When I was sent a copy of the book The Four Intelligences of the Business Mind I decided it’d be more interesting to interview the author, Valeh Nazemoff, than just write about the book itself. Thus this interview…
Q: What are the four intelligences of the business mind, Valeh?
The Four Intelligences of the Business Mind are made up of financial, customer, data and mastermind intelligence. In order to transform a business, leaders can go beyond the traditional paradigm of intellect, such as IQ, and employ these four aspects of intelligence to truly succeed.
Decision makers are always looking to transform their businesses through a new program or initiative. They want to make an impact and get to the next level. But, they often have doubt. They’re not certain that the information they’re using to make decisions is accurate. They’re not confident that the organization’s performance will actually improve as a result of their project.
By harnessing my Four Intelligences framework, leaders can “re-train” their brains to identify opportunities and make strategic decisions swiftly and effectively. This approach blends research from the fields of neuroscience, organizational behavior, and analytics and creates a habit of constantly cycling through four crucial sets of factors to drive value and optimize performance.
Executives want to avoid the rework, delays and unnecessary costs when executing a new plan. And yet, the process can be overwhelming and goals seemingly almost unattainable as they struggle to break free from traditional decision making practices.
Q: Financial, Customer, Data, and Mastermind Intelligence. Okay, why those, not four other quadrants? Or three, or six?
These four different but interrelated types of intelligence are the ones that are truly essential to today’s executive, and benefit anyone across an organization, from all levels. The understanding of these four areas is vital to various business models.
Financial intelligence is about getting a “deep dive” into your financial position. It’s not just the dollars and cents – it’s about understanding emotional behaviors, too. What drives your financial decisions? Trust? Fear? Rewards? Financial intelligence is also about prediction and risk – your insights into future investments and initiatives, and your comfort level with the impact of your decisions.
Customer intelligence focuses on identifying your ideal customers and strategizing ways of attracting them. What makes “ideal” customers … “ideal” – and why are you an ideal match for them. What makes them tick and how do you connect with them? And once you do, how will you convince them that you’re the business provider of choice? Customer intelligence helps you answer all these critical questions and more.
Data Intelligence is about the process and steps necessary to synchronously communicate and interpret data internally within your organization and externally with third party vendors and other business entities. How do you do that? By recasting information in a visual way, allowing for rapid decision-making.
And then there’s Mastermind Intelligence, which is about fostering new and innovative ideas by building a non-judgmental and creative environment where a pipeline of ideas can be generated through respect and collaboration. Mastermind Intelligence is ultimately about triggering engaging thoughts and exercises that can be put into action, with an emphasis on leadership that transforms teams and corporate culture.
Developing and refining financial, customer, data, and mastermind intelligence is an iterative and cyclical process, with the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
Q: What motivated you to write this book?
Since a young age, I have always been a problem solver. I love taking the puzzle pieces of an organization in distress and helping them create order from chaos. In today’s business world we are overwhelmed with data. How do we process it and analyze it? How do we know where to start or how to fix it? I see a lot of people believing that the technology will just fix it. How do we get to the root cause, collaborate, communicate, plan for growth and reduce costs, all while balancing life and work? This avalanche of data causes stress, which leads to health issues, poor performance and lack of passion, both of the company and the employees. My passion is transforming departments and organizations by sharing with them my proven methodology and giving them a framework to institute processes that will help them approach future challenges calmly. Work and life is much better when you have a plan for attacking it, instead of running around in a panic. My goal is to help people achieve that clarity of focus.
On a personal level, I’ve come to the point in my life where I want to pass along the information and lessons I’ve learned to future leaders. As such, I’ve had the honor of participating in several mentor programs with George Mason and Marymount University and have also created an internship program between my company and University of Mary Washington. If I can make someone’s life easier and more fulfilling by passing on my experience and tricks of the trade, then I feel an obligation to do that.
I also help my clients make critical decisions that can transform their companies and their careers. By learning how to train their minds to focus on the four essential intelligences as described in my book (financial, customer, data, and mastermind), executives and employees can learn to hone in and focus to what data they actually need (hint: It’s a lot less than they think), how to collaborate across departments, help streamline change (whether mandated or voluntary), how to drive value and how to grow personally and financially.
Q: What’s your business background and how have the four intelligences played into your work history?
A life-long student, I earned a BS in psychology with a focus in organizational behavior and two MBAs in both e-business and global management and certification in project management, which I’ve blended in with my work experience to create the Four Intelligences framework. I love bringing my passion and energy into live settings, and hold workshops and speaking sessions, in addition to having taught and mentored at the university level.
Due to my experience, personality and passions, I am not your average high level business consultant. I convey my messaging in a fun, engaging and relatable way, using my psychology, organizational behavior, academic, and mentoring backgrounds. I approach all of my interactions with sincerity and compassion, and I am very conscious of the fact that society is overloaded with information and need solutions presented in a salient, easy-to-digest snapshot, hence the four intelligences framework.
Q: Prior to formulating the four intelligences, how did you perceive successes and failures at client companies and within your own organization?
I realized my definition of success and failure didn’t match my colleagues, peers, and the market. To many, success is defined by their number of employees and amount of revenue. To me, success is specific to the task at hand. Success is to accomplish or achieve a certain, purpose-based goal within a specific timeframe. For example, I felt successful when my book was published and later became an international bestseller. The money aspect of it is a very small part. I feel successful because I am able to share my message and framework. Same with different business models – the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) which is an agency within the US Health and Human Services (HHS) focuses on the safety and quality of products that we intake, apply to our skin, breathe and much more. Their definition of success is not by how much revenue they produced, but by how much health and well-being they were able to preserve by safety and security measures.
Within my own organization and line of business, there is pressure to get as big as possible, as quickly as possible. But, we realized that we wanted to stay small and focus on partnerships that would help us stay true to our mission of customized strategic mapping for business performance, data governance and management related projects. So, our size is smaller, yet we are successful by our own definitions, as redefined by the four intelligences.
Q: How do your theories help your company Acolyst with its many government and other clients?
At Acolyst, we apply the four intelligences to transform our own company. We are constantly evaluating our current situation and identifying where we can use improvement. We strive to be innovative, forward thinking and to plan tactically and strategically. The four intelligences are just part of our company’s rhythm and habits, continually being applied and re-applied. It is not to be used once, but repeatedly throughout the cycle of business, the benefits of which we pass along to our clients.
Q: What’s next on your writing or teaching horizon, Valeh?
I have so many exciting things going on and am passionate about sharing my message about how people can transform their lives through teamwork, strategic planning and technology. In addition to an upcoming workshop about the Four Intelligences for a Fortune 100 company, I was selected to have a recurring blog series on CIO.com called “The Mindful CIO”, which began in December 2014. In February 2015, Arianna Huffington saw a piece that I wrote and asked me to write a regular blog on the Huffington Post. So I am now a HuffPost blogger, as well.
As a ballroom dancer, I am in the process of writing another book that blends the worlds of dance and business. You’d be surprised about the parallels between the two and the lessons that can be learned – to feel alive, creative, focused, alert, and aware of patterns and opportunities, thus enabling better and effective decisions.
Interested in Valeh’s book? Check out The Four Intelligences of the Business Mind at Amazon.com.