Bring Out the Talent: A Learning and Development Podcast

Engaging and Cultivating Company Culture in this Hybrid World

January 17, 2022 Maria Melfa & Jocelyn Allen Season 1 Episode 16
Engaging and Cultivating Company Culture in this Hybrid World
Bring Out the Talent: A Learning and Development Podcast
More Info
Bring Out the Talent: A Learning and Development Podcast
Engaging and Cultivating Company Culture in this Hybrid World
Jan 17, 2022 Season 1 Episode 16
Maria Melfa & Jocelyn Allen

In this episode of “Bring Out The Talent,” we speak with Erin Diehl on ways to engage and cultivate company culture in this new hybrid world. Erin is the energetic founder of “Improve it!” a unique professional development company that pushes others to laugh, learn, play, and grow. Erin has spoken on stages nationwide for associations including SHRM, HRMAC, and ATD. She has also worked with many amazing organizations such as United Airlines, PepsiCo, Uber, Groupon, Deloitte, Walgreens, and Warby Parker – just to name a few. Erin shares ideas on how leaders can improve engagement for remote, in-office, and hybrid employees. 

Tune in and learn from an expert how we can all shift our mindsets to focus on the quality of how we connect, ways to maximize engagement, and the tools to cultivate a thriving company culture.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of “Bring Out The Talent,” we speak with Erin Diehl on ways to engage and cultivate company culture in this new hybrid world. Erin is the energetic founder of “Improve it!” a unique professional development company that pushes others to laugh, learn, play, and grow. Erin has spoken on stages nationwide for associations including SHRM, HRMAC, and ATD. She has also worked with many amazing organizations such as United Airlines, PepsiCo, Uber, Groupon, Deloitte, Walgreens, and Warby Parker – just to name a few. Erin shares ideas on how leaders can improve engagement for remote, in-office, and hybrid employees. 

Tune in and learn from an expert how we can all shift our mindsets to focus on the quality of how we connect, ways to maximize engagement, and the tools to cultivate a thriving company culture.

Maria Melfa: [00:00:07] Welcome everyone to Bring Out The Talent. My name is Maria Melfa, and I am the President and CEO of The Training Associates, otherwise known as TTA.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:00:16] And I'm Jocelyn Allen. I'm a Talent Recruitment Manager here at TTA, and we're so glad you're back here again with us.


Maria Melfa: [00:00:23] We have a really fun episode in store for you today with our special guest, Erin Diehl. Erin will be talking about engaging and cultivating company culture in this new hybrid world. Erin “Big Deal” is a business improv “Edu-Taner”, “fail-fluencer”, and professional Zoom-B. Through a series of unrelated dares. Erin created improve it!, a unique professional development company that pushes others to laugh, learn, play, and grow. Among her many accolades, Erin is most proud of successfully coercing over twenty-six thousand professionals to chicken dance. Erin Diehl is a graduate from Clemson University, a former experiential marketer, and recruiting professional, as well as a veteran improviser from the top improvisational training programs in Chicago, including the Second City Theater and the Annoyance Theater. Erin has spoken on stages nationwide for all types of events in associations including Disrupt, Air, SHRM, HRMAC and ATD. She is a member of the Chicago Innovation Awards Woman's Cohort and Graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10000 Small Business Program. Erin has worked with some amazing organizations such as United Airlines, Pepsi, Uber, Groupon, Deloitte, Motorola, Walgreens and Warby Parker - just to name a few. Erin is also the proud host of the improve it! podcast. When she's not playing, pretend or facilitating, she enjoys walking on the beach with her husband, son and their eight-pound toy poodle named Big Diehl. Welcome, Erin.


Erin Diehl: [00:02:14] Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here, and “big, big Diehl” is actually in the building.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:02:23] Thank you! Took the words out of my mouth. I was going to make sure that “Big Diehl” was also represented here today.


Erin Diehl: [00:02:30] Yes. Yes.


Maria Melfa: [00:02:31] Ok. Erin, so your company improve it!? Can you tell us how you started it? What made you decide to start this company? 


Erin Diehl: [00:02:42] Oh gosh. It was a dare. No, I'm just kidding. I feel like I dare. You know, it was a calling in my heart, and I always get this when I have this question asked. I'm always quick to answer with. If I didn't start this business, it would have been the biggest regret of my life. So, it was this calling. Once I started really honing the craft of improv. So, just to kind of back up, my entire life, I have been a performer. I was on stage when I was three years old at My Fair Lady and Community Theatre and Greenwood, South Carolina, OK. My mom was in community theater. I danced my whole life. I danced at Clemson. “Go Tigers, OK?” And always had a script. Did sketch comedy in high school. I loved comedy, kept coming back to it. But when I graduated from Clemson with a degree that tells you the direction you're going to take in life: communications. I said, “What am I going to do?” And I'll tell you what I wanted to do. I wanted to become a talk show host. So, I said, “Where does a talk show host live?” Oprah. OK, I've got to go to Chicago, so never been to Chicago in my life, literally moved there and started training. And now this was the early 2000s. There weren't a lot of online courses. I said, “How do you become a host?” I thought, “OK, I might need to know how to improvise a little bit.” So, I started dabbling in improv, and then got some hosting gigs, and would just always come back to it. And finally, I stopped hosting and said, “I need a full-time job.” I want to focus on improv full time, and that full time job was recruiting, and I was doing business development, which, as you know, is one of the hardest jobs in recruiting.


Erin Diehl: [00:04:38] It's so hard bringing clients in the door. Lucky for us, at my recruiting firm, United Airlines was a client that we had, and I had a great relationship with them, and I said, “Can I pilot (pun intended) one of our programs to your talent acquisition team?” And they said “yes.” And so, I would do a couple of pilots. They give me feedback and then they started to hire me. I knew improve it! was the calling for my life because every single time I would facilitate and use improv to train professionals, it was almost like this feeling took over my body. And I said, “this is where I need to be” because I was watching the people in the room transform through play, and United was my first big break. I started hiring a team of people and then from there we just continued to scale. But it was this idea of “How can I be a better professional” because I was business development in recruiting is so hard, right? Recruiting is a hard job, and I was seeing everything that I was doing in my classes at Second City. I owe the Annoyance on stage, spill over to my professional life and I was becoming a better listener. I was becoming more empathetic. I was thinking quicker on my feet. I was more present. I mean, the list goes on. All of those things told me that the world and the corporate world especially needs this. So that's the origin story. Seven years later, we're on Zoom. Who knew we would be here virtual in person, but it's been a journey, and I love it. It's my life's calling.


Maria Melfa: [00:06:15] That's a fantastic story.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:06:17] Very. You had me hooked on you the whole time you were telling it as a general scope. This is all about employee and leadership development. This is about breaking down barriers and adapting the world of play and comedy to your professional life as well.


Erin Diehl: [00:06:34] Jocelyn, you got it! #Nailedit!


Jocelyn Allen: [00:06:36] All right, guys. That's our show. We'll see you later.


Erin Diehl: [00:06:39] No, it’s been fun, been fun. You're here all day. Yeah, no, that's it. That's totally it. That barrier piece is huge. That is exactly it. Because “mike drop”, I really believe that people wore masks to work before 2020. We were wearing hypothetical mask. We were afraid to be vulnerable. We were afraid to show this real part of us, and it's through breaking down those barriers that we allow people to truly be themselves and we allow them to play. And it's in that play where we teach. When you have no judgment and you're just locked in and ready to go, that's how I learn best. When I'm like, not second guessing myself, I don't have sweaty armpits because I'm nervous. I'm just in it, you know, and that's what we do.


Maria Melfa: [00:07:30] So, Erin, one area we've seen a need with our clients is the navigating of the new hybrid world to make sure that employees are engaged and feel connected. Are you seeing that with your clients?


Erin Diehl: [00:07:42] Oh yeah, it's the number one challenge that we're facing right now, and that's truly why we work with clients is because they want some type of “outside of the box” engagement. And I have had long term clients who have let go of their lease and are now completely remote. We've got hoteling happening and a lot of clients that we serve, and people are just wondering “how do I service and, you know, give care to the people that want to work from home and the people that want to show up in the office? How do I cater to both? How do I create culture within that? How do I make sure everybody is engaged?” So, that is a lot of the work that we've been doing over the past two years is really taking the work that we do, but within that sort of creating a better way to help teams cultivate that culture via Zoom. So, most of the time, what we encourage people to do is if they have people working from home and they have people in the office create an even playing field for everyone. And if you want to do an event or you want to have some type of training, but not everybody feels comfortable in the office, do it all on Zoom. Have everybody at their computers, everybody has their own Zoom, log in, and everybody's on the same playing field.


Erin Diehl: [00:09:06] So that way you're catering to everybody. We call it being “cloudy”. Be “cloudy” first in the cloud. You know the “cloud”. What is the “cloud”? But be “cloudy”, and then use that as an opportunity. Once everybody feels included, they're on the same page. Then you can reach and cultivate culture and have conversations, because now we have all these new ways of being able to do that, which Zoom is a great platform. WebEx. Not a huge team span. Sorry, teams, but I do. I just got to call that out. But I will say that a lot of a lot of the platforms today that are being built and things that are coming up that are similar to Zoom allow that engagement and culture to be had. And I've got a completely “cloudy” culture right now myself, except for when we do in-person events and we have been doing a lot of team gatherings together, which is nice because you need that in-person connection, but you want to make sure people feel comfortable and you're meeting them where they're at. Because that, I mean, it goes into this whole topic of the Great Resignation and making sure people feel heard and seen. If we want to keep people and retain talent long term, we've got to listen to what they're comfortable with. Make sure they feel safe and then create an environment around that.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:10:28] Your call outs to culture and the hybrid workforce are incredibly valid. That's what everybody's dealing with right now. I think that those are the two things to tying back to the Great Resignation that are the most important for those job seekers is “how am I going to feel in your organization?” Right? “And what opportunities are there for me in the sense that hybrid work isn't necessarily a perk anymore?” Right? So, research has revealed that when employees are dialed into those things, like company culture, they feel more engaged. Organizations see pay off in revenue growth, retention, stock price, net income, all of those beautiful things that we could talk about. So, when you're talking about Zoom and other platforms embracing that hybrid workforce, can you give us some examples of how you change the in-person effect to carry over to the hybrid workforce, as well?


Erin Diehl: [00:11:23] Oh my gosh, Jocelyn, it was. Let me. Does anybody have a bed? I need a bed to talk about this. I need to lay down first in 2020. It was super hard to even ever imagine the work that we do being on Zoom. You would have asked me in January of 2020, could you put this workshop, or we have 10 different workshops that we do keynotes lots of things that are super interactive. “Can you do them online?” I would have said “no”. Then, that's not the mindset of an improviser. First and foremost, we say “yes.” And so, I was a naysayer. But once we figured out that we had to do this in order to survive, and that this was the way of the future, we got “cloudy”. Yet again, Here's that word, “cloudy”. And we figured out how to make these platforms work for us. And then in turn, we're able to then teach our clients how to do the same for their team. So, Zoom has this. Obviously, now everybody's familiar with breakout rooms. Breakout rooms. Oh my gosh, they are so impactful because you can ask your team a question, and you can put and then put them in a breakout room to answer it with this small group with a partner. So they're able to have that interaction like they would in person.


Erin Diehl: [00:12:40] I've also noticed the chat function become a really nice driver of engagement since the pandemic started. A lot of people in person who are afraid to speak up in groups find more comfortability and just typing out their answers to questions, and that in itself has been so lovely to see. We use the chat function every step of the way and the work that we do. We use breakout rooms constantly in the work that we do. They've also seen if you're talking just about engagement in sessions or meetings, workshops, whatever, it may be a culture being built on platforms like Slack. So, you can create a wonderful culture on Slack because it allows you to have these channels of communication. And I've seen companies do things like high five channels. So, when something great happens, you write a note in the high five channel. I have a company that we're working with a client right now. They've moved off email completely and they're just on Slack, which I find fascinating. And really what they're doing is using it as a way of more in time communication. They're using it as a way to build company culture, to communicate like you can in person, turn to your neighbor, have a conversation.


Erin Diehl: [00:13:53] That's what Slack is starting to be for a lot of companies that we're working with. Is this let me type you a real quick message, real quick. It's almost like I'm turning to you in the office. We use Slack to internally and improve it for things like “wins”. So, whenever a win happens, we have a #winning channel. You put in the “win of the day”. We celebrate that win immediately, and it's a way to foster that water cooler chat to. We have a whole memes channel. We have a kid’s picture channel, a dog picture channel, but it's things to drive engagement and company culture through Slack that can also make people feel if they're working from home, like they're a part of a larger group in a community. And that in turn makes again, people feel inclusive, makes them feel like they belong. And that's what people are craving is this culture of belonging and this space where they can live, work and be who they are and do the work that they want to do in a meaningful way that's not only meaningful to the organization but meaning to the individual.


Maria Melfa: [00:14:59] Those are some great ideas. I know we started using teams, but it seems like. I know. Erin. But I know a lot of our project managers will set up a project for our clients under teams. So, they use that for communication. But I do love all the ideas you're talking about as far as Slack, and doing the virtual high fives and the memes and all that stuff, because we like having a lot of fun and we'll like email funny pictures. But this would be a great way to do it. And I love the idea of getting rid of internal emails if that's possible.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:15:38] I know, and it is crazy to think of how innovative you kind of need to think in this space. I don't want to say need, but really need to think in the time that we're in on how to do things different because everybody's doing the same thing, right? We haven't been in it for that long. If we think about it in retrospect, it's going to be a blip on the radar, right? But it has completely turned our lives upside down. So, it's even in the last two years, all the stuff that everybody's been doing is the same old, same old just in those two years of time. So, what are you doing differently to make somebody go, “Oh, OK, this might be something that changes, that's changed for the better?” Like not having internal email and communicating in a fun way via Slack. I just it's interesting the route that you have to take engagement wise, it's scary. But is the payoff worth it? I think so.


Maria Melfa: [00:16:29] So Erin, you just mentioned some great ideas to keep your employees engaged in the hybrid world. Why do you think some employees are not doing a good job keeping their remote employees engaged?


Erin Diehl: [00:16:44] Yeah, I think it's a lack of communication, which is funny because the hardest thing or the worst thing you can do with a remote workforce is not communicate. And the things like we were just talking about was Slack or Teams. Teams is great for the communication, just not for the bandwidth on Zoom, like a video conference, in my opinion. But when you have the chat functions, and you have that space for people to see what other people are doing to communicate because it's almost like you don't want to have your people feel like they're on a lonely island alone working, and not having anybody else to share that work with. As an entrepreneur when, I'm sure if you can relate to this starting a business by yourself, you feel alone, and then you find communities to go to help you feel less alone with other entrepreneurs until you build your own team. So, the biggest thing that I think that leaders need to think about when engaging their teams is the right amount of communication, not micromanaging, but allowing the team to feel like they are not alone in the work that they're doing. Making sure that you're having touchpoints weekly with your team, setting those up in advance, having agendas for those meetings, having fun things in the meeting that they can look forward to. For example, in our meetings, we always start with the “peak of the week” prior. What was the “peak”? What was the best thing that happen to you at work last week, starting off with conversational points that make people want to show up, and share, holding each other accountable is another huge piece.


Erin Diehl: [00:18:27] If you're not holding your team accountable for the work, is it getting done? And then, the other thing I want to mention, too, is something I've heard a lot of our clients doing, which is focus hours. So, if your team wants to have a space where they can go on Zoom or teams wherever it is, where you create one person as the facilitator, all right. So, let's say it's Jocelyn. Jocelyn is the facilitator for this focus hour. Our we're going to do a focus hour. At these times on the calendar. You can just pop on to this Zoom link or a team’s link. We're going to have some music. It's like a coffee shop music that I'm playing and literally we're just all on mute. The chat box is there if you want to chat a friend, but we're just going to be here working together so you can focus on a specific task for this hour. Sign off whenever you need. But that way you're seeing the people around you do the work and feeling as if you are in the office together, and you're also engaging with your team because your video is on. You're just working at your desk, typing, knowing that your teammates are there to support you in case you need something


Maria Melfa: [00:19:33] You mentioned, you have 10 different workshops. Can you talk a little bit about these?


Erin Diehl: [00:19:40] Absolutely. So, we train on power skills. We have now said that the word soft skills is dead. We gave it a nice funeral. Thank you so much for coming out. You're gone. Power skills are the skills that are going to be continuously needed in today's workforce. When you say soft, sometimes it seems like they don't really matter. Things like effective communication, team building, presentation skills, networking, leadership, thinking quickly on your feet, taking initiative, creative risks, career like 101 sales training and vision setting. These are the 10 offerings that we have. But those are the skills that we really see leaders and teams meeting in today's world. And so, what we did with those 10 things existed prior to the pandemic. What we did is we just moved all of them onto Zoom. We had to tweak a little bit of the activities, but we use play. We use improvisation to train on these soft skills. So, we do. Every workshop has an overarching thesis statement objective that we break down. We use improv comedy activities, and the idea of having fun and play to have people experience. There's an experiential piece what we want them to feel when they're doing the skill the right way, and that's what the workshop teaches you, step by step, is how to be a better leader, how to be a more effective communicator. These are each individual workshops, but they're either an hour and a half on Zoom, two hours in person, and every training that we offer comes with a three-week “Do It Yourself” e-learning course that's built-in conjunction post-workshop because a lot of times when we first started improve it, our clients would say, “This was amazing!


Erin Diehl: [00:21:32] We had our team is coming together in this different way and they were engaging. But what now?” So, this e-learning course keeps that learning going, and we give managers some talking points that they can guide their teams with. That they can ask some questions over the next three weeks to see how they're doing with the work if they're keeping up that conversation. And then in 2022, which is exciting, we've created these videos that will put at the actual beginning of our workshop. So about two days before we actually work with the team, they're going to see our we have twenty-two improv professionals between New York, Chicago, L.A. and Charlotte, North Carolina, who helped facilitate. So, we've created with these hilarious people. I'm talking about. Two of them were flown out to SNL to meet with Lorne. They're so funny. So, we've created these videos that are about three minutes in length that we send to the participants before that are “how not to do what we're about to teach you to do.” So, there's the comedy, but it's also teeing them up for what we're going to teach them. And then we're collecting data from the participants ahead of time to understand their challenges. So, when we walk into a session or we log on to Zoom, we know right away what that problem is, how we can solve it, and how we can tailor the workshop to that team specifically. So, it's an experience in itself. 


Maria Melfa: [00:22:56] What would you say the difference is doing improv with a group versus role playing?


Erin Diehl: [00:23:03] Oh, great question.


Maria Melfa: [00:23:04] Very good question.


Erin Diehl: [00:23:05] Such a good question. I'm never stumped for words. No, I'm just kidding. But I'm stumped. No, role play in itself is one of those things that I have seen time and time again, where you say to your team. I mean, I've said it to my own team. I'm like, “Well, let's rollplay this.” Cue eyeroll. Cue head falling on desk drawer. Coming up, they're like, “No, I don't want to do this because it feels inauthentic.” Right? It feels not like it's an actual, real thing when you say role play. When you say, “we're going to use comedy or we're going to use play to guide you through these scenarios”, there's just a different connotation with that. There's also this idea. I have a two-year-old, right? I am watching him play all day long. He is improvising all day long. This right here is improvising. We're all improvisers. So, this word of improv sometimes gets in people's heads and makes them nervous because they're like, “Oh gosh, I'm going to think on my feet. I don't have a script.” And it just creates this unnecessary anxiety. I truly used to have it. I would. Improv was exposure therapy for me. I had to continuously do it, so I would stop being afraid of it because I grew up with a script. The moment that I started doing improv, I became this person who was scared of it. So, to go back to your question, it is. It is this transformation of energy is what improv is versus role-playing is, is more is actually kind of scripted, where improv as an art form or as a teaching tool is allowing people no one to be present.


Erin Diehl: [00:24:52] They're usually laughing. There's usually some element of fun and a heightened awareness of that fun to it. And then through that, it's almost like when we were starting to show we were laughing really hard and having a good time, those barriers dropped. That's where we get you. It's like we trick you into learning almost because you're just you don't even know you're learning, and then you walk out of our sessions or any session using improv in hindsight, and you're like, “Wow. Oh. Aha.” These moments are coming to you like, “oh yeah, this conversation.” I'll always remember when I first started improv in my own training, just as an actor on stage, I would walk away from the rehearsal or show, and I would replay the scenes in my head. But the amazing thing about improv is that it can never be recreated ever again. Ever. With role play, you can go back to it and tweak it because it's usually a little bit scripted, right? But with improv, the magic happens because you're so present in the moment you're listening to somebody's idea and then building off of it, and in that conversation you're so present. There's no room for judgment or just that anxiety that we feel when we think, “Oh my gosh, I have, I'm nervous. I'm going to have to improvise or think of my feet.” When you're actually in improv, in your scene is working, you're actually improvising. There's no feeling like it. It's like a euphoric high. It's like a drug people want to keep coming back to because you transform. And that's how we transform teams is by getting them to that place.


Maria Melfa: [00:26:31] So do you do one-on-one coaching with leaders? 


Erin Diehl: [00:26:35] Yes, we do. And I love it. It's one of the it's a passion of mine. Truly, we're starting to do this more once we've engaged with a team to continue to work with one to two leaders of the team post-engagement because we're able to then really. Now we know their team, we know who they're talking about when we're coaching, we know what they're actually challenged with, and we can see the dynamics when we're working with the team. So that's my favorite way to coach a leader is to actually work with the team first. Know the challenges, see the team dynamic and then work with that leader to problem solve whatever that leader's challenges are with the team. I love it. That to me is just. I love that relationship that you create with your coaching clients. I love it.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:27:25] It takes it a little bit deeper than what you're already creating in that kind of more group setting.


Erin Diehl: [00:27:30] Yeah. Yeah. And then to watch them transform to you, that's my favorite. I love it.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:27:34] A large part of this conversation has everything to do with engaging your employees and your teams, and starting from leadership and working your way down, right? Maria, I find, is incredibly generous when it comes to like, including everybody and ensuring engagement like we've. We've won awards for being “One of Boston's Best Places to Work” several years in a row. You do so much for us. You gift us all the time. There's T-shirts, and sweatshirts, and mugs, and all of this really cool stuff that she does for us, anniversary gifts and whatnot. But I think what people struggle with is understanding what those extra steps towards engagement, how they're actually affecting their teams. So, what can leaders do or what steps can they take to ensure that those steps are working towards an engaging company culture?


Erin Diehl: [00:28:27] Yeah, I mean, it's a good question because we are not in-person anymore. It's as much as we used to be. And if we're not engaging our company culture, what does that mean? I love this quote. I don't know who said it, so I can't tell you. It's a quote. It's a quote, but. A CFO says, or a CEO says to a CFO, “What happens if we don't invest our dollars in training our people and engaging our people?” And the CFO says to the CEO, “Well, what happens if we don't train them, and they stay?” So, it's all about this idea of making people feel like they belong, right? Creating a space where you feel like your personal intrinsic values are met. There is an author of the book “Radical Candor Kim Scott”. I don't know if you've ever read the book Radical Candor. We had her on our podcast, The improve it! Podcast, recently and that was one of the most infectious conversations that I've ever had as a leader, because it starts with this idea of “if we're going to give feedback, which Radical Candor sounds like you're giving me candor to somebody, it's actually the opposite. And it's actually if we're going to give feedback as a leader, we need to first receive that feedback first.” We need to be able to hear what an employee motivation.


Erin Diehl: [00:30:03] What does an employee need? What am I as a leader not doing right? What am I not doing well? And so, it starts with leadership saying to the team, “What could you have?” And she says this in a very specific way, creating a question that will solicit feedback from your team members. “What can I do to engage you further now? Am I engaging you? What can I do use what questions?” So, they can say, “Hey, here's what need…”, and learning from the employee, what motivates them personally and trying to incorporate that into work is something that is going to resonate with a team member long term. If you can think about right now, just even as we're talking a leader you've had in your life, whether it's a boss, a coach, a mentor, and why that person sticks out in your mind, it's usually because that person took time to invest in you personally. So I can think about a leader right now, she is literally still one of my good friends. She was my boss before I started improve it! at my recruiting firm. I'll tell you this in a million years, I would not have stayed in that job as long as I did. I stayed there for six years. I didn't really.


Erin Diehl: [00:31:24] I didn't know I loved the work. But you know what I did know once I started working there was I loved her, and she made work fun for me. She understood what was important to me as a human being, and when I told her about the idea for improve it!, she was the person who told me to talk to United Airlines. And so, I told her, when I left, “You created this monster. This is your fault.” But I will always credit her for believing in me, for showing me that I can do the work that I was doing, for providing a fun environment, for making every single person on the team feel included, and that has spilled over into the way that I lead my team. I do like Maria with the anniversaries, the birthdays, the engagements that you're doing with your team. That matters. And I think people in today's working world, all they want to know is that: A) they are safe, and they belong in the space that they're in. And then within that, their needs and their values are being seen and heard. And that's it. And if you can create that environment for your team, there will not be the Great Resignation. There will be the Great Re-engagement. That's it. That is it.


Maria Melfa: [00:32:37] I know one of your titles is the fail-fluencer, so why don't you speak about that, and let our audience know more about what you?


Erin Diehl: [00:32:46] Oh Maria, you're going to like this one. I wish. Well, I can't. I can't spend my camera angles are off right now, but I have a sign to the right of me that says “failure.” I gave myself the title of “fail-fluencer” in 2020 when the world shut down. The way that I engaged with clients and people and my community was in-person. Everything, everything from speaking events to networking events to associations we were a part of. Every single thing was. “Hi, I'm Erin” in person. Shaking your hand didn't really use LinkedIn. I did. I was kind of using LinkedIn back then. But for social media, it was just pictures of big deal. My child. Nothing, nothing of connecting virtually. So, I turned my Instagram to public. I started posting on LinkedIn every single day. And so, there was this idea of there's all these influencers in the world, right on social media, people who influence, right? And I really understood that concept. And I also understood that that's not me. And I also really understood that this was like talk about vulnerability and making myself feel uncomfortable with the. I was becoming comfortable in the comfortable, comfortable with the uncomfortable. Let me say that again. So, I just started doing it. I started posting. I started being real. My Instagram handle is “keeping it real deal.” The first picture I've posted of myself in March of 2020 was me literally with real tears crying. I have fake eyelashes. I had like one fake eyelash hanging like this because I was crying so hard.


Erin Diehl: [00:34:24] It was when I thought our business was completely failing, and it was just like, “Here it is, I'm going to be real with you. I'm failing. Things are happening and we are trying to figure it out.” So, this idea of fail-fluencing” thing started in March of 2020, and I've leaned into it ever since. And it's this idea that comes from the improv stage that there are no mistakes on stage only gifts. So, anything that you say on stage is not a mistake, it becomes a part of the scene. So, if we're having a conversation right now and I were just spill coffee on my computer and say, “Oh crap”, and then instead of just letting that sit there, I could say “crap so that's my favorite game to play in Vegas.” And then we could start planning a girl’s trip to Vegas, and talking about Vegas, and that would just continue the conversation versus just letting that sit there, right? So, this notion of “fail-fluencing” is something that I really leaned into, and I also started doing with my own team. So, every quarter, instead of having like a vision setting party, we have a “failure party” or a “fail party” where instead of making a vision board. We make a board of all the things that we failed at pictures of things that happen to us over the past quarter. Personally, professionally, we share them together as a team because when we create this space of failing, that means that we're trying, right? Like trying means that we're getting outside of our comfort zone or trying something new.


Erin Diehl: [00:35:48] We're learning through that process. It's going to make us better in the long run because we're innovating versus staying stuck. And so, it's a growth culture mindset first and foremost. It's a way to recognize the human entity of it all. We're not perfect, we're going to make mistakes. And so, even yesterday, I did an interview with an author I really like, and he said afterwards he goes, “I totally forgot we were supposed to do it on LinkedIn Live.” He's like, “I forgot to hit the live button.” He goes, “Fail. Yeah”, and I'm like, “Isn't it just.” He recorded it, but we forgot to go live. And so, to me, it was fine because I hated the sweater I was wearing at the time, and I didn't, you know, but I was like, “You can. You can lean into this “Fail. Yeah.”, because its kind of just allows you to say, “You know what? I failed, but that's OK because I was experimenting. I was trying something new. I was getting outside of my comfort zone, so I've really leaned it.” It's kind of like, “don't give a”, you know, we'll call it “crap, don't give a crap mentality”, and just go for it. And that's another rule of improv is just getting out of your own way, getting out of your head, and allowing yourself to try new things. So #fail-fluencing.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:37:00] Love it. Erin's like the “Bob Ross of improv” over here, saying that, “There's no mistakes, only happy accidents, right?” I love, right? That's right. Here's my thing. I can't wait to see how you paint. I would love it is.


Erin Diehl: [00:37:11] I'm going to. Here's a tree. Here's another tree failure. Failure branches


Maria Melfa: [00:37:16] I love it. We are coming to an end. This has been amazing. So, I know we went off a little bit from our original agenda, but because you do so many different things. But it all comes back to how to engage a hybrid culture. And you know, Erin, I love all the different classes in the workshops that you have, and what we'll do for the audiences will send more information on Erin and improve it!, and all of the different workshops. So, is there anything else you'd like to tell our audience?


Erin Diehl: [00:37:54] Just keep failing. Keep improving because the world needs that special “it” that only you can bring. You see what I'm saying here? Improve it.


Maria Melfa: [00:38:04] We love it. This is excellent. So.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:38:07] Erin, this was so fun. Thank you so much for an amazing conversation and for telling us all of the things that you've done. You've inspired us in this small window of time. So, I look forward to seeing what improv brings to our company culture, and how we can bring you into the mix. So, thank you again. So much for everything.


Erin Diehl: [00:38:27] That was so fun, ladies.


Jocelyn Allen: [00:38:29] For more information on today's podcast guests and how they can help your organization, please visit


Maria Melfa: [00:38:39] Bring Out The Talent is a MuddHouse Media Production.