Dr Marissa Pei

Dr. Marissa Pei

In today’s episode we talk about transparency in organizations. Dr. Marissa Pei is an organizational psychologist and advisor. She advises organizations on everything from strategic planning to human dynamics. Listen in as she shares her approach to guiding businesses in being transparent.

Organizational psychology strategic planning and human dynamics

Organizational psychology, strategic planning, and human dynamics

Welcome to the, In the Clear podcast. I’m your host Justin Recla. Today, we are talking to one of the members of the Clear Business Directory about operated and transparent business. Folks you’re in for a treat today as our guest is an organizational psychologist. She advises organizations on everything from strategic planning and a whole slew of things that in the work place, human dynamics, and so forth. Our guest today is Dr. Marissa Pei. She joins us today. She’s an absolute delight. She’s a media superstar, and she joins us on the show today. Dr. Marissa, thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you for having me Justin. Pleasure to be here.

Marissa, can you share with our listeners, a little bit about what you do, how you do it, who you do it with, and so forth? 

I do everything full force, and I have a lot of fun doing it. How’s that for short and sweet?

You know what? You’ve got to be able to do what you do with inside an organization- 

Yeah I have the best job in the world.

Yeah, I’m sure. 

I get to play in human dynamics that work. I’m kind of a split personality. I have a whole business that focuses on organizational effectiveness, and interpersonal effectiveness inside of that organization. I work with technically brilliant and emotionally challenged executives and leaders, so that they’re peripherally located egos don’t get in the way of their inferiority complex. I hope none of my clients are listening right now, because I don’t think I’ve ever said it quite like that, but I do have such a blast because I work with people who really … A lot of them are perfectionist and recovering control freaks. They really want to do huge things in this world, and they want to motivate people, and they want teams to work, and they want their organizations to grow.

The reality is, things like logic and rational thought, which are the goal cannot actually be fulfilled. Those goals are impossible to fulfill because we’re human beings, and human beings are illogical and irrational at best. Things like, it’s not rocket science, why do people have such a hard time understanding what I want? I’m not asking you to go to the moon, I’m just asking you to execute this project. Why do I have employees who are not the brightest tool, the brightest crayon in the box, or the sharpest tool in the shed? How did this happen? If I could pick my own people, we wouldn’t have these problems. If people just did what I said to do, we wouldn’t have these problems.

This is the organization in its best, is full of power, politics, miscommunication, and conflict because we have human beings working there. I get to go in, and work with leaders, and first allow them to vent and release these expectations that organizations are supposed to run like a well oiled machine. They’re not. We have an opportunity in every work place to learn how to be enjoyed, to enjoy, our interpersonal relationships with each other in teams, in work groups, in peer groups, in supervisory employee relationships, leader director manager relationships, and understand what drives us crazy and what makes us feel good. More joy, less stress at work is the ultimate goal in organizations.

I love that you do, that you bring up the fact that essentially at the end of the day, whether it be at work, whether it be at home, but within an organization, it’s all about those relationships. 


With that, how important is transparency in an organization? Whether it be from the top down, or the bottom up, how important is that transparency piece?

It’s everything. It’s one of the foundation pieces, because you cannot build an organization that has sinking sand, or holes, or anything that is built on a lie. It’s not going to work. It may work for a little while. It may work for four bankruptcies, if you know what I’m talking about, but it’s not going to work in the long run. People have to know that where they’re working really not only has the best interest of the customer in place, it has to have the best for the people that work there. Transparency is all about, do I believe what you say and do I say what I believe in a way that is magnifying for us all?

Do we have a product or service that is actually adding value to our customers, and can we do that with an integrity message, and with a faith in a belief that we really are helping others help themselves? At the same time, do we have a message of integrity, inside the organization that says we really want the best for our employees, our staff, the people who are dealing with the customers? Do we really think that they are doing … Have we tooled them with the best possible understanding models, processes, so they can do their best work possible?

It’s not just about money. Money’s half of it. The other half is meaning. Do I provide an environment where people can find meaning? Because we spend more time at work than we do anywhere else, so if you want an organization filled with people who last beyond that honeymoon phase, that then you as leaders of the organization owe it to your company to be as transparent as possible. Now, that doesn’t mean I am brutally honest. People get that mixed up. They really do.


I’m telling you this because I want what’s best for you. Bullshitake, you know?


Don’t give me that line.

I want to tell you this, because I want to get it off my chest to make myself feel better about me.


I absolutely love that, and if you’re just joining us, we’re talking to Dr. Marissa Pei. She’s an organizational psychologist who helps organizations in so many different ways, with the human dynamic piece and straighten everything out so you can run a successful organized business. You don’t get caught up in the irrationality of being human, and making sure that doesn’t get in the way of your business. 

There is one organization I have to tell you though, where power and politics do not rule.

Where is that?

All my clients want to go work there. It’s called, the cemetery. Where there are no people, there are no problems.


There is an out.

Yeah. It doesn’t pay a whole lot.

No, it doesn’t. There’s very little ROI. No return on investment there. It’s all downhill, believe me.

That’s absolutely awesome. Well Dr. Marissa, just speaking to transparency, you are in the CLEAR business directory. What we’d love to do is, we like to share with our listeners a little bit about your background and who you are. With that, you’ve been an organizational psychologist for how long? 

Oh gosh. I’m ageless, first of all, and I use Oil of Olay, so do not hold this number against me. I think my first consulting job in the field was in 1986.

Yeah, so you’ve been at this for a while. 


We’ll just leave it at that.

Yes, thank you.

In that period of time, within your own business, what have you learned or if there’s something you wish to go back and do again, is there anything that stands out from your experience from a business perspective of, “Wow, I should’ve done this … I did this, but I really should’ve done that?” 

Nope. I have no regrets.


Everything that has happened to me along the way has been there for my divine and best good. I believe that.

Okay, so let’s reframe the question then.

Yeah. Didn’t get what you wanted.

No, exactly, but I want to make sure our listeners connect with you as well, because a lot of our guests that come on this show really have that, “You know what? I get it. It was a lesson for me.” Let’s reframe that. What was one of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned in business? 

Let’s see. The biggest lesson I learned probably was okay, so when I did my internship with Coopers and Lybrand on the east coast for my PhD, I was a project manager and I thought I was the cat’s meow. I thought I had all the answers. I thought I was going to change the world. I was on a project that’s got paper company. My dissertation was the nature and effects of user involvement on systems acceptance, so I had quite a bit of power in that organization. I would tell everybody what they should do and how they should do it, and where they were lacking, and why they were an issue, and why they weren’t fitting in, and how they could improve.

I reveled in the fact that I ended up, after probably six months in the role with the title of Ice Queen Itch with a B. I thought I was it. A partner pulled me in, I’ll never forget, Dan Heitzer, wonderful man. He sat me down and he said, “So, do you like having people hate you?” I said, “Well, I don’t care what people think, because I’m here to do a job and I know what’s best. I know what’s best for them. I’m just helping them out.” He looked at me and he said, “Did they ask you to help them?” (laughing) It was this momentous thunder rolled, sky opened, and it was a valuable early in my career lesson that I always value and realize that it really it’s about … Work is half, if you draw a circle. Picture me with a circle, the top half is work or the hard systems, but the bottom half that supports the work, that supports all task is relationship.

If you don’t have that piece in play, if you don’t use honey versus vinegar, if you don’t work with people and not at people, then you are not going to get the job done. I think that was the biggest lesson for me, and I’m so grateful that I learned that early. It became a foundation piece in what I love to do, which is working with executives and in a nice way, telling them that spitting in people’s faces, yelling and wagging their fingers is not the way to motivate. Those very successful people who do that, don’t understand that it is their intimate non-transparent understanding of who they are that is driving this dis-ease. The beautiful thing that I get to do is work in executive coaching, in personal life balance coaching with all the individuals in leadership positions, to get them to really begin to like and validate themselves so that they can like and validate others.

Absolutely love that. If you’re joining us, we are talking to Dr. Marissa Pei. She’s an organizational psychologist. We’re talking about transparency in organizations. Stay with us, because after the break, we’re going to learn a little bit more about Dr. Marissa Pei, so we’ll be right back after this message. 

All righty, well welcome back to the In the Clear podcast. We are talking to Dr. Marissa Pei, and organizational psychologist who does some amazing work. More importantly, she is down to earth, she gets it, and she really helps organizations. Really what we’re talking about here is this transparency in organizations and I think at the root of that, what we were talking about prior to the break was that relationship piece right?

Yes, absolutely. The key, the number one primary relationship, is with one’s self. That’s the first transparent building block to all successful

The key the number one primary relationship is with ones self

The number one primary relationship is with one’s self.

organizations. I see a lot of-

It’s like a marriage, right?

You can’t divorce yourself.


If you don’t like yourself, deep, deep, deep down, if you don’t like yourself, there is no way in heaven that you are going to like the people that are around you. I think that that, and that’s my job. On the air, in writing, I just got three publishing offers for my next book. I’m so grateful-


Thank you. Called, Eight Ways to Happiness, from wherever you are. If you want to be a great organizational leader, if you want to be anything successful in your business, you got to start inside. You got to start with you. You got to know what you’re good at. Know what you’re not. Know how to bridge that gap. Know that you, that perfectionism is actually is a dis-ease with life that recovering perfectionism is probably the best support group that you could have, because most leaders don’t understand that that negative motivation to reach whatever they think it is that is unattainable which is perfection, is going to drive themselves into the ground. Then everybody as collateral damage around them.

Yeah, I think that goes right back to what you were talking about at the very beginning of the show of just being bluntly honest with somebody, just to clear your own consciousness and make yourself feel better. That just emotional spewing of just, lashing out at somebody is 1) it’s not healthy in general, but it’s even more unhealthy in an organization.

Absolutely. It comes from one’s own dis-ease with themselves. When I work with leaders, we get to that root. It’s not called, 20 years of therapy. It’s not called, I’m okay you’re okay. It’s a real publisher’s clearinghouse of your own life, and then getting balanced in what you’re doing, so that you become the best version of what you are.

I want to go … I absolutely love that, because what just came up for me is as you were talking about it, you shared a story right before the break of one of the first lessons that you had learned of just sharing and giving advice to people who weren’t wanting to hear it. You had a whole lot of people that didn’t like you, so how important then is it for the individuals? Whether it be the leaders, or the employees, or whatever, that are part of an organization, how important is it that they’re ready to take a look at that for themselves?

Ultimately important. You’re only as good as you are. Your company will only be as good as you are. I’m talking at all different levels. If you hate your job, and you’re just there for a paycheck, and your company culture is fraught with that attitude, your company’s going to go under, because there’s no way that anyone is going … Your customers will pick that up. There’s no way that you will survive long term. We have plenty of examples of that. Places that we really thought were going to be here forever, who have folded. I think that’s a direct correlation with people not wanting and feeling of value, and feeling like they add to something or are appreciated in what they do.

That study, I think Fortune magazine put out, what do you remember best? The amount of your last raise or the time that your boss told you did a good job? Not in passing, good job, but actually acknowledged something that you had contributed. Meaning at work, meaning at an individual level is the block, is the foundation through which we can all just incredibly reap the rewards of being in an organization. Because you can’t do it alone. Entrepreneurs, you start alone, but eventually you have to get along. By the way, all this advice that I’m giving, falls under the category of my talk radio show, which is called, Take my Advice, I’m Not Using it, Give Balance with Dr. Marissa.

As you notice, I have zero employees. When you go to the directory, you will see, I have zero employees. I’m really good at helping you with this. I suck at doing it myself. That’s my disclaimer.-

I love it. That’s it to the T right there, folks.

There you go. Practicing what I teach.

Exactly. Here we go. I have no employees, so my organization’s super easy. I only have to deal with my own crap. 

That’s right. I just have to deal with me on a daily basis, and it’s not always pretty.

That’s awesome. 

I can get to the happiness 88 percent of the time

I can get to the happiness 88% of the time.

Yeah. That’s why my executive coaching practice does so well is because when people get to the place where they know that there’s something wrong, that there’s something that’s not … They’ve followed all the rules. They went to the right schools. They got the best job. They’re still super unhappy, then we know that it’s an inside out job. I get to do … That’s why I love my work. Get to work with people who, they’re not broken, but they could be so much happier. My whole thing is, I can get to the happiness 88% of the time. The 12% for contrast. If you really come with me, and take a look at that black hole in front of you. We’ll clean it out. We’ll dig out the shitake, and then we’ll put it back as fertilizer. Then grow you to the best that you can be.

What you’re saying is, is that you actually work with people who are ready to change, and you just don’t dish it out like you used to?

Correct. Well, yeah, with my kids, they would probably not agree with you on that. I do have two teenage daughters, so that gives me the qualifications to be able to do that, but yeah there is … I’ve only fired two clients in my entire life, and that is because it was not the right time. I do need, I owed a willingness to look at yourself before you start pointing at everybody else. That whole point one finger, three are back at you. You have to convince me. Usually, I’m very fortunate.

In the first meeting, and I’ve worked with … We’re in the double digits of thousands now of people, who are willing to go, “Okay.” Actually, here’s a trade secret. In the very first meeting that I, in transparency, the very first meeting that I have with every single one of my clients, I say to them sort of as an aside, after we develop all these goals of all the people that they want to change and all the situations that they want to change, and all the things that aren’t working in the company that they want to happen over night. I say to them as I’m going out the door, kind of like Columbo, I say, “So, by the way, just in case I find out that you might be part of the problem, do I have permission to tell you that?” They’re all like, “Oh yeah! No problem! Of course!” Then I get to come back and drop the bomb.

That’s awesome. I’m going to get your permission for me to kick your ass, before I kick your ass. 

Correct. Yeah, they used to call me the, “It’s amazing. She works with you in a way that she can tell you to go to heaven, or hell, and in a way that you want to go there.”

You want to go there.

That’s an extreme compliment.

That’s awesome. Dr. Marissa, quick question for you here. I know our listeners are going to want to know, what are some questions that a potential client should ask you in doing their own due diligence before they decide to hire you?

They should ask me if I’m single. What I’m looking for in a guy. No I’m kidding. They should ask me if the kinds of situations in the work place that I have worked with, so that there’s some fit. Because I won’t work with you unless I know I can bring value to you, and that exploratory phase or question is certainly filters them out. However, I can safely say that I have … I think I’ve heard and worked with everything from employees who hate each other so much that they flash guns at each other, and getting them to be good working teammates.

Ask me if I’ve ever worked with your situation, that’s one question. Ask me the length of time and the range of budget that I would charge, and of course I’m Chinese so ask me if I give discounts. I think that’s important, because I need to fit into your budget. I’m not cheap, obviously, because of the number of years of experience and I’m good at what I do. I really help a lot of individuals and organizations, and I know that that’s my strength, and that’s one of the unique gifts, talents, and abilities that I have in this lifetime. The fit, the match in terms of money and time. Then a realistic timeframe, because all of my clients want their whatever’s wrong to be fixed tomorrow.

Of course. 

I ask them always the question, “How long did it take to get here?” “Oh, 10 years-

10 years. 

Yeah, and I say, “Yeah, and miracles do happen, but Alice in Wonderland asked for six impossible things before breakfast, so we’ll do that. However, in my change experience, it takes best case scenario, 20% of the time that it took to get there to be able to get out.” Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll take two years for me to be with you, but if we start the ball rolling and you follow what I’m telling you is important, and what your people are telling is important, then you will see that change. Let me bring up a really important point that I just realized, I do not know your organization. You know your organization.

You are the boss of you. 

Yes. I am only a process consultant and a true PhD organizational psychologist. I taught for 10 years. Six years at the UCLA school in the Anderson school of business management. I tell my students there, “You are not a McKenzie consultant. You are not an expert in content. You are in expert in process.” I can help you find out what the answers or the solutions are, because you know, your people know. Your customers know. Your shareholders know. I’m going to help you get that information so you can take valid relevant productive action against that data.

I absolutely love it. Dr. Marissa, outside of looking at your profile within the Clear Business Directory, where else can our listeners go to find out more about you? 

Yes. They can go to my website, DrMarissa.TV. That is because I am wonderfully blessed to have a media audience and personality. I’m an on-air personality, TV commentator, as well as talk radio, which actually more like TV because I have cameras in my studio. If you go to YouTube, you can see my past interviews. I just interviewed Corey Feldman, for those you are from the ’80s who remember the Goonies and the Gremlins and Lost Boys, and Stand by Me. Also, Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island for those who are way back then, who Leave it to Beaver. All of those have also been on my show. You can see there.

iTunes, I’m also on there. Stitcher radio. You can watch my show that broadcasts every Tuesday, live from the Sunset Gower studios in Hollywood, where Scandal and Heroes, and Newsroom is filmed, but there’s no scandal on my show. There’s no gossip, no scandal, no K-words at all. No Kardashian talk is allowed. We only talk about hope and happiness. There’s a way to tune in there. I also do call-ins every second week of the month, so if you have a question about your business, or you have a question about your relationship, your job and career, your well-being, contact my producer through my site to be able to get on the air and ask me for free advice.


That’s my show, and I’m sticking to it.

Fantastic. Well Dr. Marissa, thank you so much for being on our show today. Again, you can take a look at Dr. Marissa Pei’s profile on our website, or inside the Clear Business Directory. Until next time, make sure that you’re connecting with your clients, your employees, and the people in your organization in full transparency. If you need somebody to help straighten them out, Dr. Marissa Pei is that person. Until next time, make sure your business is in the CLEAR.