In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Jeffrey Davis. Jeffrey is an author, team culture consultant, educator, and CEO of Tracking Wonder Consultancy. For over 25 years, he’s inspired thousands of change-makers, leaders, and creatives to unlock their best ideas through the pursuit of curiosity, innovation, and wonder. He’s also the author of a new book launching Nov. 16, 2021 – Tracking Wonder: Reclaiming a Life of Meaning and Possibility in a World Obsessed with Productivity.
Wonder is the one radical quality that has led people from all walks of life to make their deepest dreams and wildest endeavors come to life. Wonder has remarkable effects on our resilience, our thinking, and our capacity to connect with one another.
In this episode, I talk with Jeffrey Davis, author, and CEO of Tracking Wonder Consultancy, about how the lost art of wonder can help us cultivate creativity, sustain the motivation to pursue our big ideas, navigate uncertainty and crises, deepen our relationships, and more.
Questions I ask Jeffrey Davis:
- [1:31] Define wonder.
- [2:57] If we are born with wonder, how do we lose it as we grow older?
- [3:58] Do daily habits and rituals that help us with productivity numb us to change or surprise?
- [5:17] How do you get people to see the importance of wonder in the workplace with individuals who are professionals, executives, teams, and organizations?
- [8:24] I think that bringing wonder in as an experience into people’s lives is probably going to take some work or practice — can you give me an example of how to do that or how to be intentional about it?
- [14:25] How would you encourage somebody to apply this in a customer service or even a sales role?
- [16:27] How do you handle a situation where somebody is basically faking wonder for a while?
- [20:27] What’s the impact that you want to have on the reader or the people that take even just a kernel of this to heart?
- [23:19] Where can people connect with you and find out more about the book itself and the work that you’re doing around wonder?
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John Jantsch (00:01): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. Hey, I want to give a shout out to another member of the HubSpot network, the success story podcast, hosted by Scott de Clair. It’s one of the most useful podcasts in the world. Success story features Q and A sessions with successful business leaders, keynote presentations, conversations on sales marketing. Hey, and if you’re a freelancer, his episode on how to make seven figures freelancing on Fiverr is a must listen to the success story podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.
John Jantsch (00:47): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Jeffrey Davis. He’s an author team culture consultant, educator, and CEO of tracking wonder consultancy for over 25 years. He’s inspired thousands of Changemakers leaders and creatives to unlock their best ideas through the pursuit of curiosity, innovation and wonder today, he’s got a new book coming out. We’re going to talk about it. It’s called tracking wonder reclaiming a life of meaning and possibility in a world, obsessed with productivity. So Jeffrey, welcome to the show.
Jeffrey Davis (01:24): Thanks. It’s always a pleasure to
John Jantsch (01:25): Hang out. Yeah. So, so I don’t know. I’ll ask a really direct question. Define wonder.
Jeffrey Davis (01:33): Yeah, that’s a good starting place, right? We think we know what it is, but then we’re like, oh, let’s wonder about wonder. Yeah. So through my research, I’ve come to a more clear understanding myself of what wonder is it is a heightened state of awareness that’s brought on by something unexpected that typically either delights us, disorients us or both. And I would say what the most remarkable things, qualities of wonder that it’s fleeting. Sometimes it happens just for a few seconds. I cite it, you know, a deer in the woods or, you know, a sunset sometimes, you know, you hear something that just catches you by surprise from a coworker, but it has long lasting effects. And the, um, the science of wonder is kind of caught up. I’ve been on this trail for over 15 years when there was very little science of wonder and it’s catching up really to show us the remarkable effects that has on our resilience, our thinking, and our capacity to connect with one another.
John Jantsch (02:31): So, and, and, and I’m sure you’ve talked about this before, and I’m certainly not the first one to bring this up, but you know, you go somewhere like, I don’t know, four or five-year-old child, I’ve got, one of my grandkids is about, is four and it’s so funny. We’ll go somewhere and I’m not paying much attention. I’ll hear go. Wow. And you look around, it’s like, what? Wow. Yeah. So we’re the point is we’re born with this in like large amounts. So how do we lose it?
Jeffrey Davis (03:04): I’m so glad you said that I have a seven year old daughter and a 12 year old daughter. And they’re great wonder trackers, but there are instances I have to say, John, when I’m a bit more in wonder than they are. And so wonder is not just kid stuff. It’s pretty, pretty remarkable grownup stuff. So yeah. Wonder does Wayne and it wanes in part neurologically. So when we’re about my older daughter’s age, 12, 13 years old, our Synopsys start to prune in the brain and we don’t have all of those, you know, great connections going on in our brain culturally, without a doubt, particularly in United States culture and even the Scottish Irish, which is part of my heritage, but the hard work ethic, we have a cultural bias against wonder and it’s, it doesn’t seem productive. And yet the irony of wonders that it, it can help us become remarkably productive without burning out or, or burning bridges.
John Jantsch (03:58): You know, one of the things, since you mentioned productivity, and obviously it’s, it’s in the title or subtitle of the book as well is one of the ways we are more productive or at least I find myself more is, is through habits, through rituals, through things that I do every day. And, and, you know, I wonder while, while on one hand that makes us very productive or can make us feel productive. It certainly numbs us a bit, I suppose, to, to change or to surprise doesn’t it. Okay.
Jeffrey Davis (04:28): Oh, this is such a great question. Nobody’s really touched on this. So rituals, which I have them in the morning to make me very intentional, I have some specific to wonder, but the irony is just what you said is that the ritual can become routine. And then it just becomes this sort of default expectation. And we’re wired the neuroscientists call this, uh, re network of the brain, the default mode network we’re wired. And so to sort of categorize things, get in routine so we can move on with our life. But the challenge for us in these times is to disrupt our default routines. Our default ways of thinking are, are even our default rituals, right, is to kind of make your ritual spicy, so to speak every once in a while.
John Jantsch (05:18): So you ride a lot, you work with it’s an in, as I read your bio, you work with a lot of creatives and have for a long time. And I think certainly, uh, you know, a true creative has no problem with this idea of, of wonder that I have to get in my state where I can be creative and not just be in my kind of rat race state. So how do you first off, I know you’re not saying that that’s who needs this, that’s your that’s who it’s for, but, so how do you get people past that idea of saying, oh, well, that’s fine for those people that we don’t know what they’re doing over there anyway, you know, and bring it into the workplace
Jeffrey Davis (05:56): At such a great, because that is also a lot of my work with professionals and executives and teams and organizations. So I will say I was heartened to see that the Harvard business review recently published an article from a couple of researchers that seem to get at the premise of our body of work about why managers and leaders need to protect their sense of wonder and our times. So, one way to think about what wonder does and how it benefits us in this world of work that has just shifted for everybody, is that experiences of one. So what the science of wonder is showing us that is that if we can habitually recall share, and foster experiences of wonder that by doing that, even in the workplace, right, even with team leaders, recalling sharing and fostering experiences of wonder these experiences actually boost our capacity to focus in these times of rampant distraction, they actually build our resilience.
Jeffrey Davis (07:01): And I won’t go into all of the science of how it’s now demonstrated to do so, but it’s as good for us as good rest and good, good diet. It gives us resilience to keep working for the marathon, not just the sprint and wonder is remarkably pro social. So this is the beautiful part. I think of my research in our times is it’s not just for the solo creative, you know, getting inspired with their ideas and some studio it’s pro-social, it actually can make us more generous with one another. It can also let me see if I can put it in this context too. It helps us see each other again, in a new way. So you were talking about, you know, how rituals can become a habit. We can become habituated with one another. Can’t wait, right. People, you know, attend any team meeting. And you’re like, ah, there goes so-and-so again. Oh yeah. We’ve sort of box each other in wonder, has this remarkable ability to disrupt our biased ways of thinking about a problem of seeing each other and even if seeing ourselves.
John Jantsch (08:11): Yeah, it’s funny. I live on the edge of a national forest and, you know, a deer walks by and I’m like, oh, whatever, another deer. And so, so, so how, you know, how do we, so I’m sure there are a lot of people that say, okay, yeah, this is a nice concept, Jeffery. I don’t disagree with the concept. We need more wonder in our life, but, but I’m sure that there are a lot of pragmatic people that are saying, give me the example of, you know, how I bring, wonder as an experience or, you know, how, how do I, how am I intentional about this? Because I think that it’s probably one of those things that is going to take some work or some practice for people.
Jeffrey Davis (08:47): It will. Exactly. So tracking wonder is a skillset and a set of practices that we all can learn and, and sorta reclaim that birthright as you alluded to earlier, right? We’re all born wide-eyed with wonder, and we can actually practice, right. Just this, you know, leaders want to practice becoming compassionate. We can practice, uh, fostering and tracking wonder. So yeah, in the book, I lay out what I call six facets of wonder six sides of wonder. So we can really start to identify, identify them in our lives and, and figure out how to foster more of them. So there’s openness and curiosity are two really important facets that we can develop the skill set for more actively and regularly to approach any challenges, more creatively instead of reactively, say for instance, a challenge comes up for you. The natural response might be fight or flight, right?
Jeffrey Davis (09:47): Very reactive is this part of how we’re wired, but instead if we can practice pausing that reactivity and get curious and ask really intentionally curious questions like what’s going on here and this challenge, this problem, how could we think about this differently? That’s just one activity, right? The next pair of facets are bewilderment and hope. These are really important facets of wonder that demonstrably build our resilience and our fortitude to navigate adversity and challenge, which I think the whole globe needs right now. So sometimes just to when, when we’re feeling down or like in a dark place, whether as a team or as an individual, we can catch that natural darkness. We don’t need to bypass it, but we can do things like stepping outdoors, taking a five minute walk, taking a breather, looking up at the sky. So to speak wherever you live, there is sky.
Jeffrey Davis (10:51): And you’re probably going to come away with a slightly different perspective than, than you did five minutes before the second, the third pair of facets are connection and admiration. And these are really central. And at the heart of your brilliance, which is marketing connection and admiration are the facets of wonder that are very pro-social and allow us really to see one another in a new way. So when we come in conflict, which is very common, whether we’re remote working remotely or in the workplace, we, when we come in conflict, there are a number of things you could do. Just pause in the moment of conflict, detach yourself from the situation and actually practice seeing the person in front of you or the person you’re in conflict with differently, new, like recognizing this person should probably not intentionally harming you or trying to make your life miserable.
Jeffrey Davis (11:45): So let me just pause here for a moment to John DOE and say for the teams that I work with, we just start first, we start with wonder at work assessment, just to kind of see where each team member is and those different facets and other areas. And then sometimes we’ll start with just a few wonder interventions that we figure out together. So what w what can we do at the beginning of the day or the beginning of a meeting differently? So for instance, team managers now simply sometimes start off a meeting with, okay, everyone share, just share a small highlight from the past week, or share something with us that kind of blew your mind, that forces you to actually not just focus on the negative or the problems, but actually see these beautiful moments that were actually quite meaningful and can really bond us.
Jeffrey Davis (12:37): The next set of interventions would be in the middle of the day. This is really, really important that all the research bears out is how to break better in order to work well. So sometimes it requires timing. Sometimes it requires a team agreeing at a certain time of day to break together, better step out doors, step away from the screen. I know remote teams, you’re like, okay, we all have to go outdoors and prove it to get away from the screen. And then finally, at the end of the day, or the end of the week, a certain, I guess you could call them rituals. We call them wonder interventions, where you come together and reflect what was the most meaningful for you in this past week. And so those beginning, middle and end wonder interventions are usually just a starting place for starting, you know, for really shaking up the default ways of working and working together. This
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John Jantsch (14:25): All right. So as I hear you talk about this, I want to break it into two ways that I think that I think most people will, will logically jump as a, just listening to you to describe that this is culture. This is stuff we’re going to work on in our organization. And I think a lot of people are open to that idea. I mean, I think everybody realizes the value that how would you apply this? Or how would you encourage somebody to apply this in a say, customer service or even sales role? So not to an internal team, but, but to actually bring this level of empathy out into the external world,
Jeffrey Davis (15:00): I love that you asked that in, in marketing and, and in sales. So let’s just start with openness and curiosity because you and I both know that we all can get into our default habits of sales and marketing. Like we learn best practices and, and we have certain biases, right. That are laid out in psychology. That if it worked one time, well, it should work a second, the third time. Right? So by just practicing some openness and curiosity, getting really curious and saying, Hmm, how could I approach the sales call just a little differently? And then let’s jump to connection. How could I actually attune to this person, ask some curious questions, genuine, curious questions, right? Because you know, the heart of marketing quite often is listening. Yeah. And really getting some resonance with what’s happening with the person on the other side of your sales call and then establishing some genuine, some genuine connection. It has to be, it has to be genuine really for it, for it to work.
John Jantsch (16:10): Right. And I think that’s sometimes one of the dangers when people, people are out there expressing this idea of, we have to bring more curiosity and we have to listen. I mean, these, these are concepts that people in some cases get shoved down their throat. That that’s what we need to be doing here. But I mean, how do you, how do you, how do you handle a situation where somebody is basically faking wonder for a while?
Jeffrey Davis (16:36): Um, that requires, that requires some self knowledge. So there is, there is a sort of untapped or in the book, that’s at the heart of this body of work. And it can start to sound like a little woo. But I grounded in classical philosophy from the Greek thinkers, the Greek thinker said that suggested that I’m talking Aristotle Plato, Socrates, not to get too wonky on your audience, but that we’re each born with this sort of force of character. That’s unique to each of us, that’s distinct to each of us. And they called it your on your, your genius as it, as it were. And it’s unique to each of us, but we were born forgetting it. But if we remember it at certain times and bring it to our word, bring it to our sales calls, it will guide us toward our best work in the world at whatever stage in our life.
Jeffrey Davis (17:31): So we do a lot of work with that. So one thing that the salesperson has to do their own self work and just like really acknowledge who they are at heart and what makes them come alive in sales. My father was a brilliant salesperson in the Dallas media world. And I asked him one time, like first ad, what do you do? And he said, well, I sell air because it was radio advertising. And then I said, why are you so good at what you do? And I always deliver what I promise and I really care about people. And so I’ve always remembered that. So, you know, the sales person who’s trying to fake, it has to really do the self knowledge to say, okay, really? What is the genius part of me that makes me come alive in sales? Why do I care about sales in the first place? And can I see the genius in the person on the other side of the sales call? That’s a really, now that can sound a little woo, but it’s a really important practice that probably any leader or manager who’s successful knows they have to do. They have to practice seeing the person on the other side differently.
John Jantsch (18:37): You talk about this, this idea of admiration, and there’s a line, uh, to quote, is the experience a surprising love for someone else’s excellence? I think that’s probably one of the, we, I think anyone who has done that has experienced the value of doing that, but it’s also seems to be in our, in our obsession to climb whatever it is. We’re climbing seems to be one of the hardest things to do.
Jeffrey Davis (19:01): Wow. I’m so glad you, that is the admiration chapter I have to say is my favorite chapter in the book. And I feel like it’s one of the most important, and I agree. I, and that’s why it’s the sixth. I think it is the hardest in our culture. We seem to admire big celebrities and heroes from afar, but we seem hard pressed to admire the person we work with to see them differently for the leaders to see the employees differently and admire their grit and their, you know, their character, but right. It is admiration is a surprising love for someone else’s excellence and character or craft. And so again, that this is that practice of really actively practicing, seeing the other person differently. This is a big game changer in culture, but also even for the small business owner who gets irritated with their customers. So I’ve worked with small businesses before and I’ve listened to how they described their customers. And I’m like, okay, we need to do just a little subtle admiration work.
John Jantsch (20:07): You’ve been working on this idea tracking, wonder for quite some time, you know, obviously you’ve, you’ve brought it together through, you’ve referred to it as body of work, your body of work of research and experience in doing this work. So if, and this answer, I assume, will change in a year from now, but right now, right, this is a book is coming out. What’s the impact that you want to have on, on the, on the reader or the people that, that take even a, just a kernel of this.
Jeffrey Davis (20:35): Yeah, thanks for that question. I really want this book to be the antidote to quitting. And we’re in this season of quitting nationally in the United States, but I also mean quitting the antidote to quitting on our dreams and the antidote to quitting on our ideals. We have some big challenges ahead individually and collectively, and I really want this book to serve, to catalyze us, to keep reaching for possibilities.
John Jantsch (21:01): Yeah. I th I feel like there’s a, you know, we went through a 10, I want to rehash the pandemic on every show, but I seem to get, get there one way or another. We, uh, went through the spirit where everybody was like, I almost felt like there was an energy around, how do we have to change? How do we have to shift? How do we have to help each other? And now we’re 18 months in and the slog has just kind of become, you know, something nobody’s talking about anymore, but we’re all still experiencing that, that, you know, that is, you know, you talk about this great resignation, you know, that people talk about. I think that, I think that’s why we’re coming to a head in that
Jeffrey Davis (21:34): I do too. I appreciate your saying that too. I remember that that spring of 2020 and my girls were home and I was actually quite ecstatic that they were, we were camping in the backyard and, you know, I don’t want to make light of the situation because there was real suffering on our part and on so many people’s parts, but there was this sort of awakening, so to speak. And that facet of wonder called bewilderment. I think the whole globe was experiencing it, but you’re right. All of a sudden then we have to sustain hope, right? That we are going to continue to learn. What’s been really exposed, right? That’s been broken in so many ways in our institutions and our, our old habits personally, and collectively that I really do want this book and what ripples out of this book to serve for us to really stay open and keep questioning the status quo, whether that’s the status quo in our own lives or the status quo in our workplaces, really questioning our own assumptions.
Jeffrey Davis (22:32): I’ll just say I had, I was talking with a client, who’s a president of a company and he was in bewilderment. Betty said, you know, what is our new metrics for productivity? We never had a good metric. And so how am I going to measure like the 250 employees coming back where I have to, you know, say, give him credit. When the pandemic came blocked down and so forth, he was like, okay, we need to take care of home first for our people. And then we’ll take care of work. But now that people are coming back into the workplace, I just love that question because he’s staying open. John, he’s staying open to the questions as opposed to go into the default answers and, and immediate closure.
John Jantsch (23:19): So Jennifer tell people where they can connect with you and obviously find out more about the book itself and the work that you’re doing around wonder.
Jeffrey Davis (23:26): Yeah. Thanks. This has been a real pleasure. They can go to tracking wonder.com. They can also go to tracking wonder dot.com/podcast bonus. And we’ll let, we’ll have a wonder at work assessment they can take and maybe a couple of other bonuses for your listeners.
John Jantsch (23:40): Awesome. Well, I appreciate it is obviously a great having to stop by the duct tape marketing podcast. And hopefully we can run into each other one of these days soon out there on the road. I hope so too. John take care.
John Jantsch (23:52): All right. That wraps up another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. I want to thank you so much for tuning in, feel free to share this show. Feel free to give us reviews. You know, we love those things. Also, did you know that we had created training, marketing training for your team? If you’ve got employees, if you’ve got a staff member that wants to learn a marketing system, how to install that marketing system in your business, check it out. It’s called the certified marketing manager program from duct tape marketing. You can find it at duct tape, marketing.com and just scroll down a little and find that tab that says training for your team.
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