I recently interviewed Rebecca Fabunmi, Mn/DOT Special Assistant to Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. We talked about the 11th book in the Commissioner’s Reading Corner Book of the Month series, Eyeballs Out: How To Step Into Another World, Discover New Ideas, and Make Your Business Thrive by Donna Sturgess.
Tang: Why did you pick this book?
Fabunmi: I wanted to select a book that is relatively new. Initially I was interested in a book on social media and leadership, but it has not been published yet. Then I looked at several choices in the bookstore and decided on this one because I was intrigued by the book’s title and table of contents. In addition, we are under a very tight schedule for the next CRC book discussion, so I wanted a book that is short, easy read. This one stood out for me.
Tang: What is the book about?
Fabunmi: The author Donna Sturgess, a business leader and senior marketer, shared her experience aboard the state-of-the-art US aircraft carrier – the USS John C. Stennis out in the Pacific and the new insights she discovered from that immersion experience. The book is about harnessing the power of immersion experiences to stimulate new ideas and innovation, and to make your business thrive.
Tang: What do you like about this book?
Fabunmi: I really enjoyed reading the book myself. It’s small and easy to read. I don’t have any family background in military, so reading about the military life on the USS Stennis as it relates to a thriving business was fascinating for me. I like the way the author weaves the different concepts into her story. The concepts such as sacrifice, pride, recognition, excellence, faith, fun at work are not new, however, when you put them in the context in a story, they become alive.
Tang: What are some ideas from the book that you would like to try if you have the power to do so?
Fabunmi: Some of the ideas from the book are really interesting for the workplace of choice initiative I am working with others on.
In chapter 4 on faith at work, the author talks about building a more compassionate culture and a better kind of business through military and corporate chaplains and other spiritual advisors. It’s important to capture the heart, mind and soul of employees and care for the whole person – physical and mental health as well as social and spiritual health.
In chapter 6 on badge power, the author talks about the power of a badge that comes from its ability to unite people and influence behavior. A public badge system can inspire individuals and companies to participate in a cause by making their dedication and sacrifice visible, and to honor them publicly.
In chapter 7 on happy moments, the author talks about small moments of pleasure, laughter and humor that can reduce stress and anxiety. They can also help forge the bond between people, connect people personally, and strengthen good teamwork in the workplace.
The USS Stennis had a “Fun Boss” who wore a T-shirt that read in large, bold letters across the chest “FUN BOSS.” His role is to create innovative recreation activities while at sea and on shore. I like the idea of having a “Fun Boss” in every organization.
My favorite is creating a virtual game specific to ones organization for real time strategic planning, risk management and optimal decisions.
Tang: The author talks about immersion experiences or spectacular moments that can bring out new ideas through immersion in an unfamiliar world of new sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. Have you had any immersion experiences in your work or personal life that brought fresh insights, new ideas, and amazing revelations to you that you would like to share?
Fabunmi: When I was about 16, I walked on the side a cliff with a 16-inch path at least twenty feet above jagged rocks to get to a special beach. I was also carrying something very precious in my arm. It was very scary, but I wanted to do it and I did. In my early twenties, I travelled to Cuba legally as a student with a group of people I barely knew and had a wonderful time. Last year, I went to Germany with a group of students as part of my MBA study, we had difficulties getting back to the US because of the airport closure due to volcanic ash. In every of those immersion experiences which where intense, I was fully engaged and totally focused physically and mentally. They opened up a new world for me. I learned something new about myself, other people and other places.
Tang: Please share some quotes from the book that are very meaningful for you.
Fabunmi: I have quite a few quotes to share. Here are just some of them:
“You have to be curious enough and passionate enough and brave enough to make the time and effort to pursue big ideas.” — p. 4
“Pride typically has more motivational power than money does … pride serves as an incentive to persevere with a task despite initial setbacks… Companies all over the world can instill this kind of pride in their people by linking to a cause for the greater good.” — p. 37-39
“For some companies, managing the whole person is seen as a way to build a more compassionate culture and a better kind of business.” — p. 44
“… embrace strategy as an interactive activity rather than an annual planning one.” — p. 89
“The secret to discovery is to never believe existing facts.” — p. 91
“Fully immersing yourself in an experience illuminates new ideas.” — p. 96
“…employees at all levels must be responsible for excellence in their own performance.” — p. 120
“Human energy is the most important resource in business today… The maximum energy level of 100 percent is achieved when everyone in the organization is fully engaged” — p. 124-125
Tang: You are part of the CRC team from the beginning. You are the go to person who holds everything together. Looking back and forward, do you have any thoughts to share?
Fabunmi: I have loved working with everyone on this project. It is a great example of collaboration between various offices – library, communication and technology. We got a great team working together.