Cassandra Worthy is the world’s leading expert on Change Enthusiasm. She inspires top talent to thrive in the face of merger, acquisition, and other major disruptions. Cassandra is a two-time TEDx speaker, and the author of the August 2021 book titled “Change Enthusiasm” which Hit #1 on Amazon’s New Releases in Work Life Balance list within the first week and was recently nominated as a Fall 2021 ‘Next Big Idea’, a list curated by Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, and Adam Grant.
In addition to being a disruptive thought leader, Cassandra is an executive, a former Fortune 100 innovation leader, and senior chemical engineer with nearly two decades in the CPG industry and over a decade of M&A experience. And she delivers something truly unique and fresh.. For the first time simplifying how to shift the macroscopic cultural mindset to embrace change through motivating the individual at the microscopic level. Arming individuals with the means to harness the power of emotion, a resource in infinite supply today, to embrace and accelerate change and transformational journeys.
For more on Cassandra or to book her to speak: https://speakers.calentertainment.com/profile/31805…
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Change Enthusiasm With Cassandra Worthy
Joining us is Cassandra Worthy, a powerful force of contagious energy, the world’s leading expert on change enthusiasm who inspires top talent to thrive in the face of a merger, acquisition and other major disruptions. A two-time TEDx speaker and an author of the August 2021 book titled Change Enthusiasm. In addition to being a disruptive thought leader, Cassandra is an executive, a former Fortune 100 innovation leader and Senior Chemical Engineer with nearly two decades in the CPG industry and over a decade of M&A experience.
She delivers something truly unique and fresh. For the first time, simplifying how to shift the macroscopic cultural mindset to embrace change through motivating the individual at the microscopic level. Arming individuals with the means to harness the power of emotion, a resource in infinite supply to embrace and accelerate change and transformational journeys. Please join me now with Cassandra Worthy.
Cassandra Worthy, how are you?
I’m chilling. What’s up, Chris Lee? How are you?
I’m good. It’s great to be here with you. I’ve had so much fun working with you. You are energetic, easy to work with and talented as a speaker. It’s a pleasure to have you here on the show. I know this is good timing for you and me because your book came out, Change Enthusiasm. Tell us about it. What’s that all about?
I am thrilled that the book just landed. It’s available in most places that books are sold. This is my work. This is at the center of my consulting firm, everything that I bring to my client base. It is a growth mindset that you can leverage when going through major change and disruption. It’s something that I created and began cultivating in my own career when I was working in corporate and more traditional roles. I have a degree in Chemical Engineering.
During that tenure, I went through major acquisitions and felt the pain, the struggle, the frustration of that type of change that feels like it steps in, slaps you across the face and knocks you on the ground. I experienced that several times in my career. I cultivated this mindset that says when I’m experiencing those emotions, that fear, that anxiety, that frustration, that I’m being signaled and invited into my greatest to grow, learn, evolve, learn about myself, my peers and my business.
It’s up to me to choose how I move forward whether I’m going to get bitter about all the changes or whether I’m going to get better. I cultivated this mindset that I’ve coined Change Enthusiasm, three steps. Now, I’ve written the playbook on how to put this into practice in your day-to-day. It’s rich with a lot of exercises and examples. I couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s out there.
I hope you’ll share with us those three steps, a little tidbit about the three steps.You can either get bitter or you can get better. It's your choice. Click To Tweet
Sure. I’ll go as deep as you want me to.
I’ve always looked at the world understanding and especially now, being in this business for many years, knowing that you can look at any situation in exactly the 180 and the opposite way. You could look at your life as you can say, all the reasons why your life sucks, you’re not doing well and you hate yourself. Why do you have a lot of things to complain about and be upset about or disappointed in. You can also do the exact flip opposite of that. It sounds like you have tapped into the psychological. Did you have psychological background training or schooling? How did you figure out when this kept happening to you as a chemical engineer and an innovation manager that you’ve been doing for so many years? When did that hit you? How did that hit you?
I am a student of the school of life. Honestly, the seed was planted for this mindset when I was going through my first major acquisition. I was a young engineer. I worked at Proctor & Gamble. I’d only been in the company for about three years and I transitioned into a business that we had acquired, a multi-billion-dollar acquisition, big deal. After I transferred in, I was told I was supposed to help continue bringing in innovation as well as integrate parent company tools and processes but it was like a completely different culture from what I had grown up in, I knew. I felt like I had quit that company and was working for a different company. It was a very us versus them type of culture.
It’s mirrored any disruption, transformation where it feels uncomfortable because it’s so new. It’s not what you’re used to, the way you used to thrive and now all the rules that have changed. Everything’s different. I tell you, almost every day that I walked into that business, I wanted to quit. I wanted that to be the day that I say, “Screw it, I’m done, I’m walking out of the door.” I got to this breaking point where I was like, “I’m going to look for a way to quit. I have to quit.”
I went to a mentor. She was high up in the organization at the time. I talked to her. I was venting about how difficult things were and how much I wanted her to change my work experience. I said everything short of like firing my manager and then promoting me so I can fire another nine people that I couldn’t stand. She gave me some powerful advice. She was like, “Cassandra, you can either get bitter or better. It’s your choice.”
At first, that didn’t sit well with me because I’m like, “How can this be my choice? I’m not the one in a position of influence. You’re the director, not me. I’ve only been in this company for three years.” Magically those words, bitter or better, stayed with me. I was like, “I do have a choice of how I experienced my work.” That started the seed and the growth of, “When I’m feeling this frustration, it must mean I’m in an opportunity to grow, to become better. It’s up to me to choose how I do that.”
How can I experience this acquisition to learn so much? Who gets a chance to go through such a tremendous change like that? Very few. I maximize that. I got myself high rated. I got another opportunity that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t transferred in. I seriously created this to help me grow in my career. I’ve seen and proven it time and time again now.
That’s how the great ones do it. They solve a problem for themselves. They realize they can share that with their friends, family, peers and then sometimes if they’re lucky or feel the desire to the world. It sounds like that’s what you’re doing now. You’re speaking now. You are very well-rated, new, fresh and a hot item out there, which is so great. There are speakers who have been giving the same speech for years and what’s new about that? The other cool thing about you is that you have done the homework on how to deliver this. You did the homework to write the book. There are three main steps to take hold of the mindset. How do you go about that? What are the three steps?
I’ll share the details behind that. First, I think the reason that I have been able to speak to so many clients all over the world, that I have been able to share this message is the very uniqueness of facing the emotions of change head-on. I so often see leaders and I’ve experienced it myself in my corporate career, they say there’s a big transition and transformation happening. It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be tough but we got to do it.
It’s like this, grit your teeth and bear it, forget about any of the emotions that you’re dealing with and deal with that outside of work. When you get in here, these are objectives you need to go and do it. Never was there this avenue or tools or strategies for employees to use that emotion. I fully believe that emotion is a gift. It’s an energy, a resource that’s in infinite supply and we all have a tap into that.
I do think that they signal us those tough emotions and for those great opportunities to grow. When you feel that stress and tension in the organization, it means something wonderful is about to happen. Let me take you through the steps and when one is practicing this mindset. The very first step is what I call the signal and those are those tough emotions. I’ve noticed them, my research and the work that I’ve done with clients all around the world to be fear, anxiety, frustration, anger and grief or loss. It’s typically those five emotions that we face when we’re going through change, the type of change that feels like it’s happening to us.
The first step is acknowledging and embracing those signal emotions as invitations, gifts, not ignoring them, suppressing them but accepting their invitation into our greatest opportunities to grow. That’s the second step. It’s called the opportunity. You go from the signal to the opportunity. This step is where the work happens because you’re exploring what’s possible. What are my options to milk this opportunity for all it’s got?
How can I use this to learn about myself, my peers, my colleagues and my business? How can I use this to grow? The third step is the choice. It’s where the magic happens. It’s where you use productive, conscious choice from those options to inspire a better feeling and ultimately a better result and getting about the business of evolving, of growing, of becoming better than you were yesterday.
This reminds me of something I’ve heard other people say and talk about was the reason why they started their business or created something that had never been created before. It’s being fed up with the status quo or angry with the way things are going. I’m going to make a difference and not just going to be angry about it, to be pissed off about it, I’m going to do something about it. It’s almost using that. I’ve heard this talked about by some incredible people that using almost the anger that you have about something. You can use that energy and that emotion to drive you into, “How am I going to fix that?” I think that sounds intuitive that somebody would say, “I want to change this so now I’m going to do that.” I think it’s probably hard for a lot of people to get past that anger.
I would say that the most difficult part of putting this into practice is moving from the signal to the opportunity because those signal emotions can walk us. They can make us not want to get out of bed, off the couch or out of the bar. It’s very difficult to step outside of those emotions when you’re in the throes of them to see that there’s an opportunity and they’re inviting you into this growth. What’s tremendous is not only have I seen the data in my own personal experience that when I put this into practice, I’m feeling those emotions, it means I’m about to grow and I can become better. Now, I’ve seen that data replicated across thousands of individuals all over the world. I firmly believe in trust that when you’re feeling those emotions, if you can recognize and accept their invitation, you can get into these great moments of opportunity to grow. It’s up to us to trust that they’re there to serve. They are there for a reason.
That’s positive and the only way to look at having those emotions and feeling that way is this is going to now spur me on to do something great. It’s great that you’re there to remind us of that.
If I can geek out a little bit more using my engineering hat, as I said, emotion is energy. If we think of ourselves as this unit or this vessel, we can do 1 of 3 things with the energy within us. We can either conserve it. Holding it within when all the adverse health effects start to happen. We maybe explode on other people that didn’t deserve it. We can transfer it, which is like venting to anyone that will listen. That can be useful from time to time because it releases that valve and allows the energy to flow. It’s almost like we play this game of energetic hot potato. We’re venting and the other person is feeling all the emotion that somehow comes back to us. It never changes its signature.
The third part is to transform. It’s through choice that we can transform that anger of something that’s not going right. Transform that into joy for what could be right or what could I do to make this happen. Transforming that fear of the unknown and hoping for all the wonderful things that are in store. How much am I going to learn? How much will I grow? It’s this powerful notion of choice that can enable us to transform this energy into fuel, to propel us to greater and greater levels.
Having that mindset is something that probably comes from within with you. I’m wondering, have you always been a very optimistic glass is a half-full type of person your whole life?
I have but I will tell you what’s unique about this, for me, in particular, being the expert and the one that’s bringing it to the world. That thing that you hear about, we teach what we most need to practice, that is certainly true of me. It’s because of my optimism that oftentimes I want to run away from and I want to ignore difficult emotions. I want to only talk about the positive and only talked about what’s optimistic and good.Emotion is a gift. It's an energy and a resource that's in infinite supply, and we all have a tap into that. Click To Tweet
I have the pitfalls sometimes of being blindly optimistic and being that person that doesn’t face reality but in this message and this growth mindset, you’re facing those difficult emotions head-on. You’re embracing them. You’re allowing them to exist. You’re sitting with them. You’re giving yourself the grace to be with them for as long as that takes and then acknowledging that they are there to serve you. You will bless them. They are gifts. You get the opportunity to learn how you’ll grow. Yes, I’ve been quite positive my whole life but in this teaching, I’m helping myself because we can’t be blind to these emotions. We can’t conserve them and be transferring them all around to anyone. You got to transfer it.
That’s a good point that you made. Any examples of how this has worked for yourself or from others?
I have many examples. I’ll share another one of my personal examples. I’ve been through a lot of multi-billion-dollar acquisitions. The second one that I went through was a mid-level executive in a company that was getting acquired by another multi-billion-dollar acquisition for another multi-billion-dollar company. Shortly after the acquisition closed, the senior leadership of that company started cutting staff. They started cutting headcount left and right, driving down costs.
It was an uncertain time for me and a whole heck of a lot of people. On top of that, I was given a brand-new manager. This manager was from the acquiring company. He didn’t know me. He didn’t know my background and the culture I came from. One day we were sitting in my office and having a budget review. He looks at me and he’s like, “Cassandra, I like you. I want to keep you but I don’t see a lot of value in having you in my organization in the next few years.”
Chris, I kid you not, my mouth went dry. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I somehow pulled it together and got through the rest of the conversation. When he left my office, I was panicked. I quit what I was doing. I pulled up LinkedIn and my resume. I was in that mental downward spiral with all these thoughts and the energy. I was in that. I’m about to lose my job. I’m a failure. My career is in shambles, all those things.
In a moment of clarity, I recognize, “I’m a practicing change enthusiast. My mouth has gone dry. That’s got to mean that I’m feeling some signal emotions. Somehow, they’re here and I’m being invited into an opportunity to grow.” I sat in that opportunity. I thought, “What can I do? What are my options?” This dude gave me two years’ worth of paycheck. He’ll pay me to find another role and what in my mind would be a better role.
I had a couple of options. I can either start looking in organizations outside of his or still in that company or start looking for a completely different job in a different company. I then made the conscious choice to start looking for a job in that company in a different organization. By making that choice, I started to feel a sense of calm and even a hint of hope and anticipation about what could be next. Over the course of the next four months, I work with leadership in a different organization to create a role for myself. It was a role I was better positioned for. It leveraged my passions better. I loved this role.
The four months weren’t easy. It was probably the most challenging time in my career. I had to continue working the steps day after day but I ended up with this role that I love. I trust that these big changes feel like they slapped you in the face and knock you on the ground. They’re not happening to you. They’re happening for you. They’re happening to serve your evolution to become better. I’m so grateful to that guy for telling me the information that he did because he got about the business of making a new role.
Maybe he saw something more in you than you even knew that you had. Maybe he didn’t know what it was but he knew there was maybe something else for you.
Honestly, it didn’t feel that way. His mindset was in, “I’ve got to cut cost.”
He liked you and you had made an impression.
He could have waited two years, walked into my office and said, “Cassandra, we’re going to have to let you go in two weeks.” Tell him I send emotions, that would have been a little tougher.
There’s something else about you that’s very interesting to me. You’re a singer.
I enjoy the song. We talked about this before. I don’t know if I would call myself a singer because it’s not like I had a singing career but I certainly enjoy singing. I’ve been told that I’m not half bad at it. The first time I sang on a stage since I was eight years old in a school concert was for my very first TED Talk called What If. I sang a Sam Cooke song. It’s the first time I had sung on a stage. Since then, many clients have asked me to sing during the Q&A portion of my keynotes, which is interesting.
You knew you had this voice and you put it out there on the TED stage.
I was like, “This is my first time on the red dot. I’m about to give it all I got.”
What did you sing about?
It was Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke, the very first refrain.
There are lyrics in that song that means something to you.
That is exactly it, change is going to come. The fact that is always true and will always be true. It’s obvious that fact is what keeps my work going. It’s what keeps me plugging along, living this mission and living my purpose each and every day.
When you’re working with clients now, in this pandemic, change has come. Change is happening and the future is uncertain. What is it that you’re hearing these clients say to you that they want from you more than ever now? We need somebody like you to carry us through and lift our spirits as we walk in this dark time with the light at the end of the tunnel that we can barely see.When you feel that stress and tension in the organization, it means something wonderful is about to happen. Click To Tweet
I will tell you what’s been special that’s happened. It’s that leaders have recognized and embraced the importance of not ignoring emotion. I think that the pandemic is something that has taught us compassion, empathy and the importance of celebrating and nurturing the humanity in our workforces and not simply seeing them as human capital. For that, I’m grateful because it has truly given me a lane to thrive.
It opened a lot of doors because when leaders hear what I do and enable organizations and the individuals in those organizations tools to leverage the power of their emotion to fuel growth, they want it. They sense the emotion. They know the complexion is very tumultuous. They know that the organization is having a difficult time and this gives them the tools. This gives them the mindset, the language to grow through that change, see an opportunity and even the biggest, most devastating disruptions.
I’ve worked with clients over the past years, some in the aviation industry who got wrought and went through a significant contraction. I’ve worked with companies in the social media industry with exponential growth changing consumer habits to demands. Regardless of contraction or huge growth, I have seen leaders, executives, individuals alike, frontline workers employ these skills and these tools to reach fulfilled growth through probably the biggest disruption of their professional careers. For me, it is every day waking up living this mission on purpose and what I see to be rising to the call of many clients all over the world.
It sounds like you touched on there that leaders are doing what we’d always hoped leaders would do but they’re giving a voice to their employees. They’re giving a voice to their consumers. They’re empowering their employees more. They’re giving a voice to people’s concerns, insecurities, individualities and viewpoints. It seems like this is almost manifested in what you’re saying in the book, which is that these horrible things that we feel, these emotions, tough times that we can go through in our lives can be a jumping-off point for some major change. That might be the major change that’s also coming out of this pandemic is that it seems like everybody who’s had a voice that’s been muted has had their voice raised and listened to more.
For a minute, as we think about people whose voices have gotten raised and the reality of the social unrest in this country in 2020. I have had more doors open being a black female LGBTQ plus speaker in 2020 than I had seen over the prior similar time period. At first, I was a bit resentful of that because I asked myself why now? What took you so long? Now, I embrace it. I don’t care what the reason is. The doors are opening. I’m able to walk through, sign my light, share my energy and share this message to light up individuals all over the world and I’m grateful for that.
I think that no matter how people come to the decision of doing the right thing, it’s still the right thing. We always wanted it to be the right thing. We always wanted the right thing to happen. Now, it’s happening. It seems like there’s going to be a sustainable presence of these thoughts and values in the leaders and the companies of this country, at least where we now realize that this is a world that’s an inclusive world and our customers are not one type of person. Our customers can be everybody. Our employees don’t have to be one person who lives in the city. They can be people who live anywhere in the world. Our employees can be. It’s opened up everybody’s eyes to the fact that humanity is here for all of us as a resource, employers and our consumers as well.
It’s humanity as an emotional being. I’ve been privileged to partner with a network of executive women on a podcast platform that I host. It’s about evolutionary stories with revolutionary individuals but we’re pulling back the curtain. We’re talking real about inclusion, diversity, mentorship and allyship in the corporate world. I’ll talk about that third step of conscious choice consciousness. I feel like now eyes are opening and people are waking, aware and are being held accountable to addressing some of the systemic issues that we’ve been living with for decades, centuries. I’m grateful to be part of the conversation and to be a part of the wave of change that is getting started. I hate saying that because it’s been centuries but we’ve got to continue this momentum. Keep eyes open and keep people conscious and accountable.
Change Enthusiasm, I love it. I’m excited that you are making that your keyword and key phrase that represents who you are. You do embody that. A lot of people talk about change, adversity, overcoming and dealing with tough times and things that happened to us that we don’t necessarily see happening to us or want to have happened to us but nobody mixes in the enthusiasm. The emotional part of how we take what we’re feeling and how we get that to drive us forward. You’ve done an incredible job at marrying those together and telling us how to do that. Thanks so much for writing that book. It’s going to be a real big success. I look forward to reading it. I got to get around to that soon. Getting to know you and then talking with you has been an absolute pleasure. I wish you the best. I look forward to working with you a lot. Thank you for coming to the show.
Thank you, Chris, for the invitation. Thank you to all the readers. It’s a pleasure. I can’t wait for this partnership journey that you and I are on. It’s going to be fun.
Cassandra, thank you again so much. I look forward to talking to you and working with you again soon.
Thank you, Chris. Thanks to all the readers. I appreciate it.
What If – TEDx Talk
About Cassandra Worthy
With contagious energy that radiates throughout every room she steps into, Cassandra Worthy is the world’s truly DISRUPTIVE thought-leader on CHANGE that companies need to build organizational resilience and adaptability. During times of major shift such as merger, acquisition, organizational restructure, new systems integration, and disruptive innovation delivery RARELY do businesses ever face the tumultuous emotional landscape of the organization head-on. Only 10% of successful change adoption is about know-how…the other 90% is squarely centered on an organization’s motivation and willingness to embrace the change. Without addressing the emotions standing in the way of motivation, any transformation journey is stopped in its tracks. This is where Cassandra steps in. She has created and cultivated the unique strategy of Change Enthusiasm® which is arming individuals around the world with the means to harness the power of emotion, a resource in infinite supply, to embrace and accelerate change and transformation journeys. Cassandra’s message nurtures highly resilient and adaptable organizations beginning at the heart of the individual.
Cassandra’s client base spans the Fortune 500 all over the world including Procter & Gamble, Allstate, Jones Lang LaSalle, Centene Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, the Association of Change Management Professionals, and SnapChat. Cassandra invigorates and inspires organizations, C-suite executives, and business associations alike going through significant change, transformation, and/or innovation journeys. Cassandra’s customized keynote and/or workshop programs motivates the workforce to embrace Change Enthusiasm® and subsequently become self-actualized in working towards a change vision. In her leadership presentations, she is not only sharing this unique strategy of Change Enthusiasm® but also 10+ years of M&A experience distilled down into 5 critical leadership traits required to lead with exception during high-stress times of change and transformation.
Cassandra is Founder and CEO of a well-respected, boutique consulting firm Change Enthusiasm Global. She is a two-time TEDx speaker, sharing her message of harnessing the power of emotion to grow through change with millions all around the world.