On this podcast episode, Heather welcomes Joe Kwon on the show to discuss his leadership style, a time when he was not the best version of himself and some of his key principles in life.


By listening in on this episode with Joe, you might feel like you are listening to a sage. Enjoy!

Key takeaways:

  • While we can learn different body language or communication techniques, it is more important to connect with people deeply beforehand for those techniques to take hold.
  • Sometimes, in order to take the fight out of someone, don’t fight back. Allow them to vent and be heard
  • Often, once we allow people to voice concerns on one topic, their actual concerns reveal themselves.
  • Ego can be good as a leader. The issue is whether the ego is focused just on “me” or on “we” as well.
  • Acknowledge your people in a sincere way without needing or wanting anything from them.
  • You can accomplish amazing things by changing yourself first. 

Joseph Kwon is an Associate Director at KPMG International, whose global network of independent member firms offer audit, tax and advisory services in 155 countries. 


He provides privacy and cross-border guidance to meet client and regulatory requirements while facilitating business needs. His experience includes online and organizational privacy, data breach, anti-corruption and social media.


 Joseph is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Georgetown University Law Center and a member of the NY and NJ Bar. A student of Aikido and shameless consumer of self-help books, his passion is coaching others on career advancement, public speaking, and leadership skills. 


The Universal Principle

This key thing has been around before people started talking about them. 

What you see is depending on what industry you are in, or what philosophy you are following, or what country you are in. You’ll see that this thing is expressed slightly differently for every area. But the underlying principle is always the same. 
So you can go into a sales or leadership training and they’ll teach you all sorts of things. But in my mind the universal principle behind all of that is just the principle of connection.
If you want to take a person to change their mind, so they make a decision that earns your company revenue, that doesn’t happen unless you connect with that person. 

Putting Off Steam

I told this story many times, unfortunately, I’ll be telling it for a long time.

I was hired at a management type level and I had reports underneath me. It was probably one of my first official management type positions where I was managing people in title, not just leading by just being around. 

I came on board. I definitely wasn’t as emotionally intelligent. I had all these great ideas about how to improve things, how to improve them and I wasn’t really aware how poorly I was leading the team and probably how much damage I was doing to sort of their belief or willingness to follow me.

So I arranged a meeting with them. I went into this meeting and I’m thinking, “I’ve been screwing things up already. If I go in there and just do what I naturally want to do, it will probably just make things worse, right?” So I needed a different approach. 

When someone has an issue, instead of trying rebut or argue it, just try to see it from their side and just agree with it. Not that they’re right, but agree in the sense that you understand why they might have that perspective and it’s normal for them to have that.

Over the course of me just diffusing and just trying to see it from their perspective, and  apologizing where I really felt I should apologize where I did something wrong and didn’t realize it, they kind of ran out of steam.

And this one person said, “We think you really don’t respect and appreciate all the years of service and knowledge that we bring.” So that was the problem they have with me– the way I’m walking around as new manager, try this and that. 

So what I said to them was,I really appreciate all of you. Maybe I haven’t been doing a good job of showing it, but I learned so much from all of you and I do really appreciate all the things that you’ve done for this company. So thank you.” 

Going Deeper

If you want to reconnect to people it’s pretty easy. Stop thinking about yourself so much. Think about the other person and that could take various manifestations. It could be a kind word. It could be taking them out to lunch.
I like to reach out to people that I manage or work with when I don’t need anything from them. Just saying, “Hey, how are you doing? I don’t need anything from you. I just want to see what you’re up to.” And maybe they need something from me. That concept of thinking about the other person creates so much stronger connection.
When someone comes to you because they want something, does that really create a great connection for you? Usually not. Usually you start to run in the other direction. 
If you think about the other person and acknowledge them in a pure, unselfish way, there are various things that you can do and most of them don’t really cost any money and very little time that can reestablish a connection. And if repeated over time, it is really what builds friendship, trust or collaboration.