Sean Kavanagh, Ariel

sean_kavanaughThis month at Box of Crayons, we’ve been looking at how to speak the hard truth. There’s a lot of pretty ordinary advice out there on giving feedback and having the tough conversations, but I recently bumped into a guy who offers really inspiring advice.

Sean Kavanagh is CEO of Ariel, a company that uses the dramatic arts to help CEOs, leaders and managers be more present and have more impact at work. So we’re going to jump into this conversation to get Sean’s thoughts on speaking the hard truth, and also on having greater workplace presence and impact in general.

In this interview, Sean and I discuss:

  • How the performing arts can help develop good business relationships
  • The fact that being expressive and having a strong presence can be learned
  • How empathy and self-knowing factor into making an authentic connection
  • The danger of multi-tasking
  • How breathing can help in becoming more present
  • Why data needs to be presented as a story in order to become knowledge

(Scroll down for more in-depth podcast notes.)

Listen to my interview with Sean Kavanagh.

0:00:00: Sean explains how techniques and approaches used in the performing arts can be applied in the business world to achieve a stronger presence and form better connections. He notes that people can learn to become more expressive.

0:05:05: Michael and Sean discuss how multitasking and other aspects of the “culture of business” can interfere with being truly present, which in turns prevents people from making authentic connections. Sean points out that deep breathing can help people become more present.

0:10:00: Sean talks about the need to remove distractions so people can relax and focus on the speaker. He says it’s important for presenters to listen and offer empathy, because when people feel understood they become better listeners.

0:15:05: Michael and Sean discuss the paradox of having to focus on others in order to have a more authentic presence. They also touch on the role of feelings and expressiveness in business.

0:20:00: Sean reflects on the power of storytelling, pointing out that data requires a story in order to translate into knowledge. He also notes that self-knowing is essential to creating authentic connections.

0:25:04: Sean shares the story of how he ended up running Ariel. He then directs listeners to to learn more.

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