May 31, 2023

Trust in Action with Jim Massey

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I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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Throughout your career, you will meet people that will make a lasting impression. For me, Jim Massey is one of those people. On today’s episode of the podcast, I’m having a meaningful conversation with Jim about his book, “Trust in Action: The Leader’s Guide to Act. Right. Now.”

But make no mistake. This episode isn’t just for people leaders. It’s for every person. We are digging into behaviors at work on a human level. Whether it’s how to be the leader others can trust, the importance of knowing your purpose, or how to come back from mistakes.

And if you know me or Jim, you know that we got a bit deep on diversity, equity and inclusion. We covered being an advocate, real examples where Jim had tough conversations and spoke up, creating safety for others, and the little but important things you can do right now.

About Jim: Jim is a thought leader and behaviorist on trust, sustainability and ethics. He has 25 years of experience in the life sciences and holds a Master of Science degree in Organizational Development from Johns Hopkins University.

Note: The views and opinions that are expressed in this episode are Jim’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of any company. These are his personal insights based on his experience and expertise and as an executive in the life sciences industry.

Mentioned in this episode:

What you’ll learn:

  • The difference trust can make whether it be in overcoming imposter syndrome or creating organizational change
  • Jim’s Trust model that can help you take action toward what you want, right now, at any level
  • The impact of identifying your purpose and living authentically
  • The simple steps you can take to be a more inclusive leader

Work with Melissa:

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Welcome to Your Worthy Career, a podcast with me, Melissa Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate credit and talent development and organizational psychology. I help women like you get extraordinary results by being more you, not less. I won’t just help you have a career experience worthy of you, but I will help you build your self worth to shift what you think is possible and take the action that will create the career you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s more meaningful work you’re passionate about, making more money, getting to your next level, or being more effective as a leader, we are shattering the glass ceiling here. The one that exists for women at work and the one we put on ourselves with our doubt and inner critic. Each week you will get practical teachings grounded in neuroscience and effective career development strategies. You’ll experience deep mindset shifts and the perfect amount of woo so you can run your career with ease rather than your career running you. You were born for more and I’m going to help you get there with maybe a few dance parties along the way. Your up level begins now.

Melissa Lawrence (01:17)

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. Now, throughout your career, you will meet people that will make a lasting impression. And for me, Jim Massey is one of those people. On today’s episode of the podcast, I’m having a meaningful conversation with Jim, who is the author of the book Trust and Action, the Leader’s Guide to Act. Right. Now. and also a former colleague of mine at AstraZeneca. But make no mistake, this episode isn’t just for people leaders, it’s for every person. We are digging into behaviors at work on a human level, whether it’s how to be the leader others can trust, the importance of knowing your purpose, or how to come back from mistakes. And if you know me and if you’ve ever met Jim, you know that we got into it on diversity, equity, and inclusion. We covered being an advocate, real examples where Jim had tough conversations at an executive level and spoke up, creating safety for others, and the little but very important things that you can do from where you are right now. I want to note before we dig into this conversation that the views and opinions that are expressed in this episode are Jim’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of any company.

These are his personal insights based on his experience and expertise and as an executive in the life sciences industry. Grab a coffee or tea and cuddle up. Let’s get started. Hello and big welcome to Jim Massey, who’s a former colleague of mine and guest for today’s podcast. I’m so excited to dig into this meaningful conversation that we’re going to talk about today and also to dig into your new book, Trust and Action. Jim, for the listeners, can you share a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Well, thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here with you. It’s great to be reconnected. When you work together and you move on, it’s always fun to know our paths cross again. So I really appreciate your invitation.

Melissa Lawrence (03:16)

Of course.

Jim Massey (03:18)

It’s always fascinating to try to answer who I am and what I do. Because looking back, I’ve come to embrace human behavior. I have been trying to influence human behavior for as long as I can remember, whether it’s the first campaign I worked on in the third grade, supporting Congressman Skelton in Lexington, Missouri. Fast forward to career, each almost 10 years of piece in consumer marketing for Fortune 500 companies. And then in compliance and ethics for almost 15 years at AstraZeneca, our past prospect of AstraZeneca. And then I started realizing it wasn’t just enough to influence human behavior to buy more product and consume, consume, consume. But I need to influence human behavior for good. And it wasn’t until around 2015 that I started to realize that good needed to be both in permanence and impact. And that’s when I started my work in the sustainability ESG, environmental social governance arena. And so that’s a summary of what I’ve done in my life’s work. And who I am is a behavioralist who’s passionate about all things. I was raised to not like anything. You love or hate it, move on if you don’t like it.

Jim Massey (04:36)

I’m a dad. I am trying to raise two world game changers. And just this past weekend, they’re teenagers, I sometimes think if I could just get them out of my house, that would be a game changer. But they’re great human beings and I enjoy that role. And my partner and I, all four of us love to travel. And we’ve been to all 50 states in the summer. We’re going to finish all seven continents as a family. So we love seeing and finding adventure. So that’s a little bit of who I am and what I do.

Melissa Lawrence (05:04)

That’s so fun. And I’m so glad the little things that you touched on, I think, give a lot of insight into who you are because I think when people listen to this, and then I’m sure they’ll look you up on LinkedIn if they’re not already familiar with your work, you definitely stand out. And that’s something that with AstroZedko and we work together, we didn’t work together really closely, but it wasn’t hard to see that you lead differently. The way that you take your role and make it your own is really, I think, unique to a lot of leaders. And that’s a lot of the work that I do also is around helping leaders be the leader they want to be and be authentic. And I think you’re such a great example of that. And so I think sharing your story here and how you do that, and we’re going to get into that a little bit more is going to be so valuable for everyone to hear.

Jim Massey (05:50)

Oh, Melissa, it’s very trying to hear that because you never know how you land on it, right? But I learned early in mid career that I can’t do anyone else or be anything else. And this is all I got. And so that’s when I started trying to show up more as who I want to be and who I am. I feel that there is a close comparison between the two.

Melissa Lawrence (06:17)

Yeah. And it’s so much happier. Your life can be so much more fulfilling when you stop trying to be someone else. You just let your freak flag fly as people say.

Jim Massey (06:28)

I want you to repeat that. Let your.

Melissa Lawrence (06:30)

Freak flag fly. Yeah, try to say that 10 times faster.

Jim Massey (06:34)

I love it. I love it.

Melissa Lawrence (06:36)

Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about your book because we’re connected on LinkedIn. I saw that you had this book coming out and I was really curious what you chose to put in there. And so I read it very quickly over about a weekend. And there’s so many good nuggets in there. I love the way that you tell stories to bring all of your insights and history and guidance for leaders to life. So can you just give a little bit of an introduction into your book and maybe how it came to be?

Jim Massey (07:04)

Yeah. It came to be because during the time when I left AstraZeneca, I made the decision in December of 2019, fast forward to when I was supposed to leave in May of 2020, the world changed. And for those of you who may not recall, COVID shut us all down. And there was talk about, do I stay? Do I go? And it’s like, no decision made. Kind of going back to that love hate. I loved my time at AstraZeneca, but it was done. And there was no sense in trying to figure out what was next. And so as I was leaving AstraZeneca, people were starting to hear at that time, COVID in and of itself was a major ESG topic. Human health, access to health care, the murder of George Floyd was taking place and the Black Lives Matter movement was really taking off. And the globe was starting to address what ESG meant. But people were afraid, and I started to realize they weren’t trusting themselves to take action. And ironically, I was getting calls from executives, members of boards of big companies. They’re like, I don’t understand what this is. And I was seeing them hesitate because everything was hitting at the same time.

Jim Massey (08:21)

And so for me, I realized I had developed this model for myself. It’s a model I call it the trust model, and we’ll get into more of the details, but I’m actually sitting on something that I use to transform myself, to transform my teams, to transform the world in multiple facets. And if I can put that down and explain it to others, I felt a calling to put something I took for granted on how I led and how I lead and manage myself into words. So that’s the genesis of the book. And you won’t be surprised when I introduced it, trust in action reads multiple ways. We as humans need to see trust itself in action, but we also must trust in action itself. Action beats inaction every time. So I love play on words and sentences like that when it can be used both ways.

Melissa Lawrence (09:17)

Yeah, I love that story, too, because that is putting the book in action. You saw a problem and you created a solution by sharing the trust model that you have in this book, which is then what you help people know how to do within the book. So it’s really modeling and being an integrity with what you preach, which is a great trait to have as a leader.

Jim Massey (09:38)

And I’ll tell you, time and time again, I had to come back to the imposter syndrome. Who am I to be writing a book? I still feel that it was, and probably to some point, it is an ego thing. And then when people tell me, I loved your book, I loved your model, it’s awkward. It’s like, Wait, how can I have something that means that much to someone else? And it’s something I always want to keep emphasizing to everyone. We must trust ourselves. If you have a gift, you must trust in that gift. And in this case, for me, it was a model. I think abstractly, and I had created a model that I was able to use real time and my teams were using around the globe on all six continents in which the company was operating, I would always use this model, and we were transforming things. I had to keep reminding myself throughout writing this silly… No, the book is not silly, but the process. I was being silly, not accepting that, yes, I had a voice. I needed to use it.

Melissa Lawrence (10:41)

Yeah. So how do you answer that question, who am I to? Fill in the blank, because I think that’s what most people encounter at least once, if not all of the time. So how did you answer that for yourself?

Jim Massey (10:55)

It’s a key aspect, Melissa, for the trust model. And so do you mind if I just talk about there are three foundations of trust, and the first one is can. And we’re always evaluating, often in others, are they capable? Can they do this? And we see companies all the time make big promises. We’re going to transform the way you live. We’re going to transform the way you eat, the way you travel, the way you enjoy your life. But for me, trust also, when you look at self, trust plays out, trust in action plays at… This is going to sound wonky and Odieish organizational development, but that’s my background as a behaviorist. Trust exists at the self team and system level. So to your specific question, how did I answer that? The first question in one of the chapters in the CAN section of the book is why do you exist? It is hefty and it can get nasty at times. And I have been struggling to answer that for quite some time. But I finally have accepted that I exist to build our better. I’ve accepted that that comes in because I represent the 17 dimensions of power that many often will call privilege.

Jim Massey (12:17)

But the systems that exist need to be changed so more can benefit. And since I represent all of them, it is my obligation to build what’s next with many others to make it better for so many more. So it’s been a long journey. And I’ve even changed that purpose over time, thanks to feedback from so many others.

Melissa Lawrence (12:37)

So it sounds like you connect it to your purpose, and you make your purpose enough of a good reason.

Jim Massey (12:45)


Melissa Lawrence (12:46)

Yeah. And that’s so simple. And I think people can really grab onto that, that they don’t need another reason. They don’t need validation from other people. They don’t need some external circumstance. They can just say, This is my purpose. I feel called to do this, and this is enough.

Jim Massey (13:06)

I’m smiling. I know this is an audio, but to hear the idea that someone is connecting to their purpose and it is enough, it just makes me laugh. To connect to your purpose is more than any of us should ever be able to do. And if you do it regularly, then you’re at a level of consciousness of your existence. And I know it starts getting really heavy here, but for me, I practice faith. And for me to connect to my purpose means I’m living into what it is for me to be on this planet, why I was created. So it’s all that I can do. And it’s all I need to do. And that is what I try to accept on a daily basis as long as I’m doing it daily and it’s holding myself accountable to causing good in both impact and permanence.

Melissa Lawrence (13:55)

Yeah. And we can get on that level here because there’s a little bit of woo on this but yes. And that’s what I call it with connecting to the universe, whatever your spirituality is, to something bigger than yourself and trusting that that is enough, which I don’t think I’ve said it as simply as we are doing in this conversation. So I think that that’s great. I think it’ll land in a whole different way to talk about it in this way. But being able to go on a journey to be open to what that is, to connect to it and to let that be enough of a good reason to make the changes you want to for the greater good, for yourself, for your system community, for your family, for whatever the reason is, and to silence those external voices that tell you you can’t do it.

Jim Massey (14:39)

Yes. Oh, my goodness. The sentence you just said is five years of podcasts for you. And I think Trust in Action Chapter 11 is the second chapter in the do. And one of the things I talk about here is where leaders often fail, Melissa, is they make commitments, but they don’t follow through. And so the can is: are they capable? Can I make a statement? Yes, I can. But then the care is, can I demonstrate to others I have their best interest at heart? And so, again, often it’s in the words, but where the rubber meets the road with trust is in the do section. Will I do what I say? I will. And if I don’t, then I start to deteriorate both my can as well as my care. Because if I’m not doing what I’m saying, then how and why should people believe that I care about them? So that’s why in the second chapter in the do section, the chapters called this I know. And it’s from my childhood when I first learned Jesus loves me. I was raised Christian. I still practice my Christian faith. The important thing is I don’t believe that’s right forever.

Jim Massey (15:48)

It’s how I reconcile the larger universe and that my faith is based in this concept that there’s something that connects us all. For me, it is God and Christ. For others, it may sound something different, but it’s still a system that connects us. I believe in people. I believe in humanity and that the majority of us are trying to do good. Even when we do good, we also have learned that sometimes it’s not right, so we must learn and adapt and change. That’s what I call the built systems in the book. It’s really fun to explore what those built systems are. We’re trying to make sense out of the chaos. We create these built systems because we’re human, we’re flawed, but I still believe in us. And then the most important part, in most forms of religion, there is something after the world we’re existing today. And so I say that I believe in tomorrow, both literally and figuratively. I believe tomorrow I can do it again. If my life ends, I believe there is something beyond where I’m at. And so that’s why I believe in something that connects us all. I believe in those with whom I’m connected.

Jim Massey (16:56)

I believe it’s worth fighting for tomorrow. And so it’s where I go because it’s how I want to build our better is connecting with others, figuring out the systems that we’re trying to create that are actually in agreement with the system that naturally exists. So quit trying to control, don’t try to demand, just be and go with the flow. And that’s what I’m trying to do with trust and Action.

Melissa Lawrence (17:21)

Okay. That sounded like a manifesto. I feel like you could have… You’ll get the transcript. That was really good. So if we talk about trust, so for people that are like, Well, how do I know what trust is? Or how do we define trust? You talked about doing what you say you’re going to do. Is that how you would define it, or would you elaborate that more?

Jim Massey (17:43)

I believe trust is based on these three building blocks that I describe as can care do. I think they always coexist. It depends on the level at which you’re operating. That’s why it was so important for me to put it into this model. I think trust shows up to many when actions are taking place. But I think there’s a nuance to what trust is that is so much more about the care and the care. And I think that’s why I always like to differentiate that. So I may be sitting in a space with someone I really trust, and I see their actions are not matching what they’re telling me. But I know they care about me because I have history with them. And so the feedback, then what I focus on is, maybe it’s the capability, they have a blind spot. So I may start to focus on their can instead of even the care or do. There may be a scenario where they’re saying, yes, I want to do this, but they may not have the skills to actually execute. So instead of just worrying about the action, I may stay in the camp and help them develop a skill so that they can transfer experiences to help them do the action.

Jim Massey (19:02)

Sometimes I may be wondering if someone cares about me, or I may be thinking they do, but their actions aren’t matching it, and I haven’t updated to realize they’re no longer thinking about me. So I need to self examine the care portion. Does that still matter in our relationship? If it does, then I may have to exit that relationship if they don’t want their care and not me. So it puts a lot more in my control in the oscillation of trust. And I think the other thing for me that was so important, Melissa, is to define trust. Trust is one of those words where I felt like we were trying to be the Supreme Court and say, Remember that famous ruling when they were talking about pornography? It’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. I trust that, I trust you, I don’t trust you. Really, what aspect do you not trust about me? So that’s why I was trying to break it up and put it into those three categories of can care do, the foundations of trust.

Melissa Lawrence (19:59)

Okay. So it sounds like you approach trust with an open mind. So you incorporate your model, but then you’re not rigid and there’s an incident that happened, therefore trust is gone. And I think a lot of people approach trust that way. I trust you until I don’t, until you show me something that tells me I can’t trust you. So it’s almost like waiting for the shoe to drop. So it sounds like you have an open mind about it, but you also are aware that both you and the other person or institution or whatever have blind spots. So if there’s any part of the model that’s missing, you say, Is this a blind spot they have? Is this a blind spot I have? So that you can make an informed decision on whether or not trust is still there or whether or not something is still important to you.

Jim Massey (20:42)

Outside of trust, I have a fundamental leadership principle that I try to operate by. There’s never anything wrong, just something missing.

Melissa Lawrence (20:51)


Jim Massey (20:51)

So it’s exactly what you’re saying. And I think the other thing I’ll park that concept and come back to one of the opening pages of the book, I use the quote from Ernest Hemingway that says, The way to make people trustworthy is to trust them. I think we have trust backwards. I think you must earn my trust. And that goes against what my faith is. If I actually believe in people, I need to start with trust. And if I trust myself, I know I’m able to get through it. Anything that I need to get through. So if I come into that, I do start with trust. And I do believe most people wake up to do good. And that if someone’s doing something that’s harming or hurting me, not harming me, I’m not talking serious physical harm here, but I’m let down at a meeting. I now am like, Thank goodness I have to sit through that instead of I wasn’t in the decision making room. Now, that may come with my career of being an executive where I feel like I’m well informed. I know what’s happening within my organization. So there could be a plethora of things here, but I think it’s really important to start with trust, giving it and not canceling it just because someone may have done or said something because they’re going through their life just trying to get stuff done as well.

Melissa Lawrence (22:14)

Okay. So if we put this into a really practical way that people can grab onto it, chew on it a little bit, can you tell us maybe a story or two about the impact you’ve seen trust have in the workplace, both of having it and not having it?

Jim Massey (22:29)

Yes. I think you talked about… One of the important things for me when I was writing this book, I’m not a researcher, I’m not an academic. I don’t sit and ask everyone what they think. I am on the front lines of business and transformation. And so I wanted to present my model with business anecdotes of how I’ve seen companies. But I also want to make it very personal and use the first narrative. It’s part memoir, business case, rooted in the model. And so I have tons of examples. The first one that comes to my mind is I was trying to convince the executive team at AstraZeneca to convert 17,000 vehicles into electric vehicles. And this was in the mid teens. So it may seem like we’re seeing more and more electric vehicles here, but this was a global initiative. And one of the biggest pushbacks I was getting is that Americans would not want to drive electric. They want their gas guzzling SUVs. I knew as the presenter in the room, I was going to be one of two Americans in the room. I also knew I was driving a gas guzzling SUV. I was the problem they were going to raise, and I was going to live into that.

Jim Massey (23:44)

Why wasn’t I trusting the message I was giving? And how could they trust me to be a change agent if I wasn’t doing what I was asking 17,000 colleagues around the world to do? So this was an example where I wanted to build trust, but also I wasn’t walking my walk. So a month before, I went out and got an electric vehicle, and I learned what the issues were. But I also was preparing for that question when it came up that the majority of vehicles, I think at the time it was either 7,000 or 11,000 of the 17,000 were US based vehicles. So it did come up. Americans won’t drive. They love their gas, gas and SUV. Massey, what do you drive? I’m like, I’m an electric vehicle. Oh, and it shifted the conversation. I established trust by having the knowledge that can, the care that I was asking others to do what I had already done, but I was doing it. And that’s an example of stepping into trusting yourself to transform a team. And a month after doing that, Melissa, I was outside of the executive boardroom of AstraZeneca, and I was on the global stage at the UN in New York talking about EV 100, electric vehicle 100 commitment companies could make to transform how business was addressing the climate crisis.It was just one of those pieces of how trusting myself and transforming how I thought about what I was talking about could transform the team, the transform the world.

Melissa Lawrence (25:28)

Okay. And where do you think that well intended leaders go wrong when it comes to implementing this model or where it’s not broken, they’re missing something?

Jim Massey (25:42)

Yes. Melissa, this is an interesting one for me because when we talk about leaders, we often start at the top. I like to go and say everyone’s a leader. I think where leaders start to have missing information is when they make it about themselves. Even if you’re a frontline worker, you’re still a leader for the organization, impacting someone. And I think, in particular on the care, it’s so easy to fall under this trap, the CEO, my executive vice president doesn’t care about me. How are you demonstrating compassion for them? And I think that often is where we start to feel tensions and confrontation in the workplace. Do we give grace up or do we only expect it down? And I have come to learn as I have navigated my career that I’m always shocked at how much I keep away from my direct reports and therefore from their direct reports and their direct reports and their direct reports and their direct reports. And so I always like to start with who’s a leader. How do we define leader? And for me, it’s anyone getting up and going to their job. So if we start with that premise, I think that’s where all leaders are. Now, I will say we have had some FRIMO examples of CEOs. The CEO of Hermann Miller, Andy Owen was telling her employees after getting a $5 million bonus and announcing they weren’t getting theirs, you can go to pity city, but don’t stay.

Jim Massey (27:14)

It’s like, whatever. That sounded as sincere and connected to humanity as nothing. It was just so connected and toned down. That’s where leaders start hubris and ignore that. But I always like to start with each of us having an obligation to show grace, to give a little. I know I’m here to talk about my book, Trust and Action, but one of my favorite books is Difficult Conversations. There’s a section in there where they talk about when you go through a difficult conversation, what do they know about it? Kids, they haven’t even thought about this. So what gets us so worked up that they don’t care, they care, they just haven’t thought. Just engage, give grace, have that conversation. Nine out of 10 times when I boil down mistrust, it comes into the human connection that we don’t give each other enough wiggle room to be human. It’s not about capability. It’s not about actually doing it. It’s just that we create these stories because of lack of information, and we often create the wrong stories. Yes.

Melissa Lawrence (28:22)

Our brains are really great at creating a narrative and filling in those missing pieces. I think ideally, I agree with your whole concept on everyone being a leader. I talk about the same thing around your leader, regardless of level. And I think in an ideal world, if people are operating using the things we’re talking about today, it’s very harmonious and it is very connecting human to human. If everyone has self awareness, if everyone understands that there are blind spots, if everyone has compassion, if everyone leads from where they are and has grace for others, that would be a beautiful thing. And I think one way that that can be a problem is when you have some people operating that way and some people not. And so I’m wondering if you have any advice around that, either from your book or just from your experience, because that is something that I hear from clients sometimes is that they feel they’re the ones doing all the things, but other people are not. And so where do you give where you’re not just the one always bending?

Jim Massey (29:38)

And how can.

Melissa Lawrence (29:40)

You help others, maybe rise up to the challenge? Or what do you do when they don’t?

Jim Massey(29:45)

Yeah. Listen, there are jerks in this world. There are those people who say, I do not care. I just need you to get this done. And I think that authoritarian leadership increases as you go up your career ladder. So for me, it’s understanding and prioritizing what matters most, getting that done, and helping my team understand that which you think is really important is not. So let’s stop that and get directed. There were times employees like, we were writing a report and they wanted to get every word correct. Just recently, I had someone come and say there was a comma between something we need to go back and correct the PDF before we go live. I said, No, we’re going live. This is a 100 page report. That comma is not material. It’s perfection. And I had other obligations. So I had to get highly directive. But then I followed up and I talked to the colleague and said, Listen, I appreciate your diligence, but you understand how it was too much. We have an obligation to get this information out. So I think it’s prioritizing figuring it out. And then ultimately, Melissa, there are going to be times when you’ll have to make the tough call.

Jim Massey (31:03)

Do you put up with it a little bit longer because you need to pay the bills? How do you start to figure out your exit strategy? Do you start to leverage your network to find another team within the organization? Because there will be some that blind spot they’re not being held accountable from above, and you can only do so much. Because what we’re talking about is a high level of consciousness of which I would say I have no research to back this up, but I would say there’s fewer than 30 % of leaders in the world today operating in the capacity in which we’re talking.

I think the other really important thing I want to come back to, especially for your listeners, is I come from the 17 dimensions of power. So it’s often easy for me to go toe to toe with jerks because I’ve been raised to be that way by just simply being born the way I was born. And so I’ve talked abstractly about that. For listeners, I am white, I’m male, I’m cisgender, I’m in a heterosexual relationship, I’m married, I’m a father, I’m 6’4, I have stature. Even recently, I had cataract surgery. I no longer wear glasses from an able side. There’s no known visual disability that I represent. I’m even right handed. Right handedness is one of the 17 powers that we talk about. I’m Western, I’m Christian. Even though I talk fake, it doesn’t matter, it does in the world and the system. So because I represent those things, the systems that I’m talking about were built for me.I get to show up a little bit differently. And so I think that that’s the other important part of the S side of ESG, it’s why I’m so passionate about this, is finding an advocate, finding a partner to have those conversations with, that if you’re experiencing something, maybe there’s someone else who could be a voice to help change the system that you might be suffering through, or they might be a way to get you out of that system. Because sometimes the system may just be a bad manager, not the entire company. That’s what I always say. Yes.

Melissa Lawrence (33:15)

I’m so glad you brought that up because I want to pivot into DEI a little bit. And I think that’s a great point around a bad manager sometimes. And that’s very evident if you talk to people about their work experience and the companies they work for. If they stayed in one department with one manager, they will label the company an entire way based on that experience, regardless of how many employees or continents that company has had. Yes. Or someone, if they get more experience in different departments with different managers, they will see just how big that society is, that community is, and how different the experience can be based on one manager, one department. So I’m so glad that you mentioned that. So how do you think your model enables leaders to be more inclusive or even support the agenda that a lot of companies have now around DEI.

Jim Massey (34:06)

Yeah. Again, for me, when leaders were coming and talking to me about how they were struggling, a lot of it had to do with DEI. I was sitting on a call with other executives and board members, and I was being trained on how to have a powerful LinkedIn profile. And the coach was saying, Listen, you can have a mask. That makes sense. It’s a little political in the US, but globally it’s about public health prices and all that. I wouldn’t get involved in Black Lives Matter. He’s like, That’s very political. And I was looking and I started scrolling through, waiting for someone else to say something. And everyone on the call presented as white and no one said anything. And he kept going, I said, I’m sorry, I want to come back. I wholeheartedly agree about the mask and public health. I’m extremely offended that you view Black Lives Matter as being political when the ability to not be killed by a police officer in a developed country is a basic human right, even for low to middle income countries. And I said, so I need to state what you just said is fundamentally incorrect.

Jim Massey (35:30)

And I cannot be on a call where no one else is saying this. He said, we have to agree to disagree, I said, no, I’m going to have to come in and talk about systemic racism that allows all of us to feel comfortable with a statement like that. But for any person of color to be on this call and hear that their existence is political instead of a basic human right is offensive to me and my humanity. And I went back on mute. But it was one of those pieces where afterwards my email and phones were flooded and everyone was like, We didn’t know what to say. We felt uncomfortable. That’s the can. I was so fortunate, Melissa, at AstraZeneca, I had amazing mentors and leaders who coached me how to use my voice. And I felt very comfortable in a setting of peers. I didn’t need their accolades or approval, but I couldn’t remain silent. But I had people who taught me how to do that, so I know I can. And because whether someone’s on the phone or not, I want to change systems. My purpose is to build our better. I care enough that I want people to know.

Jim Massey (36:45)

And then I must walk my walk, which meant I had to use my voice. And in that circumstance, many could say there’s quite a different way to do it. We were all executives there. There was an error in a statement that meant lives were political instead of equal, and I was not going to let that ignorance to continue. So I stated my facts, not against them, but it was a correction that I will continue to stand in my space, in particular, that moment in time. And so it’s one of those pieces that gets so complicated in the DENI space. But it’s one of those that the reason I have my voice today is because people who don’t present like me along the dimensions of power I discuss saw that I was a different leader and took the time to make me stronger, make me better. And I will forever be grateful for those individuals.

Melissa Lawrence (37:42)

Yeah, that’s such a powerful story. When I was studying psychological safety in grad school, when this was really interesting to me about your book is your model, the precursor from what I found around trust was that it starts with inclusion, not as a brand that you put on a poster but in the behavior. And so that story is such a good example of being inclusive of other people’s human experience, which is then just feeding and propelling your model where you’re seeing it as you’re operating within your model. And I think it all just feeds together so nicely. And I also really love how you spoke about your feeling compelled to speak up in that situation because something that I talk about is around safety to speak up. I think there was a time period, well, I know there was a time period in my career where it was like, speak up, speak up, everyone speak up. And then through my own learning, it occurred to me that not everyone feels safe to speak up. So a lot of times I think people look to others that are maybe marginalized to share their story or to speak up or to be the one to fight the fight, where that isn’t always safe for them to do, and it’s also not their job to do.

Jim Massey (39:06)

100 %. One of my favorite topics is fair pay. And it’s something that I’m really struggling with here in the US right now. The US Congress just passed the protection of women and girls in sport. And, Melissa, I hope you don’t mind, but that is such bullshit. If we really cared about women, we would be focused on fair pay laws in the US that required every company to pay equally today. This whole piece about fairness in sport, then why are we allowing women who are outperforming in what this global society calls football to be underpaid compared to their male colleagues? And the women footballers are having to fight so much harder for equal pay, and they’re getting there. So if you want to talk about that, but what the US Congress is focused on is transgendered women not being able to play in women’s sports. Come on. Is that really the protection we need today? No, there’s so much more. And so for me, at our previous organization in 2015, we started to make a commitment for 2025 that we wanted to have pay equity. And I remember by 2025, I thought, why are we waiting that long? And so I started within my own function looking at pay and started telling my teams, here’s what we’re paid. You’re paid equally. I use the annual calibration to create pay equity enough so that when I joined my new organization, I was working with colleagues to say, we’re building this. We have to start with pay equity. I’m so proud that at my current organization, we have leadership equity at all levels, VP, director, manager, individual contributor.

Jim Massey (40:52)

We also have pay equity at all levels. But let’s say it goes further than that. We have pay equity in the core of our business in STEM, and we have it in P&L. What many organizations are doing is they’re creating these roles in non-authoritative positions outside of core business and P&L and saying, yeah, we have women and historically excluded other people in HR, in sustainability, we have it in science, we have it in commercial. And it’s because our CEO was intentional from the beginning that that was a passion she wanted to see pulled through. And we wrapped around and built it right from the start. So these are examples of it can be done. We have 2,000 employees, right? And we look and inspect and something I want to get back to that I loved you talking about with speak up. When I was at AstraZeneca, we had a campaign on a speak up culture, and we were asking employees to speak up. But I focused on leaders because I wanted leaders to understand when we had the gift of employees speaking up, speaking up, leaders had to listen up and then act up and demonstrate that we were taking action.

Jim Massey (42:09)

And that’s when we started to see a turnaround with employees saying that they felt that they could speak up and that they felt that they were heard, which ironically goes back to the care and do foundations of trust. Yes.

Melissa Lawrence (42:24)

Thank you for mentioning all of that. I’m sure the listeners feel the pain when it comes to the difference in what is actually happening in workplaces and what can happen around equality and equity for women. But then also what our government does, which is completely everything is becoming, in my opinion, very politicized and around all of the wrong things and actually just dividing us more apart and not doing anything to help us all feel more comfortable and safe with who we are and have equal access and rights to everything we should all have equal access and rights to. Make a whole episode about that.

Jim Massey (43:04)

It just comes back to when I hear people, so you’re worried about women and girls in sport, but it’s about excluding someone instead of empowering and making it equal. And I think the other thing, too, Melissa, I love to talk about is when I talk about pay equity at my current organization, what I know is I’m paid fairly. So this just isn’t about women getting paid fairly. It’s about all employees getting fair pay. And so I take that on as this is why I drive it. I want to know I’m fairly compensated. And so if I can benchmark and see others are, then I know I am too. And that’s a place I want to be. Because I often hear male leaders say, well, yeah, women are paid equal. No, we’ve done the data and we have pay equity. So I didn’t even use gender equity when I was talking about that. We have pay equity.

Melissa Lawrence (43:58)


Jim Massey (44:00)

Regardless of how I identify or how I present the leaders…

Melissa Lawrence (44:04)

Just human levels. We’re both doing our hand actions. Right.

Jim Massey (44:09)

Yeah. Melissa and I are flying our hands around like, We have pay equity. For however the individual identifies, if they’re a VP, they have equity with their colleagues.

Melissa Lawrence (44:20)

Yes, perfectly said. 

Jim Massey (44:23)

When someone asked me, what about race? I’m like, We have pay equity.

Melissa Lawrence (44:27)


Jim Massey (44:28)

Period. Yeah. Go look at my data on how people identify, and then you can say, Okay, so if you are black, lesbian, Western, we have pay equity for that individual if they’re working at the VP level of my organization.

Melissa Lawrence (44:44)

And people.

Jim Massey (44:46)

Struggle with that because they’re so used to companies who are trying to race and correct. Now, it is important that we continue to inspect because I have seen where in the DEI space, it is easy for the intersectionality of multiple identities to be underrepresented in fairness. What I mean by that is, let’s pick women of color. White women may dilute or Black men may dilute if you look at Black pay or women pay. And so it is important to look at the intersectionality to ensure… So I don’t want to minimize the effort that goes there. But it’s another important aspect of truly showing you care and you’re willing to walk the walk by going beyond just the first level of the truth. Like the.

Melissa Lawrence (45:39)

Vanity metrics. Yeah. Okay. So if we dovetail off that a little bit, your story of how you talk about in the book about how you have noticed that you think differently, you advocate for others, and you’ve talked a bit about how you have more privilege in doing that, right? But then also the responsibility to do that. Can you talk a little bit about how people can maybe be more comfortable? When you gave that example on the telephone call, if there’s a way that people can be more comfortable doing that or to advocate for others in a way that they feel comfortable doing it, although as I’m saying this, to me, you’re doing something that is uncomfortable. That’s the way I look at it. Doing the right thing isn’t always comfortable. But I think when people listen to this and they think, what if this happens to me? Or what if I speak up and my boss doesn’t like it? What if it doesn’t land right or I don’t use the right words or whatever it is? So do you have any guidance you can give on that. Yeah, you won’t do it.

Jim Massey (46:46)

Give yourself grace. I’m sure when I did it, many were probably turned off when I said, I can’t sit back and listen to the lack of humanity on this. I use some pretty accusatory terms, but that’s what I was hearing. And so I called it what it was. Now, it was a conference call where no one had more power over me, so it was much easier. I think one of the most important things that I have found is to take a breath, breathe, center yourself. It can get so difficult to act, to trust in the action itself. Feel free to take a beat. If it’s new for you, maybe you don’t do it like I did at that time. Because the conversation moved on but I asked to go back because there were about 50 people on the call. I was trying to go through the Zoom. Is anyone else going to say something? No one’s doing anything. But again, it’s how we have to learn. And this is when I was talking to those who present more like me when they were nervous about having these conversations.

Jim Massey (47:53)

I encouraged them. One of the early things I started to do, and I went back to middle school. I remember one of the things the teacher once told me is they’re like, Jim, we’d love that you float around the criteria. Most kids don’t. And it’s just because I always had friends who were sitting everywhere, but we all did start to identify what table we belong to. So one of my favorite things I used to do at the old organization is I would go to lunch by myself and I would ask, Is this seat open? And I would sit with others who were by themselves, but I would always make it a point to try to find people who I didn’t know and be presented differently than me. And then I’d start having conversations about work culture. And it was always fun. It’s great here. I’m like, Oh, interesting, because I heard that it’s frustrating. And now I would start to give anecdotes from other one on one lunches I’d had. And so it was in very private, intimate settings that I started to learn to develop my own ability, my own I can, meaning I could go ask someone if I could sit with them at lunch.

Jim Massey (49:03)

And that’s how I started to develop my own capability. That then taught me how to show others I had their interest at heart and gave me the faith in myself and trust in myself to take the action I needed to take on that conference call that day. Simply asking if the seat is open and having someone else invite me. 

Melissa Lawrence (49:24)

Yeah, that’s such a great example because the next thing I was going to ask you was around how leaders can take action right now. What are some tangible things that they can do? I think that’s a great example because anyone can do that anywhere. It reminds me of when we were traveling and we went into a Starbucks and I was picking up the coffee and there was someone there with their caregiver and they just started talking to me and saying, Hi, how are you? Do you come here a lot? They started asking me all these questions. And it was just this very friendly conversation that you would have with someone you know, except I didn’t know this person. And it made my Starbucks experience more pleasant. And I left and I told my wife, I was like, If everyone just did that, we would feel so much more connected as humans to get out of our phones, get out of our own drama and just say, Hey, how are you? And actually care to hear the response.

Jim Massey (50:14)

Yes, absolutely. Melissa, hearing that story made me think, my son was mortified for one moment. We lived near each other, right? And so we were at a very busy mall in Southern Montgomery County here, and it was pre COVID, right? So we’re talking it was jam packed. And there was a spiffy elderly woman, she was dolled up to the nines, and she had a walker. And someone had bumped into her, and she fell. And it was this busy… And people kept walking around her. And what she found, her caregiver had gone to get the food. And this elderly woman’s laying on the ground. No one has stopped to help her. So I told my teenage son at the time, early teenage, I’m like, I need to go over to her. He’s like, Dad, you don’t know her. I’m like, She needs help. And so someone beat me to her. They’re going to lift her. I said, Hold on just a second. I said, Do you feel any pain? I’m not a medic, but I want to make sure my hip is really hurt. I’m like, So let’s just stay here. She’s like, I’m worried what people are going to think if I just lay here.

Jim Massey (51:22)

So I said, Well, let’s make it so you’re not alone. So I just lay down next to her and she’d give me a hug. What are you doing? I’m like, I know the outfit you’re wearing. I’m in cotton. If you can be on the ground, so can I. So now people are going to think, Who are these crazy people laying on this floor? But now that I’ve removed that, I need you just to relax until medics get here and can appropriately move you. She’s like, I’m afraid I’ve really hurt my hip. But my son’s like, Dad, what were you doing? I said she had a concern that I was able to immediately eliminate because we needed to focus on something other than what people thought. And once we did that… Melissa, that’s how I try to present and show up in the space in the world, just like you at Starbucks. We are sharing this space and you never know. I can’t tell you how many times those random interactions have led to something pretty magical. And if we can’t do it there, we’re not doing it in our workplaces either. And that’s why, no matter where I am… Just today, I was reading on LinkedIn Monday morning something about work life balance. And years ago, I switched them to be life’s work instead of work life. And by moving from work life thinking they were separate to life’s work, it has changed everything for me. It’s why I felt comfortable laying down, because my life’s work is to help people defeat and beat the systems that aren’t helping them.

Melissa Lawrence (52:52)

Yeah, that’s a great story. I’m so glad you shared that. And now, if I see anyone laying on the ground, I’m going to think of you or your son. Yeah.

Jim Massey (53:01)

And my son was proud of me after I was able to explain it to you. He was like, It looked like you curled up next to her. I’m like, No, I was doing it just because she was still worried. But it’s the little things that we can do that just brings humanity back to work and to life. Yeah, that’s.

Melissa Lawrence (53:19)

So good. Okay, so I always ask all of my guests at the end of our time together this question, and I want to ask it to you, what is one piece of advice that you wish you had earlier in your career?

Jim Massey (53:32)

I think it’s probably to bring my full self to work. And I think it’s so weird to hear someone who says they represent these powers, the dimensions of power. But my nonlinear thinking doesn’t fit into corporate well. And so I mastered it for so long. Instead of stepping into the light that, Hey, I’m different. I love having the DEI conversation because step into the light because you are different. Be that. And I wish I would have had someone. If someone gave me that gift in my late 30s, I wish I would have heard it at 22 because I could only imagine what I would have been doing had I stepped in the light then instead of waiting 15 years to do so.

Melissa Lawrence (54:25)

That’s really great advice. And I would add to your advice that if you don’t know how to do that or who that is to figure it out. Because I think some people are like, Okay, that’d be great. But I don’t know who I am or I don’t know how to do that because they still have so much fear or imposter syndrome or whatever it is. But there are definitely resources and tools and support that you can find if you want to take that journey to figure out who that is now rather than waiting 10, 20, 30 years or realize you never actually did it. That’s it.

Jim Massey (55:00)

So they need to get trust in action and call you.

Melissa Lawrence (55:02)

Connect with us on LinkedIn.

Jim Massey (55:07)

It’s genuinely that. It is not always fun to identify why you exist, but to not do it. I always forget who they attribute this to. I’ve often heard it was Twain, but the two most significant days, day you were born and the day you understand why. And we’re talking about the latter. It’s almost a rebirth. It’s magical. When you understand why and accept it and start taking action, it’s transformative.

Melissa Lawrence (55:44)

 When people understand, too, just how much greater their life and their career can be and the impact they’ll have that they won’t have if they don’t ever step up to that calling. It’s worth the discomfort of getting there as opposed to the pain of always doubting yourself and feeling like you’re putting yourself in a box and not ever breaking free from that. So I love that. And I’m so happy for everyone that got to listen to your wisdom today. I’d love for you to share how people can connect with you, where they can get your book, all of those good details. Yes. So the.

Jim Massey (56:15)

Books available wherever you buy books. I know Amazon has everything available, Barnes & Noble, I think still carries everything. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, or you can visit me at /

Melissa Lawrence (56:32)

And we’ll put those links in the show notes so that everyone can easily access them. So thanks so much for joining me today.

Jim Massey (56:38)

Again, thanks for inviting me. It’s always wonderful to be in your space. Thanks, Melissa. 

Melissa Lawrence (56:45)

Hey there. If you want to go from technical SME to the leader everyone wants to work for, you definitely want to be in my leadership development community that is exclusive to women in the pharma-biotech industry. Head to to get all of the details about the standout leader incubator and how you can join us.

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Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

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