June 28, 2023

What’s Working: Navigating Change- Mindset, Your Power Within, and Taking Action


Episode Highlights

Mindset for Change


Positive Psychology


Learning to Control the Controllables


Leaning into Change


Self-Confidence During Change


Leading by Example


Driving Forward in Change


Taking Action During Times of Change


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In this episode of “What’s Working?”, Nicole sits down with Melanie Lundberg, Vice President and Global Head of Talent and Communications at Cision. Together, they explore the art of navigating change, developing resilience, and embracing ambiguity with confidence. Gain valuable insights and practical tips from Melanie’s experiences as she shares the secrets to thriving in a world of constant evolution. Discover how to cultivate a resilient mindset and find the confidence to navigate uncertainty in this captivating conversation. Don’t miss out on this inspiring episode that will empower you to conquer challenges and embrace personal and professional growth.

Episode Transcript

Hey everyone. Thank you for joining me for What’s Working. My name is Nicole Magats. What’s Working is a podcast where I interview different business leaders about the habits, tools, philosophies, and really anything that’s on their mind that’s working for them. In today’s day and age, I feel like we’re constantly valuing and really going after newness and innovation, and I want to create a space where we can kind of celebrate those things, those habits that really have a strong hold on us.

So we have Melanie Lundberg joining us today, who is a VP globally of Talent Management and Communications at Cision. Cision is a comprehensive communication platform that enables hundreds of thousands of PR folks to ultimately amplify the PR stories that they’re putting out. I’m so excited to have Melanie. Melanie, we got connected through Bill Gates at-

not the Bill Gates, but Bill Gates at Hirewell. And for us, I know it was a no-brainer for him to intro you to me for this podcast, so I’m so excited.

Yes. Well, I’m excited to be here and thank you for having me, Nicole. Absolutely. Well, Melanie, so what’s working for you? What’s on your mind nowadays? You know, when I was thinking about this podcast in particular, I thought, what, you know, from 20 plus years in the talent business, what knowledge can I impart and what can I do, or what.

Words of wisdom can I share that would be valuable, to your audience? And what I came up with is around change. I think there’s a lot of change happening in the world. People’s personal lives, organizationally change, and our ability to navigate that change, be resilient, adapt, be agile as human beings I think is so important. And we’re ultimately going to be more successful as a result. You can’t stop change. It’s one of the only constants I think, in life, whether it’s a positive change, whether it’s a negative change. So that’s what’s on my mind is change. I love it. Well, I think, like you said, that change is one of the few constants and what is it like death, taxes, and change?

So it’s one of those things that I think is always so relevant to our audience, and I’m actually really excited to hear a little bit more in depth about your philosophy around change. I mean, how have you found yourself navigating it throughout your life? Yes. So, it’s been a journey, right?

And some changes are harder than others. And again, there’s positive change where that could be getting married or having a child or a new job that you’ve been looking forward to. But that’s still change even with the positive and you can’t disregard the impact on that emotionally for you.

And then there’s also the negative change, which is job changes that you didn’t anticipate, or I think it a good example in my own life, and I think that’s why personally changes on the horizon for me is my first child is going off to college. So she’s leaving the nest, and headed to Miami University in Ohio in the fall.

And it’s a very big emotional change. We’re extremely close and I’m just bracing myself for that change. And as I thought about this podcast, how can I look at that change and help others who may be going through change. And I think one of the first pieces of the puzzle, I think for all of us, when you have a change occur in your life is the mindset.

Your mindset has to be in a good place and whatever you need to do to get yourself to shift the mindset. Again, whether it’s a positive or negative, and use the word opportunity. And I know it’s hard and this is through years of practice, but finding that silver lining and whatever that change is and reframing it for you.

So however you want to look at it. So I could look at this situation with my daughter and leaving the nest, leaving home. And I see it as really an opportunity in a way to, you know, if I reframe it to be closer because ultimately she can share new experiences with me. I believe she’ll reach out to me to seek advice even more. We’ll have more to talk about. And other ways to communicate, more texting because she’s not right next to me. And, all of that.

So I think whatever that change is, I think it’s getting that mindset shift to look at it through an optimistic lens. Psychologically we go through with any change, a lot of emotion, and it’s just, I see those who are the most resilient and most successful in their life or even at work, is the speed at which you can get through that emotional, that natural emotional change curve. That’s really resilience actually. I think one of the definitions of resilience is how quickly you can recover from a setback, from change, from information, et cetera.

I love that. So that’s really that first piece. I didn’t know if you wanted me to pause and you wanted to reflect on that mindset shift and reframing change in a positive way. I actually would. I actually would be curious for you, Melanie, like when did that click for you? Like you said, it’s easier said than done, and I’d be curious.

Yeah. Was there a point in time when you looked back and were like, “Hey, I mastered it, I figured it out,” or is it still an ongoing process? Yeah, I think in general I’ve studied, so my background just for your audience, I have a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Michigan, and then I got my master’s degree at Illinois Institute of Technology in IO psychology.

So psychology and it’s practice in work and life has always been a big part and passion of mine. So the study of positive psychology, going way back, I think has made an impact on me. And I think you know that optimism and seeing things optimistically and positively and seeing the power of that in other people.

And reading about just even the facts and the results of looking at any situation positively, they’ve done studies, even on salespeople. If you start your day positive with a positive mental attitude, how different your day and actually your sales will be as a result of that. And so really that’s why one of my first pieces of ingredients in any type of change that you’re going through is check your mindset.

Is how do you get to that place where you see it as an opportunity? I love that and I think that’s such a good segue. What other ingredients do you think make for coming out the other side more of a positive experience? Yeah. I think the other is my second piece to this puzzle as I was thinking about it, is, you have to determine what you can control and what you can’t control, because I think you can drive yourself crazy.

You can get into that negative mind loop and ruminate on why did this happen, or how did I get here? Or whatever that situation is out there. But it’s not healthy, it’s not productive. A little time and reflection, absolutely. Lessons learned, all of that. I do believe in reflection, but I think it’s important to get to that place of what can I control here? What can’t I? And oftentimes it’s from within. And what you can control is your mindset and how you look at it. And how do you get to the place where you’ve turned that into I see the bright side of this. I see that, okay, this was a change I wasn’t expecting.

Or I’m uncomfortable with whatever change this is and leaning into that optimism. And even if you have to do the pros and cons list and then move yourself over to why that is good in the pros. So that’s my second part of, I think the puzzle and ingredients of helping people to think about and navigating change in their own life more successfully.

Awesome. And I think a fair bit, I think there’s having to trust, right? Trusting the process. And even too, like having that optimism, I think inherently it is trusting yourself, trusting that it’s going to work out in the end. How did you build that trust, I guess?

Yeah and I wanted to take a pause here because I think it’s important that everyone comes with their own experiences of change. Yeah. So I don’t want to make light of that. I think this is an important point. I call it everyone comes with their own emotional backpack. And we have our experiences with change, right?

And for some of us, whatever life has given us has been more positive than others. Some people may have experienced multiple deaths in their family, and so change is inherently bad or negative. Or we bring all of our childhood experiences and all of that. Yeah. So that’s why even in an organization, the variance of how people embrace change, whatever it is, even if it’s positive, is so different because each of us are human beings with our own life story, our own family experiences, life events that have occurred to us maybe out of our control.

And I call that again, that emotional backpack, and I think fortunately in my life. So when you ask about how I’ve come to this, I’ve mainly had positive changes and have tried to as much as I can get ahead of whatever’s coming. So being very observant, seeing the winds of change occur and then already starting to get myself through that emotional journey to come out the other side.

More positive, energized, all of that to move forward. So I think, not saying that I’ve been, you know, the perfect life or anything like that, but I’ve been fortunate enough to see the opportunity to seize that and to try as much as possible to get ahead of changes that could be anticipated.

I think that goes back into mindset too, quite a bit, right? Where you’re primed to think positively and to look at these things as opportunities so you’re more prone, right? To pull out those opportunities and take action and do that as opposed to just sitting back on your laurels and letting change happen to you. Right. Right.

Because you can be a victim and you can lean into that victim space. “Oh, look what’s happened to me in my life,” and dwell in that negative space. Or you can seek out the opportunity, you can seek out taking control over your own narrative and your own decisions to move forward.

So I think that being a victim is not a healthy place to be. Even in a situation that occurs to you, you can take then from there the reigns. What you choose and how you choose to look at it after the event or whatever’s occurring, that’s on you. That’s where the mindset shift, that’s where building a plan for the future matters in terms of your success in navigating through it.

So my third part of the puzzle is really as much as possible looking forward. I’m not a person who looks back that much, you know, reflect, but looking in the rear view mirror is important, but to drive, you got to drive forward.

You can’t be looking in the back, you got to be looking in the front windshield, right? So I think for me it’s a lot about looking forward and then from whatever that change is, having that vision of that new reality, whether it’s a relationship that’s changed in your life, like what does that new reality look like?

Whether it’s a job change, what does that new reality? Maybe there’s new leadership, maybe you have a role change. Whatever that is, how are you going to make the best of it and what does that look like? So I do think that visioning exercise of what does that most successful future forward look like? And then trying to live into that is really kind of that third piece of the puzzle I think is important that I found in my own life.

I love that. And it’s a way to regain that agency too, right? Instead of, I think as we just talked about, like sitting back, right? Not only just imagining what this path forward looks like, but I mean from there right there’s an opportunity to take that vision and kind of break it down into those morsels so you’re able to start taking those actionable steps. Yep, absolutely. And you know, I think another part of this getting into the mindset, which I think is my fourth piece of the puzzle that I would recommend to anyone who’s trying to navigate successfully through change, is believing in yourself.

Whatever you need to do at the end of the day, you may have family support, friends support, organizational support, but you have to believe and be confident in your abilities and whatever exercises you need to personally do to get there, to believe in your yourself. I think that’s where you need to focus, because whatever storms are ahead to navigate through it, you’re going to need to be strong. You’re going to need to be able to feel like you can put in the work to get it done, because change, I think a lot of times people don’t like change whether it’s positive or negative because it inherently has work in it.

Because can get comfortable with life and then you’re like, “Oh gosh, I got to start that new job over.” Or even if it’s just a slight role change, oh I have that work or whatever it is in life. They always say moving is one of the top. Even when you’re moving to a bigger, better house or place or a location that you’re super excited about, they’re like it’s one of the biggest stressors because it, I mean, you just think about it from bottom line, the work that’s involved. Changing address, changing, you know, having a new doctor, a new dentist, or whatever it is.

And you just have to have that confidence and really work on yourself to believe you can get through this, that you can put in the work to make, again, make you successful and come out the other side stronger and have grown from whatever situation that is. You mentioned kind of these ideas of doing these like personal exercises to get there if you’re not, do you have a recommendation maybe for the audience that would be good if you’re struggling on building that confidence? There’s several books out there that I recommend, I do listen to a lot of podcasts, so I always listen anytime I can to these positive psychology podcasts.

One person I really enjoy, and I think she’s just so direct and so on point, is Mel Robbins. She’s a podcaster out there who is into positive psychology. And I listen to her exercises. So anyone who’s out there that’s just trying to bolster their own self-confidence, I think she really has a lot of podcasts that are out there available on Apple Podcasts.

Perfect. And I’ll make sure we put that in the show notes too for everyone to fully check out. So I would imagine, especially when you’re leading through change, right? There’s opportunity for people to see how it is that you’re leading, how it is that you’re moving people forward and take that on.

But I’d be curious, like how has your approach to change affected others around you? Yes, so I’m going to speak to all of the leaders. Whether you’re a leader or a parent in your family going through a change or a difficult time, or a leader in the organization going through change. I’m so glad you brought that up, Nicole.

I think this is extremely important. As a leader, people emulate you and they look at you whether you know it or not. I always heard that when you’re a leader, you’re in a bubble and whatever capacity that leadership is, people look to you and how are you reacting to the change? How are you accepting, for example, this organizational change?

Or, again, I want to make it broad because I think it’s both organizationally. But also in your family, how is your family looking to you to lead forward? How you handle that change with grace, with authenticity with a positive acceptance. I think that is what I would recommend because you are inherently, when you are a leader and you step into a leadership role of any kind, you become a role model.

And I think role modeling, being an ambassador for that change, showing your strength in the face of adversity, is what I would recommend. And you might be falling apart on the inside, I’m not saying-

we’re all human and don’t think that I haven’t had dark days. But I think when you step into that leadership and you have that platform to speak to your team or to your family, trying as much as possible to authentically say, you know what? I am scared just as you with this change, but we’re going to get through this again. That’s where that positive piece I think really comes in is, we’re going to come out the other side either way, and we can do this together and let’s lean into that positivity.

I love that, like it gives that space for everyone’s emotional backpacks, as you said right? It’s not just the assumption, like, everything’s great, it’s going to be fine. It can be crappy. And like being able to say, and authentically and vulnerably say like, “Hey, if you are right, like I’m navigating this just the same as you are, let’s figure it out together.”

It’s very welcoming and inviting as opposed to closing people off and having everyone feel scared. Oh yeah. And I think again, that’s where the authenticity comes from. If you are just pretending everything’s okay, I think it’s okay to share your emotion. I think people appreciate that and normalizing that change is difficult. There’s no change that I think people go through, there may be those rare people out there who are. High risk takers, they love change all the time, but I would say that’s more rare than the majority. I think naturally our human instinct and behavior from way back in human evolution is to seek safety, being comfortable, holding on to what’s familiar.

So it’s actually really counterintuitive to human nature. To want to like, let’s have change all the time. And I think nowadays too, the pace of change has been enormous. Just think of even from an organizational perspective to all of us used to be in the office every single day, commute, all of that.

And most corporate people are either in a hybrid schedule or they are, remote. That was a whole shift and change. And how do you connect with people in a whole different way and create a culture within an organization in a whole different way? You don’t have the physical location, so you almost have to be even more emotionally connected.

Schedule those check-ins even more with individuals than you ever did before. That’s a big change because you used to see people in the hallway or you used to see people in the office. And as a leader to stay connected. Now you have to basically intentionally book your check-ins multiple times a week or people will drift and you’ll have quiet quitting out there because you need to bring people in, you need to have that emotional connectedness and belonging with you as a leader. So, I just thought of that example of change that probably many of your listeners may have experienced over the last few years.

It’s funny that you bring that up because I think it’s even interesting as we’re talking about return to work, return to the office, what does this look like, right? And I think it’s interesting to see the companies that are fighting almost this unequivocal shift in work culture and really wanting to go back to the old times and how it used to be.

And maybe that’s possible. I don’t know. And I don’t necessarily have a horse in the race in terms of remote versus in-person work, but I think it’s interesting to see. I mean, you can liken that to Blockbuster, right? Like a company that really did not see the change. Oh my gosh. That’s such a good example of a company that didn’t foresee the change. They were top of the game, all of that. I hear you. I often cite that when we do leadership change classes, the blockbuster example comes to mind and I think one of my philosophies going back to these companies who are fighting to hold on to, I want people in the office every single day.

I want to go back, is one of my philosophies. You can’t go back. You can’t go back. And if you just put yourself there and say you can’t go back, you got to look forward and embrace that change. I think hybrid is a really good balance. I think a lot of collaboration happens in person when you have good old fashioned like whiteboarding exercise.

I know you can do it through Zoom and other applications as well, but I have found that just that energy of bringing people in when you’re really trying to innovate and plan happens, I think more effectively. Or I would just say quicker when you’re in person. But it isn’t necessary in a global world, in a digital world to have people every single day go back and just go back to the way it was.

Because there are the benefits again to the positive reframing, less stress from the commute. And if you do it right, you can have even more collaboration because if you have a global team, I feel even more connected post pandemic with my global team because we weren’t using Zoom and Teams as much before.

So it would just be like a call, a conference call. So now we’re just in the habit of seeing each other on camera. So, I don’t think you can go back ever when a change occurs. That’s why you have to look forward and embrace that change. I’ve even noticed too in that when I’ve outgrown something and I like find myself revisiting, I almost feel like I’ve outgrown it too, just because I’ve gone through this change.

So that’s interesting that you also, I think, mirror that as well just by saying no, I can’t go back. You’ve inherently grown through the process too. Yes. And then I wanted to make sure I got to my fifth part of what I think is a successful list of actions or ingredients to navigating change is really taking action.

I think oftentimes people can get stuck in the mindset place or they can get stuck in the- maybe that visioning phase or working on themselves and bolstering their self-confidence. But you have to move quickly to action. There is no other way. I know I have anyone who knows me, and probably some of my team would say this to be true, but I’m very execution focused, very action oriented, and I like to strategize, to think about things, get a plan, but then quickly move to action. Executing on that plan because it’s not just going to happen on its own. You have to ultimately make it happen. You have to execute on that plan and that vision, that reality that you want to see out there, you need to get there, to achieve it.

And it takes, again, I’m going to go back to you got to be willing to do the work. You got to be willing to go out there and if it’s a new job, put yourself out there. Work on the resume. Set up the interviews, apply work, your network, whatever that is. If it’s a personal move or anything like that, you’ve got to get your checklist in order and start executing, get the movers, get the address change forms and everything like that.

So, I’ve seen some people get stuck in that- other phases and then a little bit immobilized and you can get stuck there, maybe the fear of taking action. But you have to go boldly and you have to go and lean into that change. And those actions. I love that and I think that really resonates with me personally.

Like I am, I joke, I’m the queen of analysis paralysis. Like I’m someone that’s super prone to planning and sitting and waiting and it’s taken me, yeah, like having to like almost shepherd myself. Like I literally talk to myself and say, “Okay, Nicole, got to get started.” We just got to start, take one step because it’s so easy to kind of get stuck in the quick sand that is planning.

Yeah. Yeah. And you said it, even if it’s for you taking one step, that one step will bolster you and give you that courage and, energy really. Our life and people around us, that will generate more energy to want to take even more actions. Because if you’re successful there, you’re like, okay, I got that done, got that off the list. Momentum. I’m a big checklist person. I love it because I find it super exciting to check things off the list. It’s so satisfying. Oh, it is. It’s so satisfying. And so like you said, I think taking that one, that first step, that’s oftentimes the hardest step to take.

But also the more you take the action, the more the reality of that new situation starts becoming even more real. Because if it’s all in your head and you’re like, “oh, well maybe this really isn’t going to happen, or this isn’t really happening,” and you’re kind of holding back in that former state.

Once you start taking actions, you’re like already living in the future and that’s that future forward, you want to look forward. I love that.

All right everyone. Well, thank you so much for joining us for this episode of What’s Working. Melanie, this was so fun. I- For me, was a college softball player and one of the biggest phrases my coach always said to me was, control the controllables.

Right? Like, worry about what it is that you can control within your sphere of influence and take it from there. And I mean, I think this conversation is just so relevant and so I think it inspiring in a lot of senses for people. So I’m so glad you were able to join us. Thank you so much for having me. I really want to help other people.

And if even there was one takeaway, one action. One insight from today’s discussion that would make me so happy because ultimately as a leader in the talent space, the knowledge that I can share, the leadership that I can impart on individuals is why I do what I do.

So, I really appreciate the forum to share this. Of course and everyone else for joining us. Thank you so much. We’ll see you at the next episode of What’s Working. Yep. Bye.

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