A conversation with Harold Hardaway, CEO & Co-founder of Cardigan

 “No one wants a boring facilitator, right? It’s about being effective. It’s about getting their goals accomplished. But if someone’s going to be in a room with you for four to eight hours, to an extent it would be nice if you can entertain.” -Harold Hardaway

I’m excited to have Harold Hardaway with me on the Control the Room podcast today. Harold is the co-founder and CEO of Cardigan, a branding and internal communications company that “Inspires Brands that Inspire Employees.” Cardigan has deep expertise in working with companies with non-desk employees, multiple-location businesses, retail brands, and professional companies with remote workers.

Harold started his career in banking and found his way as the Director of Corporate Communications and Culture for H.E.B. before co-creating Cardigan. He currently oversees research and strategy for all client projects at Cardigan, and he is also a speaker and thought leader on corporate communications and culture. 

On today’s episode, Harold and I talk about how to utilize quiet during facilitation, how to bring subjects and jokes back around when presenting, and how to have a “full circle” moment. Listen in to find out how Harold uses ingratiation in his facilitation, how to use equifinality, and why acknowledgment is so powerful.

Show Highlights

[01:58]  Harold’s genesis story.
[03:33] How personality traits assist Harold in his career.
[06:42] Creating a better experience for clients.
[09:07] Planning ahead of time and getting to know your client.
[14:03] How to change your language to fit your audience.
[16:15] Harold shares about facilitating and racial unrest.
[18:27] How professionalism has crept into the workplace as a form of insensitivity.
[21:35] The power of acknowledgment for yourself and others. 
[30:22] Advice from Harold about facilitating during COVID and into the future.

Harold on LinkedIn
Cardigan CG on the Web

About the Guest

Dr. Harold Hardaway is a speaker and thought leader on corporate communications and culture. He believes that everyone should “Chase the Good” and centers his work on helping organizations create spaces wherever possible. Today, he serves as Co-Founder and CEO of Cardigan—an internal communications and employer branding firm—and he was previously the Director of Corporate Communications and Culture for H-E-B. Harold has been featured in San Antonio Magazine and Business.com, and his writings have been featured in the Austin Business Journal, SHRM’s People & Strategy Blog, and Recruiter.com. He was recently recognized as a Finalist for the 2019 Austin Under 40 Awards, and he is on the Board of Directors for Leadership Austin, Creative Action, and Equality Texas.

About Voltage Control

Voltage Control is a facilitation agency that helps teams work better together with custom-designed meetings and workshops, both in-person and virtual. Our master facilitators offer trusted guidance and custom coaching to companies who want to transform ineffective meetings, reignite stalled projects, and cut through assumptions. Based in Austin, Voltage Control designs and leads public and private workshops that range from small meetings to large conference-style gatherings.

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Full Transcript

Intro: Welcome to the Control the Room Podcast, a series devoted to the exploration of meeting culture and uncovering cures for the common meeting. Some meetings have tight control, and others are loose. To control the room means achieving outcomes while striking a balance between imposing and removing structure, asserting and distributing power, leaning in and leaning out, all in the service of having a truly magical meeting.

Douglas: Today I’m with Harold Hardaway, CEO of Cardigan, where they’re cultivating brands that inspire employees.

Welcome to the show, Harold.

Harold: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Douglas: Excellent. Well, I wanted to start off by hearing a little bit about your history. I’m always fascinated by how facilitators find their way to their roles, because, let’s just face it, there’s no degree at any college where you go to become a facilitator, so there’s always a fascinating journey. And especially when we’re looking at all these different silos and different methodologies, people come from totally different worlds. So I’m really curious to hear how you got here.

Harold: Yeah. I probably stumbled into it like most people, like you’re saying. So no degrees here to kind of get there. So when I first started out in my career, I worked at a mortgage bank, and they didn’t have a training department. It was a new division, and so in the absence, with no one raising their hand, to develop training, I raised my hand, and I was the trainer for that particular group. And so I think through that I kind of learned how to explain things two, three different ways to someone. And at the same time, I was in a group with business analysts, and through that process, they were working on developing systems, and then I would have to sort of train the system. But I would be in the room when they would start working on what that was going to look like, how it was going to operate, and so being able to really translate how the business was using the tool versus how they were designing it. So between the business and I.T. and translating there and being able to speak both languages really helped a lot. 

After that, I worked at a large grocery retailer here in Texas—so I’m sure everyone can probably guess who that is—in the I.T. department, and H.R. was my customer. So you can imagine with developing technology with them, there was a lot of translation needed. Like, “I want this.” And then I.T. saying, “Well, we can’t necessarily do that.” And it’s like, “Well, what they’re really asking for is this. And can you live with this, because I think it’ll still get you the business outcomes that you want.” And so being able to hear both sides and translate and help them negotiate an 80 or 90 percent solution was really important. 

And then, once I got taken off of H.R. technology, H.R. just kind of hired me to go work in that department. And through the rest of my career, there was a lot of translating and taking big ideas, which is how I ended up in communications, taking big ideas and being able to kind of translate that down and then navigate people through a process to get to a business outcome. So honestly, most of the times it’s because someone didn’t raise their hand, and in that space, I did, and figured I’d give it a shot. And I learned a lot, and I ended up facilitating. 

I also am a little bit of a ham and an extrovert, and I don’t mind being upfront.

Douglas: We talked about that a little bit, the importance of being this unbiased third party that’s kind of coming in and helping the team be the heroes. But there is still an element of performance you have to prepare, be on your game, get up there, and even if you’re kind of stepping off to the side a bit at times or a lot of times, there is still that moment of, hey, the show’s on, and I’ve got to be there.

And before we started recording, you were mentioning that you had some experience in standup comedy, etc. And so just curious to hear how those experiences related, if you’ve actually dipped into any of that when you’ve been planning sessions.

Harold: Yeah. You know, a lot of times when you’re up there, no one wants a boring facilitator, right? It’s about being effective. It’s about getting their goals accomplished. But if someone’s going to be in a room with you for four to eight hours, to an extent it would be nice if you can entertain. 

So, way back when I kind of was living in Dallas, it was this mortgage banking crisis, and they laid off all support functions. So, like, 600 of us kind of in one day. And in that space, I was like, “What are some things I’ve always wanted to try?” And it was standup comedy. So I did that. Actually got paid to do it, so I am a paid standup comedian. It was just 100 bucks, but I’ll take it and I’ll claim it any day of the week. 

But I think what that really allows me to do is pay attention to what’s happening. Timing is important to kind of like lay down the joke. And I think timing is also really important when it comes to facilitation, right? So when are you quiet? When do you give space? When do you step in and say something? Also, listening to what other people are saying, and how do you bring things back around? So part of a comedy, right, you’ll say something, and then you’ll navigate people through a process, and then, you bring the joke back around, and then it hits harder the second time because people kind of feel it. So with facilitation, you’ll set something up at the beginning, and then you’ll kind of have, hopefully, this full-circle moment where the light bulb goes off for everyone. 

So I think not being afraid to be in front of people, some comedic timing, understanding sort of that cycle of bringing things back and helping people kind of understand and the light bulb goes off helps a lot when it comes to facilitating.

Douglas: So I want to double stitch on that bringing things back, because you talked about in the preshow kind of prep conversation, you talked about this notion of cultural inside jokes or the words they use or getting to know them. And so I thought that was really, really neat, and how can I not only come in as an unbiased outsider and be that person that doesn’t necessarily have any stake in this decision so that I’m not going to influence it, but at the same time, how can I be a friend, an ally to, then, so that everyone feels comfortable and vulnerable? So how much does that bringing it back, the timing, the improv comedy stuff, align with that ability to kind of like dissect the culture and then imbibe that into the experience?

Harold: Yeah. I think it’s really important. I think they’re equally important. So timing is huge, but also, if you’re an outsider, you need people to trust you, to your point. You need them to open up. You need them to be vulnerable. So ingratiation is actually kind of an impression-management technique. So part of it is—I’m also a teacher at some of the universities, so you’ll hear some nerdy stuff come out of my mouth every once in a while. But how can I ingratiate myself to someone quickly? So I can do it with a smile. I might be able to say, “Oh, look, I’ve done this for so many people,” but at the same time to say, “Hey, I did my homework, and I know a little bit about you. I know the words that you use. I know what’s important to you.” Makes people think, “Oh, wow,” and you can see it in their face, where they start paying a little bit more attention. 

So an example of that. I had a facilitation. I was actually speaking, just speaking. But it was a little bit like some workshop fun activities in there. And so I was like, “Well, give me three—” we were talking about personal brand. “Give me three words that you would say describe who you are, or someone would say, ‘That Harold. He’s blank, blank, and blank. How would you want them to fill that in in terms of personal brand?’” And they had this whole thing called “more.” They were like, “Well, if we were to do more,” you know. And so I said, “I’m asking you for three. But if you’d like to do more, you could do four.” And everyone in the room burst out laughing and thought it was the funniest thing ever. But it’s just because I asked, “What are some things you say culturally? What are some things that you do? What are the inside jokes? What are you working on? What’s important in terms of an initiative? If you’ll share some of the last emails that have gone out, if you want to, then I can kind of work all that in.” And so it doesn’t feel so much like an outsider, but a continuation of where their organization is really headed. And so that was just kind of a fun example that always sticks out in my head.

Douglas: Yeah. I love this notion of not only adding levity to the situation, but also getting people to really resonate with these broader themes and these broader objectives, or how does it tie back to whatever the business outcomes are? And you mentioned the importance of that in this notion of planning. And the purpose of the planning is to have the plan, but we want to be skilled enough that we can deviate from that. 

So we often talk about antifragile agendas. We want to build our agenda so that we can blow them up if we need to. And I strongly believe that if you’re not focused on the outcomes, you can’t do that. So that got me really excited when you were talking about those things. So I’m curious to hear how you think about plans, how you think about outcomes, and as that relates to just having a great facilitation.

Harold: Yeah. So, from a client perspective, I will always say, like, “What are one or two things that, at the end, if we accomplish this, you would be like, ‘Wow, I didn’t waste my money on this guy’?” Right? Or if it’s my partner, Shannon on Cardigan. And be very clear about those and come up with the plan about how we’re specifically going to get there. And what that really does is, I think as a facilitator, allows you to number one, not get frazzled and know that you have a path to get there. And I’m going to say a path because you know what I’m going to bring up in a second. You have a path to get there. And if there’s a process and you’ve planned for it, I always say, if something goes wrong, if I planned enough, plan A, plan B, then it’s going to be easy for me to pivot.

And so I’ve also been responsible for corporate events with 2,000 people in a room. And so I’m like, “We are going to kill ourselves to try to make this ‘perfect.’” And I always say, “It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to have the appearance of perfection.” But once we got started, I was like, “If the roof falls in, oh well. At least we exhausted every opportunity.” So to me, the plan is an outline, is a structure. You have to be able to—like we talked about comedy—read the room. What’s going to work? What’s not working? And be willing to say, “It’s not going to work.” 

The other thing, though, with the plan—and I love this concept that I learned in school called equifinality, and there can be infinite ways to get to the same ending. So just because I had this one particular way I thought we can navigate people through the process, if I’ve done a good job creating space, if I’ve done a good job aligning people, getting people to open up and speak up, then maybe someone else is going to throw something out, it’s going to spark some sort of creativity, and my plan is no longer the best one. But just recognizing and realizing that there’s multiple ways to get there. The plan is a framework to kind of keep you on track, and, also, to get your customer to understand where you’re going as well. But throw it away if it doesn’t work. So don’t stick to it, and don’t feel like you have to cleave to it, because I’ve seen so many facilitators do that, and then at the end, you didn’t accomplish anything you want to accomplish, but you stuck to your plan. And that’s not what you were really getting paid to do.

Douglas: When you started talking about equifinality earlier, my brain started doing this thing because it’s kind of meta, if you think about it, because when we’re planning, we want to make sure that we don’t have this fixed mindset, that we can be adaptable and willing to adjust on the fly as needed. But also, all of these facilitation approaches, no matter if you’re in design land or liberating-structures land or wherever, they’re kind of based off this concept of equifinality, right, because you want to make sure we bring everyone to the table, and what happens in the room happens. So there’s these emergent qualities that we’re there to seek out. And so if we come in with this fixed mindset around what the outcomes going to be specifically, then the session’s not going to be very valuable. Or the deep work doesn’t happen that we’re kind of seeking for. So I thought it’s really interesting that that concept works on multiple levels. It’s, like, at the participant level, it’s at the facilitator level, and we all have to embrace that if we want to really get the interstellar outcomes.

Harold: Yeah. And I think that comes from, to your point, the process. I think it also comes from language. And I’ll give you an example. You know, we’ve recently done a lot of webinars on navigating through crises, etc., because there are multiple going on at one time now. And then we’re like, “How do you talk to your people that relates to your brand?” And so one example we’ll use is, “Do you talk to them like a cheerleader? Do you talk to them, like, familial?” But that was when we were talking to H.R. leaders. When we were speaking to people maybe in oil and gas, we were like, “Do you talk to people like a coach?” You know what I mean? When you start changing language, because words matter and people can receive them. So are they all men? Are they primarily women? Are they CPAs? Are they advertising people? And kind of getting that understanding that the exercise changes the words, the language that you use changes, so it can be received well by the receiver, because that’s the point, right? You don’t want to alienate someone with language as well. So language, also, is a big part.

Douglas: It also, I was beginning to think about, like, not only what’s happening in the room, what’s happening to your agenda, to how you’re just even approaching the facilitation, what’s happening in the room with the participants, but also what’s happening to all the participants outside the room. So all the stuff that they’re dealing with and the baggage they bring in, the trauma, the stress, etc. And I think that has an element of equifinality to it as well, because, those things are going to have a way of resolving themselves, and all this lives in this ecosystem. It’s like Russian nested dolls or something, right? 

Harold: Yeah. 

Douglas: And so it brings me back to this thing you mentioned around acknowledging and creating space for these things that everyone’s dealing with, whether it be racial unrest or whether it be some bomb just blew up at work. Like, there’s a production outage. People are bringing stuff into the room, emotions into the room. I loved your word acknowledge because I think a lot of facilitators will say holding space. And that’s kind of a very facilitator-centric term, whereas, acknowledge, that’s a term everyone can understand. And we just want to take some time and honor it and let people have that transition moment, because we can’t expect them to flip a switch and just throw this stuff to the side. 

So, I know you had a recent moment that felt kind of special around giving people the ability to acknowledge.

Harold: Yeah. I was in a meeting—and I borrowed this from someone, so it’s not a Harold Hardaway original, as I like to say—everyone was, I realized, feeling some type of way about something, with all the racial unrest. And knowing you have introverts and extroverts, and maybe some people want to talk; some people don’t want to talk. And it was on a Zoom meeting, and we’ve been on so many of those recently. The thing was, “Hey, think of one, maybe two words that describe how you feel, and type it into the chat. And you don’t have to say it,” but as the facilitator, she read them out loud. And when I did it and borrowed it from her, I read it out loud. And people were like, “tired,” “exhausted,” “hopeful.” And there’s just something really powerful about reading those things out loud, acknowledging where people are in the space, and so you as a facilitator kind of know what people are bringing with them. And at the same time, I’m opening it up and thanking everyone, acknowledging where people are, and then saying, if there is someone who wants to expand on how they’re feeling, give them the opportunity and invite them to do so. Some people, at one meeting, a few people really chose to do that, to the point of tears. And another meeting, no one did, but they were saying, “Thank you for at least allowing us to say this and acknowledge where we are,” and how that really is kind of the lens and the emotions that people are kind of bringing to the work, “Even though we’re all there for the same purpose, this is where we are and how we feel.” And sometimes just the act of acknowledging something is really powerful and gets it out there.

Douglas: You know, it’s like recently ran into this concept of silence breakers. And I instantly fell in love with it because it’s so easy to be silent because it’s the safe thing to do. And also, I think in, definitely in my career, just this reinforcement of what professionalism is and professionalism became this thing that was so inhuman. Like, we weren’t supposed to bear our feelings or touch on some of these sensitive issues. And I think we do our best work when we’re the most human we can be, and, to your point, creating these moments of acknowledgment can get us there. 

And I wanted to just observe something that I’ve been tracking on, whether it’s appreciative inquiry, or there’s a really great Liberating Structure called seen, heard, and respected, and this moment of reading those feelings out loud means that the people that wrote those, they’re feeling heard. And I was recently in an alternate relating workshop, and a gentleman pointed out how emotional it was to hear his story repeated back. And really struck me because I do a lot of this work, and so I’m around this type of stuff a lot, and went back to that moment. And I put myself in that gentleman’s shoes and thought, “Wow, if that is an emotional moment, the reason that’s emotional is that it doesn’t happen much. So that means that he’s experiencing hearing someone really empathize, really unders—there’s evidence that he was heard, and that was touching.” And if we can create more moments like that, I think we can drive much more business value. But the problem is everyone focuses so much on the business value, they can’t set the initial conditions to where that stuff can thrive and become outside. Love this notion of acknowledgment.

Harold: It doesn’t 100 percent relate to business facilitation, but I went through a leadership development sort of class process. And there was this moment where it was like, “What’s one thing that you would like someone to acknowledge you for,” or something. And so you write it on a sheet of paper. And you didn’t even know why you were writing it, right? “Who would you want that person to be?” And so I remember I wrote down that I was a good dog dad because my dog had passed away. And I would want it to be my pet, right?

Douglas: Sure.

Harold: And the interesting thing was, hours later, she picked them up and she read them, and then I had to choose someone to play the role of my pet and acknowledge me for being a good parent, a good pet parent. To him—because I was carrying a lot of guilt. Don’t get me wrong. We went to all the vets. I got all the medication. I did everything. But I couldn’t change this outcome. And, you know, it’s like a type A person, who is so used to making things happen for everybody, for companies, I couldn’t save, you know. And so someone acknowledging me like they were my pet broke me down, you know? But it was the most healing thing I think I had experienced in so long. I slept like a baby. I forgave myself. So that idea of acknowledging and kind of hearing things back—I know it’s a little bit off topic from business work, but there is a lot of power in that. And I think even from an employee perspective, you want to be acknowledged for certain things from certain people. I mean, how do we allow that to be expressed in some sort of way? So sorry for making a baby left turn there, but it was really powerful.

Douglas: I agree. And these powerful moments are critical if we’re going to build really resilient and really strong teams. And that’s the kind of stuff that I think that I’m willing to invest in my team. The trust falls and the rope courses, yeah, whatever. But if we can authentically come together and be there for each other, if there is some weight on your shoulders about the end of life around the dog, them taking the 30 seconds over the—or the two minutes or whatever it took to say that—it’s, like, a very small investment that could have huge ramifications on your ability to work more closely together and drive those outcomes. And so if we focus on the health of the team first, we can have these profound impacts versus just trying to utilization, like treating everyone like a factory and just like, go, go, go, go. And so I think that, in a lot of ways, this is the best stuff we could be doing for business outcomes.

Harold: I think so. No one in the room picked anything business related.

Douglas: Right.

Harold: Not a single person. It was like, “I said this to my grandmother, and I didn’t have a chance to say something else before she died.” This is, like, where people were going, and this was like a three-month process, two weeks but three months apart. But that’s kind of, to your point, what people were bringing in, right? What they were carrying. What needed to be acknowledged. And then after that—I’ll speak for myself. I can’t speak for everybody—but I know I felt dramatically better, and I felt sort of like healed, and I wasn’t, to your point, carrying that around with me all day and trying to do that and still facilitate for other people.

Douglas: You know, it brings me back to this notion of human connection. And when we held the big workshop, right at the beginning of the lockdown, for facilitators to kind of have a conversation on the future of facilitation, the one big, big thing was human connection. It was interesting that on the spectrum, some folks were really concerned about losing it to the in-person human connection. Like, “We’re really good at this digital stuff. Will we ever be able to come and have these moments we love?” And so it was kind of like this fear of this dystopian future. Then, the other side was just this notion of like, “Well, are we actually going to be able to do it? Can these tools support real human connection?” 

It’s interesting. We talked about this acknowledging and unburdening and supporting each other. But it really does come down to this human connection, and that’s where we are most creative. That’s how we solve stuff together, is when the connections exist. And so I’m curious to hear about your journey through the virtual space and how you’ve been able to maintain human connection. And do you have any tricks up your sleeve? Are you still experimenting with things? Just kind of what’s there for you as far as human connection in this virtual world?

Harold: Yeah. So, I mean, I’ll be honest with you, personally. So all my friends will do Zoom things multiple times a week. But then I actually saw one of my friends and got a hug. And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I haven’t had a hug in eight weeks.” And I freaked out at first because just not used to it. So I don’t think there’s necessarily a substitute. But one of the things we’ve been doing is, from a facilitation standpoint, trying to mix it up. So there’re random breakout rooms and maybe prompts that you can send people and bring them back in. There’s videos. There’s shorter timeframes. All of that stuff has been working, but you’re still sitting there, behind your computer. So those things have kept it more interesting for people.

Also, limiting the size of groups. So I know there are the webinars, but also being able to see someone’s face. And I know one of your articles that I think you just posted to LinkedIn, I read it earlier. It was, like, cameras have to be on. If your camera’s not going to be on, then you don’t need to be on the call for certain things. But usually we try to limit—because we do focus groups and research as well, and it actually has worked out pretty well to make them engaging, but I can’t say that there’s necessarily the human connection. 

I think part of it is that thing about being an invitation, looking for the connection that I have with someone. So whenever I have an interview for a focus group or research, do a little bit of what I call appropriate stalking, meaning I went to LinkedIn, I read some articles on folks, and they try to figure out, did we go to similar schools or do we have… and try to make that connection and really talk about all of that first. So you know how sometimes at work, what would happen in a meeting is everyone talked about their weekends and all the things that had nothing to do with the meeting because everyone needed that. On Zoom calls, I try to facilitate that, and I’ll do my homework, even if it’s someone I don’t know for sure, do my homework and figure out, well, how can we make that connection, and how can I recreate that sort of experience where we waste the first 10 minutes? It just—it’s not a waste, right? It really does establish that human connection, and we laugh and we joke. And then we’re able to easily transition into work because I know something about you, you know something about me, and it kind of gets back to sort of ingratiating yourself to someone else. So I just try to think, how can I recreate that first 10 minutes of every meeting that we all sit through, over Zoom? And that requires a little bit of homework, and I’m okay with that.

Douglas: Yeah. It kind of parallels this kind of researching their cultural norms, the words they use, so that if you can relate to them and make them feel like you care and you spent some time, that’s a great way to open. Really love it. And I agree, having that time up front, whether it’s the weather report or some sort of way for them to transition in, sometimes people just need boot-up time. They’ve been running from meeting to meeting, and just kind of just jumping straight into it, that’s not always the best place to be.

Harold: And I will say, the extrovert in me will write down, and someone, one of my coaches—I feel like I’ve had a lot of coaches in my life, Douglas—but one of my coaches would say write “Wait” on a sheet of paper. It stands for Why Am I Talking? I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not. I will usually write that, Wait. Why am I talking? And it’s another way of saying hold space for people. But I don’t have a problem talking, so if I just, like, shut up for a minute, usually someone’s going to speak, or they’ll keep talking, or so… Yeah. Wait. That’s another little technique that I have.

Douglas: You know, it’s such a powerful facilitation technique just to use silence. And I was recently facilitating one of our weekly facilitation practices. So we’ll host a free event every Thursday, where facilitators can come in and just try stuff out. We used to do it once a month, but now that everyone’s virtual and trying to figure out this virtual stuff, we just started doing it every week. It’s been really fun because we’ve got a global audience and everything. But I was facilitating something, and while I had folks doing solo work and adding stickies to this MURAL, I was telling some stories just to kind of entertain folks. And then, when we did the critique, because we always do a critique. After people go, we’ll do a Rose, Thorn, Bud, just so that people can kind of learn because that’s the whole point: come, practice, learn. One lady’s feedback was, “Your stories were so interesting that I couldn’t think of what I wanted to write.” And I thought, oh of course, I should shut up. 

Harold: Well, but you have great stories. And nothing else, she’ll remember the stories, right? 

Douglas: That’s right. 

But, yeah. I love this acronym, WAIT. This sounds so important. I haven’t heard that one before. 

So other tips? I guess from just navigating this crazy virtual world and launching out on your own, building your own company, what advice might you have for the facilitators out there that are following in your footsteps?

Harold: You know, I always try to think of any meeting as an experience. And so to me that’s really important, whether it’s the music that’s playing when someone comes in. I mean, even when we’ve hosted webinars, we’ll have music playing to kind of like set the tone and let people know we’re about to have a good time today. Some of the questions at the beginning. So I think if anyone can think about it as an experience and walk people through it and navigate them through the process, that would be my first tip for anyone getting into this space. 

Number two, I would say think of yourself as a quarterback. For our company, we do a lot of work with culture as well, branding, etc., and we’re always like, hey, we’re a quarterback. We need a team, and nothing’s going to get done without the people in the room. So even if you’re at the front, reading the room, reading the defense, calling the next play is really important. And so those two things, you know. 

And I would also say—oh, gosh. Well, where I said knowledge feelings, but also kind of getting people centered is another thing, in terms of the podcast. Not podcast, but meeting. Get people moving. If you can get people moving, that’s fun. And so, I mean, we’ve done things by daring people to stand up, because most people have on random shorts, even though you’re business on the top and, like, party on the bottom. Well, work-appropriate party on the bottom. But, you know, like what kind of PJs are you wearing? And to your point, I mean, in the practice that you all they’re doing and getting together with ideas. I’ve had friends who’ve done things from, like, quarantine kitchen, and it’s like a random kind of a game. 

So like, I think this idea of prototyping. I think that’s what I want to settle on. I’ve probably rambled. So prototyping is the one thing that one of my friends mentioned to me, and he’s the person I call all the time. You know, he’s very good at games and gamification. And we brought him in on projects. And the idea of thinking, just try it and prototype something and see if it works, and if it doesn’t work, scrap it. But sometimes perfect just gets in the way of progress. And for me, I want things to be perfect. But once I just tell myself, “It’s just a prototype,” then, I’m able to move quickly and get feedback on it. And then, I have the next iteration. And so for me, I think that’s really important. And in this space, and I know my company and my business partner, what we’ve done is, let’s try this, let’s try this, let’s try this. And I just tell myself, “It’s just a prototype. It’s just a prototype. It doesn’t have to be perfect,” because that has been the enemy of progress, for me personally, in a space where you have to respond quickly. So that would be my one big thing that I’ve learned in the middle of COVID, specifically, in transitioning to virtual is prototyping.

Douglas: Awesome. I love it. As you know, I’m a big fan of prototypes. 

Harold: Yes. 

Douglas: And so I will double down on that answer. Absolutely. If you’re curious about something, afraid of something, a prototype can be really powerful because it can give you the confidence to go give it a spin and see what works, see what doesn’t work. Definitely, perfection can be paralyzing and prevent it from trying and making that first step. 

So, Harold, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you today and hearing about the importance of timing, acknowledging, ingratiating your participants. Such an awesome concept. And then, equifininity, equifinality—

Harold: Equifinality, yeah.

Douglas: —is now in my vocabulary. I love the word. It is a— it is something that explains something that I’ve known to be true, but in a way that packages, I think, it up in a really nice little box. I love it. 

And so, just in closing, how can folks find you? How can they get in contact and potentially work with you?

Harold: Thank you for that. So Harold Hardaway on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active on there. I work at Cardigan, so you can find us at cardigancg.com. We help organizations with branding; internal communications, whether that’s campaigns, change management, been getting a lot of calls, obviously, for the DEI space. You know as well. Find us there. You can email me at harold@cardigancg.com. And so, yeah, find me in all of those places. 

Thank you so much for having me on the show. I was excited and honored when you reached out, wanted to know what little ole me had to say about anything, so thank you for that.

Douglas: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a pleasure chatting today, Harald, and I look forward to talking more soon.

Harold: Yes, we will. Thank you.

Outro: Thanks for joining me for another episode of Control the Room. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates when new episodes are released. If you want more, head over to our blog, where I post weekly articles and resources about working better together, voltagecontrol.com.