"December is the cruelest month," with apologies to the poet T.S. Eliot, because managing through end-of-year selling, budgeting, and just plain surviving is hard. In episode 268 of CXOTalk, host Michael Krigsman speaks with two experts who can help you ease the transition to 2018.

Minette Norman runs Engineering Practice at Autodesk, where she manages the work and collaboration of 3,500 engineers, a position traditionally held by men. Tamara McCleary is one of the most well-known keynote speakers on topics related to digital transformation in the world. Both women are tough, yet practical, business leaders.

Transcript

Michael Krigsman: We begin this episode with a reading of poetry, of T.S. Eliot from The Waste Land. "April is the cruelest month." That's the end of our poetry reading, but you know what? T.S. Eliot was wrong because, in fact, December is the cruelest month. Today on Episode #269 of CxOTalk, we are talking about managing through this end of the year, the human aspects of managing technology and technology people. We have two extraordinary people with us today.

First, I'm Michael Krigsman. I'm an industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk. I want to say thank you to Livestream, which provides our video streaming infrastructure. Those guys are great. They support CxOTalk, and I hope you support them. If you go to Livestream.com/CxOTalk, they'll even give you a discount on their plans.

My guest co-host is Tamara McCleary, who is one of the most prolific and well-known keynote speakers on the topic of digital transformation and, I'm proud and happy to say, is my friend and buddy. Tamara McCleary, how are you doing?

Tamara McCleary: I'm great. Thank you so much. I'm excited to be on this episode as your cohost for this CxOTalk. For those of you who don't know me, I am the CEO of a digital marketing agency called Thulium. This is going to be exciting. I'm so glad you guys have joined us.

Michael Krigsman: Tamara, I'm so thrilled to do this with you, to share the hosting duties on this episode. Our guest is Minette Norman, who is responsible for the engineering practice at Autodesk. Minette Norman, welcome. This is your first time on CxOTalk. Welcome, and I'm thrilled that you're here to join us.

Minette Norman: Thank you, Michael. I'm really happy to be here for my first ever appearance on your show. Just briefly about Autodesk, for people who don't know the company, we are a 35-year-old software company based in the San Francisco Bay area. We make software for people who make anything, so that can be a building, a movie, [or] a piece of equipment. That's what Autodesk does.

Michael Krigsman: Autodesk has been around for a long, long time. How large [of] a company is it? It's a big company; very, very well established.

Minette Norman: We're about 9,000 around the world.

Michael Krigsman: Very quickly, tell us about you. You're responsible. You're the VP of Engineering Practice. What is that? What does that mean? What do you do?

Minette Norman: Yeah, my job is an unusual one. Mostly, VPs of engineering run product groups. I do not run a product group. I run a practice. The way I think about it is how we develop products, how we develop software. What are the practices we use? What are the tools we use?

Really, I would say the number one thing that I had been driving over the last three years in this job is, what is the culture of engineering at Autodesk? How do we break down the barriers and silos that we built up over 35 years, actually start to work together across those barriers, and create cohesive software that our customers will love?

Tamara McCleary: You don't normally hear that from engineering. Do you hear that from people when you talk to them?

Michael Krigsman: Yeah, I think that's the interesting thing is now combining the engineering discipline with that recognition of culture. Minette, it sounds like that's the core of your focus.

Minette Norman: Yeah, it is. When I took this job about three years ago, the SVP that put me in this position said, "Minette, your job is to transform engineering at Autodesk." That's a tall order. Really, when I started to dig into what did that mean, it really did mean that we have to stop recreating tech stacks and recreating tools that everyone was doing on their own and, instead, come together, share knowledge, share technology, and actually contribute to one another's solutions instead of building one-off solutions. That becomes much more of a behavioral and cultural problem than it is a tooling or technology issue. I deal with the technology, but I would

Michael Krigsman: We begin this episode with a reading of poetry, of T.S. Eliot from The Waste Land. "April is the cruelest month." That's the end of our poetry reading, but you know what? T.S. Eliot was wrong because, in fact, December is the cruelest month. Today on Episode #269 of CxOTalk, we are talking about managing through this end of the year, the human aspects of managing technology and technology people. We have two extraordinary people with us today.

First, I'm Michael Krigsman. I'm an industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk. I want to say thank you to Livestream, which provides our video streaming infrastructure. Those guys are great. They support CxOTalk, and I hope you support them. If you go to Livestream.com/CxOTalk, they'll even give you a discount on their plans.

My guest co-host is Tamara McCleary, who is one of the most prolific and well-known keynote speakers on the topic of digital transformation and, I'm proud and happy to say, is my friend and buddy. Tamara McCleary, how are you doing?

Tamara McCleary: I'm great. Thank you so much. I'm excited to be on this episode as your cohost for this CxOTalk. For those of you who don't know me, I am the CEO of a digital marketing agency called Thulium. This is going to be exciting. I'm so glad you guys have joined us.

Michael Krigsman: Tamara, I'm so thrilled to do this with you, to share the hosting duties on this episode. Our guest is Minette Norman, who is responsible for the engineering practice at Autodesk. Minette Norman, welcome. This is your first time on CxOTalk. Welcome, and I'm thrilled that you're here to join us.

Minette Norman: Thank you, Michael. I'm really happy to be here for my first ever appearance on your show. Just briefly about Autodesk, for people who don't know the company, we are a 35-year-old software company based in the San Francisco Bay area. We make software for people who make anything, so that can be a building, a movie, [or] a piece of equipment. That's what Autodesk does.

Michael Krigsman: Autodesk has been around for a long, long time. How large [of] a company is it? It's a big company; very, very well established.

Minette Norman: We're about 9,000 around the world.

Michael Krigsman: Very quickly, tell us about you. You're responsible. You're the VP of Engineering Practice. What is that? What does that mean? What do you do?

Minette Norman: Yeah, my job is an unusual one. Mostly, VPs of engineering run product groups. I do not run a product group. I run a practice. The way I think about it is how we develop products, how we develop software. What are the practices we use? What are the tools we use?

Really, I would say the number one thing that I had been driving over the last three years in this job is, what is the culture of engineering at Autodesk? How do we break down the barriers and silos that we built up over 35 years, actually start to work together across those barriers, and create cohesive software that our customers will love?

Tamara McCleary: You don't normally hear that from engineering. Do you hear that from people when you talk to them?

Michael Krigsman: Yeah, I think that's the interesting thing is now combining the engineering discipline with that recognition of culture. Minette, it sounds like that's the core of your focus.

Minette Norman: Yeah, it is. When I took this job about three years ago, the SVP that put me in this position said, "Minette, your job is to transform engineering at Autodesk." That's a tall order. Really, when I started to dig into what did that mean, it really did mean that we have to stop recreating tech stacks and recreating tools that everyone was doing on their own and, instead, come together, share knowledge, share technology, and actually contribute to one another's solutions instead of building one-off solutions. That becomes much more of a behavioral and cultural problem than it is a tooling or technology issue. I deal with the technology, but I would say the harder part, the more interesting part, the part that gets me up in the morning in the people stuff.

Michael Krigsman: You also are managing a lot of people, right? How many people are in your organization?

Minette Norman: In my direct organization, it's about 1,000 people that report to me on the org chart. Then I have to influence about 3,500 engineers around the company, not all of whom report to me on the org chart.

Michael Krigsman: Tamara, when we talk about the end of [the] year, December being the cruelest month, what does that actually mean for you?

Tamara McCleary: There's a lot going on. We start thinking about people in our lives that have passed away that we cared deeply for. Some of us may be having to look forward to spending time with family that also can bring its own challenges and difficulties within this month as well.

Michael Krigsman: You're managing really hardcore engineers developing an engineering product. What does this all mean for that human side and for the management of such a large organization?

Minette Norman: Well, I think it's interesting because when you talk about these short days, I think a lot of us would love to just kind of go into hibernation and withdraw a little bit, rest, and recharge our batteries at this time of year. Instead, we have these huge pushes to get things done before the holiday break. Autodesk actually shuts down for all of next week. We do that every year, and so there's this huge push to get everything done. There isn't that time to slow down and reflect.

Personally, I've just been through quite a month of December. We announced a corporate restructuring just after Thanksgiving, and we've let go a number of people around the globe, and that's what I've been doing. Instead of taking stock, as Tamara said, taking stock, thinking back on what I accomplished, what my team accomplished, what we should do next year, I've been so in the here and now, which has been really an emotional time. Letting people go is so hard, people losing their job just before the holidays.

I feel like I haven't had that time of reflection and of planning for next year. We've just been go-go-go. I think, for many engineers, many people in my team, it's been so much pressure and really not had the time to reflect. I think that's also problematic. When we don't have time to think and reflect, we just keep moving through the same things we're doing instead of taking stock and perhaps doing something differently.

Michael Krigsman: What are the cultural attributes that you're trying to drive, and how do you do that?

Minette Norman: Well, I think, to go back to my initial "transform engineering at Autodesk," my charter, it really was about and is about getting people to respect one another, listen to one another, and see another person's code may be something that, "Okay, I didn't invent it. It's not mine, but I could reuse it. I could build on it. I could amplify it. I could enhance it. And, we could make something better together."

It's really the idea of getting people to listen to one another, to respect one another, to overcome their own defensiveness, and to realize that when you have diverse minds working together and diverse personalities, you create something better than you would just an engineer sitting alone in isolation. A lot of it is really getting people to have those dialogs. One of the things we do is, we put in tools that enable people to work together more easily. We always say, "Tools last, culture first," but tools have actually helped us to build some of these collaborative bridges across teams because we have teams all over the world.

Tamara McCleary: There's no longer a clear delineation between our professional life and our personal life. Ever since we started carrying these things around with us, we are constantly connected 24/7. With this level of connection comes the fact that we realized we no longer have a work time and an off time. In fact, a lot of us are on all the time.

Michael Krigsman: We have a comment from Twitter. Anurag Harsh makes the point that it's great to hear from a leader who is not only focused on transforming the engineering function, but that also is a woman, which is extremely unusual. I'm sure there must be a story there as well, Minette.

Minette Norman: Oh, yes. [Laughter] Yes. I'm one of the few, and the other thing that's interesting about my background is that I was never an engineer. I got into tech as a technical writer, and I've been in tech for many, many years. I don't have an actual engineering background and I'm a woman.

When I was applying for this job a few years ago, the person who was considering me for the role said, "Well, I'm willing to give you a try, but you have two strikes against you that you have to know. One is you are not an engineer and you're going into an engineering leadership role. Two is that it's a boy's club, and you are not a member of the boy's club, so you're going to have to break in."

That was laid out on the table for me, and it's very clear. Yet, you know this whole #MeToo movement; this has just been so powerful, and I can't say that I've had this #MeToo moment that has been so horrible in my life as a woman in tech. However, it has been a journey because I just feel like we, as women in tech and in leadership roles, have to fight that much harder to be heard and to have a voice at the table. That's been sort of the challenge in my journey. I know sometimes sitting in a room of 20 men and me and just literally having my voice heard and not being spoken over, that's been an interesting journey for me.

Tamara McCleary: We do a lot of talk right now. It's been very popular this year. We've heard a lot about diversity and inclusion, but talk is cheap. We're still not seeing it displayed out there.

Even at CES this year, there are no female keynote speakers. You cannot tell me there aren't qualified female speakers that could be highlighted at CES. Even LinkedIn had this great video go out about the future and, in all of these leaders in that, there's only one female. Diversity comes in many shapes and forms, more than just gender diversity.

Minette Norman: I feel your passion around this, Tamara. I'm incredibly passionate around it because I feel like we barely made progress. In some of the studies, you see that the numbers of women in tech are going down and the diversity numbers are terrible. I feel like a big part of my job, although it's not in my job description, is championing women, minorities, and diversity of thought and education.

In fact, I just gave a keynote for the Society of Women Engineers at UC Berkeley. My topic was about how you need to have a really broad liberal education in addition to your STEM education because I think it's actually really dangerous today how there's this sort of micro-focus on everything has to be STEM, and you're not getting that broad education. How that translates into the engineering world--I see this every day--is engineers get up, they try to make a pitch for what they're doing, they go straight into the details, and they never see the big picture. I always ask the question of why. What's the context? Why are we doing something? I truly feel that comes from having that sort of liberal education. You just have to write these papers that explain things from a big picture perspective instead of just the narrow, technical focus. I am passionate about a lot of these topics, and I'm glad we're talking about them, finally.

When I started this job a few years ago, I was overwhelmed with insecurity about the things I didn't know. I surrounded myself with really smart people. I asked a ton of questions. I hired some great people. I kind of went on a listening tour around the company talking to all the engineering leaders about what their concerns were, what they needed, and so I got a lot of contexts. Always context is important for me.

Then, I just started chipping away at one thing at a time because we couldn't do everything at once. I made some really tactical changes. One is I worked with our legal department to have a better source code policy that said that our source control repositories could be more open so that engineers could have access to one another's code bases. That was an enabler for collaboration. Then we started to get onto one set of tools just so people could find one another's stuff and find information.

It was sort of a lot of talking. I get up and give presentations a lot at Autodesk. I run these big engineering summits that we do every year where we bring about 700, 750 engineers from around the world together. When I get up and talk, I always get to give a keynote because it's my team's event. I get up and speak, and I never speak about technology. I always speak about human behavior. One year I talked about collaboration.

Last year I talked about empathy. The night before my talk, I always get up and say, "Minette, what on earth are you doing getting in front of a room of engineers and talking about empathy?" Yet, the fascinating thing is some of the geekiest of the geeks have come up to me and said, "I am so glad you're talking about this because it's really important. No one talks about it, and it's a big problem."

Tamara McCleary: That is so awesome! The reason that is so awesome, Minette, is the fact that you nailed it on the head. Say, for example, we're talking about engineers. Engineers are people too, right? Engineers have relationships they struggle with. They have kids that are in trouble. They have aging parents.

The strongest leaders in our entire universe are the ones that can connect to people so deeply, so intensely that they're willing to get up and go into battle for them.

I'm wondering if you've got some advice, Minette, for people out there in their own organizations, how they can, maybe for 2018, look at how they can move the needle on doing something different within that culture, within that space.

Minette Norman: Yeah. I think this is the journey I'm still on at Autodesk trying to get others to understand how important this is. We tend to intellectualize everything, especially in tech. It's always a technical problem or a business problem. I believe that it's actually all human problems and that we can solve the tech and business problems if we have better connections with the people we work with and with our customers.

Some of what I do is just try to create an environment where people can be themselves and bring their whole selves to work, and that sort of notion of psychological safety.  Google did that big study saying that was the number one thing that's important for teams. I actually believe that, so making sure no one ever feels that they can't speak up or that they're embarrassed for asking what seems like a stupid question. The only way we really will succeed together, especially as we look forward to next year, is if you make sure you create that environment where people can bring out the ugly stuff that they don't want to talk about, and we can work through problems together.

What I find is, when people get to that place and it's kind of rare in the business world, but when you're on a team where people actually have that comfort with one another, they're willing to throw out those crazy ideas that often lead to some breakthrough, some innovation, or just a completely different way of thinking about things. Unless we as leaders create that atmosphere and that culture of comfort, you're never going to get the ideas, the diverse ideas, the way out there ideas. I think it's up to each of us as managers, as leaders, never to shut down an idea. Obviously, we have time bounding that we have to do, but never make someone feel stupid or unappreciated because everyone has something unique to bring. That's my mission. I'm trying to spread that.

Recently, I heard someone at Autodesk say, "Well, we've done this restructuring, and we have great reasons for doing it. It's going to make our business stronger." All of that is absolutely true. I said, "That is true, and yet you're speaking to people's heads, but you need to speak to people's hearts."

I think that's what we as business leaders need to remember, too. Everyone is a human being. We all have our emotions. We all have our stuff at home. We have our stuff with our coworkers. Don't just intellectualize everything. Talk to people as humans and know that we all have feelings and emotions. You might be upset. Let's deal with that instead of ignoring it and being afraid of it.

Michael Krigsman: Minette, you're managing this group of very hardcore engineers. I would imagine, among just engineers in general, there's a tendency to kind of pooh-pooh this, to minimize the value of this human connectedness and culture. How do you break through that tendency in order to make people realize, make the engineers realize, that this matters, we're going to do this because it's so important, and here are the results?

Minette Norman: Yeah. You would think there would be a lot of pooh-poohing. Who knows? Maybe they're saying it behind my back, but I don't hear a lot of it. I actually hear more or see more of the head nodding when I talk about it because, honestly, it doesn't matter how hardcore an engineer you are. You have dealt with a co-worker who has pissed you off. You have felt disrespected.

I think that everyone has experienced what I'm talking about, and I bring real-world examples. I'll talk to an engineer about a code review. How did you feel in a code review if someone just completely trashed your code? That feels terrible. When you're reviewing someone's code, be positive. Show them what's good about it, and then point out the things that you would change, but do it in a way that they can hear it. I think that sometimes I have to talk very practically to someone so they understand how it relates to their work.

I have been pleasantly surprised over the past few years. I have not had a lot of naysayers. I think it's just because people realize they experience it every day, and it's important for Autodesk because we're going through this big transformation, as most companies are. We've been a perpetual software company with shrink-wrap software, and now it's all cloud and subscription. Everything has to feel like it comes from one company as opposed to from all these acquired companies that did things differently.

The engineers understand that there's a reason we're pushing collaboration, and it's not just collaboration to be nice. It's to create a better product for our customers. There is a business driver, and that's why we're talking about all these behavioral things.

Tamara McCleary: Minette, I had a question for you. I was just curious if you had a tradition or a ritual that you do, as you look at the New Year every year.

Minette Norman: I wouldn't say that I have a real ritual, but I do take this week. We call it the Week of Rest at Autodesk, which I think is a great name because God knows we need rest at the end of these intense years. I really take that week. I don't travel. I don't schedule a lot. I have some family things, but I have time to just have downtime and reflect.

One of the things I do is I'm a bike hiker, so I do a lot of sort of processing when I'm on the trails hiking. I do think about what I want to do differently and maybe a few intentions for the New Year. I am not a setter of resolutions, but I do like to think about what might I do differently next year, what's important, and how am I going to have an impact this year? That's sort of what I'm planning for the week between Christmas and New Year is where I can just have a little bit of that rest time, quiet time, and thinking time because, honestly, none of us get enough of that during the year.

Michael Krigsman: I want to remind everybody that you are watching Episode #269 of CxOTalk. We're speaking with Minette Norman from Autodesk and Tamara McCleary is my guest co-host for today. Right now there's a tweet chat going on, on Twitter, and you can join us, share your thoughts, and ask questions using the hashtag #CxOTalk.

Minette, what are the kind of challenges that you face, or that anybody would face, when trying to implement a greater respect for this human dimension of managing technology and managing business?

Minette Norman: I think the biggest challenge is that everyone has such a huge amount of work in front of them. It's just the practical matter of, we have software to release, we're doing a lot of changes, everyone is under a lot of pressure, and so one can forget about all this other stuff. Some people just call it the soft skills. Well, let's not worry about the soft skills or the intangibles because we have something to deliver. I think it's just the reminder.

Even if I'm sitting in a meeting and someone is behaving badly, I'll call it out and say, "Look. I don't think you're letting someone else speak." It's usually a woman who is getting spoken over, or maybe a real introvert who is not getting a chance to speak. I'll just say, "Let's make sure that so-and-so can be heard." I try to reinforce positive behavior and politely call it out when I see something that's not constructive.

I think one of my jobs is to keep talking about it because otherwise we can get so wrapped up in day-to-day business, deliverables, and technical challenges, and we forget about the behavioral aspect. I think it's just keeping it front and center and not forgetting about it.

Michael Krigsman: Is there a female aspect to this? We've been talking about women in technology. Is this completely cross-gender?

Minette Norman: I would say that I've never met a man who would have brought it up the way I have been willing to bring it up. It might be that we just feel it more deeply. We've certainly been on the receiving end of what feels like some bad behavior, as women and as for minorities, right? We're a minority in the tech world.

However, what I would say is the sentiments that I feel are universal. Men feel whatever it is: being ignored, being talked over, [or] being shamed. Men feel that, but I think maybe it's just that women are more willing to put it out there. I don't know for sure. I know we all feel it deeply.

In my role, I feel like, okay, I have a podium here. I have a good title, so why not use that title for good? I'm going to speak about this stuff. Many of my male colleagues will talk just more about the business and more about the tech. When I do talk to them about this, they think it's important too.

Tamara McCleary: As we become more technological, do you think that these human aspects, the things that you're talking about within your organization, are going to become more precious and prized because we are sensing disconnect in our technological world?

Minette Norman: I certainly hope so. I mean I think that the human aspects are going to be just as important, if not more so. Even as we teach the robots, even as we develop AI, we have to make sure we don't inject our own biases into those trainings, of course. I think that people are going to crave this connection. I really feel like if everything is done with robots and artificial intelligence, we are human beings and we're going to want more and more of it. I certainly think it's going to be important in the future.

I was reading a study. I don't know if either of you have read about the future of work that the World Economic Forum put out. They were talking about the next industrial revolution in 2020, and what are the skills that people are going to need for this next industrial revolution? It's fascinating because it's all what we would call soft skills. It's things like communication, listening, leadership, and empathy. I was fascinated to read that list, but I also wasn't surprised because, if we automate all of the manual things, what's left but the nuances of humans.

Michael Krigsman: The CxOTalk Twitter account says, "Has Autodesk seen specific benefits based on these practices? What kind of measurements do you use? How do you track this stuff?"

Minette Norman: Yeah, that's a really good and really hard question. That's one of the things that we've honestly struggled with is how do we track progress in collaboration, for example. We've been doing some pretty cool tooling right now to be able to measure it. One of the things we've done is we're using GitHub as our repository for source code, and we're using an open source tool that we've modified to actually be able to track engineers who contribute to one another's code bases because we see that as a measure of collaboration.

In the past, people would have taken maybe a copy of someone's code, and they would have gone off and done their own thing with it and never contributed it back. Now we can see when someone has issued a pull request to someone else's codebase saying, "I want to submit a change," and then we can track when pull requests are reviewed and accepted. That's one way we're measuring collaboration.

Another is just looking at our online chat forums. We have something that we developed called the Engineer's Home Page, and just seeing how much traction knowledge is getting. People are using it. People are actually helping each other answer questions. These are some of the ways we are tracking progress.

Honestly, we're not at the be all and end all of tracking progress. We're not there yet. But, if anyone has suggestions, I would be very open to them because we haven't quite figured out, how can we measure that we have moved the needle?

Tamara McCleary: It's that quandary, right? How do you measure the qualitative that really does have an impact on the quantitative? Is there anything that you're able to share or just put out there to the audience who is watching one of those examples that you used to really share empathy with your engineering audience?

Minette Norman: Yeah, I'm happy to. I set up the talk in what I thought was sort of a way that would let engineers into the topic easily. When I first started talking about empathy, I started talking about empathy for our customers because that's something that I think is pretty non-controversial, right? We have to develop empathy for our customers to deliver software they want. That was my easy way in.

Then I started talking about empathy for co-workers because that's where we struggle a lot is, okay, we work together and, yeah, we're ready to kill each other half the time. I put up pictures of people from different departments. It's like, we do this us and them thing all the time really easily. Engineering will say, "Oh, it's all product management's fault." Product management will say, "Marketing isn't delivering what I need," et cetera. "Legal is stopping me from doing something."

I started walking down that path of empathy for one another and that everyone is trying to do their job. I think that the real way I spoke to people, and this is what I eased into toward the end, was telling a personal story because I think, you up there as the speaker or the leader, if you can share that you struggle with this too, then people really get it. This is not just some BS. This is actually real.

I told a story about my struggles with a coworker, someone that I had to work with. We were peers. We had a really contentious relationship. It was on both sides. I was not behaving well. He was not behaving well. It came to a head one day at a staff meeting where he said something, and I was criticizing. After we had a break, he pulled me aside and said, "Minette, I feel like you are attacking me all the time."

I said, "Well, you know that's not my intent. I have good intent." I said, "The problem is, I feel like you have absolutely no respect for me, and you totally disregard everything I say."

The story I told, which is true, is that at that moment, kind of the worst thing for a woman at work happened, which is that I started to cry.

That's embarrassing when you're at work. I hesitated whether to tell that story, but the fact that I told a huge audience that I had burst into tears at work in front of a colleague and, yet, the positive outcome was that we saw each other as human beings, probably for the first time. We were able to really move forward in a different way and have a completely different and constructive relationship. It kind of had to get to that breaking point.

What I was telling people that story for is that, okay, I've experienced it. I know you've had it. Maybe you didn't cry, but you got pissed off or you walked away. The only way we can work together is to actually work through some of that difficult stuff. That's how I talked about it. Many people, men [and] women, came up to me and said, "I'm really glad you told that story because I've dealt with something similar."

Tamara McCleary: I think there's so much power in vulnerability and your willingness to share and be transparent in that way. It's interesting to me that at some point we started to think of strength as being swallowing our emotions and cutting ourselves off. When we do that, we cut ourselves off from our creativity.

What is it that we all want most is we want to be creative in our jobs. We want to be agile. We want to be thinking outside the box. You can't do any of that when you are basically blocked off from yourself, shutting yourself down. You can't be open and creative and, at the same time, shutting those pieces down. I think it's just incredible how you're really encouraging your team to open up.

Minette Norman: Yeah, I'm big a fan of Brene Brown and all her work on vulnerability. I do see it. I think, earlier in my career, this would have horrified me to cry at work or any of those things. Now I really feel like, look, I'm human and it's not embarrassing. This is actually good that I have a heart and that I care. I do think it is more emotion as strength as opposed to emotion as weakness.

Yeah, I don't want to be crying at work all the time, nor do I. But, if it happens, there's a good reason for it, right? That's nothing to be ashamed of. Getting angry is the same thing. It's just that we are human, and I don't think we should be ashamed of those emotions. I'm trying to model that for my team.

Tamara McCleary: Michael, I wanted to know. Michael, have you ever cried on this show?

Michael Krigsman: Have I ever cried on this show? No. No. It has not happened yet.

Tamara McCleary: Okay. Then that's my next job to get to that vulnerable, peel the onion layers back off of Michael Krigsman--

Michael Krigsman: [Laughter]

Tamara McCleary: --to show the real softy inside.

Michael Krigsman: I'm pretty soft inside. But, if you can get me to cry on this show, that would be an interesting conversation to have.

Tamara McCleary: [Laughter]

Michael Krigsman: That's a challenge for you. [Laughter]

Tamara McCleary: All right, I will take you on that challenge, Michael Krigsman.

Michael Krigsman: [Laughter]

Minette Norman: [Laughter]

Michael Krigsman: All right, well, we are literally just out of time. Minette, just as we close, very quickly, I want to come back to the business benefit. You are really pioneering this kind of human-focused way of managing with making the vulnerability come more to the surface and more acceptable. What are the benefits? What have you seen? Maybe we can finish on that.

Minette Norman: I think the benefits are that when people can be themselves and can be vulnerable, they are willing to share their crazy ideas. It's kind of what I said before. I really think the benefits to a business are that you will be more innovative because you will get everyone, this diverse population, different diversity of thought, diversity of background; you will get those ideas. You will actually be able to move farther than you could if you just had kind of groupthink and everyone going in the same direction. I think my thought for the New Year around this is that if we can really embrace the individuals and their own personal brilliance, and allow them to thrive and flourish, the business will do better. That's my goal for 2018 is to make sure everyone that I'm surrounded with can be themselves and bring their best selves to work.

Michael Krigsman: That's a pretty inspiring story. Unfortunately, this has been a very, very fast 45 minutes. We are out of time. Tamara, it's been very inspiring, hasn't it?

Tamara McCleary: I cannot believe. I absolutely love you, Minette. You're an inspiration. You're an inspiration to everyone, but you're also an inspiration to women in tech and to those that know they can bring their whole selves to the office and thank you so much for being so willing to be vulnerable here on CxOTalk.

Minette Norman: Thank you. A pleasure to be here.

Michael Krigsman: Everybody, you have been watching Episode #269 of CxOTalk. Thank you to Tamara McCleary, my guest co-host for today, and thank you to Minette Norman from Autodesk.

There's not going to be any next week or the week after because of Christmas and New Years. But, on January 5th, we are back with David Bray and Anthony Scriffignano, who is the chief data scientist at Dun & Bradstreet. We'll be talking about data for the New Year.

Everybody, thank you so much for being here today, and I hope you have great holidays. We will see you very soon. Bye-bye.