Ryan Blanck, founder and CEO of Deviate, is a fun, magnetic leader who is a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT). Blending his unique background in leadership and fitness, he specializes in performance improvement to lead his clients to achieve their champion within.
His primary clients are visionary leaders, high-performing teams, and world-class athletes and entertainers.
Ryan is a guest leadership educator at Stanford University and Penn State and has been interviewed by The Huffington Post, The Desert News, Esquire, and Vim and Vigor magazines. Ryan has advised and coached leaders within organizations such as the World Bank, Google, Nike, and United Way. Ryan is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, International Association of Facilitators, American Council on Exercise (ACE), and IDEA Health and Fitness Association.
Joey Baird, Sage HRMS: Tell me about your company. What do you do, and what is Deviate’s mission?
Ryan Blanck, Deviate: Deviate’s mission is to inspire and activate peak performance. We are a performance improvement consultancy. We focus on three major markets: First is the individual bold leader (for example an executive who wants to elevate his/her game), the next group is elite teams or organizations, and the third group is professional athletes and entertainers who want to achieve the next level of greatness. We work primarily in within three buckets: leadership, organizational, and life development.
Staying “on top” is often more difficult than getting there. For leaders and teams committed to their pursuit of greatness, there is no such thing as resting, coasting, or simply maintaining. Once we’ve tasted success, it only fuels our desire for more; and, with it higher expectations and pressures. Preparing for and dealing with these expectations and pressures is vital.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whom you are talking to; everyone wants to perform better or reach that next level in his or her career and life. We help leaders build a plan to achieve their goals, facilitate that process, and hold them accountable to make it happen.
For example, I am working with a music group, and one of their ten-year goals is to win a Grammy. We are helping them find a way to do that. Musicians are great at what they do but are not trained in strategic planning and organizational development. How do you hire the best manager, tour manager, or strategically think about where you want to be in ten years?
Musicians focus on their craft and focus on music, so oftentimes they are not as skilled with running their “business.” We help mold that in them and help them elevate their game when it comes to working with all the different personalities within the group. We teach them how they can function at a high level using clear, real-time communication to propel their career forward. The same can be applied to business organizations and athletic teams.
How did you come up with your company name Deviate, and why?
When I was in the process of starting the business, I was working with a friend of mine, and we were talking about my background, which is in human performance from a physical standpoint in personal training and leadership. He came up with the name when he was summarizing what I did. He said, “It is like you take people down a deviated track; they have been going down a certain path, and once they meet you, you help them go down a different path they always wanted to follow.” The tag line for the business says it all: “off track on purpose.” We literally take people on an off track journey purposefully to get them where they are their happiest and where they want to be.
What are the top issues facing today’s business leadership?
I see communication as a huge issue today. What you say, how you say it, and how quickly you say it. Communication has two actions: intent and impact. What you want to say is the intent, and how your words and delivery are taken by the receiver is the impact.
Regarding communication and leadership, another large issue is giving clear, concise feedback in real time. Most people sit on their point-of-view and wait too long to provide coaching. They stew on their thoughts and enable bad behaviors. The result of this inactivity is a culture of toleration and lack of trust. Leaders should address issues and conflicts in a positive way immediately. Having a dialogue right away is easier and more effective than enabling a behavior and trying to correct it later down the line.
What makes a great leader stand out in the crowd?
There is one significant difference between a leader and credible person. The characteristics of the two are very similar but the leader has one key trait: vision. A leader takes his vision and paints a vivid picture with a lot of color to show his team what they are working toward – the destination. Otherwise employees are just doing whatever is in front of them without intention and clear focus. To stand out as a leader, you need to be deliberate in bringing this vision to your team.
Think of it like this… you’re headed out on a family vacation. You need to select your destination before packing your bags and loading your car. And, you need to outline your route to determine when to hit the road to miss traffic and time your arrival accordingly.
Leadership needs to follow a similar process. Otherwise our performance suffers because we end up doing a lot of activity rather than productivity.
How important is collaboration in the workplace?
No one is successful alone. When you work in a collaborative environment where there is clear and open communication, where a vision is set, and people are clear on their roles and expectations, that is when true collaboration happens, and your organization can move forward faster.
At Deviate when we work with organizations that want to better their collaboration, we introduce them to the “Reverse CARE Model.” Reverse CARE stands for Expectations, Responsibility, Accountability, and Consequences. When each team member knows what is expected, what they are responsible to do, what they will be held accountable for, and what the consequences are ahead of time (not always negative, often are rewards), a model is created for that group to succeed.
What else can organizations do to foster collaboration? Can you recommend a particular activity or organizational structure?
Team-building retreats are a great exercise to help improve the level of collaboration within a group. These retreats, if done correctly, help build group camaraderie. When people have better relationships, they embrace each other’s vulnerabilities, communicate more effectively, and become more productive.
When leading an organizational overhaul, we ask three question to assess the culture and employee engagement/satisfaction:
- Would you recommend (to a close friend) working here?
- Do you have friends at work?
- Are you having fun?
Oftentimes organizations have siloed teams, those groups that segment themselves off from the rest. Organizations need to break down these groups by creating cross-functional teams. Cross-functional teams cause people to work with those they wouldn’t otherwise work with. When they work in different environments on organizational goals instead of only their segmented team goals, they see a broader perspective. This enhanced perspective allows them to have a great stake in organizational success, and the silos crumble.
Here’s another analogy… you’re star quarterback in the National Football League. What matters most: Winning a passing title, leading the league in touchdown passes, leading the NFL’s top-rated offense, or winning the Super Bowl?
We see many leadership experts talk about health and wellness in the workplace. What steps can businesses take to provide their employees with improved health and wellness options? Also, why are these initiatives important to organizations as a whole?
We believe that your performance will only go as high as your health and happiness. Who we are doesn’t change between work and home. When you have someone in your organization who is unhappy and unhealthy, it will rub off on their work performance and the team environment. Cancer spreads.
Health and wellness are important because it has been proven that for every 50 minutes of rigorous fitness in your week, you will reduce your likelihood of feeling depressed by half. Working out will also provide you with more energy and helps you become more productive. A half-hour workout before work will make you 15% more productive that day. Through science we continue to learn the deeper connection between body and mind; ignore one and we suffer greatly. Working out helps create healthier, happier, and more innovative people and work environments.
Can you give us some easy health and workout tips we can all do while in the office?
Sure thing, here are a few tips:
- As a society, we are overfed and under nourished. Remove unhealthy food and beverages from the workplace. Make sure that if you are offering food to employees, provide healthy options. Offer fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and raw seeds instead of sugary and salty snacks. Offer green teas, water, and other healthier drink options instead of sodas and coffee.
- Provide group fitness activities for employees.
- Hold stand-up or walking meetings and provide stand-up desks. Why can’t we meet in the gym or during a jog? The key is to get employees up and moving and not sitting all day.
- Provide health screening so employees and their families can understand their body composition and the health risk of unhealthy living. Make sure these screenings are provided by a health professional.
Employees who are healthier will take fewer sick days, will create a happier work environment, and will become more productive as a result. At Deviate we like to call companies that understand the importance of wellness in their workplace “sweaty companies.”
Thanks for the opportunity to allow us to interview you! Anything else you’d like to mention?
It was a pleasure for sure. I’d love for your readers to subscribe to the Deviate blog. We publish a few times a week with content that is extremely relevant to human resource professionals. Also, they should take a look at one of our upcoming communication coaching programs, Thrive.