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In this episode of The Speaker Show, Maria Franzoni interviews Csaba Toth.
Csaba is a British/Hungarian entrepreneur, researcher and coach based in the UK. He is the founder of ICQ Global, a people development organisation with over 100 licensed partners in 38 countries.
He is the developer of the multi award-winning Global DISCmodel and the best-selling author of the Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times hybrid book published with Marshall Goldsmith.
His mission is to break down the barriers within and between people by giving them the blueprint of why people think and behave differently so they can unlock the incredible potential they have within and between each other.
In this fascinating episode, we discuss a range of his views on issues including:
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Maria Franzoni (00:18): Hey. Welcome back to The Speaker Show with me your host Maria Franzoni. In today’s show, we’re going to be talking about how to unlock the potential within and between people. Before we start let me remind you that The Speaker Show is brought to you by Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau for the world’s most successful organizations, providing keynote speakers for events, conferences, and summits. My guest this week is a British Hungarian entrepreneur, researcher and coach based in the UK. He’s the founder of ICQ Global, a people development organization with over 100 licensed partners in 38 countries. He’s the developer of the multi-award-winning global disc model and the bestselling author of Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times, a hybrid book published by Marshall Goldsmith. His mission is to break down the barriers within and between people, by giving them the blueprint of why people think and behave differently so that they can unlock the incredible potential they have within and between each other. Please welcome my guest, Csaba Toth. Csaba, it is an honour to have you on The Speaker Show. How are you today?
Csaba Toth (01:27): Thank you so much for having me. I’m really good. How are you?
Maria Franzoni (01:30): Yeah, I’m great. I’m great. And I’m really excited about your topic area. But I want to understand how it all came about because, we all know that the best solutions come out of necessity and the solution you have, which you’re gonna be sharing with us, came exactly out of that. Share the story, please.
Csaba Toth (01:50): Other people expect a really inspiring and life-changing story that I wanted to change the world. And that’s not exactly as happened. I studied international management. I specialized in Eastern and Western European joint ventures. And my research showed that the gap between the two generations in Hungary was much better than the gap between the new generation in the Western Europeans, which pretty much contradicted everything we learned about that culture is country-specific and stable. So now look at the numbers. That’s not true at all, but why you to question the people who’ve been around for 40, 50 years? You know, that’s not polite. So I forgot about it. And I started my own company. As soon as I finished, I started the restaurant booking site. You book a table, we get the money, but it was more exciting than that. We started at 35 restaurants here in Brighton.
Csaba Toth (02:37): And in one year, we had 5,500 all over the UK, became the fastest growing and bigger restaurant listing. It turned into a joint partnership with the software company and on paper, everything made sense that we were getting the results, but at a personal level, I couldn’t stand that the CEO who was French, not say that was the problem, but definitely, we didn’t get along. And we got to the point where we had to get out of the business. It wasn’t pretty at all. And that’s when I started my research. How come that was the exact topic of my dissertation. That department itself is number one in the world in its category. I had years of experience, how come I couldn’t put that theory into practice? What went wrong? So I got certified in a lot of different things, and I wanted to understand how we could fix it as it turned out 90 or 95% of companies by and sell people solutions created in the sixties and seventies. And when those people answered the questions, there was no EU, no chief rights, no mass migration. They had very different challenges than us. And the result of that research is something called Global DISC. They are, this is how I started. As it turned out, lots of people have the same problem and they’re looking for a solution. That was the beginning.
Maria Franzoni (03:49): Fantastic. And of course, a lot of people have the same problem because as soon as people are involved, you have people problems. Right? So, and it’s interesting what you said that we using the solutions that the analyses of the systems of the, from 1960s, and all the changes that have happened. And I was born in the sixties, a lot has changed. And we didn’t have social media. We didn’t have the internet. We hadn’t been to the moon. I mean, we hadn’t had a pandemic for a while. See it’s all changed incredibly. So that’s absolutely fascinating. You have a very different take on the growth mindset theory. Is that related to this work you’ve done with Global DISC?
Csaba Toth (04:29): Yes. So growth mindset is about thinking positive learning from your mistakes and believing that tomorrow can be better than today. Otherwise, why will you put the work into it? But if you look at the actual research, you know, it’s a really important topic and it’s widely popular. And if you have growth mindset, that’s fantastic. Can you really develop it? Can you really teach it? That’s a very different story. If you look into it, not so much. But there’s another side to it. Most of the opportunities, time and energy are lost for two reasons. Friction with people who think and behave differently and friction with ourselves. Self-sabotage. So just like in the German language, the highest level of praise is that nobody criticizes you. So what is the highest level of growth is when you stop wasting your potential, when you stop ruining relationships around you, because of misunderstandings, because you rely on common sense, good intention, and the golden rule, treat people the way you want to be treated sounds fantastic from an ethical perspective. But if you try to lead or serve or manage people based on what you like and what you need, that is going to backfire majestically. Cause according to research, 60 to 85 percent of all problems in a company stand from three reasons, clash of values, clash of personalities and poor leadership. And all three of them stand from the exact same source, the lack of understanding of why people think and behave differently. So would it make more sense to focus on that first?
Maria Franzoni (06:02): Absolutely. That absolutely makes sense. I love the fact that the, as you explain it, the friction between time and energy, stop wasting your potential. I like that. That’s like a mantra. I think I need to put it on my computer. And the fact that it all comes down to understanding. So, this your Global DISC solution, your analysis is a way of understanding. And what underpins, what makes us different? Is it culture? Is it gender? Is it more to it? Is it incredibly complex?
Csaba Toth (06:38): I think it is, but the underlying principles are pretty simple. So first of all, there are a lot of psychological assessments, like MBTI and different versions of this. Can they explain how the different personality types tend to behave if they are not influenced by anything or even run them, which never happens? You can put different people in a team. And most of them are going to conform to certain norms. On the other side, you have a lot of intercultural models, which are technically international ones because they focus on one culture group out of the 15 or 20. We all belong to the country of origin. But if you look at the, the practicality of it, that can be misleading because when they compared 17 different culture groups, in terms of range of differences, the bottom three, as they said, the worst container of culture, country of origin, gender, and generation. Meaning that based on these categories, you cannot predict anyone’s values and beliefs on an individual level.
Csaba Toth (07:37): Yet, it doesn’t stop a lot of companies from selling courses and promising that, yes, I can teach you how to create a high performing team using the country specific approach, which is, which has nothing to do with science. Because more than 80% of cultural differences exist within countries, not between them. But what you mentioned is very true, that when you say culture, most people here, nationality, country, it’s way beyond that. So for example, imagine that you talk to someone, even in your own family, what are the chances that the other person belongs to the same 15 or 20 culture groups like you, gender, generation, profession, educational level, hobby, religion. It’s pretty much zero. Every single conversation is a cross culture dialogue. Every single team is multicultural, even if they are not international, but most of them don’t know that because we have this illusion of separation, personality, culture, two different topics.
Csaba Toth (08:38): If you look at the only layer of diversity that has proven benefit in terms of performance, cognitive diversity, you realize that no, you can’t compare them. Indeed. You cannot even separate them because your personality determines how you want to behave and your environment determines how you should or technically have to behave. That’s why you can never, ever separate them. So Global DISC is not a combination of a lot of different models. First of all, they are seamlessly integrated. Secondly, I didn’t combine anything. I think a lot of other companies separated the field long time ago. It was always connected.
Maria Franzoni (09:18): That’s fascinating. That’s really fascinating. So I can see that there must be a huge benefit to, completing the questionnaire and getting the results and having an analysis. Is that what you, when you work with clients, do you encourage them to do that before? Cause obviously we’re talking on this show about speakers. This is a, you know, a speaker bureau podcast. Do you encourage clients and audiences to take the assessment first before you speak to them? Or do they do the afterwards or do you want them to be curious themselves? How does that work?
Csaba Toth (09:53): It depends. It depends on what we want to do, but definitely before any workshop or coaching sessions, yes, we have to measure things. Otherwise, how do you know where you stand? Where you start? We can guess, but 90 or 95% of our actions are driven by values and beliefs. We are not even aware of yet. We think that we are so objective and logical and that’s not true. Most people use their mindset like my granny uses a smartphone. She can use a few apps really well, but she doesn’t know it’s a supercomputer. And if it breaks down, she doesn’t know how to fix it. And it’s nobody’s fault. We don’t learn about this at school.
Maria Franzoni (10:28): I’m writing that down cause I’m gonna use that, that most people use their mindset, like my granny uses an iPhone. I love that. That’s, I’m pinching that. I’m sorry. That is very good because it really gives you an understanding. So what’s, once you have done this assessment though, what will I find out about myself? What will people find out about their colleagues? Well, how can they practically use it?
Csaba Toth (10:50): So a lot of courses are about teaching people, how to manage others before they know how to lead themselves. So, you know, first you have to get to know yourself. Yes, understand this underlying psychological needs and values. What do you need and what do you want exactly? You know, your behaviors, but often we don’t know why we do what we do. You get your report. We do the coaching. There’s a lot of information there, but it comes alive. Then I can compare your result with mine. Your result with your department, with your company, with your country, when we can measure the mindset gap between you and others. That’s the, where the magic happens. How big is the mindset gap between you and me? The bigger it is, the more we are going to trigger each other because the more you’re going to feel that, oh my God, Trevor has no common sense at all.
Csaba Toth (11:38): Oh, something is wrong. And that’s the problem that we often expect common sense. Technically, we expect people to come to the same conclusion as us, even though they have a completely different perspective, different experiences, different values and beliefs. So when I tell someone that, oh, you’re so smart, you have common sense. It’s like telling a good looking guy that, oh, you are so beautiful because you look like me. That’s not really a compliment. It’s homophobic diversity, meaning that we like and trust people who are similar to us. But if you are familiar with this topic, then you realize that even if there’s a disagreement between you and me, that’s exactly where the potential lies for success or disaster. It depends on how much we understand ourselves and others because the default position is that if there’s a disagreement and you know that you’re right and it’s obvious that I’m wrong.
Csaba Toth (12:30): So you also have to prove it that you win, I lose. Yes, mark, me? Not so much, but if you’re aware of this topic and you’re practicing mindset, then you, you can ask the right questions. Csaba, what do you see that I cannot? What do you know that I don’t? And if I can do the same thing and we can see the same situation from different perspectives, we can make better decisions and then we can choose to respond instead of just reacting. So that is the definition of uncommon mindset because cultural differences are just clashes of common senses. So we can remove this illusion of superiority that I’m above you. I know the truth and I’ll show you.
Maria Franzoni (13:11): Wow, that’s it, when you explain it in that way, it’s incredibly simple. And it is making me think about, in my team, our points of friction are exactly when we don’t see things in the same way. And often it’s, I’ve got to be open to ask those kinds of questions, you know? And it means I have to change what I believe. I feel I’ve sort of been personally attacked sometimes. It’s very difficult to be that open to somebody else’s opinion. I’m not very good at it. Is there any advice on how I could be more open to that? Is it about asking those questions and stopping myself reacting?
Csaba Toth (13:51): Is there a benefit for you to be wrong for longer?
Maria Franzoni (13:56): Yeah, probably. I’d probably go further.
Csaba Toth (14:00): You know, if you are wrong for a longer period of time, that is not helping anyone, but it’s interesting that you said it because that’s the biggest challenge that you see the world from your own perspective, it kept your alive. Why would you doubt it? It makes so much sense, but if you zoom out and you realize that your colleagues want to achieve the same thing, so that’s not a problem. They’re not against you, but maybe they have different best practices. They have a different way of getting there. They can reduce your blind spot. They’re not against you actually complimenting you. The problem is if everybody agrees with you, because that means that all they think like you or that your team is lacking psychological safety completely. So they’re not willing to speak up. And that will would be even bigger problem, because that is the number one trait of high performing teams, psychological safety.
Csaba Toth (14:45): What’s the point in having smart people in your team, if you cannot tap into that wealth of creativity and expertise, and it’s not just theory, that was a company in the US. They wanted to understand how come you put smart people in the team. And they deliver only a fraction of the results. They are capable of how much potential is lost. So they gave an individual assessment to each member of the team. They score them individually, and then they had to subject on collectively and they measured the gap. And the average was 79%. They did it hundreds of times. That’s how much potential is lost in a team because 90% of business is interaction between people who think and behave differently. So it makes sense to unlock it by giving them the blueprint. It’s not natural. We don’t see the world from different perspectives. It is something that maybe some people are gifted. I wasn’t, I had to learn it. Cause when I lost my company, I just got so pissed off. I said, there must be a reason for it. There must be a structure beneath the surface. There must be a blueprint of why people think can be a different thing. And once you learn that and you can apply it, life makes much more sense.
Maria Franzoni (15:57): I can imagine you having been very upset because it sounded like a really excellent business. And of course it’s very frustrating when you’ve been successful. So I can understand that, but the fact that it’s led you into this field and you are helping other people that figure of 79% is absolutely frightening. It’s, I don’t know if I’m surprised or not actually. It’s interesting. But the other thing that we were talking about before we actually came on to record the podcast is the fact that all of your work is proven and you have all of it’s, because there are a lot people out there talking about these assessments and doing assessments, but they actually haven’t got the foundations that you have and that’s important, isn’t it? When somebody’s deciding to assess their people. Can you explain a little bit more about what yours is based on in terms of being, I don’t know what to say whether, it’s certified or qualified or tested and tried, what’s the wording I should be using?
Csaba Toth (16:53): So there are a lot of assessment and they claim to measure a lot of different things and, and I don’t have any problem with any models or solutions. I have problem with people who lie about them, who promised much more than those solutions can actually deliver. When somebody wants to buy a cultural intelligence training and they learn about countries only that’s misleading. That was international training, not intercultural one. Imagine that you go to a full checkup at the hospital and you meet a dentist only. I mean, yes, that’s important. That’s a tiny fraction of that. So just because something is popular in terms of assessment and there are quite a few of those, it doesn’t mean that they necessary work or maybe people expect much more or maybe they don’t know how to use it. And for example, a lot of people use psychometric assessments as almost like an excuse, oh, I’m this type.
Csaba Toth (17:43): So I can be like this. No, if you know that it’s even worse because you could work on your comfort zone and your behavior flexibility. And that’s exactly what Global DISC can do. So Global DISC is based on the most research models in the intercultural field, the leadership field, the psychometric field, it’s ICF accredited also. And now we have more than 130 licensed partners in 40 countries. We work with national governments, Fortune 500 companies, coaching and training companies, entrepreneurs, leaders, and everybody whose success depends on how much and how well they understand the individuals in front of them.
Maria Franzoni (18:25): Well, I can imagine that if you have an understanding of how people think and therefore how they act and what their values are, if you start early, you could have such great, you can really help their potential. Is it, do you start with school children perhaps, or university students, so that you could get the most out of them before they even go into the workplace?
Csaba Toth (18:47): To be honest, that is exactly the big picture at the moment we work with around 10 universities. So they already teach it and we have a special pricing and support because that’s an investment in a better future. So we already do that. And the big picture is that they teach it, at least in grammar school. I don’t know if people, the children would be ready or maybe they are busy with something else. I don’t know if I had been ready when I was 17 or 18. You know, sometimes you have to fall on your face and then you wake up just because you need something doesn’t mean you want it. And people don’t do anything. It hurts enough. And that’s unfortunately, human nature.
Maria Franzoni (19:29): That’s true. It’s absolutely true. Absolutely true. So your book is called Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times. What is Uncommon Sense, exactly, and why is it needed?
Csaba Toth (19:42): Uncommon Sense, the Global DISC is the technology. That’s the blueprint of why people think and behave differently. But if you don’t have the right mindset, it doesn’t matter what kind of tools you have. So to me, uncommon mindset is about understanding that if there’s a disagreement, it’s not binary. It doesn’t mean that I’m right, you’re wrong. I know that people do what they consider right. Based on what they consider true to get the best outcome. And if that’s how you approach people, that’s your mindset that we are all doing our best based on what we know. That’s great. But does it mean that what you know now is the universal truth? Probably it’s not, and that’s what you need to understand. Do you want to be right? Or you want to get it right? That’s a big difference there. But if your self esteem is low, if you cannot accept yourself, if you are lacking self inclusion, then you have to be right, you have to protect your ego. You have to prove that you win and other people lose. And that’s not productive. When was the last time that you heard that there was a disagreement and the person said, oh, you know what, you’re right. Let’s do that. And often this is the problem. You have to be really confident to do that, but that doesn’t really happen.
Maria Franzoni (21:00): Yeah, no, absolutely. I can see that being your book, being a wonderful handbook for anybody who’s leading, coaching, teaching, I’m gonna grab one myself actually. Because there’s so much value in that in helping you to be open to the other person, understand the other person and get the best out of them. It’s fantastic. You mentioned the word inclusion and diversity and inclusion are it, it’s such an important topic and I can see that this topic fits beautifully into that because you are talking about not only diversity of cultures and backgrounds, and gen, all of those things that make up who we are, but also the diversity of thinking, which is probably even more important in a business. Talk to me about how you cover the topic of top diversity and inclusion for audiences, for corporate audiences at events.
Csaba Toth (21:49): A lot of companies focus on the visible layer of diversity, which is really important in terms of equality and equal chances. And that’s important. But sometimes for example, when I talk about cognitive diversity, and I say that, that is the only layer that has proven benefit in terms of performance. Some people here that I don’t care about the visible layer, that’s not what I said. That’s the exact opposite. So imagine that you buy a laptop because you want to send emails, you spend a lot of money on it. Beautiful people said, this is the best laptop, but then you don’t know about the internet. You don’t know that you have to connect to the wifi, that invisible force. So you try to send an email and it doesn’t work. And you think, you know what? This laptop doesn’t work. It was a waste of time.
Csaba Toth (22:31): And that’s exactly the problem I’ve seen in the diversity and inclusion field, they read about it or more ethnicities, more women, more minorities, more this and that. It turns into PR activity because they don’t understand the invisible forces that make or break a team. And we have plenty of case studies to show that, that can be a company that is really visibly diverse. You can take a picture. It looks good on the website, but deep inside, distinct very similarly. So they have the same tunnel vision as a team, just like as an individual or they lacking psychological safety. So they have that potential there, but they cannot tap into it because they’re conforming to the norms. Cause often corporate culture is the projection of the founders or the CEO’s preferences.
Csaba Toth (23:17): And then we lose the power of diversity. So that is just the potential. But how do you tap into that? How do you make it work? The problem with these things often is that if you cannot hold it in your hands, you cannot measure it. Then it’s just a fluffy topic. It’s nice, big words. Be nice to people. It’s much more than that. But when people can see the results, they can compare their personal preferences with their team, with other people. Then it becomes much more objective and tangible. And that’s how we do that. We make it as uncomplicated and practical as possible.
Maria Franzoni (23:52): Excellent. We need practical solutions absolutely. More than ever now. You are working on or you’ve actually completed your next book and it’s got quite a difficult title. Let’s see if I can get it right, Authentoxicity. Authentoxicity, is that right? Tell me about that. What is all that about?
Csaba Toth (24:10): So you can pronounce it better than me because sometimes I just have ideas and I write them down. It’s almost like downloading them. And after that, I just struggle with the words. So I had that idea that, you know, when there’s a good idea, it can turn into a really bad one. If you overdo it. And authenticity is one of those, it’s really popular to say that, just be yourself. That’s perfect. No, not always because it can turn into the most glorified form of fixed mindset. This is who I am, accept me. And if people become rigid. I want my freedom of speech, but if you say something I don’t like I get offended. No, that’s a two way street. If you want freedom, you have to be able to pay the price, which is responsibility. They have to be proportionate. You cannot have this without giving it away.
Csaba Toth (24:59): You are demanding inclusion, accept me, but you don’t accept other people that doesn’t really work. So yes, it is true that you are awesome already, but can you be even better? And this is our approach. Always that when there’s a disagreement, the real question is not if you are right or me, but is there an even better way of doing things? If that is the question you ask, nobody can lose. Nobody can lose. So the language is really important and that’s how we would never talk about to changing anyone or even coaches talk about transformation. Yeah. They love that, but not the clients because what the clients here is that, oh no, I’m not good enough. Oh, that’s gonna be a lot of hassle and they become defensive. But when you talk about leveling up, you know, like in the gaming industry, you play video game, you learn new skills at the end there monster that you have to destroy.
Csaba Toth (25:51): If you don’t, you start over. If you do you level up. And most people don’t level up, they start over, they end up in the same bad job, the same bad relationship. And there’s always, somebody has to blame. Instead of taking responsibility for their own growth. Like Ray Dalio said “that pain plus reflection equals progress”. So we have the pain part, on the reflection, not so much. Having said that if you talk about the underlying values and drivers that 95% of our actions are driven by those. It doesn’t matter how much you reflect on it. If you don’t know about it, you can reflect on the symptoms, but not the root cause of the problem. It is something we need to learn, something that we need to measure. It doesn’t matter how much you reflect on how to say goodnight in Italian. If you don’t speak Italian, doesn’t matter. We need new skills. We have to go deeper. We are the best case study that makes us credible.
Maria Franzoni (26:49): I like that. I really like that. And I love that. Is there a better way of doing things? I’m gonna use that as well. I’m getting a lot of, I’m learning a lot today, so I really appreciate that. So if somebody wants to go and do your test, that it’s a very able to purchase, isn’t it on the website, ICQ Global, is that right?
Csaba Toth (27:08): Yes. ICQ Global that is available there, or it’s also available through our licensed partners in forty countries.
Maria Franzoni (27:15): Perfect. And they can also. Super. And they can also get your book there, which is great in various different formats. That’s wonderful. And if they wanna connect with you, what’s the best way for people to connect with you?
Csaba Toth (27:26): LinkedIn, I’m always happy to connect with everyone who is passionate about this topic.
Maria Franzoni (27:29): Perfect. Thank you so much. It’s been really fascinating. I’m gonna go back through my notes because I’ve learned an awful lot. I’m gonna grab a copy of both those books and I’m gonna learn some more. Is there any thought you’d like to leave us with before you go?
Csaba Toth (27:46): Probably one. And I think that that is the most important thing that next time, if you have a disagreement, just try to ask the right questions and be become intentional about it. Do you want to be right? Or you want to get it right? And if this is the question that you ask yourself, then it brings you back to the present and it reminds you of why you do what you do. It’s much more difficult than I thought. So in the beginning.
Maria Franzoni (28:15): I totally get that. Brilliant. Do you want to be right? Or do you want to get it right? Csaba, thank you so much. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself. And I hope that everybody listening has enjoyed The Speaker Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave your rating on Apple Podcasts. You can keep up with future episodes at Speakers Associates website, which is speakersassociates.com or your favorite podcast app. And if you need Csaba’s help in your organization, be sure to contact Speakers Associates in time to book him for your next event. So see you next week. Bye bye for now. Thank you.
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Maria Franzoni is an established and recognised speaking industry expert and one of the most experienced speaker bookers in Europe.
As well as working with speakers, Maria also hosts live shows and podcasts. She currently hosts The Speaker Show podcast for Speakers Associates.