What if the key to improving your business, your team, and even your personal relationships was as simple as listening? This week, Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society sits down with Adi Segal, CEO of Hapi, whose roots in emergency medical service taught him the transformative power of active listening. Segal shares his insights on how tuning in to understand, rather than merely respond, can revolutionize the workplace, boosting company culture and elevating employee retention and recruitment rates.
Segall illustrates the game-changing potential of listening for success. Join us in this enlightening exploration of how learning to listen can be the linchpin in growing stronger relationships, cohesive teams, and thriving businesses.
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Hosted and produced by Gary Pageau
Edited by Olivia Pageau
Announcer: Erin Manning
Welcome to the Dead Pixel Society podcast, the photo imaging industry's leading news source. Here's your host, gary Peugeot. The Dead Pixel Society podcast is brought to you by MediaClip, advertek Printing and IP Labs.Gary Pageau:
Hello again and welcome to the Dead Pixel Society podcast. I'm your host, Gary Pageau, and today we're talking to Adi Segal, the CEO of HAPI, and he's coming to us from New Jersey, the happiest place on earth. Hi Adi, how are you today?Adi Segal:
Gary, clearly you've never been to New Jersey before.Gary Pageau:
Anyway, let's not get into that. And we're here to talk about your company, what they do and how they help businesses train and improve employees through active listening. What's your background and how did you come to start the company?Adi Segal:
My background goes, i'll start even before the academic stuff. As a teenager, i trained and then volunteered and continued to this day as a volunteer EMT, emergency Medical Technician, and so one of the things that you learn there is that people often are calling 911 because they're lonely. There are very few emergencies, right, this is what you learn. We were just talking before we started the show. You're a parent of four, so you probably know how to stay calm, but very few emergencies actually occur, right? Cardiac arrest, that's an emergency. Respiratory distress that's an emergency. Strokes, missing limbs, things like that right? Yes, if you're bleeding, everything else, people call an emergency because they're called 911, because they're frantic about something. Perhaps it's in your head or there's something really happening, but you probably don't need lights and sirens to get to the ER. One of the other things you learn when you're doing that, though, is just simply being there and listening for people goes a really, really long way, and remaining calm. I was not a big believer in this was going to be the world solution to all of our problems listening but I think it's something that stuck with me through most of my education. And then you said how did I get to here today? So I was supposed to be a doctor and in medical school I decided that the world of health tech would be more exciting. So I left to one, join what became the largest heli psychiatry company in the world and then start my own company. And then, through a scenic tour of ups and downs as an entrepreneur, I was eventually recruited and hired to run HAPI, which was started as a nice little experiment out of Silicon Valley, and when they realized it could be a big business, they found me to help commercialize it. And I've been here a year and I am now the biggest believer, i think, in active listening and active listening as a service as well as the most important business skill. I don't think there's anything that can go farther in both running a company, improving company culture, employee retention and recruitment, as well as driving the bottom line, as listening can.Gary Pageau:
Everyone thinks they're a good listener, right. Everyone thinks that while I'm hearing what they're saying, someone's talking to me. But what do you mean by active listening? Because that's really much more. It's a process you have to learn. no-transcript.Adi Segal:
It's definitely something you have to learn. Anyone who tells you, gary, that they are a good listener is not. That's what my academic partners tell me, and they are some of the best listeners in the world. They say don't, anyone who claims to be is probably not a great listener. So we shouldn't necessarily adopt that or profess that we are good listeners. It's a work in progress. It's a life skill that you have to continue to exercise over time, like any type of muscle. And so what does it mean? Well, currently we use the term active listening. There are lots of other phrases. Some people debate whether we should use the word active, some people call it deep listening, intentional listening. But it comes from these academic body. Carl Rogers, years ago, the father of listening, used it, but my understanding from reading a bunch of his texts as well as the academics who are his students, it's been taken out of context quite a bit. So maybe it's not active listening, maybe it's deep listening. It's actually quite like that term, or intentional listening. And so what does that mean? at its heart? It means that actually, what you're doing right now is not interrupting. Listening to understand is our favorite phrase. It's one of our academic partners and advisors, professor Avi Kluger from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He's probably one of the leading academics in the field, who loves to talk about listening to understand, because that really explains what you're doing. You don't want to do this thing where you're constantly thinking of the next answer, the next question, right?Gary Pageau:
Which is what I'm doing right now.Adi Segal:
Well done, Gary. Yeah, you want to be able to sit with the person's thoughts and really understand what they're saying, and this works phenomenally, whether it's in your personal relationships, conflict resolution, whether it's peacemaking across international borders or in the workplace. Which is one of the things that we're here to talk about is listen to understand, and I most importantly encourage executives and managers to try to listen to understand what their colleagues and their team is saying to them. Don't just jump in because you think you're there to put out fires and have all the solutions. They probably know something you don't know. As someone who's been on both sides been an entry-level employee as well as a manager you know that people who are making those phone calls, people who are in the field doing sales they're the eyes and ears They know actually they know best. They might not know exactly how to solve every problem, but if we can help understand what they're saying, we can work as a team to better come up with solutions, as well as better products and better services that we can sell to increase revenue over time.Gary Pageau:
I was going to get to that, because when you started that statement it sounded kind of academic and kind of foo-foo but you've managed to connect that to actual results. I mean you can demonstrate if your management team and I'm sure your employees have to learn how to active listen to that, you can actually see better results. How do you track that?Adi Segal:
You track that by training folks, and if you want to get back into the academic side, you can run a controlled experiment, which we do on our platform. We're constantly asking very quick. It's within a good user experience, though. We ask questions and we measure the outcomes on our platform, on the HAPI app, which is active listening as a service, and so we know that people feel better afterwards. We know that they were more happy with the conversation with, say, a stranger or, in our case, a trained listener, than they would have expected. And when you are able to have those conversations, both within the setting of our app or within the workplace, we know that you can drive more business. We've seen it time and again with our clients and the research shows us. So one thing I do want to point out though it sounds like we want to stay away from academics a little bit is that there are some really good research coming out again from our partner, professor Kluger, where he's found in a recent meta analysis that the number one thing that you gain from good listening, from setting up a healthy conversation, is not a positive feeling, is not just making your day better, it's building a better relationship, and you can draw ties from that. So Avi is a psychologist, a trained psychologist, but he doesn't sit in the psychology department or the medical school. He's actually the chair of the business department, right? He's a behavioral psychologist, and so they're constantly looking for how do we take some science we know from psychology and apply it to the business world. How do we better train our executives, how do we better train our MBAs? And the number one thing that they have seen that works is developing stronger relationships. And the number one thing that develops stronger relationships is enhanced and better listening, and with that you build stronger teams and greater business outcomes.Gary Pageau:
We touched on a really interesting point, which was you know, there seems to be a lot of talk in the workplace today of you know everyone getting along and you know kind of kumbaya and things like that. But if you're actively listening to someone, you may not like what they're saying, right? So does your app and your service help with, you know, dealing with that? Let's say, for example, you've got someone who is working for you and they're talking about the process they're working on and you don't like what they're saying. Do you help with responding to that?Adi Segal:
I'll give you a yes, Ann, Gary. So I do want to separate HAPI offerings. So, first of all, we have an app that you can get in the iOS or Android store. It's direct to consumer. Everyone should be on it. But that is Active Listening as a Service, where we connect you with one of our trained and certified listeners And, of course, there you can always just vent and get it out and we're here to listen. The other big part of our business is the Atlantic Listening Academy, which was originally created for our professional listeners. But as we were doing that, we realized wait a second. This is actually applicable to everyone in every industry, from your garbage collector to your CEO, from your lawyer to your trauma surgeon. Right, Everyone should be a better listener. You know, in healthcare, because that is my background in healthcare they say you have about 11 seconds before your doctor interrupts you And doctors are rushed. I get that. They in a billing environment. they have about 15 minutes with a patient and you're lucky if you get that And they're trying to do this what's called differential diagnosis right away. So they're trying to figure out what's going on. But the research also shows that by interrupting you where they think they're saving time, they're not actually cutting corners. It leads to worse outcomes and more expenses, Right, So that's a great category of industry where we think we can have a wonderful impact. We're not quite there yet. We're here to talk about business. On the business side, we know that listening, even on that first call, that first customer call or perspective call, if you listen more than you talk, more than you try to sell, you have, I think, 300% more chance of selling them, And I'm not making up that number. That's been done with some of the AI tools that are out there that monitor sales calls today. It is just exponentially more useful to be able to listen to your perspective clients. But I want to get back to your actual question I digress there which is what do you do in this environment Maybe we label it toxic positivity where everyone is just hunky dory all day And everyone just has to be happy at work And, by the way, that wasn't always the case. We're forgetting the water cooler of the days of your right, Where you would sit around. I used to have a bowl of mints on my desk. I worked at a nonprofit that was doing really good work in the healthcare space, And there was one colleague who works around the corner and she would come over and she had this thing where she would call it mint and bitch. She would come over, take a mint from my desk and just tell me what was going on. That used to happen And I think we've been influenced by, perhaps, social media, perhaps photos if that's the topic of this industry people, things like Instagram, where you're really portraying your fake best life. Everyone has the perfect beach picture, the perfect hotel that they're staying at in Santorini.Gary Pageau:
You got to filter the phase to make it look better.Adi Segal:
Yeah, and what happens there is that then everyone ends up in a state of envy. You can't talk about how your kid was complaining the entire drive to school, and then you get an ounce of silence before walking into the office. You have to pretend that life is perfect And guess what, folks? Life isn't perfect, right, and so what we allow you to do, through both our app and the training, is create a sense of reality and be able to sit with that.Gary Pageau:
Because I think that is sort of the management trend these days is, like you said I like the phrase toxic positivity because it is almost listen to everyone, support every idea, validate everything and everything will be great. And obviously you want people to be comfortable expressing themselves, but they almost feel obligated to express something positive. Right That they don't have the freedom really to point out the emperor has no clothes, for example.Adi Segal:
Yeah, and so that's a lot of what we see on our app is people coming to us because they don't have a place to express it, even in their most intimate relationships. So what we see is that people do need a spaced event and we, through our training, have our listeners create that space and you can create that in any work environment. It starts the top by being real, opening up. It means transparency. If the business doesn't look like it's going to meet its KPIs or its goals for the month, the quarter, the year, let's be honest about it.Gary Pageau:
And that was a blame, right? I mean, that's the other half of this is exactly you have to be able to talk about. You know, underperformance and something that needs to be changed without saying and it's Bob who's doing it. For example, maybe you take Bob aside privately.Adi Segal:
Sure, yeah, that's that's. That's a great point is that you can come up with what we like to call again this, professor Kluge, or think feed forward systems where we're giving what we traditionally call feedback, but really work on what are we doing to improve this? Here's what worked, here's what didn't work, and also here's how I'm feeling. We forget about feelings these days because it makes you more real and it actually allows you to progress as a team. If you realize that everyone on the team is human no one's a robot that the entry level person who hired to do cold calling They probably don't like that job so much but it's important. We all hire them right and it's a great way to get into any industry, but life can suck on a given day, and you know what it's really lonely at the top right. So we did entry level. We now let's talk about CEOs. No one will ever get the CEO experience, the founder experience, unless you've done it before, and so we want to give everyone a space for that. The CEO should be honest with their teams about here's what's going on And we like to talk about. I was just in conversation with one of my mentors and board members on LinkedIn. He wrote a whole post about what's known as skip level meetings. You have your entry level Talk to, say, a VP They're not just talking to their middle manager or you go straight to this. You know, you learn so much that way. On both sides of it. The idea of being an open minded learner even when you're at the top of your game is super important, and the other way you're going to do that is through really good honed listening skills.Gary Pageau:
Because I think what people don't think about when they consider these things as a manager is this stuff builds on itself. If you know someone's having a bad day making those cold calls, then they have to come back the next day and the next day and they don't have a way. They've got to just put on the smiley face and run through it. You're probably going to have a hard time retaining that employee. I mean, that's the reality is. Is you're not setting someone up for success without giving them a way to either, you know, share what they're they're saying or get help for what they're doing? because possibly, if they're sharing their experience, someone can say why that experience too, and this is how I helped with it.Adi Segal:
Yeah well, gary, you've had a very impressive career. Let me ask you what was the worst work environment that you've ever been in and why?Gary Pageau:
Oh, i wouldn't. I don't know if that would. That's a. That's an interesting question because it kind of varied. You know, just on a personal level. You know most people who put in the podcast, who are listening to us, don't know this. But you know, for a while there I was, i tried to get into the insurance thing because I was like I was working from home. So I was like you know what I really missed talking to people And this is before I had the podcast obviously. So I was like you know, insurance P got talked to people and I was not very good at it And a lot of it was because the prospecting piece and because, just, you know, talking to people you don't know about and because their presumption was, you know, he's just trying to sell me something, right, you know that's how insurance sales is. There's a lot of presumption And you know the reality is is, you know, half the time I was talking to people I look over there what their coverage was and was like, yeah, no, you're doing fine, you're great. I can't edit this right, so that was kind of frustrating. Just from this was the presumption from the other person that I would I had, you know, this sort of agenda, if you will. I know if that helps. I've now told you more than I thought I would ever tell on the podcast. So there you have it.Adi Segal:
Well, gary, what I heard you say was that your worst work environment was when you were the most honest. No, sir, I can't sell you something because you have great coverage.Gary Pageau:
Of course, but it was probably the most uncomfortable, which one of the reasons why I didn't stay in that is because I was like I'm not setting myself up for success is basically what I was doing.Adi Segal:
Yeah, no, that that makes a lot of sense, And I know you haven't come out with your tell all book yet, or even podcast, but one of the things that we were talking about beforehand was this plan. As you saw the landscape changing in photography, you and a bunch of executives at your former company got together and created a plan. Yeah, right, yeah. What happened with that plan? Where was the listening there?Gary Pageau:
Well, there was a lot of listening in the sense that we're listening to each other, which we thought we want, but that where we're listening wasn't was the actual customers right. And this was, you know, for those of you in the in the industry, you know the history, you know this was at PMA. We had a and most of you don't know this, but we had we had a planning session to kind of plan PMA's future and came up with a binder of actions to basically keep the association moving. This was in the early 2000s And we basically didn't do any of the things in the binder. I still have it somewhere. It's kind of fun to flip through. But there were two disconnects there. One was there wasn't a lot of member input, you know, and and secondly, there wasn't a lot of vendor input that people were actually exhibiting at our trade show, which is it was 80 percent of our revenue. That was input that was not listened to.Adi Segal:
So, yeah, it makes total sense, right, obviously, everything hindsight 2020, you can do it. Post more to me like yeah, duh, but one of my favorite business books, a small little pamphlet if I wasn't connected in the audio system I would go get it from my bookshelf to show you but it's called Talking to Humans. Yeah, and all it is is you know, it's the story of, basically, i think it was an orthopedic specialist and a material scientist and they came together and said we're going to make the very best pillow, exactly. And they sat in a lab and they made what they thought, based on ergonomics and science and the very best material out there, the very best pillow. And they went out to the corner and they tried to sell it and nobody bought it. And when they went back to their business advisors and they said, well, this is the very best pillow, Why isn't it selling? They were asked did you ever talk to customers? Right, and the answer was no. So you can't just have the most brilliant idea. This is why we believe especially in the startup world and rapid prototyping and try it with people. We do this even on our app. You know, some some customers might see features that others don't. Ab testing right Before we build something complete. We want to see if there's any uptake in it.Gary Pageau:
You know, this is like shows you how small this world is. One of my side things which, again, most people don't this is like Gary venting right now. I'm sharing people.Erin Manning:
I'm here to listen, gary.Gary Pageau:
Here's to this. One of my side things I do is I teach entrepreneurship in the prison system. So I hope people are incarcerated learn the skills to start their own business, and one of the books I use they have to read is Talking to Humans by Gif Constable. It is a small world, my friend audience, a small world. I know that book very well.Adi Segal:
It's great. Everyone should read it. It's a little pamphlet.Gary Pageau:
It's a free, you can get it. I mean it's a PDF, you can download it.Adi Segal:
Yeah Yeah, we didn't even cover this in the pre-interview. I also do the same kind of volunteering. You know, convicts and ex-convicts, often in prison for the wrong reasons, are excellent entrepreneurs, oh yeah, and I just love what's the organization that you work with to do this.Gary Pageau:
Well, it's through a community college. So I'm an adjunct faculty member through Jackson College here in Michigan And we have a contract with the Michigan Department of Corrections So it's an actual college course they take along with. They can take business, they can take English and things like that. So this is part of their education program they can partake in if they qualify.Adi Segal:
Yeah, i love that. I volunteer with an organization called The Five Ventures same kind of thing Mostly out of the New York, new Jersey area. But I'm just amazed every time I go to an event and I meet new mentees. These folks they say as part of this and I'm sure you've heard this too criminals are actually very good entrepreneurs. They just applied their skills to the wrong thing. Oh yeah, And I love meeting with these folks because they feel refined in some way when they come out. These are the people who are using the prison library, if one exists. These are the people who are trying to do research, And I met a guy this was pre-pandemic at this point who had this full plan. He was pitching to the group He was going to do some kind of glasses repair program And he had a whole like a binder of a business plan that he had been working on And he had all the connections and a vehicle that was going to be donated him ready to go. And I'm like how long have you been out? And he's like, oh, four weeks. And it's like his whole business was built because he was so dedicated to it and so smart. And I think that's something that all of your listeners can also get. Into is volunteering some of your time, which is great for your mental health and mental wellness, And finding the other parts of society that we don't usually interact with. It really opens your eyes.Gary Pageau:
Yeah, this is what I mean. Just again, we're kind of diverging here. But the thing I find interesting is I'm actually I have to go inside, so I'm actually teaching people who are incarcerated, and it's men and women, both. It depends on the semester, what facility you're in. And it's as fascinating because I make it a policy where I know, where I can look up why they're in there.Erin Manning:
But I don't do that.Gary Pageau:
I don't want to know why. They're their mother or student. And there's more than once where I'm looking at some of these students and I'm like why are you here? This person is a natural entrepreneur And they've got it figured out. And I have people who also teach at the college, who teach conventional students, And they say my incarcerated students are my best students by far. Now, they're not representative of the entire population of the prison. We're talking about a subset of a subset of a subset who are motivated and have the skills to actually work towards a college degree. So I'm not once let's be realistic there But the experience I've had have been overwhelmingly positive.Adi Segal:
On our next interview, we'll talk about prison reform Exactly.Gary Pageau:
We're going to turn this into a whole separate podcast.Adi Segal:
We've got education, health care and prison reform so far.Gary Pageau:
So anyway, back to well, I'm having a great time so far, But should this be offered on the active listening program, I mean, obviously you have your perspective from your business model how it should be offered. But is this something somebody can offer as an employee's benefit or a training program, or is this something that's better suited for an individual?Adi Segal:
That's absolutely how we do it. So the way HAPI works with our B2B clients is that the company comes to us Generally it's from the CEO or a chief HR, a people officer, and they say one, we are starting to value listening And two, maybe we're even having some communication issues within the company. And now more than ever, employees are starting to get feel very stressed. It's a tough work environment, certainly in startups. Every VC is telling their companies to tighten their belts And you're seeing layoffs at every other company, so you're thinking about when's my job going to go to? So there's a lot of stress out there And the pandemic's not fully over. Like everyone's working from home, there's a lot of reasons for communication to be up in the air right now.Gary Pageau:
And also excuse me for interrupting. I was actively listening, but doesn't the preponderance of more electronic communication lead to more problems actually, rather than solve them face to face?Adi Segal:
I would say so just anecdotally. I don't have data, i'm not a researcher from that perspective, but I do know that we've seen trends of. I mean, just even think about when you get a text message or an email and you're gonna lose your mind. and then you reread and you're like, oh, they didn't mean it that way, right, text is so flat, whether it comes as an SMS or an email or in a Slack message. Slack does one bit better. where you know they start, they let you use emojis and gifts and all sorts of things that maybe change the tenor, but it's still not the same as having a conversation, right. And so, yes, the answer is yes, we need to improve our human to human communication, because technology will never replace that. Sorry, chat GPT, you're brilliant, but you're not gonna replace humans. So, yeah, what we say for our clients is come and let's talk about what's going on. We wanna listen to you, what's going on in your company. We kinda do a small assessment and figure out where this is most applicable. Is it for the whole company? Do we roll it out with one team Or are there like interteam? I don't know the size of a lot of your listeners' companies, but for small teams, obviously. maybe you would all do it For teams, even 20 people or more. you might wanna roll it out with one of your smaller pods first and see how it goes, and see how it's adopted and almost get that organic promotion within the company. You can't believe what this amazing training that we did. So what we do there is we start you on our course, the Atlantic Listening Academy. That's fully asynchronous. it's self-paced And we usually give you a timeline and we say, okay, the company doesn't. they say you gotta be done by this date, because then we're doing a HAPI conference. We're gonna do it a day, a half day, maybe it's just an hour where we bring in one of our expert trainers. Maybe it's someone you saw on the course or maybe it's someone new that we're working with. We actually practice it. Like I mentioned earlier, this is a skill that needs to be exercised And it's also very similar to if you have any friends who are doctors. they'll certainly tell you that everything they learned was from residency, not from medical school, and so you need to actually do the skills. You need to see it in real life, You need to hear it for us in real life, you need to listen in real life. It's really great to know how to do it, but then you have to practice it. So we run a seminar for you And then you're really into it. And then the party favor that we leave behind with companies is we contract with them with our app, right? And so the app allows you to practice your listening both as a talker, and oftentimes what we see in our conversations is the roles flip somewhere in the conversation When your listener becomes the talker and you become the listener, because guess what? That's just as therapeutic. So we give you the full spectrum. You can pick and choose what you want. but those are the offerings that we have either bundled or unbundled.Gary Pageau:
Awesome. So where does someone go for more information about HAPI and either the app or the program? Where do you want them to go?Adi Segal:
You can find us at hapi. com. There you'll find links to both app stores as well as our Academy. Our Academy can be found on its own at ActiveListeningAcademycom, and I'm sure we can put all the links in the show notes. And then, if you're interested in just checking out the app on your own, you can go to either the Android or iOS app stores and you'll see them there, hapi. Well, thank you.Gary Pageau:
Addy, for your insight and expertise and grilling me, which I'm not sure I feel like I'm going to need a moment after this, but thank you so much.Adi Segal:
Thanks for having me, Gary. This was a lot of fun, And just remember I'm here to listen anytime you want, Gary.Erin Manning:
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