It was one of the best moments in my executive communication coaching career.

Chief HR Officer “Bill” was working with me before rolling out a new company-wide human resources program. We video recorded him doing a trial run of this announcement. He did a very competent — and unexciting — job.

For the second go-round, I said, “Now go crazy! Give me lots of arms waving, high pitch and low pitch voices. Just over the top nuts!”

Bill did what he thought was crazy.

I turned to the videographer and asked, “What did you see?”

He replied, “I didn’t think Bill looked nuts. I just thought he seemed interested in what he was saying.”

I looked at Bill and said. “What goes on inside your head is not what the rest of the world sees.”

“But my friends and family will tell you I’m a fun guy!” he replied, “and they like being around me!”

“So, why do you check who you are at the door when you come to work?” I asked.

Bill was living in a self-imposed culture bubble that wasn’t letting him be who he was.

What’s a “culture bubble”? Find out in this video.


Bill took the challenge to heart. He chose to bring more of himself to the office. And people noticed.

They started coming to his meetings — and came more prepared. He heard more laughter in his department. People told Bill he was easier to work with — and more fun. They asked him what changed and if they could get some of that, too.

Then Bill’s career took off. He was recruited to a larger company, with bigger responsibilities and a higher paycheck. And he still gets to be himself while enjoying others.

What can happen for you when you understand the culture bubble you’re operating in — and decide to make it more expansive?