to pitch it, we'll pitch it, we'll pick something else to try. Is that right?

Greg Layok: Yes. And one reason is interesting. I don't like structure, horrible structure, but I think obviously to run a business, there has to be some structure there, but also any business as you grow and you start thinking of just digital operating models and ways businesses are working, interacting with data, interacting with technology. You have to have this fail fast mentality. You have to have this flexibility to try new things. And sometimes process will weigh you down. Sometimes if you get too prescriptive or the duration of your planning is too long term, you're probably going to miss out opportunities to pivot. So the challenge for all organizations, this is true for a startup, this is true for a fast growing company of Result and even larger companies is how do you keep that sort of agility and to be able to still move fast and not kind of let your bureaucracy slow you down.

Greg Layok: So to me that's incredibly important, something that all business leaders should be keeping.

Jess Carter: Top of mind and it's tough. How do you do that? In my head, I picture a company that's 50 people kind of like a catamaran or a sailboat, and you end up on a cruise ship and it takes a little bit more time to turn around. And so how do you integrate? How do you do that, Greg? How do you keep a company agile as it gets bigger?

Greg Layok: Yeah, it's about having the right strategy that's clearly and simply very simple and can be easily articulated and it's empowering your leaders. I think the more decentralized your leadership is, the more able you're going to be to adapt and adjust. Makes sense. You've got to have lots of strong leaders in all parts of your business that have the room and flexibility to work within the frameworks that you outline to really be successful.

Jess Carter: Okay, that's great. Okay.

Greg Layok: And by the way, there's a great article on that. There's a freedom within a framework. I think if you Google it is a way in which you're able to put some structure and frameworks around your business processes, but give your leaders that room to move. And when you hear framework, people think lack of innovation, it actually can kind of encourage innovation because, you know, kind of which parameters, what your parameters are and the problem that you're trying to solve.

Jess Carter: That's super cool.

Greg Layok: Yeah. It's never great to have to manage people, right? It's great to give people the outcome you want them to go achieve and then unleash them. And if you've got smart people with their line values, they're going to do amazing things.

Jess Carter: Do you know in a brief, theoretically podcast episode, if you were to advise someone who was in the management process and wanted to move to more of an agility, outcome-oriented management style, like a few quick tips, what would you tell somebody?

Greg Layok: That's a tough one. I think I was going to go to kind of even looking at borrowing some of the techniques from sort of even agile software delivery. Right. There's a lot of books out there and some of the principles on there where it's people over process.

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: And it's a great framework right. Because it doesn't mean that process is a zero, but it's people over process. I like that, but I often put a little bit of caveat on that, is that I think that we probably have tried to take Agile methodology that was intended for software development and apply it to management, in some cases with horrible consequences. But I think some of those principles of thinking of that way are actually useful to managers to take as sort of guiding principles with their behaviors. Okay. And then I think beyond that, it's really kind of asking yourself, and it comes back to what I said earlier, are you giving your teams the objective and sort of the constraints to meet that objectives and then letting them go?

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: And do you trust them? Do you give them enough room to operate so they can really kind of work the magic on their own, where, again, you're not having this hierarchical structure to be able to slow people down or that ultimately slows people down.

Jess Carter: Yeah, I had this executive coach once give me a kind of level zero to ten, and zero was sort of their brand new employee, their entry level. You have to give them all the guidance. You have to just direct them down to a ten where it's like, I need to tell you the outcome and get out of your way. And she was kind of suggesting it's a helpful tool a few years ago when I was starting to manage people and it said contemplate where they are in your level of what you can delegate and how, and then put an improvement plan of how do we get to year six? I want to get you to an eight. And so I thought that was kind of an easy way to really dumb it down and be like, how do you help me understand how to lead differently so I get the outcome I want?

Greg Layok: And that's great too, because one is it helps a person develop self awareness, what good looks like where they are now, perhaps. And then also the trust in terms of that person can speak up and knows when to ask for help.

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: It's one of those things where you start trusting a person when they know when it's okay to work something out on their own, but they know when they start getting in the deep water. Like, this might be an area where I need to go back to my manager to ask some questions. And I think having that trusted relationship where they don't feel stupid going back and asking a question and they feel supported and self aware. Right. I mean, so many people I think the key thing for anyone is throughout your career, the more self aware one is as they're thinking about their career and thinking about their development, the better things are. If we as managers can help people with that self awareness, it's a great tool. To give them.

Jess Carter: Yeah, man, this is rich. I mean, you're reminding me. The other piece of feedback I had that I thought was really instrumental in some of my development has been asking for feedback pretty aggressively and saying, hey, tell me something to keep, start, or stop doing. And if I can do that four times a year with the right people, you're starting to elicit that feedback. And what I thought was funny, Greg, is if it can shock you, I'm not awesome at receiving feedback.

Greg Layok: I have a tendency to get not shocked at all.

Jess Carter: Yeah, that's fine. And so what people started doing is they would start to come to me when they had feedback that I didn't ask for, and then they'd say, hey, can I tell you there's something I want to tell you to keep doing? They'd use the language, and it would totally take the defense. I would hear it and realize they're trying to help me. And it was immediately kind of taught me to just receive feedback. It didn't matter what it came in. It was a gift. But it took me a minute to get over my own ego and pride or whatever to get there. But that was helpful.

Greg Layok: And you're very good at giving feedback, so I'm surprised that you've got the challenges with using feedback.

Jess Carter: Everyone who gives feedback openly is always good at receiving. It interesting.

Greg Layok: And feedback is also interesting because as people go through their careers, the more senior you get, the harder it is to get good feedback, because so much comes around your soft skills. And while all feedback is valid and you've got to listen to it, I think also as you get further along in your career, you've really got to think about the person that's giving you the feedback, the context they're giving you that feedback in. And there's going to be certain people where maybe you're going to have to discount some of that feedback because it's not your personal style. Yeah, you're not going to always hit a home run with every person. So, again, that gets harder as you get further along in your career.

Jess Carter: This is just funny. I remember the first client I had that I wasn't really their cup of tea, and I just was so distraught about it. And somebody looked at me who's done consulting longer than me, and they kind of laughed, and they said, do you like everyone else? And I was like, I don't like everyone else. They're like, then why do you expect everyone to like you? It's okay. It's okay that you still have to do your job, but if you're not making a best friend today, that's okay. Just do a good job. And it was eye opening to understand that you can kind of get beyond the immediate here and look at the larger picture and realize that there's sometimes where there's a job to do, and that's okay.

Greg Layok: And as you get further along in your career, you start realizing, what's the best way for me to get the outcomes, right? And sometimes it's going to be hard with certain personalities or certain people to get the certain outcomes. And some things you're just not great at. Right? We're not an A plus. All of us are not an A plus on every capability. So you've got to lean into your strengths and then surround yourself with people that kind of make up for those areas where you're not as strong at.

Jess Carter: So as we head into maybe the end of this year, calendar year, beginning of next year, there are probably a lot of companies that are looking at next year's goals. Strategic planning, budget planning, ending the year. Well, if you look at your leadership experience, do you have any, I don't know, tips as you head into the last two months, last month of the year and you look forward.

Greg Layok: It's interesting. We always use the end of the year as like, it's the start of a new year, a new strategy, right? You'd hope that you sort of get into this mode of continuous planning, right, where we're not using these sort of calendar dates, but the reality is obviously in the business world, sometimes we're driven by that. I think it's just looking forward, know, and kind of the process that we're going through at Resultant right now is what's the outlook for the next several years? What's the big goal that you're going after, right? At Resultant, we're here to get our colleagues, communities, clients all thriving. So how do you really think about how you're going to achieve that mission and then think about how you're moving the ball forward in the next year? And I think a lot of that comes down to we're all in planning season. It's the sort of thoughtful reflection on what are those big ones that really are going to keep you kind of moving forward in that mission and running a successful business.

Jess Carter: Awesome. Okay, so some reflection, but also some and that's where I think about today, like what's working, what's not, what do we need to change? You kind of talked about the agile adjustments that we need to make, what do we need to make for next year?

Greg Layok: And I love that for businesses, and I would love for and even as our own firm is getting to the point where you get more of that rolling and adapting versus using these calendar years is a limiting factor, I believe it.

Jess Carter: Is, but also it's a human. I think humans are more reflective near the holidays.

Greg Layok: Yes.

Jess Carter: I think there's this like, what have I accomplished? What do I want to do next? Your birthday? You have a bucket list. There's these things that happen where humans.

Greg Layok: Are more and I think as leaders, the end of the year is a great time for reflection. Right? So were you able to be effective? Where are your blind spots? What feedback have you heard or in your case, maybe haven't heard?

Jess Carter: Oh, yeah. Thank you.

Greg Layok: The end of the year is a great time for that too, for us to kind of take stock as leaders in terms of what we can do better.

Jess Carter: Awesome.

Greg Layok: Okay. So another area when you start thinking about going in the next year, I would challenge a lot of business leaders, and I see this, even with government agencies, is in terms of when you're thinking about your goals, what's the metric that you're going to use that will inform that goal will show that you've achieved that right. That thinking can actually lead to further strategic thinking and refining of your goals. And even if you're just baselining this in 2024, what a great way to get started. And it's not always about achieving that metric, but it's about seeing that trendline. And that just helps you get this, again, back to the cycle of continuous improvement and observation, which is so important to be able to respond quickly, be proactive versus reactive. I would suggest that as leaders are thinking of those goals, can they make them as quantifiable as possible when they're doing their planning?

Jess Carter: And you said that in a really important way, which is, it's very exploratory. It's okay if you have a, I think there's certain elements of a business where it's okay for you to have some goals where you've never measured something. So you're going to create a target and if you hit it or not, you have some trends and you kind of had a target and you knew what happened. Again, it's a hypothesis. I think that it's neat to have a leader that understands which metrics we must hit and which metrics are just good to start measuring and we can benchmark them. So there are new metrics in my department next year that we're talking about, and it's like, hey, we've never really measured X before. Let's benchmark it and let's create some targets. I think that's cool.

Greg Layok: And interesting enough, I had a conversation with another business leader recently, and she was sharing around how a particular project they had really wasn't going to make an impact, that they were very frustrated. And I kind of said, well, maybe you can encourage the team by creating these kind of metrics to really kind of go, attack that hill. And she kept coming back with it's not going to move the needle at all. Which then makes me question, why are you doing it? Right? It's going to be frustrating for the team. Great. Everyone will get an A for effort. They'll do their jobs perfectly, but it's not structured the right way in a way that's going to be meaningful to the business. And then those cases, you've got to ask yourself, why are you doing this?

Jess Carter: Right?

Greg Layok: Demoralizing for your people and arguably your resources could be invested better elsewhere, right?

Jess Carter: It comes back to that. What's the objective you want? How are you measuring it? How are you approaching it, the change?

Greg Layok: Management and just that discipline. That discipline is a great way to look at it. Like that conversation I was having to say, is there real value here?

Jess Carter: Right? Absolutely. So you've been consulting for a minute in your youth and so my question for you would be do you love it and why and how are you seeing it evolve? Perhaps?

Greg Layok: Yeah. First off, I love it from a personal perspective, it's an amazing way for both personal and professional growth. The variety of work that you see, the standard that you're held to the fact that someone is looking at the work you're doing and paying a good dollar amount for it, it's just an awesome way to work. It's a thrill at times. And I think from a client perspective, you are able to see the value of your work. When you work with someone to achieve an outcome that they didn't think was possible or maybe even on the project when you started you didn't think was possible and you achieved that, there's nothing better. So from that perspective, the impact you can make is amazing.

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: When you talk about how it will change, I think a little bit sometimes. I have a good friend who is in consulting and kind of accuses other firms sometimes of reading too much of their own press. I think sometimes the customer gets lost. So when I think about the future of consulting, it's going to be digitized a lot like other industries.

Jess Carter: Sure.

Greg Layok: Right. And I think chat GPT for the first time gets consultants thinking of how can they be disrupted.

Jess Carter: Right.

Greg Layok: A lot of consulting is analyzing data, researching, coming up with ideas. Some of that is going to be today aided and augmented. But in the future you start wondering how does that change as you get more AI? It's the first time that white collar workers are saying, wow, right, what's the impact on my industry? And I also think, and again, I know the word data. I think we've said the word data a lot today. It's also going to become more data-driven. So I think ten years ago we relied on a lot of conversations and interviews with executives at clients. More and more it's about assessing the actual data to see the trends to either test hypotheses or even create hypotheses. And that's only going to accelerate more and more.

Greg Layok: And I think clients are going to be looking for more repeatable solutions, automated when enabled by technology, enabled by data along the way. That's only going to happen more and more as we go forward.

Jess Carter: Do you think, I don't know if this is right or just my narrative, but when I first became a consultant, the image in my head was someone who got on a plane four days a week and went somewhere and got to stand up in a big room with important people and tell them things. And then I came home and I felt amazing about myself because I was so important, which never actually happened in my life. I never did those things. I remember the first time I had one of my clients who a lot of that was like these big deliverables. There's these 100 page, 300 page, hey, this is what consulting is. Here's your report at the end. And while that's still consulting and we've done that, what I think I've fallen in love with, truly, to echo you a bit, is there was this really meaningful moment in my career where a different consulting firm walked out of my client's office and they delivered that report. And the next meeting was for me to walk in, sit down, and they handed it to me and said, now how do we do this? And that was like, if that's consulting, I'd be grateful to do this the rest of my life as long as I can.

Jess Carter: I mean, to be able to help people with their complex problems and feel like I'm trusted and equipped to do so, there is no higher honor, in my opinion. And I think people have these different images of what a consultant is, but to be highly trusted and have the awareness and experience to say I've walked ten other companies through this kind of a transition, I can help you do it well with ten times of experience on what to not do. That trusted advisor piece to me is really significant. And I feel like that's the piece where no matter how much we digitize, maybe discovery phases or assessments go more automated or digitized, but there's this constant need to help a client figure out maybe you know the right thing to do, but you don't know how to get there. And I feel like that's always going to be a need. I don't know, is that fair?

Greg Layok: I agree 100%. And I think you bring up two interesting things in, kind of, your experiences. One is, consulting is humbling. When you're a trusted advisor and you're entrusted to help someone move something forward, it's a humbling experience. And we've got to remember our roles are there to enable and help them on that journey. We're not the star of the show. Right. Which is important.

Greg Layok: And the second thing that you mentioned in terms of the execution of the work, I mean, there's so much consulting is such a catch all for so many things. When you're actually able to help implement that solution and take that idea and actually make it happen, that's been some of the most rewarding parts of my career.

Jess Carter: Absolutely. Yeah. It's just neat. Hey, Greg, I had a few other things I wanted to ask you before we wrap up. These will just be quick machine gun questions. What's your favorite animal?

Greg Layok: Dog.

Jess Carter: Favorite technology ever?

Greg Layok: Ipod.

Jess Carter: Best sitcom?

Greg Layok: Seinfeld.

Jess Carter: Favorite book?

Greg Layok: I don't know.

Jess Carter: Favorite podcast host Jess Carter. Cheers.

Greg Layok: Cheers. I can't think of the favorite book's a tough one because there's so many and I feel like the favorite book is one where you're trying to pander to your audience with what you think is going to sound.

Jess Carter: What is everyone going to think is really smart?

Greg Layok: Yeah, nothing real smart.

Jess Carter: Oh, okay.

Greg Layok: This is my favorite sitcom, Seinfeld. It's got to be. It's not the office. It's Seinfeld.

Jess Carter: Seinfeld's an important classic sitcom.

Greg Layok: Curb is pretty good as well. Might actually be the answer. I'm more of a Larry David kind of guy.

Jess Carter: I mean well, you wrote Seinfeld, right?

Greg Layok: Yeah, I'm George Costanza.

Jess Carter: The answer is Larry David. What's your favorite sitcom? Larry David. Larry David. Greg, seriously, thank you for being on the podcast. It was a pleasure to learn from you.

Greg Layok: Yeah, likewise. Thanks for having me.

Jess Carter: Thank you for listening. I'm your host, Jess Carter. And don't forget to follow the data driven leadership wherever you get your podcasts. Rate and review, letting us know how these data topics are transforming your business. We can't wait for you to join us on the next episode.

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