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Entrepreneur Edition with Lindon Crow – Part One

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January 29, 2020

Good leaders know how to manage a team. Great leaders know how to manage themselves – their own thoughts and emotions, to better manage others. In today’s episode of The 19: Entrepreneur Edition, we sit down with Productive Learning President Lindon Crow to discuss the value that this skill, known as emotional intelligence, can have on a team’s productivity, morale, conflict-resolution and communication. You can find part 2 of this podcast here.

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Recorded Intro:

This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less, game-changing insights from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.

Hello and welcome back to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition! I’m Rochelle Reiter, President of Orange Label. We’re kicking off our first podcast of the new year with a two-part series on emotional intelligence. Listed by the World Economic Forum as a top job skill to have in 2020, emotional intelligence is about recognizing your own emotions to better manage interpersonal relationships. When used in business, this concept can create a better brand experience for companies and their customers. For over 20 years, personal development company Productive Learning has taught business leaders how to utilize emotional intelligence to create powerful cultures and brands. Here to tell us more about the relationship between emotional intelligence and the modern workplace is Productive Learning President, Lindon Crow. Lindon, welcome to The 19. We’re so excited to have you here today!

LC: Thank you, I’m excited to be here!

HOST: Awesome! Well, tell me a little about your career path and background.

LC: Sure, so if we go all the way back, I grew up I have two sisters and I have all female cousins. So growing up I started taking on a bit of the characteristic of an inquisitive person, a skeptical person wanting to understand why. And really, it was quite natural, right? I wanted to understand why all of these girls wanted to play house and tea, and didn’t want to play Frisbee and tag. I just didn’t get it.

Fast forward 20 years in college and I go into a psychology class and I realize, “Oh, that’s the mechanics of how the mind/body work. So that must be dictating how we make choices and decisions.” Now, I don’t think that I was thinking in college back to when I was young, but that kind of inquisitive nature as to why do people do what they do, I think that’s been with me for a long time. So, then I studied psychology, wanting to understand how the mechanics of the mind and body and emotions work. Also walked into a religious studies course, which I found fascinating because essentially that’s like the fuel that you put into the person – all the doctrines and dogma that they believe. So, now you’ve got the mechanics of the mind and the system, and you have the fuel that you put into the system and I found that kind of combination fascinating.

Fast forward a handful of years later, I walk into my first workshop and the workshop was with Productive Learning. Instead of talking about the world out there and how they function and what they believe about what’s going on in their system, they said, why don’t you look at yourself and try to figure you out? And that’s where I said, “Oh, woah, I don’t know that world at all.” So, that had me hooked. That was about 2010. So I started with Productive Learning in 2010.

HOST: Explain the value that Productive Learning provides to the corporate environment.

LC: Sure, so all of our work has a foundation in emotional intelligence. So, we’ll do workshops and seminars, or coaching, with executives. It could be departmental; it could be with the entire company and really what we’re doing is helping the individual understand themselves better as a system. If you knew how your car functioned better, then your car would be better gas mileage, it could go faster, the brakes would work better, all that kind of stuff. So, we do that, but not for a car, we do that for the human person. Right? And so that’s what emotional intelligence is, if you will. The ability to manage your thoughts and emotions.

So, when you do that with an individual, but you put an individual times ten or a hundred or a thousand into a room together and say, “Hey, let’s all row in that direction. Let’s all go and achieve those business goals,” we’re helping those individuals now collectively with their organization or their team function better. But it still goes down to the individual understanding themselves: why in which they think the way they do, the kind of perceptions and filters that they naturally have – and many of which have unconscious assumptions just riddled through them – the way in which their emotions start to dictate the way in which they make choices and decisions, and then the combination of the two. And we help individuals manage their thoughts and emotions to be better able to interact and work with one another to achieve, essentially whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve. On the personal side, that may be your spouse and relationships or self-esteem, but on the business side that would be productivity, the moral, the conflict-resolution, the communication. So, when we go into organizations, we’re helping the organization develop their emotional intelligence, but they would feel it as if they were developing their company’s culture and the relationship and communication dynamics.

HOST: Can you teach emotional intelligence?

LC: Sure! Oh totally! This is one of the fascinating things I think with everyone starting to know about IQ and understanding that IQ is all about the intelligence of an individual and IQ doesn’t really change over a lifetime. Emotional intelligence, EQ, does though. It’s something that can be learned, it’s a skill. It’s just like a skill of being able to, if you’re in emotional reaction because you’re pissed off at John at work or Sam at work or Meghan at work, can you manage your emotions? Totally. But that’s something that has to be trained. That’s something that has to be developed within the person and what would be developed is understanding why it is that I am triggered. What actually gets me off track and what it is it takes for me to get back on track. Whatever that on track is, and leaders would have to be a bit more influential and be able to communicate, and a line worker would just have to be able to put themselves back into place and so that they make sure that they move Widget A down the line to Widget B, whatever that is. So, it’s definitely something that is able to be developed at an individual level and then it goes back to the overall company and culture.

HOST: For sure. Would you consider it a bold move for an organization to invest in training for emotional intelligence?

LC: Wouldn’t that be strange if I said yes?

HOST: Well, I think that it’s becoming more common but ten years ago, it probably would not be a budget line item for a company.

LC: Without a doubt. When did Daniel Goldman write Emotional Intelligence? I think it was mid-nineties. Yeah, so give twenty-five years or twenty-five years later all of a sudden it has become, science is showing that it is the skills and abilities or the level of someone’s emotional intelligence is a better correlation to their success than IQ is.

HOST: Wow, that’s incredible!

LC: And success defined by whatever means you want to – whether that’s financial success, relationship success, self-esteem success, it doesn’t matter. All of those. Because if you think about it, it’s that individual going and trying to achieve something. And you could have the brightest person but if they get pulled off, because something goes awry and they don’t have the resilience to move through that upset, then what good is that intelligence? As opposed to somebody that has just general, normal intelligence in the middle range, but they have the ability to communicate more effectively with others. More clearly with others. Be able to bring on and find buy in with other people, so they’re influential. Be able to have the resilience to get over the hurtles and the upsets and the conflicts that will naturally happen whenever you put people together. That person, you know, let’s place bets – I’d put my money on that person to be able to go and achieve whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve as opposed to the person that has the intelligence but they can’t manage themselves. So, if you’re looking to improve your organization, you could look at the hard skills, right? So, maybe in the accounting or financial department, you’re going to put people through online courses for QuickBooks or accounting courses or something, really fantastic idea. Marketing, you want to stick them into a marketing course and have them go to the local college. Fantastic idea. But what happens when that person comes up against the hurdle of: the stakes are high, the emotions are high, stress is high, and they have to manage themselves and a team. Is the marketing class that they went to or is the accounting class that they went to going to help them figure out how to manage themselves in all of that? No, of course not! So, go spend the time to ensure that all the skills that they have are able to be utilized when they need to utilize them and that’s what emotional intelligence would help that individual, or that team, with. So, I’m obviously biased, I run an organization that teaches emotional intelligence to businesses and individuals, but to me you could, I’m gonna pull a Greta Thunberg and say, “Just go read the science. Don’t believe me.” The science, like you said, over the last ten, fifteen and twenty years has proven time and time again the value of emotional intelligence and understanding and managing your own mental thoughts and emotions to guarantee or better guarantee your success.

HOST: Sure, sure. Have you seen a trend – what types of companies are utilizing you? Is it big corporations, Fortune 500 companies or more smaller type organizations?

LC: We’ve done it through all. Some large banks we’ve worked with and then we’ve done some small mom-and-pop shops that have twenty employees or thirty employees. Typically, it’s going to be more on a psychographic as to who is interested in developing their team. Does the leader, or whoever is holding the purse strings, do they have a background or understanding, or have they read the literature about how the growth of an organization – their trump card is their culture? And if what is defined by their culture is the relationship dynamics and the communication and the conflict-resolution and all of those are therefore based off emotional intelligence, if they’ve read that literature and they see that easy correlation between those three things, then they say, “Of course, yeah. We’ll invest.” And that could be engineering firms that are building out widgets, we’ve done banking in the banking industry and like I said mom-and-pop shops and real estate and capital investment stuff, all kinds of industries that really, we’ve gone across the gamut, it’s more about does the culture of that organization believe in the power of their individual members or their individual employees? And if so, then they see the value in investing in emotional intelligence or the development of their culture, depends on how they look at it.

Host: So, the line item would go under training, probably, and then they would need to justify how much of that budget wants to go towards skills – technical skill development versus the

LC: Soft-side emotional intelligence? Yeah and the studies that I’ve read are that a lot of the big, Fortune 500 companies are spending between one to two thousand dollars a year per employee on training. So, if that’s, that could be the hard skills: the accounting and the marketing and the what not, or that could be the soft skills or some combination of the two. So, and when you think about it – what’s fifteen hundred bucks for one year for an entire employee? That’s not that much to guarantee or better guarantee that they’re better able to utilize all these resources and stay within the policies and procedures of your organization and producer? It seems so simple to me.

HOST: It seems like a no-brainer, right?

LC: It seems like a no-brainer, like I said, I’m quite biased, it’s what I do.

HOST: So, we’ve talked a little bit about it but explain the benefits that a high EQ has on communication and leadership specifically in an organization.

LC: So, if you, in order to get a group together and move in the same direction, you’re going to have to overcome a lot because any – you put two people together, there’s going to naturally be conflict, because you and I don’t see the same way on everything, do we?

HOST: Right.

LC: Of course not, right? Even identical twins don’t see exactly the same way and feel exactly the same way about anything. So, when you put an organization together of ten, a hundred, a thousand people, you now have to bring all of these people from all of their disparate backgrounds and information understanding and how they respond and react to stuff and say, “Hey, we are going there and lets all row in the same direction.” But now you’re going to have ten or a hundred or a thousand different ideas of how to do that and what happens when agreements aren’t hit and what happens when conflicts happen and what happens when stress is high because there’s a time crunch? So a leader has to be able to manage themselves enough to influence all of those people in order to help them see themselves and understand themselves so that they can recover and move back into moving towards whatever that yonder star is, whatever that point on the horizon which would be their mission, right?

HOST: Sure.

LC: Their mission based on their values and their purpose. So, it’s not just saying, “Here’s where we’re going,” it’s being able to manage everybody with the ability to bring somebody onboard when they’re off. And the way that I work with Meghan may be different than the way I work with you, may be different than the way I work with John because you hear things in a certain way. So a leader has to be able to adapt to the audience that they are working with. And that means that they have to be able to manage themselves to get into the right state of mind and also be perceptive enough to realize, “I’ve been working with Rochelle for a year and now I see the way in which to work with her is XYZ. She likes to be brought in this way, she likes to work through conflict this way, so now I’m going to go work with you that way.”

So, a leader, let’s just say they have five or seven direct reports, would want to be able to manage themselves and understand how to work with those people that they are using as their direct reports to then go and influence their direct reports and so it’s just chain of command down and across the organization.

HOST: How is the – do you use any personality tests, self-assessments? There’s the love language model, there’s all these models out there on how to connect with others, how to resolve conflict. Is there any one standard that you use? Or do you believe in kind of taking bits and pieces from everywhere?

LC: I’ve probably taken most of them- the enneagrams, the DISCs and the Meyers Briggs. I find them fascinating. Interesting but also static snapshots of an individual at a certain day at a certain time.

HOST: Sure, I could see that.

LC: Right? And we’re such dynamic individuals. I mean talk to me on Monday versus talk to me on Wednesday afternoon versus talk to me on Friday morning and you may be feeling very different about how you look at me or how I’m engaging with the world. So, I think there are interesting and relevant points of information, but should they be taken carte blanc and the way in which I am always and forever? No, I think that would be very short sided. But, they do give some tendencies and characteristics, but a lot of times what I find is that they don’t – those courses or those tests, they don’t tell you how to then manage yourself to adapt to different kinds of environments. And for a lot of it, depending on the type of course you’re taking, if it’s really just a literature feedback that they’re giving you, text, then it’s hard to actually gain the learning from that because learning is best done through engaging as many of our senses as we can. So, through experience is where we start to learn the most and retain that learning. So, when you put yourself into – if you were to compare taking a paper test and getting a text or literature back on who you are versus going through an in-person experiential training or workshop where you’ve got to interact and you’re going to have your reactions and your responses and then you’re going to have your debrief, I would give ten times the value to that interactive workshop where you will see your own response, you will feel your own response and then you’re going to have to talk through that and manage your response through that and that’s like, you and I – if you and I wanted to play basketball and I wanted to improve your free throws from 40% to 90%, we could talk theory all day, right? We could talk about the history of basketball, great basketball players and great plays did that improve your free throw skills, right? I’d rather just get you out on the basketball court and let’s just start throwing and talk about your hands and talk about what you want to look at and how you want to place your — that’s experiential learning and that’s going to be so much better for that basketball player. Same with the person that’s trying to be a better leader or somebody that’s trying to communicate better or somebody that’s trying to be better at making decisions because they’re wishy washy. Let’s put you into a situation where you’ve got to make those decisions and choices, you have to make those communications, you have to deal with the conflict right here and then let’s break it down and let’s pull it out and let’s see why you react the way you do, because that’s different than John, than Sally than Meghan, so if we can understand you and they can understand themselves all of a sudden you have people that know the system. The human system. Their system better. So therefore, they can better achieve what they’re trying to and whatever that communication is. So, leaders need that skill, I think need that skill, in order to be able to manage through just the dynamic platform of playing the game of business and some of the tests of DISC and Meyers Brigg, interesting, but they’re not dynamic enough. They don’t give you enough feedback as to all the different contexts that play out in business.

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Host Close: Thank you for listening to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with Lindon Crow Part One.

To learn more about Productive Learning, check out our show notes or visit If you have additional thoughts on this topic, send us an email! You can send questions, comments and more to

A Special thank you goes out to our contributors Studio Manager, Kelsey Phillips, Micah Panzich, who edits our show, and Ashley Ruiz, Content Writer. Be sure subscribe to The 19 on iTunes and Google Play, and, if you like what you heard today, leave us a review!

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