In this episode I interview charismatic Canadian retail leader Normand Ciarlo who ran the leading luxury department store in Montreal – Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. With a background in dance and performing arts, Normand brings his love of theatre to the retail stage. Passionate about creating a culture in which everyone feels that they belong, Normand talks with conviction and brings to life his leadership philosophy on diversity, inclusion and belonging, and how senior leaders can create the environment in which their teams feel fully engaged and able to fulfil their potential.
Gary Crotaz 0:02
My name’s Dr. Gary Crotaz. And I’m a coach and author of The IDEA Mindset, a book about how to figure out what you want, and how to get it. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity, when you suddenly know the right path ahead. When I’m in conversation with my coaching clients, these are the breakthroughs that are so profound that they remember vividly where they were, who they were with, what they were thinking when their Unlock Moment happened. In this podcast, I’ll be meeting and learning about people who have accomplished great things, or brought about significant change in their life, and you’ll be meeting them with me. We’ll be finding out what inspired them how they got through the hard times, and what they learned along the way that they can share with you. Thank you for joining me on this podcast to hear all about another Unlock Moment. Hello dear listener, and welcome to another episode of The Unlock Moment podcast. Today it is my great pleasure to welcome Normand Ciarlo to the show. Normand and I met in early 2020 when I was working with Selfridges Group in London. It was pretty much the last week we were able to travel pre-pandemic. And Normand was running one of the Group’s flagship Canadian locations, Montreal’s fabulous and beautifully refurbished luxury department store, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. A quarter a million square feet of retail space, housing the most incredible luxury brands in the world from Dior to Chanel, Prada to Hermes, and Louis Vuitton. But the thing that I felt made Normand really distinctive is his deep connection with the theatre of retail. And once I learned about our shared background as professional dancers, it all became clear. Something I learned from Normand is how you can find your most impactful leadership style by transferring your skills and experiences from position to position no matter how different they are. And it was striking to me as a visitor to his retail theatre that he really was the master of ceremonies. Having made a few major career pivots in my time, I always appreciate learning more about the journey of others who have done the same, who have conquered their fears of taking the leap and embraced the challenge of learning a new set of skills. He’s one of the most inspiring retail leaders I’ve met in my time, and I know you’ll learn a lot from our conversation. Normand, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to The Unlock Moment.
Normand Ciarlo 2:28
Thank you, Gary. I’m very, very happy and feel privileged to be part of this moment with you and your listeners.
Gary Crotaz 2:35
I think it’s going to be a fantastic conversation. So tell us a little bit about your story and where your journey started before you ever got anywhere near retail.
Normand Ciarlo 2:45
Yeah, so I always preface my career in retail with my first career and love, which was the performing art, which I was a professional dancer. I started doing folk dancing, learning character dancing, which gave me some classical training. And I was part of this Montreal group that, we represented Canada, at the 1976 Olympics Opening and Closing and so on. And then when I discovered the passion that I had for dance, and also not just a passion, but it was natural for me, I was not a trained ballet dancer, and I didn’t need that rigour training to be able to perform, I tapped into the natural talent that I had. And, and of course, we’re going back a couple of decades now when the landscape of dancing was a little bit different. And when you were a male dancer, and you auditioned, there was not as many in those days. So there was a little bit of an opportunity. And that presented itself and I seized it. And I was able to be hired very early in my career with a professional production company from the US. That actually allowed me to develop my, my 14 years career as a dancer. I finished that career on cruise ship, basically, because it was a job and I needed the money and it was a chance for me to travel. But I was there for quite a long time. I lasted about on cruise ship for about five years. And usually after a year, on cruise ship, it becomes a career because the life is, on board is a little bit tough. So, so I decided to actually use that time on cruise ship to keep dancing, but also broadened my expertise into maybe some managerial skills and some responsibilities. So I became an assistant cruise director, and I became a production manager. So basically I started learning what my next career would be while I was actually finishing my first career, not really knowing at the time that I was doing so but basically I was layering this transition to what I call the so-called real world and coming back on land, and actually then decided what I was going to do.
Gary Crotaz 5:11
When you look back to your performance career. And you think of, you know, sort of the, the highlight of your career, what is that, that you’re thinking back to which performance is that you’re doing? Or what is it that you’re doing when you, when you look back to that, that stage of your, of your life?
Normand Ciarlo 5:28
I think for me, because I was more of a natural-born dancer, and I was not trained, and I was lucky enough to start earning my living as a performer-dancer, is the fact that I was able to kind of learn on the job. So every performance, every show, every choreographer, every ensemble that I was part of, for me was a new experience. I didn’t have it in me so, so basically, the environment itself, and also the skills that was required, the behaviour that was required, not the skills, the behaviour that was required to be a good performer, meaning discipline, resilience, focus, team spirit, because I was not a lead dancer, I was always part of an ensemble. So I was part of what we, you know, representing a group. So, so even if we all love the spotlight, it was not always the case. So you have to work in a team. So I was able to really develop these, you know, whatever the, what was required from us, for us to survive. We all travelled, we were six months with a job, maybe three months without, and the time that we were together, also, these people become your family basically. So it’s, it’s, it’s an engagement, that’s very, very awkward, because today, in today’s job, on land, in a normal circumstance, yeah, your co-workers are actually people that you are close with, and you may actually spend more time with them than your significant others. But as a professional dancer, you literally live and eat and work, because you’re all abroad, or you’re all from somewhere else. And I think that was actually something that I learned quite a lot. It’s that balance that you need to have with the work and the life.
Gary Crotaz 7:21
And I think that’s really powerful. Because I know in my own experience as a professional ballroom dancer, and I work quite a lot with dancers today in different styles, but also with sports people, you see a lot of people coming into the corporate world and leadership who haven’t necessarily got formal or traditional business and management training, but what they’ve learned in the dance world or on the, on the football pitch, or whatever, can be really impactful, particularly around high-performance leadership. And it’s difficult sometimes to explain that to people who haven’t necessarily been in that kind of environment. But I, but I know, you know, my own sort of coaching and leadership work, I probably spend more time talking about ballroom dancing than I do about, you know, my life in strategy or whatever. But there’s something very intangible about that. And I know when we met, it was, it came across really clearly for me.
Normand Ciarlo 8:16
it’s actually interesting that, the fact that, people are curious of what they don’t know, right? So when they look at my resume, even today, I still keep my professional career at the bottom of my resume. And, and when I speak to people, they actually go straight to that time. And it’s only because that’s the area they’re unfamiliar. Because the rest if I, you know, since I’m a strong retailer, they can speak to me every job, every job that I had in retail, regardless which brand I worked with, but they don’t know about the cruise ship life, or the dancing life. Interestingly it’s this seen enough, also one thing that I learned a lot, and this is a very current topic when we talk about empathy. Especially today, you know, we speak through COVID, we’ve seen a bunch of articles about what really is leadership and, and, and, you know, I think that empathy is really the sum of a lot of experience of a lifetime. I think young leaders are learning or are living through life, learning what empathy needs to look like, and needs to feel like for themselves and others. But I think that when you had a career in the art, especially where you had to learn a lot about resilience and a lot about… it’s, it’s not an easy world, you have to have a lot of self confidence if you don’t have a lot of self-esteem. And also you’re dealing with people around you that are fear of doing this, feeling the same way, so I discovered that my dancing world really, really shaped me around what empathy should look like. And in today’s world, I’m using this all the time. And I remember moments when I was a dancer, and today as a VP at Holt’s, where I had to be empathetic. And actually I used pretty much the same approach.
Gary Crotaz 10:10
So, you know, fast-forward a few years, and you start to be in retail leadership roles. So how did you get into that? And what kind of things were you doing when you, when you first came into the retail world?
Normand Ciarlo 10:22
Well, the anecdotal piece of this is, I was kind of searching to see what was going to be my next move after being on cruise ship. I always had managerial or leadership position as dance captain or production manager. So I knew deep inside, I had some of the skillset that, you know, manager or leaders already were developing. And I was definitely them at the time, not really understanding where I was in my, my development, but I knew that something was there. And somebody actually just said, Well, you know what Norm, she says, Use your experience as a professional dancer. And if I’m going to suggest to you a sector that you should go into, it’s retail, because retail is just like being on stage. And it really resonated for me. And of course, at the time, when we spoke about retail, it was probably a little bit more of a a task-oriented retail environment. Because when I launched my career, I started as a manager of a cookie store, a gourmet cookie store. So it was very, you know, it was there was not a lot of strategic vision, and so on and so on. But, um, but it was like a core competency that you need to develop. And I was very lucky to have somebody that identified that environment for me, because it was true, as soon as I got into retail, I immediately saw the competition that could occur in a retail environment, amongst stores, amongst other manager, good competition, you know, but at the same time it was interesting. And it was that that actually pleased me the most is the fact that I was able to, by my performance and my work, still shine. You know, it was not on stage with a spotlight, you know, with an audience. But it was a way for me to get that validation that an entertainer constantly look for. Retail gave that to me. So I think it was really, really interesting. And because it was such a natural fit for me, again, a little bit like dance was a natural fit for me. The retail sector allowed me to actually be also very natural. Because also, I was, I always say it was a second career for me. And I was, you know, in my early 30s, when I actually joined the retail sector. And it’s interesting because I’ve actually worked with people that had like 40 years experience in retail, where I was still kind of like in my 20 years of retail, because I started a little bit later in my career. But I really, truly believe that, yes, the tenure is important. But what’s more important is really the quality of the learnings that you’ve got. And as you go through your career in retail, one thing that I, when I speak very highly, or I try to explain a lot to people about transferable skill, is that from opportunity to opportunity, position to position, you need to challenge yourself to something uncomfortable. And you know, because I think that there’s no real growth personally, I think, as a leader, if you don’t allow yourself. You can leverage your strength and just move on to, you know, I’m good at this, I’m just going to keep doing this. And I always say That’s actually great. I think it but I don’t see longevity in that, I always find that you get better results from a career perspective, that if one job to another job, you allow yourself to say, I’m gonna go to this position, because I know I need to be better in this sector of my job. And I have many examples through my career that I did that. And actually most of my job that when I change, I always saw it because I wanted to go challenge myself into a sector that I was not as good, which eventually makes you I call it you know, I say in retail, We’re always expert generalists, and I know it’s a weird name but and it’s not that you need to be an expert in everything, but everybody perceive you as an expert. So when you work into VP or GM as I was at Holts, I had to understand brand matrix, allocation, store planning, HR, operation, sales, P&L, and all of that necessarily, you don’t need to be an expert of it. You just need to know it all in order to be a great leader of a store, but the perception from others was that you were an expert. So I always find it I will say I always say you know in retail you become an expert generalist. because you wear a lot of hats at the same time.
Gary Crotaz 15:03
So we’re here to talk about The Unlock Moment, which is this flash of remarkable clarity in your journey where you suddenly figured out the path ahead and figured out what was really important to you in driving your, your direction of travel. So bring us into the beginning of the story back in 2001, where you first started to really engage with what your purpose was.
Normand Ciarlo 15:25
Yeah, actually, it’s very interesting, because it was very, very, it was a moment that everybody in the world felt, and it was 9/11, on September 11, right? And I was in a visit with the CEO of the company, it was The Gap I was working in, and the tower actually were attacked, while we had a huge corporate visit. And for anybody that’s listening right now, that’s been in retail, they all understand what those corporate visit could look like, the stress level that we all laugh, at those days about those. And, and you know, and, you know, I remember at that nine o’clock in the morning, when things happen, and everybody’s phone starts ringing. Through that day, I became a little bit feeling worthless, through the whole day, to a point where I had to actually, you know, get a hold of myself and basically tell my guests, who was from San Francisco and Toronto, say, Go back to your train, go back home. Not that you’re not welcome in Montreal anymore, but the priorities have just shifted in a second. And I don’t think this visit is actually what’s important. And after that night, which actually happens to be my birthday, which is actually interesting, on September 11, I went back home, and I was sitting there with my husband, and we were watching, like everybody else on TV, what’s going on. And, and I realised that in the scope of everything that was happening. I was like, what, what can I do? Like, who am I? So basically, what I did is I actually, were actually searching for a purpose. I was going, how can I help? I was really basically first of all wanting to help. But on the flip side, what I was realising is that deep inside of me, I was not valuing what I was doing, as a executive leader into a retail sector being purposeful. I basically said, I sell T shirts, like what does that mean? Like, you know, what, how do I help the world during that. And it was interesting, because that was probably The Unlock Moment that it took me a good 15 years to actually figure out what purpose really meant for me. And, and then I was, I had cancer, two cancers in one year. I’m in remission. Everything is good today, very blessed. But interestingly enough, is after my cancer, where everybody goes through these experience, and to sympathise with everybody that’s probably gone through this, but you reflect a lot because you are faced with this possibility that your life might be shorten, and you might have not accomplished everything, and you self-reflect a lot. And what I realised is that purpose was not a thing. Purpose was a mindset, it was something that I actually had to figure out on my own. Nobody was going to give me a plaque, or nobody was going to give me a trophy for being purposeful, I actually have to figure this out on my own. And as I was retrospecting, and I start listening to what I have done for my family, my friends, my husband, my colleague, the people that are reporting to me, I identify them as I use this word Provider. And that word gave me a sense of purpose. And today, in 2022, I still believe that my purpose in life is to Provide and in many, many, many facets, but at least it gave me a sense of purpose. And it also gave me a little bit of a, you know, from an ego perspective, it gives you direction, it gives you a little bit of sense of what you, who you are, and what you want to be. So today now, it is a style that I have, and I am a provider and regardless in which environment I am, if I’m at a barbecue, I’ll probably be the one that always going to jump on the barbecue to cook the meat. If I’m at work, I’ll actually ended up doing something. But it’s a little bit expected from me now, but that’s fine, because that’s who I am. That’s what my purpose. So it’s interesting because it’s a mindset, a lot more than actually a to do.
Gary Crotaz 19:46
And it’s really interesting the, the length of time between 2001 where you first started to talk about it, and then this moment and I appreciate, you know, that such challenging situation you’re going through health-wise, but actually something that came out of it was a real clarity about what it was that you’ve been sort of thinking about for all of that time. And when you look back to that, sort of 15 year or so time period, did it feel like you were missing something? Or did it feel like you missed out on something? Or did it feel like it was just the right time for everything to come together?
Normand Ciarlo 20:24
No, I don’t think I was feeling, you know, other than sometime feeling helpless a little bit, but I think everybody sometime feels helpless. When you see, you know, when you see bad situation, you know, what you, what you see on TV? Or, you know, especially with things like with the war, and, you know, everything that goes on, everybody feels helpless? A little bit? No, I think that you, you know, I always go by you don’t know what you don’t know. And I think for me, it was, it was progressive, because it took me that time to actually really understand what was the purpose that I had, and what was those tangible things that I was doing, that was making me a provider. And, you know, as my career evolved, I stayed in touch with a lot of my employees that I had, I still talk to some dancers that I used to dance with way back then. And you know, as you, as you separate, people then remembers you for certain things, you know, not for a lot of things. And funny enough, a lot of the things that people remembered me was for the fact that I was contributing, I had an impact, I was a provider. So with time, when people start telling me and I start a trend, I, oh, I didn’t know I had that impact on that person. Oh, I did not understand that I actually contribute that way, at the moment. But in retrospect, people kept reminding me that that’s what they remember of me. So it took me all that time, because maybe I was a slow convincer, I don’t know. Or I, you know, maybe I should check my ego, maybe it’s too small, some people are too big. But at the end of the day, it took me quite a while to realise that there was a trend in what people saw in me, even people that were not really in my life anymore. And then I kind of like, you know, start thinking about it, and I start thinking about it as I was doing it in the real time. And then I, that’s when I actually saw that the purpose of providing to others. And also at, one thing that was interesting is that when I went through my cancer, I had to learn to provide to myself. That’s also a huge learning is that you can, you can be a provider and lose sight of who you are, what you are and what you need. But one thing you need to remember is you also need to provide for yourself, and that was the illness that taught me that because I was not really good with that at the beginning.
Gary Crotaz 22:47
And bring to life what you mean by that, to provide for yourself,
Normand Ciarlo 22:51
Take care of yourself, basically, you know. It’s the old say about put the mask on yourself before you put it on somebody else. You know, I, you know, I was not even aware of how much I needed to do that until I got ill. And somebody explained to me that in order to get better, I had to do that. And you know, and an expert had to tell me, a doctor or a scientist had to explain that to me. But it’s when he told me and I had to, and I realised that when I start assessing, I’m like, Oh, I really need to take care of myself, because I might not come up out of this as strong as I, as I did, because I did come out of it very strong. So I think it was really interesting that the providing is not only outward, it needs to be inward also. So you know, meditation, self-reflection, be true to yourself, nobody’s perfect. Just accept, accept your flaws. Some people love you for it. Some people hate you for it, but I mean, it’s who you are. And that’s what providing for yourself really mean, is that self-accepting of who you are.
Gary Crotaz 24:02
And when you think back to that time, and you think, throughout that, that, that time when, when you were diagnosed and going through treatment and so on. Was there a particular moment which really felt like the wake-up call that this was the, this was the beginning of the, of your new future? This is the beginning of the new way of thinking?
Normand Ciarlo 24:26
Yeah, I think it was. I think it’s the fact that when you go through something like that, I always say you cured of moments like that 50% is medical and the other 50% is the support system that you’ve got around yourself. I truly believe that the fact that I allowed myself to recognise that I had a very strong support system. I had a phenomenal husband that carried me through this. That was probably kind of like another unlocking moment to see how, how much I value the support that you have yourself. People in this retail industry, we’re not very good at allow people to help us. I don’t know if it’s, I don’t know if, I think that there’s a whole other podcast on that Gary, but it’s actually interesting that the way that retail is, the DNA of retail, because of the competition, the company, you know, the landscape and everything, it does not allow your, a lot of those leaders to take care of themselves. But on the flip side, not a lot of people ask for help. People tend to want to do it on their own, they’re afraid that they’re going to sell the secret sauce, or whatever. And I think that’s very interesting. And when when you go through an illness, that you know that 50% of the healing will happen by allowing other people to help you when you’re vulnerable. I think that’s also very, very clear. And I still have some issues sometime with this. And I think it’s because I’m a true retailer that I don’t tend to ask for help. But I remember that I can actually say today, the healing of coming out of remission in a cancer was really the fact that I was, I allowed myself, I didn’t provide any more, then I was providing inward by allowing myself to be helped.
Gary Crotaz 26:22
And how did that experience and that sort of transition in your thinking, impact you as a leader over the following years? And today, how are you different today, because you’ve been through that?
Normand Ciarlo 26:35
There was a lot of things that I thought that it was so important that they became so non-important for me. I also recognise that as I was actually, you know, going through my career, and also from, you know, an age and maturity as a human being, I also became much more aware of the things that I was really good. So just to tell you a little bit in where I talked about transferable skill, and challenging yourself constantly, to go from one job to another and actually put yourself into an environment where you’re going to learn, I would say that since my cancer, I’ve probably leveraged a lot more my strength. And I adopted a little bit of a pay it forward mentality, saying that I’ve got some really good strong baggage that I’ve acquired through my career. And it became a little bit more kind of like I, I went back to my providing mindset. But I, you know, it’s interesting, because now what I tend to do is instead of focusing on the whatnot, and what you’re not good at, and everything, it’s really kind of an approach of like, How can I help you to be better, I truly believe and I truly believe that everybody has the potential of success. I’ve always, I’ve always done that. And I remember not long time ago, we had a huge conversation about, you know, ending somebody’s employment, and I actually fought tooth and nails. And I said, No, we cannot, because I don’t think we’ve done everything we should have to support that person. And the day that we are going to decide that that person is no longer with this organisation, it will be the day that we can all hold hands and say, it might be not be the right fit, we’ve done everything we could, and then we’re going to make that decision. But I think a lot of times people forget that they also have a little bit of that responsibility to help others. So I’m a little bit in a mindset now that because of my experience, a little bit unconventional. I’m a little bit of a leader that can actually switch a little bit leadership style, depending on the situation. And I adapt a little bit more of a different leadership style with different people in order to make sure that ensure myself that I’m actually fully capable of supporting them, and they are going to get the most out of it. So I would say it became a little bit more of a less about intaking and more about out-taking for me and I think since about, while I was at Holt Renfrew, I had to really had to stretch my leadership style because it was a very, very tough time. It was a humongous project. And, and the only reason we managed to do it through COVID was because we had a fantastic team, the human capital was way more richer than the investment we, we did in the building. And that’s the reason why the store is successful today. I think it’s the human capital that count.
Gary Crotaz 29:40
It’s such an important topic at the moment with the Great Reset or the Great Resignation, whatever, whatever you want to call it. You know, I talk a lot in my work about how to build a deep sense of engagement and authenticity in your work, it’s the heart of my book, The IDEA Mindset. What do you think leaders need to be doing in 2022 to create a great place to work for all members of the team?
Normand Ciarlo 30:04
Well, if and I’m going to say this in the very honest way, they really, every individual needs to ask themselves, am I somebody that understand what diversity and inclusion and belonging means? I’m a little bit tired myself of hearing organisation, claiming that they’re diverse and inclusion, but when you actually ask them what really diverse and inclusive means they can all give you a diverse definition, where they usually bring it back to race, or gender, or equality or, you know, what the the natural thing we usually put next to diversity. But when it comes to inclusion, they very rarely understand what that means. And for me, inclusion means belonging, meaning that a sense of belonging regardless if you’re in a relationship, if you’re in a group setting, if you’re in a community environment, or in your job, if you don’t have that engagement with your employer, your friends, your colleagues, your partner, your husband, your wife, your kids, if the word engagement is not, does not live through the relationship that you have, one of the two persons will not feel that they belong. And I always say that belonging is much more important than the whole, I don’t say that the topic of diversity / inclusion is not important. But if you assess the belonging, automatically, you kind of open up the door to diversity and inclusion. So I truly, I’m a firm, firm believer that anybody in today’s leadership role. They might hear their words D&I as the thing of the moment. But what they need to say that it’s always been there, we haven’t been great as a society doing it. And ask people about it. I think don’t limit yourself to a social debate. You know, ask your friends, what does that mean to you? Ask your employee. What does diversity and inclusion means to you? And you will see, the only thing that people, every human being on this earth wants to belong somewhere. And that’s kind of like a natural thing.
Gary Crotaz 32:37
I think it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a really, really interesting take to say diversity and inclusion is important. But dial into the sense of belonging, I think that’s a really, really powerful theme. So if I’m, if I’m a leader, and I’m walking into, for the sake of argument, a retail store and just talking to the team on the shop floor, what does it sound like? What kind of things do people say, as example, when they feel a sense of belonging? And what does it sound like when they’re doing their jobs, but they don’t feel that sense of belonging, do you think?
Normand Ciarlo 33:11
I personally think that when people feel that they belong, they will become a lot more transparent than honest. They’ll also, it’s also going to build a humongous sense of trust in the organisation. If people feel like they belong, they want to have a, I call it, you know, I call it everybody, it’s the self-worth, right? Why do I bring to the organisation? What have I done today that helped the business, right? That’s what sense of belonging really means. A lot of organisation or leader, they think that the sense of belonging is something that you have to teach or coach, no, the only thing you need to do as a leader is enable an environment where people can feel that they belong. That’s when a leadership needs to do, they just need to enable an environment. And those are just true, availability, active listening, let them tell you what they think. And don’t, don’t disagree. I mean, you might not, you might actually debate, and they’ll want to debate most of the time. But I found that when I actually let people talk to me, and I’m a great debater, I love a good debate. And I used to be on the sales floor. And I actually had to educate my staff of Yeah, what you’re telling me makes sense. But let me explain to you a little bit, the reality of what that would look like. And most of the time because I engage into a professional conversation, and I’ve explained to them that either from a budget perspective, it didn’t work or from an ROI, it was not part of our strategy. People didn’t feel engaged and they was like, Oh, now I get it, and they would walk away say, Hey, I spoke to the VP and he explained to me, and you know, all of the other associate that were like chitter-chatting on the floor about it, I created an ally that helped me explaining what the reality was. And then they also felt that they were belonging because they knew, right? It’s the transparency and the trust that you actually have to do as a leader. It’s really important.
Gary Crotaz 35:11
And when you’re talking to an organisation that is very much in the early stages of that kind of journey, and they want to do something, but they kind of didn’t know where to start. where’s a, where’s a great place to start in starting to develop that kind of culture?
Normand Ciarlo 35:26
Well, I think there’s there’s twofold to this, I think there’s, there’s needs to be an honest assessment that they need to do it, not just use the word because it’s a hot words right now, in all organisations. So the worst thing is that, what I would say to you. Diversity and Inclusion is not a Human Resources issue. Diversity and inclusion is, needs to be part of the corporate world, right? Everybody, the President, the CEO, the Chair, everybody needs to have their own journey on diversity and inclusion. So it’s not a programme, it’s not a to do, it’s not a checklist. The second thing I would say, once you’ve admit, and you’ve assessed, that you’ve actually have an opportunity in that area, is you need to go back to the population and scope and survey your people. First of all, you need to understand how diverse are we? Are we diverse? Oh, we are, great! So maybe, you know, we can actually just leverage the fact that we’re already diverse, or is our, which most organisation will realise, is that their general population is somewhat diverse, but their executive is not. And they need to lead by example. And that’s actually kind of a huge, right now it’s a huge elephant on the table, that some companies said, we’re so diverse, we hired from all genders, sexuality, but then you look back and you go on Lincoln, and you decide to look at their org chart and going, not so diverse after all! But that’s actually, it’s something that every organisation needs to have kind of the self-assessment. And I think if it starts from there, then the rest is just called, it’s just called life, you just call, it’s changing the way that you look at thing, it’s having conversation, like we’re having today, it’s having good debate with your friend about what it means. It’s asking people, What does that mean for you, and then I learned from because my husband and I always have these conversation, and, and we had different views. And it was very interesting, because I was very passionate about things that, by listening, I realised that, you know, my point of view was came from a really strong point of view. But I also learned that I might actually be in a different area than some others, and I’ve got to be very, in order to be inclusive, I’ve got to be very, very aware that not everybody’s going to agree with me. Right?
Gary Crotaz 37:53
And I think, yeah, I mean, that’s an amazing point, a really important one, that diversity of thought is as important as diversity of ethnicity and, you know, language and, you know, gender and all the other, all the other factors, but diversity of thinking is, is, is really what it’s about. It’s not about having, you know, having the right, whatever is perceived as the sort of the right faces in the room. That’s not the point, you know, you’re kind of missing the point, to your point about about belonging. So, and if you cast your yourself forward in five to 10 years, and you think about where you’d love retail to get to in terms of diversity, inclusion, belonging, what would that look like, in a time where we’ve sort of progressed to the next level?
Normand Ciarlo 38:36
Well, ideally, I don’t know if five, five years is going to be, I think we’ve got a way to go. But ideally, what I would like for it to be is that we don’t have to talk about it anymore. Basically, it should just be that that’s who we are, you know, yeah, we’ll we’ll call it diverse and inclusive, because those are words in the, in the dictionary, and we all know about it. But, you know, I, let’s let’s believe that we’re not going to be, we’re not going to be discussing the fact that the executive team is not diverse, but the general population is diverse. Let’s allow people that are the best be their best, regardless who they are. And I think that’s probably one of the things that I find that there’s still a lot of stigma about it is, you know, I explained inclusion in this way, because a lot of people talks about inclusion around race and stuff like that. Inclusion, somebody that feels included, is that if you have a project and you know that one person on your team is the best for the job, don’t fight it, give it to them, allow them to be that person that’s going to lead that project. That’s inclusivity. That’s being that, it’s not because Sally Sue has a marketing job, but this person really understand this project and could really do well, well, don’t limit that other person and exclude them from it because Sally Sue is in the job, because Sally Sue might actually not be able to do it as well as this person. And that’s where we need to be more flexible from an organisation point of view and allow people to say, you know, people complain, one of the biggest thing, and I know you know that Gary, is that when you speak to compensation, and you speak to retention, people don’t really bring salary first, what they want is they want to belong, and they want to develop, that’s the two things they want to do at the beginning, then they want to get paid for what they do. And I agree, because I do too, when I work, but at the end of the day, that’s if people would be as inclusive as they could be. Development would not also be a huge piece of conversation, because people would develop in their job. But we tend to put people in silos. Well, you’re a sales associate in mens, and you’re only going to learn about mens, well, I’m sorry. Maybe they know more about beauty that you know, and that allowed them to actually explore that area. So that to me, is inclusivity.
Gary Crotaz 41:17
It’s a really important message, and you’ve articulated it really pretty well. So thank you for that. So Normand, when you look ahead to you know, the rest of 2022, what’s coming up for you?
Normand Ciarlo 41:29
Well, actually what’s coming up, as I’m speaking to you today, I’m actually right now in kind of a career move where actually I’m looking for my next challenge. And I think that what I’m actually want to do is really continue to be this retail expert, and being able to leverage my expertise and leverage my knowledge, as much as a human being as a retailer, and help an organisation to actually succeed. I mean, today, channel of revenues are so diverse with omni channel and E comm and everything that’s going on with social media and the way that our sales associate can sell. And I think that it’s very interesting to be forward-thinking. And, you know, I still want to believe that my grey hair are helping me to think forward not holding me back. So yes, so I’m open to my next challenge right now. I’m really looking forward to be able to provide to an organisation the expertise and become an asset of any organisation that would actually win need any kind of help. So that’s very important for me, the sentence, again it’s a sense of belonging, also, I want to be able to work for an organisation where I’m going to feel like I belong, and I can have an impact.
Gary Crotaz 42:54
Amazing. And if there are, you know, recruiters listening, what part of the world are you focused on finding your next opportunity?
Normand Ciarlo 43:01
Actually, we’re in Canada right now, I think, really, what’s interesting right now, and because I mean, I’m kind of on the market, the remote, the hybrid model, and the remote working is something very interesting, which allows, you know, recruiters or company to seek talent a little bit outside their comfort zone, because we’ve learned the past three years or two and a half years anyway, that it works. So, so I’m based in Montreal, right now, I’m living in Toronto, but I really am based out of Montreal. So for me, my expertise really reside into the North America market. That’s really where my retail landscape has been for all of my past year, but I’m diverse, I go from, you know, from Apple to luxury to specialty retail. So basically in Canada, the area of Canada that’s really where I’m aiming for.
Gary Crotaz 43:56
Amazing and I can vouch for your, for your incredible skills as a retail leader. So you know, that that is without doubt. And where can people find out more about you?
Normand Ciarlo 44:05
I’m LinkedIn actually right now, the best thing is all my information is there. So if they look in there under Normand Ciarlo, my name is, you said it very well by the way, my name is Normand Ciarlo, they can find it on there. Find me on LinkedIn, and they can actually contact me right from there. All my informations are on there.
Gary Crotaz 44:26
That’s fantastic. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity when you suddenly know the right path ahead. For Normand Ciarlo, it was experience with cancer that brought meaning to his purpose and helped him see the importance of a powerful mindset in creating a working life that plays to your strengths, and a leadership culture that promotes diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Normand, thank you so much for joining me today on The Unlock Moment.
Normand Ciarlo 44:52
Thank you, Gary. Thank you very much to your listener Thank you.
Gary Crotaz 44:56
This has been The Unlock Moment, a podcast with me Dr. Gary Crotaz. Thank you for listening in. You can find out more about how to figure out what you want and how to get it in my book, The IDEA Mindset, available in physical book, ebook and audiobook format. F follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to this podcast to get notified about future episodes. Join me again soon