A CykoMetrix Spotlight Production

Every week, the Spotlight shines on an amazing professional with a story to tell and lessons to teach. Welcome to the CykoMetrix Spotlight.

The following is an adapted transcript of the exchange between Sylvain Rochon, CMO at CykoMetrix as host, and Caterina Perry, Founder and CEO of Your Success Unlimited (www.ysu.ca). 

Sylvain Rochon:  Hello and welcome to CykoMetrix Spotlight. My name is Sylvain Rochon, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer at CykoMetrix, a SaaS-based software service that allows measurements of the person’s psychological profile. It is a psychometrics platform that tracks a person’s emotional intelligence, cognitive abilities, and parameters or personality over time so that you can take better decisions and improve yourselves, improve emotional intelligence and different parameters to become a better team member, and ultimately, becoming a better member of a team that is more effective, has a better climate, all these good stuff.

I have today in the spotlight with me, Caterina Perry. She’s the founder and CEO of Your Success Unlimited, YSU. We were just talking a bit earlier, and she’s amazing. She talks on a daily basis about something I care deeply about. I won’t reveal what that is, and I won’t show it during the interview but we’re going to talk about something very… not a secret-secret… but the secret of success being us, being how we operate up here. So, welcome to the Spotlight Caterina. I’m so happy that we can talk about this very important subject.

Caterina Perry: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Sylvain: So, what is this most important element of the self that generates success? What is the key here?

Caterina: For me, it’s emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is our ability to perceive ourselves, how self-confident we are, our drive to be the best that we can be, our emotional self-awareness, how we express ourselves our ability to be assertive without being aggressive, or how well we adapt to being on our own, being independent and our relationships with others that we can empathize with another person’s point of view, even if we may not agree with that point of view, or our ability to make decisions, problem-solving impulse control, things that affect how we are in a day to day environment, and how we process stress. If we can be [this way], we can have the highest IQ, and be able to just intelligently be able to address a situation, but if we don’t have the emotional intelligence that goes along with it, it can derail our efforts.

Sylvain: Right. I mean, you already described it, that’s exactly what I was thinking about. Of course, I find it very important. I did a bit of a mishap earlier; I did not really tell the audience what you actually do. I want people to understand why this person is talking about emotional intelligence. Why should I listen to her? Well, it’s because Caterina happens to be a very well sought-after professional who provides executive coaching, leadership, development, and career transition services. Her expertise is to advance leaders by helping them navigate and leverage emotions for authentic self-confidence, enhance professional relationships, and get peak carrier performance. All through the training of emotional intelligence and the individual’s inner functioning, our biology essentially, because emotional intelligence is not something magic. It’s actually something malleable inside us, isn’t it?

Caterina: Yes, definitely. In fact, it was one of the things that when I started off my career, I was very successful in areas that I didn’t necessarily have credentials in. I couldn’t understand why I was successful because I have not studied the topic, but it was being able to be flexible, being able to recognize and read people.  It was being able to, you know, control my own stress levels and stay calm to look for logical solutions that I realized after being given the opportunity to listen to somebody you present on the topic of emotional intelligence that I realized that that was what the key was. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that in helping other leaders and helping other executives be successful in their roles, it really… you could almost see the areas where they were highly emotionally intelligent, and they recognized the need to develop those areas or work on those areas that may not be as high. For me, when I first started out, impulse control was an issue for me. Using these assessment tools gives a person the opportunity to explore themselves a little better, because, you know, at the core, just as you said, the success is us.  Right.  We control that part of it. And so, it comes down to us and how we look at ourselves and if we’re willing to look at ourselves and reflect and leverage our strengths and work on those areas where there might be some opportunities.

Sylvain: Excellent. Now, something we have to talk about here is that emotional intelligence is a buzzword for a lot of people. We have to really define what that is.  Can you tell us exactly what it is like in real terms so that people can get educated on what that means really? Also, you mentioned measurements, how can one measure oneself or measure others’ EI?

Caterina: When I describe emotional intelligence to somebody, I describe it as there’s two sides of it, especially with the one that I work with. I work with the Baran EQI. It’s a competency-based model. If I look at it from two perspectives, one is ourselves. How do we recognize it? When we have an emotion, we have a situation and we react to that situation. We experience an emotion.  How do we process that emotion? Are we reactive or are we able to feel the emotion, recognize what the emotion is, where it’s coming from? How can we process it so that we can move on? For instance, just recently I had, I was helping somebody who did not land an interview for a job, and they became very deflated. They started to take it personally. You recognize that it’s that emotion and it’s okay.  You need to experience the emotion and you need to process the emotion. Once you do that, you pick yourself up and you know, you get up and you move forward again. So, it’s being able to not let that emotional state cripple you because you get stuck in it. So, it’s being able to process it and understand it from a logical perspective, as opposed to from an ego perspective.

So that’s one side of it – how we do that with ourselves – but then it’s how do we recognize that in others. So, if I’m dealing with that individual, then I need to be able to recognize what that individual might be going through?  Being able to empathize with them, and being able to read the cues of body language and tone to better impact the relationship that I would have with that individual. So, it’s ourselves, and then it’s others. Then it’s combining those two pieces. It really does enhance that and from a measurement perspective, it’s interesting that you say that, because many employers when I was first learning about emotional intelligence and being able to do assessments, many employers want to use emotional intelligence assessments to ensure that somebody is coming to the organization with it because it’s a little bit harder to develop somebody’s emotional intelligence. Some people call it sometimes common sense, right? But the issue is, when you’re trying to measure something like emotional intelligence, if you are you, if you’re using an assessment tool to help you better yourself, it has a different sort of feel to it, then if somebody does it to you, it’s a matter of whether you’re you have control over whether you’re doing it yourself, or whether you feel like it’s being done to judge you. So, I think that there’s an element where you have to be careful there but I think when you use it for yourself, it’s asking questions in some of those areas. So, you do it for impulse control? Do you make decisions, snap decisions, or do you sit and reflect on the decisions that you make? I think one of the great things about the developers of psychometric tools is that they incorporate a number of different questions in different ways to ensure that you’re not trying to drive the results a certain way to support your personal ego.

Sylvain: Yeah. Since we are a toolmaker at CykoMetrix, that’s exactly the mentality that we had, like looking at how we would build the tool that, you know, have questions that are very well researched, and they are created in some ways to avoid the impression that we’re judging via the test because you want to have an honest answer from the person, so that the result actually is accurately representative of the person. Like, the purpose of the person at least from a test maker’s point of view is we’re not the employer trying to play someone where we just want to have accurate results. That’s our purpose, right? Let’s talk about how the question itself can change how the person is going to answer it, and whether another person feels anxiety about the whole process, about being judged, and then it skews the results, which is undesirable. So, it is a challenge. Same with cognition, you know, on purpose we decided not to elaborate on IQ, or not to do IQ. But we still needed to measure cognition, because it’s important for the measurements. So, we present something in a reasonably non-threatening way. The results are not or have minimal chances of judging us because it’s okay if you have average cognition abilities, it’s fine. But if you turn out having results where you know you’re going to be compared with others, then it creates that anxiety moment. So, measurement is important, but we have to be careful about it.

So, I want to lead into my other question, Caterina. Personally, I’m a biochemist. So, when I think about emotions, I think chemicals, what happens in the body. So you know, cortisol being produced in moments of stress and dopamine and oxytocin in other moments depending on how you’re feeling within. Some of these chemicals, you know, create very positive and social reactions and for the people it enhances the ability for a person to have positive thoughts and being able to move and do some more cognitive work.  Other chemicals, shuts all that stuff down which is bad. So, you were talking about when the emotions are natural, and then you get to feel them. So, you get into those states, that can be anti-productivity, let’s say, or anti performance. But you need to drive people through those because that’s natural, we will feel free to go through this. So, knowing all this because I know you know all this, I saw you nodding while I was talking.  People couldn’t see your face here while I was talking, how do you guide people tangibly through that process of accepting these moments of let’s call it like “weakness”, if you would, that are natural, and moving and training them to in a place where they are enhanced and improved, and where they can be more productive? What are the steps that you go through with a person to lead them through an improvement of EI?

Caterina: Well, throughout my career, everything has been driven towards understanding human behavior, which is why emotional intelligence kind of came into play. So, I also use personality assessments to help in that regard as well. I think the first step is the knowledge, right? Understanding yourself and understanding human behavior and others is probably at the core of all of this, right?  You start first with that level of understanding. I studied a little bit of neuroscience in the context of how we behave at work. So yes, absolutely with all of those hormones. So, I think when you teach people how your brain reacts, and what’s going on behind the scenes when you’re not in a triggered moment, that helps.

I’ll give you an example. My husband doesn’t travel well, and he had to go to the airport. So, I drive him home from the airport, I [usually] wait for him there. I’m there when he arrives. So, he arrives and I’m not there. In his mind, he is starting to conjure up reasons why I’m not there. Now, he doesn’t know for sure why I’m not but what is coming up is things that relate to perhaps maybe some insecurities or some fears. So, you know, my job is more important, I don’t care about him as much as I care about others. I forgot, you know, and I don’t realize how important it is to him because it creates anxiety. So, by the time I would arrive at the airport, he was already in a highly emotional state, not thinking rationally. So, when he greets me, it’s not as you know, a loving husband, it’s more as somebody who’s very upset. So, what I did was I walked him through the process of saying, you know, okay, so what are some of the reasons that I might have been late? I made him question the logic of those thoughts that came into his mind. Unfortunately, we have a lot of thoughts that arrive in our heads that we didn’t ask for, that just show up. And we have to question whether they’re real or whether they’re coming from our subconscious based on our insecurities, past experiences, or fears that we might have.

So, in challenging what could have happened, made him come back to a place where he was not emotionally reacting to the situation, but then starting to bring him back to a place where he was using his cognitive abilities to analyze the situation. Of course, you know, he came up with “you could have had a flat tire, something could have happened with the kids, there could have been a blockage and accident on the road”, all of these things. It turned out that you know what, I’ve been driving around for an hour looking for a parking space, and ended up having to take the train into the airport to pick him up.  He became then empathetic to what had really happened, right? So, it’s kind of coaching and guiding somebody through that process because once you start learning some of these tools and techniques, you can do it to yourself, you can self-coach yourself into forgiving yourself for a mistake that you made, dealing with a situation more commonly, and being more controlled. So, there are strategies depending on what the situation is that a person learns, depending on which areas they want to work on. Because, you know, you said emotionally doing any kind of assessment, whether it’s emotional intelligence, personality, trust, whatever the assessment is, it’s the start of a conversation. It’s not pigeonholing you into a box, it’s not saying this is how you are, and how you will always be, it’s just opening yourself up to learning a little bit more about yourself. And then you can have that opportunity to think about, “Is this okay? Is this okay with me?” or “do I want to work on this? Do I want to practice this?”

Sylvain: Yeah, it just falls into the next question I was having while you were talking. A question for the audience because we’re both experts at EI so it’s more for the audience here. Just how malleable is emotional intelligence? Just how fast or how slow can a person, a willing individual, to change some of those parameters and improve their comfort and lessen their reactions and anxieties and whatnot? How malleable is it from your experience?

Caterina: I think it’s less so than if you were going and taking a course, to learn how to do bookkeeping, very concrete, very black and white. It doesn’t affect you. Yourself, your person, it takes a little bit longer. So, it’s not something you go to one training session on emotional intelligence, and all of a sudden, now you’ve… you have built your awareness up. It is something that requires a little bit more effort and energy because it’s self-reflective. It’s also because we get into habits.  Okay. If every time my sister says something to me, I’m emotionally triggered, then what happens in our brain is that as the neurons fire, the more times they fire in that pattern. Our brain is an incredible thing, and it tries to make our lives easier by predicting what’s going to happen. So, it then becomes a habit, it triggers sort of a pattern of the neurons firing together. So, if every time my sister says this one thing, I get set off on it on an emotional reaction, then that will take longer, to sort of rewire the brain. It will take more conscious effort. As opposed to you know, when you learn to ride a bike, you have to really focus on riding that bike. But then after a while, you don’t even think about it, it’s the same when you’re learning a new skill or a new capability, like emotional intelligence. At first, it might take a little bit more time and effort. But once you have it, then you know what, it’s going to seem more effortless.

Sylvain: Yeah, and that’s exactly right and that’s a great explanation. I’m going to provide some imagery for listeners to kind of add to it. People learn in different ways. You know, when you’re learning something new, you’re creating new connections that don’t exist in your brain, because it’s new. Emotions are not new. It’s something that you develop when you’re a baby, and you have this network of roads if you want, and like the neurons in your brain, you have these triggers that come from your childhood, and all sorts of things where it’s not new. You already have something and your brain is, like you said, just used to using those roads, they’re very well established, they are instinctive. So, if you want to change something, how you think, and how you’re reacting, it’s not simply about creating something new, which you are, but it’s also about consciously avoiding the past. It’s like the sister example and triggers. So, it requires more effort, and usually more time, because you’re building something new and eliminating and avoiding consciously an old kind of thinking. Then the magic of the brain and the whole body in biochemically is that if you’re not using something, eventually it gets eaten up, it gets cannibalized and it becomes molecules that feed other parts of the body. So, the brain essentially becomes. It’s all about neuroplasticity. As a concept, it’s malleable.

A lot of people have the impression that they are born, and they become adults. They are where they are and their personality is what it is. Their ability to deal with situations is what it is and there’s nothing to be done.  That’s where they are, “Don’t change me”, you know, that kind of an idea. But we know for a fact that we can change who we are, how we think, how we process information, emotions, completely, but it requires effort. That’s where you’ll come in because you can coach them through that effort. People can start thinking in a very different way, by changing that wiring, and then they become a different person because their reactions are different. That’s to me magical because it’s like you’re changing yourself truly. It’s not just forcing something onto you, you are becoming somebody different in your reactions, and it’s entirely in the person’s hands. But most people that don’t have deep knowledge and training like us that are experts on this topic. Sometimes we need somebody else to mirror, a center to help us out because it’s hard. So, I think your work is very, very important for professionals, but also for everybody else. I’m not sure if we talked about this just yet in the recording, and that’s going to form my next question. Yeah, this is important for work situations. But you also described a real-life situation with your husband and using that as an example. How can helping a person perform better at work, make them a better person and show me that success in their whole life?

Caterina: You know what? There is no line between work and home when you are dealing with your relationships. It’s just going back a bit to the personality piece. I had offered a one-week-long transition workshop. It was five days. The first day, we were going to do a personality assessment, just to help people define maybe what career, passion they wanted to go to. This one fellow, he was retiring out of the Canadian Armed Forces… he was trying to think about which career he wanted to go to, but he already had in his mind where he wanted to go. So that first session on personality, he wasn’t interested in it. In fact, he came to me afterward and he said, “ I wasn’t interested in that. I didn’t need to know what my personality was in relation to what career I wanted to go to because I know exactly where I want to go.” He said “That session was the most important part of the whole week for me.” I said to him, “Well, I don’t understand why, if it didn’t help you determine what career path you want to go down, why did that session help you?” He said because it explained why his marriage failed.

I think that’s when you talk about learning different things like personality. He thought that there was something wrong with his wife. Whether that’s an environment at home, if you have that idea, or that perception or that understanding. It doesn’t matter whether that person is a spouse, a child, or a colleague at work, your perception is distorted by your beliefs, by what’s happened to you throughout your career, what’s happened to you throughout your life. Because of the personality trait that he has, and the personality trait that his wife had, he thought there was something wrong with her because she didn’t think and act and have the same sort of needs as he did. He didn’t understand it. I think that’s what’s important when we go into this process of either way, where we’re helping each other because sometimes, as you said, just because I study this doesn’t make me perfect. There is no such thing as perfection, and we need sometimes an outside perspective to help us see what we cannot see because in that moment when we start learning, we grow as individuals and become different individuals. You start off in a state of unconscious incompetence. You don’t know what you don’t know. But when you realize in that moment in that workshop when that man realized what had been going on, it was almost like a curtain had revealed a reality that he didn’t, he wasn’t able to see before. That sense of that place, that conscious incompetence, it doesn’t feel good, but it’s the road that you have to go through to get to conscious competence.

So, what it did is, you cannot unsee it. It’s kind of like the matrix, you cannot unsee it after that. So it affects how you treat people, regardless of whether it’s at work, or in a home environment, how you are, and there are elements to your personality, that I think absolutely you’re born with. Okay, my babies, both of them, same parents, totally different personalities from the time they were born. However, there is an element that is nurtured, and there is a part of your personality that develops over time. I do think that it is, as you say, malleable. I do think when we do a likability assessment, that there are elements that have been identified as making a person more likable. The only thing that you cannot change is like charisma. Somebody that was born naturally with charisma, but everything else, you can work on if you want.

Sylvain: I think that’s what I call the magic, right? The onus is on the individual whether or not they want to apply the change. But it does start with the measurement because we don’t know what we don’t know. You can’t really act upon something you don’t really understand or you can’t fix goals, right? If you don’t know where you’re starting off from, well, where are the goalposts? If you don’t know where the starting line is? There are many gurus and leaders saying that life is a journey and self-improvement. These are fluffy words. They’re true, but as long as you’re willing to put the work into it, right, and do improve … Success is not defined the same way for everybody either, right? Everybody has to define their own piece and what they want to do.  I really like that this is something very important, I think for everybody and I hope that people that are listening to this video will go and check out the link below for Your Success Unlimited. Do contact Caterina. She’s in Ottawa, my city, I’m proud.  She can teach, measure you, get you on the right track of whatever your journey is, right? She’ll get you set for your own version of success, isn’t that great?

Caterina: Yeah, you know everyone has their own. It’s not some… you shouldn’t be chasing somebody else’s dream. Don’t measure yourself against somebody else. You measure yourself against your own goals and objectives and I think you hit the nail though. Sometimes coming up with what those goals are, is the hardest part because you have to really kind of reflect on who you are and what you want in life. Just having somebody guide you through that process I think is good, because the thing is, our brain wants us to stay in the safe zone. It wants us to keep us safe, which is great except that, any change is almost looked at as a threat because you don’t know what it’s going to look like on the other side. So, it takes a little bit of effort. It takes a little bit of extra energy to grow but once you get into that mode of growth, I have to say, it becomes a little addictive.  It’s a wonderful experience when you get to that conscious competence phase. That’s where you get your rush of dopamine and you start feeling really great. You’re proud of yourself for having spent a little of time developing yourself. We don’t take enough time to work on ourselves and I think that that’s something that we should be doing, more of anyways.

Sylvain: Yes. Well, everybody, this has been Caterina Perry, thank you so much for appearing in the Spotlight.

Caterina: Oh, it’s been a pleasure, Sylvain.

About Caterina Perry – www.ysu.ca

Founder and CEO of Your Success Unlimited, Caterina Perry Caterina is a sought-after professional who provides executive coaching, leadership development and career transition services. She is dedicated to advancing leaders by helping them navigate and leverage emotions for authentic self-confidence, enhanced professional relationships and peak career performance. Caterina uses a Neuroscientific and character-based leadership models and employs the use of psychometric assessment tools such as the EQi2.0 Emotional Intelligence and Personality Dimensions in her services. Her expertise in job recruitment processes allow affords her a perspective that provides an opportunity for her clients to increase their competitive edge.

About CykoMetrix – www.CykoMetrix.com

CykoMetrix is a leading edge combinatorial psychometric and human data analytics company that brings the employee assessment industry to the cloud, with instant assessments, in-depth analysis, trait measurements, and team-based reporting features that simplify informed decision-making around recruiting, training, and managing today’s modern workplace.

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