What’s the biggest roadblock to dealing with disruption? Joanne Flinn answered my question, and more, in this interview that was alternately funny and serious, yet loaded with insight.
I kept bumping into Joanne Flinn at the PrimeTime Business and Professional Women’s Association events, as a roaming photographer. Bumped was the word since we hardly had time to chat. Not until the 20th Anniversary party in December where we both stood in front of the wine table sipping our respective wine choices. I don’t exactly remember what we talked about, I blame it on the alcohol, but I decided then that I wanted to interview her for my Succeeding in Singapore series. After the interview, I decided to feature her on this series, Global Citizen
I reached out to her, asking if she’d be interested. She agreed; however the stars didn’t align. We rescheduled times then dates until I despaired of ever interviewing her. Finally, the right time came.
The interview at WorkCentral was filled with wacky stories about her experiences and her thoughts on the impact of those experiences in her life. A high-ranking executive in the corporate world before starting her own firm, Joanne Flinn is a woman who has both logic and art within her.
Computers honed her logical thinking thanks to her father’s gift when she was a child. International travels at a young age enabled her to ease into different countries. Her degrees in Law, Finance, and Economics trained her for business and brought her to Andersen Consulting. Joanne added a Master’s Degree in Coaching and Consulting for Change years later. Art made an appearance much later when the pressures of her job wrecked havoc on her body.
“It felt like I had a pickaxe on the side of my head”, she said with a laugh.
Art started as a secret. She kept it to herself to the point where her partner went “Whaat?” on her four years ago when she revealed her interest. It have been a surprise but to Joanne, Logic and Art went hand in hand. From that, Booth Aster was born. During one of those serendipitous moments, her alter ego’s place in the art world was cemented and she became TEDx’s Artist-in-Residence.
A logical thinker, a high-stakes changer, and an international artist, Joanne Flinn sees the world and its disruptions as winds of change. She lived through personal disruptions and through the Asian financial crisis.
“I literally spent a year where every month, I was sitting there, trying to work out how I could cut payroll…When you talk about disruption, that was disruption in capital letters,” she said of that difficult time.
Everybody had to make sacrifices. She told of the story of her Thai staff who went to Australia for a year, parting from their families, in order for Joanne to be able to bill their Australian client. She understood how difficult it was for her staff since Thais were known to be close to their families.
To answer the original question, Joanne gives her unvarnished truth.
“The biggest roadblock is the way we dramatise it all. We use language that sets up people to go into fear and to scare. Now, neurologically-speaking…when you create structures and systems that put people into fear, you make them dumb, the whole body goes into this whole adrenal (mimes panic) piece. It makes them dumb; it makes them stupid; it depowers them.”
Instead, she provides the alternative of talking about the situation and looking for solutions.
“It’s about how we frame and work with it,” she said. “We have a large capacity to influence that, both as individuals but also as groups that work together.”
As a KeyNote speaker, this was the message she delivers to her audience – choose how to respond.
Watch more in this engaging interview with Joanne Flinn.