CEO INTERVIEW gweek
New Success Stories - Asia
CEO Interviews exclusive for HR Digital Today
with market leading HR Tech pioneers - gweek
Founder and CEO James Bryce
These days, when you visit a web site you often see a new idea, a technology that is clearly outstanding, innovative and a must have. You may also say, why didn't I think of that?...this will go global...this will offer positive results not only in HR but also across people's lives around the world.
We all have different skills and traits. One person may be a genius but perhaps not a born communicator, or in another case, a manager, a brilliant strategist but not able to enthral a team. So maybe we need to tune in on how we communicate, whether to a colleague, a team, a TV camera, a country? Yes this also refers to politicians because they are also measured by this technology from gweek!
Ask any TV producer, they will say it is all about presentation, presentation, or to put it another way, you should appear to be speaking from the heart. Some speakers do, but our instincts can detect and tell us otherwise if it the speaker is not sincere, the message gets diluted or discarded.
Now, how do you measure a speaker? Answer: gweek them!
The founder of gweek comes with many years of experience, not least of which as a communications advisor providing guidance and executive learning to champions of industry. Meet James Bryce, founder of gweek.
When was gweek launched and what are its aims?
The brand went live in Jan 2015 and the R&D goes back ten years. My idea for gweek was therefore around for a long time. For the first half of this period I was collecting data and still formulating what it all meant when brought together.
In the second phase of this period raw data collection gave over to more sophisticated algorithm writing, I re-tested prior cases to see whether the algorithms could return accurate and fair analysis of a speaker’s behaviours.
It was in 2015 that we felt ready to take gweek to market. Customers know there is measurement involve. A type of measurement which has not been attempted in the past. They are delighted because it brings objective accountability to any investment they make in training of an individual.
I was confident gweek had potential. Yet, if we were going to be taken seriously, seen as truly understanding the nuances of our subject matter, then we had to know we had algorithms which could wrap themselves around the whole world, and apply to anyone.
The single most important objective is to give a true picture of what is going on when someone is communicating with you. That’s why we operate the gweek100, a global leader board for business people, politicians, in fact anyone who could claim to be influential.
When I say true picture this is the top down component which the gweek 100 lets us look at, completely afresh. Just because someone looks and sounds like they know what they are talking about, does not mean they do. I believe we have been blinded to this for decades or even centuries. It the huge elephant in the room that we have not been prepared to face. Is someone communicating WITH you or just talking AT you? Well, it’s all in their behaviours, so long as you know how to read them.
That is the aim of gweek - to shatter current very lazy thinking and understanding on what is genuine communication. Especially when it comes to speech by influential leaders. Just because someone can put on a suit and read from a script with gusto, does not make them a true communicator! We need to move on from celebrating eloquent oratory. It has nothing to do with the ability to make tough leadership decisions. It instead delays the listener truly understanding how you work as a leader, and who you truly are. You deny the opportunity for listeners to employ gut feel. We need to move on from speech making, quite frankly. Can we can spot genuine communication from faked speech? Absolutely. Will measurement of this help the world make better decisions for itself? We hope so. It merits using a validated and well prepared attempt. Our aim is to set a global standard where true is measurable. And that measurement can help us come to a genuine judgement about someone or something.
Look at what we are trying to do, and ask what does it means to a person who is learning communication. How do they stay on top of their idea flow and also maintain that natural bonding with many people listening at the same time? Actually the technique is fairly straight forward to learn. But many, many, people are unaware of how to take these basic steps. They feel that it is all about being perfect or making that great speech or being the perfect presenter. This is idealistic, it is unobtainable and frankly that is the worst thing you want to tell a student for example, when telling them how to how learn to communicate. You just need to learn how to have natural bonding with people even though possibly you are feeling a little bit of emotional pressure, for example when public speaking. "It’s very learnable!"
Tell us about the service
When you listen to someone speaking you have a gut feel and instinct, that can arrive in an instant, on how you respond to the words, the presentation. So why not use technology to MEASURE these instinct triggering responses, and become a better speaker/communicator. On our web site, analysis is shown on how speakers come across.
One of my clients yesterday painted a picture for me that drew comparisons to phraseology in music.
Timing needs to be pretty precise in music but it also needs to be felt and that's when the expression and musicality properly shapes itself for the listener. You also get a sense that you are seeing through to the true heart of the singer or the vocalist.
I have a quote that I carry in my wallet - it gave me goose bumps when I first read it. It is written by a guitarist, who tries to describe the tension, the visceral tension which occurs between the notes, as also some kind of gravitational pull into the music. I then realised this also applies to speech and how humans are trying to exchange energy between one another, but it took music to provide the language and painting around the sentiment. This is the quotation.
I have been attending concerts recently with amateur musicians, who are passionate about music and learning how to sing or how to play. They arrive and there is a professional orchestra to accompany them. The musicians are of various standards! Some of the most moving concerts are when some may not give a perfect performance, yet you are getting a real person, who really wants to do something special. They go through parts of a song, sometimes amazing, then a comparison passage and there are missed notes, then it goes back and you get this comparison effect ongoing. The listener experience is fascinating. You enjoy the pitch perfect bits and then at other times, you are thinking “come on you can do it”. You’re un-intentionally bonding with the musician.
You can listen to a professional singer and it will be fantastic. Yet to truly engage at these levels what does it take? This is the question. If we listen more carefully when the singer builds personal empathy with is, what is the equivalent for speech communication?
Do you also assess clothing and appearance
We are not looking into dressing or appearance. We work on the analysis in terms of behaviours. There are many aspects of communication that you can turn into data and we have selected aspects that we believe are meaningful and look to see where you can find the code to offer analysis. We do not write code to quantify clothes and appearance.
Are people using gweek as an iterative tool?
Yes certainly. We offer very popular learning experiences, primarily for executive and team development. Both within corporates and at secondary schools. Another great use of gweek is to assist in candidate screening and talent acquisition.
We are enabling students and executives, with applications and SaaS learning experiences based on quantified learning, micro-learning and continual learning, helping them stay in touch with their true skills base that will look after them whenever they speak.
Tell us about existing patterns of training, corporate budgets and your broader aims?
The cost decision by the customer is the paradigm we are trying to break through. With unconsolidated industries the market is held by expensive consultants. They set the dollar charges and the subjective standards too. The speech/communication learning industry is highly unconsolidated!
The consultant arrives, and the return on that stack of dollars is only as good as they can perform on that day. Every consultant seems to have their own take on a set of universal behaviours. The ongoing longevity of the learning is never guaranteed. And it is not cheap - and who gets the training? Usually just the senior executives. That’s a mistake. Any company needs its entire workforce to be effective communicators.
We want to complete a lot of the learning at the lowest cost unit possible.
However, we have to understand that sometimes the client wants a face to face session or a person also to be in the room, but we don't start with that premise - this is at the top of the triangle.
We have a product called "gweek Buddy" for your 'phone, that can listen to how you are communicating - give you an instant score, instant feedback. It is priced low to help as many people as possible. Our range starts at this level. The next levels are the more detailed Speech Intelligence™ levels. These give a lot more detail and analysis. Remember, we are B2B reaching out to businesses.
We offer micro learning - learning in bite-sized chunks - we can secure good behavioural changes in a very short amount of time, this can be in one to two weeks - changing how you come across, how someone listens to you and importantly how comfortable you feel as a communicator.
Take us through how a typical learning experience starts.
You download the app to your smartphone. We send you access codes to sign in. Enter your password and begin. Then the app takes you through the learning process. So at level 1, you press the gweek logo in the action page and the call recording starts. This then is received by our systems and the speech analysis begins. We record only voice at level 1. At level 2, the camera is activated, so we can also analyse how you appear.
Do you have competitors
A strong form of competition is received wisdom. People consider, when they have heard just one speech event, that the speaker is a wonderful presenter (or not). We seem to define entire reputations through a one-off event, which on a distribution basis is a tiny sample.
So our biggest issue is clear. It is not good enough to make just one good presentation or one brilliant speech. It’s a great start, and we will reward consistency over time and across the many events where you communicate. But, also prove to us that you are genuinely effective, wherever we see or hear you! A gweek score represents all of these essentials, and through a single number.
Until we can actually turn around people's perceptions, we will always have this competitor as people are not making the link between how they discourse with a friend and the impact they are having on that friend at that moment in time through effective communication. Then later, with exactly that same skills base, when they are talking to work colleagues or clients.
Do you need to alter gweek for nationality
Not yet, no. Yet we may later on. For now, many of us have enough to learn from what is universal in our behaviours. How humans communicate is a complex, yet identifiable relationship of inputs and outputs. To understand how to help someone to be more effective on how they express their ideas, you need to be very concerned with the inputs. For example, a pause gap within a speech pattern is an input, a highly valuable asset. Whichever language you use, you cannot coordinate the way you come across without the pause gaps being in the right place for the right amount of time. This is just a single, simple example. I’d love to talk about the role of eye movement as an input as well, but I don’t think we’ve the time! Gestures, for example, are an output. Just let them be.
Understanding the basic biology of speech communication will take you far in itself. It will help keep you both efficient and authentic.
So looking to the future.....?
An entry in the Oxford English Dictionary? Nice. Recognised as an objective way to select leaders? Better. A universal way to learn life-long communication skills, used the world over. Now we’re talking.
Can you give us a one liner?
"All speech leads to gweek"