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The Interchange: Jessie Cruikshank

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

In this episode we speak with Jessie Cruikshank, the Director of Leadership Development at the Foursquare International Church.


We talk about bias in babies and should those working from home be paid less? How curiosity and neuroscience plays a part in bias. The six-second rule to controlling emotions and breathing correctly.


A little more about Jessie:


She enjoys walking others through hard places, and bringing life and joy to others. She helps organizations catalyze their development by using bravery and courage to invoke change.


She's been involved in four startups, all of which are still thriving today. She has helped an engineering firm turnaround in three years. And she's had the privilege of being a leader of leaders and coaching their development for over 10 years.


If you are a learning and development professional and are interested in being interviewed for our show, you can sign up at calendly.com/maximyz/inteview.


Learn more about us at Maximyz.com





Transcript:

(edited for clarity and grammar, some mistakes may still exist...)



Rahel

Hello, everyone. And we are so excited to have you join us again at The Interchange brought to you by Maximyz. And my name is Rahel. And this is Matthew Heinecke. We are your hosts today. And we'll be sharing some exciting things again with you coming from a very interesting guest, Matt, who's our guest today?


Matt

So today, our guest is Jesse Cruikshank. We're going to be talking about bias and generations. And Jesse is the Director of Leadership Development at the Foursquare International Church. She enjoys walking others through hard places and bringing life and joy to others. She helps organizations catalyze their development by using bravery and courage to invoke change. And she's been involved in four startups, all of which are still thriving today. She has helped an engineering firm turnaround in three years. And she's had the privilege of being a leader of leaders and coaching their development for over 10 years. So welcome, Jesse.


Rahel

Yeah, thank you. It's a pleasure to be here. Awesome. Well, as we always start this interchange session, I always ask something that is. So the question is, what can you tell us about yourself that is quirky or interesting?


Jessie

Well, there's a lot about me that's quirky, whether or not anyone finds it interesting, like in a conversation, but I was a professional rock climber at the age of 15. And I was an expedition leader. So I trained leaders for about a decade and then I've been training leaders for another decade. But I played roller derby. I'm I. I like physical, aggressive sports. It helps me be calmer in my normal life, I think. But those are, those are some interesting things about me.


Rahel

Yeah, that's amazing rock climbing, but I've never done rock climbing, but I don't think I'll be any good. First of all, it's just scary.


Jessie

Scary for me. Well, that's where bravery becomes important. Right? And it has to be bravery is not something someone else can give you. They can encourage you if it is something that you have to find in your own self. That's true.


Matt

Yeah, I've done a little bit of rock climbing. I grew up in Utah, myself. So yeah, it's a tough sport, for sure. And you got to be in good shape. And as far as the aggressive sports, I loved playing football and rugby growing up, so I had that sometimes some of that kind of aggression to get out.


Jessie

I tried to go out for my middle school football team, because I was part of the crew that would be called to go play in the park. But then they didn't have girls on the football team. So I wasn't able to continue in the sport that I love, and still not to this day. So I'm a huge football fan.


Matt

Oh, wow. Yeah, that's too bad. Now there are some women in the professional NFL, which is really cool. So that's probably maybe a good segway into talking about bias. You know, what, what part do you think biases played in terms of you growing up versus where it is today? In that sense?


Jessie

Yeah, you know, one of the things that I find the most interesting is the bias of what a leader is, I mean, even now, I'm getting ready to teach and do training later this week. And so I went on to Google and I just googled under images, I googled leadership, and the images that come up are male, they're all blue. And they're all this archetype of what a leader is. And, and there's so much bias in that when my perspective and what I've always tried to do is help you find the leader version of you.


And so removing the bias of, you know, whether it's about power control, answers, posture, like, like, if we remove all of that, and I just help you find the leader version of you, then you can succeed and, and aspire to whatever you whatever it is that you want to do. So bias, especially in leadership is huge. The tests are biased, they're all union based, and this archetype of dominance and power. And so I've experienced a lot of bias and an interesting way. I'm in the religion sector and that's not a large place. for women to thrive, although I belong to a faith community where women are empowered and do thrive, but just this, this idea that somehow emotions are female, and they're not valuable, you know, except for as data points for leadership, like as a neuroscientist, as an Ivy League trained neuroscientist, you know, I know that that's a bias.


So it's just really interesting, all the things that we just accept as being true about ourselves and others that end up, not end up causing frustration, end up causing aches and end up their hindrances to us being successful, not because we're inherently not designed to be successful, but because we've agreed with everyone else's narrative. And so finding the truth of your own story and the leader version of you. And then what does that look like when that thrives? So, so biased? Yeah, huge. And I've only succeeded because I've, I've swam against the stream, so to speak.


Rahel

Yeah, it's interesting. You said, initially, when you start talking about you, You googled leadership, and those images come up, because there is not that there is also bias in the system, like in Google pictures, you know, that data is already biased. So even when you're searching, you're getting more biased things. So yeah, that's interesting. You mentioned that.


Matt

It reminds me of what your sister's doing. I forgot the name of the show. Yeah, coded bias. Yeah, there's a place that she works for, it's called the Algorithmic Justice League. And so they look at all these different algorithms and how biased they are. So if you go for a job application, or if your profile by the police, they weed you out, you know, like, for the job applications, they'll kind of weed you out if you're, you have an African sounding name. And the same for the police, though, though, wrongly, kind of interrogate somebody because they have dark skin.


Jessie

And the interesting thing about bias is that it's something we learned at a small age, it doesn't carry all the social implications that we think it does, it really comes about because our brain is trying to find shortcuts, in order to process all of the information and the environment around us. And so it starts out as a mechanism to just help us function in a complex social world. But as we see what has happened in society, and society reinforces those, and then our value judgment to those because there is you inherently there is a value judgment at the beginning. But that's something that society adds to bias.


And, and then we're in the system of it. And we don't know that we're in the system. And it's a huge emotional developmental stage to break out of that system to question it. And such a journey for everyone to go on whatever bias they've been taught, whatever narratives they've agreed with, to find themselves in a different story is, it's just a big deal for the human journey. So bias isn't necessarily harmful, it can be innocent, but it's the society in the way that all of that value, judgment has been added into it that creates something that's so harmful. Yeah,


Rahel

Yeah, I read in an article once that there was this research done that babies are actually not born with any bias, but the bias or for example, the face of bias, they develop that in the first year of life. And then from there, like you say, you know, they just build upon it, and consciously or unconsciously they use it, you know, with what they say and what they do. And that's how it kind of strengthens itself.


But like you said, it is not bad for you, your mind is trying to do something useful, but at the same time, it's recognizing them. That seems to be hard, you know, as you grow older, like you say, trying to swim out of that. First recognizing it, you know what, that's already hard to begin with, sometimes you really have to dig deep. So yeah,


Matt

yeah. And kind of going back to your, I talked about bias in religion. I know, a lot of churches still may struggle with allowing women to move up in the ranks of churches. And one kind of weird thought that came in my head, you know, you're talking about when you Google leadership, and I was thinking, in a religious sense, you know, if you look at leaders like Jesus or Buddha, if you google those pictures, they would be totally different. You know, the way they dressed and they would you if you saw them today, you would think they are not leaders. And so I just think that's kind of a weird, weird way of thinking about it.


Jessie

And then that's definitely the thing that I am passionate about is taking the power dynamic out of leadership. And because I think that's what can end up corrupting anything. And I totally agree with you. If we met Jesus or we met Buddha today, we would, we would think that they were really nice.


And maybe we want to, you know, hang out, but at the same time, we wouldn't look at them and go, Oh, yeah, you can lead a global movement. Right? There's something that we misunderstand about the power of kindness and the power of joy over the long term, because we're just looking for, you know, that short term return and that short term impact, and I think it undermines our long term effectiveness.


Matt

Yeah, very, very well spoken. So, in terms of, you know, switching maybe a little bit to generations, and I know, bias is like such a huge, you, if you say bias, well, what kind of biases, you know, hundreds of them, but, but in terms of what you're seeing in your your life, what are your thoughts on bias within generations?


Jessie

Yeah, generations seem to have, like defining values. And those are, they have their own definition of leadership, their own definition of failure, how they seek truth is different in each generation, what their ultimate goal is. And so I think that's, I think that's okay, that the generations are different. It's just when any generation thinks that theirs is the only way and we and we stop learning how to relate to another.


So you know, when we complain about a different generation and their value, because it's not our value, then bias can be there. And I think it's really interesting the way that each upcoming generation comes against the assumptions of that value, and reveals the bias. I don't think like, I don't think the baby boomers would know their bias without the Gen Xers. And I don't think the Gen Xers would know their bias without the millennials.


And so I, you know, one of the interesting questions, then organizationally, is, you know, how are we designing the organization? What defines success? How are we taking care of people in our human resources and our benefits packages, you know, I was just with my uncle who is 73. And he was talking about, and struggling with the idea that a person could work from home and that not be seen as a benefit.


So should they get paid the same as someone who's going into the office and has to get dressed and has to commute and all those things that are not tax deductible, right? It's not, it's just seen as the thing that you give to be at your job. So he was struggling as a boomer with the idea that working from home wasn't a benefit. And they didn't have to give as much to their job.


Well, I'm, I'm not a millennial, but I can see in my in myself, you know, I'm my, what I see is my give and take the thing that I bring to my company, the thing I bring to my organization, I might define that a little differently than my baby boomer uncle. And so I think I'm giving a lot because now I'm available later in the day, right? The boundaries of my time have been eroded. And so what we see there as being the bias of what we've put value in changes, and is different in the different generations.


So when we set up a work environment based around those and reward, we reward based on those biases. I think that's where we may end up. Our business may have a sunset, because we can't connect to the new generations. Hmm, well, I never thought about it like that. Wow. Yeah,


Matt

yeah. And I think I'd read a study about the benefit of having friends that are older and younger than you. And it looks from the study, they said that basically you're happier, the more, the more diverse your relationships are, in terms of age, the happier that you are. Yeah, but that was interesting.


Jessie

I think you're able to see yourself better. And I think personal contentment with your own voice increases personal happiness. So it's not about respect or being successful with other people. I mean, for some people, it may be but I really think that underneath that is contentment, that you're okay. Who you are as Okay, and as you settle in there, then you seem to be happier, because you know what you have to offer everyone else around you, and how you fit in that.


So belonging is pretty important to the human psyche. So as well. And diversity helps us feel more special. Yeah. Fascinating. It's hard to be lost in the crowd. If I'm the only redheaded female in the room, right. I know I'm not lost. And so I don't I mean, as long as I have peace with who I am, which is a which is a big deal to have, but um Yeah, diversity. I've in my experience has also brought both wisdom and happiness.


Matt

Wow. I like that, like, the two things you said, you know, being okay with who you are being yourself. I think that's You're right, that's super, super important. And I never looked at it like that, as you know, you're saying being the only redhead in the room, I'm special. And so I think that's cool. It's a better way of looking at things, you know, instead of I'm different, or I'm awkward, or, you know, I am different.


That's cool. Um, and I think also, one thing, you know, we talked about the generations, it's good to be aware of maybe the differences in generations, like you said, baby boomers might have a different outlook than Gen Xers. But I also feel that there's some stereotypes that fit into the generations that also can be detrimental. In some ways. You might assume that, Oh, well, he's a baby boomer, he doesn't want me to text him. You know? And maybe they do like to text you don't know, right? Till you ask them.


Jessie

Right. I mean, I think the hard part about bias, why causes so much damage is it causes us to assume and it when we fail to be curious? At the moment, right? Because if I don't know anything about you, then you then you're, you're someone new than me, then I'm going to be more curious. And I'm going to ask you questions. And I'm not going to assume and just fill in the space there. Right?


So bias causes us to be less curious. And that's where we miss people. And I yeah, with the generations with my uncle, assuming what people are thinking about wanting to work from home and their motivation, there is the challenge, right? So he's not asking, Hey, what does that provide for you? What is the value there? And then walking through that? So the, the, the stereotypes well, seem to be helpful and the macro are very hint, are a hindrance in the micro for sure.


Matt

Yeah, I think you just have to be careful in how you use them. I mean, it's, a lot of these things are like that. And we look at cultural differences, or gender differences or personality differences. You know, people don't necessarily want to be labeled or put into a box, you know, because I'm this age, or I'm this, this gender, this is who I am. But it does help to have some general knowledge about it, I think, you know, because it gives you a better chance of how to approach that person that you've never approached before.


Jessie

Yeah, I think when I think about the generations, I think about it, the stereotypes being a starting place for a conversation, at least. So, you know, hey, what is my basic benefits package based on the value that people have for time off for family for education, and then having a more nuanced conversation? from there. So I think we want to think about living in a biased free world, but I don't think that's realistic, your brain would be extremely overwhelmed by I think it's just that value judgment part. If we can, we can be curious, we can double check our assumptions and remove and remove that value judgment. But I think that it's less harmful.


Matt

I love that. And I think that curiosity is really the key. I mean, we're, we're curious from the time we're born, we're always curious, that's probably why we watch the news so much, because we're curious to know what's going on with what's happening. And I think what's helped Raul and I out a lot is just being curious about each other. You know, we came from two totally different backgrounds in so many ways. And that's how that's how our relationship started was just like, you know, what's it like to be you, you know, what do you do? And how do you do it? And so, and that was, it was fun, actually, it made it a fun thing to do.


Rahel

He did and in the end, and through the asking, and the curiosity, you sometimes bump into some assumptions you had made, and you're like, Oh, I was wrong about that. You know, it's good to discover those moments. And you're like, Whoa, okay, so now that I've discovered this, well, what did I miss? Because I was thinking that the whole time.


Matt

I love seeing the beauty of humanity. I love that. So if you were to take, you know, bring about one kind of key takeaway or key, something that you want the audience to take home with them from this conversation, what would that what would that look like?


Jessie

For this conversation? I think, understanding that we all have those biases, they're implicit we don't even know. And so when we run into them, when we discover them, I'm not defending them, right? If we can take a moment and breathe and lean into the awkwardness of being wrong. for that moment, instead of becoming defensive instead of you know, retreating And justifying, if we can say, oh, wow, I, I'm sorry, I'm wrong, and then ask a question to discover, I think one of the gifts, the greatest gifts that we can give one another is the courage to be known and to seek to know.


So yeah, leaning into those moments of curiosity, reaching out trying to understand one another, or at least trying to discover one another. And, and then if you have a person who's been harmed by bias, like I have, then understanding that it takes courage to be known and, and be gracious and allow yourself, allow people to be wrong about you, and graciously help them discover who you are, then, then we can move beyond any kind of hindrances. And we can learn how to work with one another and be the best person we are with one another and share that.


Matt

That's good, that's, that's great. And I, I guess it would ask me one more question is, you know, taking that first step, like you said, towards either being, trying not to be defensive and put up the wall or trying to lean into that uncomfortable area. How does someone go about that first step? Because that's really the hardest step to take? I think so, do you have any advice on how to get to that first step? Yeah,


Jessie

I think the science research is that you have about a six second window, to either let yourself be overcome by whatever the survival emotion is, or survival mechanism is, or, or breathe, and kind of understand and combat down and choose to believe the best in the other person. And so then seek to understand right, as Steven would say, so, so take a moment, breathe, and then graciously and kindly invite the other person into that shared reality of who you really are.


And that, you know, if you have to forgive them in that moment, if that's what's necessary, or just, you know, choose to believe the best of them. I think most people won't disappoint you, you know, rare is the person who would. So it is a self regulation step. Meditation helps with that as well. I think finding patients around your family is a good way to build that, as well. So if you can do it with your family, I think you can find a way to do it with strangers.


Matt

No, you're right, breathe. I mean, I've heard that even a lot of us aren't breathing correctly, you're supposed to breathe kind of low from your diaphragm. And but you're right, you just take one breath, one or two deep breaths, it kind of does relax you excuse me, and, and can bring your mind into a different state. Yeah.


Because it's so easy to let your emotions control you. So we have about six seconds to choose who you want them to meet. Hmm, I like that. Six seconds to choose who you want them to meet. Oh, I see. Can I use that? Yeah. I'm gonna use it. I'm gonna use it for myself. Cool.


Thank you so much, Jesse. It was a pleasure having you here. And again, I'm Matthew and this is Rahel and you've been listening to The Interchange by Maximyz.













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