All Episodes Chevron Director of HR & Talent Development Julie Flowers

Chevron Director of HR & Talent Development Julie Flowers

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Chevron Director of HR & Talent Development Julie Flowers

Unlocking Human Energy for Success

The success of any organization is undeniably tied to its ability to harness the “human energy” within each team member’s talents, approach, and potential.

Julie Flowers, Director of Human Resources and Talent Development Initiatives at Chevron, shares her insights on how Chevron’s technology, high standards, and ethics attract Gen Z candidates.

She also discusses how talent development enhances morale, improves company culture, and emphasizes the pivotal role of HR in fostering both business and individual success.

Episode Transcript

Rob Stevenson 0:05
Welcome to Talk talent to me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines of modern recruitment.

Speaker 2 0:12
We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to understand how they make decisions where they’re willing to take risks and what it looks like when they fail,

Rob Stevenson 0:22
no holds barred completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.

Julie Flowers 0:31
Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity and inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

Speaker 2 0:39
Talent Acquisition. It’s a fantastic career, you are trusted by the organization. You get to work with the C suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between and everybody knows you.

Rob Stevenson 0:52
I’m your host, Rob Stevenson, and you’re about to hear the best in the biz. talk down to me. All right, everybody. Welcome back to your favorite recruiting show. It’s me, Rob, back at the helm here for another. What I’m sure to be is a classic installment an instant classic installment of talk Talk to me and I have an awesome guest. She is the director of HR talent development initiatives over at Chevron. Julie flowers. Welcome to you. I’m so glad you’re here.

Julie Flowers 1:22
Great to be here. Thanks, Rob. I’m super excited. This is awesome.

Rob Stevenson 1:25
I have to ask right at the top when that Miley Cyrus song flowers came out, were people singing it at you. Are they doing their own versions? Were you just assaulted with that at all moments?

Julie Flowers 1:34
I wish man I know. My husband tells me I don’t need to bring you flowers because I bring you flowers every day.

Rob Stevenson 1:41
No, such a cop out. Come on, man. You need to bring actual flowers.

Julie Flowers 1:47
I agree. But it is quite clever.

Rob Stevenson 1:50
Well, I did actually write a duty but I will not perform. Because yeah, maybe later. Maybe I’ll get braver as this goes on. But for now, I would just love to hear a little bit more about you, Julie, because you’ve been at Chevron quite a long time. And it sounds like it’s because they’ve really taken good care of you. So I was hoping you could share a bit more about your journey and where you are now.

Julie Flowers 2:11
Yeah, I will tell you, that’s a good way to say it. I’ve had an amazing and diverse career at Chevron in my 26 years. I’m also third generation. I don’t know if I mentioned that to you before. So it’s been my life, Chevron. And all of it’s been in HR as well. I’ve held multiple roles across the HR value chain in various locations like California, Texas, and even Angola, Africa, I did three years there with my family. And that was an amazing experience. And my roles have kind of gone across strategic HR business partner embedded in the business to managing and leading global projects, even leading various talent management and talent development teams, right. And all the roles have had some sort of global scope across multiple parts of our business within Chevron, which makes it amazing, because every role I’ve had feels like starting kind of a new little company or a new business or a new role or, and so it keeps it entertaining, as well and exciting. My recent role that I had, as head of global talent acquisition, that was a great job, because how I described that as our role was to help scout out internal and external talent, right, that wants to make an impact on the world. And that have the skills and passion to do that. Right. So bringing energy to the world for today. And tomorrow mic drop right there. When I recruit, it’s a great way to cook, the new generation coming in, because that generation really does want to make a difference. But it’s such a fun job because everybody likes you, right? You’re scouting out talent. Right now though, I’m in a transition period, and then a treasurer’s role where I’m helping our HR function worldwide upskill our HR workforce. So we want to make sure we’ve got the right skills at the right time, but also aligned with what the business strategies are so cool role as well. So you can see my excitement, every role I’ve had has been amazing and a growth opportunity. I’m also another part of what I do at Chevron is I’m a strong ambassador and advocate for women, right and developing talent. I do this via multiple different ways. I have various internal and external board memberships. So I sit on some boards, and being a leader here. I’m a certified coach for leadership and sit on committees to help develop and manage our HR talent, as well as an executive sponsor for our women’s network. So you can see all of that Why would you leave? Right crazy, vast experience, opportunities, diversity in it, and I get to get back the same time.

Rob Stevenson 4:52
I wanted to ask quickly about this the bringing energy to the world tagline punchy clever. I do like it I love a good bit of a copy. I’m a marketer. I can’t help myself, but Particularly when recruiting with younger generation, I hate to go like you kids in your music. But it strikes me that the kids these days are maybe not as enthused about some of the older, more traditional large firms. Oil is, you know, has been around forever is like the lifeblood of the economy in lots of ways. I can see why a stereotypical Gen Z may not be super excited about it, have you? Have you come up against that? Or what is the brand new approach with the younger generation?

Julie Flowers 5:26
So yes and no. And I think it’s for every generation, really, people in the world are becoming more aware of our environment? And how do we save our planet? Right? There are so many factors in this world that contribute to the decline of our environment. Okay, it’s not just energy. However, energy is something you need every day, in every part of the world in different forms. So when I speak to any generation, but since he’s asked about the upcoming generation, now, they are wanting to make a difference in how we operate as companies, how we operate in the communities in which we serve, or are sitting in, and how do we bring energy to the world in an environmentally safe way? Well, let me tell you, and they want to be doing some cool stuff with technology. So I always say, OK, Google is cool, right? They search, you get a lot of stuff. They have great environment, bring your dog to work, whatever

Rob Stevenson 6:29
makes them ad revenue.

Julie Flowers 6:30
Yeah, yeah, exactly. playing ping pong during lunch, whatever. But do they have technology that’s so complex, that we get oil out of the bottom of the ocean? Just sit on that for a minute, I tell candidates, the technology that goes with what we do surpasses what the internet does. And if you really want to be part of that, and help them make a difference in the world in a safer, ethical way. Come to Chevron because that’s where you’re going to make a difference. And wouldn’t it be great to say on your resume, it was part of making a difference in the world of bringing energy to the world in a safe and ethical way. And Chevron, we are known I’ve traveled a lot of our countries for Chevron probably about 20. And we are generally the partner of choice. Because our standards and ethics are so high that some companies don’t want to work with us. So like, it’s too much, right? But we’re like, we’re not going to waver. We are here to be good stewards of the work that we do. So when you talk like that, they’re like, oh, Sign me up. I didn’t realize,

Rob Stevenson 7:33
yeah, it’s a good pitch.

Julie Flowers 7:36
You want to come work for everyone. Rob,

Rob Stevenson 7:37
you hiring podcasters? Have a very nice role. I don’t know. Yeah, right. Yeah. I wanted to hear about kind of your transition because you had this role head of global talent acquisition, now you’re more focused on talent development. And that strikes me is a somewhat common progression for folks. Ge will really become experts in getting people into the business. And then the next logical step is like, Okay, but what happens next for those people, interesting, even terms of the employee lifecycle? So I’m curious is that what’s interesting to you? Why go from recruitment to helping people upskill and get better at their jobs?

Julie Flowers 8:12
Over my career at Chevron, being an HR, there’s always been an element of development of people. And as I’ve gotten leadership roles in the latter parts of my career, there’s a huge part of development and management of talent. And because I’m part of certain groups that do that it’s a natural progression. And I think is, in the latter years of your career, we have more experience in insights on what a good career path or journey or what development would look like. And I mentioned, I’m a mentor and a coach, right. So I do a lot of that already. And it’s a passion of mine. So it’s a natural progression. This role, though, is really awesome, because we’re focused on creating an environment in HR in Chevron, where the business recognizes us as as corny as it sounds, but an agile force, right? capable of adapting, flexing, expanding and decreasing where we need to for this ever changing business that we’re in, because it’s a Cisco, right? And delivering, like, amazing customer experience, and our customers are internal and external. And that then helps drive the business. So very exciting to be part of upskilling our HR because it helps the business from that perspective. But the bonus is, it helps our HR employees, if we’re focusing on third development that is relevant, you will increase and boost their morale, right. The culture then becomes improved. As an employee, I feel more appreciated and engaged teams are become more resilient, and people are more hungry for continuous growth. Right. And lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this, it helps to recruit and it also helps to retain talent, and we have a really low attrition rate. But that can change in any The day right? So we really need to focus on our employees. So how cool is that sound right that we do that we invest in that. And because we’ve embarked on doing this more diligent, it doesn’t mean we haven’t done it before, we just were doing it a little different and focusing it because I believe every three or four years, you kind of have to change what you do, because the world changes the people change, the demographics change, and so forth. But as we go into this upskilling of HR very focused and targeted it is and another corny one, Rob, it’s the human energy in progress, right. And it leads to not only individual success, but the business success and an improved culture. So this role, I’m super excited about.

Rob Stevenson 10:42
Could you speak more about the reinventing oneself every three to four years?

Julie Flowers 10:47
Oh, wow. Well, what I meant by that is, HR has to keep up, right? The business not only is changing, but people change, our viewpoints, change, our thirst for knowledge, or growth skills are changing. If you ask me 510 years ago, the four skills that I picked to upskill, for HR might be different, because times are different. We’ve talked about generational differences, right? So it’s not really read branding myself or retooling myself, it is more what’s needed in that moment, and how to I adapt to that, and have it focused on the environment at the time. Now, personally, I think everybody should be looking to upskill themselves all the time. And not just in one specific blended skill sets, not to overwhelm you, but everything’s changing so fast, we got to keep up.

Rob Stevenson 11:38
What are those skills right now? What are the things people should be looking at to remain agile?

Julie Flowers 11:42
This is just HR specific. Okay, so for the HR function, the four that we’ve identified for this year, our consulting, how do you talk to the business about what they really need, not just what they want, right? How to manage a project, because a lot of the things we do are small or big projects that are helping the business succeed. The third one is around how to take data and tell the story. People are great at extracting data pulling data together. But can you really do the storytelling piece of data I have a talk I do about influencing through storytelling is huge, right? It’s so important skill set for most people to have. And then the last one is change management. We’re changing things in the corporation and HR, rolling it out to the business, we better know how employees are going to show up or not show up for that. So those are the four we’re focused on for this year.

Rob Stevenson 12:39
Julie, I’m so glad you didn’t say AI.

Julie Flowers 12:41
Well, it was an undercurrent of that, though, right. It’s tactical, though, right? Yeah. So they still need to learn about AI, as well as have more business acumen. Some of that comes from those four things that I’m talking about naturally. But we have more focus in Chevron on how to use generative AI and AI. And HR would be we’d be remiss if we didn’t get on board. Right. So we are trying to teach but that’s not a skill that’s learning a tool.

Rob Stevenson 13:12
That’s exactly it. It’s in service of a larger strategy, like the fundamentals, the higher level strategy, right? is untouched by AI AI is like a tactic to accomplish it. Right?

Julie Flowers 13:22
Well, it’s an enabling tool. Right? Right. And I’m, by the way, I’m a big fan of it. I’ve been using Chet GPT, on all kinds of things. And I’m just impressed by it tremendously. And we actually for external recruiting. Our technology has an AI base to it. We’ve had it in place for going on three years, and it’s been phenomenal tool to have at our fingertips.

Rob Stevenson 13:44
Could you speak more about it? What is it doing?

Julie Flowers 13:46
Yeah, so it’s an AI platform that looks at the jobs that we have open? And if you’ve submitted a resume to our website, and it does matching? Okay, so it’s looking and what’s fabulous about it, is it’s going to match you with positions you might not thought you were qualified for. Not only is that great for all people, but mostly women and minorities, because we under score with our skill set. I can’t go for that job. I don’t have everything but their computers gonna say, Well, yeah, you likely can because I just read your resume, and you’ve got dah, dah, dah, dah, it’s mind blowing. So it’s great for the candidate. And then for the company. It’s also screening, the folks that have the top skills that we’re looking for. Right? So it’s a more efficient way of doing things, but the diversity that it brings, that we wouldn’t have necessarily looked at by just doing it by human nature. The ROI has been amazing. And I know a lot of people are like, AI bias. I think your human brain has more bias than an AI tool.

Rob Stevenson 14:50
Yeah. Well, an AI tool is at least easier to measure for bias, right because its outputs are more explicit as opposed to interview feedback. That’s like an or no We had a good conversation. But like that’s, that’s not explici but..

Julie Flowers 15:04
and we don’t rely solely on the AI, there’s always a human called judgment that’s overlaid on it. But it does a lot of the work for us.

Rob Stevenson 15:13
Yeah, the matching thing is exciting because when I’ve spoken to folks who had really good experience with recruiters, and commonly, what they say is some version of they approached me for this role. We spoke decided it wasn’t a good fit. And then they’re like, You know what, I have this other role that you might even a better fit for. And that’s just like, it’s just trust. It’s like, oh, yeah, so you’re not trying to just funnel me into some position to close out a wreck, you actually are trying to put me in a place where I’ll be happy,

Julie Flowers 15:40
which ultimately helps your brand as well. They’re helping me Yeah, exactly.

Rob Stevenson 15:45
Yeah, the reason I said I would let it you didn’t say AI is just because I feel like it’s this magic wand people are waving, and it hasn’t fallen into its most utilitarian place is what I’m saying. And it sounds like your view of it as like, Okay, this is this is a tool. It’s another tool. It’s exciting. Lots of opportunity, but let’s not miss the forest for the trees here.

Julie Flowers 16:02
That’s right. That’s right.

Rob Stevenson 16:03
I want to ask about your development, too, because you have had this opportunity to fulfill a bunch of different roles at Chevron. And now you’re focused on helping other people explore those roles, and for the talent professional who wants to move into that? I think it’s a great career out. But we also like, don’t forget to develop yourself is kind of what I’m getting at. And so for you personally, what is your development, when you think of like, okay, here are the skills I want to pursue? Or here’s this new role, it’s exciting to me, how do you start to ask and answer those questions for yourself?

Julie Flowers 16:33
Yeah, I think I’m gonna answer that Rob is a bit about, I’ve mentioned several times that we foster an environment of continual development and career pathways that are diverse for employees, right. And I’ve mentioned that I’ve had an incredible career journey at Chevron, since I joined way back 26 years ago in San Francisco, right. So I’ve had the opportunity to work in multiple roles that challenged me, and helped me grow in different ways. So if people were paying attention, you’re growing in every role you have, and generally the role that you’ve had the roles that you’ve had prepare you for the next role, you just don’t know what’s happening, right. So there’s always that constant development, but people have to see that lens, I’ve learned a lot of new skills along the way in every job. And I’ve applied them to every project, role, position committee tasked whatever I’m doing, because it helps. So those skills are valid, not only in the moment, but in the future, as well. I’ve had the chance to work in different locations that brings growth opportunity, personally and professionally. In fact, my role in Angola for three years was the one that I’ve grew the most personally and professionally, because living in a different country, different environment, different language, away from families, and you know, that huge skill set building there. My husband also works for Chevron. So we’re dual career at Chevron. And I have to say that Chevron has always been supportive of both of our careers, and helps us balance. How do we move through our career journeys together, not separately, so that we keep the family unit together as well. And I would say that I’ve always felt throughout my career that Chevron has encouraged me to learn and develop. But I also have that, to your point in your question, that personal desire for continuous growth. I am 100% Curious all the time. And I’m mostly curious about people. Like, I often often say, when people, as an HR manager working in the business and having business partners report to me, I get people would get really frustrated with people. Like why are you so frustrated? I don’t know why they’re doing this, this and that. I’m like, take a different lens, take a pause, pretend like it’s a movie, and you got your popcorn. And you’re just curious what’s going to happen next? What’s the plot? I need to understand this more? Rather than judging or getting annoyed when you shift that in your mind as a growth of curiosity? Wow, it’s just more fun to be in a learning environment. And Chevron does foster that we’re not perfect, right? No company is perfect. And we’re trying to get better. But we need to get folks more motivated and hungry to grow and reward that, support it and show the what’s in it for me.

Rob Stevenson 19:23
I’m glad you mentioned curiosity, because the more conversations I have about personal professional development, it feels like curiosity is like the base skill at the bottom of the hierarchy. Yeah, it feels like every other thing stems from that, like a desire to learn and advance and see new things. And if you’re not curious, that might lead you to stay in the same kind of role for a really, really long time. Yes. And so I don’t know that just feels like if someone is curious and has a drive to fulfill that curiosity. I think they’ll be successful even to take it a step further. Do you think there’s anything to that?

Julie Flowers 19:58
I think also we’d all get along better if we came from a curious mindset rather than a questioning and judgmental mindset. Right? Because you learn from people that are different from you, you can learn from people that are like you too. But the more you’re curious and less judgy, or questioning, and it’s even how you ask a question, if I asked you a question using why nine times out of 10, you’re going on the defense, just because I said why. So I try when I coach or even when I’m talking to people, and I’m curious about why they did something or they’re not doing something I worked really hard not to use the word why helped me understand or which is a catchphrase? I know, or that’s interesting how you handled that. Walk me through your thought process versus Why did you do that? So there’s a big difference. And that curiosity mindset falls into your own growth, but also how you interact with people.

Rob Stevenson 20:55
Yeah, it’s funny that the why put people on the defensive, I guess it is sort of loaded, because it does feel base judgmental. But typically, I would feel like if I asked why, and someone got defensive, maybe they’re not used to being asked to explain themselves, or maybe they are defensive, because they don’t really understand it that well, like, if you ask a scientist, why is their favorite question, you know?

Julie Flowers 21:14
Yeah, yeah, it depends on delivery, the topic. That’s why I said nine times out of 10, why is going to become people are going to be defensive. So if you can get that word out of your questioning, people are more relaxed, and know that you’re authentically curious, and not trying to put something on them or get them in trouble or judge them those kinds of things.

Rob Stevenson 21:37
Yeah, there’s a line in this book I’m reading right now, that went there are no weird people, some people just take a little longer to understand. I’ve been lucky to meet some people who took a very long time to understand if you catch my drift

Julie Flowers 21:48
Yeah, but you have to be skilled and how to explain and or educate in 510 different ways so that you are more empathetic that they have a different learning style.

Rob Stevenson 21:49
Yeah, definitely. Well, Julie, we had all these questions about Chevron, I feel like we we’ve kind of gotten in other directions. But that’s my favorite when that happens. But we should talk a little bit about what’s keeping you busy and keeping you up at night from an HR talent development perspective. So I would love to know what’s kind of going on over there. What’s the state of the HR union?

Julie Flowers 22:20
Yeah, nothing keeps me up at night, because I’m a very calm, peaceful person. Actually, nothing at Chevron keeps me up at night. I think that at Chevron, or HR culture is strong. But just like any culture, you continually have to feed it, take care of it, and try to strengthen it even more in some of the opportunities we’re looking for is what I’ve talked about early, how do we really continue to invest in our people, for their personal development, so they feel heard, they feel empowered, they feel motivated, that then helps our culture and ultimately helps the business? So we haven’t cracked that nut completely. Right? How do you have all these great development opportunities through podcasts, articles, learning pathways, you name it, classes, but people aren’t taking the time to do it. I have a theory, and I’ve read some research on it. It’s because people aren’t feeling they have the time to do it. Because they’re being rewarded and supported to deliver results, not to learn and grow. We say we want it. But are we really leaning into that? That’s where in this project that I’m doing, I’m trying to lean into say, don’t just think of the four skills, but how are we going to motivate, encourage, energize and sustain people wanting to do those skills and growth and learning? Because you got to crack that code? Otherwise, all that great stuff you just curated? It’s just sitting on the web? That’s where we’re at right now. How do you make it stick and encourage people to do it?

Rob Stevenson 24:04
Yeah, it’s such a challenge, because I feel like this comes up on the show where guests will share all these amazing ideas and strategies people can enact. And then I’m thinking in the back of my head, a lot of the people listening, they have these goals they’re supposed to hit this week, this month, this quarter. What are they supposed to do all this other stuff that they’re maybe not incentivized on? So for you, is it a matter of changing someone’s incentives? Or as a matter of trying to encourage them to be like, Hey, this needs to be a night and weekend or, you know, a five to nine pursuit or what do you do to encourage ever

Julie Flowers 24:33
a night and weekend thing? So we’re huge on making sure you take care of yourself in your personal time at Chevron. But if a person and most employees, when they asked to do I go do this class, or do I deliver this project I’m working on what are they going to pick the project, right? We’re getting rewarded for that. So in my mind, we need to really get people first hungry. What does that look like? How exciting growing and learning can be And then the company supporting that, for me to role model a, I’m taking two hours today, I’m turning off my computer, I’m turning over now I’m gonna read a couple chapters in this book, making it up, right, whatever. And then my team sees me doing that, oh. And then if I see a class that I think someone will benefit from sending it to this person and saying, Hey, I really support you going to this class, but also having a conversation. So let’s take those four skills that I talked about earlier. Maybe Rob, you’re focusing on storytelling this year, as part of your development. Okay, as your leader, I should help encourage you along the way. But also ask you how’s it going? And how are you applying it? Right? Because that stickability because if we have that conversation, hopefully light bulbs gonna go off in your head go, oh, that class that time I took to do that really paid off? Not only what am I able to apply what I’ve learned by boss validated it, I’m supportive for it. Oh, and she was really rewarding me for it. That’s gonna get employees more apt to make it stick and want to do it.

Rob Stevenson 26:00
Is development fundamentally divorced from short term incentives and short term goals? Surely you already have the skills necessary to deliver on those goals? And so any development you do, isn’t that going to be longer term?

Julie Flowers 26:12
Yes and no. So as I’m reading about storytelling, I just actually picked up a book, I haven’t read it yet someone recommended it. So I’m not promoting it of any sort. But if I’ve read just one chapter in that, I bet I can apply what I learned today in my job, I guarantee it an article I read yesterday, I might have got one or two nuggets out, I’m already using that learning in things I’m doing today. So it’s short term, but it also, as you continue that building of that skill set and that muscle, it’s going to help over the long term as well. It’s both.

Rob Stevenson 26:46
So to encourage folks to do this, does it come down to their direct manager, like, these are the people who need to be like, Hey, it’s okay for you to take the time, hey, we have these opportunities for you. Because you want to encourage people to pursue this to pursue development. But also, they kind of need the okay from their boss to be like, yeah, go spend some of your time on this.

Julie Flowers 27:06
I think it’s both I mean, there’s not one formula to anything, right. So as a leader, I need to encourage I need to support I need to reward as an employee, I’ve got to want to learn and grow. And as a company, I’ve got to show that we are building that type of culture. So it takes all three of those things.

Rob Stevenson 27:23
I feel for folks who are maybe in these one on ones with their manager and are saying things like I want to grow in x area, I really want to do this storytelling as my as the example that that is the lever, I want to index on, you know, this quarter of this year, whatever. And their boss says something like look developments important to us. But we are really in crunch time. We need to ship XYZ circle back at this time. Like, I don’t know, that would be a little bit of a red flag to me, do you think there’s always the space for development? Or if someone is hearing that, hey, just I need you to put your nose to the grindstone a little longer? And then we’ll talk? How do you handle that as a you know, if that’s the feedback you’re getting?

Julie Flowers 28:02
So I think that does happen in the real world, right? And Tech, I work for a company that we’ve got some deadlines if we don’t meet them, not an HR, per se, but if we don’t meet them on a platform, something’s gonna go wrong, potentially. So that answer isn’t a bad answer in certain circumstances, right? Or in Financial Group, where they gotta close the books. So if I was the leader, with that answer, I would say, I would probably spin it Hey, man, I’m here to support you, we’ve got this critical project. Here’s the reason why we need to focus on that right now. But we’re gonna, we’re gonna pivot and circle back to what you’re looking for. At right now I need to do this. But just give them the purpose as to why you’re not doing it at that moment, right? There’s always valid reasons to that. Now, if it becomes a trend, or the bosses keep saying, No, you got to deliver this, this this and that, then I’d have difficulty with that. And I would coach the employee on how to reengage with their supervisor about what can they do to learn and grow? And are they supportive of that? There’s different ways you can come at that? What are they? I knew you’re gonna ask that. So if my manager kept putting me off on learning and growing, I would come with some questions. Again, not why questions, but you know, so Rob, leader, understand that driving business results is critical. What are your thoughts on development? And where are some opportunities for me to improve? So you’re not asking them for development? Or what go to a class you’re asking them to opine on what I need to improve on. So now they’re gonna go Oh, that’s good question, Joe, I think and if you really would hone in on your story selling a little bit more, it would really help us an X, Y and Z. Okay. So storytelling, what do you think storytelling is about then picking their brain making them feel good that they, you know, they’re going to mentor you on something potentially? And then ask the question, how would I apply that to what I’m doing now in this project? That is so important, right? Now you’ve leading up to something, then say, Can you help me find a way to carve out time in my workday? How I said workday, not free time in my workday to continually grow so I can help this project succeed even more and help you in your role. Now the bosses. That’s cool. So you’ve had the conversation a little differently.

Rob Stevenson 30:22
Yeah, yeah, that’s really smooth. And if they still Stonewall, you, I don’t know, at a certain point, HR. Right. Yeah, you got HR or you quit or something. It’s like, okay, they’re clearly not invested in this at all. That’s right. So I’m guessing storytelling. Julie isn’t merely a pity example. I assume this is something you view as crucial. And I’m pleased to hear it because the face of it, it’s like a, quote, soft skill. But seems like at least you feel like it’s really important. Is that the case?

Julie Flowers 30:52
Super important. That’s why. So the talk I gave last year about influencing through storytelling, I wasn’t aspired to do it. Because I feel it’s such a skill set we all need to have. And I’ve read recently, some people saying, how do we learn in our day to day life, we read books, as a story. We watch movies, it’s a story, we listen to music, it’s a story. Everything we do has a story behind it. And you hook people with a story. If I can say, imagine if you’re like, oh, shit, you’re gonna lean in more, and you’re gonna like, Oh, what is she gonna say? Imagine what what am I imagining, and if I can tie it together. So my examples I usually give is when I was in the information technology company at Chevron as HR, and I had to learn their language, what they do, what they’re trying to do, and then take what I’m trying to teach them or implement, or whatever, and speak their language in a way that they get it or use an analogy that they can understand, boom, you’ve locked them in. And I’ve increased my storytelling skill set in the last three years, through watching someone here at Chevron, who is the best storyteller I’ve ever seen. And so I always joke with him that I go to the school, his name is Louise, the School of Louie’s Professor Luis, I always ask them when I’m going to graduate, I want to cap and gown. But he has just been amazing, he can literally ask you a couple of questions about yourself what you’re working on. And then now he knows what analogies to use, makes the receiver feel better and hurt as well. And gives them the opportunity to really understand so storytelling is critical.

Rob Stevenson 32:31
I’m glad you called out. And that’s how we learned not merely in the case of Netflix and Disney plus either but also if you read any story in the newspaper, right, I use it story, or I don’t care if it’s like a scientific research paper. There’s an arc to that, too. There’s like, Oh, what are the results? What are the outcomes? What does it mean, right? What is the? What’s the date?

Julie Flowers 32:49
Yes, right?

Rob Stevenson 32:51
What’s the denouement? This research paper like, Okay, now we understand the world a little better, which is what fiction is trying to do as well, by the way. So this is, I think, a next level of skill for people who want to be in strategic conversations, because you’re pulling elements from across the business, and you’re trying to distill it to someone to make a point. This is persuasion, right? This is, this is how you get people to understand your department, or your goals or what have you. And I think we focus far too much on these hard skills of delivering and learning these tools, learning AI, for example, which is important, never ignore it. But this is the stuff that I feel like takes you from the ground floor to the penthouse.

Julie Flowers 33:30
It’s a superpower. And it’s, it’s needed, because I can’t help the business succeed if one if I don’t know their business, and speak their language, for the most part. And if they understand a lot of stuff that comes from HR, let’s just be honest, some people are like, oof, no, you guys are pushing us too much. I gotta go get oil out the bottom of the ocean, I don’t have time for this, which they need to do. It’s got to look like help. It’s got to look like it’s going to make a difference. But sometimes when you come to the business with something HR, it might not be met with open arms. So we have to be able to tell a story. So they understand the value and the impact it’s going to have if they do X, and you can’t do that just by saying you need to have your team do five classes a year. Get out of my face. I’ve got other things to do, right. Yeah, storytelling is huge. And it’s a skill that we continually have to work on. And that’s what I’ve been doing. And I love it. It’s fun.

Rob Stevenson 34:27
As we wrap up the episode here, Julie, may I tell you a story? Sure. Once upon a time, there was a it’s already working. Yeah, once upon a time there was a podcast listener who was in the recruiting and HR space, and they desperately wanted to learn how to uplevel their career and make decisions so that they could be more senior strategic and successful. Luckily, they came upon an expert named Julie flowers who shared her best advice and it sounded like

Julie Flowers 34:57
what would I say to them? Be curious. I mean, I’ve cut this this hashtag be curious because I just love it right? Be curious, be curious, be hungry to learn, be humble. Try new things, knowing that you’re going to not get it perfect and that being imperfectly perfect is fantastic, right? It’s where we learn and we grow. We don’t learn most from our successes we’ve learned from when we don’t do something right or we fail. Put yourself out there. Help others, not just yourself, right. We’re all in this together and teaming and look for ways to understand the business you’re supporting. You will gain so much credibility and respect, you will probably have to do less storytelling, if you’ve done that, but when you can master the storytelling and true consulting from their perspective, you’ll go a long way because they see you as a partner, not as a support service.

Rob Stevenson 35:54
Julie, this has been a delight. Thank you for being here and sharing your wit and wisdom with me today. I’ve really loved chatting with you.

Julie Flowers 36:00
There same appreciate it.

Rob Stevenson 36:04
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