I teach corporate women and male minority leaders to get promoted into executive level positions. But do you want to know the primary reason they WANT to get promoted?
To make a greater impact at their organizations.
Can you relate?
If so, this episode is a must-listen for you.
In this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I sit down with Netflix’s Naphtali Bryant to discuss how to stand out as a leader by focusing on adding value.
Naphtali is a thought leader and innovator in the learning and development space and he is showing up as a leader in a big way at work, on stage, and online.
Naphtali’s career in Learning and Development and Human Resources spans 17+ years with global industry experience in high tech, entertainment, transportation, and in the United States Marine Corps. He is known for helping professionals be great in their professions so they can make a lasting impression in their work and their lives.
In this episode, we dig into strategies and inspiration that will help you show up as your authentic self at work, become even more valuable to your organization, and drive the impact you want to be making right now.
If you listen to this episode and think to yourself “I want to act like a senior executive now”, then my 6-week group coaching program is just the thing for you. I designed Executive Ahead of Time to help corporate leaders like YOU access the skills, confidence and unparalleled support you’ll need to reach a higher level executive position. Learn more at www.ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com.
What You'll Learn:
- How getting comfortable with himself helped Naphtali catapult his leadership to the next level (and how you can, too)
- Naphtali’s strategies for adding value to your organization
- Why you need to focus on ‘The One Thing’ if you want to make a greater impact
- How finding your “edge” will reveal what you need to be focusing on (and what you can ignore)
- How Naphtali transitioned from the military to corporate America
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Stacy Mayer: Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. And super excited to bring to you today's interview. I have a new friend of mine on today's podcast named Naphtali Bryant.
And I was actually introduced to him several months ago. You may have listened to my podcast episode with Eva Jannotta. And Eva Jannotta is one of those people that you would call a super connector. She knows a little bit of everybody and she's kind of like this amazing genius where she just sees two people and she's like: 'You know what. You need to meet this person.' She just sees that. And so definitely take the time to go back and listen to that episode. That interview is really great about thought leadership.
So she tells me that I need to meet Naphtali. And the first thing that really stood out to me when I looked at just his profile, the way he's showing up online, is that he appears as a thought leader. He stands for something. It looks like his leadership matters.
And then when you go further into his resume, you can look at all of his credentials and you can look at the different things that he's accomplished as a great leader in his career thus far. But the things that really stand out to me is the story that he's telling online, how he's showing up as a leader. And I was like: 'We need to get you on this podcast so that you can start sharing that information and inspiring my listeners as well as we all continue to advance our careers. And really what it takes to get into that next level of leadership is to stand out.' So whatever that means for you. And we're going to be breaking that down for you guys today. So I'm super excited.
Let me do a little bit of more of a formal introduction of Naphtali. He's a leading voice in learning engagement, learning culture, and organization development, and is currently the director of Learning and organization development at Netflix. Naphtali's career in Learning and Development and Human Resources spans 17+ years with global industry experience in high tech, entertainment, transportation, and in the United States Marine Corps. Influencing the lives of professionals who have a desire to be great in their professions and make a lasting impression through their work and their lives.
And that is my goal with this podcast, too, is to make an impression, to give people the tools so that they can take their careers to that next level of leadership. So Naphtali, thank you so much for being here with us today.
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah, no problem, Stacy. Thank you for having me.
Stacy Mayer: Happy New Year.
Naphtali Bryant: Happy New Year to you as well.
Stacy Mayer: So we're just going to kick it off with some of your secrets to success. What do you feel like were the big turning points for you that really just catapulted you and your leadership to that next level?
Naphtali Bryant: One of my mentors is John C. Maxwell, one of the leading experts on leadership development, team building and connecting. And he always talks about how people are comfortable with people who are comfortable with themselves. And I think one of the biggest turning points for me is when I finally got comfortable with me. And it's really that idea of 'wherever I go, there I am.' I'm going to show up as me, authentic, engaged and with a posture of of learning. Meaning that I can learn from anybody that I run into in life. And so that was one of the really turning points for me. That happened maybe about five years ago where I really, really got into this mindset of I'm going to show up as authentically me. I think prior to that I was kind of chasing and trying to figure out who I was, my identity. And it was there the whole time. People were reinforcing that through feedback and conversations, but I hadn't realized it until that point.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, I love that. And you were telling me prior to this interview about your background. And your background is so diverse. From being an actor at one point or at least wanting to work in the entertainment industry, to being in the Marine Corps, to now working at Netflix, which is both entertainment and high tech all mixed in together. So what do you feel like, in terms of that acceptance of yourself and being who you are, in practical terms? Was it like you just woke up one morning, you were like: 'Screw it, I'm just going to be who I am. That's all I got.' Or was there something that really shifted in you that made that change happen?
Naphtali Bryant: I think there's a couple of things. One, I eliminated the voices that weren't adding value to my life. A lot of times we think we need to surround ourselves with so many people and so many voices, but we don't realize what those voices are doing to us and the impact that can have. And so I had to be really strategic and intentional about the voices that were in my life. So I limited those voices and I eliminated the voices that weren't adding value. The next thing I did was I really focused my energy, instead of trying to please everyone, I focused on two things. One, becoming more valuable. So learning, reading, acquiring new knowledge, getting different certifications, getting different industry experience, tapping into people and resources.
And then the other side of that was focusing on adding value. So it helped me to manage my own expectations when I can go into any space, any job, any title, any room, and say: 'How can I add value in this moment?' And not overwhelm myself with trying to have every answer to every problem, to sound interesting. No, just focus on adding value. So those were like the two main things that shifted it for me.
Stacy Mayer: I love that so much. So many of my clients and listeners of this podcast, they're not necessarily looking for that next big title. They are literally looking to actually add value. They're like: 'If I can be engaged, part of the conversation, actually feel like my boss cares about what I have to say...' And I love that approach because I feel like if you think about it as: 'How can I add value to this conversation?' versus 'How can I show them that I'm really awesome?' Because so often it's like it's like: 'How can I prove myself right so that I get something.' But it's very different what your your approach is talking about.
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah, absolutely. And I think when you do that, you release the pressure valve that's on all of us on a day to day basis in a world, in a life, in industries, that are challenging, where we don't have all the answers, where we're trying to learn and grow, we give ourself space and we give ourselves permission to grow when we focus on adding value and becoming more valuable.
Stacy Mayer: Can you tell us anything that's going on for you right now where you feel like you're able to add a tremendous amount of value?
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah. Number one, we are really doubling down on on learning and organization development at Netflix to really support our teams and leaders, to continue to be high performing on a day-to-day basis. And I feel like I've been able to add value in the conversations that I've been with colleagues, with leaders, just by listening and being present in the moment and not trying to check a box of activities that we need to do, but more so like how are we connected to the business and the priorities of what we're trying to achieve at Netflix? So that's one way.
Another way is just adding value in my own home. As a father of two, of a three year old and a six month old, and a lovely wife who's been married almost five years. Just working together as a team and trying to figure out how we can value each other's lives each and every day. Those are the two that have been pretty important to me.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, I remember as well when we were talking earlier you spoke about at Netflix and your goals with learning and development. It's like: how how do we actually work with our employees? How do we actually teach them? What matters? As opposed to checking off a few boxes. Which is like: are we actually creating more engagement? Are we actually helping our employees instead of just like: 'Oh, we have this great training program that does whatever.'
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah, and I think what you're getting at, Stacy, is like, how do we really drive impact within our organizations, with our employees, teams, leaders, especially when it comes to learning and development space, and I think the thing I try to focus on is really helping us focus in on the one thing. There's a great book called The One Thing. I think it's by a guy named Gary Keller.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, I have it up here, too. I'm looking up in my corner, too. It's a fantastic book.
Naphtali Bryant: Fantastic book. And the focus in there, he talks about this one overarching question of: 'What's the one thing that you need to focus on or do that will ultimately make everything either unnecessary or easier to do?' So I've been trying to start to think about that one thing and help our leaders and teams think about the one thing. Because the reality is, when we actually focus our efforts on that one thing, it actually has a trickle down effect that impacts a lot of other things. It goes back to that 80-20 rule. 80 percent of the impacts going to come from 20 percent of the work and the focus that we have on that work.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, so good. Yeah, I read that book and just it's just a profound effect on me and how I make decisions now. That's really great.
So I want to ask you if you don't mind, I want to ask you something a little bit more personal. So as a black male in leadership, there's not a ton of people that look like you in your field and in leadership in general. And in terms of authenticity, are there any adjustments that you had to make along the way in terms of finding your voice, really being able to show up and be present as a black male in a environment that maybe you don't feel like you can be your authentic self all of the time?
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah, I think the reality is for all of us, regardless of our race or background, our different identities and perspectives that we bring, I believe that in order to be me, I need to see me. And so that whole idea is like: 'How do I add value, make impact in a place or in situations where I don't necessarily see me.
And what what I feel like you have to do in those situations, number one going back to what I said earlier, is you've got to be comfortable with who you are and you got to flip the script, if you will. So typically, when we hear about folks being in situations where they're the only one in the room, I stopped thinking like that. I stopped thinking about being the only one in the room and I started thinking about 'I am in the room and I actually can influence the room and I can actually bring other people in the room that look like me.'
Stacy Mayer: Yes.
Naphtali Bryant: Once I flipped the script on that, it actually allowed me to add value in a different way and not focus my mind on the challenge, so to speak, but more the solution.
Stacy Mayer: Hmm. Oh, I love that so much. Yeah, that just got me a little bit fired up. It's like: 'I AM in the room, so how can I show up? How what is the impact I can make now and how can I being bring more people like me into the room or even more diverse voices? They don't all have to be like you.'.
So what is your mission? What are you looking to do in the in the greater world? That's one of the benefits of transitioning into leadership as we start to say: 'OK, what does actually matter to us?'
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah, I think what matters to me most is really helping people discover their hidden potential inside them. And I really call that their edge. And what I want people to discover is, number one, what that edge is inside them that actually gives them advantages. And also it's the thing that they think about in the morning when they wake up and the thing they go to bed at night thinking about. It's not one thing where they're like: 'Man, if I could do that day in and day out, I would add tremendous value in every situation. That's the edge that I'm talking about.' And I want people to discover their edge and then focus on a day-to-day basis to sharpen that edge, and not focus on everything else. I think when I was younger I wanted to be good at everything instead of being good at one thing that will actually fulfill me the most.
And so if I can help impact people's lives to focus on that edge, that thing that's inside them that gives them the advantage, then it actually lets their lives be much more fulfilling and allows them to make a deeper impact than they would ever have imagined or dreamed of. That's my mission in life, really helping people find that edge.
Stacy Mayer: So you transition from the military into corporate America. Were there any surprises, anything where you really were challenged along the way as you made that transition?
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah, I think there was a challenge of wondering how the experience of being in the military translates into the civilian life and into corporate America. And the reality is it does. And part of the reason why it does is because when you're serving the country, when you're in the military, there's a level of leadership and influence that you are gaining and discipline that you're getting on a day-to-day basis in the most critical, complex situations in the world. And nothing in the corporate life or civilian life will be as complicated or as challenging then some of the experiences that you can have in the military. And so that's part of what I started to think about, where it's like: 'OK, if I can show up here, if I can make it in the military, I can make it anywhere.' It's that old saying: 'If you can make it in Hollywood, you can make it anywhere.' If you can make it in the military, you can pretty much make it anywhere.
Stacy Mayer: I love that. It reminds me as well though, of finding that edge. So you'll speak to people who've had success in a certain area of their career. Where they made it through leadership and then they're transitioning into an even in a different type of organization or a different industry. And they feel like that's actually hindering them and that's a problem. But it sounds like you really learned how to embrace all of yourself and to just sort of say: 'Hey, this is what makes me great. This is what makes me stand out. This is who I am.' And you have to both tell others that story and your behavior and the way you show up, but also yourself. Like just get really comfortable with that in yourself.
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah. And you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And someone once said, I'm not sure of who this was, but they said that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. And so I always try to think about how do I feel right now in this situation? Am I comfortable? If I'm really comfortable, that means I'm not growing as well or not living as full of life. But if I'm uncomfortable, that's where growth happens. That's where life happens. So I look for those opportunities to be uncomfortable. And shifting from the military into civilian life was the most uncomfortable thing ever. I'd been there for 20 years and served the country greatly, which many, many people do, and shout out to all those that serve. And I felt like I wanted a different challenge. And so I leaned into that discomfort.
Stacy Mayer: So where are you uncomfortable right now? What's next for you?
Naphtali Bryant: Oh, I'm super uncomfortable right now. Looking at building out what great team effectiveness and org development looks like in my current role and challenging myself to think differently, to add value in my current situation, but also thinking about: 'Hey, you know what, I need to be writing books. I need to be be adding more value to this space.' And I've never done some of those things before. So I'm like: 'OK, I feel a little uncomfortable. That means it's time to grow and time to lean into this a little bit harder.'.
Stacy Mayer: I mean, that's sort of how we met. With Eva as the connection. And you were showing up as a thought leader and really exploring that. Like: 'What is it I stand for? What is the value to the greater world?' Whether it shows up in a book or your next TED talk or whatever that looks like for you.
Naphtali Bryant: Yes.
Stacy Mayer: And how is that going to help you as a leader at Netflix?
Naphtali Bryant: It goes back to what I said earlier, the more valuable I become, the more value I can add in my role. So if I stay stagnant, I don't read any more books, I don't challenge myself to give TED talks or write a book or speak on podcasts and things like this, to articulate what's in my mind, then I don't grow and I'm not as valuable to to Netflix's growth and development as I can be if I'm constantly focused on getting better and improving through growth, development, feedback, connecting with people who can actually help me grow and get better. So those are some of the things that come to my mind around that.
Stacy Mayer: Any final words of wisdom for managers that are looking to transition into executive leadership. Anything that you could offer as advice, what they should focus on besides already what we have talked about today? But I'm sure there's even more.
Naphtali Bryant: There's two things.
One, I would encourage you to travel the 18 inches, the 18 inches from your head to your heart on a day to day basis, because you can't just lead with your your head and you can't only just lead with your heart. You need both of them. But they're connected. There's a distance you have to travel each and every day to make sure you're showing up with both of those in every situation.
I think the second thing is: I would encourage every leader out there to EAT. And what I mean by that is EAT is an acronym for:
Examine yourself. Constantly examine yourself, where you're at, where you're falling short, where you're strong, what you need to grow in.
The second piece of that is A for acknowledge. Acknowledge that you need to do something to harness that leadership or to get better or to do something different.
And then the third part of that, the T is to transform. Transform the things that you're doing to allow you to go to the next level in your leadership, to allow you to go to the next level in your influence. If you examine, acknowledge and transform, you EAT well as a leader and then you allow other people to EAT as well. So I encourage you to do those two things. Travel the 18 inches and EAT, examine technology, transform.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, this is hilarious here, because I always believe that people come together for a reason. So two things. First of all, your book title needs to be Travel the 18 Inches. It's like, oh, my God, that's brilliant. Anyway, I'm sure it will come out whatever it is going to be. But I was like: 'That's great.'
The other thing is the acronym for my group coaching intensive is EAT, Executive Ahead of Time. And so I was just like: 'Oh my God, that's brilliant.' I love it. We're all looking.
And the other thing that's kind of comes to mind, just because I'm thinking about this, this idea of eating, which is this idea that we nourish ourselves. We take in information. Like you were talking about: be inspired. What is the value that we add? Value doesn't come from from sitting around and waiting for something to happen. Value comes from engaging. And so that is when it feels a little disconnected because you're like: 'Oh, I want to talk about what I was talking about earlier with how awesome I am versus the value that I bring.' The only reason you feel like you need to talk about how awesome you are is because you're not being inspired. You're not actually inspiring yourself first and then you'll know where you need to add value.
Naphtali Bryant: Absolutely.
Stacy Mayer: I love it. It's so fantastic. Well Naphtali, how can people connect with you. And if they want to follow you and make sure that they're the first to buy your book whenever it does come out.
Naphtali Bryant: Yeah I think mainly just follow me on LinkedIn right now. That's kind of my primary source of connecting with folks. I am a father of two kids, so I don't spend a whole lot of time on other platforms. But LinkedIn, I'm pretty active on that. I also have a show called Learning Out Loud that I do with a couple other colleagues. And I got some other stuff in the works. You'll see me around speaking and and talking and potentially running a couple of books.
Stacy Mayer: You know, I just thought of something to. I'm a performer as well and come from the entertainment background, and a lot of other coaches and people, my colleagues that are in the industry, and I'm sure the same goes for you and learning and development, aren't thinking about creating a movie.You know what Naphtali. We have our books in our future, but I don't know. Maybe you and I, we got a movie or something coming out.
Naphtali Bryant: There you go Stacy.
Stacy Mayer: I like to think big. I like to think big. Any final words before we head out today?
Naphtali Bryant: Now, I would just encourage you to to to lead more humanly during this time and just to believe. My wife for Christmas, she she gave me this necklace. It has a key on here and it actually says believe. And it's just a reminder that if I don't believe in myself, it's going to be hard for other people to believe in me. So I just encourage everyone out there to believe in yourself and you'll achieve some great things and you'll inspire other people along the way.
Stacy Mayer: Well, you've inspired me and I'm sure many of our listeners today. So thank you enough. Naphtali, I appreciate it.
Naphtali Bryant: No problem. Thank you, Stacey. Take care.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.