188 - The Dove Experiment - John Laurito

In this episode, John Laurito remembers a Dove advertisement where they experimented on how women view themselves vs. how another person sees them. More often than not, people are overly critical and tough on themselves. So as a leader, how can you help people develop their self-esteem and confidence in who they are and their capabilities? Look for opportunities where you can tell someone about something they’re good at. As their leader, you have the power to increase their confidence with your feedback and appreciation, so make sure you lean on that.

[0:00] Intro

[0:27] The experiment that Dove did years ago and the fascinating result

[3:41] What does this have to do with leadership?

[5:28] In an organization, what’s the big part of effectiveness?

[9:29] People stay in their comfort zones far too long

[12:34] How we think dictates what’s ultimately going to happen

[14:52] Outro

John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good after running companies small and large for the last 20 years. Today, I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name’s John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic. What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to tomorrow’s leader. All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host once again and always. 

John So back in 2013, there was a study done by Dove, the company that makes soap manufacture. And what they did was they brought in a police sketch artist, an FBI sketch artist, and they brought him into a room and they brought women into this room one on one. And the police sketch artist without seeing the individual, without seeing the woman, but only listening to the woman describe herself. So she was kind of behind a sheet and they could hear each other. They just couldn’t see each other. And she actually didn’t even know that he was drawing a picture or anything like that. They kind of figured it out as they went on. But the sketch artist was asking the question, can you describe yourself, describe your face and what you look like and how and your different attributes. And it was really interesting because the sketch artist then drew a picture based on what he was hearing and how they were describing their chin and their cheekbones and their eyes and their nose and everything like that. 

John They got done with the sketch. The person walked out, didn’t even see they weren’t allowed to look and even see the sketch artist. They just left the room and then they interacted with someone else with another female. So the person that was just in there describing herself then was in another room interacting with another female. What they then did is brought that other female in. And sat down next to the police sketch artist and they had that other female describe the person that they had just sketched. So from that other female’s perspective, they were to describe the overall aspects, how they looked, what their face was like, their eyes, their nose, their chin, their bone structure, their hair, and everything like that in the sketch artist. 

John Draw a picture from that. And what was fascinating, absolutely fascinating, is that every picture, so every person and it was about six or eight females. And when you put both pictures side by side, the sketch of that same female that was done based on the feedback of the other woman was much prettier and flattering than the picture of the person that described their own features. It was pretty fascinating. And I looked at this. You can actually YouTube it, you can see it or Google it. You’ll see the pictures. It was kind of cool. They did a mini-documentary and it was an ad campaign. Now, it actually got a lot of some negative press, a vast majority of positive, got some negative because it was beauty is more than just the face and absolutely agree 100 percent. 

John But this was an interesting social experiment based on understanding how we view ourselves. And in this study, what they found is that two percent of women describe themselves as beautiful, which is crazy, absolutely crazy. And it made me just think a lot about leadership and the role. What does this have to actually do with leadership and leading ourselves and leading other people? And it’s amazing because we tend to be our harshest critics. We tend to be overly critical of ourselves and tough on ourselves. And you wonder sometimes you scratch your head why certain people are so many people have self-esteem issues. 

John I’ve always talked about the fact that one of the most powerful life-changing things that you can have happen is an increase in confidence because when you have more confidence, it propels you to do more things and take more chances and take on new responsibilities and step outside your comfort zone, which then gives you successes that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, and rewards and happiness and fulfillment and achievement and impacting other people. And then that’s self that’s a self-fueling cycle. It builds more confidence and then allows you to do more and step outside your comfort zone. 

John So I’ve always said that if there was this pill that I could give people, that it would give them an instant, double, triple of confidence that the whole world would change. I mean, that person’s life and all the lives of the people around them would change dramatically. But it’s not that easy, right? We are ultimately in charge of how we feel. Other people can influence how we feel about ourselves. But ultimately, how I feel about myself is the most important determinant and determining characteristic to how I’m going to perform in life, in business, in sports. It’s how I’m going to interact with people in my relationships and how I think about things in the world around me, everything it has to do with my own self-esteem. 

John So as a leader, what do we do about that? I mean, I think about, OK, if I’m running an organization, a big part of our effectiveness is people feeling and gaining confidence. And when that happens and believe me, I’ve seen organizations, I’ve seen this happen, it is unbelievable when you work with somebody and you can actually see their confidence level and self-esteem start to increase over time. I’ve seen people become totally different people. I mean, literally over the course, I’m not talking about 10 or 15 or 20 years. I’m talking about a year; become totally, almost unrecognizable because they start to gain some skills, some experience. 

John They have some success, they gain more confidence, and all of a sudden they’re doing it’s just amazing. So as a leader, how do we help make that happen? And I’ve always thought there’s there are ways that leaders can almost lend confidence to people. I’ve had people do that to me before. I’ve shared stories on that before and all kinds of different things where I’ve been the recipient of that. And I’ve also been the person lending confidence, other people. There are all different situations where that might present an opportunity to do that, but it’s basically showing confidence in somebody’s ability or even not even just showing it is voicing it and saying to somebody, you know what, you’re great at doing this. 

John You’re really good at this type of activity or you’re really great at. You just do such a great job when you walk into a room of, just kind of people are attracted to. You’ve got this great way about yourself and helping people, making people feel like they are the most important person in this room, or you have this great ability to take a really complex problem and break it down in this really simple fashion. You know, it’s interesting. Most people that have these abilities, many of them are not aware of it or they don’t know how good they are at it. And if they knew how good they were at it, just like these women that knew how if they knew how beautiful they really were, how would their life change? 

John I mean, truly and what was amazing in that video, you saw their whole way of being just totally changed. Some of them broke into tears because other people viewed them as being beautiful. That came from somebody else, not from themselves. So I think, again, as a leader, you’re influencing people to do things that they wouldn’t be able to do without you. But it starts with how they feel and what they think. And how can you and I challenge you to think about that, how in your organization, your family, your class, your team, whatever, how can you help people develop a stronger confidence in who they are and what their abilities are? Look for the opportunities. You know, we don’t do a good enough job in telling people what they do. 

John Well, we really don’t. And guess what? I’m guilty of it, too. I see people doing great things. You know, it’s just not a phone call with somebody. And I was saying, hey, this person is really great at that. And I’m like, you know, I got to go back and tell that person I’m going to tell this individual they’re great at that. I don’t know if they know that. I take for granted that I think they do, but they may not know that. Why wouldn’t I tell somebody that all it’s going to do is help them do it more? And you know what? Even better and want to get even better at it because they realize this is a strength of mine. Wow. You know what? 

John So it’s amazing. I think if we just all took a day and said, you know, when when I see somebody wearing something really nice, I’m going to tell them. When I see somebody at the gym that I think is really getting themselves in shape, I’m going to tell them when I see somebody do a presentation and that’s great. I’m going to tell them when I see somebody that has a really great interaction with somebody, going to tell them when they do a great job play on the field. I’m going to tell them if we did that, it would be amazing to see the effects would be really cool social experiment if we all took a day and then let alone a month or a year, just kept doing it over. Over time, the confidence levels of people and their willingness to step outside their comfort zone would be amazing. 

John Too many people are stuck. Too many people ultimately just stay in their comfort zone, in their lane. They’re afraid to take a chance. They’re afraid of the worst-case scenario. They’re afraid of looking silly. They’re afraid of making a mistake. They’re just afraid of failure. And because of that, they live in unhappiness or they never truly reach their potential because they’re not willing to try something new or step outside their comfort zone. And a big part of this is just their self-esteem, how they feel about themselves. And that’s sometimes dictated by how we think other people feel about ourselves. 

John So, again, as a leader, we own this. We need to do this for ourselves. But we also have a great ability because what you say means a lot. Trust me when I’m playing sports, what the coach says means a lot to me, OK, when I’m working in an organization, what the president or the manager says means a lot. Right? So if you are that president or that CEO or that manager, believe me, what you say has so much weight leverage that, realize the power that you have to help people increase their confidence. 

John I was reading a story that another study where they took hotel. This was a study done with hotel cleaning crew. So the maids that go through the rooms and clean, they took a hundred of them and they took 50 of them as a just the normal, what do they call it, test group where you’re keeping them control group. And then the other 50, what they did is they told that other 50 that we are going to study you for the next do some physical and health measurements for the next six weeks because we have learned that that maids and housekeepers tend to have better health because they’re moving around a lot. They’re doing this. They tend to be in better shape than the average person, than their vitals and everything like that, or tend to be a little bit better. 

John Now, that wasn’t true, but those people, those fifty people that they told thought it was true. And what was fascinating over the six-week period of time, and they did nothing different. They didn’t eat differently. They didn’t sleep differently. They didn’t go to the gym. They on average lost two pounds over that six weeks. And they had a pretty sizable drop in their blood pressure, which is kind of crazy, right? There was nothing other than they were now led to believe. That they were healthier than the average person and it’s just a powerful example of how what we believe translates into reality. If I believe I am a great public speaker and I can get on a stage and wow, a thousand people, you know what? I’m going to be a great speaker if I believe that I am a lousy speaker and boring and I have monotone and I’m not very exciting to listen to. 

John Well, that’s who I’m going to be. So how we think dictates exactly ultimately what’s going to happen. If I really feel and think I’m a great leader and I’m capable and I believe that, hey, listen, even want to go through tough stuff, I always figure it out and I always come out a stronger leader and I ultimately come out of it with success. In the long run, even if it’s a short-term failure, then that’s what’s going to happen. I’m now writing the chapters of my future life. I mean, in reality, it’s not that much more complicated than that. 

John The most successful people I’ve ever worked with and been side by side with, they just have this, such a strong self-belief and such a strong self-esteem doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes and have major setbacks, but they just have this belief that they are capable of doing things and ultimately capable of doing things that sometimes other people are not able to. But it starts with just what they believe. That’s it. So, again, as a leader, you ultimately have tremendous influence as parents with our kids. Wow. What amazing lifelong influence you have, especially in those early years. The things you say, you know, you tell the kid they’re late all the time. Guess what? They’re going to be late all the time. 

John You tell them, wow, you are just so good in pressure situations. I don’t get it. I don’t know how, but you are so good in high-pressure situations. Guess what? Sit back and watch. They are going to perform well in high-pressure situations. The same thing as the CEO of your organization. You tell people, hey, here’s what I see. You do really well. They’re going to do more of it and they’re going to get even better at it. But if you don’t tell them, they may not know it or they may not realize how good they are. So as an action step from today, I’m hoping this gets the wheels turning. Take this opportunity to tell somebody in your world, in your life, in your company, in your family that they are really great at something. Tell them what it is and why you think they’re great at it and sit back and watch what happens. 

John All right. I hope that helps. I hope that got some thoughts going. As always, I appreciate your feedback and your thoughts on what good content and future guests for this show would be. As always, like subscribe thumbs up, all that kind of good stuff. Five-star review, go down below. Much appreciated. And look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks much. 

John Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader for suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at John@johnlaurito.com Once again, that’s John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on! 

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