Beth Comstock, Vice Chair at General Electric on Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change

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By Max Borges. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

As human beings, we drastically underestimate the power of change. It’s because we derive comfort from routine and habit. It feels safe, secure, and comfortable. Change is the exact opposite, it DEMANDS that we step outside of what is normal for us and do different things.

My guest on this episode of Unconventional Genius is Beth Comstock. She’s one of the most powerful women in the business world right now and has recently released an amazing book that recounts her transformation from a shy publicist to the first woman Vice-Chair at General Electric. Beth knows about the power of change because she’s leaned into it all her life. In fact, her mother used to ask her, “Why do you always have to make things so hard?” Beth says it was because she wanted to take on her own weaknesses and fears to become something more. Beth is truly one of the most impressive people I’ve ever spoken with.

I spoke with Beth at the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles and she shared her insights on courage, overcoming the status quo, encouraging creativity, the power of change, and the results that come from true organizational change. I hope you’ll listen to this engaging conversation.

We are taught NOT to be creative - but Beth says we must learn to overcome it

In her own words, Beth Comstock says she grew up as a classic “good girl,” but when she stepped into the working world a rebel emerged - but not in the classic “buck the system” way you might think of. She simply believed there was a better way of doing things and she couldn’t hold it in.

Looking back, she can see that the typical educational system as well as the way society has been structured has made us dependent on knowing things so that we can feel like we are in control of them. To move into a context of change causes us to feel untethered, like we have no firm footing.

Beth says it’s important that we learn to develop the belief that we can figure it out - whatever “it” may be. It’s that attitude that harnesses the power of change. It moves us beyond convention to unlock the unconventional genius that resides in all of us.

Courage comes from making yourself take small, everyday steps forward

From the time she was young, Beth pushed herself. She wanted to be stronger than the things she was afraid of. But first, she had to admit that it WAS her fear that was holding her back. None of us like to admit we are afraid, but she says it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s natural - but it’s equally natural for human beings to want to overcome fear.

As an adult, Beth has seen the benefit of conquering her fears step by step throughout life. It’s the resolve to face fear, question it, and push into it instead of retreating from it. She calls it “everyday courage.” She’s taken this life lesson into her leadership. Applying her “small-steps” approach to teams has empowered many people to find the courage to unleash their own creativity.

Listen to hear how Beth has led ground-breaking initiatives, pioneered new ways of approaching problems, and has fostered creativity in teams that goes beyond the normal “creative sessions” often touted in business circles.

The power of change is yours when you think into the future and take action

In her book, “Imagine It Forward,” Beth outlines what she refers to as her “Imagine It Forward” framework - a way individuals and teams can systematically address barriers to creativity, innovation, and obstacles to scaling. I particularly enjoyed a number of the strategies she outlines in the framework. They themselves are creative ways of thinking about problems or challenges to enable new insights and perspectives.

The overall framework is based on the belief that looking into the future, imaging what it could be, is one of the most powerful ways of opening minds to possibilities. She points out that transforming the mindset and culture of a company is messy and without any kind of easy checklist. She believes the challenge calls for the courage to defy convention, go around corporate gatekeepers when necessary, and reinvent what is possible.

If you’re also tired of being told “it can’t be done,” you’ll enjoy Beth’s book and this conversation.

If you are with a consumer technology company planning to launch a new product at CES or are even looking ahead to CES 2019, the Max Borges Agency can help you succeed. To learn more, check out: www.maxborgesagency.com.

Topics Featured In This Episode

  • [0:35] Beth Comstock, one of the most impressive people I’ve ever talked with
  • [2:38] How we are trained to NOT be creative, and how we can overcome it
  • [6:30] How Beth teaches people to break out of their shell and become more imaginative
  • [14:32] Getting into the habit of overcoming fear and building courage
  • [22:05] The purpose of Beth’s “Imagine It Forward” creative problem solving strategy
  • [29:41] Overcoming the power of fear - in herself, team members, and customers
  • [32:40] Beth’s hopes for the impact of the book
  • [35:20] Advice for parents who are raising daughters: instill confidence in them

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Beth Comstock

Connect With Max Borges

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