134: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone with Andy Molinsky

On this episode of Build Your Network, Host Travis Chappell interviews Andy Molinsky a professor of organizational behavior and psychology at Brandyce University’s International Business School and the author of two business books as well as a regular contributor at Harvard Business Review.

Here’s what Travis and Andy discuss in this episode:

  • About Andy Molinsky
    • He’s most excited about these conversations he gets to have with people about stepping outside their comfort zone and then applying it.
    • He loves seeing his work in action.
    • After college, he did a master’s program in International business at Columbia in NYC.
      • After the program, he realized he didn’t know anything about international business.
      • He took a leave of absence and worked for a small consulting firm in France.
      • He found what was happening in the office really fascinating, the psychology of the workplace.
      • He discovered that he was interested in social psychology and organizational behavior in cross-cultural communication.
      • He got his Ph.D. in organizational behavior and psychology with a cross-cultural bent.
    • When he started writing books his audience was other scholars.
    • Once he got tenure he got more freedom and it was more in line with his values.
      • He’s written 50-55 articles with HBR.
      • His first book was called Global Dexterity.
        • Talks about putting to use the cultural differences that you understand intellectually.
        • He studied Russian professionals in the U.S.
          • They had the hardest time adapting their behavior.
          • It’s not having the knowledge, it’s putting the knowledge into practice.
        • Andy’s natural style is more in line with writing a book.
          • It’s hard to make something substantive and actually engaging, unlike an academic article.
        • What’s your process when you start writing?
          • He’s pretty good at carving out time and working on it in pieces.
          • It’s important to have the subject be the main thing he’s ruminating on.
        • His new book, Reach is about getting out of his comfort zone period.
          • He started writing a few trial articles in HBR to see if it resonated, and it did.
          • He did his own research and compiled others research as well as doing 75 interviews across different professions.
          • The book is about why it’s so hard to step out of your comfort zone, why it’s important and what to do to be successful.
        • What were some of the most astounding things you found in your research for Reach?
          • When you find that you’re hearing the same thing over and over again, you realize that you’re touching on something.
          • He found five core psychological challenges that hold people back, here are three:
            • Authenticity
            • Likeability
            • Competence
          • What helped people to overcome these fears the most?
            • There are three categories of tools-
              • Conviction – having a sense of purpose for why this matters to you.
              • Customization – You can tweak situations to make them fit you better.
              • Clarity – Developing a bit of emotional clarity and stability around the extreme reactions they initially had.
            • Does it matter if it’s personal or professional when you go outside of your comfort zone?
              • It’s very subjective.
              • It’s really relevant to touchstone points in our lives, the transitions.
            • Do you believe that what you know or who you know is more important and why?
              • He sees it as both in a lot of ways if he had to choose one he’d say who you know.
              • There are a lot of smart people with great ideas, but you have to leverage opportunities through connections.
            • Can you tell us about a time that a connection led to a moment of success?
              • When he came back from France and finished his second year at Columbia University.
              • When he left Columbia, he used a professor/mentor’s connections to find an apprentice.
              • The guy he was connected with became a lifelong advisor.
            • If you had to boil it down to one networking tip, what would it be?
              • If you’re uncomfortable at a big, loud, noisy networking event:
                • Go early
                • Set reasonable goals for yourself.
                • Set follow-ups with one or two people.

The Random Round:

  • What profession other than your own do you think it would be fun to attempt?
    • Chef
  • If you could sit on a park bench with anyone for an hour who would it be, and why?
    • Bill Belichick
  • How do you like to consume content?
    • Blogs and podcasts
  • What is a podcast you would recommend?
    • Ear Hustle
    • Startup
  • Give us a glimpse of your morning routine?
    • Get up at 6:15 and bring his son to school.
    • Walk the dog.
    • Start work.
  • What is your go-to pump up song?
    • Doesn’t have one.
  • What is something that you are not very good at?
    • Dancing
  • What is one place where we can find you the most?
    • andymolinsky.com

Tweetable Quotes:

  • If you can’t think of a good reason to step out of your comfort zone, it’s probably not worth doing.
  • There are a lot of smart people with great ideas, but you have to leverage opportunities through connections.
  • Working the room never works, you want to go deep rather than shallow.

Resources Mentioned:

Buildyournetwork.co – Podcast website

BYN.media/fb – Facebook Group

Reach – Book by Andy Molinsky

Global Dexterity – Book by Andy Molinsky


Ear Hustle Podcast

Startup Podcast

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