Episode 181 – Unstoppable Crisis Manager with Alexandra Hoffmann
Alexandra Hoffmann, the founder and CEO of Crisis Ally, has many years of working in the corporate world to help leaders learn how better to manage and deal with crises they and their organizations face. She says that she began thinking about dealing with crisis management as a child. Not that she faced unusual or horrible crisis situations, but the concept peaked her interest from an early age.
Growing up in France Alexandra wanted to be a police officer. As is required in France, she studied the law and obtained her LLB in criminal law from Parris University. She went on to secure two Master’s degrees, one in corporate security and also one in business administration. Clearly she has a well-rounded knowledge that she decided to put to use in the world of managing crisis situation.
Our discussions range in this episode from topics surrounding September 11, 2001 to how and why people react as they do to crisis situations. Alexandra has many relevant and thought provoking observations I believe we all will find interesting. On top of everything else, she has a husband and two small children who keep her spare time occupied.
About the Guest:
Alexandra Hoffmann is the CEO of Crisis Ally, which helps Crisis Leaders and their teams build the right capabilities to thrive through crises. Crisis Ally serves clients internationally. Thanks to a career with the French government and large international corporations, Alexandra has a rich operational and multicultural experience with strong expertise in Business Resilience, its boosting factors, and best practices to manage it.
Alexandra is regularly interviewed in the print media to discuss corporate resilience topics, including Authority Magazine, Business Insider, and Thrive Global. She also writes for ASIS Security Management Magazine and the Crisis Response Journal and regularly presents at events.
Over the course of her career, Alexandra has served in a couple of NGOs as a volunteer, such as the American Red Cross and the French Red Cross.
Alexandra has an LLB in Criminal Law from Paris University, France, an M.Sc. in Corporate Security from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Alexandra is also a Certified Coach, trained in Neurosciences, and a Certified Yoga Teacher.
Last but not least, Alexandra is a mom of two!
Ways to connect with Alexandra:
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson ** 01:20
Well, good morning, it is morning here where I am. Welcome to unstoppable mindset. Today, we get to chat with Alexandra Hoffmann, who is the founder and CEO of Crisis Ally. And I am no stranger to crises, as many of you know, having been in the World Trade Center on September 11. And so I’m really anxious to hear what Alexandra has to say and to just chat about crises and whatever else comes along. She’s also a mom. And that could be a crisis and of itself. And I bet she has stories about that. So we get to listen to all of that, and hopefully learn some things and just have a little bit of fun today. So Alexandra, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Thank
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 02:03
you very much, Michael, for having me with you today. I’m really honored and very excited as
Michael Hingson ** 02:08
well. Now you are located where I’m
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 02:11
actually located in France, I’m French.
Michael Hingson ** 02:15
So right now it’s what time where you are,
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 02:19
it is almost 6pm My time.
Michael Hingson ** 02:22
So you’re eight hours ahead of us, or actually nine hours ahead of us because it is almost 9am here where I am. So that’s okay. It makes life fun. Well, we’re really glad that you’re here. Why don’t we start by maybe you telling us a little bit about kind of the early Alexandria growing up and all that kind of stuff.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 02:46
Michael Hingson ** 02:47
That kind of stuff makes it pretty general, doesn’t it?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 02:49
Super General? And shall I start?
Michael Hingson ** 02:53
Wherever you wish at the beginning?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 02:55
All right. All right. So I was born and grew up in Paris for until I my 20s I would say so. Nothing, I would say nothing exciting around that rights. And it started getting really exciting, at least for me when I started traveling around the world, after finishing my master’s degree in law back in France. And I had an opportunity to start traveling to Asia, especially more specifically Vietnam, and then Hong Kong. And that really triggered a whole different life for myself, to discover the world to learn about new cultures to learn about a new job, which actually led me to where I am today. 25 years later. So so that’s it for me in a in a really, really small nutshell. And apart from that I’m really part of a family with an older sister younger brother, and yeah, we had a pretty happy life. So everything went smoothly. For for me when I was when I was young, I want to say
Michael Hingson ** 04:09
no, no major crises or anything like that, huh? We
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 04:13
had some, like, you know, like every family I want to say and but yeah, I mean, my my sister got sick when we were young and that triggered a major crisis I wanted maybe that’s, you know, that started planting, planting a seed at the time, about crisis management and willing the will to care for others and to, to care for for the human beings I want to say. But yeah, I mean, apart from that we had a very regular life,
Michael Hingson ** 04:52
I want to say so you have two children. How old are they?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 04:55
I have a six year old boy and a three year old girl Oh,
Michael Hingson ** 05:00
oh, probably great ages and the crises will start when they start dating.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 05:07
Yeah, I mean, we’ve had prices as well, since they were born. But very, very normal prices. I’m gonna say nothing critical. Yeah, very new prices.
Michael Hingson ** 05:16
There’s a husband to go along with all of that. Yes, there is one.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 05:20
We have our prices as well. So yeah, I mean, that’s life, right. It’s downs. And that’s, that’s part of the journey. Right?
Michael Hingson ** 05:33
It is. Well, so tell me about the the travels, you said you traveled to Asia and so on? What prompted that? Going to Asia and other places. So
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 05:42
I actually went to, to the US as well. And what prompted me to travel there is really the fact that I’m actually having a crisis because my kids want to watch in the room right now, which is completely unexpected. So my husband saved the day. But let’s see for how long. So so no, I started traveling to Asia, because I, you know, I had this opportunity and then move to the US right after 911. Okay, because I wanted to start studying in corporate security. And I knew that there was a college back in New York, who is actually specialized in this. So I really wanted to take this opportunity, especially after 911 to really go there and and dive into this topic and really get get the knowledge, I want to I don’t want to say the expertise at that point, right, because it was really early in my career, but at least learn as much as I could about this topic to then start my career in corporate security. Back in Asia was more mostly focused on law, on law and work, basically, because I was originally a law students, right, so but really, what triggered me to travel to the US was really to study corporate security. And originally, you have to know that I wanted to I studied law back in France, because I wanted to be a police officer. And in France, when you want to become a police officer, you have to go through law school, basically, it’s it’s mandatory. I know, it’s very different than the US. So but my mind changed when I started traveling. And I realized I wanted to discover the world and speak English all the time. And, and there are new things and discover new cultures, basically.
Michael Hingson ** 07:39
Yeah. And you know what, that’s interesting. I’ve talked to a number of people who said the same sorts of things when they got to travel or when they wanted to travel. They very much enjoyed learning about new cultures and different kinds of environments and different kinds of people. And I know, even around the United States, and I’ve had the honor of doing that. And I’ve traveled to a number of countries, overseas, and so on as well. It is always fun to learn about new people and who they are and where they are and what they do and why they’re the way they are. And it certainly is not up to me to to judge one kind of people as opposed to someone else. Everyone’s customs are different. And that’s what makes it so much fun, isn’t it? Yeah,
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 08:22
then I I couldn’t agree more. And I, I need diversity. That’s, that’s, you know, that’s how I feed myself. My soul, I want to say, right. So that’s why meeting those diverse cultures and people is is a requirement for myself.
Michael Hingson ** 08:41
Outside of France, what’s the favorite place that you’ve been to that you really liked? Or do you have one? New York? Definitely.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 08:49
Michael Hingson ** 08:50
Definitely. New York.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 08:52
I spent enough years there to fall in love with it. And yeah,
Michael Hingson ** 08:57
yeah. There’s nothing like New York. Yeah, you’re you’re absolutely right. I mean, there are other places that are so much fun as well. But there’s nothing like New York, it’s a great place to be in a great place to go. And it really is a city that is Frank Sinatra sings in the song, it doesn’t sleep, because there’s always something going on. And I remember for a while when I lived back in the area, or when I would travel there, places like the Carnegie Deli, which unfortunately closed which I’m sad about. But we’re open to like four in the, in the morning. And then they opened again at six or 630. But they were they were open most of the time and other places there and always activity, which is just kind of cool. And one of the things I really liked about New York, and I don’t know how much it’s changed in the last, well, 20 years since well, 19 years since we moved, you could order any food or anything to be delivered, which for me was very convenient even being in the World Trade Center because I could order from some of the local delis and not necessarily have to go down and they would bring You showed up, which was great. Yeah.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 10:02
No, it’s, it’s it’s Yeah. I mean, I have so many memories there. And it’s there is no place like that. I can’t say that I would live there again, especially with young kids, right, right now, but it’s, yeah, it’s New York is part of the now it’s been part of me for many, many years.
Michael Hingson ** 10:25
It’s definitely an interesting and wonderful place to go. And I can very well understand why it’s a favorite place of yours. And it’s one of my favorite places as well. If we had to move back to that area, we lived in Westfield, New Jersey, my wife and I did and it was a better place to live for us, because my wife being in a wheelchair also needed a more accessible house than we would typically find. In New York City. She has now passed on, she did last November. But we’ve talked several times that if we ever had to go back that she’d rather live in the city, it’s a lot more convenient, it’s a lot more accessible. And there’s just so much not only to do but so many conveniences to get her whatever she would need. It’s pretty cool.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 11:11
Yeah, yeah, definitely. It’s everything is practical there. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 11:17
Well, I think that’s really pretty cool. So for you, you, so you’ve been involved in the law and corporate security. And I can see where those two concepts actually blend together, I assume that that you would agree that they they really can dovetail upon each other in some ways, and knowing about the law, and then dealing with security and so on, is is something that that you have a lot of background to be able to address.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 11:48
It’s especially because I studied criminal law, right? So we’re not supposed to I mean, we’re not meant to chase criminals within the corporate environment, right. But it is connected in a way, especially from a value standpoint, I would say. Also the mindset. And we do have some times to conduct investigations, and also the fact that we have to constantly prepare for disruptive events, but also respond to those disruptive events. It’s, it’s highly connected, it’s a very different job, but it’s very connected. Let’s put it this way. Yeah. So
Michael Hingson ** 12:26
in terms of dealing with crises, and so on, and we’ve joked a little bit about it earlier, but he but in all seriousness, what are some things that lead you to really being interested in, in wanting to work in the arena of crisis management, whether crises of your own that you’ve had to face? Or just what kinds of things shape your experience to want to do this? It’s
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 12:51
I that’s what I was telling you. That’s the reason why I was telling you the beginning, maybe my childhood planted a seed on this, you know, with my sister getting sick and, and us having to adjust? I don’t know, I, you know, I don’t know for sure. But I know that 911 was definitely an event that triggered me to say I want to help serve corporate sector, the corporate sector, to help protecting the people working for the corporate sector, right. So that when a disruptive event happens, nine elevens or anything else, you know, professionals are there to assist them and make sure that everything is done to the best of our capabilities, basically, to protect and serve that within those private organization.
Michael Hingson ** 13:45
Tell me a little bit about your thoughts concerning September 11. And what what you observed in terms of what was successful and maybe not so successful about managing that crisis? Oh, wow. I know, that’s a pretty open ended question. But it’s, it’s a fascinating one, I would think to talk about it
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 14:06
is a fascinating one. Well, for one thing, it’s it, you know, it was a long time ago, I must say that, unlike you, I was not in New York at the time, right. I was actually sitting in Hong Kong, but when it happened, and I think it was basically, I don’t know what word to use, actually, you know, by seeing what what happening and not understanding how we could not see this coming right. At the same time. I’ve read a few things since including one book that I always recommend my clients or anyone who’s in my workshops or conferences to read, which is called the Ostrich Paradox. And it’s a book that talks About, among other things, 911 and that explain that a lot of cognitive biases went into the process of risk management at the time when it comes to preparing for those disruptive events. Right. So, I think I mean, from what experts are saying, I think one of the big thing is that cognitive biases played a huge, huge role in this lack of preparation, I want to say and I mean, it’s not like a preparation is it’s in this event, I want to say, right, but at the same time, when you have planes landing at the top of building, you know, there’s nothing that not much you can do to prevent the building from collapsing. Right. But so, yeah, it’s a it’s a difficult question. I want to say,
Michael Hingson ** 15:52
yeah, it is. And it’s a it’s a challenge. When you say cognitive bias, what do you mean by that?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 16:00
Yeah. So when, as risk managers and as humans, okay, that’s what the the so the, the, the Ostrich Paradox covers this area, in talks about six cognitive biases, which are humans, okay? It’s everyone has those cognitive biases as risk managers, the author’s highlight those six cognitive biases, alright. And some of them or the myopia bias, it means which is we are not meant our brain is not meant to, to see far ahead in the future. The thing is, when we manage risk, we are supposed to for to foresee the future. So we have to go against against this cognitive bias to evaluate risks. So when you think of 911, that’s one of the biases that went into play. But this specific bias, okay, myopia, go, go happens in many, many other situations, right. Another thing is the bias of amnesia, we forget. So there were other situations where the World Trade Center had been attacked, as we know, right. And yet, you know, what I’m saying,
Michael Hingson ** 17:16
I do this,
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 17:17
this is human, our brain is not meant. Our brain is just meant, meant to focus on the now and here. And here. And now. That’s it, because he wants to, it wants to make sure that we are that our life is not at stake, basically, and that we can survive. And then we can take care of for close family, let’s say children, if we do have children, or at least partners, right? So apart from that our human or brain is not has not been built, to explore so far in the future and so far in the past. So when we analyze risks, that’s something to really take into consideration and just mentioning two of those cognitive biases, right? But there’s also the hurting effects, right? It’s not going to happen, think about COVID. Think about the war in Ukraine, it’s the same, it’s not going to happen. Something like this cannot happen. At the time, everyone thought that was just that could have just happened in a Hollywood movie. Right? It’s so this book is really, really interesting to the Ostrich Paradox. It’s very insightful. And you can talk about we can talk about natural disasters as well, you know, the Fukushima event, all those events, you know? How have been tell me Sorry? No, go ahead. Go ahead. No, no, no, all those events, if we didn’t, didn’t have this cognitive biases built in, right, could have been handled differently, or seen differently, but we are who we are anywhere around the world, right? So we have to, to, to, to, to be aware about those cognitive biases. And I think that’s the most important one. And in my work, I try to make my clients aware of these as much as possible, because it’s these are really, really important in what we do. But
Michael Hingson ** 19:18
is that really the way we’re wired? Or is that a learned behavior? In other words, it seems to me I’ve heard so many times throughout the years that people do have the ability to do what if? And that the that’s in a sense, what makes us different from dogs or other animals that, that we do have the ability to do what if? But I’m wondering if it’s really so much our brain is wired not to, since it’s a concept that all of us talk about and some people swear by? Or is it a learned behavior that we learn not to think that way? From what
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 19:58
I know because I’m not a neuroscience? It’s so, okay. Don’t Don’t quote me on this. That’s okay. From what I’ve learned, from what I’ve learned. Studies, scientific studies show that it’s actually the brain the way our brain functions. Okay? Now, there is actually one bias that’s called confirmation bias. Okay? The confirmation bias is that say, I’m telling you want to think about something red, okay? And when you’re gonna start looking around, everything’s gonna be red, all of a sudden, you’re gonna start talking about a subject, like, let’s say we talk about confirmation bias, or any cognitive biases, for what we afford for what we say, Okay? I can bet anything that in the next coming days, you’re going to hear more or Yeah, hear more about cognitive biases as well, because you’re going to be much your brain will be much more attentive to those signals basically. So in a way, yes, it is trained behavior. But at the same time, this is also how your brain is wired, to be more attentive to signals, the heat that it that it that it recognizes basically, right, right.
Michael Hingson ** 21:12
The the problem I see, and this isn’t disagreeing with you, because I think it reaffirms, what you say is that at the same time, we think that soap September 11 happened, it’ll never happen again. Or we maybe hope it won’t happen again. And I think that we do become a little bit more attentive and attuned to trying to look for the signs, because so much of our world now talks about it that we’re in a sense, forced to think about it regularly. And so we do. Also, I think, without getting into politics, we have any number of people who are supposed to know better, who say, well, it won’t happen again. And, and so we don’t have to worry about that kind of thing. Or they go overboard the other way, of course, it’ll happen again. And we completely have to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, otherwise, we’re going to be victims again. And in all of those cases, what it seems to me is that in reality, September 11, occurred, there are probably a lot of good reasons. Well, a lot of reasons why it occurred. We as a society didn’t choose to understand some people, as well as perhaps we should have. I’m not convinced having read the September 11 report that with all of the information, we would have been able to predict and stop September 11, from happening, because I just don’t think the information was there. That’s one thing that the bad guys did very well. And the bad guys aren’t a religion. The bad guys are a bunch of thugs who acted in the name of religion. But nevertheless, they they did what they did. And I think that, that what, what we also try to do is to put things out of our minds. I had a customer in New York, around the time of September 11. And we had been talking with them about it was a law firm about purchasing tape backup systems to keep all of their data backed up and stored in they would store it off site, September 11 happened and I happened to call the customer the next week, to see how they were doing. And they were had been town Manhattan, so they weren’t directly affected by the World Trade Center. But the person that I had been working with said, Well, my boss said, we’re not needing to buy any backup systems now, because September 11 happened, so it’ll never happen again. So we don’t have to backup their data, which is really crazy on one side, and on the other side, short sighted because you shouldn’t do it for the reason of whether or not the World Trade Center happened or didn’t happen. You should do it to protect your data.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 24:02
That’s myopia. That’s also optimism. Optimism is also a cognitive bias. They meant the author’s mentioned in the book, The Ostrich Paradox, that we, we want to think we want to hope for the best. So without getting into politics. I think one of the big bias that comes into play is this. Because no one wants another 911 shoots you know, no one wants a COVID prices. No one wants the war in Ukraine, at least normal people, right.
Michael Hingson ** 24:36
People don’t there are some there were not normal. No, no, what no one wants
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 24:40
that, you know, 1000s of people dying and things and no one wants, right. So I think I want to I want to hope maybe that’s my own optimism bias talking but I want to hope that that’s the case for most politics, right. It’s they They just have they simply have this optimism bias plus the enormous workload that they have to deal with, right? So you combine everything the cognitive biases plus the workload, and that’s a recipe for disaster. I have plenty of examples in France, of disruptive situation that happens with people’s lives at stake. And, you know, it’s just the workload of intelligence services was so much that every the, the, the intelligence was basically at the bottom of the pile and no one saw it or paid attention to it. It’s, it’s a lot of things, basically, it’s a lot of things.
Michael Hingson ** 25:40
It’s interesting, we, over here, have been keeping up to at least to some degree, with the issue in France about raising the retirement age that McCrone wants to do what he wants to raise her from 62 to 64, as I understand it, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but over here, the minimum retirement age is 65. And they they’ve talked about an even social security over here, has changed his rule slightly. But it, it’s a little bit difficult to understand the vehemence that people are displaying, raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. Over there, and then there must be some solid reasons for it. But nevertheless, that’s, I gotta believe, a major crisis that y’all are dealing with over there. It’s it’s,
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 26:31
you know, it’s complicated. And I’m not, it’s, the thing is, I’m also a business owner. So retirement is not really a topic in my mind, I
Michael Hingson ** 26:46
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 26:50
And I come from a family, business owners as well. So culturally, I was not really raised in an environment where we would just focus on when we’re going to stop working. My dad was a really hard working men. And so I think I am too, I have no plan of work of stopping working, basically, because I love what I’m doing. And I may adjust as I’m growing old, and you know, but as long as I’m healthy, I’m fine. And I’m giving you this response. Because there’s a big gap in the French, in French society, between people like myself, I want to say, because I have I want to say, the service job, basically, where I’m only using my brain to do my work, right. I’m not using my body. So my body’s not being I want to say worn down over the years. But I think a lot of the complaints are coming from people working for companies and industries, where, you know, they have to actually use their body every day to carry heavy things around to work all night to care for children to care for elderly. And obviously doing this until a certain age is getting more and more difficult, right. So I think that’s where the gap come from, in all I knew that’s where the gap comes from. In France, it’s that this part of the population, and rightfully, I want to say wants to be able to start early enough, when their body is not completely broken. Basically, that’s where the if I want to summarize,
Michael Hingson ** 28:39
right, and I figured as much that that would be the reason that most people would would take right or wrong. That’s the feeling.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 28:49
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So things have calmed down now. But we have other things we have in France, we have disruptive events on a regular basis. I don’t know if you saw what happened this past couple of weeks, with the demonstrations at nine going on not demonstrations, the the How to see with the youth being really, really angry because there was a murder of a young kid. Yes. Yeah. So, riots. So that’s the word I wasn’t I wasn’t looking for sorry. So there we’ve had very, very violent riots over the past couple of weeks. It’s it’s complicated, very societal, very complex, societal subjects, very complex subjects.
Michael Hingson ** 29:42
Is that still going on?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 29:44
I don’t know how it’s come down. It’s gone down. Yeah. Yeah. You
Michael Hingson ** 29:49
know, if I can just go to an off the wall kind of thing. We’ve had our share over here of riots for one reason or another and And we’ve had our share of, of that kind of crisis. And so one thing I have never understood personally, and it’s just me, I think, or at least I’m going to say it’s, it’s my mind anyway, is I understand why people may be very upset and why they riot. Why do they go around looting and breaking into stores and offices and other things and stealing things and damaging things that oftentimes don’t even have anything to do with the subject of what they’re writing about?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 30:29
Yeah, I I know. I know. And yeah, I I disagree. I wholeheartedly disagree with that way of demonstrating basically, all heartedly just disagree with that. I mean, we can’t we can’t be angry, like you said, and they had every I mean, people had every right to be angry with the situation, but as far as the damaging people’s goods and and life projects and and life savings for many, many of them. I yeah, I that makes me angry.
Michael Hingson ** 31:12
Does anyone have an explanation for why that kind of behavior takes place?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 31:18
I guess they will have to put it on someone. Right?
Michael Hingson ** 31:21
I guess so. Yeah. Yeah,
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 31:24
I get they have to, you know, when we’re, when we’re really No, when I’m really angry, which is, which doesn’t happen every day, obviously. Unfortunately. Yes. If I’m not conscious of what’s going on, I can have a tendency of, you know, looking for someone who’s responsible, but me, right. But
Michael Hingson ** 31:42
me is exactly right. You know, we never look at what could we do? Or what could we have done? Yeah. And there’s not always a good answer that says that there’s a lot we could have done. Take over here. The thing that we saw a few years ago, the George Floyd murders, the George Floyd murder, you know, most of us were not in a position to do anything about that. I suppose some people could have attacked or forced that officer to leave George Floyd alone and not kneel on his throat for nine minutes. And some of the officers should have done that. I don’t know whether they have any guilt for not doing that. But still, there was so much that happened after that, that really ended up being not related directly to it, like damage and looting and all that. That is so frustrating. And it seems to happen all the time. And I’ve never understood that kind of behavior. And I could be angry and frustrated. But still, it’s it’s strange that that kind of thing goes on and makes the crisis worse. Yeah.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 32:48
And I think it’s, I mean, whether it’s for the George Floyd crisis, or what happened in France couple of weeks ago, I think it’s just communities being really tired of that level of, you know, if you really high level of frustration that’s been going on for years and years and years, for many reasons, justified or not justified, right. But I know that in France, we have a community of people who is who are actually is really frustrated about what’s going on, you know, built this gap building and building and building day after day, between the rich and the poor, between who can have access to everything and who can not have access to everything. Yes, we have a free health system in France. But and free school, and you know, if I summarize, it’s never completely 100% free, but it’s, you know, it’s nothing compared to what you guys have in the US. Okay, just put some perspective here. But at the same time, yeah, there’s still so many things which are not fair in the system itself. There’s still a huge lack of diversity in the way we approach a lot of topics. And yeah, it’s, it’s like, like I said, it’s, these are really complex matters. That’s why it’s hard to pull to just pose a judgement on everything, right? It’s really easy when we, when we see things like this to watch the news and say, Oh, my God, he’s wrong or she’s wrong or whatever. Well, I agree. It’s, yeah, it’s I think it leaves a lot of football thoughts and when I bring it back to myself, right, to say, okay, what can I do? The one thing I tell myself is okay, what can I do to raise my kids properly? And what can I do to serve? You know, my, my fellow human beings and my my friends and my clients, and the best way I can to promote a different energy really So that’s really what I tried to do. That’s really what I tried to do. Because of course, like you said, most of us cannot have much impact on such events, right. But I really think that if a lot of us put a lot of positive and a different energy out there, we’ll see different things happening as well.
Michael Hingson ** 35:24
You talk a lot about diversity. So I gather that you and and from your own experiences, you talk about it, I gather that you believe that diversity and experiencing diversity is an extremely valuable thing to do. And it leads to, hopefully, better grounding people and making them more resilient. Is that does that kind of sum it up?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 35:49
Yeah, but also more resilient. But more than that, much more open minded, much more open minded, because I think a lot of the frustration that may come from anyone you know, is about neglect. The fact that we don’t know when we don’t know when we don’t understand something. So when we don’t understand something, we’re scared of it right, we can get scared of it really easily.
We’re whereas Yeah, go ahead.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 36:15
Whereas when we try to face diversity, embrace diversity, and learn about diversity, asking questions and trying to understand others perspectives and points of view and ways of thinking, the opens up completely new worlds.
Michael Hingson ** 36:35
And that’s why. And that’s why I said what I did earlier about September 11, and are not understanding people. We could go back and look at history and the way we dealt with Iran. Many years before September 11, and before even the revolution, and so on. And we as I think over here, a people viewed it as being so far out of our sphere of knowledge and somewhat influenced that it was really irrelevant. And that’s the problem that we don’t tend to learn. And I think that goes back to something you said that a lot of people don’t learn to necessarily take a wider view of, of things.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 37:22
And that’s why that’s why diversity is such a big topic and what I want in my life, basically right, and especially since though, since I’ve become the business owner, because I need to be challenged constantly to make sure that when I’m thinking, you know, being a business owner is very lonely, right? So, because you have no one I mean, I have a team, but they’re not here to tell me what to do. Right? I’m supposed to lead, right? And so I’m actually looking for teams, where who can actually challenge what I’m thinking, what I’m asking what I’m saying what I’m doing, not constantly, but on a regular basis. Right. And also, with my close family, I’m actually being asked them, I’m actually asking them to challenge me on a regular basis to regarding my decisions. And all of this because we are blind, right? It’s super easy to have blind spots all the time because of those cognitive biases because of our own fears, because of many, many, many psychological things that go on in our brain. So that’s why I’m a huge, huge advocate of diversity.
Michael Hingson ** 38:33
What do you think makes a good leader, whether it’s crisis or whatever? You’ve talked about leadership a lot? What what do you think are the qualities or traits for a good leader?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 38:45
There are, there are many that I could start listing. But if I had one, if I had to pick one category, that would be, as we say, in French, and several heads, which is being right is to know how to be knowing what to do is, is the easy part, I want to say especially as we build on experience, and as we grow older, and so on and so forth. I’m not saying that those decisions are always easy. But, you know, as far as being it’s much more complex. And I think that’s the most fascinating piece of leadership. Because it’s about us, it’s about us interacting with others. It’s much more complex, because every single human being is unique. So even if we have an experience with certain kinds of people, it’s going to be always going to be different with other other other people we encounter. Right? So focusing on being on top of doing is I think one of the biggest skills and responsibility a leader has
Michael Hingson ** 39:59
Yeah, I, I hear what you’re saying. I also think that knowing what to do is a very difficult thing. And I think one of the good skills that any good leader has, is going back to what you said, also allowing people to whether you want to use the word challenge or state their own opinions, because they may know something about what to do in a particular situation that is even better than what you know. And a good leader has to be able to recognize that and look at all aspects. And I know when I was leading sales forces, one of the things that I told every salesperson I ever hired was, I’m your boss, but I’m not here to boss you around. I’m here to add value to what you do to help you be more successful. So we need to learn to work together. And I think that is such an important thing that many people who are in positions of authority never really understand.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 41:07
I completely agree with you, Michael. And I want to add to what I said before what you just said that when I talked about being it’s being humble, among other things, being humble, but I didn’t want to summarize leadership to humility, right? So it’s being humble, it’s being a good communicator, it’s being able to interact with different cultures with different ways of thinking with it’s also being able to admit, responsibility to admit mistakes to to celebrate, right. So it’s all of this together. So that when decisions need to be made, it becomes easier and smoother. It’s not going to be perfect. Okay, yeah, I always say that is there is no such thing as perfect, even especially in when we talk about dealing with crisis. Because that’s also I think one of the biggest caveats of a lot of reading materials I see is that we think it’s, it’s, there’s an end, there’s an end to to it, right? And I think it’s there is no such thing, it’s always a journey. It’s always a learning journey for every leader have read about or discussed with or met in person, no matter, right? It’s always a learning curve. Sometimes we have up sometimes we have downs. And sometimes we succeed, sometimes we mess up. So that’s why and what so that’s why one of the things I really put forth is the fact that it’s a journey. It’s it’s not a it’s not the end. And
Michael Hingson ** 42:45
I think the times when perhaps someone messes up are the best times because those are the times that drive home the point something to learn here, even though there’s something to learn, even when you’re extremely successful, how can you maybe do it better, but we tend to focus on the mess up times more. And that’s, that’s fine. But still, it’s not that we’re a failure, it’s that we need to learn and grow from it. And I suppose that get back to picking on politicians, I’m not sure they, they do a great job of that. But nevertheless, it’s what any good leader should really do. And I think that it’s a crucial thing. As you said, it’s a journey, which is, which is really important. When did you form crisis ally.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 43:33
So I formed it at the end of 2018. At first, it was Alexandra Hoffman consulting, and it became crisis ally in 2020, during COVID, because when COVID Had I changed everything, the strategy, the business model, everything. And I also changed the the identity and I really didn’t want the company to be about me. I want it to be about what we do and how we can serve our clients basically.
Michael Hingson ** 44:08
You know, in the pandemic, the difference between the pandemic and the World Trade Center is that the pandemic, whether a lot of us necessarily recognized as much as we could have or should have, is it more directly affected everyone than the World Trade Center? Yes, the world shut down for a few days after September 11, especially the financial markets and so on. And yes, it was something that was an issue for most all of us. And I think it’s true to say that the world stopped, but then it started again. And with the pandemic, we went through a different kind of situation that affected so many people. And I think a lot of us maybe didn’t think it through as well as we could have. And I hope it doesn’t happen again. But I’m not sure that that’s the case. I know that in this country. We have an I’ve been reading over the last couple of days that deaths associated with the pandemic have brought the whole picture back down to, we’re experiencing the amount of deaths we normally do. Even pre pandemic. So for the world, perhaps the pandemic is over. Maybe, or at least this one is over, but I guess we’ll see.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 45:26
But, yeah, like it’s, it’s, it’s hard to predict such things. I’m actually more concerned about natural disasters, if you want to, if you want my, my take on this one, much more concerned, because that’s also easy. It’s a confirmation bias, now that we see 911. Now, now that we’ve seen the pandemic, now, everyone is focused on this same with cyber attacks, basically, right. Everyone is focused on those because we’ve experienced them. I think we ought to be extremely cautious with natural disasters and what nature has in store for us because yeah, between the heat waves, and we had some major wildfires just a year ago, we’re where I live. I know you’ve had your share as well. Canada has had its share recently as well, it’s it’s so professionally speaking from a risk perspective, natural disasters, I think are high on my list. And
Michael Hingson ** 46:28
of course, the the and I, I agree with you the course of the question is, what can we do about it? And, again, I think, for me, I think it starts with getting back to dealing with some of the cognitive biases, and to recognize we have to deal a little bit with what if we may not be able to predict a particular national natural disaster, but we certainly can be more aware and make some preparations and be
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 47:01
less surprised? Absolutely. Because Surprise, surprise, is what takes a toll on everyone. You know, surprise what, especially bad surprises, right like that. So being more aware of these, and like you said, like, like you said, and, and being less surprised by those events, it’s much less traumatizing, much less traumatizing. It’s much easier to cope right away, and to make decisions instantly, rather than just, you know, freezing. Here
Michael Hingson ** 47:32
in the United States. And I’m sure elsewhere, we hear a lot about earthquakes. And Dr. Lucy Jones, here in Southern California, and others talk about predicting earthquakes or seeing earthquakes before they reach us. And now they’re talking about maybe 10 to 62nd warning, which people will tell that’s not very much. But that’s incredible compared to the way it used to be. And if we continue to encourage the science, we’ll probably find other things that will help give us more warnings. I know in Iceland, they’re actually learning how to do a better job of predicting volcanic eruptions. And they’re doing a really an incredible job. And like with anything, it’s very expensive. Right now, the technology is a little bit challenging. But if we encourage the science, it will improve.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 48:33
That’s interesting, because that’s one of the takeaways from the Ostrich Paradox book that’s mentioned about Fukushima, one of the experts scientists had said, If we invest in this technology, we’ll have what we need to be prepared for such an event, because it was very expensive at the time, they said no to it. Yeah. And then Fukushima happens.
Michael Hingson ** 48:53
And then Fukushima happened and Fukushima wasn’t good.
They couldn’t perceive the the tidal wave.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 49:03
Now, that’s not what I want to say they couldn’t perceive the risk as being high enough. The the measure the impact has been big, but the probability was so low for them was like, Okay, we’re not going to invest millions or whatever, right, for something that has a super low probability from happening.
Michael Hingson ** 49:23
And then it didn’t. Yeah. Which is, of course, the issue. I was at Fukushima, oh, no more than a year after it happened. And, but I hear exactly what you’re saying. And we need to recognize that things do occur and that we have to learn to address them. And again, it gets back to this whole idea of what if and the reality is, I think, there there are people who have a gift of learning to deal with what if, and we ought to honor and recognize that more than we do. core, some of them are not really dealing with what if, what if they’re making things up? But there are people who do what if and who do it very well. And a lot of the scientists are specifically trying to address that kind of issue. Well, what if this happens? And what’s the theory behind this? And? And how can it change? And we just don’t address science nearly as much as it should.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 50:24
And I want to add, from where I am, I have been working with the corporate sector 22 years now. I’ve never, I’ve never met a scientist to talk about risks like this. So this is also something to understand. There’s so many silos that we ought to break, eventually, when we talk about, you know, managing responding to disruptive events, yeah. Because communities don’t need in some communities would need to meet to increase the level of awareness on so many things. Like we’re talking about risk science and scientific studies and knowledge. Right? Right. Of course, I’m curious enough. So I go on google now or any other platform to learn as much as I can. But when you sit, you know, put yourself in chief security officers choose or chief risk officer shoes. Yeah, has no time to do such thing. Right. And the thing is, because we’re used to think in a silo, I’ve never attended any team meeting, where we’ve invited over a scientist to talk about, I don’t know, the risk of AI, the risk of natural disasters, the risk of cyber the risk of anything. Never. Why is that? I don’t know. Because it’s, it’s a, I think it’s just we don’t think about it. And by just discussing it with you, I realize that’s a huge gap. I’ve actually started bridging that, you know, with my putting my small stone to this, to this siloed world, I’ve actually started seeing this acknowledging this between universities and the corporate world. So I started teaching to universities, at universities, sorry, okay, too, because I realized that there were so many things I wasn’t taught back at university, and I wished I had known before earlier in my career. So things could have been, I would want to say, easier, right? For myself or my teams. So I’m like, Okay, let’s go to university and teach students what I’ve learned along the way to bridge that gap. But that’s not that’s not so common. That’s not quite so common. And by just discussing with you, I realized that we, we don’t talk to the scientific community
Michael Hingson ** 52:51
in area and work on an
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 52:53
area to work on unless you know, people I know people who have PhDs and degrees like this. And of course, they they are part of the scientific community. But that I mean, having a PhD is not being a scientist right to so. So yeah, you get my point. Because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Michael Hingson ** 53:14
I do know, I hear what you’re saying. What’s an example of where Crisis Ally has really made a difference in what a company does?
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 53:24
So I think what we try to do, each time we serve a client is really to make at least the teams who are supposed to work in this on the on these topics on these critical topics more resilient, more agile, and more adaptable to more sustainable, I want to say, right? ie we don’t want people to crash. We want to be able we want people to be able to sustain protracted emergencies, protracted situation, right. So that’s how we, we want to make a difference with the client we serve. And it’s really about aligning the people behind one vision and one mission. So that’s what we do when we serve clients. I have one specific example in mind, where there was a we were working with a team and there were there were a lot of misalignment around the mission, the vision around security, crisis management, business continuity, all those resilience related topics, right risk management as well. And we helped we helped the team align on these topics basically. So which I think will have some positive impact on the company as a whole.
Michael Hingson ** 54:52
So for you looking ahead, what do you think is the most exciting thing about the future for crisis ally and what you’re doing and where you’re headed.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 55:03
The most exciting things that we’re growing, I mean, revenue is growing. So that’s really, really exciting. And it’s growing really, really a lot. So it’s, you know, I’m trying to plan for that, and foresee well how to handle what’s coming, basically. And so I’m trying to envision new new partnerships, I want to say and also maybe hiring people for the for the company. So that’s, that’s something I’m thinking about for 2020 2420 25, you know, because it’s really, it’s really growing now.
Michael Hingson ** 55:46
And that’s exciting. And there’s gonna be room for what you do for a long time. Have you written any books or any other online kinds of things? Not yet, have it done? With the Astrid.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 56:01
I’ve written articles, but I mean, really writing a book, I, you know, it takes time. And I haven’t decided I haven’t decided have decided not to put my energy on this. At this point in my life. That’s fair.
Michael Hingson ** 56:16
So you have two children to worry about. And then their crisis right now is that they didn’t need to come in the room. So you know, is that leadership probably? Well, I want to figure out a way in the future to continue this, this is fun. And I would love to chat with you more. We’ve been doing this for a while now. And I don’t want people to get too tired of us. But I think that’s a fun discussion and one that we ought to continue in the future. Whenever you’re, you’re willing to do it. But if people want to reach out to you and learn about Crisis Ally and so on. So the best
way for people to reach me is on LinkedIn. Michael, like you found me on that we found each other on LinkedIn. I’m all the time I’m on LinkedIn all the time. It’s, I also have my website, my company’s website, which is www dot crisisally.com. But what’s your
Michael Hingson ** 57:08
LinkedIn name? That people can Alexandra Hoffmann.com H O F F M A N N? Yeah,
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 57:13
I have to bring it to carry my daughter right now. You don’t see her Michael, but she’s asking for my arms. But
Michael Hingson ** 57:22
nothing wrong with having a daughter around. I close my door, so my cat wouldn’t come in and yell at me. Well, I want to thank you very much for being here. This has absolutely been delightful. And I do want to do it again. And I hope all of you found this interesting. What’s your daughter’s name? Amber, Emeril, Amber, and Amber. Yes, sir. Hello. Yeah.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 57:46
She got here with the headphones. So that’s true. Well tell her how she left. She got bored. She got bored. Looking at the screen.
Michael Hingson ** 57:52
She’s done now. Yeah. Well, thank you for being here. And I hope all of you enjoyed this, please. We’d love to hear from you. We’d love your thoughts. Please reach out to me and give me your your opinions and your views on all of this. And anything else that you’d like to say, You can reach me at Michaelhi M i c h a e l h i at accessibe A c c e s s i b e.com. Or go to Michael Hingson m i c h a e l h i n g s o n.com/podcast. I hope wherever you’re listening that you will at least please give us a five star rating and write a good review. We really appreciate your your positive and all of your comments. And and I hope that you’ll do that. So that we can we can hear from you and Alexandra, if you or any of you listening out there might know of someone else who ought to be a guest on unstoppable mindset, please let us know we want to hear from you. We would love your suggestions and your recommendations. We value them and we will talk with anyone who wants to come on. So once more. Alexandra, thank you very much for being here. I’ve really enjoyed it. I hope all of our listeners have. And I want to just express my appreciation to you for being here.
Alexandra Hoffmann ** 59:05
Thank you very, very much Michael for the discussion. It was very interesting. And I must say you caught me off guard of guard with a couple of questions. But that was also a very interesting just for that. And thank you very much for for having me on today and for listening.
Michael Hingson ** 59:25
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.