Be a Shortcut: The Secret Fast Track to Business Success

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Dr. Relly Nadler: This week we will be interviewing Scott Halford. He has a book, Be A Shortcut. He is an Emmy Award winning writer and a producer, engaging presenter, and long-time consultant for Fortune 500 executive teams. Scott’s brilliance is on focusing on the strategy and application of concepts that distinguishes his work and gains praise from executives around the world. His extensive knowledge in the areas of emotional intelligence, critical thinking and the principles of influence adds richness and depth to his programs.

Scott is also a certified professional speaker through the National Speakers Association. He is a certified emotional intelligence provider with the Hay Group in Boston and through MHS, which is in Toronto; another EI provider.

Some of Scott’s corporate clients include First Data Corporation, Medtronics, John Hopkins Hospital, Health One, and many more.

Be a Shortcut: The Secret Fast Track to Business Success is his book, and his website is, and his website for the book is Scott, welcome to the call.

Scott Halford: Thank you.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Scott’s insight into the human experience is at many levels in many different situations and allows him to communicate in workshops and keynotes with humor, wit and depth. He is a captivating storyteller that is able to transport his audiences to destinations they may have never been physically, mentally, or emotionally. Participants laugh, learn, and consistently praise the rich and rewarding experience that positively impacts their success.

We always like to start off by getting a little bit of information. Tell us about some of the key leaders who have influenced you in your life.

Scott Halford: It’s a big question, but when I thought about how my life was impacted by leaders, I of course start at the perennial favorite, my Dad. I think that from my own perspective, my father taught me the importance of safety and creating safe environments which is an incredibly important thing I think for leaders to do inside of their own organization.

When I got into the business world I worked for NBC for a bit of time, and of course Jack Welch being at the head of General Electric, the parent company of GE, I had some pretty fortunate opportunities to spend time with Jack Welch just because of the things I did.

The think that I really garnered from him was that just very straightforward and honest type of communication, where you might not always like what it was that he had to say, but he pretty much hit it right between the eyes in terms of being honest. You always knew where you stood. He was a really big influence in terms of the idea of being authentic and honest.

Another guy who I met while I was there, was at the time was the president of GE Plastics then, and now the CEO and Chairman of Owens Corning. He was Glen Heiner. The thing I learned from him was that you could be kind and still be successful. That was something that was most amazing from him. I just saw and witnessed him in action; how he treated his people, how they responded to him. He was always, very, very kind, even though again, he was tough, but he wasn’t mean, and I think that is often times a confusion that leaders have as they move up the scale.

One other person that I just really think of is a CFO of a corporation; her name is Kim Patmore. The think I learned from her is that you can be a very, very powerful person, be a woman, have a life, do things that are exemplary, and still create an amazing impact on your organization. She just taught me so much through how she things and how she approaches things.

Again, it comes back to I think that the idea that you don’t have to be a jerk to be a great leader.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That’s great, and I know from my experience, it sounds like you got a little combination of all of these key people when you put together what you speak about in your talks and just leadership in general. I imagine it’s a combination of taking a little bit from all of these.

Scott Halford: I think that’s right. I think the thing for me, of course, because the business that you and I are both in causes us to be a little bit more observant, I think, about the behavior of people as we are sitting there with them. I’m kind of a business voyeur. I like to watch them in action and see what kind of responses they get from people. I’ve seen some very effective leaders who are horrid, but they are effective because people are afraid of them and the upside for that leader is that they get performance very quickly, but the downside for them is that they can only go just once.

I watch these other people who are effective over a long period of time and I think that’s who we wish to emulate and to exemplify about what is important in leadership.

Dr. Relly Nadler: You know, you and I met at one of the emotional intelligence conference, and I was just reading about your background. Tell me a little bit about what you did do with NBC and I know in your bio you are an Emmy Award winning writer. Can you say a little bit about that before we get into your book.

Scott Halford: Sure. It feels like a very different life because it was a long time ago. I was in television from 1981 to 1990 and stayed in it as a freelancer, producer, writer, three years longer until about 1993 as I got my current speaking and adult education consulting business.

I did television news locally as well as documentary work and I was a producer and a writer. You would never see me on air, they wouldn’t let me.  I’m good on radio. But, I spent a lot of time doing that. The interesting thing for me was; most of the documentaries that I did were on difficult human conditions. Capital punishment, rape, murder, burn victims; things that most people could live their entire life without having to delve into and be no less richer.

I spent time with people on really interesting situations and so it really made me a student of the human condition is what I think was the big takeaway for me there.

Dr. Relly Nadler: I also know from myself working with different entertainment companies, the idea of the writer, the producer, is a great background for leadership because when I’m in that industry, exactly what they do is what a leader needs to do. What is the impact on the audience? What emotions do I want to arouse? I do I want them to feel? What kind of participation do I want? And then many times for them it’s not realizing oh, that’s the same thing as a leader. It’s the same thing that goes into a show that goes into leadership.

Scott Halford: I think that’s right. I think that understanding how you are impacting people and being very aware of the audience and constantly honing your message so that it hits their ears the way that they can hear it, is certainly one of the takeaways. The other takeaway was certainly in dealing with big time anchors and reporters. I was just a young guy and yet I was in a producer position. Basically, I was the last word for what would go on a show and how it would go on a show. So I had to learn how to negotiate real early on and not act like a typical 25-year-old in a big job.

Dr. Relly Nadler: It’s good to hear about that part of the background. Scott, tell us a little bit about the book. When we first talked, you said you speak a lot around influence and emotional intelligence. Tell me how you came up with this Be A Short Cut.

Scott Halford: It was one of those things that just kind of evolved out of when I would be talking to a group of people and through clarifying some thoughts in terms of influence and emotional intelligence, I kept coming back to this idea of saying, well, it’s just like kind of being a short cut. You are a short cut for people and those are the people who are most valuable and most successful inside of organization.

People from my audiences started talking about it. I would go back into their organizations and I would hear them use the language short cut. I thought wow, there really is something that sticks in people’s heads. If it sticks in their heads I should probably expand on it.

That’s kind of the genesis of the whole thing.

Dr. Relly Nadler: So it’s almost like you had the internal focus group about what your title should be.

Scott Halford: It was interesting because, I know that you have experience with publishing books and anyone else who have had experience with publishing books, often times publishers want to change the title. While the title did change, the word “short cut” was never in question because it was being so heavily used out there that we had to use it. So it’s a short cut for thinking about how people behave in terms of the most influential, successful people; you talk about your top percenters, I would say that those are pretty much describing what we are talking about in terms of a short cut.

Dr. Relly Nadler: So tell us a little more about if you had to describe what a shortcut is. It sounds like one aspect is someone who is very resourceful to other people and can get things done, and that’s one reason why they are a short cut, right?

Scott Halford: Right, that’s exactly it. When we are looking into and defining a short cut, the first thing that we want people to think about is the antithesis to that and that is when we are growing up often time our mom or dad told us, don’t take short cuts, that is the bad way. It led to bad quality or shoddy construction, or some unethical behavior. We are not talking about that kind of shortcut. We are talking about the kind of shortcut that where you are stuck in the middle of a traffic jam on a highway in a city that you know really well, you know exactly how to get off and all of the back roads to take to get you to your destination; taking those short cuts—the ones that get you there more expediently with less frustration and do it in, of course, less time.

The short cut as a human being is someone who is incredibly resourceful. There is two pieces to it. There’s the part that is mastery; the person that delves into their niche so incredibly focused and so well that when you think of that person or that topic, you think of them. They come to mind. It’s a short cut, you don’t to think about who to go to for that painter or to go to for that financial acumen or for some other business area.

The other half of a short cut, I think, is the more difficult half. That is the piece of being emotional intelligent. We all know that you can be really, really smart, and really good at what you do, but if you are nasty when you do it, people just are repelled by that. All things being equal or even slightly unequal, if you are a jerk, a really smart one, eventually people will go elsewhere. So the crucial short cut is somebody who you don’t have to work around, around their attitude, and their lack of emotional intelligence.

You can listen to the entire interview, above.


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