The Future of Work With Jacob Morgan

Erin Meyer is the co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, which she co-authored with Reed Hastings, the founder and CEO of Netflix. She is also the author of The Culture Map and a professor at INSEAD.

For the book, No Rules Rules, Erin spent a lot of time observing the corporate culture inside of Netflix, she interviewed employees, and got first hand stories of how the company values started from Reed himself. Netflix definitely has a unique culture and an interesting way to give employees freedom. While not every company can use their method of autonomy, there are lessons we can all learn from how they operate.

What led Erin to write No Rules Rules
Erin’s first book, The Culture Map, came out in 2014 and it dove into the topic of how people of different backgrounds and cultures can work together harmoniously and effectively. The book really took off over the next few years and in 2016 Erin received an email from a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who was interested in learning more about her book and how to implement the method in his own company. That person was Reed Hastings, the co-founder and co-CEO at Netflix.

So Erin went in to help Netflix get ready for their international expansion and while she was there she became fascinated with the company’s culture because it was so strange and unique.

“I conducted a big research project, I interviewed about 200 employees at Netflix, and I spent a lot of time with Reed himself, trying to understand what it was about this organizational culture that was breeding so much innovation and flexibility in the company. And then what it was that other business leaders around the world or even just team leaders could learn from this company about how to be more innovative and flexible themselves. And that's what we wrote the book [No Rules Rules] about.”

Why the culture at Netflix is so different
When asked what her first impressions were of the Netflix culture when she first started, Erin admits she was a bit “startled” by it and there were some things that initially concerned her. One example of something that concerned her was one of the slides in the Netflix culture deck which said, “adequate performance gets a generous severance”.

Erin says, “It concerned me because at INSEAD where I teach, there had been, there was so much talk, and still today, of course, about the idea of focusing exclusively on psychological safety in a workplace. I just didn't understand how an organization today could be running around, not make your employees feel safe, but tell your employees if they're not excellent, they're out.”

But even though it initially concerned Erin, it also was intriguing and a bit refreshing to see a company be so blunt about what it was going to be like to work there. So many companies tell potential new hires wonderful stories about what it’s like to work at the company, things they think people want to hear. It’s a great work environment, you’ll love everyone you work with, the work is exciting and engaging, and you won’t ever get burned out. That’s what they’ll say when the person is interviewing for the job, but then once they start they find out that people are backstabbing each other, it’s a toxic work environment, they are expected to work 60+ hours a week, and they are doing boring, monotonous tasks.

To see a company really be blunt and open about what the culture is actually like is extremely rare. So even though the wording may sound harsh, anyone who applies for Netflix knows up front it’s going to be hard work and you will have to bring your best self every day, and that may not be for everyone.

“I was so tired, just so sick of looking at corporate cultures or people who worked at companies who said what their corporate cultures were and then say, Oh, it's about integrity and respect and excellence. You know, there's nothing wrong with saying that your organization values respect, it's just that there's no good credible option to respect right? No company would run around saying they value disrespect, or that they value corruption. And I think that was actually one of my really overarching learnings to this research, was that if you really want to articulate a corporate culture that means something, that takes a root and impacts the way your employees are behaving, that you really want to avoid speaking in absolute positives, like integrity or respect, that have no good opposite option. And instead, focus on the tensions or the dilemmas that your employees are facing on a day to day basis.”

We are a team, not a family
Another way Netflix goes against the grain is in the methodology behind their corporate culture. Their mindset is, we are a team, not a family. And we’re not just a regular team, we are an Olympic team. We work together, we have cohesion and teamwork, but there’s no job security. When you get hired for a certain position you are there for as long as you are the best person for that job, but when you are no longer the best person for the job you will be replaced by someone else who is.

As Erin shares, in the Industrial Era most of the time employment was for life, so you really were a family. But now, with the increasing pace of change and uncertainties that is no longer the case, we can’t have teams where we can’t easily move people on and off.

This may seem harsh, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but employees who work for Netflix opt into that work environment. They know up front what it will be like and what is expected of them. And if they accept the job they know they will get paid well, they will get to work on some amazing projects, they will have exceptional co-workers, etc…

How Reed came up with the Netflix culture foundation
There are three main pillars that make up the Netflix culture and allow the leaders there to give employees freedom. And these three things came from the experience Reed had at the first company he opened, Pure Software.

Because Pure Software was a small entrepreneurial startup they operated without formal processes and policies. Everyone was expected to use their best judgement and make good decisions for the company, which worked when they first started with a small team. People enjoyed working there, they had freedom, there was a lot of creativity and innovation. But then the company began to grow quite quickly.

And as the company grew--from a handful of people to 1,000--people started to do stupid things and took advantage of the freedom they were given. There was no policy against having dogs at work, so one woman started bringing her dog in every day and he would chew through the carpets. Another employee who had to travel for work decided because there wasn’t a policy about travel he would start flying first class all the time.

Because this was still a fairly new company, they didn’t have a lot of extra money, so these things people kept doing really hurt the company and frustrated Reed. So he sat down with HR and wrote an employee handbook to address all these issues. But as they implemented these rules and policies something else happened--the creative people started leaving and innovation slowed down. Erin says it got so bad Reed had to sell the company.

So when Reed opened up Netflix he went in with two guiding principles--employee freedom breeds innovation and process kills organizational flexibility. But he was also worried that if he didn’t have some policies in place the organization would descend into chaos. So he had to figure out how to give freedom without processes and policies.

The three pillars of Netflix culture
As Reed was figuring out what to do with the culture at Netflix he realized that in most organizations most of the procedures and policies are put into place to deal with medium to poor employees. So if you could get a culture that was made up of only top employees then you could give them a lot more freedom. And then you also have a culture with a lot of candid feedback so that employees could feel secure speaking up if and when someone did take advantage of the freedom.

So Reed came up with three pillars that are still used inside of Netflix to create a culture of freedom, creativity, and innovation. They are:

  1. Talent Density--In order to give freedom without limits and policies you need a high performing team and you can’t let middle performers hang around. Leaders perform regular “keeper test” exercises with employees. If that employee came to you today and said they were leaving, how hard would you fight to keep them? If you wouldn’t fight or if you would feel a bit relieved, then they aren’t the right person for the role.
  2. Candor--The leaders inside Netflix encourage a lot of candid feedback. The key is having some guidelines to the feedback and Erin shared the four A’s--Aim to assist, it has to be actionable, show appreciation, accept or decline. Everyone provides feedback--employees to leaders, leaders to employees, and employees to coworkers.
  3. Freedom--Once you have talent density and candor, then you are in a position to give freedom. If you want to go on vacation--go, if you need to make a purchase--do it, if you need to make a decision--make it. You are expected to act like an adult and act in the best interest of the company. Instead of using a hierarchical pyramid, Netflix uses a decision making tree with the leaders at the bottom down in the dirt, watering the roots of the company.

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, man business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. http://futureofworknewsletter.com/ 

Let's connect on social!

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobmorgan8

Instagram: https://instagram.com/jacobmorgan8

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jacobm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FuturistJacob

 

Direct download: Audio_-_Erin_Meyer_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:08am PDT

Are you struggling to see change inside your organization?

Just like brushing your teeth or working out in the gym, seeing change doesn’t happen overnight. It is a very slow process and has to start somewhere.

So be the change you want to see inside your company.

Lead by example so that other people can see you and start imitating you. Show the people in your organization that the changes you want to see are attainable.

Direct download: Be_the_Change_You_Want_to_See_Inside_Your_Organization_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:29am PDT

Kate Johnson is President of Microsoft US, a $45 billion division including all of Microsoft’s solutions, services, and support revenues across public and private sectors in the United States. Kate is responsible for a team of 10,000 people and she has been very involved in Microsoft’s culture journey led by CEO Satya Nadella.

Prior to Microsoft Kate served as the Chief Commercial Officer for GE Digital. She has held several key senior leadership roles at GE, Oracle, Red Hat, and Deloitte Consulting.

Kate believes that leadership is a state of mind, it’s not about how many people you lead or your seniority level, it’s about the characteristics and skills you demonstrate on a day-to-day basis. You can be a leader if you are an individual worker without anyone reporting to you directly just as much as someone can be a leader with thousands of employees reporting to them.

Important experiences for anyone aspiring to be a senior leader
Kate has a very diverse background when it comes to her career. She got her degree in engineering and worked in that field for a while before going back to get her MBA. After she finished her MBA she spent several years in management consulting, then moved into banking, and then she moved to the IT side of things. She has worked in inward-facing roles and outward-facing roles. And she has also worked in several different countries around the world.

Not everyone will have the same path, but the important thing about her diverse experiences is that she was always learning and growing--she didn’t just stay where she was comfortable. She shares that it is also important, especially if you want to lead a global company, to learn about different cultures and immerse yourself in them to build relationships with people from all parts of the world. In order to truly understand different cultures proximity is crucial, you have to go there and immerse yourself in it, even if it’s for a short time.

Although Kate has had a lot of work experiences, she also brings up the importance of implementing changes and watching them develop--which takes time, in her opinion at least three years. So while the days of staying at one company for your whole career are gone, it also doesn’t mean you should continuously move every 1-2 years.

And when it comes to the debate between being a generalist or a specialist, Kate says, “I always tell people I'm working with, you've got to pick--are you going to be that generalist or are you going to be somebody who goes deep in one thing, whether it's a function like finance and you want to be a CFO and you've always known that, or, is it something horizontal that you're picking, like change? And I don't think there's a right answer, I think the world is going to continue to be hybrid. Because we need both, we need the deep experts and then we need, you know, the people who can kind of be a utility player and pinch-hit. I think it's getting harder to get the big jobs as a utility player that hasn't at least gone deep in certain things and owned the implementation of the changes that they've dreamed up.”

The lessons Covid taught us about leadership
There is no doubt that the pandemic and the past year and a half have changed the way we lead our organizations. Kate shares that one of the big lessons we learned is around crisis management. What we have gone through has reminded us that this is a core capability that every leader needs to have.

Leaders need to be able to handle a crisis with optimism and calm. They have to be able to assure everyone in the organization that they are all in it together and they have to bring comfort to employees through these tough times.

Another thing Kate says that we have learned is the importance of the agility of your portfolio and your go-to-market. “The world just changed overnight. For Microsoft, you know, how do we take our existing technology capabilities, which so many companies were slow to adopt, and make it easier for them to adopt so that they can do years of digital transformation in hours and days, just so they could stay in business. And that was a whole different sort of crisis management, you know, and response that we needed to do.”

It has taught us all to be agile and flexible, we have to be able to pivot at a moment’s notice with the current pace of change and extraordinary circumstances out of our control.

Going through this past year and a half has caused a lot of stress, fear, and exhaustion for leaders and individuals alike. Employee experience and employee wellness should always be top of mind, but it has definitely become even more critical during this time.

What Kate looks for in leaders
When she is looking to promote someone or hire someone into a leadership position Kate says the principles of leadership at Microsoft have been her main guide. The fundamentals of leadership are:

  1. Clarity: A leader is someone who generates clarity so that everyone knows where it is we are headed
  2. Generating energy: Once we know where we are going, leaders need to motivate and excite people to go chase whatever that goal is
  3. Knowing how to deliver success: Leaders have to be able to define success in a way that resonates with every single person on the ground


These are the main qualities she looks for in potential leaders. And you don’t have to be a leader of many to demonstrate these three things.

The difference between senior level leaders and those who just aren’t there yet
If you are an entry-level or mid-level manager looking to work your way up, you may be wondering what it takes to move up. One of the key differences between someone who is ready to lead at a higher level, Kate shares, comes down to how leaders drive change.

As humans, we all tend to pivot towards what makes us comfortable and when an organization goes through a time of change there is something called the frozen middle. Leaders in the mid-level range play a huge role in how the transformation goes. There are two ways leaders address change, and Kate says she can now spot the difference within 3 minutes of a conversation with someone.

When it comes to change there is implementation vs. ownership. One type of person reads about the changes that need to take place and when they meet with their team they attribute accountability to a more senior leader--”Kate wants us to drive culture change so we have to do X, Y, Z to get to that end result”. For this type of person, it’s all about checking off boxes and following instructions. This is implementation and this type of person usually ends up falling back to what is comfortable for them.

Then there is ownership. This person personally takes accountability for the change process. They explain to their team members what it is that we as a company are trying to do, why it’s important, and how they will individually play a role in how the company gets there. They bring passion, clarity, and excitement to their team and they explain why the outcome is so important.

Kate says that is the difference between someone who can run the place and someone who can’t.

Kate’s advice for aspiring and seasoned leaders
For anyone who aspires to be a leader someday, Kate’s advice is to demonstrate it now. Don’t wait until you get promoted, do it now no matter how many people report to you. Create clarity, generate energy, and deliver success. These are the muscles needed to lead, so just like working out, if you want to build those muscles you have to practice, practice, practice.

For seasoned leaders Kate says don’t get comfortable and settled in your ways. There is always more to learn. Listen to podcasts, read books, talk to people--make sure you keep yourself open to grow and develop, no matter what level you are at.

Also, hubris is kryptonite to leadership. Going around thinking you have all the answers and trying to prove yourself right all of the time instead of listening to others will be your downfall. Stay humble, keep learning, and surround yourself with great people of diverse backgrounds. There’s no way one person can know it all.

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, man business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. http://futureofworknewsletter.com/

Let's connect on social!

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobmorgan8

Instagram: https://instagram.com/jacobmorgan8

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jacobm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FuturistJacob


Your attitude and approach towards feedback says a lot about the type of mindset you have.

As a leader and a manager inside of your organization, having a growth mindset means that you give feedback in a way that allows your employees to grow and learn new things. You're not insulting them, bashing them, or putting them down because that doesn't allow room for growth or learning.

The first step in doing this is making sure that we actually give feedback on a regular basis. Most organizations give annual performance reviews, which no longer makes sense. Your company should have regular check-ins and regular conversations to provide feedback.

As a leader, you also want to make sure you encourage your employees to practice self-reflection. If you know the answer to something, don’t just give it to others. Let your people figure things out on their own--that's where the learning and growth happens.

Direct download: How_to_Give_Feedback_that_Allows_for_Learning_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:25am PDT

Mark Dixon is the founder & CEO of International Workplace Group (IWG), formerly known as Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workspace solutions. They have over 3,300 locations and 15,000 team members in 120 countries around the world.

Mark has a unique and diverse background leading up to his current role. He actually dropped out of school at the age of 16 to start a business delivering sandwiches by bicycle. He has been a logger, a miner, a barman, an investor, and a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman--all before founding IWG in 1989.

He always knew he wanted to go into business, but he also realized early on that he needed experience and training and that’s definitely what he got throughout every job he had. He learned other languages, he tried multiple different roles, he soaked up what he could from the people he worked with--and all of it led him to his current position.

As Mark shares, “I've worked with some fantastic people, either within the companies or advisors or people I know. And, you know, in those days--and still today--I'm still learning today, you’re sort of like a sponge. You just got to be whoever you're speaking to, whatever you're doing, you try, you know, you're learning lessons. And COVID, you know, this whole crisis, I've been through many, many crises over the period of time that I've been in business, this is a huge one. And you've had to reinvent very quickly, and sort of apply, you know, all those 45 years of experiences to what you know now. And it's very hard to learn all that, you know, you're not going to get a lot of it with an MBA, it's gonna come with experience.”

<strong>Is there still a place for in-person work?</strong>
This past year with the pandemic really showed most businesses that they could continue to get things done even during shutdowns, thanks to technology. They realized that not only could the business keep going, but a lot of employees were happier because they weren’t commuting every day, they could work in comfortable clothing, and they could spend more time with family.

Now that we’ve all experienced this for over a year, a lot of companies are exploring how they can allow employees to have more flexible work options. A big topic of conversation lately is will the office go away completely. Will most companies continue with remote only working?

Mark and I agree that while companies will give employees more flexibility, the office is not going away anytime soon and there is still value in having people come to work in-person. But most likely it will be more of a hybrid format, where people can work from home at times and come into the office at times as well.

While it is possible to keep everyone remote and get work done, as Mark points out bringing people together, at least some of the time is key, otherwise you just create a bunch of digital nomads. This can be dangerous because it makes it easy to lose the company culture.

The key is having a convenient physical office (or offices) that people want to come to, at least from time to time. This is where collaboration, social interactions, networking, etc… can happen. It is also important to have an agenda to accomplish while people are there so you don’t have people sitting around staring at their screen by themselves.

“You're going in there to do creative stuff, you're going in there for your boss to thank you and hand you a, you know, a bottle of wine or something for doing a great job in front of everyone else. So you can't do that over the internet. So you've got to try and have a sense of belonging, and a feeling of purpose. And you can do a lot of it when people are decentralized, but you can't do all of it. It's a really important factor. So the companies of the future will have a number of hubs around the country, they'll bring people together.”

<strong>The benefits of hybrid work</strong>
Hybrid work is about making work convenient for employees and allowing them to work from wherever is the most productive for them each day. Some people may not have space to work from home and working from a Starbucks or Panera can be difficult with all of the noise and distractions. Some people live 3 hours away from work and hate their commute. Others may not have the discipline to work at home efficiently. So it’s all about providing different options for all of the different needs.

Giving people options helps the morale of the employees, they feel like they have control over how and when they work, they are happier because they are less stressed, and they are more productive.

This way of work also helps companies have less fixed costs. Mark says he has seen a number of companies take the money they have saved from having people work from home and they have re-invested that money into HR programs that help them get to know employees better. Sometimes leaders feel like they know their people because they all sit in the same building and they see each other every day, but that’s not necessarily the case.

“You know, it wasn't the office that was the magic ingredient here. It was the people themselves. And it's about companies focusing on people as people. They had brilliant talents that you didn't know about because you hired them, you asked them but you didn't ask them again and again.”

<strong>Mark’s advice for leaders who want to make hybrid work a reality for their employees</strong>
The first thing Mark believes leaders should do is take time to research--there are so many materials and resources out there for companies that want to start hybrid work. Look into what other companies are doing and what has worked and what hasn’t.

After you’ve done your research it is crucial that you talk to your people to find out what they want. Survey your people to see how many of them want to be able to work from home at times, and how much time they want to work from home. How do they feel about working from a local office part of the time and working from home the rest of the time? Their feedback can help you develop a strategy.

For most companies, leaders who don’t give employees the option to work from home at times will most likely lose a lot of good people.

<strong>Can you fail at hybrid work?</strong>
Some leaders might worry about failing at implementing hybrid work, but don’t worry Mark says while you may not get the right productivity out of it, you can’t really fail. If you get it wrong, he says, it’s because you haven’t thought enough about your people.

Staying connected with your people is so important, especially when you are working in a hybrid setting. It’s easy for employees to feel lost or disconnected, so it’s up to the leaders to make sure that doesn’t happen. Call people on their birthday, start meetings off with a casual conversation, send out a weekly or monthly update email. Think about the things you do in your office right now to stay connected and then just figure out how to do that when you are all more spread out.

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, man business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. http://futureofworknewsletter.com/

Let's connect on social!

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobmorgan8

Instagram: https://instagram.com/jacobmorgan8/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jacobm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FuturistJacob

Direct download: Audio_-_Mark_Dixon_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:43am PDT

Pick up any leadership book that's out there, including mine, and you'll find a list of things leaders do.

But have you ever wondered about the things great leaders DON’T do?

1. They don't ignore criticism. Successful leaders are willing to take that criticism and feedback and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

2. They don't let their emotions take control of them. Great leaders don't make rash decisions or blow up when something goes wrong.

3. They don't avoid responsibility for their choices. A great leader is able to stand by their actions. Even if they make a mistake, they acknowledge it and take responsibility.

4. They don’t break their commitments. Great leaders stand by their word. If they say they’ll do something or be somewhere, then they do it, and they show up when they need to be there.

5. They never say never. Great leaders look forward and constantly consider the big picture. They don't limit their thinking by saying, we're never going to try that, that will never work.

Direct download: 5_Things_Great_Leaders_Dont_Do_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:11am PDT

I remember when I first got asked to give a talk on my new book The Future Leader.

The book wasn't even done yet but the company that brought me in was really excited to be the first one in the world to hear the research, the ideas, and the concepts that I spent the past 18 months working on.

To say I was nervous was a bit of an understatement.

I never shared this stuff with anyone before!

But, it ended up being one of my favorite presentations I've given and I wanted to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

What does it take to lead in the future of work? For my new book, The Future Leader, I interviewed over 140 of the world's top CEOs and surveyed nearly 14,000 employees in partnership with LinkedIn to identify 4 crucial mindsets and 5 essential skills to lead in a post-covid world. "Whether you're a current or future leader, this book is one that you should read and keep near you." Ajay Banga, CEO, Mastercard. Click here to grab a copy for yourself and your teams, you'll be glad you did!

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. http://futureofworknewsletter.com/

Let's connect on social!

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobmorgan8

Instagram: https://instagram.com/jacobmorgan8/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jacobm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FuturistJacob

Direct download: Audio_-_Vizient_podcast_-_Ready_-_V2.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:34am PDT

I have written four books, and The Future Leader was the hardest book to write. The research and logistics that went on for this book were very long and thorough.

People have asked me a couple of things with regards to the book. In this video, I share why I wrote the book, the reason behind using the lighthouse as a book cover and a symbol for leadership, and what leaders of today must do to prepare for the future.

If you have any questions about the book, drop them in the comments below or send me a personal message.

You can order your copy here: http://getfutureleaderbook.com/

Direct download: The_Future_Leader_QA_with_Jacob_Morgan_PART_1_MP3_1.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:56am PDT

Most business leaders around the world are not good leaders...

They aren't bad people, but their approaches to leadership are simply put...obsolete.

We can especially see this quite clearly with what has been going on with Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, and the ongoing fight against racism and social injustice.

To give you an analogy, it's a bit like trying to fly a modern-day passenger plane while being trained on an original Wright Brothers plane.

There's a chance you might get the plane in the air, but you won't go far.

Leadership around the world is failing us.

Consider some of these sobering statistics take from my book, The Future Leader:

  • 80% of employees say they can do their jobs without their managers and say their managers are not even necessary (Ultimate Software and Center for Generational Kinetics).
  • Almost half of 2,257 survey respondents said they could do their jobs better than their boss (Randstad).
  • 60% of employees have left or are considering leaving their jobs because they don't like their direct supervisors (Randstad).
  • 50% of Americans have left a job at some point in their career to get away from their managers (Gallup).
  • In the UK, nearly half of British workers believe they could do a better job than their boss and 13% actually said their bosses are dangerously incompetent at their jobs (Independent).
  • Only 15% of employees around the world are even engaged in their jobs (Gallup).
  • According to a survey of 25,000 leaders around the world done by DDI, only 42% of organizations said that the overall quality of leadership inside of their organizations was high.
  • Only 14% of organizations have a "strong bench," which is ready-now leaders who can step to replace those who retire or move on (DDI).
  • Half of the organizations surveyed by DDI say their leaders are not skilled to lead effectively today and 71% say their leaders are not ready to lead their organizations in the future.

CLEARLY something is wrong with leadership around the world otherwise these statistics wouldn't be as terrible as they are. 

All of the human indicators are telling us that we have a problem yet most organizations and leaders are doing nothing to correct the problem.

Imagine for a moment that you are driving a car and in the middle of your trip as your speeding down the highway, the "check engine" light comes on, followed by the tire pressure warning, the low fuel light, and the battery light, all while your car temperature indicator is in the red. Now imagine your whole family is sitting in the car with you.

Are you really just going to keep driving along? I hope not!

Yet here we are, and the business world is on cruise control but the scary part is that we are all sitting in the same car!

In the United States alone there are around 25 million supervisors and managers today, these are people who are responsible for others. I estimate that by 2030 we are going to have around 220 million leaders around the world.

That's a lot of leaders!

We have lots of people in leadership roles but unfortunately, many of them are bad leaders, there's just no other way around it. But, their days are numbered because the way that we think about leadership is changing...Leaders Must Change.

Leadership is not about making the most money

Leadership is not about a rank or title

Leadership is not about playing office politics to get the top.

Leadership is not about being friends with other leaders who will promote you.

Leadership is not just about staying at the company for a long time until you get promoted.

Leadership IS ABOUT putting people first

Leadership IS ABOUT being able to influence change

Leadership IS ABOUT making other people more successful than you

Leadership IS ABOUT rallying people to build a better world

Leadership IS ABOUT YOU!

Being a leader is the hardest job in the world but it's also the most rewarding. Everyone in the world has the potential to become a leader, even if you're a leader of self.

The first step towards becoming that leader is making the conscientious choice that you are willing to get out of your comfort zone and do whatever it takes to positively impact your community, your organization, your people, and yourself.

Are you ready to take that first step?

What does it take to lead in the future of work? For my new book, The Future Leader, I interviewed over 140 of the world's top CEOs and surveyed nearly 14,000 employees in partnership with LinkedIn to identify 4 crucial mindsets and 5 essential skills to lead in a post-covid world. "Whether you're a current or future leader, this book is one that you should read and keep near you." Ajay Banga, CEO, Mastercard. Click here to grab a copy for yourself and your teams, you'll be glad you did!

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. http://futureofworknewsletter.com/

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Direct download: Audio_-_Book_Chapter_1_Podcast_Episode_July_5_2021_-_Ready_-_V2.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:15am PDT

Oftentimes inside of our companies, we've been doing things for decades just because we've been doing them for decades. It's important for us to break away from that cycle and start thinking about creative new ways of doing things.

One thing you can do is write down all of your ideas, like a brain dump. Put all your ideas on paper and just see what comes out of your head. The reason this is crucial is because when you can write down your idea and conceptualize it, you really think through a lot of stuff. And you spend less time worrying about pretty pictures or making things look nice.

After your brain dump, you can look for common patterns. And once you clump these things together, turn it into a six-page document, flesh out all your ideas, and let other people take a look at it and give their feedback.

Direct download: Creative_Problem_Solving_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:34am PDT

After graduating from college with honors and a dual Bachelors degree in economics and psychology, I was excited to join the corporate world. I had dreams of one day becoming the CMO of a large organization. At my first job out of college I was promised that I would be working on amazing projects and traveling the country meeting with executives and entrepreneurs. Instead, I was stuck doing data entry, cold calling, and PowerPoint presentations. One day the CEO of the company asked me to go buy him a cup of coffee, that was the last job I ever had. Since then I have been passionate about the future of work and designing great employee experiences.

This happened to me, but I’m not special. There are millions of people who feel this same way about their managers and their organizations every single day. We have built our organizations on outdated processes, procedures, and ways of thinking about work for the past 100+ years. It’s no wonder that so many people around the world don’t like their jobs. 

Why we need to take control and shape our work (and how we can do that)

On average we will spend one-third of our lives at work, our lives and our work are integrated, and we cannot separate the two. So when we are miserable at work, chances are you’re feeling miserable about life in general. 

Over the past 10+ years, I have discovered three strategies that allowed me to shape my work. 

Be a perpetual learner

We cannot rely on educational institutions or organizations to teach us all we need to know. You have to learn how to learn and you have to constantly find ways to grow, develop, and expand your skills. And you need to be aware of how your skills and abilities can be applied, not just in your current role, but in other unique ways. 

You have to fake it ‘til you make it

What you believe and what you tell yourself matters. Because it will guide your behaviors, your actions, and how you feel about yourself. Most of us at some point in our lives will have imposter syndrome--where we feel inadequate, or we feel we don’t have the experience necessary, or we don’t feel qualified to make a decision. Whether you are dealing with imaginary voices in your head or real voices of people telling you you’re no good--you have to stay optimistic and you have to build yourself up. 

Don’t follow your passion

This may be controversial, but the saying “follow your passion” is wrong. We shouldn’t follow our passion, we should bring our passion with us. Your passion is not something outside of you that you have to go and chase and it’s not one static thing that you have to achieve or you will never be happy.  As you grow and as you experience different things, your passions will change. And most of us have a hard time even figuring out what our passion actually is before we have to choose what career we want to pursue. 

With these three strategies we can take more control over our work lives, and as result, we will build a life for ourselves that we truly want to live. 

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. http://futureofworknewsletter.com/

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FuturistJacob

 

 

Direct download: Audio_-_FOW_Podcast_-_TED_Talk.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:09am PDT

I've talked to a lot of executives and CEOs of companies around the world, and consistently the top trend they tell me that's going to impact and change the future of work is technology.

The reality is, technology is unavoidable. It’s all around us: in our home, in our office, in our cars, and even in our pocket. Which is why it's so important for us to be able to be friends with technology and not be scared of it.

As a leader, you shouldn’t shy away from technology. You have to learn the new technologies that can greatly impact your organization. You don’t have to be an expert in technology, you just have to recognize its potential. You can even hire people knowledgeable in technology. But the important thing is to embrace it and don’t ignore it.

Direct download: 4._CEOs-Say-This-is-The-1-Trend-Impacting-The-Future-of-Work.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:17am PDT

Sébastien Bazin is the Chairman and CEO of Accor, the largest hospitality company in Europe and the 6th largest worldwide with 5,100 locations in 110 countries. Sébastien leads a huge team of over 280,000 people, and they add around 80,000 new employees each year.

Sébastien says he never dreamed of being a CEO, it definitely wasn’t his original plan. All he knew was he didn’t want to go into the family business, which was a real estate company his family had owned for five generations. He wanted to do his own thing and carve his own path.

He spent some time studying in Paris and then he moved to New York to work on Wall Street as a financial analyst. He tried his hand at stock trading and investment banking in New York as well. He spent some time working in San Francisco until the market crash in 1991, then he moved to London.

Eventually, he became a board member of Accor, and as Sébastien describes himself at that time he was, “very vocal and long shareholder, probably nasty guy. I was, I hope I'm no longer, but I was rough. I was harsh…” And in the time he was a board member three CEOs were dismissed from the company. After the third one was let go, the board had to decide on a new CEO and Sébastien was on the nomination committee.

Leading a team of 280,000+
Most people would shy away from taking on a CEO role of a company as large as Accor. But Sébastien says he never includes comfort in his life decisions. He says, it doesn’t matter if you lead a team of 30,000, 100,000, or 280,000, “in the end you are just talking to individuals, you want to gain a small group next to you, and you trust that that small group will be able to replicate what they've been hearing from you. You just have to-- the one thing that I've learned through that exercise, to tell the truth.”

The most important part of leading any group of people, Sébastien says, is to remember that everything you do is critical--your words, your face, your presence, your body language. It is very important to always be truthful, don’t try to deceive people, it won’t work.

And while the decisions he made in his time as an investment banker and a private equity investor had no real human impact when he made a mistake, he realized that as a CEO every decision you make impacts your employees, their families, and the community as a whole. And that’s something that Sébastien takes seriously.

How Sébastien’s career path has taken shape
Sébastien has never been one to try to figure out where his career will be in 10-15 years. In fact, he says, “anybody who is a hostage of his own field, or where he wants to be 20 years from today is likely to be very disappointed, frustrated, and then in some kind of depression.”

So how has he moved in his own career? He says it’s always been based on people. He has moved jobs and towns throughout his life because of interesting, exceptional people he has met and liked and thought he could learn from.

“If you don't believe your boss, wherever you are in any organization, does not teach you or you don't respect him, or you don't accept his leadership, don't stay another minute. Life is too short to be under somebody for which you have either no respect, no admiration, or no learning from. And that's what I've actually conducted myself.”

How Sébastien deals with pressure and scrutiny
Leaders today are under a lot more pressure and scrutiny than ever before. Everything they do can be publicized in online articles, people can talk about them on social media, employees can rate them on Glassdoor. It’s definitely a tough time to lead an organization. But Sébastien’s response to how he handles the pressure was surprising.

He candidly told me he does not stress out about things he cannot control. Whenever something happens to him he asks himself a few questions, which are--Is it my fault? Could I have, should I have done something differently? Was I able to do something to prevent it?--If the answer to those things is no, then he lets it go and moves on.

Sébastien shares that his family played a huge role in how he handles the role of CEO. He was always taught that he doesn’t need to live according to how other people view him. What other people think of him is irrelevant. He knows what he is doing, whether it is good or bad, and that is what he needs to focus on, and not worry about other people judging him.

He also admits that he is not on social media at all, which protects him from seeing comments and stories posted there.

Arne Sorenson & Sébastien Bazin: How two fierce rivals became friends
Before he passed away earlier this year, Arne Sorenson was the CEO of Marriott, a competitor to Accor. You would think that the competition between these two leaders would cause them to dislike each other or try to tear each other down, but as Sébastien shares that is far from the truth.

Sébastien says Arne had a strong personality, but he was generous, helpful, and caring. And they stayed in close contact for several years.

The skills and qualities that have helped Sébastien get to this point in his career
Sébastien has obviously had a very successful career and there are probably a lot of people out there who would like to know what skills have allowed Sébastien to come this far. He says that one of the main words that comes to mind is authenticity. He doesn’t lie, he doesn’t come up with excuses, he doesn’t try to be defensive--reality is reality. Be clear and truthful as a leader.

Sébastien also believes that leaders should admit they don’t know things more often. He says it doesn’t make you a weak leader to say you don’t know, it actually shows your strength.

Three words that he used when he first started at Accor were--agility, clarity, and accountability. He wanted people to have the agility to be empowered to be autonomous and make decisions. Because they were making those decisions, people needed to be held accountable. And he wanted clarity, or transparency so that people would understand the context around the decisions they were making.

Direct download: Audio_-_FOW_Podcast_-_Sebastian_Bazin_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:11am PDT

Consider some of the technologies you use in your personal life. Think about how easy it is for you to do things like communicating with people, share information, and stay on top of what's going on. Now think about what it would be like if you had similar technologies that you could use inside of your organization. How much easier would it be for you to get stuff done?

This is why many organizations that have strong technology initiatives involve employees in the process of figuring out the best technologies to use. Teams need the right technology to succeed. You can achieve this by getting feedback and perspectives of the employees inside your organization around the technologies that will benefit them the most.

Direct download: 3._How-to-Pick-the-Right-Technology-for-Your-Team.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:20am PDT

BJ Fogg is the bestselling author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything and the founder and director of The Stanford Design Lab, where he has directed research for over 20 years.

Back in 2002, BJ wrote a book called Persuasive Technology about how computers can be designed to influence attitudes and behaviors, which is still relevant nearly 20 years later. He was also named a “New Guru You Should Know” by Fortune Magazine.

A lot of times we resist change, especially when it comes to leadership because we believe it will take huge steps, big commitment, and a lot of willpower. But BJ’s Tiny Habits method proves that’s not true.

A different way to think about habits
Growing up BJ recalls how he was taught to make a change or improve in some way. It was all about setting a really high goal and using willpower and a lot of discipline to reach that goal. But as an adult, he found that it wasn’t working that way. And, as hacking things was something he had done since he was young--like hooking a string to his lightswitch so he could turn it off from his bed--he decided to hack the way he changed his habits.

He found that by scaling big goals back to smaller goals, adding it into his existing routine, and reinforcing it with positive emotion, he was able to quickly create habits that would have ripple effects in his life.

This formula works for anything health-related--nutrition, physical activities, mental well-being, it also works for productivity, creative activities, relationships, etc… The only area where BJ admits he doesn’t have expertise in and where his claims stop is with addictions. This formula may work for addictions, but BJ encourages people to get medical and professional help in that area.

As BJ shares, behavior change is a skill, and just like any other set of skills you can get better at it with practice and experience. But you wouldn’t put a brand new driver onto a highway and tell them to go 100 mph, and in the same way, we shouldn’t try to change our habits and behaviors in huge ways overnight. Start with the small things and as you succeed in those things and gain confidence then you can move up to bigger and more difficult things.

The Tiny Habits Method
There are three main elements of the Tiny Habits method, and it’s as easy as A-B-C.

A--Anchor your habit to something you do already. For example, if you want to start flossing your teeth, anchor it to brushing your teeth, something you already do every day.

B--This is the new behavior or the new habit you want to start. Remember to start small. If you want to floss your teeth, this can start with flossing one tooth a day.

C-Celebrate the behavior after you’ve done it. You want to associate the behavior with a positive emotion that will help you reinforce this behavior.

Another example of a behavior you may want to start is reading more. Using the formula you choose your behavior, which is to read more, and you keep it small. So to start out with you might want to begin by reading one paragraph each day. Then you anchor it to something you already do, maybe you drink coffee every morning and you choose to anchor it to that. So keep your book right next to your coffee machine and when you pour your cup, pick up your book and read your paragraph. And once you are done you will feel good about yourself and accomplished and you can close the book and put it back for the next day.

And you may even find that on some days you want to read more than a paragraph--if that’s the case do it. Read as much as you want. But if the next day you only want to read your one paragraph don’t force more, just do your daily goal and close the book.

“You will tend to read more and more, not just the paragraph. And you will also find other opportunities to read more. It’s like that habit will crop up in other parts of your life. And the key seems to be just to plant a seed somewhere and nurture it. And then that grows. But it also spawns other little habits like it elsewhere in your life, for that kind of thing like reading.”

How to know which habits to pursue
Just like with the reading example, when you start any new habit you should eventually find yourself spending more and more time working on it. Even though you start small--with reading one paragraph, or playing one scale with a new instrument, or playing one game of chess, or flossing one tooth--it should eventually get bigger and you should spend more time on it.

Because you are not going to get better at playing an instrument if you only play one scale per day. And you’re not going to read very many books if you only read one paragraph a day. That is a fine place to start, and it is important to start small, but you should feel so positive about the result of your new behavior that you should want to do more of it. Think of the tiny habit as the gateway to greater improvement and growth in an area of your life.

There may be days now and then that you don’t feel like spending 40 minutes playing your instrument or you don’t feel like spending an hour on chess lessons, and that’s okay. But if you notice that you are not enjoying a behavior and it feels like drudgery, then it’s probably not the behavior for you, and it’s okay to walk away from it and try something else.

As BJ says, “Now, let me just be really clear. If you are doing a habit and it feels like drudgery, Step back and question that and think is this a habit I really want? And if the answer's no, let it go and develop the habit you actually want.”

What are golden behaviors?
When it comes to tiny habits there are golden behaviors that meet three criteria, and those are the ones you want to focus on. The criteria are:

  1. The behavior is impactful.
  2. It is something you want to do.
  3. It is something you are able to do.

If you want to be healthier and you’re trying to figure out which type of exercise to implement, don’t try to walk on the treadmill every day if it’s not something you enjoy doing. Eventually, you’re going to stop doing it. If you decide you want to run with your dog every morning, but your dog can’t or won’t run, it’s not something that’s feasible, so don’t force it.

There are two main principles when it comes to tiny habits. The main one is to help yourself do what you already want to do. And the second is to help yourself feel successful. Keeping those two things in mind, BJ says, will keep you on the right path.

Why our perception of creating habits is wrong
One of the main perceptions that people tend to have about building habits is that we can create them with repetition. If you do just do something over and over and over again it will stick and you will have a habit. BJ says that is not at all correct, and not only is it very misleading it’s also unethical to push that idea.

There are some things that we can do for a very short period of time and they very quickly become a habit. While there are other things we may repeat over and over and they never become a true habit.

When working on tiny habits it is important to be consistent, but that’s not the same as repeating something and thinking it will stick just because you do it over and over. There is much more that goes into creating a long-term habit.

Direct download: Audio_-_FOW_Podcast_-_BJ_Fogg_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:11am PDT

The idea of a growth mindset was created by a professor named Carol Dweck. She defines it as a belief that there is always room for improvement. Unlike the fixed mindset where you think that your talent and intelligence are fixed and can’t be further improved.

If you're able to embrace the concepts of having a growth mindset, you’ll be much farther ahead than your peers and even than some of the people you work for. With things changing so quickly, it's important for us to be able to grow, to learn new things, to become better at certain things, and to not maintain that fixed mindset mentality.

Direct download: 2._Growth-Mindset-vs-Fixed-Mindset.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:23am PDT

Dr. Margaret Heffernan is the author of six books including Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious At Our Peril and Uncharted: How to Map the Future and Professor of Practice at the University of Bath. Margaret also has a TED Talk called The Human Skills We Need in an Unpredictable World which has been viewed over 3.6 million times.

Before getting involved in business Margaret produced programs for the BBC for 13 years. She is currently Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Programme and she also mentors CEOs and senior executives at major global organizations around the world.

While Margaret was writing Willful Blindness and a short book for TED called Beyond Measure she noticed that she kept having weird conversations with people who were asking her a lot of questions about the future. What’s going to happen with Brexit? What’s going to happen with Trump? Will there be another banking crisis? And it was during this time that Margaret realized that most people do not know how to think about the future.

People tend to think that a select few lucky people are able to see into the future and give us all updates on what will happen next. But in reality, the future is unknowable, there aren’t any special keys to use or doors to look behind to find out what’s next. And in thinking about this she came across Philip Tetlock’s research on forecasting, which showed that if you are consistent with your study of the future if you read a very broad cross-section of impeccable sources, and if you keep up with each forecast perfectly the farthest out you can see accurately is 400 days.

But since most of us are not as consistent or rigorous as that, most of us can accurately forecast 150 days in the future. Which means the way most organizations plan with 3-year plans, 5-year plans, and even sometimes 30-year plans, is a very inaccurate and ludicrous way to go about it.

“This is madness, the way we've been--everything about the way we've been teaching, management does not work. If the first part of forecasts, plan, execute, doesn't work. And we're going around using a 20th century, maybe even 19th-century mindset in the 21st century, and no wonder things are going horribly wrong.” And that is why she wrote her book Uncharted.

Should we forget about forecasting altogether?
Since the way we are forecasting is completely wrong, should we still do it? Should we continue thinking about the future? Margaret believes that absolutely, we should be thinking about the future and forecasting, but we have to be humble about how accurate we are likely to be. And she says we have to start asking different questions.

We also have to realize that there is a difference between complicated and complex. Complicated things are things that can repeat and can be predicted. Complex things are unpredictable--even if they seem simple. That’s because there are a lot of different forces acting on these things which then causes constant change.

In complex environments, Margaret says you have to do two things. First, you have to forget about efficiency, because that will strip you of the capacity to respond. You have to think about preparation instead of planning. And second, you have to think about what high-impact events have a high likelihood of happening. What are some things that you can’t predict, but you can prepare for because there is a good chance it will happen.

Think about what things could really undo your business and do what you can to cushion yourself against that as best as you can.

What role does data play in decision-making?
Data is very useful to have, but only if you know how to use it and if you know the best questions to ask. Data in the hands of someone who doesn’t understand it can be dangerous. Margaret says that data is a powerful tool in scenario planning. It can help you to see all of the possible stories that could occur and it can help you plan for each one.

“The difficulty comes, I think, with a lot of executives who want certainty. And so they think they get to choose a narrative, right? But you don't get to choose, you only get the option of thinking about it ahead of time. So that they find it difficult, and many of them simply find it too hard to conjure up different narratives. So it's partly that their biases overwhelm them. But it's also that you can take any data set, and we have quite an optimistic and quite a pessimistic story. And so surprise, you know, they generally find the optimistic one. And they find all kinds of reasons why the really truly bad one couldn't possibly happen.”

One thing that Margaret truly believes executives need to work on is their lack of imagination. Leaders cannot look at the world in a two-dimensional way, we have to be able to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in order to properly navigate the future.

Leaders could have been planning for a big event like the pandemic, but a lot of them didn’t, and a lot of them, even now, are not preparing for other extreme possibilities. Leaders need imagination in order to think ahead to what kind of future they want to create.

“It dismays me that we have this fantastic opportunity now to reimagine work. And that makes most so-called leaders so anxious that they would rather cut, pop, go right past the creative part of that exercise and start thinking about how much square footage do we need? How many desks, how many chairs? But if you do that, and then later you decide I want this kind of future. You may not, you know, you've got the wrong furniture in the wrong offices, you know, you’ve really got to be able to lift your head out from the weeds and think long term about what is going to make our organization meaningful to the world long term. What kind of people are up for that? And how do they want to work? And when you've done that really well, then the desks and chairs will be the easy part.”

How can leaders think more creatively about the future?
As Margaret shares, most leaders have been trained in a 20th-century mindset, which is about cause and effect and it’s about complicated versus complex. Most leaders spend too much time looking at spreadsheets and figuring out 2%-3% adjustments when true foresight and planning takes a lot more creativity than that.

Planning for the future isn’t about sitting in your chair and looking at data. It’s about argument, debate, and discussions. It’s not something that can be done quickly, it takes a lot of time and effort.

In her book, Margaret uses the example of Cathedral projects, which is a phrase of Stephen Hawking’s. All of the cathedrals of the Western World were started by people who knew they would not live to see them finished. These buildings have evolved over generations and have constantly incorporated new technologies, materials, and aesthetics. The people working on them stop and ask themselves what does the world need from us right now. And a lot of leaders can learn from that type of mindset.

“There's a bank in the UK whose purpose statement is ‘To help Britain flourish’. Now, I don't know what that means. I mean, you could say they could be a gardening center. They could be a health care center. They could be pet breeders, they could be any darn thing. So this is, I mean, sadly, corporate comms just got the idea of purpose between its teeth and ran away with it. But I think this need to have a genuine soul-searching debate about what makes us meaningful to the world, what earns us our license to operate, is sorely needed in most organizations.”

What can leaders learn from artists?
Margaret has always been fascinated with how artists work because so many of them seem ahead of their time. So how do they seem to look into the future and create such relevant pieces? One of the biggest reasons they are so ahead of their time is because they take time to observe and take notice of things around them. They ask questions, they take things in, and they take risks. They also tend to change before anyone asks them to.

Leaders can learn a lot from artists. Take time to look around you. Ask things like what am I seeing and what does it mean to me? What patterns am I starting to see? What’s going on in the world right now? As Margaret says, generally we see what we’re looking for, and we miss everything else. We have to give ourselves time to let our minds wander, we have to be curious, we have to go in new directions, and allow ourselves to sit in silence and think.

Direct download: Audio_-_Margaret_Heffernan_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:22am PDT

Everyone must learn how to serve their leaders. Service to leaders essentially means helping make your boss look good. This doesn't mean sucking up--the goal is to help make your boss's job easier so you can progress together.

Serving your leaders starts with having a good relationship with them. If you don't have a good relationship with your leaders, it's difficult to serve them.

A lot of companies around the world are shifting in this direction, but you can also help initiate some of these things yourself as an employee who isn’t in a leadership position. You can ask your leaders to have regular check-ins, frequent discussions to share updates, and to help make sure that you are both progressing. Having a good relationship with your leader means you also understand their perspective.

Direct download: 1._What-it-Means-to-Be-Service-Oriented-Towards-Your-Leader.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:17am PDT

Self-sabotage is how we hurt ourselves, whether consciously or unconsciously, and keep ourselves from achieving our plans, goals, and dreams. Many, if not all of us, have sabotaged ourselves in one way or another. But the good news is, we can overcome sabotaging behaviors, it just takes self-awareness and effort.

There are five common self-sabotaging behaviors that we need to be on the lookout for.

Negative self talk
When you make a mistake or fail at something, what does your self-talk sound like in your head? Do you build yourself up or do you tear yourself down. A lot of us struggle with negative self-talk, the voice in your head that says “you’re dumb, how could you do that” or “you will never be able to figure this out”. It is easy to default to this kind of talk, but if you don’t work to overcome this it can hold you back and keep you from success. No one is going to be your #1 cheerleader in life but you.

If you struggle with this it is important to be aware of it and every time you realize you are thinking something negative, change it and be positive. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right people. What are the people around you saying about you? Do they encourage you and support you and build you up? Or are they always negative and pessimistic? Another thing to be aware of is how you spend your free time. If you are spending hours on social media comparing yourself to others, you may want to redirect your focus to something like reading a book or meditating or going for a walk.

You have to be as loving to yourself as you are to the people in your life that you love and care about. How do you talk to your kids, or your spouse, or your best friend?

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to be positive, happy, and full of joy 100% of the time. There are times when we all feel down or upset about something, but it is crucial that we pay attention to how we are talking to ourselves.

Procrastination
Another big self-sabotaging behavior is procrastination. You cannot produce great work if you always wait until the last minute to get things done. Waiting until the last minute also causes you to have unnecessary stress and anxiety. A lot of times we tend to start our days getting the easiest things done first and we put off the more difficult projects. But actually it should be the other way around.

Use the beginning of your day to attack the hard things so that in the afternoon, when most of us tend to crash, you only have easy things left to accomplish.

It’s always difficult to get started on something, and a lot of times we let anxiety paralyze us. But if you feel stuck the best thing to do is just take action. Take the first step in completing the task.

Lashing Out
There are times at work or in your personal life when you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, anxious, tired, etc...and as a result, we lash out at the people around us. I’m sure many of us have experienced this at one point or another over this past year as we have had to work and live at home with our immediate family 24/7 throughout the pandemic.

But reacting to people out of anger, whether it’s a co-worker, a boss, or a family member, usually does not end well. And both sides end up hurt and feeling bad. So it is important that we all figure out how to overcome this self-sabotaging behavior. In order to conquer this behavior, it is crucial for us to be in a good place emotionally, mentally, and physically. That means that we need to be getting enough sleep, taking care of our bodies, eating properly and that we have methods to turn to when we get overwhelmed.

What works best for you when you are stressed out? Maybe you like to take a walk, or meditate, or talk to a friend, or have some alone time. Whatever it is you need to do to feel more in control, make sure you do that when you feel yourself getting to your breaking point.

Perfectionism
Some people may view perfectionism as a good thing, but for most people trying to have everything perfect all the time can be debilitating. It can stop you from taking action and it can really hold you back from moving up in your career.

It is not possible to have things perfect 100% of the time, we are all human and we have faults. If you don’t allow your work to be submitted until it’s perfect it may never see the light of day. It could cause you to miss deadlines, it can frustrate the rest of your team, and it can take up time that you could be spending on other things.

We all want to strive for excellence, but we can’t become obsessed with being perfect. Not only is it impossible, but it makes you less likeable to the people around you. People want to know you are human, that you’re real and down to earth. Mistakes are a part of life, so don’t be terrified of them.

Not Standing Up For Yourself
There are going to be times in your career when you will need to stand up for yourself. This doesn’t mean you need to get up in people’s faces and cause a big scene. But if someone is criticizing you and making it personal, or if a client is trying to get your rate down to something unreasonable, or you help a coworker out once and then they try to take advantage of your kindness--in these moments you need to stand up for yourself.

Business is about relationships, it's about human beings. Most people at your organization are not purposefully trying to hurt you or take advantage of you, but it’s okay to speak up and let them know how what they are doing is making you feel.

You also shouldn’t feel bad setting boundaries at work. Whether you can’t attend meetings before 9am or you need to pick up your kids at 4pm--whatever it is speak up and let people know.

The key to standing up for yourself is doing it in an artful way and not making it a big argument. Make sure you are being empathetic and you understand where the other person is coming from. And always approach people in a kind, yet firm way.

Strategies you can use to overcome self sabotaging behaviors
Dr. Alice Boyes, the author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit, wrote an article for The Greater Good Magazine on seven strategies and tips for how you can overcome self-sabotaging behaviors. They are:

  • Know your typical thinking patterns and factor that into your judgment-- For example, if you default to a negative mindset when things happen, take a step back and realize that your default may not be reality
  • Prioritize one-time behaviors that reduce your stress over time--Be consistent in the tactics you use to reduce stress. Don’t just eat healthy for 24 hours or workout once a month.
  • Use heuristics--Have shortcuts in place to help you make decisions quickly
  • Learn to Love Incremental Improvements--You don’t have to completely change overnight, appreciate small gains and improvements.
  • Strategize to Overcome Procrastination--Create processes for yourself so that you don’t avoid things or hide from them.
  • Understanding Seemingly Irrelevant Decisions--Pay attention to the decisions you make, even if they seem small and unimportant. Every decision has an impact on you and the people around you.
  • Practice Acceptance and Self Care--It is important to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Find things that help you in each area, and don’t feel bad about taking time for yourself

One way to practice self-awareness is with meditation. It slows down your breathing and thinking and allows you to be more in tune with how you're thinking, how you're feeling, what's going on around you, and it really helps make you more self-aware.

Meditation can also help you take breaks. This can serve as your rest when you are stressed or tired from work. The goal is to be able to meditate for 20 minutes straight.

Personally, I find it hard to meditate for 20 minutes, so I started with shorter meditations and try to increase my focus and time.

Have you tried meditating?

Direct download: Using_Meditation_to_Practice_Self_Awareness.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:25am PDT

Jeff Immelt is the former CEO of General Electric and author of the new book: Hot Seat: What I Learned From Leading A Great American Company.

Jeff has had a lot of critics over the years and stepping into a role after the legendary Jack Welch was not an easy task. In his 16 years leading GE as the CEO he had to lead the company through 9/11, the financial crisis, and the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima’s nuclear reactors--which were designed by GE. He definitely knows what it’s like to lead under pressure.

Why Jeff wrote his book (he almost didn’t)
Jeff admits that his career didn’t end the way he wanted it to. As he shares, “I was just unhappy, I felt like the whole narrative around GE had been lost. And that, you know, truth equals really facts plus context. And I felt like the context had been lost. So one of the reasons why I wrote it is, I wanted to tell a more complete story. I didn't want it to be defensive, I wanted it to be complete.”

Jeff, who is also a Lecturer in Management at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, says that his students don’t want to learn from a perfect leader who has everything figured out. These students have lived through financial crisis, Covid, and turbulent times---they want to know how to survive through volatility and what to do when things don’t work out. Because of this he felt like there was also an audience for his book that wouldn’t necessarily care about GE.

Those are the two main reasons he wrote his book.

If there is one message that Jeff would like his critics to take from the book it would be that there were people in the company that tried their best and did perform well.

“If you look at cumulative earnings, market share, you know, if you go back to 2016, this was a top 20 market cap company. It was number seven on Fortune most admired, it was number one on companies to hire leaders. We were leaders in digitization and globalization, you know, but the stock didn't work. succession planning didn't work, there were things that didn't work.”

He says it would be one thing if the criticism was just about him, but there are thousands of people that have been hurt through this process, and this book sets out to correct that.

What was it like working with Jack Welch
Jack Welch, who passed away in 2020, is still considered one of the most famous CEOs of the century. Jeff was actually the CEO that took over after Jack left. So what was it like working for Jack?

Jeff says Jack was challenging, giving, and creative. He was someone who liked to portray himself as “tough as nails” but Jeff says that’s not the person he saw. He was one of the best leaders to run something at scale and he was a great communicator.

Jeff says this about taking over for Jack, “But by the end of the 90s, it was a company where perception didn't equal reality. We were 50% financial 50%, kind of an old industrial company. We traded like Amazon at a 50 P/E. And so kind of following him, you know, the trick was to drive the appropriate kind of change, while never looking backwards and never casting blame. And that's challenging. Look, it's easier to follow a jerk than it is to follow, you know, the best leader of the previous century. Right. But I never wanted to be him. I never wanted to act like him. And I felt like the company needed change.”

While there were elements of his leadership style that were timeless, like his focus on people and metrics, there were also some elements that wouldn’t work well in an organization today. Jeff says that Jack didn’t really respect technology and he had an element of short-termism, that with the pace of change, would be a problem.

Jack also believed you shouldn’t do anything as a leader unless you can control it, but as Jeff shares there are a lot of things that as a CEO of a public company you just can’t control.

“I think, you know, the trick with every generation of leadership is to pick the things that travel that work, and pick the new things that have to be part of, you know, making a company vibrant and competitive in the next generation. And so I think that's the way I would assess how much would work and how much wouldn't work in this generation.”

What was it like leading a company during 9/11
Jeff was on a business trip to Seattle when the attack happened and he saw it on the TV in the gym at the hotel he was staying at. He ended up getting stuck in Seattle until planes started flying again a week later. But immediately after it happened he started crisis call sessions with his team.

One thing he says he learned from that experience was that leaders should be shock absorbers of fear, not accelerants of fear.

“You learn to hold two truths at the same time--that things can always get worse, but that things can also have a future and you need to focus on that. You have to communicate like, hourly, daily, and we did a lot of that.”

And in times of crisis leaders have to be able to take action, some decisions will work well and some won’t, but there are things that have to be confronted right away.

During 9/11, the financial crisis, and Covid leaders had to find a way to lead without a playbook. How do you do that? Jeff says it starts with surrounding yourself with people you can trust and talk to. After that it is important to have a sense of timing and an idea of what tasks need to be prioritized and what things can be left for later. And the last thing that leaders in tough times have to be able to do is deal with criticism.

“When you don't have a playbook you have to be willing, when people say wrong things about you, you have to be very contemporary with it with the respect of owning the narrative and controlling the communication, and things like that. Because they can set you back so good leader's flexible point of view. Learn every minute of every day, and be willing to push back when people get it wrong.”

How Jeff deals with imposter syndrome
Over his career Jeff says there have been many times when he has doubted himself or questioned his decisions. When it comes to imposter syndrome Jeff says it is important for leaders to have reservoirs of self confidence, self reflection, and self renewal. You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and believe you can do it. You have to keep showing up and always do your best.

It is also important to have friends around you who will encourage you, cheer you up, coach you, and pick you up when you’re down. And you can only build these friendships in normal times, you can’t wait until times of crisis to build these friendships--at that point it’s too late.

A strategy Jeff has used to be a more effective leader
One of the things that has set him apart from other leaders over the years is what Jeff calls his external focus. He traveled a lot for business, and wherever he was he would take time to connect with the people there in their own setting to see what they were working on and things they were thinking about. He made it a point to connect with customers, other leaders, scientists, experts and that really allowed him to stay ahead of the game.

Because of this skill GE was an early player in globalization, digitalization, environmental investing and much more.

Jeff’s advice for current and future leaders
If there is one thing that Jeff has learned over his career that he would like to pass on to others, it’s this--study how people work. You should be able to envision how everyone in your organization does their job. You don’t have to necessarily be able to do the job yourself, but you should know what kind of tools they use, how the teams work together, what metrics move them, etc…

“Frequently I go to a CEOs office, and I'm always looking at their wall to see what connects them to the frontline worker. And if I walk in an office, and it's just artwork, and statues and crap like that, then I don't believe what the value statement says. I'm looking for, like, a picture where they were walking the floor with a nurse, or a picture of a jet engine or something like that.”

Advice that Jeff received early on in his career was to make sure, no matter how big of a company he worked for, that he connected with the people there and knew how they got their work done.

 

Direct download: Audio_-_Jeff_Immelt_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:06am PDT

In our rapidly changing world of work, it's important for us to be able to use technology to collaborate quickly and efficiently so that we can make better decisions.

There are a lot of benefits that come from using collaboration tools, and if your organization isn’t using them yet, you should start now. There are a few things that you can start doing:

1. Make collaboration tools part of your daily routine. Use the right tool for the job--make sure you aren’t always using video calls when you can just post a message in a group chat.
2. Set ground rules or standards for how your team is going to use the different types of technologies. Everyone has to be on the same page.
3. Teach your people how the tools will help them be more efficient and productive. It's important for employees to understand the benefits of using collaboration tools.

All these things make a dramatic impact on your organization.

Direct download: How_to_Implement_New_Collaboration_Tools.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:28am PDT

Ania Smith is the CEO of TaskRabbit, an online and mobile marketplace that matches freelance labor with local demand. She became CEO back in August of 2020, prior to that she held roles such as Director, Head of Courier Operations at Uber, Head of Operations, Host Services for Airbnb, and Director of Strategic Partnerships & Merchandising Strategy at Walmart--just to name a few.

One of the things that Ania says has helped her get to where she is now is her broad experiences living and working in four different continents. She has been able to work across many countries, cities, companies, and roles and that diverse background has taught her a lot. She has been able to meet new people, experience different cultures, and pick up new skills over the years.

Another way her unique background has helped is with figuring out what she wants to do in life. Ania says, “A lot of times, they'll say, you know, follow your passion. But that's really hard because oftentimes, we don't know what our passion is. So I'd like to think more about finding my passion. And really, the only way to do that, for those of us who are not lucky enough to know from when we're three what we want to be, is to try out many new things and see what really energizes you and motivates you and helps you think about the impact that you're having. And that has really helped me.”

The path to success doesn’t always have to be linear
As Ania shares, the path to her current role as CEO was not linear, it was very much a zig-zag. A lot of times we get stuck thinking that our next step has to be up the ladder to the next logical role--but oftentimes important steps in our career are side steps. As Ania shares, it is important to stay open to new opportunities to keep learning and growing and don’t limit yourself on where you have to go next.

There were definitely times in Ania’s career where she didn’t get the promotion she wanted right away, but there was always another opportunity waiting that allowed her to meet new people and learn new skills that she could take with her to the next role.

Ania shared an analogy her friend uses when thinking about the course of a career. She says, “A good friend of mine once used the analogy of a Google map. So she talks about how, you know, sometimes we're just like speeding down the highway towards our career and we know exactly what we're doing. Other times, we're on a slow country road. Other times we take the wrong turn. Other times, we actually are stuck in a traffic jam and really feel stuck in our careers. Other times, we may even have an accident and really have to pedal back. And I think that that's a sort of a great analogy to think about my career.”

Ania’s gap year
A couple of years after leaving Airbnb, Ania, her husband, and their kids took a gap year to go and live in Argentina. For a whole year, Ania and her husband stopped working and really took that time to be together as a family, explore a new culture, and talk about the future. She says it was an amazing experience to really step back from everything and to get away from the day-to-day race to really think about what she wanted her next step to be in her career.

When talking about the experience she says, “ I absolutely feel that if you can at all swing it, it is life-changing, it's transformative. And it really shows you that sometimes you kind of feel like oh my god, if I'm not at work, like the whole world is going to fall apart. And it's just unfortunately not true, for most of us. We're all capable of doing something else. We all change jobs very often. And this is this changing a job to something else before you change it into a new job. And to be able to take a breather and really reevaluate where you are and what you want to do and who you want to be when you grow up-- I ask that question to myself all the time, still today--and to have that space to think that through. It's amazing.”

While some people would be worried about leaving their career for a full year and getting left behind, Ania wasn’t too concerned. She knew she had been working for 20+ years and while she may be a little behind when getting back, she felt that she would still be relevant and would be able to catch up quickly.

And sure enough, one week after returning to the U.S. she had a role at Uber.

How Ania sets the vision for TaskRabbit
When she first started as CEO of TaskRabbit Ania made it a point to meet with every single employee inside of the company--she went on a listening tour, as she puts it. Instead of walking into a new company and laying out her vision for things, she knew it was important to find out what employees felt the current vision was as well as how things were going, what things were working, and what wasn’t.

Since then she has worked very hard with her leadership team to take everyone’s input in order to come up with a plan for where they want to be in 3-4 years and to define what the vision of the company is.

“And it's a pretty clear path for, not how we're gonna get there, but essentially what we will be in three to four years. And I think it's been inspiring for me as a leader, but also from my team and their teams to understand what we're trying to get to. And it helps, therefore, for us to help our strategy or sort of shorter term strategies forward, because we know where we're trying to get to, we just need to break it down and work backwards. It helps that process every year, as long as we have this sort of Northstar of what we're trying to get to.”

What does putting people first mean to Ania
One thing that Ania is very passionate about is putting people first. But what does that actually mean to her?

One of the key things for her is talking to people and truly listening to their feedback. She understands that it is crucial to learn what’s important to people, what do they value--and it’s different for everyone.

Over the course of the pandemic one thing Ania has discovered is important to her people is workplace flexibility and giving people options for where and when to work. And she’s really taken that feedback to heart. She and her team are offering flexibility now and they are also figuring out how to best address this need in the future.

“Feedback is a gift. So if anyone is willing to provide feedback, having the strength to accept the feedback--you may not agree with it--but having the strength to accept it, to think it through, to see how that may or may not help you, is really a big skill.”

How Ania makes tough choices
When she was younger Ania admits that when she had to make a decision she could not have enough data, she wanted to know everything before deciding. But over the years her approach has changed.

The truth is data can be used and manipulated in any way we want it to be. So relying solely on data is not the best option. Now Ania focuses more on her experience and gut feeling when making a decision, and if she makes a mistake she quickly fixes it and moves on.

“Over time, I realized that data has played lesser and lesser role in almost every decision that I make. And so much of it really just comes from, I don't know, that inner feeling that I guess people call it wisdom or experience or something where I feel like it's okay to go in direction A and I may be wrong, and often I am wrong. But it's better to make the decision quicker and to learn if I'm wrong than to continue to ask for more data and more analysis, and just kind of get stuck, and be unable to make a decision.”

You have to give yourself the freedom to make decisions, and you have to accept that you’re going to be wrong, but that’s okay. This is the way you learn and grow as a leader.

Direct download: Audio_-_Ania_Smith_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:08am PDT

There are three main barriers to collaboration:

👉HIERARCHY
If your organization is built like a pyramid where information has to flow bottom-up or top-down, it won’t do well with collaboration.

👉FEAR
Part of collaboration means speaking up and having confidence in yourself. Sometimes employees are scared, which keeps them from really collaborating or communicating effectively.

👉 OVER-COLLABORATION
This occurs when you need to get someone else's input for every idea and every small thing you're trying to do. Over-collaboration is just as harmful as not collaborating.

We often see these common barriers inside organizations when it comes to collaboration. But if you know what the barriers are, you'll have a good sense of how to deal with them if they come up and can handle them quickly.

Direct download: Three_Big_Barriers_to_Collaboration.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:20am PDT

Greg McKeown is the bestselling author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and his new book Effortless: Make It Easier To Do What Matters Most. He is also the host of the popular podcast, What’s Essential, which has featured guests like Matthew McConaughey, Ariana Huffington, Jay Shetty, and Maria Shriver.

We all know life is hard, in multiple ways. We’ve all experienced challenging times, especially over the past year. But, as Greg points out, we tend to make things even more complicated for ourselves than we need to, and it can ultimately lead to burnout.

In his book, Effortless, Greg shares why achieving results doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it, whether in our personal lives or at work.

Why we need to get rid of the phrase “work hard, play hard”
This phrase, Greg says, gives us the idea that important work can’t be fun, easy, or enjoyable. It suggests that you have to be exhausted, self-sacrificing, and overworked in order for you to be doing something important. And on the other side, if you are having fun with something it’s not really work. Rest, relaxation, and fun is only something you do when you’re burned-out and need a break.

But what Greg believes is that there doesn’t need to be a separation between playing and working. And he is all about making the essential things enjoyable and easier to do. How? By turning the essential things into rituals that allows you to appreciate them and enjoy them.

A lot of times we confuse rituals with habits, but they are two different things. A habit is something that we make part of our routine on the basis that there will be a benefit later on. For example, maybe you’ve incorporated working out into your routine so that you feel better and live longer.

A ritual is something that you truly enjoy, it’s not about a benefit later on, it’s about enjoying the actual thing you are doing in the moment. It’s something that you look forward to. Greg says, “Take something from a chore and turn it into a ritual, then you have something magical to help you produce great results, but again, without burning out.”

What does it mean to be in an effortless state
One of the three main sections of Greg’s book is about what he calls an effortless state. Most people have experienced this sort of state, but not very often. Greg defines an effortless state as this, “when you're in flow, it's when you're physically rested, you're mentally at ease, you're able to be at ease in focusing on what is essential to you. What's important to note about this is that when you get into that state, it produces things. When you're in the effortless state, you tend to take effortless action, you're able to act without strain, without forcing things without breaking yourself or the people around you.”

That sounds great, so how do we get into an effortless state and make sure we stay there for a long time? Well first of all, you have to be able to realize when you are burned out. Research shows that the closer we get to burnout, the less likely we are to realize it.

Greg says, “The exhausted state tends to produce more exhausted action, and more exhausted results. And so people as they approach burnout start to try to power through it. So of course, that's not a recipe for success. That's a recipe for, you know, continuing this downward spiral.”

So it is up to us to realize that there are two states, two options. After we realize we are in an exhausted state, this is where your rituals come in.

One ritual Greg does to make sure he stays in an effortless state, is to practice gratitude. Every time he complains about something, he then says something he is thankful for. It is hard to stay in a state of anger, frustration, or fear when you are in a state of gratitude.

How to shut your brain off and be content with having free time
A lot of us have trouble taking time to rest, relax, and just have some free time. This is especially hard for entrepreneurs who tend to always create more work for themselves. But it’s true for people inside of organizations as well.

If this is true for you, Greg has some advice. First of all, he says, create a done for the day list. This is not a typical to-do list, although it is okay to have one of those as well. But typically those tend to be something we constantly add on-to and update, which means we could work with no end. But a done for the day list is a list of the things that if you accomplish them today you would feel satisfied with the day and you could walk away from work feeling good.

Another thing Greg does is he sets a time when he will be done for the day. His time is 5:00pm, so at that time every day, not only does he stop working, but he makes it a ritual that he walks out of his home office and calls out to his family “It’s five o’clock”, in order to hold himself accountable.

Now there are times when he has something special like a book launch or something like that when he has to work past his set time, but he doesn’t let that become the normal thing.

It is so important to set boundaries like the done for the day list and the set stopping time, especially during this past year. For a long time people have talked about work-life balance, but as Greg mentions, that’s a bit of a misnomer because it is never life overtaking work, it’s always work overtaking life.

But it will take time to train your brain to shut off at a certain point, in the beginning your brain will continue to think about work even after you walk away from it, but the more you practice your boundaries and get out of your old habits the easier it will be.

What to do if you don’t enjoy downtime
So now that you have set up some boundaries for yourself, what happens if you just don’t enjoy resting or free time? For over-achievers it can feel uncomfortable to not have anything specific to do. Greg shares something that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s so true. He says, “Relaxing is a responsibility. Resting is a competency. And it turns out to be as important as the competency of work in the first place.”

These types of people who don’t like to relax need to practice self-awareness and realize that is a problem they have. Once you accept that you aren’t good at it, Greg suggests making a list of things that when you do them you are relaxed, rejuvenated, chilled out, and having fun. Greg and his wife both actually have a list of 20 things they recognize helps them relax. And you can have anything you want on this list, there are no other rules.

You may include going on a walk, reading a book, sitting in a hot tub, playing chess, drinking your favorite beverage out on your deck, going to your favorite restaurant--anything you want. And then these items become your building blocks for a time of rest. For example, if you have 3-hours of downtime, use this list to build your perfect 3-hours of relaxing. You could spend 30 minutes out on your deck with some coffee, spend 30 minutes playing chess with a friend, then go for a walk, and go out to your favorite restaurant--and you’ve filled those 3 hours, but with things that recharge you and give you rest.

Direct download: Audio_-_Greg_McKeown_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:21am PDT

As the future is rapidly changing, leaders must be able to adapt the growth mindset instead of having a fixed mindset. Leaders must be able to learn and adapt to any changes and challenges that come their way.

Remember, everyone faces challenges. Everybody has bad days, but the difference is how you overcome these challenges. You don't know everything, but you can learn everything.

What would have happened if some of the world's greatest innovators and inventors had given up simply because they felt that they couldn't do something or couldn't overcome something? What if a scientist just stopped because they ran into an obstacle and didn't try to find a cure for a particular disease? We would be living in a very different world if everybody gave up at the first sign of a challenge.

A challenge isn't the end of the road, it's just an opportunity to grow.

Direct download: Viewing_Problems_as_Opportunities.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Fareed Zakaria is the host of the CNN show, Fareed Zakaria GPS. He is also a columnist for The Washington Post, a contributing editor for The Atlantic, and he is the bestselling author of several books including his newest one, Ten Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World.

The pandemic has had an impact on every one of our lives, and the effects will be felt for a long time to come. Early on in the pandemic, Fareed knew we were going through something big, something the world hadn’t gone through for over 100 years, and he wanted to figure things out for himself. He also wanted to help others make sense of everything, which is what pushed him to write his newest book.

Every part of our lives has been affected--health, politics, economics, and education. Thankfully we live in a time when we have the technology and resources needed to be able to still carry on for the most part. While office buildings, schools, and restaurants shut down people got creative and found a way to keep going with online learning, home deliveries, online work meetings, etc…

But while there are many good things about technology, there are also a lot of cons that come with an all virtual world.

The limitations of technology
The place we see the limitations of technology the most, according to Fareed, is in our education systems. Education is not simply about children and young adults soaking up information, it is also a very social and emotional experience as well.

As Fareed shared with me, “you have to create an atmosphere of social trust, you have to create an atmosphere in which people feel like they're having fun, you have to create an atmosphere where people feel a little bit of competition, you know, with peers and all that together creates the kind of opening in our minds that allows the knowledge to go in. And so if you just think of it, and say I'm just going to put you in front of a computer screen, and you will get information, and you will imbibe that information. No, you won't. You won't. You know, the mind just switches off.”

There are definitely some things that just aren’t the same virtually as they are when we are face-to-face. Fareed says that one of the challenges we will face after the pandemic will be to figure out the power and the advantages of this online world we’ve been in. But we also need to look at the disadvantages of what we experienced and figure out how we can fix it. And he believes that we will end up in a hybrid model of some kind where we have a mixture of in-person and online.

We can use technology for good things, but there are also ways in which we use it that can be harmful. But it is up to us how it is used. We can choose to text and drive which is dangerous, we can choose to multitask and always be available online which can cause burnout, we can use it to spread lies and misinformation. But it can also be used in ways that keep us safe, productive, and less stressed.

As Fareed says, we should be optimistic about the future, but we also need to be realistic in order to see the problems and challenges that come with technology. It’s not about being a blind optimist, it’s about being aware of all the problems that exist, because that's the only way you fix them.

How leadership has been impacted by the pandemic
Over the past year leaders around the world have had to pivot to lead in a completely virtual setting, and that is not easy. Fareed shared an example of something that happened to him personally as a leader during this time that really made him stop and think.

His team from his current CNN show has been all virtual, everyone on the team is working from their own homes. And at one point in the pandemic, he noticed that the morale was not as high as it usually was and people were getting burned out, which he found odd since his team is so close-knit and they have always worked so well together.

So in order to get to the bottom of the problem, he called a team meeting and he asked his team to be open and honest with him to figure out what was going on. And one team member was very blunt and told him “Look, you sometimes send these cryptic emails that are really hard for us to take”. And so the conversation started around why they felt that his communication was different now than before.

And what they came to discover was the loss of casual conversation and in person engagement was really at the root of the problem. Before the pandemic, they would see each other throughout the day and joke, ask each other about their families, talk about their weekend plans, etc...So in that context, after you hand some light banter throughout the day to get an email simply saying “we need to re-write this” doesn’t sound so bad.

But now in a completely virtual setting, they were going days without talking or interacting and then to suddenly get that same short email of “we need to re-write this” seemed harsh and rude. And it was ruining the morale of the team.

Fareed shares, “It made me realize that what I was doing there was I was spending social capital, rather than building social capital. And that what I had to do was to be very conscious of the fact that in this virtual environment, you've got to build social capital before you can spend it. And you've got to put in the time and the energy.”

What does that look like? Instead of writing one sentence, maybe you should write a full paragraph. Instead of jumping into the agenda for an online meeting, you should ask people how they’re doing, or joke around a bit. Instead of going a few weeks without checking in with an employee or a co-worker, reach out even if it’s just to say “hi, how was your weekend”.

“You need to realize you cannot just, you know, kind of issue commands and expect people to follow them or issue directives, that doesn't work. Where it might have in a different context, where there was a lot of soft stuff going on, and then you had this one email that came through.”

What’s going to happen to the cities?
Throughout the pandemic, and even a little before that, people have speculated that cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago are going to disappear. And while the option to have work flexibility is more possible now, which means people don’t have to report to a central office, it doesn’t mean cities are a thing of the past.

Fareed looks to history to figure out the future, and when we do that we see that people moved to cities because there was more work and because they could earn more money there. When you have a highly dense population, there are more people to sell your product to. There are more people to invest in your business. There are more people around to network with.

“That density is what produces economic activity, which is why, you know, there's a couple of very good calculations that suggest that people who live in particularly large cities tend to be about 50% more productive than other people. I'd say it's not that we're smarter, it’s that you're more likely to meet people, you're more likely to do more deals, you're more likely to see more stuff. I don’t think that’s going to change”

And while people no longer have to live in a city center to be close to their organization’s headquarters, you will probably see a large amount of people living on the outskirts and commuting into the city--if not everyday, then at least from time to time.

One thing Fareed thinks will change about cities is that you won’t be seeing as many big office buildings, since most people can work from home or from co-working spaces or even smaller more localized offices. So these big office buildings may be used for something else like affordable housing or performance space or something else.

Fareed’s advice for individuals and leaders in the post-pandemic world
When I asked Fareed what his advice would be for individuals looking for opportunity as things start to open up and also for leaders, he said he would offer everyone the same advice--whether you are a leader or not.

He said, “One thing that I think we don't talk enough about is what are the personal lessons and opportunities that the pandemic has produced? We spend a lot of time talking about all the external stuff we have to fix. How do we get better government policies in place? How do we get corporations to change the way they run? How do we get cities to be transformed? What are all the external things we need to do? But we should also be thinking to ourselves, what are the internal supports that have mattered the most during this pandemic? What have we learned about ourselves as human beings, what do we need to be fulfilled, to be happy, to be productive--and productive in every sense of the word, right. Not just as workers, but as partners, as parents, as children.”

No matter where you are in life we all have a chance to learn something from what we have been through. We can all ask ourselves--what makes me happy? What gives me joy? What makes me productive? And we can maximize that in a way we have not done before. We only get one life, so use it well.

He also believes we should all ask ourselves this question-- How can I be a better version of myself--given what we have gone through and the ability we’ve had to get to know ourselves without all of the distractions we had before the pandemic. It’s been a difficult time for all of us in different ways, but what can we take from this experience, what can we use from this to propel us forward and to make us better human beings?

Direct download: Audio_-_Fareed_Zakaria_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:04am PDT

Constantly serving other people and neglecting yourself is probably the best way to get exhausted, burned out, drained, and to become disengaged from work and even disengaged in your personal life.

So even though you are serving your leaders, your customers, and your team members, you also need to make sure that you serve yourself, because if you don't, you're not going to be able to serve anybody else effectively.

Direct download: Why_You_Need_To_Serve_Yourself_Before_You_Serve_Those_Around_You_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:04am PDT

Jay Papasan is the bestselling author of multiple books including The ONE Thing, which he co-authored with Gary Keller. The book has sold more than 2 million copies, it has been translated into 35 languages, and it has appeared on more than 500 national bestseller lists.

The main focus of The ONE Thing is to help readers find the one thing that they can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary. In other words, once you come up with a goal for yourself it is important for you to ask yourself every day what is the one thing I can do today to take me closer to that goal. Every day you are looking for your number one priority.

But does that mean you can only focus on one goal or one thing at a time? No way! Jay says that is actually the biggest mistake readers make when going through the book. He says, “We never said that--who gets to do one thing? Nobody, right? We have kids, we have aging parents, we have hobbies, we have jobs, our jobs have all kinds of busy work that is absolutely necessary and can't be ignored. But if we start and give disproportionate focus and energy to the true priority, everything else does get easier. And sometimes it just goes away. You don't even have to do it. That's a big idea.”

Finding your ONE Thing
Jay suggests that when you first start to try to find your one thing, it is important to think strategically about something that will be a long-term goal. Aim big, and long-term, instead of focusing on something you can achieve in the short term.

As Jay shares, when you are young and just starting out it is important to try to figure out what your unique gifts are. What are some areas where you excel that maybe others have a hard time with? He says, “The reason ultimately people get accelerated through the business world is that in some area they can provide disproportionate returns on their investment of time, right. They can sell more than the next person, they can close more than the next person, they can write better copy, or better code than the next person. So part of the young person's journey is discovering where their passion and their gifts align.”

How can you become invaluable? In what areas can you show up and provide extra value? What are you passionate about or what are you skilled at? If there is something that you are very skilled at and that same thing brings you joy and a sense of purpose--you should lean into that.

And remember that every job is going to have things about it that you don’t enjoy, it’s pretty rare for someone to find a job that they enjoy 100% of the time. But if the majority of the role is exciting, challenging, and enjoyable for you--start your focus there.

How Jay helps his employees find their one thing
Jay is in charge of 44 employees with Keller Williams and one thing he practices on a regular basis with his team is something they call GPS. Each year Jay and his team come together to figure out what their number one goal as a company is. And once they have that goal they come up with three to five priorities that they will need to focus on throughout the year to reach that goal, and each of those priorities has up to five strategies behind it. That is how they get everyone on the team on the same page and working towards the same goal. So that happens on a yearly basis.

And then every week Jay meets with the people who report to him to review their own one page of set goals. This is called the 4-1-1, because it is that person’s priorities for 4 weeks, one month, and one year all on one page. Every week the individual employee looks at their annual goals based on the company priorities and from that they come up with monthly goals that support those overarching goals.

Jay says, “Every week they put their weekly goals that line up to their monthly goals that line up to their annual goals that line up to the divisional company goals. So it's a cascading set of priorities. So that every week, I spend 30 minutes or so with the key people who work with me, and we review their weekly priorities. And once a month, I will look at their monthly priorities and just ask the question, how does this help us achieve our goals? And at the beginning of the year is the most work, right? We ask what's our one thing and then based on that we create the cascade.”

This process allows employees to break large company-wide goals into bite-sized, achievable priorities that they know they can accomplish.

Is hustle culture a good thing?
A lot of people, especially entrepreneurs, believe that success is connected to a nonstop hustle to try to get ahead. They think that by outworking their competition they can win. But Jay doesn’t agree with this concept at all.

He says, “One of my fundamental beliefs is that to be a successful husband and a father and a successful business person, that those are not mutually exclusive endeavors. I refuse to believe otherwise. And the challenge I have with the hustle culture that you have to outwork and work longer than your competitors, is that they're just ignoring the fact that like, I get to work every day with a self made billionaire. I do the math, what is his dollars per hour, it's incalculable. But he doesn't work any more hours than I do on an average week. So it's not how many hours you work. It's what you put into the hours. And it sounds so trite, but it's incredibly true.”

It’s not that you can’t work long hours from time to time or put in time at the office on a weekend on occasion. As Jay shares, he has done that when they are on a deadline or if he’s preparing to speak at a big conference. But it’s not the norm. There are moments in life when you have to work harder than others, but to hustle nonstop all the time is not sustainable.

“I've seen it be a recipe for divorce and disease. And I do not want the people I love to be caught into the culture of hustle first, think second. So I think this is business as a thinking person's game. And when we are strategic in our investment of time, we win.”


The four pitfalls people experience when living The ONE Thing
Once people have found their ONE thing and they start living that out, there are a few pitfalls they can fall into that Jay warns about. They are:

  1. They lack clarity about what they want.
  2. They’re clear on what they want, but they’re unfocused in their approach.
  3. They’re focused, but they actually don’t have time to execute.
  4. The time that they DO commit, they leave unprotected.


So as you are navigating your priorities and goals, be sure to look out for these traps and make sure you don’t fall into any of them.

What can you do to start practicing your ONE thing today
For those of you who are ready to start putting this into practice today, Jay’s advice is to set up 30 minutes a week--whether it's on a Sunday before the week starts or on Friday before you leave work--and come up with your one goal for the coming week.

Look at your schedule and tasks for the upcoming week and ask yourself “of all the things I could do, what is the number one thing I can achieve next week?” Figure out your number one goal for that week and then manage your time to make sure that one thing happens.

And if you have more than one thing you have to get done, use that 30 minutes a week to help you narrow down your to-do list to your top 5 things that actually matter. And then number those 5 things in order of importance, so you remember what that #1 most important thing is. Putting this exercise into practice will help you stay laser focused on what really matters to you and it will help you achieve your goals faster.

Direct download: Audio_-_Jay_Papasan_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:24am PDT

Should we get rid of managers? This is the topic of a trending article floating around LinkedIn recently. I absolutely believe we need get rid of the terms manager and #management​ BUT it’s not just about a name change.

Nobody even wants to be called a manager anymore and people certainly don’t want to be managed. These concepts were created decades ago and the synonyms for manager actually include: slavedriver, boss, and zookeeper!

Moving from #manager​ to #leader​ is about a #mindset​ and skill set change as opposed to just changing a title. I interviewed over 140 CEO’s for my new book The Future Leader and got 140 different definitions of #leadership​.

The CEO of Verizon told me he defines leadership as “achieving the missions of the business, all else is footnotes.”

The CEO of Audi told me leadership is about “walking the extra mile and solving problems that others cannot solve. Foremost, leadership is about caring for people and not only for numbers.”

Every organization and every leader needs to first start with defining “leadership” and “leader” before worrying about a name change.

Which definition resonates more with you and why? Do you have your own?

Direct download: Should_we_get_rid_of_managers_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:34am PDT

Brian Christian is the author of The Most Human Human, which was named a Wall Street Journal bestseller, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and a New Yorker favorite book of the year. He is the author, with Tom Griffiths, of Algorithms to Live By, a #1 Audible bestseller, Amazon best science book of the year and MIT Technology Review best book of the year. And his newest book is The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values.

AI has been a very hot topic of discussion among business leaders over the past few decades, and there are varying degrees of worry. Today Brian is sharing his view on AI and machine learning and whether we should be worried or not. He also explains why everyone should get to know more about AI, even if you aren’t in a technical role.

In this episode of the podcast we explore:

  1. The history of AI and machine learning
  2. How questions from Elon Musk pushed Brian to write his book, The Alignment Problem
  3. What is supervised learning vs. reinforcement learning in regards to AI
  4. Potential problems we should look out for when it comes to AI
  5. What is an algorithm and what goes into creating one
  6. Advice for people who want to be more aware of this realm
Direct download: Audio_-_Brian_Christian_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:14am PDT

Empathy and sympathy are not the same things.

Sympathy is the idea of feeling sorry for someone. In other words, when somebody comes to you with a problem or a situation, sympathy is saying, "Oh, I'm sorry." Empathy, on the other hand, is about being able to take that person's perspective and to put yourself in their shoes to feel what they feel.

Being a master of empathy will allow you to create better products for your customers, better deal with people, resolve conflicts more effectively, and foster collaboration because you'll be able to build connections with other people since you'll be able to understand them and take their perspectives.

Is your organization empathetic or sympathetic?

Direct download: Moving_from_Sympathetic_to_Empathetic_Organizations_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:10am PDT

Whether you lead a team of thousands, a team of hundreds, or a team of five, you should have executive presence. While executive presence alone most likely won’t get you promoted or keep you in your current role, it is something that will set you apart. It is also a huge part of motivating and inspiring your team.

So what is executive presence? That is exactly what we are talking about today. Tom Henschel is the host of The Look & Sound of Leadership, which has been airing since 2008. Tom is also a communications coach for executives at companies like Warner Bros, Toyota, Mattel, and Sony Pictures.

Tom is president of the executive development firm Essential Communications. He was also classically trained at The Juilliard School, Drama Division. Tom was a professional actor for more than 20 years and has appeared in over 100 plays, films and TV episodes.

In this episode of the podcast we explore:

  • How Steve went from acting to coaching executives
  • What is executive presence and why is it so important
  • Do you need executive presence in order to be a leader?
  • The aspect of executive presence that leaders struggle with
  • How to have executive presence in a virtual world
  • Action items leaders can implement today to create executive presence
Direct download: Audio_-_Tom_Henschel_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:13am PDT

Building the right team is very important and can increase your chances of success as a business leader.

When it comes to building a team, one of the first things to consider is diversity. But diversity doesn’t mean different types of looks, it's about bringing together different types of intelligence, beliefs, and views on the world.

Another crucial component when it comes to thinking about teams is team size. I love the “two pizza rule” Amazon uses. If two pizzas aren’t enough to feed an entire team, then the team is too big.

The last piece for creating effective teams comes down to metrics and measurement. Organizations use OKRs, objectives, and key results. Objectives are the big picture things that you're trying to accomplish, and the key results are the milestones that lead you to that objective.

Keep those things in mind as you build an effective team or are part of an effective team.

Direct download: How_to_Build_the_Right_Team_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:12am PDT

Fear is something that we all deal with both inside and outside of work. What is fear stopping you from doing today? Are you not speaking up in meetings because you might say something dumb? Have you avoided asking for a raise or a promotion because you might be told ‘no’? Do you shy away from challenging your manager’s ideas because you might get reprimanded?

My guest this week is Luvvie Ajayi Jones, bestselling author of I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual and the brand new book, Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual. For years Luvvie let fear stand in her way, but she’s definitely not anymore. While we can’t get rid of fear completely, we can live out our lives boldly in spite of it.

Today Luvvie shares her personal story of how she overcame fear and became a professional troublemaker--and she gives advice on how we can do the same.


In this episode of the podcast we explore:

  • How Luvvie started writing and what most shaped her outlook on life
  • Why she argues that being a troublemaker is a good thing
  • How to get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • The importance of setting boundaries at work and in your personal life
  • How Luvvie deals with trolls and toxic people
  • Why leaders can encourage everyone around them to be troublemakers


“Our comfort zones are not the place where big things are waiting for us.They're not the place where the best life that we want to live is waiting for us. Because the reason why it's comfortable is because you've learned all you had to learn. There is nothing in there that challenges you. And there's no way you're going to grow.”-- Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Direct download: Audio_-_Luvvie_Ajayi_Jones_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:08am PDT

Self-awareness is all about understanding your feelings, emotions, mental state, and how you're doing. Another big part of self-awareness is being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, such as what you're good at, what you're capable of doing, and where you might need some help.

Self-awareness is crucial for leadership because it helps us understand who we are and what we need and expect from other people. Also, it’ll help us identify the areas we shine and the areas we can potentially improve. It also helps control how we come across to other people.

Direct download: What_is_Self_Awareness_and_Why_is_it_Important_at_Work.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:30am PDT

One of the biggest challenges CEOs today say they are facing is lack of leadership talent to carry the organization forward. But it is not a lack of talent that is at the root of this problem.

My guest this week is Scott DeRue, the Edward J. Frey Dean of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Based on his award-winning research, this challenge CEOs are facing is caused by the fact that 40%-50% of capable leaders are not stepping up because of the risks involved in leadership roles.

Today Scott shares the research behind his article titled, Why Capable People Are Reluctant To Lead, as well as what we can do to change that.

In this episode of the podcast we explore:

  • The three kinds of risks that deter people from leadership positions
  • How we can overcome all three risks
  • What separates great leaders from average ones
  • The biggest mistakes Scott sees leaders making
  • The most important thing for leadership development

“One thing that we can all do to maximize our own potential is lean into those risks--Whether it's outcome risk, whether it's image risk, whether it's interpersonal risk-- let's not let that risk hold us back. But let's lean into it. Let's embrace that risk. And in doing so, by stepping up and assuming these leadership roles, we're able to have a bigger impact in the world.”--Scott DeRue

Direct download: Audio_-_Scott_DeRue_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:07am PDT

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to interview hundreds of executives with different roles within organizations. One of the things I find consistently across the board is an emphasis on servant leadership, this change in leadership mentality that the role of a leader is actually to help others.

Being service-oriented simply means that you think about others before you think about yourself. You put other people ahead of yourself, and it can be extremely powerful.

It makes you a more effective leader, a more valuable employee, and a better teammate. Being service-oriented also helps create happy, loyal, and engaged customers, which is huge for company growth.

Direct download: The_Benefits_of_Being_Service_Oriented.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:06am PDT

With new modern technologies and the knowledge that we have in order to lead more healthy lives, we are living longer than ever. So what does that mean for the way we live and work? For decades we have lived out our lives in three main stages-- full time education, full time work, and full time retirement. But in a 100-year life, that structure is no longer effective.

In this week’s episode Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and bestselling author of The New Long Life, shares her advice on how our current practices need to change in order to make the most out of our longer lives.

As Lynda shared with me:

"At any point in time, you could follow a number of different paths. And I think that's a mindset shift, really. The idea that at any point in time you could plan to be something different. That's the first action. So let your imagination go in terms of thinking about “what could I be?"

In this episode of the podcast Lynda shares:

  • Why Lynda wrote her book, The New Long Life: A Framework for Flourishing in a Changing World
  • If life stages are no longer in a linear path, what does it look like?
  • A look at the three fundamental principles Lynda uses in her MBA class to help students understand and navigate the challenges ahead
  • Why we all need more personal agency and responsibility over our careers.
  • Lynda’s advice on how we can prepare for the new world of work today
Direct download: Video_-_Lynda_Gratton_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:15am PDT

The worst thing that you can do as an organization is to have a fixed mindset.

In a fixed mindset, you don't believe that people can change. You don't believe that people can learn new things or that they can adapt and improve.

This kind of culture will kill innovation inside your organization.

Instead, you must have a growth mindset.

Always believe that there is room for further improvement, and always learn new things.

Encourage your employees to think outside the box and constantly innovate in this rapidly changing world of work.

This is a really fantastic way to future-proof yourself, your career, and even your organization.

Direct download: How_to_Kill_Innovation.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:15am PDT

For several years in a row, Aron has been on the Glassdoor top 100 CEO list and in 2012 he won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. UKG was rated the #2 best large employer in America by Forbes, it received a 100% on the Corporate Equality Index, and prior to the merger both Kronos and Ultimate Software were separately named a Best Workplace for Parents by Great Place to Work.

How do you build an organization where people love to come to work? Aron Ain, CEO of Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG), believes it is all about trust, transparency, and collaboration. Contrary to past fads, creating an engaged workforce is not about free food, free gym memberships, and frequent parties.

As Aron says, “I believe people join organizations because of the organization. I believe they leave because of who they work for.”

In this episode of the podcast Aron shares:

  • How to keep consistency among leaders in an organization.
  • What it means to be an “un-leader”.
  • How to deal with failure.
  • Why showing true gratitude for employees is so important and what that looks like.
  • The importance of humility and vulnerability
  • How to keep leaders accountable for being the best they can be
  • And much more!

The leaders that employees deal with on a daily basis make or break the experience that employee has. You can work for the best organization in the world, but if your direct manager is a horrible leader, you are going to hate your job.

Because of that fact, leaders inside of UKG, known internally as people managers, are held accountable to be great. People managers are not just evaluated and rated by their direct reports, they are also evaluated by the employees who work for them. Twice a year employees inside of UKG are given a survey with 19 questions with straight forward questions that measure the effectiveness of their manager. These are separate from engagement surveys as those only measure the relationship between the employee and the organization, not the relationship between the employee and the manager.

How to keep consistency among leaders in an organization
Inside of any organization there could be anywhere from 10 to thousands of leaders who are in charge of teams. So how do you make sure that your leaders are consistent and living up to the company values? This is part of why UKG has the employee surveys in place. Leaders are evaluated by employees twice a year, and if they aren’t either at a 90% or higher, or at least improving each time, there are steps in place that are taken.

Depending on the situation the first step if a leader is struggling is to have a conversation and see if improvements can be made. The next step may be to move the person out of a leadership role, while still remaining at the company. And if all else fails, they may be asked to leave the company if they aren’t a good fit with the company values.

Having these ratings from employees is a huge game-changer as leaders typically look at employee engagement surveys to get a feel for how they are doing, but that’s not an accurate picture of the employee-manager relationship.

Aron shares a story about when UKG first started implementing these manager effectiveness surveys. There was a manager who asked Aron for a sit down meeting. When they were talking the manager asked Aron, “Are you going to train me to be a better manager?”. Aron told him that of course he would, but wondered why the manager was coming to him at that moment asking for help.

The manager told Aron that he had always seen himself as a great leader because his team always gave high scores on engagement surveys. But when it came time for these new surveys he received a 59 out of 100 and he was shocked. He had never had the right data that would help him measure his true performance. Well after realizing it he worked hard to improve and two years later he had a score in the 90s.

It is so important for leaders to get an accurate view of how employees see them. How can you expect them to change if they don’t realize they are doing anything wrong. As Aron shares, “Our homegrown training program for our managers is called Courage to Lead. And I tell them the action word isn't lead. The action word in it is the courage, because it takes unbelievable courage to be a great leader. It's hard...it’s hard.”

What does it mean to be an un-leader
In Aron’s book, Work Inspired, he talks about the concept of the un-leader. What is an un-leader? Well Aron believes CEOs get too much credit when things go well and they get too much blame when things don’t go well. But this shouldn’t be the case. The reason organizations do well or don’t do well does not rely solely on what the CEO does, and CEOs need to have more humility and humbleness. They need to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

To be an un-leader means you realize the value of the people around you and as a leader you understand that you are not more important than anyone else in the organization. Un-leaders show respect, they offer dignity, and they are thoughtful to the people they work with. They realize that they play by the same rules as everyone else. When un-leaders don’t know something, they don’t act like they do. They admit that they are not sure.

Aron says, “I don't expect everyone to care about people in the full spectrum of how I care about people. But I do expect everyone to be respectful. I do expect everyone to tell the truth. You want to ask people who work with-- you want to get on my bad side quickly, don't tell the truth. It's like, I just have no patience for that. Look, I'm a sore loser. I'll admit that, I play to win. But it doesn't mean I do it in a way that doesn't exhibit good sportsmanship and being thoughtful about it.”


How to deal with failures when you give employees autonomy to experiment
One of the key components of the UKG values is trust, it is something that Aron emphasizes. He doesn’t ask employees to gain his trust, they start with full trust in the very beginning, the trust is theirs to lose.

So as a leader if you give full autonomy and trust to employees how do you deal with failures when they happen? Aron says for him it comes down to not keeping score.

He says, “I try really, really hard to not keep score. And the reason I try really hard to not keep score, if you came and sold me on an idea to do something, and six months later, it's not going well-- and you know it better than anyone that it's not going well-- what do I want you to do? I want you to stop it, stop the project, stop throwing good money at a bad idea. But if every time I'm keeping score, and I'm going to put you in the penalty box, then you're going to spend another six months absolutely, positively proving it was a stupid idea. And wasted another six months of time and money. So that's how I deal with failure. Now, if the same people keep bringing ideas, and we say, okay, go do it. And it keeps being a dumb idea. And at some point, I say, well, I'm not sure that this person has great judgment on ideas like this, but I certainly start with the way I described it.”

Action items for leaders who want to start improving
When asked what advice he has for leaders who are looking to better themselves, Aron says the biggest thing is to understand the world doesn’t revolve around you. Work hard to trust your people, communicate with them, be transparent, and show them respect.

You should also respect that people have lives outside of the organization and that their families are the most important thing and they should come first.

Take time and think about what it looks like to trust your people. If you trust them to get their work done, how does that exhibit itself? You can’t just say the words, you have to make trust a living breathing part of your organization.

“If we want to be great leaders, if we want to create organizations where everybody loves to work, if you want to have these places that have these great people work for us, then you better find ways to engage them and you better do these key components around this that we've been talking about. You may be able to trick the people to come work for you. But you're not going to keep them.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Aron_Ain_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:51am PDT

What should you do if you work for a #leader​ that you don't like or don't get along with? If you're in this situation you typically have a few options.

1) Do nothing and suffer.
2) Have a conversation with your leader.
3) Try to switch teams.
4) Quit.
5) Focus on doing great quality work.

Regardless of the path you take, I think the worst option here is the first one. If you do nothing and just complain about your situation then I'm sorry, but you deserve what you get.

You have to take charge over your own personal and professional success. I talk about this more in the video. Let me know what you think. Have you ever been a situation where you had to take one of these paths? I sure have!

Direct download: What_if_You_Dont_Like_Your_Leader.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:55pm PDT

Manfred Kets de Vries is The Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change at INSEAD, one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools. He has received INSEAD’s distinguished teacher award five times.

Manfred is also the author of 52 books including The CEO Whisperer, Mindful Leadership Coaching, and Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership. And he is a consultant on organizational design, transformation, and strategic human resource management to leading companies all over the world.

From a young age Manfred was interested in psychology and human behavior, he was intrigued with trying to figure out why people act in certain ways. In college he studied economics and organizational behavior. Throughout his career he has focused on the intersection of these two areas and eventually he was appointed as the Global Leadership Director at INSEAD and he started a program specifically for leaders where 21 executives come together and Manfred creates what he calls tipping points for them to teach them how to make decisions in more humane and effective ways.

There is a Gallup poll that shows that 85% of employees worldwide don’t feel engaged at work. And as Manfred says, we only have one life to live so we should be making the best out of it. So he enjoys working with leaders because they have such a profound effect on the lives of their employees.

The 8 Archetypes Of Leadership
Back in 2013 Manfred wrote an article for HBR on what he calls the 8 archetypes of leadership. These are recurring patterns of behavior that Manfred says influence a leader’s effectiveness inside of an organization.

As Manfred says in his article “I think of these patterns as leadership “archetypes,” reflecting the various roles executives can play in organizations and it is a lack of fit between a leader’s archetype and the context in which he or she operates is a main cause of team and organizational dysfunctionality and executive failure.”

The eight most common archetypes are:

  1. The strategist: Leadership as a game of chess. These people are good at dealing with developments in the organization’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and outside-the-box thinking to create new organizational forms and generate future growth.
  2. The change-catalyst: Leadership as a turnaround activity. These leaders like messy situations that they can come in and fix. They are good at implementing organizational change. But when things are good they tend to get bored.
  3. The transactor. Leadership as deal making. These leaders thrive on negotiations. They are skilled at identifying and tackling new opportunities. They are great dealmakers.
  4. The builder. Leadership as an entrepreneurial activity. Leaders in this category dream of creating something and they have the talent and determination to make their dream come true.
  5. The innovator. Leadership as creative idea generation. Leaders in this category focus on the new. They possess a great capacity to solve extremely difficult problems.
  6. The processor. Leadership as an exercise in efficiency. These executives like organizations to be smoothly running, well-oiled machines. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to support an organization’s objectives.
  7. The coach: Leadership as a form of people development. These executives know how to get the best out of people, thus creating high performance cultures.
  8. The communicator: Leadership as stage management. These executives are great influencers, and have a considerable impact on their surroundings.

It is important to know which type of leader you are, as well as what archetypes your peers and team members fall into in order to create the most effective and cohesive teams.

Can you change your archetype?
Over the course of your career as a leader you may be interested in changing your archetype. Manfred says it is possible, but it’s not easy. Instead of trying to change yourself, you may consider surrounding yourself with people who fall into the archetypes that you need for what you are currently facing. Embrace the traits you have, and allow other people to fill in the gaps where you are lacking.

And there may come a time, Manfred believes, when it may be time to resign from that position and go elsewhere. Maybe it is time for you to do something different. Years ago Manfred was speaking to a group of around 200 executives and he asked them how long is the productive life of a CEO and they said seven years, plus or minus two years. After that it’s time to move onto something else.

What should you do if you are placed in a position that doesn’t match your archetype?
There may be times when you feel you are being put in positions that don’t match up with your archetype and at that point Manfred says you have a decision to make. We are no longer living in times when you stick at a specific job at one company for decades. So you have to figure out what gives you energy and what brings you joy.

Manfred suggests keeping a diary for a few weeks to keep track of the periods of time that you feel positive energy and joy as well as situations that impact you negatively. That way you can look back and see what things are important to you, what things you should seek out and what situations you want to avoid. Looking back on that log of activity you can make a decision as to whether it is worth it to stay in that position or not.

Keeping archetypes in mind when you build your team
It may not be possible to have each of the eight archetypes represented on every team you work with, but it is good to keep these archetypes in mind as each one has a role to play in an effective team.

Manfred gave an example of an investment bank that he worked with in the past. They had a group of seven people who covered almost every archetype except they didn’t have anyone who was good at coaching.

As Manfred shares, “they were not good in coaching, they were too busy with strategy, deal making and also having the things on time, all those kinds of things. So because of that, they decided we have to do something about it. And we have to hire someone who takes that role, because it will be growing very fast, and we don't pay any attention to that kind of thing. And we're not very good at it either, given our personality.”

It is important to know which category you fall into and to be able to identify what’s missing. It’s not an exact science, and what combination of archetypes you need depends on the industry that you are in, but it is definitely something you should be aware of.

Direct download: Audio_-_Manfred_Kets_de_Vries_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:23pm PDT

A lot of people are very uncomfortable asking for feedback.

And rightfully so!

Early in my career, I was one of those people who was weirded out by asking for feedback.

But I realized that when you phrase feedback in a different way, it makes the conversation a lot easier and more directed towards your growth and development.

Here’s how you can rephrase the feedback you want to get.

1. Can I get your advice? If you've created a solution to something and you want to get feedback on what that solution is.

2. What can I do better? If you want to improve yourself on a certain thing.

3. What can I focus on now to prepare for a future role? If you want to focus on your growth for future learning and development.

I found these questions very effective to get the feedback I’m looking for. Try it out!

Direct download: 3_Questions_to_Ask_to_Get_Better_Feedback.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:21pm PDT

Deanna Mulligan is the former President, CEO, and Board Chair of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, a 160 year old Fortune 250 company with around 9,500 employees. She is also the author of a new book called Hire Purpose: How Smart Companies Can Close the Skills Gap.

Deanna was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Fortune in 2019 and she was named one of “The 50 Most Powerful Women in New York” five times by Crain’s New York Business. Prior to Guardian Life Insurance, Deanna held senior positions at AXA Financial and New York Life Insurance and she was a principal at McKinsey & Company.

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In the financial crisis of 2008 nearly 9 million people lost their jobs. For four years unemployment was at an all time high, and people were having a hard time finding new jobs. It was at this time that Deanna started thinking about the concept for her book, Hire Purpose. She knew it was important to find a way to make sure that this type of situation would never happen again.

The focus of the book was, as Deanna shares, “How can we make sure that people are constantly being re-trained, thinking ahead, upgrading their skills, so they don't have long periods of unemployment in the middle of their career--when they might have children and they might have elderly parents to take care of, when it's the most difficult, when they're saving for retirement-- to be unemployed.”

From the very beginning of her time at Guardian she made learning a priority in the culture of the organization so that people could constantly upgrade their skills and their talents.

What is the skills gap and why is it a problem?
Technology is rapidly changing and customer expectations are changing along with it. As consumers we expect products and services to be faster, better, cheaper, and more customized. Because of that organizations are having to adapt and implement newer, better technologies to keep up with demand.

As a result of these changes, employees who were trained for a specific job with one set of technologies, now have to be able to do something completely different, and if those employees are not consistently growing, learning, and developing new skills, they are going to get left behind.

The consulting firm, McKinsey & Company estimates that in the next 10 years 350 million jobs globally will be changed significantly. They also estimate that 75 million of those jobs will go unfilled because there will not be enough trained people to do the work. Deanna believes that it is up to leaders to make sure that their people are ready for this new world of work.

Many companies today are looking to hire people with certain skills and abilities for new roles, but they are having a hard time finding anyone that is qualified. That is our current skills gap problem, and it’s only going to get worse, unless we all take action.

What can CEOs do to close the skills gap?
As a leader of Guardian Deanna knew that she had to make learning a priority. But she realized that while initiatives are good, having one or two in place wouldn’t solve the problem. She knew she had to build a culture of learning that would become integral to the day to day operations of the organization.

One example of what Deanna implemented inside of Guardian was the start of leader learning day. On that day 900 of the Guardian leaders from around the country came together to figure out what they as leaders needed to learn and what ways they could help their employees learn. It was so successful that the following year the learning day was opened up to everyone inside the organization and it was extended to a full month instead of one day. Employees, no matter what level they were in the organization, could attend seminars, lectures, and courses online or in person. They came together to figure out things like--what am I going to do next? How do my skills and passions apply to what the company sees as new jobs coming up? Where can I go inside or outside the company to get the training I need?

People at Guardian understand that they are accountable for their careers and that the company wants them to be successful and therefore is behind them every step of the way to make sure employees have the resources and tools they need.

Who is responsible for learning--the individual or the organization?
For many decades there has been an assumption in place that what we learn in school will get us to where we need to be in our careers, and if anything new comes up our company will just teach it to us. But with the fast pace of change this is no longer sufficient. We have to realize that we need to be lifetime learners in order to keep up.

Deanna believes that education is a team effort. As she shares, “From my perspective companies that can afford it should help their employees to learn new skills and to do everything they can to be of assistance, but the company can't know what you love or what you're passionate about, or what makes you tick. And it really has to be a combination of the skills that the company is looking for and what you like to do and are passionate about, because learning takes energy. It's hard to learn without passion, and I don't think that anybody can force you to learn. You have to have initiative and want to learn.”

One thing we have all realized during the pandemic is that when we have to, we can learn new things. We all had to learn how to work from home, how to use Zoom or platforms like it, how to juggle family life while simultaneously working, etc...As humans we have the ability to learn new things and adapt. We have to stop getting stuck in a fixed mindset, where we believe that we have a limit on things that we can learn--and we have to move to a growth mindset, where we understand that we can gain new talents and skills through hard work, advice, education, curiosity, etc…

Advice for individuals who want to become perpetual learners
For any individual employee out there who wants to be prepared for the future of work and who wants to become a perpetual learner Deanna has a few pieces of advice.

  1. Start small--look at a problem that you have at work or even at home and figure out if there is a different skill, ability, or technology that you could use to solve it. How could you take a different method than you’ve used before to take on a current problem.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail--When babies first learn to walk they fall down a lot. But they get back up and try again. And as adults we don’t even remember falling down, but if we gave up after one or two falls we would still be crawling. The same goes with learning new skills. You will probably fail a few times, but after you succeed even once you will have the confidence to keep going. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  3. Develop a learning culture--Once you solve a problem at work it will get easier to go find another one to work on. And it can encourage other people around you to think about problems they can solve as well. There could be a problem that will take multiple people, so think about putting together a group to solve it. It doesn’t matter what your seniority level is at work, you can inspire a learning culture around you at any level.

Advice for leaders who want to build a culture of learning
If you are a leader inside of an organization who wants to ensure that your people are prepared for the future of work and any employment changes in the future Deanna also has some advice for you.

  1. Celebrate success--When an employee changes the way they do something or they learn something new--even if it is something small--it is up to you as the leader to elevate that. Make sure everyone knows about it and get everyone excited about it. Maybe you can get a cake, or put up a sign that says thank you to that employee, or call them out in a group meeting.
  2. Give people room to fail--It is completely unrealistic to think that your employees are going to feel free to learn new things without making mistakes. Learning is about experimenting, struggling a little bit, and figuring things out. Failure is a part of that process. You have to let employees know that failure is okay and it is normal.
Direct download: Audio_-_Deanna_Mulligan_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:18pm PDT

Now, more than ever, we need to make sure every leader in our organization is practicing empathy.

Empathy is all about putting yourself in somebody else's shoes to understand their perspective and where they're coming from.

According to Dr. Brene Brown, there are 4 steps to practicing empathy:

  1. Put yourself into somebody else's shoes. Imagine you are in their situation and try to think of a time when you had a similar experience.
  2. Never judge too quickly when a person tells you something. You have to understand the whole story of what’s happening.
  3. Recognize the emotion that the person is experiencing.
  4. Communicate that you understand that emotion.
Direct download: 4_Steps_to_Practice_Empathy_from_Dr_Brene_Brown.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:21am PDT

Joann Lublin is the author of Power Moms: How Executive Mothers Navigate Work and Life, which came out this month. She is also the author of Earning It: Hard-Won Lessons From Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World.

Joann is the former Management News Editor of The Wall Street Journal where she created its first career advice column which she wrote up until May 2020. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 and she won the Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest accolade in business journalism, in 2018.

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Over the past few decades we have made greater strides in workplace gender equality and we have seen more and more women step into leadership roles, but we still have a ways to go. There are still stereotypes and mindsets set in the past that give the notion that women have to choose between a career and having a family, they can’t have both.

But as Joann has found in her conversations with female senior level executives, not only can women have both, they can thrive and succeed at both at the same time.

While interviewing one executive and mother for the book, Joann found out that the woman had felt it necessary to not put up photos of her children on her desk at work until they were of high school age and she had proved herself at the company. She knew that having pictures up of small children some people might question her conflicting priorities.

Another woman shared that when she returned to work after a couple of years at home with her kids she was asked by male and female coworkers “how do you do it all?” and she said she was very offended by that. Because people wouldn’t have questioned her husband’s ability to do it all even though they are equal partners in parenting. People have these set mindsets that women are the ones doing 100% of the parenting while the men are 100% focused on work, but that is not the case.

What is the motherhood penalty
Joann has a section in her book called The Motherhood Penalty, which reflects decades of research that highlights the bias against women with children. Research suggests that when hiring managers are going through resumes and it is clear from what they can see which people have kids and which ones do not have kids, the managers are more likely to give the interviews and the jobs to the women without kids.

The other aspect of the motherhood penalty has to do with pay. Either because of the breaks women have after having children or the fact that they choose to go back to work at reduced schedules the earning power of moms suffers. Yet this issue does not happen with men.

Joann does add a bit about how men can suffer when it comes to parenting biases. She says, “Men have other problems being effective parents and effective members of the workplace, but the fatherhood penalty is more of if they want to be involved. Fathers, they feel like they're penalized, that their career is going to suffer, that they're not going to be a guy's guy. And so they're reluctant to take the parental leave, even if it's generous and paid, that their employer is offering because somehow they won't look like they themselves are committed to their career. So we need to change our image of what makes for a good parent and what makes for a good worker. From a gender and parenting standpoint.”

The good thing that we are seeing now is Millennials and Gen Xers have more employment choices now. Where past generations may have learned to live with companies that had cultures that penalized parents, nowadays there are so many employment options that people can vote with their feet and move to a company that will treat them equally.

The work/life balance myth
Joann believes we need to give up on the notion of work/life balance. As she shares it is an ideal that can never be realized. In her book she compares balance to maintaining a yoga pose for 24 hours, you can’t do it.

The concept that she talks about in her book is work/life sway. “The idea of work life sway is that you accept the belief that there is no such thing as balance. And you recognize that there are going to be moments in your day and in your life when you have to be 110% there for your job, for your company, for your work. But family needs may intrude without warning, and you have to be prepared and willing and able--thanks to technology-- you can sway the other way.”

One example of work/life sway Joann gives from an executive that was interviewed for her book is from a woman who had returned to work after having a child and one day she got a live video call while she was in her office. The call was from her nanny who knew that the mother wanted to see her child take his first steps. The executive obviously stopped what she was doing and watched her son take his first steps. Instead of having to partition her life off into personal life and work life, they sway together, happening simultaneously.

Our current situation with the pandemic is further proof that we don’t have to be locked in an office away from family for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in order to get things done. Most of us have been forced into living work and life simultaneously at home. And we’ve made it work.

Flexibility can’t just be a policy, it has to be a way of life
One important piece to being able to live in a work/life sway is the organization you work for and the managers you have. It is important to find a place to work where flexibility and maternity/paternity leave is not only a policy, but it is also something that is lived out in the culture.

It is so critical for leaders inside of organizations to live out these types of core values. If you want your people to believe that it is okay to take 3 or 4 months of parental leave after having a new child, you have to be willing to set the example. People are going to look to senior level executives to see that they practice what they preach. Employees want to know they won’t be reprimanded or looked down on for taking time off, or for leaving early to watch their child’s soccer game, or to go home to take care of a sick kid.

Joann has a story about a woman who was the head of HR at a tech company who decided to make an example of what the company viewed as flexibility and leaving work early. She had a son who was in his last year of high school and she knew he would be leaving home the following year to go to college. So she decided that every Thursday she was going to leave by 5pm--no matter what was happening at work--so that she could take her son out to dinner for bonding time.

Not only did she leave at 5pm every single Thursday for the full year of his senior year, she posted about it on the company’s internal website so that employees worldwide saw her example. She showed that the company policies weren’t just lip service or words on a page, they were meant to be lived out by everyone.

When it comes to finding a place to work, this is something to really consider. Is the senior level leadership living out the values and the professed culture of the company?

Women can’t be afraid to set expectations and ask for what they want at work
One of the senior leaders I interviewed for the podcast awhile back spoke of having two phones, a smartphone and a flip phone in order to disconnect from work. While at work she would have her smartphone with her and people could call, text, or email and she would respond.

But once she went home the smartphone was put away and she only had her flip phone with her. Only a select few people had the number to the flip phone so that she would know if it rang, it was an emergency or something very important. Aside from that she wouldn’t check emails, social media, text messages, etc...while she was at home with family.

The same was true when she went to work, her family knew that if there was an emergency or something important they could call that flip phone and she would answer, but otherwise they would wait until she got home. And her coworkers and her boss knew if that phone rang she was leaving the room, no matter what was happening. She set those expectations up from the beginning so that everybody was on the same page and knew what was happening.

Joann says women are not as good at setting up expectations as men are. They tend to be more afraid to ask for what they need. But putting up boundaries and letting people know what it is you want is a critical part of having a successful work/life sway.

When it comes to asking for what you want Joann suggests not doing it as a solo act. Connect with other working moms in your company, figure out the main issues you are all dealing with and come up with some solutions together that you can take to your leaders.

Joann’s advice for working dads
When it comes to “power dads” Joann says her biggest advice is not to just try to be supportive of their wives or life partners, but to be an equal partner. What women who want to be successful in their careers and have children want is co-parenting.

And this is something to talk about early in relationships. Joann says, “Frankly, the time to talk about that is not when you've gone 24 hours straight, with not much sleep, because you're at each other's throat. And Gosh, darn it, I changed the diaper the last time the newborn woke up. You need to kind of come to some meeting of the minds, frankly, at the start of your commitment to a long term relationship. If you want to have children, you should talk about that. We should also talk about who's going to stay home when the kid is born, who's going to stay home when the kid is sick, whose career is going to take priority, as these kids are growing up is one of us willing to be a stay at home parent for a couple of years, is the other one willing to be the stay at home parent the next couple years.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Joann_Lublin_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:08pm PDT

Can you really work with multiple generations of employees?

A lot of people are worried about the new generation that is coming into the workforce.

Here are three ways you can ensure that employees can work with multiple generations:

✅Avoid stereotypes
Don’t assume that if somebody is older, they don't know how to use technology and if somebody is younger, they are great with technology. Let's not assume that every generation and every person from that generation acts or behaves a certain way.

✅Focus on the life stage
We have to focus on the stage each person is at in life. They might be a younger employee who has a lot of responsibilities or an older employee with few responsibilities.

✅Practice empathy
This is extremely important to any organization, especially when we think about working with different generations. We need to remember that different generations went through different things.

These three tips will help create more cohesive teams, especially if those teams are composed of people from different generations.

Direct download: 3._How_to_Work_w_Multiple_Generations_of_Employees.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:47pm PDT

Jeff Schwartz is the U.S. Leader for the Future of Work at Deloitte and author of the new book Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work.

Jeff is also the global editor of the Deloitte “Global Human Capital Trends” report series, which he started in 2011.
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Business leaders are always looking ahead to see what is coming in the future of work. The trends that we have seen coming in the next 5-10 years have been accelerated due to the pandemic in 2020. Things that we thought would happen in 5-10 years have happened in weeks and months.

When it comes to the future of work Jeff believes that we are in the end of the beginning, and we are beginning the next chapter. We now have the technologies in place, in this new chapter we are going to see the implementation and scaling of these technologies and the new ways of working.

“One of the one of my favorite quotes is a quote from Albert Einstein who said that you can't use an old map to explore a new world. And I think that's part of what we learned in 2020...But a lot of people are using old maps for new problems. And this is a big shift we're going through now.”

Jeff believes that Covid-19 may be an event that changes work forever. One of the things we are challenged with in 2021 is to figure out if we now return to what we did before, or if we use the events of 2020 as an on-ramp to something new. Jeff’s view is that we will use it as an on-ramp to something new.

What does the future of work actually mean
We hear the phrase “the future of work” so often these days. It is at the forefront of so many discussion. But what does it actually mean? Jeff said it can mean a lot of different things, but for him there are three main things that make up the future of work: how work is changing, how workforces are changing, how workplaces are changing.

Jeff says, “I think we spent the last 20 years setting the table for the future of work discussion. Identifying what the work, workforce, workplace options are, what the implications are for communities, regulation, education. 2020 was a bit of a fast forward button or a forced experiment button. And as I was mentioning earlier, you know, I think we are at the end of the beginning of the future of work. And we are at the beginning of the next chapter, which is taking these changes to work, workforces, and workplaces, and just implementing them at scale. Not on the side, but in the heart of what we're doing.”

Top trends in 2021
Jeff and his team at Deloitte have been releasing trend reports since 2011 and they recently released their report for 2021. Some of the top trends they focused on were:

  • The integration of wellbeing into work, not as a set of side benefits, but in a deliberate way that is integrated into work
  • Super teams, which is how we put AI and robots on the team in a way that supports people and allows them to do more human work such as deep care, deep teaching, deep design, etc…
  • Beyond re-skilling and looking at developing enduring human capabilities, giving workers what they need so they can shift and work up to their potential even when they have to do something outside of what they were hired to do
  • The real challenges around workforce governance, we found out in 2020 we don’t have the data and information needed
  • The elevation of the HR role in the first few months of the pandemic and looking at how HR can lead into this reimagination and re-architecture of the work era.

What Jeff worries about for the future
When it comes to the future of work Jeff is mostly optimistic and he doesn’t have many fears. But he does have a specific worry about the future.

As he shares, “My concern is that we aren't taking advantage of the opportunities that we have in front of us, as both businesses and as communities in society. We're at a very interesting point, where we have the opportunity to do some pretty amazing things in terms of the way we live our lives, we organize our work, the way we organize education, the way we organize our businesses. And I worry that we're not really as focused on the opportunity as we can.”

He is concerned that some of us are not prepared for the unpredictable part of life. As the world changes some of the institutions we have--such as schools, communities, and businesses--will have to be able to stretch and flex to be more relevant.

We have to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that we have in front of us. With the innovation and technology we have today we have the opportunity to do some pretty amazing things in the way we live, work, learn, and organize.

What do business leaders need to do to take advantage of the future of work
When it comes to taking advantage of things coming in the future of work Jeff has some advice for business leaders. They are:

  1. Leaders need to recognize that the role of business leaders is to deliver value, not just cost savings. Big changes in the economy comes not just from cost savings and productivity, but from innovation, new value, and creating new sources of meaning.
  2. Leaders must wrap their minds around the idea that they are leading workforce ecosystems today, not just individual employees. It is not the same as 30 years ago where you just focus on who to attract, develop, and retain. It’s now about accessing, curating, and engaging. You can access talent in the form of a human or a machine. You can look inside of your organization or by using talent marketplaces. You really have to look at all of the ways you can access and curate talent.
  3. Leaders must think of themselves as co-creators. We have to move from a supervisor mentality to a player-coach mentality.

Jeff’s advice for individual leaders looking to navigate this new world of work
Individuals have a lot of responsibility in preparing themselves for the future of work. But we are highly adaptable and there’s a lot we can do. Jeff’s advice for individuals is:

  1. Adopt the growth mindset, don’t have a fixed mindset. Growth mindset is the belief that you can improve your abilities through hard work, exploration, curiosity, and learning. Your capabilities are not stagnant, you can do something to better yourself.
  2. Understand the importance of being a team player. There is nothing wrong with individual work, but in this new world of work individuals must be able to work well with a team, no matter what their role on that team is. We have to understand the different roles of teams, what a high performing team is, and understand that you may play different roles in different teams that you are on--whether you are a participant or a facilitator, an expert, or even the leader of the team
  3. Embrace the 100-year life span and the 50-60 year career. As we live longer lives we have to recognize that our careers no longer mean working for one company in one department. You will have multiple reinventions in your career, so it is important to recognize that and prepare for it.

“If you think that your journey is going over one mountain, and you find out that the journey is going over six mountains, it really helps to know that it's a six mountain journey versus a one mountain journey, right? You're mentally prepared, you're physically prepared. And you know, we're telling people, it's a one mountain journey, you go to school, you pick a career, you go to work for somebody, maybe it's a two mountain journey, or maybe there's another mountain behind this one, but if we know that it is a portfolio of reinvention that the journey is much more varied than we thought. We think that will help us to be prepared.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Jeff_Schwartz_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:25pm PDT

What’s the worst career choice you ever made?

I remember when I was younger, everybody told me not to move to San Francisco. They said I couldn’t afford to live there, that I didn’t know anything about speaking, and that I was a terrible writer and couldn’t write a book.

People would say that I should be a lawyer or a doctor, that I should do this or that. And I spent a lot of my life listening to other people and trying to fit into somebody else's mold.

When I wanted to start a business, everybody told me that I didn’t know anything about starting a business and that I should get an MBA instead.

Listening to other people was the worst career mistake I ever made.

It took me several years to understand that I shouldn't be listening to other people--I should be listening to myself.

It's ok to take advice from other people and to hear what others are saying. But ultimately, you have to take it with a grain of salt, because nobody knows you better than you.

Direct download: 2._The_worst_career_choice_I_ever_made.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:44pm PDT

Steve Preston is the President & CEO of Goodwill Industries International, the world’s leading workforce provider. He leads a team of around 140,000 employees across the United States.

Prior to his current role Steve served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

He orchestrated successful turnarounds as the CEO of two private corporations, Oakleaf Global Holdings and Livingston International and he was the CFO of two Fortune 500 companies — Waste Management and ServiceMaster.
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The world looks very different today than it did just over a year ago. The pandemic and other world events have had long lasting effects on the way we live and work. Steve’s role at Goodwill has put him in the unique position of not only having to address these issues inside of his own organization, but because one of Goodwill’s main operations is workforce development and job placement, he has had to pay attention to how things are changing in all industries.

Goodwill has 650 job centers around the country where people can go to get trading development, coaching, and job placement services.

One major trend Steve has been focused on is the acceleration of job displacement due to Covid-19.

As he shares, “Before the pandemic, we were very focused on what everybody's calling the future of work. And that is a significant migration in labor demands by employers that are more focused on technology skills, and other cognitive and relational skills that surround the product development and service delivery. And so many of the forecasters or economists were forecasting that 30 or 35 million jobs would be lost over the next decade. Well, what happened when COVID hit is not only did we see unemployment spike, there were two other phenomena within that, number one, that people who lost their jobs were people with lower levels of education, lower income levels, and disproportionately people of racial and ethnic minorities. And then in addition to that, employers accelerated their adoption of digital technologies, customer interactions, supply chain support, and other kinds of internal management processes.”

Because of both of these situations happening quickly--1. That the people who were most likely going to lose jobs over the course of the next decade lost their jobs in 2020 and 2. Companies accelerated their digital transformations--we are now in a situation where people urgently need digital skills to be able to compete for jobs. We have employers who are looking to upgrade the level of skills for all roles and the people who need jobs right now don’t have those skills.

The future of the office
One thing that we have come to realize over the past year is it is possible to get work done at home. In fact a lot of people are finding they are more productive at home. Organizations are realizing that even though people aren’t physically in the office or always working the traditional 9-5, work is getting done.

So does this realization mean that physical office spaces will disappear in the future? Steve doesn’t think so. While we can work from home, as humans we thrive on interaction, relationship, and connectedness that just isn’t the same when we talk virtually.

Most likely what will happen is a hybrid model that allows people to work from home part of the time while still coming into the office on a regular basis. Whether they are in the office more will depend on the role they have.

Steve says, “I'm definitely thinking about a hybrid model, because I do not want to throw out the human interaction side, I think that's critical. And I think, you know, especially when you are dealing with complex business issues, and making tough decisions-- having trust, having those deep personal relationships, is just, I mean, that's how leadership functions well, is being having that joint accountability and trust, and being able to move forward together with those situations in place. And pure remote doesn't do that.”

Steve’s advice for people looking for jobs now
Trying to find work in the middle of a pandemic is hard, it is stressful, and some may feel like it is impossible. But Steve has some great advice for anyone who is looking for a job right now.

First of all, he says it is so important to take care of yourself mentall and emotionally. Don’t let the stress of finding a job or being turned down for a job affect your mood. Spend time with friends, stay engaged, and take care of yourself.

It’s also important to take advantage of the time that you have without a job to build your skills. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on getting a degree, there are so many places to learn these days. Develop skills, specifically digital skills like coding or data. Utilize this time to better yourself so that when the right job opens up you are ready for it.

Bettering yourself can also look good in an interview. When talking with a potential employer when they ask you what you have been doing during your unemployment you will have a great response. You’ll let them know what you’ve been doing to build skills whether it is from online courses, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc…

“Time is precious, you know, and most of us in our lives are always looking for time. And when you've got it, the challenge with having time, like unemployment is it's filled with all sorts of anxiety and urgency. But you have to find space to make it a good time, to come out at the other end in a better position when you entered it.”

Steve also says to look around at the network around you. We all have networks, whether we realize it or not. A conversation with someone you know may lead you to a job. So talk to the people you know, let them know what you are looking for, and who knows it could lead you to something.

The best skills and mindsets for the future
In this new world of work there are certain skills and mindsets we should focus on. And it is important to have a balance between technology skills and human skills. Being able to walk into a new job and feeling comfortable around their technology whether you have used it or not is beneficial. Specific digital technology skills such as coding, data analytics, Python, Tableau, etc...are good as well.

Basic workplace effectiveness skills are crucial as well. Knowing how to effectively communicate, how to negotiate, how to present yourself, how to listen to others are all key skills if you want to have a successful career.

When it comes to certain industries looking to hire people, Steve says the retail industry is starting to come back. Logistics has stayed strong and IT jobs are always in demand. Hospitality on the other hand--hotels, restaurants, airlines--have not bounced back yet and it could be awhile.

Purpose in business
One thing that Steve is very passionate about is purpose in business. As he shares organizations are large ecosystems with tons of employees who are impacted by the actions of the leaders. So it is crucial for leaders to bring wholeness to organizations and to create cultures that allow people to thrive and grow.

“When you don't have principled leadership, you see terrible things happen. I was CFO of a large company during the Sarbanes Oxley meltdown in the early 2000s, you saw all kinds of moral issues across the world. I was the HUD Secretary during the housing crisis. And there were all kinds of moral failures across businesses, you know mortgage institutions and in any number of, you know, lenders and people who are in the securitization industry, we need principled leadership and people who have a sense of true north, because in so many ways, great leadership brings flourishing to their organizations and to our communities. And bad leadership causes terrible things, which can result in a systemic breakdown.”

Steve is no stranger to leading in tough times. His advice to leaders right now is to know what the mission of your company is and what you’re hoping to achieve. You have to use that mission and lean into it as a rallying cry for your people. Because, as Steve shares, what happens in a crisis is people are scared, they are confused, and the last thing they need is lack of direction. It is up to you as the leader to provide that direction for them.

Know what your problems are, what are you facing as an organization. Then using your mission and your goals figure out a solution for that problem. And it is so important to keep your employees engaged in the process along the way. Employees want to see what is happening and know what their role is.

“In a crisis can actually be a great time to infuse purpose into the organization and see your employees rise up to to go after that mission.” Leaders have to be open and transparent. People want to know what the truth is and they can tell when you are not being honest. Be decisive, be clear, make a decision, and move forward. Your people want to trust you, and they want to trust that they can follow you as their leader.

Skills in a post-Covid-19 world
Historically many people have been excluded from jobs because they didn’t have a certain degree or a specific amount of experience to even be considered for the role.

But this practice is starting to change. Companies are starting to realize that it is better to focus on skills in recruiting and promotions instead of education, degrees, and specific experience.

Steve says at Goodwill the first thing they do when a candidate walks through the door is they do a skills assessment. Then when working with that person for a desired future role they can help pinpoint what skills the person already has and what skills they will need to work on in order to successfully take on that role.

A lot of times we have a hard time translating our skills into specific roles, we may not even realize that we have a set of skills. One group of people who have a hard time with this are veterans. They don’t usually have college degrees or formal education, but they have phenomenal training, discipline, they have great communication and even leadership skills.

“I am optimistic, because I think we're reaching more people through what's kind of opened up over the last nine months, I think, and I'm hopeful that employers will continue to open their minds about how best to fill those roles. And I'm very hopeful that people like Goodwill, and other people in this industry will continue to expand the relevant opportunities for people to get relevant skills for relevant roles.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Steve_Preston_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:19pm PDT

Leaders need to serve themselves.

This is the leadership hack of Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens in the United States.

While leaders need to serve their leaders, their customers, their partners, and their teams, they also need to serve themselves.

Self-care can manifest in a lot of different ways, but for Barbara, it's about sleep. Oftentimes, sleeping on a problem can greatly increase your potential for better ideas instead of trying to solve the problem at the moment.

Self-care is different for each person, as each of us is dealing with different kinds of stress. But the most important thing is that you take care of yourself so that you can then take care of others.

Direct download: 1._Why_You_should_Practice_Self_Care_as_a_Leader_1.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:22pm PDT

Ryan Hawk is the host of one of the most popular management and leadership podcasts in the world called, The Learning Leader Show. The show was chosen by Apple Podcasts as an “all time bestseller” in 2020 and it has received acclaim from Forbes and Inc. Magazine.

He is also the author of Welcome to Management: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader. It was named one of the 100 Best Management books of all time by Book Authority and it was named the best leadership book of 2020 by Forbes.

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Contrary to popular belief, top performers do not always make the best leaders.

At the beginning of his career Ryan was in sales making cold calls for LexisNexis, and he was very successful at it. Because he was a top performer he was promoted several times and ultimately he moved to a sister company and became the VP of North America. Over his time as a leader he learned a lot and was able to gain the skills needed to lead, but thinking back to his first management role, Ryan says he wasn’t prepared for it.

Being a top performer does not mean that you are a great leader. But so many companies still rely on this benchmark alone when promoting people to leadership roles.

As Ryan shares, “the funny part about it is there's very little of what you did as an individual contributor that actually translates to you being a good coach or manager of a team of others doing that. The skill sets are just completely different. And I understand why you look towards the top performer because basically the thought process is well, they were really good, so they probably have earned some respect from their peers. Let's elevate them and then tell them okay, tell everybody else exactly what you did so that you can create a bunch of clones essentially. So I get that that's why it happens. However, there are a lot of superstar performers that are horrible coaches.”

Ryan was able to learn from hands on experience and ultimately he decided to create his own sort of leadership PhD in the form of one on one conversations with leaders from all walks of life. This turned into his podcast, The Learning Leader, which he still hosts today. He interviews CEOs, athletes, authors, professors, and many others who have experience in leadership in order to help listeners continuously learn, grow, and improve.

The difference between a top performer and a leader
Most of us have had a teacher at some point in our lives who was extremely smart and knew their subject very well, but had a hard time teaching it to others. They make what they do look easy, but as soon as someone has a question they struggle to help that person truly understand.

As Ryan shares this happens in sports too. Superstar players like Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan are put in coaching roles and while they are amazing players, they are not great coaches.
“I think the same happens in the sales world. The same happens in all the business world where you're just grabbing the top performer, without actually fully checking, can they coach others who aren't as talented as them? Can they help other people who aren't naturally as good as them? And that's the problem, is sometimes we elevate and promote people who are just not good teachers, not good coaches, and a big element of management, of leading a team is teaching and coaching other people to levels that they didn't even realize they were capable of reaching.”

Organizations need to look at other qualities for potential leaders aside from generating the most money or bringing in the most clients. They also need to invest more in training future leaders to make sure any individual who is being promoted has the skills necessary to lead.

Based on surveys I conducted for my recent book, The Future Leader, on average people are moving into their first leadership role in their mid to late 20s, but leaders say that on average the first time they receive formal leadership training is somewhere in their late 30s or early 40s. That’s a huge gap of time that people are leading without any kind of formal training.

How to solve the leadership problem
As Ryan shares, it is important that we realize that attaining a leadership role is not the only sign of success in someone’s career. Not everyone wants to be a leader, and not everyone is cut out to be a leader. There are other paths people can take in their career that will allow them to be successful without leading others.

It is up to organizations to create multiple career paths for employees. People need to feel like they can continue to be an individual contributor while also being able to grow and thrive in that role. Management roles should not be the only way to move up and grow inside an organization.

“I think it's good to have both sets of people or a wide variety of people. I love having people on my team that I know, they're never going to be a manager and that's completely fine. They're going to crush it here. Let's just do everything we can to support them to make sure they're feeling growth to take care of them. As well as there's the other group that maybe they really want to be a manager and they have some of that innate skill and talent that let's let's work with them to get better and better, so when it comes time for them to run a team, they're in a better position than I was when I got promoted cold.”

What Ryan looks for in a great leader
Ryan believes great leaders are fulfilled by teaching and coaching other people. They genuinely enjoy helping others grow and improve. They are selfless people who put others before themselves. People who get focused on an end goal and set out to achieve it no matter what with the mindset of “nobody’s going to get in my way”, aren’t in a place to be a successful leader. Leaders care more about people than the end goal.

Great leaders value diverse thinking and differing points of view and they are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes. They have patience and a willingness to learn. They embrace curiosity and they are comfortable admitting they don’t know everything--they’re not afraid to ask for help. They are both respected and liked.

Why you must start by leading yourself
In Ryan’s book, Welcome to Management, he points out that before you can lead a team, you must learn how to lead yourself. We’ve all heard the phrase that is used on airplanes when they say you must secure your oxygen mask before assisting others, and that is the same concept here.

It is important to look inward first and figure out what you need to do to put yourself in the best position to lead a team who actually wants to follow you. In Ryan’s case he wanted to become a learning machine so that his team would see him as someone who was constantly striving to get better. So he built a four part framework for himself to figure out what it actually means to be a learning machine and how to actively live it out on a daily basis.

His four part framework consists of:
1. Learn: He is constantly reading articles and books, interviewing different leaders, listening to podcasts and finding new information and great ideas.
2. Test: When he finds a great idea he then tests it out to see if actually works
3. Reflect: After he tests an idea out he looks back on the process and the results to see how it went and to decide if he should keep going with it or let it go.
4. Teach: Teaching is a great way to reinforce new things. Ryan shares his experience with others in order to solidify what he has taken in and tested out.

To give a picture of what this process looks like in real life Ryan shares an example of how this could be used for something learned in an article. Perhaps you find an HBR article on how to run better meetings. So you’ve read the article and you’ve thought about how you could use this with your own team. And you’ve brought the idea to a mentor or someone who has led teams before to run the idea past them for their feedback. Instead of just soaking in the information and thinking about it, you need to test it.

So in your next meeting you try out the ideas from the article and you invite your mentor to sit in on the meeting to see how it goes.

After the meeting is done you meet with your mentor or with people who were in the meeting that you trust and who will be honest with you to get their feedback on how it went. You all reflect on how it went, what worked and what didn’t. Should you keep using it or scrap it?

Then you teach the idea to someone. It could be someone you are mentoring or someone in your company who is thinking of moving into a leadership role. You sit down with that person and explain the idea you learned, how you used it in your meeting, and what worked well and what didn’t.

“Before you know it, you've been in all four quadrants in one day, or maybe a few days, whatever it may be of saying this is how to….and you do that for basically everything within your career, or everything in your life, of always striving to fuel the intake engine, run experiments based on what you learned, reflect on how it went--what to keep doing what to stop-- and then sharing with other people. And it just goes on and on and on and never stops. And then once you pause at the end of the year, if you're regularly behaving on it, wow look at everything we've done over the course of the year, we've changed a lot. Because you're in this constant state of being a learning machine. And that's how I think you can regularly figure out new and better ways to do things.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Ryan_Hawk_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 11:18pm PDT

Leaders need to become lighthouses.

Why?

A lighthouse is something that shines light into a sea of uncertainty. It guides other people so they don’t hit rocks and can find their way back home.

But as a lighthouse, you need to remember that without ships in the water, you're not very valuable.

It means you should always guide other people. You have to take other people along on this journey with you.

If you only focus on yourself and become a wonderful lighthouse but don't have any ships in the water, then what’s the point?

This episode is brought to you by my friends at ServiceNow, a software company that makes the world of work, work better for people by delivering digital workflows that create great employee experiences, and unlock productivity. If you or your company is looking to transform old, manual ways of working into digital workflows, then you need ServiceNow. They are trusted by over 6,200 enterprises customers, Check them out here.

Direct download: 4._Leaders_Are_Lighthouses.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:17am PDT

Laurent Therivel is the CEO of UScellular, the fourth largest wireless carrier in the United States with 5,000 employees across 23 states. Previously he spent 12 years at AT&T where he most recently served as CEO of AT&T Mexico leading 18,000 people.

Becoming the CEO of a company during a pandemic comes with a unique set of problems. A role that usually requires a lot of face to face interaction with employees, customers, and vendors has been mostly limited to phone calls and online meetings.

Laurent joined UScellular as their CEO in July of 2020. He says he’s had to heavily rely on data and analytics to see how their services are working for customers across the country, and that’s been difficult. Usually he would prefer to interact more to get a better feel for how things are going.

This past year there has been a fundamental shift in the way we live and work and Laurent believes that this shift has allowed us to take trends that would have taken 10 years or so and accelerated them to be accomplished in a couple of months. Laurent shares that he feels he has been able to be more efficient in his role due to technology. Now instead of having to travel across the country to visit with his team he can do it all from his computer at home. He has also been able to meet with smaller groups inside the company for Q&As and discussions, which is much easier than meeting with a huge group every time he shows up at a location.

So while this move was challenging for Laurent, he also has seen the silver linings and the positive impacts as well.

What to do if you aren’t happy with your job or your company

Most of us have had a time in our careers where we just aren’t sure if the role we have or the company we work for is the right fit. A time when you just don’t know what you really want to do in life.

For people going through this right now Laurent gives two pieces of advice. First of all, he says, you have to do your homework. It is important to carefully distinguish the difference between a company and a role. What about your current situation do you not like? Do you and your boss not have a good working relationship? Does your skill set not match up with the work you are doing? What is it that is making you feel unhappy?

Figuring this out can help you decide what to do. If it is a problem with your boss, maybe you can sit down and have a discussion with them to fix that relationship. If you don’t like the actual work you are doing or it doesn’t match up to your skillset, maybe there is another role for you inside the organization that could be better.

Laurent believes people are too quick to say the company itself is not a good fit, but usually it is their role or a relationship with a boss or coworker. Really look deep at why you are feeling unhappy.

He also says that people need to figure out what their worth is externally. There are two problems that come along with not accurately evaluating your external worth.

A lot of times people feel stuck in a role because they limit themselves. Laurent says, “They remain stuck, when they could be doing something much more exciting and much more interesting and a much better fit with their skills. But because they don't believe in themselves and because they haven't taken the time to find their worth externally, they don't take the leap.”

Other people over value their external worth. They may think they are doing exceptional work, and that they are really making an impact, but that may not be the case. So they come into work and complain, and they feel underpaid and undervalued, but really they are the ones not rising to their full potential. You really have to do your homework and be honest with yourself to figure out your external work and what your performance really looks like.

Laurent’s advice for leaders who feel they are not progressing in a company

For mid-level leaders who feel that there aren’t any opportunities inside of their organization to progress or rise up through the ranks Laurent shares his advice. He says this is a common scenario, there are a lot of leaders going through this. For this situation he says leaders have to be willing to develop their skill set laterally.

He says, “Too often people say I feel stuck, I feel stagnant. And then you say, Okay, well, are you willing to move geographically? No, no, no, my family's here, you know, I can't move. Okay. Do you want to try a different role? Do you want to move laterally in the organization and try and build your skill set somewhere else? Well, no, I don't really want to do that. I think I'm good at accounting, or I'm good at logistics, or whatever it is, they're good at sales. Okay, so if that's the case, really what you're doing is you're waiting for your boss to retire or die, right? If that doesn't happen, then you don't know where to go.”

You have to be open to lateral moves if moving up the rank isn’t a possibility at the moment. Don’t be the one to limit yourself. Laurent also stresses the importance of having open and honest conversations with your loved ones so you know the right decisions to make in your career. Don’t assume the reaction your spouse, significant other, or kids will have to a career choice. You never know until you talk with them.

Advice for senior leaders who are burned out or bored

People at any level of leadership tend to place limits on themselves. It is fairly common to hear senior leaders talk about how they feel burned out or bored with their role, but Laurent says a lot of times this is because they have limited themselves for one reason or another.

Feeling bored or burned out may signal that it is time to try something else, but it can be hard to leave a role for various reasons. Sometimes senior leaders may have become used to living a certain way financially, so they stop themselves from pursuing their passions because it may not provide the same level of financial security.

As Laurent says, “I find that that a lot of times, senior leaders in their career aren't willing to really make the difficult move, because they've convinced themselves that they have a lot less flexibility, a lot less optionality than they really do. Which is sad, because if you think about all of the hard work that you've put in, it should be to go create optionality later in your life, right? You should have the ability to go teach classes or be a mezcal importer, by the way, is what I want to do when I retire. So I think some of it has to do with, again, going back and having those conversations to make sure you know how much optionality that you really do have.”

Figure out how much risk you are willing to take as well as what you truly value in life to decide where to go when you feel this way.

How Laurent makes difficult decisions

When it comes to making tough decisions Laurent says he uses a combination of analytics and advice. He doesn’t just go with a gut feeling. It’s all about taking a step back and looking at the issue impartially. Emotions do play a part in making decisions, but in this first step Laurent tries to separate emotions.

It is also important, Laurent shares, to have a healthy dose of humility. “Everybody thinks that the problem that they're facing is unique and has never before occurred in this universe. And chances are, it's occurred hundreds of times. And so if you can develop a trusted set of friends, a trusted set of advisors, trusted set of mentors, that helps. And if nothing else, you know, there's one thing that people like talking more about than anything, which is themselves. And so we find people that have faced a problem like this and just reach out to them and say, hey, how did you think through this, and I think having the humility to do that, is, is critical to making an informed decision.”

Leaders also need to be able to admit when they may not be the best person to make the decision. Laurent says there are times when he is not the best person to make decisions. He only wants to be involved in decisions if, and only if, he can add value.

“Most people, I think, would have an image that a CEO is making 10 decisions a day. And I think if that's the case, you're probably a little bit out of whack, and probably your team doesn't feel very empowered, either.”

This episode is brought to you by my friends at ServiceNow, a software company that makes the world of work, work better for people by delivering digital workflows that create great employee experiences, and unlock productivity. If you or your company is looking to transform old, manual ways of working into digital workflows, then you need ServiceNow. They are trusted by over 6,200 enterprises customers, Check them out here.

Direct download: Audio_-_Laurent_Therivel_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:50am PDT

Whether you are a leader or an employee, self-awareness is extremely important.

One of the best ways to be externally self-aware is to be open to feedback.

There are 3 ways you can get better feedback:

  • Ask for it. Have a conversation with your leader or manager about what the feedback process looks like. Have open communication and set up the parameters around what the feedback will look like.
  • Internalize the feedback you get. A lot of times when we get feedback, we take it personally and get defensive. Instead, internalize the feedback, absorb the information, and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow and apply the things you’re given.
  • Focus on the effort, not just the end result. Don't discard the journey. Reward yourself for what it took to become self-aware instead of focusing only on the end result.

 

This episode is brought to you by my friends at ServiceNow, a software company that makes the world of work, work better for people by delivering digital workflows that create great employee experiences, and unlock productivity. If you or your company is looking to transform old, manual ways of working into digital workflows, then you need ServiceNow. They are trusted by over 6,200 enterprises customers, Check them out here.

 

Direct download: 3._What_You_Can_Do_to_Get_Better_Feedback.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:44am PDT

Mark Lashier is the CEO of CPChem, a company that produces petrochemicals and plastics with 5,000 employees around the world. 50% of the company is owned by Chevron and 50% is owned by Phillips Petroleum. Mark has served in leadership roles at Chevron Phillips Chemical and Phillips Petroleum for three decades.

With the challenges that we have all had to face over this past year, we have seen organizations and leaders make changes to adapt to our new way of work and life. Mark Lashier, CEO of CPChem, says that all of the events of 2020 reinforced some of the basic principles he has always believed in.

Ever since Mark first became CEO in 2017 he has focused on trust, transparency, and simplicity. And while those values are important at any point in time, they were even more crucial throughout 2020.

In order to carry on with business Mark knew that his employees and his customers had to trust him and each other, he knew he had to be open and transparent with everyone to keep them up to date, and he had to remove red tape and bureaucracy so people could do their jobs.

Bringing trust, transparency, and simplicity to life 

Any company can have great values or mission statements in place, but if they aren’t brought to life inside of the company the words don’t matter. Mark shares how trust, transparency, and simplicity live and breath inside of CPChem.

He says that first of all it is important that all leaders inside of CPChem demonstrate these behaviors. So these become guidelines for hiring and promoting people to leadership positions.

The other crucial component of bringing these values to life is giving employees permission to hold the leaders accountable for these behaviors.

Mark says, “When you've got employees that maybe in the past were afraid to speak up for whatever reason, now they're not afraid to hold top leadership accountable for the things that we're saying. And I think that's an incredibly beautiful thing. And that is just self reinforcing. It makes us so much more effective in getting out messaging, we're trying to continue to move our culture to a better and better place.”

The most important lesson Mark has learned from others

Over the years Mark has received a lot of advice from leaders around him. Some of the key advice he has been given has been around leading with integrity and doing what you say you’re going to do. Also it has been around humility and leading in a way that puts the interests of others above your own.

Mark shares that the most important lesson he has learned from others is “The more you advance in your career, the less it's about what you do. And it's more about what other people do, what you can help them do and the barriers you can remove to help them be successful and engaged.”

The shift we are seeing in the CEO role

In the past the way we viewed CEOs was almost as a celebrity--someone who is unapproachable, who sits up in an ivory tower and makes decisions. They usually spent most of their time traveling or in their office, so most employees didn’t see their CEO face to face even after working for the company for years.

Now we are seeing a move away from this type of CEO and we are seeing CEOs spending a lot more time in front of employees, they are more approachable, some have open door policies, they are open and transparent about their lives and struggles. So why is this change happening?

Mark believes it is largely due to technology and communication. He says there is so much more opportunity these days for CEOs to be visible than in the past. It is now possible for CEOs to create short videos to share with employees or to write monthly newsletters or to do virtual town hall meetings. That wasn’t possible in the past.

As Mark shares, “there just was a lot more bureaucracy around in leadership in those days. And so it could behave more like a cult of personality, than anything else. And it just created an atmosphere where I think CEOs were more revered than respected. And they just didn't have the ability to reach out through all of that all those layers of protection to connect with people. And I don't think I would have thrived as a CEO, or perhaps even had the opportunity to be a CEO in that environment. But I certainly enjoy this environment much more.”

The importance of leaders thinking beyond dollars and cents

There used to be a mentality that the main purpose of a business and all of the leaders in it was to make as much money as possible. But now there is a realization that it’s not just about making a profit, it’s about positively impacting employees, customers, and communities.

Mark says, “We like to think about ourselves as being sustainably profitable and sustainably growing. And there's a lot of dimensions to that you can't be sustainably profitable, or sustainably grow if you're in a community and you're abusing that community, either environmentally or through bad employment practices. Or if you're not taking care of employees providing a great work environment or career opportunities, they're going to go elsewhere, which will impair your ability to be sustainably profitable over time.”

Yes, as an organization you have to be profitable, that is important. But if you want to be sustainably profitable, as Mark talks about, you have to make sure that you are not only taking care of your employees and customers, but also the community around you, the environment, and the world as a whole. Organizations have a huge responsibility and they can change the world, if they want to.

“If we're not providing solutions for humanity, we're not going to be sustainably profitable, or grow sustainably over a long period of time.”

This episode is brought to you by my friends at ServiceNow, a software company that makes the world of work, work better for people by delivering digital workflows that create great employee experiences, and unlock productivity. If you or your company is looking to transform old, manual ways of working into digital workflows, then you need ServiceNow. They are trusted by over 6,200 enterprises customers, Check them out here.

Direct download: Audio_-_Mark_Lashier_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:09am PDT

I love the way my wife Blake Morgan talks about customer experience.

She says that we need to figure out how we can make our customers’ lives easier, even if that means our lives get a little bit harder.

But what happens in most organizations is the exact opposite.

We are willing to make the lives of our customers harder so that we can make our lives a little bit easier.

We need to flip that around.

The fact is that customers are willing to pay more for a great experience.

Psychologist Thomas Gilovich looked at how our satisfaction changes depending on if we invest in physical goods or in an experience.

What he found is that over time, if we buy a physical good, our satisfaction levels go down, but if we invest in an experience, over time our satisfaction levels go up.

Clearly, this idea of creating experiences and serving customers has a significant impact, not just for our customers, but for the bottom line for our organizations.

This episode is brought to you by my friends at ServiceNow, a software company that makes the world of work, work better for people by delivering digital workflows that create great employee experiences, and unlock productivity. If you or your company is looking to transform old, manual ways of working into digital workflows, then you need ServiceNow. They are trusted by over 6,200 enterprises customers, Check them out here.

Direct download: 2._Implementing_a_Customer_First_Mentality.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:28am PDT

If there is one thing that’s true about being an entrepreneur, it’s that you have to get used to rejection and failure. These things are a part of the game when you have your own business.

Entrepreneurship is all about innovation and curiosity and you can’t have those things without failure. The important thing is knowing how to deal with this reality and not letting it stop you from moving forward.

We have both encountered failure over the course of our careers. The reason we have successful businesses now is because we learned to deal with that failure and we’ve used it to propel us forward instead of letting it hold us back.

Here are some of the lessons we have learned over the years on how to deal with failure and rejection as entrepreneurs.

Let yourself process the failure

When you experience failure in your business, whether it’s a small error or a huge mistake, it is important to deal with the feelings and emotions that come with it. Don’t go into denial or try to cover your feelings with food, drinks, or anything else. You may feel a range of emotions from anger to depression or even embarrassment. That is completely normal, but you have to let those out.

Talk to a friend or a loved one. Write out your feelings in a journal. Seek professional help if you need to. Don’t let these emotions eat away at your or cause you to lash out at people around you. Take the time and space you need to process the failure and how it made you feel. Failure will get easier the more you experience it. Just know that you will overcome it and you can use it to help you succeed in the future.

Focus on what you learn, not so much on the failure itself

It is easy to get obsessed with failure. Most likely your mind will start to analyze everything about the failure--why it happened, what you could have done differently, how stupid the mistake was. But you need to focus on the lessons you can take from what happened. What can you take from that experience to help in the future? Use this as a learning experience and a way to propel you forward. Don’t let it hold you back.

Have somebody to talk to

When the two of us fail, we talk to each other and it really helps. It is so important to have someone you can talk to when you fail. This can be a friend, a spouse, a family member--any one you trust. Talking about things out loud with an objective third party may even shed some light on the situation that will make you realize it wasn’t as big of a mistake as you thought. They will probably have a different perspective on the situation that can help you learn from what happened.

Sweat it out

It can definitely help to get out and exercise. You can go for a walk or a run. You can go to the gym. You can do yoga. Do whatever you can to get moving and refocus your mind. It can also help with chemical imbalances that may also play a role in negative thoughts. This goes along with eating healthy and taking care of your body. If you aren’t taking good care of your body and you don’t feel good physically or mentally, rejection and failure will be a lot harder to work through.

Put failure in context

Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than we need to be. So you failed, is it something you are new at? Is it something that is out of your comfort zone? Is it something that is extremely challenging that you are still trying to master? Realize that you are doing your best and that failure is natural. Don’t be too hard on yourself or make a failure out to be worse than it actually is. 

Be resilient, but take a break if you need to

You can’t let failure keep you down. It is important as an entrepreneur to learn to live with failure and not get to you too much. Get back up on your feet and do better, work harder, and take what you’ve learned moving forward.

With that being said, you can also take a break if you need to before getting back up. It doesn’t have to be an instant jump up. As mentioned previously, find ways to process the failure and your feelings, but once you’ve done that it’s time to move on. If you need to take a day, two days or a week off, do it. Find ways to laugh, be with family and friends, enjoy nature, etc.. But don’t let yourself stay down too long.

Fail fast and fail smart

Failure is going to happen, but you have to fail smart. For example, if you have three kids and a house with a mortgage, it’s probably not the best time to put every penny of your kids’ college fund into one idea. If you have an idea you want to explore, give yourself a budget and a timeframe to test it out and if it fails, let it go.

Use failure as fuel

As an entrepreneur it is crucial that you take your failures and use them as motivation to do better and be more prepared. Don’t think of it as something that ends your path as an entrepreneur, think of it as a launching pad to your next opportunity.

Be aware of self-talk

After a failure it is easy to default to negative self-talk such as, I’m never going to be able to do this, I’m so stupid, or I’ll never succeed. But everytime you recognize negative thoughts, you need to shift your mind to positive self-talk. You have to be your own cheerleader. Focus on what you’ve done well and the good things you have in your life.

Stay optimistic

No matter what you fail at or how bad you think things are, it is important as an entrepreneur to stay optimistic and to have hope. Talk out loud about the future  you want for yourself. Be proud of your failure and what it has taught you. Don’t let it be a roadblock. Stay positive. It is okay to feel negative at times, but don’t let that become your default mindset. Don’t let your life become mostly about the negative. If you feel sad or down after failure, that’s fine to feel that for a time. But be careful, negativity can spiral out of control if you stay there too long.

Remember and accept that failure is going to be a part of entrepreneurship. There is no running or hiding from it. There is nothing wrong with failure, think of it as something that is pointing you in the direction that you’re supposed to be in. Acknowledge it, talk about it, take a break if you need to, and then jump up and get back to work.

This episode is brought to you by my friends at ServiceNow, a software company that makes the world of work, work better for people by delivering digital workflows that create great employee experiences, and unlock productivity. If you or your company is looking to transform old, manual ways of working into digital workflows, then you need ServiceNow. They are trusted by over 6,200 enterprises customers, Check them out here.

Direct download: Audio_-_How_To_Use_Failure_To_Propel_You_Forward_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:26am PDT

Today, leaders need to be servants.

We used to have this traditional idea of the pyramid where the leader sits at the very top and tells everybody else what to do.

But we're starting to see this kind of inversion of the pyramid where the leader is at the bottom propping everybody else up.

This is called servant leadership.

When you show up to work every day, your job is to help make other people more successful than you.

Here are some tips on how you can practice servant leadership:

  • Remove stressors from the lives of your employees.
  • Show appreciation and recognition to your employees.
  • Understand your employees as individuals, not just as workers.
  • Understand the moments that matter in the lives of your employees.
  • Remove obstacles from the paths of your employees.

Thanks to my friends at ServiceNow for sponsoring this episode. Make sure to check them out at http://bit.ly/servicenow21

Direct download: 1._How_to_Practice_Servant_Leadership.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:20am PDT

I’ve had the privilege of speaking with around 500 leaders over the years on The Future of Work Podcast and I have really learned a lot from each one. On the show, they share tips, advice, lessons they’ve learned, as well as an inside look at what it’s like to lead their organization. 

This past year really brought a lot of challenges for every single leader around the world. We had to learn how to adjust to a pandemic, how to address social injustices, how to lead virtually and much more. My guests really shared a lot of inspiration, motivation, as well as realistic advice for listeners. 

Even though all of the interviews were great and informative, I have a few favorites that I really enjoyed. And from those episodes I have compiled 15 leadership lessons that are crucial for leaders to learn in order to succeed in the future. 

Leading by example: Arthur Blank, co-founder The Home Depot

Arthur Blank is the co-founder of the Home Depot, which today has a market cap of over $300 billion and they have over 400,000 employees. 

Arthur is a leader that lives out the value of leading by example. He understands the importance of showing employees that what they do day to day is not beneath you as the leader. When you lead by example and let people know that you are not just sitting up in your office looking down on the employees who allow the business to succeed it makes people actually want to show up and work hard. 

Creating your own luck: Shellye Archambeau, former CEO of MetricStream

Shellye Archambeaur is the former CEO of MetricStream, a Silicon Valley based governance risk and compliance software company and the author of a new book called Unapologetically Ambitious. She's also on the board of Verizon and Nordstrom. 

In this world you have to create your own luck, especially when it comes to your career. Shellye explains that creating luck means positioning yourself so that when an opportunity shows up you actually have the ability to take advantage of it. 

What culture is and what it isn’t: Marc Randolph, co-founder and first CEO of Netflix

Marc Randolph is the co-founder and founding CEO of Netflix, he also served on the board of Netflix up until 2003. 

As Marc shares, culture is not just what you say, it’s not something that you put up on posters around the office, or some catch phrases that you come up with in a meeting. He says, “Culture is how you act. It's how you are, it's the things you do. And even more importantly, culture springs from how the founders and the early employees act with each other, with their employees, with their customers. And so, huge amounts of the Netflix culture arised organically, from the way that Reed (Hastings) and I behaved, the way that I treat people, the way I worked with people before.”

It doesn’t have to be crazy at work: Jason Fried, co-founder and CEO of Basecamp

Jason Fried is the co-founder and CEO of Basecamp, and best selling author of Rework, It Doesn't Have To Be Crazy at Work. 

With the blurring of work in life, it can be quite challenging to make sure that work just doesn't take everything over. Jason is a big believer in capping a workweek at 40 hours, he says, “We don’t want people working more than 40 hours. You don’t need to. And if we’re doing that, then we’re doing something wrong, actually. I know a lot of companies, long hours is seen as doing something right, like, “Let’s stay late, and let’s work on the weekends and let’s pull all-nighters.” I think that’s completely wrong. And so, we’re very careful about not encouraging our employees to work that way.”

What to do if you feel stuck at work: David Cote, former Chairman and CEO of Honeywell

David Cote is the former chairman and CEO of Honeywell, and author of the best selling book, Winning Now Winning Later: How Companies Can Succeed In The Short Term While Investing For The Long Term. During his time at Honeywell, David fixed a toxic work culture and grew the company's market capitalization from around $20 billion to $120 billion, delivering returns of 800%. 

If you have a boss who doesn’t feel that you are performing as well as you think you are, this is where you have to be self aware and figure out is there something you can fix or do you just have a bad boss, which David says happens less often than people think. So learn to be self aware and realize when there is something you need to fix. We all have issues, and it’s important to know what they are. 

How to lead with empathy and courage: Kate Johnson, President of Microsoft US

Kate Johnson is the president of Microsoft US, a $45 billion division. She is currently very involved in Microsoft's culture journey led by CEO Satya Nadella. 

Kate is a huge believer and practitioner of leading with courage and empathy. But what does that mean and how does it come to life? Here is what Kate had to say. 

She says, “One of the things that we've been learning is the connection between courage and vulnerability. So everybody thinks if you're courageous, that you have no weakness. You are strong, they picture warriors, you know, with lots of armor and heading off. That's not what courageous leadership is. Courageous leadership is the willingness to activate the troops and own the outcome, but also to do so bringing all of your strengths and weaknesses to the table with total transparency and clarity, and kind of owning work with that and figuring out how to assemble the team to bolster wherever there are weaknesses. And that's a different kind of leadership that I think is essential today.”

How Covid-19 has changed leadership forever: Tiger Tyagarajan, CEO of Genpact

Tiger Tyagarajan is the CEO of Genpact, a global professional services firm with 100,000 employees that drives digital led innovation in digitally-enabled intelligent operations for organizations around the world. Prior to Genpact. Tiger worked for several well-known companies such as Unilever, Citibank, and GE. 

One thing that a lot of people are speculating about is that the office will be a thing of the past and that everyone will be working from home. Tiger doesn’t agree. While he does agree that some things will never go back to what it was before, he believes that offices will come back, at least in some form. 

How leaders can serve their employees: Carrie Birkhofer, President & CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union

Carrie Birkhofer is president and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union, a non profit financial cooperative with 225 employees. She's been the CEO there for 25 years and under her leadership, the Credit Union has grown from $70 million to $1.4 billion in assets. 

What does it look like to serve your employees? Carrie makes sure she meets new employees on their first day at work. 

In good times, pre-COVID that meant four or five current employees and Carrie getting together in person with the new employees. The current employees would share who they are, what their path has been at Bay Federal, and something interesting that they want to share. Then they would have the new employees do the same thing, except they would share their paths getting to Bay Federal. 

Creating a mission that resonates with employees: Steve Bilt, CEO of Smile Brands

Steve Bilt is the CEO of Smile Brands, a company with 5000 employees that provides business support services to Over 425 dental offices. Smile Brands has been on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list three times and Steve is one of the top CEOs on Glassdoor. 

Anyone can come up with a mission statement or a company purpose that sounds good. But it can’t be something that just lives on a wall or in the company handbook. It has to be something that is infused into every aspect of the business. 

Steve believes it needs to be something short and catchy that people can remember. It needs to be something that you can evaluate and check in on to see how well the company is living up to it. It has to be something that is living and breathing inside your company.

People are the solution, not the problem: Hubert Joly, former Chairman and CEO of Best Buy

Hubert Joly is the former Chairman and CEO of Best Buy. Currently, He is a professor at Harvard Business School, and he's on the board of two companies, Johnson and Johnson and Ralph Lauren. 

 

A lot of leaders first starting at a struggling organization probably would have thought about cutting back on the headcount first to save money. But Hubert not only didn’t take that route, he actually put more money into training, incentives, wellness, etc…

Hubert truly believes that leaders should treat humans as a solution to the problem, not as a source of the problem. And we should use headcount reduction only as a last resort.

Why leaders need a short attention span: Jim Heppelmann, CEO of PTC

Jim Heppelmann is the CEO of PTC, a technology software company with 6500 employees in 30 countries. 

There's always been this traditional mentality that leaders need to have a long term plan and stick to it. But Jim's lesson is that leaders actually need to have short attention spans if they want to thrive in today's rapidly changing world. 

Jim is always looking for the next round of changes that make PTC better, or that protect them from a new threat headed their way. This is a quality that he believes all CEOs should have. Always looking to the next thing, don’t just ride current success. 

The best leadership lessons can come from those around you: Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-Flowers

Chris McCann is the CEO of 1-800-Flowers, a floral and gourmet food gift retailer and distribution company with over 3000 employees. 

Chris didn't learn leadership skills by attending a top tier University, he learned how to lead by those he surrounded himself with. Sometimes the best leadership lessons can come from those around you. 

Why everyone should think like an entrepreneur: Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square

Jim McKelvey is the co-founder of Square and the author of a new book called Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. 

Lots of people are going through a time of reinvention. And having the mindset of an entrepreneur can be an invaluable asset. 

Jim says true entrepreneurs solve problems that haven’t been solved before, they don’t just start a business, they do something that has never been done before. And that is what he and Jack Dorsey did, they solved a problem in a way that no one else had ever thought of before. They even were able to beat out Amazon when the company tried to copy the setup Square had.

Putting people ahead of profits: Pehr Gyllenhammar, former CEO of Volvo

Pehr Gyllenhammar is the former CEO of Volvo, and has been voted Sweden's most admired man nine times. Pehr had to lead his company through lots of tough times, like recessions, and an oil crisis. While all the other companies were sacrificing their people to save their profits Pehr didn't let go of a single employee. 

In fact, he told me he would rather let go of a white-collar worker in a management role than a blue-collar worker working on the manufacturing floor. Pehr’s lesson is really all about appreciating all of the people who work with him for you. And remembering that it's oftentimes the people on the front lines who make your business successful. 

Creating and scaling amazing culture for a remote workforce: Robert Glazer, CEO of Acceleration Partners

Robert Glazer is the best selling author of Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others. He's also the CEO of Acceleration Partners, a 13-year-old company that manages affiliate and partner marketing programs for a lot of well-known brands like Adidas, LinkedIn, Target, and others. He leads a team of hundreds of employees but they are all remote.

The lesson from Robert is how he manages to create and scale an amazing culture for a workforce that actually doesn't work together in person.

Robert shares that the key to having a successful remote team is by starting with the core values of the organization. Once you know your core values you can intentionally attract and hire the right people. Contrary to what happens in most organizations, Robert and his team understand that not every person will feel like the company is right for them.  

This episode is brought to you by my friends at ServiceNow, a software company that makes the world of work, work better for people by delivering digital workflows that create great employee experiences, and unlock productivity. If you or your company is looking to transform old, manual ways of working into digital workflows, then you need ServiceNow. They are trusted by over 6,200 enterprises customers, Check them out here.

Direct download: Audio_-_15_Leadership_Lessons_From_2020_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:52pm PDT

Culture is usually the hardest thing for organizations to figure out.

It’s something you can’t see or touch.

Culture is how employees feel working for the organization.

I’ll never forget the story of when President Kennedy visited NASA Space Center.

In the middle of his tour, he saw a man walking down the hall with a mop and a bucket.

President Kennedy stopped the tour and went over to the man and said, “Hi, I'm President Kennedy. What do you do here?” And the man said: “I helped put a man on the moon.”

This is the type of culture they had in NASA, and it’s something every company should have.

The type of culture you have in your organization greatly impacts the employee experience.

Direct download: 7._he_Impact_Corporate_Culture_has_on_Employee_Experience_AME.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:29pm PDT

Kathy Mazzarella is the Chairman, President, and CEO at Graybar, a wholesale distribution company that’s been around for 151 years. The company has around 8,700 employees and $7.5 billion in revenue. She has been with the company for 41 years and has been president for 9 of those years.

Kathy Mazzarella has a great story of how she first started at the company she now leads as Chairman, President, and CEO. When she was 19 years old she decided she didn’t want to go into medicine anymore so she dropped out of college, where she had a full scholarship, and moved back home with her parents.

It only took about three days before both she and her parents came to the mutual conclusion that Kathy needed to get a job and move out.

So she set up an interview with a company called Genentech where she was applying to do some research work. But on the day of the interview she got lost and had to ask for directions.

She just happened to walk into Graybar to ask someone at the front desk for directions and the woman asked Kathy if she was looking for a job. Kathy said she was and the woman let her know they were hiring and asked if Kathy wanted to take the test. Kathy agreed to do the test, she was hired, and that was the start of her 41 year career at Graybar.

Over the past few decades she has worked her way up from an entry level employee to leading the company. And she believes that day she got lost was a blessing because it led her to an amazing career.

Why you should take the jobs that make you the most uncomfortable

Even though Kathy has worked at the same company for 41 years, she has worked in around 15 different positions within the company. It was actually her time in HR that really shaped her current leadership approach, because she was truly able to see the people side of the business.

Prior to working in HR Kathy was a very number focused type of person. It really changed her perspective and made her focus more on the people she worked with. Kathy believes the best leaders have the broadest experience. Because experiencing different roles inside of a company or in a few different companies helps leaders gain an appreciation of how interconnected the business actually is. It helps them see the different roles, elements, and responsibilities that make up the business.

A lot of roles can look easy from the outside looking in. But when you truly experience the role for yourself, most likely it isn’t as easy as it seems.

Kathy also advises leaders to take jobs that make them uncomfortable. She says, “When you're the expert, you tend to get into autopilot mode. You're very comfortable in your lane, you stay in your lane, and it's really fun to be the expert that everybody comes to you to ask your opinion on a particular topic. It's very uncomfortable to go into a position where you have no grounding. But you also really challenge yourself. I've told people in the past, take the job that you're least qualified for. Because you're going to learn the most, you're going to work harder than you've ever worked, you're going to challenge yourself, and you're going to have to lean and depend on your team more if you don't know the topic.”

You definitely open yourself up to a lot more opportunities when you have a wide variety of experience and skills.

What it’s like being a female CEO

When asked what it is like being a female CEO Kathy says she doesn’t think of herself as a female CEO. She just always knew she had to do a good job and work hard.

As Kathy shares, “when I said I was going to do something, I would make sure I did it. And I never really thought about the fact that being a woman, I couldn't be president. Some of that could have been because I was raised that way to my father was a very big influence on my life. And he taught me that the only limitations I had in life were those that were self imposed and that I should never let anybody in my life put me in a box.”

When she first started as CEO there were 18 women who were leading Fortune 500 companies and now there are 37, so progress is slowly being made even though there is still a long way to go. But as Kathy mentions women didn’t really become influential in the workplace until the 80s and 90s, so the start of the progress didn’t start until fairly recently. So Kathy believes that as time goes on we will see more and more women leaders.

The truth about balancing everything as a CEO

Early in her career Kathy was traveling a lot, she was working long hours to prove herself at work, she was going to school at night, plus she was raising young children with her husband who was also in school getting his PhD. She remembers it being very difficult and stressful, but they made it work.

A lesson that she learned during this time was that not everything is going to be balanced all the time, and that’s okay. She says, “Keeping the balls in the air, some of the balls fell, you know, I mean, you can't be perfect. That was a lesson that I learned in my mid 30s. I remember coming in from traveling in the house was a mess. And because my husband was doing the best he could, I had two little kids running all over the place. And I remember falling just to the floor in the hallway and I said I can't do this anymore. I can't be perfect. I can't have the perfect house. I can't have straight A's. I can't be number one at work. I can't have my kids being perfect, I just can't.”

And she says finally giving herself permission to not have to be perfect was a life changing moment. She realized that trying to be perfect was actually selfish, because being perfect is not about helping other people, it's about caring too much about what people may think about you. It is a never ending quest to be an artificial character.

Giving yourself permission to be human releases a lot of stress and pressure that comes along with perfection. In life you are not always going to have things balanced, it is about making choices. At different points in your life you will need to focus more on work and in others you will need to focus more on family and your personal life. And that’s okay.

What keeps Kathy motivated

Kathy has a very rigorous schedule with a lot going on, especially now that she is leading a company through a pandemic. She also wakes up at 4am everyday so she can go through her morning routine before starting work around 7am. In normal times she travels a lot, although this year has been different.

But with her busy schedule and the pressure of work what keeps her motivated? She says being the CEO of one of the largest and oldest companies in the United States comes with a lot of responsibility. A lot of people are depending on her to run the company in the best way possible.

How she leads impacts how her employees feel and how they interact with their customers and their communities. They count on her to make the big decisions so that they can do their best. Kathy feels she has to work harder than they do.

She says, “I need to work harder than them. Because they depend on me to take care of the big stuff. So they don't have to worry about it. And I can't let these people down. I just can't let these people down. The people that work for Graybar, and our customers are amazing human beings. That became even more evident during this pandemic. And the way they gave back to the communities the way they took care of each other. And even the way they took care of me. That's the reason I get up. And anytime I feel sorry for myself or get tired or get exhausted, or get frustrated or burned out, I think about that person that's counting on me. And the fact that these people care so much, that they even care about me, I can't let them down.”

The moment that had the biggest impact on Kathy’s leadership approach

When asked what moment most shaped her as a person and her leadership approach, Kathy shared a story of a time when she was passed up for a big promotion. At the time she was a vice president and there was a senior position open that she applied for.

She worked really hard, she and her family had sacrificed a lot in order to work hard. She worked on the weekends, she worked overtime, she traveled a lot. So when she didn’t get the job she was devastated.

She thought about giving up on growing her career or about possibly moving companies. But she called her dad and he gave her great advice. He told her, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Everybody's going to watch how you recover. This will determine your future and leadership. So make that call now and step up.”

He told her to call the person who got the role to congratulate him and to offer her support. He reminded her that not everyone gets the job they want, it’s all about how you recover. Her dad went on to say that one of the biggest regrets he had in his career was moving companies when he didn’t get a promotion he wanted. And he advised Kathy to not make the same mistake.

So Kathy took her dad’s advice. She called the guy who got the job, congratulated him and told him she wanted to do anything she could to make him successful in his new role. And it ended up having a big impact on her career.

When the time came for Graybar to get a new CEO one of the people voting on who to put in place recalled the time when Kathy lost the job and how she handled herself. He said it really showed that she put the company first and that really changed his perspective of her. Now the man who got that original promotion reports to Kathy. And he is one of her strongest partners.

Leadership lessons Kathy has learned

Kathy has learned a lot during her 41 year career at Graybar. One thing she shares is never settle for the status quo. Whatever it is you want to do in life, do it in the best way you can, aim high and don’t just settle. She says we all have special gifts to offer our communities, our families, and our organizations and in order to reach our full potential we have to work hard and keep reaching.

It is also important to be true to who you are and to stand up for what you believe in. She says, “I tell our young leaders all the time, if it doesn't feel right, and you walk from a business transaction, you will never lose your job. I have your back. But if it doesn't feel right, and you take that contract, or whatever it may be, and it's bad, you will lose your job. Because you got to stand up for it. There's a level of integrity and you know what's right, and you know what's wrong, never, never sacrifice it. Once you lose your integrity, you lose everything, you lose everything. And no career and no business environment, or whatever it is you're trying to do is worth losing your soul. It's not.”

Another lesson she thinks is important is to use your setbacks to build strength and resilience. Don’t give up and run away from hard things. And make sure as leaders you leave things better than when you took over. You should always aim to leave in a way that allows the next generation to come in and continue building where you left off.

Direct download: Audio_-_Kathy_Mazarella_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 11:14am PDT

The world of work has changed a lot. 

We live in a world of uncertainty where employee tenure is no longer a thing.

The best way to navigate this world is to be a super perpetual learner. 

That means constantly learning new things at a rapid pace and applying those things on a regular basis. 

You need to keep up with the pace of change or you will be left behind.

Direct download: The_Best_Way_to_Navigate_an_Uncertain_World.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:22am PDT

Aaron Cooper is the Interim CEO at Groupon, an online marketplace with around 4,000 employees globally. Prior to that he had worked in several other roles at Groupon including president of North America, Chief Marketing Officer, head of Global Travel, Head of North America Services and Head of North America Goods.

Before Groupon Aaron held a lot of marketing and leadership positions at Orbitz and optionsXpress and he held consulting roles at AOL and PwC.

Aaron Cooper, who recently moved into the role of interim CEO at Groupon, says his recipe for success has been working across many different industries and in very diverse roles. These experiences have given him the skills and mindsets he needs to be the best leader he can be.

He says it has been incredibly important for his career that he’s been able to work in finance, marketing, brand marketing, and general management across industries such as travel, retail, finance, and internet. He has worked with companies who were very successful and growing and he’s worked for companies that were in distress.

All of these experiences have shaped his leadership approach and have led him to his current role.

In fact, Aaron says most of the biggest career moves he made were jobs he didn’t even know were available. He got into a role and did exceptionally well and then management would grab him and tell him he’s moving to a new role. He said he learned quickly to just say yes to these opportunities and it has proved to be an effective way for him to climb up the ladder.

What to do when you work for a bad boss 

Aaron says he’s worked for a few tough bosses that have bordered on being too tough. There are always going to be people we work for who aren’t the best leaders. But Aaron says he always uses these opportunities to learn something and grow.

He says, “At those times I was focused on what I can learn out of this situation. It's a mind shift, you have to decide that you want to be in that situation and you're up for learning from this person. I also find that when you adopt that mindset, the tougher boss changes their attitude towards you. Which is something that I realized as well, hey, I'm a student, so please teach, has been a productive relationship for me to get the most out of those. And because of that there are tools that I have in my toolkit now.”

The best bosses on the other hand make employees want to show up every single day for them. Aaron says he had a great boss who with very little effort could get the very best out of Aaron. He knew the boss had his back and believed in him, so Aaron wanted to do his best and live up to the reputation the boss believed in.

Aaron gives an example of this great boss. Aaron had moved into a role leading online marketing and his team did a deal, but it ended up being a bad deal that cost a lot of money. Instead of just firing him or demoting him, the boss called Aaron out and said it was his to solve. He was counting on Aaron to fix it.

But the way he called Aaron out was in such a positive way that Aaron was able to come back from the failure. He motivated his team and they all went after it and fixed the problem. He actually looks back at this experience in a favorable way, which is all because of how the boss handled the situation.

Aaron says being a good leader comes down to how you leave people feeling. When you leave the room is everyone wanting to crush it, and do a great job for you? Or does everyone want to leave the company?

How Aaron carves out downtime and why every CEO should do the same

Aaron is very busy with his role as CEO, leading his company through the pandemic, as well as his personal life with his wife and kids. He has found that it is so important to carve out time every day for downtime, time to think through issues, focus on one specific problem, or just think of the next big move for the company.

He actually says his ideal amount of downtime each day is three hours. Which seems like a lot in a normal workday, but he says it’s important to have a good chunk of time so you can actually dive deep into the problems and issues you’re trying to solve.

Aaron says, “if you actually get a chance to think there's such important things that you can always solve for your team. And sometimes during that time, I may call somebody and think a problem through with them. Absolutely. But it's time for me to just make sure to take a step back and make sure that in the relative challenges of COVID and people working from home, and everything that comes with that for running a company where local businesses around the world have been shut down and their business has been impaired. And we're looking for our strategies that we're working on right now to be successful to help our broad community of Groupon. There's so much in there for me, just to make sure that as things change day to day everyone's coming along the same way.”

And even though downtime sounds like someone is just sitting around and pondering things, that is far from the truth. Aaron is very structured with his downtime. He always has a list of priorities he has to think through and he is very active and engaged during the entire time. During this time he only focuses on the top priorities, you can’t let priority 6 or 7 sneak into your thought process at this time. It has to be about critical issues only.

How to give employees the autonomy to make decisions on their own

In the past companies have tended to be bogged down with bureaucracy and hierarchy that made the decision process long and tedious. Just to get permission to buy a new piece of equipment or streamline a process it may take weeks or months to run it up the ladder and back down.

Now, with our current pace of change companies can no longer afford to make decisions this way. Employees have to be able to have the autonomy to make decisions for themselves. So how does Groupon make this possible for employees?

Aaron says it comes down a couple things they have done internally. The first big thing is transparency. Every employee, whether they have been at the company for 10 years or 4 months, knows what the company priorities are and they know what the current strategy is.

In fact when they launched a new strategy during Covid-19 they not only announced it company wide, but they went team by team, person by person to make sure they fully understood what the new strategy meant.

But Aaron knows that people can’t just understand the strategy, they have to believe in it. But you can’t force people to believe in something, it has to be a back and forth conversation until everyone is on board. This process takes consistency, discipline, and commitment.

So you have to have transparency and alignment in order to successfully hand over control to your employees. As Aaron says, “Within that empowerment giving someone the task, the resources and trusting them and their judgment becomes so much easier, because trying to goal something so specifically for the uncertainties going on right now is that much harder. So I'm really proud of our team across the board for the way that everyone has come along on this.”

How Aaron works on being a better leader

One thing Aaron has found very helpful in his journey as a leader is reflection. He takes time to reflect on the week to think back to when he wasn’t the leader he wanted to be so he can address those issues.

He also recently attended a class on authentic leadership which really impacted him and the way he approaches leadership. You have to figure out what kind of leader you are and you have to authentically lead in that way. Don’t try to be someone you are not. You can’t just read about another leader and try to copy and paste that into your way of leading.

When asked what kind of leader he is, Aaron said “An energetic leader, I'm a structured thinking leader. I like to make sure that we have the strategy and goals set out clearly. And people have embraced those. Because for me it's grounded in getting the absolute best out of the team. And having them show up in ways where the energy that they're both getting and giving to Groupon makes them feel better about themselves outside of Groupon, especially in a pandemic.”

And so he shows up everyday with that purpose and mission in mind and he leads as authentically as he can.

How Aaron keeps up with the constant pace of change

One thing a lot of leaders struggle with today is trying to keep up with things when the pace of change is so constant and so fast. This year has really shown how fast things can completely change. So how does Aaron keep up?

He says constant learning is a crucial key. He is always reading and is a part of a few book clubs, he listens to podcasts, he meets with other leaders, etc...He also finds it important to pay attention to his employees and what they are saying. They bring different perspectives and ideas that drive him forward.

What should leaders stop doing to become better leaders

For any leaders who want to better themselves Aaron’s advice is to stop playing it safe. You are going to have tough decisions to make and you are going to have to keep the company moving forward, playing it safe will not help you. You have to be bold. Especially with the things we are facing this year.

He says, “One of the things I learned in my turnaround management days is you've got to make the hard decisions, because time does not help when you're running out of cash. We were in that situation here. But I learned that earlier in my career, and that's something that now in leading through a year like now, it shows up, and it shows up in important ways. So stop playing it safe, is I think, really, really big.”

What should leaders start doing to become better leaders

Aaron says it is crucial for leaders to have a mission, a passion, an obsession and they have to be able to name it so that they know what they are doing when they get out of bed in the morning. This really goes back to the importance of reflection and understanding what kind of leader you are.

As Aaron shares, “Here, we're helping local businesses, we're helping local businesses through a challenging time, we're helping our customers do more. There's more ways that we can help. But we are redesigning Groupon into a recovery so we can help grow local commerce. And for us, that's energizing, it shows up in multiple ways from our strategy, just to the way we were working throughout the team to develop more empathy and more listening on the front end with customers and merchants. But I would say you gotta you got to start with that passion. But again, I think the ingredient for that is you have to do the reflection. So you can really be genuine and honest with yourself about what your passion is all about.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Aaron_Cooper_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:18am PDT

You can start being an intrapreneur now!

When most people think of an entrepreneur, they think of an individual who went off on their own to start a successful business.

But being an entrepreneur can also be applicable inside of your organization--it’s called being an intrapreneur.

One of the things that make entrepreneurs unique is their ability to push through obstacles and challenges that come their way.

Entrepreneurs are also big dreamers.

They understand failures and move on to the next obstacle.

Entrepreneurs also have vision.

They have a very clear picture in their minds of what they want to do and the problem they want to solve.

Entrepreneurs are also extremely self-driven, they have an internal fire that's always pushing them, and they don't need somebody to tell them what to do.

You can have all of these qualities even if you work inside an organization.

Thinking like an entrepreneur will have a significant impact on your career and on your life.

Direct download: 3._How_to_Think_Like_an_Entrepreneur_Inside_an_Organization.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:21am PDT

Shellye Archambeau is the former CEO of MetricStream, a Silicon Valley based governance, risk, and compliance software company, and the author of the new book, Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms. She also serves on the boards of Verizon, Nordstrom, Roper Technologies, and Okta.

Under her leadership MetricStream was recognized for growth and innovation over the years and was named in the top 10 of the Deloitte Technology Fast 50. Shellye was named the second most influential African American in IT by Business Insider. She was ranked one of the “100 Most Influential Business Leaders in America” by Newsmax and she received the NCWIT Symons Innovator Award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).

Shellye Archambeau is no stranger to roadblocks and barriers. All throughout her career she has encountered them.

But one thing she learned early on was that life is not fair, you’re not always going to have an easy time. The good news is, you can do something about it. Shellye realized she had to be intentional about everything that she did and every decision she made in order to improve her odds of being successful and reaching her goals.

She knew that if she just did what everybody else did, she probably wasn’t going to get much out of life.

In her new book, Unapologetically Ambitious, she shares some of the biggest lessons she has learned throughout her career and what she had to do to reach the goal she set in place as a 16 year old.

Why you need to set goals

At the age of 16 Shellye decided she wanted to be a CEO. With that goal in place she worked hard and she always knew which direction to go. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do at a young age, but you do have to be able to set goals for yourself. Even if it means just looking forward to a goal next year or in 6 months.

If you don’t set goals, you don’t know where you are trying to go, you don’t have anything specific you are trying to achieve. If you don’t have a goal in mind then it doesn’t matter what you do next or how you make decisions. You have to know what you are aiming for to know what actions to take.

As Shellye shares, “Setting goals is really all about picking that objective in the future. And honestly, if you can only think two years ahead, then that's better than nothing, right? I don't care how far ahead, however far ahead you can pick, just pick that goal. Ask yourself, what has to be true for you to achieve that goal? And then ask yourself, how do you make that true? Which is basically the plan. What has to be true? And then how do I make it true? That's how I think about everything. And that's how to make the plan.”

When setting goals it is also important to let others around you know what your goal is. Tell your boss, your mentor, your spouse, your coworkers. People can’t help you if they don’t know what you are aiming for.

And while it can be easy to give up goals at the first sign of hardship, don’t give in. Figure out a different path, but don’t change your goals. Make sure you stay focused on them and keep working to get there.

Few people make consistent daily decisions that get them to their goal. That is the key to success. Shellye says that’s where the real power lies. Make every decision and every action count in your journey to your goal.

How to create your own luck

In this world you have to create your own luck, especially when it comes to your career. Shellye explains that creating luck means positioning yourself so that when an opportunity shows up you actually have the ability to take advantage of it.

Planning can improve your odds for good things to happen. After you set your goal, that’s when you get to work. Figure out what skills, experiences, and knowledge you will need in order to reach your goal and go after it.

When you set a plan Shellye says you have to assume it’s going to happen and get ready for it. If that means you have to take a course or read some books or learn a new skill get to it. Don’t let yourself get to the point where the opportunity arrives but you miss out because you aren’t prepared.

Do your homework, always keep learning. Don’t go into a meeting to learn something, learn what you need to before the meeting so you can contribute. You have to be proactive every step of the way.

Shellye also advises people to take the time to let people know what it is you actually do. Don’t just give them your job title, titles are useless. What that job title means inside your company could be completely different inside of another. Explain what it is you do so that when somebody is looking for a person with a specific set of skills they will remember you.

Dealing with imposter syndrome

So many leaders deal with imposter syndrome, that voice in your head that says--what makes you think you can do this? Wait until they find out you don’t have the skills to do the job.

You may never fully get rid of it, but you can deal with it in order to make sure it doesn’t stop you from succeeding. Shellye says the first thing is to realize that almost everyone (if not everyone) deals with this at some point in their life. It’s not just you. Understand that although the voice sounds real, it’s not.

Also realize that you would not be in your current position if the people around you felt like you didn’t belong. So if you can’t believe yourself when you try to quiet the doubts, believe the people around you.

And Shellye says, worst case scenario, just fake it until you make it. Act like you are comfortable and confident, even if you aren’t. Because eventually you will figure it out and realize you belong.

Fostering self determination

Self determination means you believe you are in control of yourself. You have confidence in yourself that you can go get things. But you also need relatedness, a feeling that you belong.

So fostering self determination is really about creating an environment in which you feel you belong and that others care about you. So how can you do this? Shellye suggests joining groups, starting a club, getting people together around a hobby you are passionate about. Create that community for yourself where you belong.

Forget about work life balance

The phrase work-life balance has become very popular over the past few years. It is a very hot topic, but Shellye actually hates the term. She believes it just sets us up for failure and disappointment.

Because in a true work-life balance both sides should be equally balanced at the same time, and life is too tumultuous for that. It is almost impossible to balance both, one side will suffer or the other side will. And trying to pretend we can have it all while staying sane is not healthy.

Shellye likes work-life integration instead. You have to prioritize and deal with what needs to be dealt with no matter what side it is on. Especially these days in the pandemic when we are all wearing so many different hats. Life and work are blurring while we work from home with our kids and families. Don’t worry about being balanced, just get done what needs to get done on all fronts.

Embrace your limits

Most of us have gone through our strengths and weaknesses at some point in our career. We are usually pretty aware of what we are good at and what we struggle with.

But what usually happens is people tend to focus on their weaknesses and they try to work on getting better. If you already know what you are good at, wouldn’t your time be better spent making your strengths even better? If you take an hour to work on a weakness you have you might improve a tiny bit, but if you could work for an hour on something you are already great at, think of how much more you could achieve.

You are known for your strengths, so strengthen your strengths. Focus on those areas and really push yourself. And then lean on others around you to fill in the gaps where you have weaknesses.

Learning to swerve

So many people are having to swerve in their careers now with Covid-19. With all of the shutdowns and restrictions businesses and individuals have had to figure out how to continue to grow and thrive.

Being able to swerve in your career means you can move around the roadblocks you can’t move. All of us are going to face roadblocks from time to time. Some that you can easily get around and some that seem impossible. You have to learn to go over, under, around, whatever you have to do to get past them.

Roadblocks can be a boss who doesn’t see your potential, or a coworker who tries to push you down, or an organization with no new opportunities. Whatever it is figure out what you can do to swerve.

As Shellye says, “The only difference between a roadblock and a stepping stone, is how high you lift your leg. So don't let anything stop you.”

Never say die

One of the values that was added to the MetricStream culture back in 2008 was never say die, which meant never give up. It’s all about resilience. They had to figure out how to fight to keep the company going when the economy crashed and they did. Shellye says it is so important that you don’t stop just because life gets hard, keep going, keep pushing.

The most important thing they did in the middle of this storm was to focus. As Shellye explains in hard times everyone in the company has to be pulling in the same direction. Communication is critical so that everyone is on the same page and knows what is important. And the whole company focuses on what really matters and all the extra stuff falls away.

During these times leaders also have to have a vision and they have to share that with the company, because when you are going through dark times it’s easy for people to want to jump ship. Leaders have to have a vision and they have to inspire everyone to keep moving forward. Life is hard for everyone, the key is to not let those circumstances affect your drive and motivation. Keep pushing forward and never give up.

How Shellye takes risks

In order to grow and move up in your career you are going to have to take risks. As Shellye says, you can’t get opportunity without taking risks. But risks can be daunting. What if you fail or fall on your face?

Shellye has been taking risks her whole life and what she does is she asks herself a few questions before making a move.

  • What is the likely outcome?
  • If I do this, what is the upside? 
  • What’s the worst that could happen and can I live with it?

Most of the time people walk away from risks without even considering them because they are afraid. But if you take the time to understand what it is you are afraid of, you may find it’s not that scary after all.

There are some risks where an outcome could be a long term negative impact on your health or it could mean your family ends up on the street. But usually if you think about the worst that could happen it’s not that dramatic. There are a lot of outcomes that you can live with. So when you are faced with a risk really look into it and what could potentially happen. You never know, it could result in the best decision you have ever made.

Direct download: Audio_-_Shellye_Archambeau_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 11:35pm PDT

People are always reluctant to change.

It’s human nature.

But if you want your team to adapt to new technologies, there is something you can do.

To get your team to embrace new technology, you have to educate them.

It's not just about giving them the tools or training them how to use it--it’s about helping them understand why and how these technologies will improve how they work.

Change is hard. There will be a learning curve.

But I promise you, if you get through that learning curve, you’ll absolutely see the benefits.

Direct download: 2._How_to_Get_Your_Team_to_Embrace_New_Technology.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 5:44am PDT

Melissa Smith is the CEO of Wex Inc. a provider of payment processing and information management services in the US, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. They have around 5,000 employees and under Melissa’s leadership the company has gone from $50 million to $1.7 billion in revenue.

Melissa began at Wex Inc. in 1997 as a senior financial analyst and she worked her way up to being CFO and then President of the Americas before becoming CEO. 

A lot of things in the world have been changed by Covid-19. The way organizations operate, the way employees connect with one another, and even the way leaders have to lead.

Melissa Smith, the CEO of Wex Inc., who is responsible for around 5,000 employees around the world says connecting with her people is more important now than ever before. And one important way she does that is through recognizing her people for what they do.

She takes time to send handwritten notes to employees who have been promoted, or who have gone above and beyond in a project, or who have volunteered for events in the community.

She believes that people need to be recognized with little things like handwritten notes and big things like stock grants. She says it is so important for people to know that their work is recognized and valued.

This recognition can actually go both ways. Melissa has been grateful for letters that her employees have been sending her during the pandemic to let her know they appreciate what she does. In fact, she has one employee who sends her a note every single month, and it really means a lot to Melissa.

Overcoming internal and external doubt

A lot of leaders deal with imposter syndrome at some point or another. In fact, a majority of the leaders I speak with on the Future of Work podcast admit that they have faced internal and external doubt throughout their careers. It just comes with the territory. Leaders are going to have times when they feel they are not right for the job or that they don’t have the skills to complete a task.

So how can you overcome those feelings? Melissa says that when it comes to internal doubt it’s all about toning it down. Most likely those thoughts and feelings will never go away completely, but you have to learn to switch that inside voice off.

When it comes to external doubt, it is a balancing act. You have to be able to listen to feedback from others and learn to accept constructive criticism. But you also have to be able to recognize if people are just naysayers who question your abilities without reason. For the naysayers you just have to learn how to move on and prove them wrong. 

Melissa’s experience as a female leader

While Melissa doesn’t really think of herself as a female leader, she does recognize that some people will be surprised when they meet her, especially because of the industry she is in, which tends to be male dominant.

In fact when she recalls a time when she was the CFO at Wex Inc. and she and the head of investor relations were on a call with an investor and a portfolio manager that Melissa had not yet met. When both sides went to hang up, the other side of the call thought they had hung up but hadn’t. So she heard a part of their conversation.

The portfolio manager was saying “The CFO is a chick”. And the investor that Melissa knew responded and said “Yes, but she’s a geek chick”. And then they went on to talk about the answers to questions they had.

What she took away from that experience is that people recognize that she is different and they stop to acknowledge that, but at the end of the day what they really care about is the content of what she has to say. They care about performance and results.

When asked if she has to work harder or be tougher as a female leader, Melissa says, “It is different, yeah. Clearly it's different. I think the important part, though, is those things happen. But if you allow that to be kind of the central part of your thinking, so if I start with the fact that it's unfair, then you're almost putting your own baggage on top of what's already going to be a little bit more difficult.  And so what I think of that is, I would rather not have that in the back of my mind, not have your own mind questioning what you're capable of, on top of what's going to be other people who do perceive that they just can't relate or understand sometimes or how you're capable of doing what you're doing. But that's not for me to own. You know, I think that's for me to a certain extent, to put blinders on and focus on what needs to get done.”

The importance of saying yes to opportunities 

Melissa has given a talk for TEDx and in it she talks about the importance of saying yes to opportunities at work. Career progression, Melissa believes, is in part our own responsibility. It is part your capability, part sponsorship, and part timing.

When you say yes to something outside of your normal responsibilities it allows you to get exposure to people you wouldn’t normally have and it shows a set of skills that are different then what you normally use.

As Melissa shares, “Often what I was given for assignments that would be outside of my job were things that weren't fun, or, you know, something was broken, or something was happening across some other parts of the planet. And I was being asked to step in and be involved. And I really think that doing that was part of a big part of my career progression, because it again, allowed people to see me in a different light than they would have if I was just, you know, the CFO or the controller or some of the things that I've done in my past.”

So if you get the opportunity to do something outside of your job title, or something even a bit outside of your comfort zone, you should definitely consider saying yes.

Dealing with failures and mistakes

Every single leader deals with failures or mistakes at some point in their career. Melissa says she views these as learning opportunities. We are all constantly learning and evolving, so using these situations to grow and get better is important.

Melissa says it is crucial for leaders to create an environment that accepts failures. If people feel like they can’t fail, they are going to be too safe.

One thing she has learned is not to put difficult things off for later.  As she says, “bad news doesn’t age well”. If there is a hard decision you have to make, or a hard announcement you have to give, do it sooner rather than later.

Advice Melissa would give to her younger self

If she could go back in time and give herself some advice Melissa says she would tell herself you have the power to impact the way others think and feel by your actions.

She says, “When you get older, you realize that everything you do affects the people around you when you know, like it or not. And so you have to be, you know, you have to just be thoughtful about that...you might meet with somebody and for you, that meeting, you know, maybe the last thing that's on your mind, but it may be the most important meeting of the day for that other person. And so kind of taking a deep breath, and being the person you want to be in that moment, is, I think, really important. And something particularly in this pandemic environment. Like, you know, you might be running 100 miles an hour and really thinking about a lot of things. But if you can just take a deep breath and reframe yourself for what you're about to go into it. I think that's really important.”

Direct download: Audio_-_Melissa_Smith_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:24pm PDT

Being self-aware is one of the most important skills to have as a leader. It will help you identify your weaknesses and work on them.

How do you know if you’re self-aware? There are a couple of signs.

👆 The first sign that you are NOT self-aware is if you are constantly defensive. You're always having to defend yourself and defend your position to anyone who critiques you.

Also, if you have a reputation of being overpowering or a bully, it might be a good indicator that self-awareness is an important skill you need to practice.

👆 Another sign you’re not self-aware is if you're constantly having to make excuses for why things aren't getting done, for why the quality of work isn't always there, or why things are done late.

The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. That way, you can practice self-awareness, work on your weaknesses, and become a better leader.

Direct download: 1._Signs_You_Are_Not_Self_Aware.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 5:56am PDT

Kate Johnson is President of Microsoft US, a $45 billion division  including all of Microsoft’s solutions, services, and support revenues across public and private sectors in the United States. Kate is responsible for a team of 10,000 people and she is currently very involved in Microsoft’s culture journey led by CEO Satya Nadella.

Prior to Microsoft Kate served as the Chief Commercial Officer for GE Digital. She has held several key senior leadership roles at GE, Oracle, Red Hat, and Deloitte Consulting.

With the chaotic state of the world right now we need leaders who are courageous and empathetic.

One leader who truly understands how to lead with both courage and empathy in these challenging times is Kate Johnson, the President of Microsoft US.

Leaders can’t just stay where they are comfortable anymore, they have to be willing to take a risk and own all the consequences. They have to be open, transparent, and vulnerable. They have a deep understanding of their people and their customers.

When the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, first approached Kate she was working for GE and felt very loyal to the company. She had no intentions of leaving the company. But she couldn’t turn down a meeting with Satya. And the reason she ended up making the move was because of something he said.

When Kate had asked Satya about his philosophy around culture he said that Carol Dweck was one of his personal coaches and he spoke of how a growth mindset has the ability to unlock the purpose of a company and the potential of the people. Hearing that Kate knew there was alignment from the top to the bottom of Microsoft and she jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it.

How to lead with courage 

Most people probably think about courageous leadership as guns blazing in the heat of the battle or a leader who is invincible and strong. But Kate’s definition is a bit different than that.

She says, “One of the things that we've been learning is the connection between courage and vulnerability. So everybody thinks if you're courageous, that you have no weakness. You are strong, they picture warriors, you know, with lots of armor and heading off. That's not what courageous leadership is. Courageous leadership is the willingness to activate the troops and own the outcome, but also to do so bringing all of your strengths and weaknesses to the table with total transparency and clarity, and kind of owning work with that and figuring out how to assemble the team to bolster wherever there are weaknesses. And that's a different kind of leadership that I think is essential today.

One example Kate shared of how she is living out courageous leadership has to do with the training she has been going through with her team. Kate asked Brene Brown to help 140 leaders in her division. During this learning journey the whole group went to Alabama to spend time with the famed Harvard attorney Bryan Stevenson to talk about race in America.

The group read his book and then spent a few hours talking with him. They were so shocked and moved by what he said they decided they needed to learn more. Kate asked Bryan to speak at the Microsoft Sales Kickoff, which was a great success. Not only did he receive two standing ovations from the entire US team but it opened up some great conversations about race.

Kate and her team decided to go together--7,000 people across 42 movie theaters to see the movie Just Mercy. Throughout this year she has reached out to her team to ask what she can do to address racial inequalities and racial tensions. She has opened up some tough conversations and pushed the organization to do better.

This is what courageous leadership is. When asked what courageous leadership looks like Kate said, “There's a million different examples that I could give to you. But the one that resonates most frequently, is when you see a person trying to get it right, instead of trying to be right.

She mentioned how Microsoft used to be a company of “know it alls” but now, under Satya’s leadership it has become a company of “learn it alls”.

“And a learn it all is somebody who has no preconceived notion of what the answer is, and is all about creating an inclusive process to go get that answer. Courageous leaders show up like that every single day, versus one that isn't so courageous as one that walks into the room, thinking they know the answer, and thinking that their job is to convince everybody else what the answer is. And it's that get it right versus think you're right.”

Balancing family and work

A lot of leaders struggle with balancing work and personal life. There is sometimes a struggle for female leaders specifically who may be pressured by society or a boss to pick between an executive role and a family life, thinking both can’t be possible. But as Kate shows, it is definitely possible to be a successful leader and a great parent and spouse. But it takes work and intentionality.

Kate says it all comes down to making sacrifices. And she has a practice in place that really helps her put up boundaries. She gives her kids her calendar at the beginning of the year and they get to block out important dates, whether it is a school recital or a sports tournament or graduation. And then her team knows that those dates are spoken for.

There are also certain work black out dates which she knows she has to be present at work for. And it’s when some of the dates overlap that all parties have to come together to find a solution. But it all works out.

Kate says, “I've always balanced it. And I've always enjoyed both roles. And the more that I can be the same person, as I play both roles, you know, mom to Owen and Jake and leader of MSUS, being the same authentic person with same quality, same sense of humor, same flaws, same pros and cons that's when I know I'm doing it right.”

Kate’s advice for female leaders

Kate admits that when she first started as a leader she said no to her family more than she did to work, because she felt like she had something to prove and she had to show she was willing to work hard. She didn’t have confidence that her boss would understand if she said no to work.

But she had a wake up call from a boss one time. Kate’s boss asked her one day, “if you didn’t show up to work tomorrow, do you know what would happen?” and Kate said, “I don’t know, what?” and her boss replied “nothing”. The sun will still come up tomorrow whether or not you are here.

She learned that it is okay to say no to work. People will understand. As long as when you are at work you work hard and you have a good reputation, no one is going to think you are lazy if you say no from time to time.

It’s okay to say no. In fact, Kate says saying no to some things will probably help you raise the quality of your game and the places where you do say yes. And this is not something she just practices herself, she coaches her people to say no too.

She actually sent a note out this past month to remind her team to say no more often, especially to things like internal meetings where it doesn’t really bring any value to customers.

The key to saying no is providing an alternative. If you have to say no to a meeting maybe someone else at your level can attend, or maybe the meeting can be moved, or perhaps they could tape the meeting for you so you can keep up to date.

How Microsoft is focusing on empathy

The purpose and mission of Microsoft is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. In order to do that they understand they have to prioritize empathy. Kate says empathy is just deep understanding. In order to serve their customers employees need to know how to be empathetic and how to immerse themselves in the needs of their clients.

Kate truly believes that, “our empathic muscle is directly tied to how much share we can grab in the cloud market.” So they practice empathy every single day.

Microsoft leaders teach employees how to be empathetic. When interacting with customers employees should listen before they talk. Instead of just talking about the products and services, employees should first get to know the clients unique problems and needs.

Satya Nadella models this for the rest of the company. Kate says Satya is one of the most empathic leaders she has ever worked for. Kate went with Satya one time to see a customer in Nebraska. In order to understand the technology inside of a combine used in the customer’s fields Satya actually got into the combine and drove it.

As Kate shares, “You can't be empathic without having that proximity, that closeness, to deeply understand something. And so, I hope we're doing it every single day. Now, it's a little bit more difficult in the virtual world to practice empathy. But, you know, I think we're starting to get the hang of moving from this notion of physical proximity to emotional and intellectual proximity, where asking the right questions is how you unlock the next level of learning, as opposed to just getting physical proximity and having great observation skills.”

 

This episode of Future of Work is supported by Teamistry, a podcast that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways… to beat the odds.

Each episode tells a unique story and provides practical lessons for your team and your business. I got a sneak peek of season 2 and was immediately sucked in with its documentary-style narration, details about stories I thought I knew but didn’t, and practical lessons that I was able to apply to my business. Check it out here.

Direct download: Audio_-_Kate_Johnson_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 6:55pm PDT

Self-awareness is one of the most important things to have as a leader.

An effective way to practice self-awareness is to know what others think of you.

Other people's opinions of you are often very different from your opinion of yourself.

You need to encourage people to give you constructive feedback.

But you can’t just call people up and ask what they think of you.

Once you collect this information, you can compare it to your list of how you think about yourself.

This will help you assess yourself and improve on the areas you are struggling with.

This episode of Future of Work is supported by Teamistry, a podcast that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways… to beat the odds.

Each episode tells a unique story and provides practical lessons for your team and your business. I got a sneak peek of season 2 and was immediately sucked in with its documentary-style narration, details about stories I thought I knew but didn’t, and practical lessons that I was able to apply to my business. Check it out here.

 

Direct download: Effective-Technique-to-Practice-Self-Awareness_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 11:15pm PDT

Carrie Birkhofer is President and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union, a non profit financial cooperative with 225 employees. She’s been the CEO there for 25 years and under her leadership the credit union has grown from $70 million to $1.4 billion in assets.

This year has brought on a lot of challenges for leaders in every industry.

Some leaders have struggled and even failed. Others have really embraced change in order to help their people get through these tough times.

One CEO that has really used the current challenges to make her organization even better is Carrie Birkhofer, President and CEO of Bay Federal Credit Union. Even before the pandemic she knew the importance of putting people first.

Carrie was one of the CEOs I interviewed for my book, The Future Leader and during the interview she said the following, “I meet employees the first hour on the first day they start at the Credit Union. New employees are welcomed as a group and when new hires start together, I’m there. I greet them, I welcome them, and I answer any questions they may have. All new employees, regardless of their position are seen, heard, respected, and listened to by the leader and they know that I’m there to serve them, not the other way around.”

This is a great example of what leaders should be every single day, but especially now as we all go through the historic crazy times 2020 has brought. Leaders should serve their people, their people should not be there just to serve them.

What does servant leadership look like

What does it look like to serve your employees? Carrie has some great real life examples of what it looks like. First of all, Carrie makes sure she meets new employees on their first day at work.

In good times, pre-COVID that meant four or five current employees and Carrie getting together in person with the new employees. The current employees would share who they are, what their path has been at Bay Federal, and something interesting that they want to share. Then they would have the new employees do the same thing, except they would share their paths getting to Bay Federal.

And then Carrie would go last, because she doesn’t want to influence the process. Most people don’t even know who she is until she shares. She also gives the new employees a chance to ask any questions they want. But because she realizes they may be too nervous to think of anything, Carrie and two executive vice presidents take that same group out for lunch so they can ask their questions once they are more comfortable.

Obviously this process looks a bit different with COVID. But this is still a priority for Carrie, so the initial meeting is done either via Zoom or in a large room where everyone is socially distanced. And instead of physically taking the group out to lunch she orders everyone lunch from Door Dash and they get to eat at their home while on a Zoom with Carrie and her team.

She also started writing a Friday morning email to all employees when things got crazy earlier this year. She wanted to make sure everyone was up to date and had all the information they needed. She got such great feedback from it, that she continues it to this day. And even though she says it is a lot of work on her part, it is worth it because it has allowed her to be even more connected with her team.

This year has also brought a lot of attention to racial inequalities. Carrie wanted to make sure she addressed this in the right way. So she called up all of the employees in the company who identify as black and she checked in on them. She asked how they were doing, she asked what she could do to help, and she made herself available to them. She genuinely cares about her people and she wants to make sure that every single one of them is heard and respected.

The day to day of a CEO before and during COVID 

As a CEO Carrie’s day to day looks a little different now. Pre-COVID Carrie would be out of the office a lot more. She attended community events, went out to build business relationships, took part in conferences. But now she is primarily working from home. And she has been spending a lot more time communicating with her employees, the board of directors, and the senior leadership team.

Nowadays she wakes up quite early with her new puppy. She starts her day off by going for a walk to the Monterey Bay where she does a gratitude mantra. This has really helped her to stay grounded during all of the craziness of 2020. During her walk when she gets to a certain spot she takes time to ask for wisdom and guidance from family members who have passed on. She says a prayer of thanks. She gets perspective and reflects. And she takes in the view of nature around her. She does this every single day without fail, rain or shine.

Then when she gets back she has some coffee and goes into her office (which right now is in her bedroom). She takes a look at her calendar to see what her day looks like, every day is very different, but generally she has Zoom meetings and activities from 8:30am to 4:30pm. And she ends her day with the same walk she does in the morning.

She is very involved in her Rotary Club, she has the new employee orientations on the first Monday of every month, she meets daily with her executive assistant, and daily with her two vice presidents. She also meets twice a week with her senior leadership team.

And while the amount of communication needed these days can be exhausting, she enjoys feeling more connected to her team now than ever before.

Making the shift at first seemed daunting but as Carrie shares, “Well, on March 13, the governor kinda hinted that we were shutting down and on March 17 everyone went home. And we adapted that day, it took about a week for the technology team to get 100 employees situated at home and I know companies much larger than us did as well.  It was kind of a miracle in the business world, that we all did it. But it happened really quickly. It happened overnight. And if you had told me six months ago that this is something that we will have to do, and this is how we're going to operate, and you're gonna do it in less than a week, my team would have laughed at me. But we did it. And we just, I think it shows the power of having a clear mandate. That's an important thing. If you have clear crystal clear direction, I think teams can do amazing work. And it also shows me the power of a team that is very synergized and works collaboratively together.”

Keeping culture alive while working remotely

Bay Federal has a lot of unique activities in place to keep the company culture alive when so many team members are working from home. One tradition they have had for a long time is around Halloween. Before the pandemic they had every department pick a theme and the employees decorated their area over the top with props and everything. Then the senior leadership team would go around to every location throughout the day. It was a very big production.

But knowing this year they had to do it a bit differently they made the whole week of Halloween spirit week where everyone could dress up for a different theme every day whether they were physically in the office or working from home. Everyone got to upload a picture of themselves in their costume and prizes were given out to the best ones.

Carrie also makes sure to start each meeting with a different fun question, like what is your favorite rock band? What is your favorite meal that you are Door Dashing right now? This practice really helps with Zoom meetings so that they don’t just jump into things without doing something fun first. Carrie has also used this question time to ask people what their favorite cake is, and she keeps track of all the responses so she can send people their favorite cake on their birthday.

The leadership team was able to have a socially distanced barbeque where they got to play trivia games, good food, and they could reconnect since they hadn’t been together in quite a long time.

The importance of putting people first has been talked about for many years. But this year has really shown us that leaders actually need to be human, they have to get to know their people, and they have to put people first in order to thrive and grow. Any leader who doesn’t do this will get left behind. 

Carrie’s advice for future female leaders

We have a long way to go to bring equality to leadership. We need more women leaders. Carrie has been a CEO for 25 years so she knows the challenges and the benefits of being a female leader.

Her advice to any women who want to be leaders is, “Show up. When you're in the office, when you have an opportunity to be seen and heard, show up with confidence, and professionalism. Be prepared. You know, don't apologize. Be bold. And listen and ask others what their opinions are, but don't be afraid to share your own. And I think the world is ready for you. There's a lot of acceptance being recognized for diversity. And so it's finding that right audience that's listening to you. Don't carry a chip on your shoulder, be inquisitive, be curious. Be kind. And at the same time be bold.”

This episode of Future of Work is supported by Teamistry, a podcast that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways… to beat the odds.

Each episode tells a unique story and provides practical lessons for your team and your business. I got a sneak peek of season 2 and was immediately sucked in with its documentary-style narration, details about stories I thought I knew but didn’t, and practical lessons that I was able to apply to my business. Check it out here.

Direct download: Audio_-_Carrie_Birkhofer_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:12pm PDT

Improving your strengths and working on your weaknesses is not as hard as people think.

When I was younger and was trying to make decisions in my life, whether it was who I wanted to date, where I wanted to live, or even the company I wanted to apply for, my dad would always say, "Jacob, take out a piece of paper, fold it in half and write down the pros and cons on each side of the paper."

What you can also do with this exercise is to replace the pros and cons column with strengths and weaknesses.

This is a great way to assess yourself and find out what areas you need to work on. Of course, this only works if you are completely honest with yourself.

As you learn new things and try to work on your weaknesses, these things are going to change.

If you do this exercise on a regular basis, you’ll become very self-aware of what your strengths and weaknesses actually are. It's a very simple practice that can make a big difference.

This episode of Future of Work is supported by Teamistry, a podcast that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways… to beat the odds.

Each episode tells a unique story and provides practical lessons for your team and your business. I got a sneak peek of season 2 and was immediately sucked in with its documentary-style narration, details about stories I thought I knew but didn’t, and practical lessons that I was able to apply to my business. Check it out at here.

Direct download: 4._How_to_Improve_Your_Strengths_and_Work_on_Your_Weaknesses.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:40am PDT

Michael Watkins is the Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at the IMD Business School and the co-founder of Genesis Advisors, a global leadership development consultancy based in Boston where he coaches C-level executives of global organizations. He is also the author of 11 books including the international bestseller, The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.

Michael was recently ranked among the top 50 management thinkers globally by Thinkers50. Previously he was an adjunct professor at INSEAD and an associate professor at the Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

We all go through periods of transition. Whether it is a change in a role at work or moving to a different company or even going through a new season in your personal life, transitions are a part of life.

For leaders transitions are critical, and if they are not handled correctly the results can be disastrous. Michael’s book, The First 90 Days, looks at how leaders can make the most out of their first three months of a transition as well as some common traps that leaders fall into during that critical time.

The breakeven point

Michael uses a financial analogy to explain why mastering transitions is so important. A financial break even point looks at how long it takes an investment to get to a point where it pays for itself.

With leaders the break even point is looking at the point where you as a leader are creating value for the company. The longer it takes you to get up to speed in a new role the longer it’s going to be before you stop consuming value and start producing value. As a leader you need to figure out how you can get to the point of true value creation as fast as you can, but in a smart way.

In a study that was conducted by Michael and his team a few years ago they found that unaided the process for leaders to reach the breakeven point can take up to six months. So if that timeframe can be reduced it not only helps the organization it also helps set the leader up for success very early on.

And of course, the time it takes to start creating value also depends on the type of transition you are going through. Staying in the same company but moving to a different role may take less time than moving to a different company and starting in a role that didn’t exist before.

Common traps leaders fall into during transitions

There are several traps people can fall into when they are going through transitions in life and at work. It is important for leaders to be aware of these traps so they can be careful to avoid them. 

One of the biggest traps Michael points out is when leaders stay in their comfort zone and continue to define their role through the lens of what they are good at.

Michael says, “When I coach people one of the questions I ask them fairly early on is what are you really good at and love doing that you need to do less of here? And what are you perhaps not so good at or not enjoying doing that you need to do more of? So as you enter a new role, you need to think about what do I need to let go of and what do I need to embrace? And that kind of helps get you through the comfort zone trap.”

When you are making a transition, don’t just assume that what has worked in the past will work in your current situation. This is especially important if you are not only transitioning in a role, but also in a different organization. A lot of times the job description that’s given to you in the interview may not give you the full scope of what needs to be done, so it is important to check and recheck what you’re really there to do. Go one level deeper than the job description to find out why you are there. Figure out how you can add unique value to the organization and then use that as your North star.

Another trap leaders can fall into during a transition is not reaching out to peers and stakeholders early enough. A lot of emphasis is put on leaders to connect with their team and their boss, but most leaders neglect to connect with their peers and stakeholders and that can be harmful later on. Michael says you shouldn’t wait until you have a problem and need their help before you reach out to them.

A third trap to watch out for is what Michael calls the action imperative. When you are put into a new role most likely you are going to feel pressure to do something or make a decision right away. Most of the time that pressure is coming from within yourself, and not something that people expect. Of course there are exceptions, but in general try to fight this feeling.

As Michael shares, “It's that sense, maybe it comes a little out of the imposter syndrome kind of idea, or that sense of I need to prove myself, show that they made the right decision in hiring or promoting you. And you can have that pressure, and that can lead you to do things that you're perhaps not fully ready to do or that are not as informed enough or not socialized enough. And that can create a vicious cycle if you're not if you're not careful.”

When you start to feel pressure to do something right away, ask yourself where is this pressure coming from? Is it coming from within yourself or is there a legitimate reason for you to act on something immediately.

The lack of leadership training inside organizations

One thing I found while writing my latest book, The Future Leader, is that most people spend 10-15 years in leadership positions before getting any formal leadership training from their organization. There are quite a few people who are promoted to leadership roles in their 20s and 30s but on average people are in their late 30s or early 40s before going through training. So how are you as a leader supposed to get up to speed and have a successful transition into a position of leadership if you have never had any formal training?

Michael says it means it leaves responsibility for leadership development on the individual. This can seem daunting, but the good news is there are so many resources out there these days you can turn to. There are online courses, books, videos, etc… on leadership and the skills related to being a great leader. So if your organization is not providing you with the skills you need, there really isn’t an excuse.

And while leaving training up to the individual isn’t the best way of operating for an organization, it is happening more often now because of the unraveling of the social contract between organizations and individuals. It is no longer common for a person to stay at one company for their entire career. Gone are the days where the company provides a safety net for employees, and so employees no longer feel loyalty to the company.

Leaders have to be proactive and intentional in onboarding and integrating themselves into a new role. As Michael says, “If you don't own your transition, your transition will own you.”

How to have a successful transition

For leaders going through a transition process Michael says it is important to understand the challenges up front and be clear about how you are going to create value in what you are there to do. Be sure to plan your learning process, engage with peers and stakeholders early on, and be really thoughtful about how you are going to arrive in the new organization and the messaging you want to send.

Michael says, “a lot of what you do early on, is about signaling and symbolism. So be really thoughtful about that because those early actions can send very powerful messages whether you intend them to or not.”

This episode of Future of Work is supported by Teamistry, a podcast that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways… to beat the odds.

Each episode tells a unique story and provides practical lessons for your team and your business. I got a sneak peek of season 2 and was immediately sucked in with its documentary-style narration, details about stories I thought I knew but didn’t, and practical lessons that I was able to apply to my business. Check it out at here.

 

Direct download: Audio_-__Michael_Watkins_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:18pm PDT

To be successful in the future of work, leaders must have a growth mindset.

One way to identify if a person has a fixed mindset or a growth mindset is by how they tackle problems.

For example, if you have a fixed mindset, when you run into a challenge or are faced with a roadblock, you try to tackle it the same way over and over. When those attempts don't work, you get frustrated and quit.

But when you have a growth mindset, you find a way to get better to solve the problem. You understand that what you were doing didn’t work and that you need to learn a new skill to overcome the obstacle.

If you're able to embrace this concept of a growth mindset, you’ll become much more valuable as a leader inside your organization.

This episode of Future of Work is supported by Teamistry, a podcast that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways… to beat the odds.

Each episode tells a unique story and provides practical lessons for your team and your business. I got a sneak peek of season 2 and was immediately sucked in with its documentary-style narration, details about stories I thought I knew but didn’t, and practical lessons that I was able to apply to my business. Check it out at here.

Direct download: The_Right_Way_to_Tackle_a_Problem.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:41am PDT

The way we work is changing. 

It’s not going to stop changing anytime soon, in fact the change is only going to speed up. 

Organizations have made progress in adapting for the future of work, but we still have a long way to go. 

In my book, The Future of Work, I laid out 14 principles of the future organization. And while that book was released back in 2014, these principles are still very relevant for organizations today and we have a lot of work to do in each one of these areas in order to succeed in the next decade and beyond. So let’s take a deeper look at each one of these 14 principles.

Globally distributed with smaller teams

We have been seeing organizations move away from having all of their employees located in a few corporate offices to having employees spread out all over the world. This allows teams to be smaller and more agile. 

It also opens up a wider pool of talent for organizations then we have seen in the past. Proximity to the corporate headquarters is no longer an issue. This is an exciting change because it means organizations can utilize the best talent and individuals can work for their dream company no matter where they are in the world. We were already seeing this change back in 2014, but now with COVID-19 we are seeing this become even more common. 

Connected workforce

While it is great to have a global team around the world, it is not possible to work effectively from all over without being able to stay connected. Your team needs to be able to connect to the right information and to each other anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Which means your organization has to have the right technology in place to make that happen. 

Technology is the central nervous system of any organization. With the current pandemic companies have been pushed to achieve in 3 months what they had been trying to do over 10 years. But with or without the pandemic, companies have to continue to create and invest in the technologies that connect their workforce. 

Intrapreneurial 

There are several traits that come to mind when you think of an entrepreneur. Passion, drive, innovation, creativity, forward thinking, etc… Wouldn’t you love to have people inside of your organization with these traits? You should. Intrapreneurs are entrepreneurs that work inside of an organization instead of off on their own. 

You can foster the intrapreneurial spirit inside of your organization by letting employees test their ideas out, experiment, pitch new projects, and run with the ideas that have potential. There are several organizations that are allowing employees to be intrapreneurial such as LinkedIn, Adobe, and AT&T. 

For individuals this means that you have to have entrepreneurial skills in order to succeed and get ahead. You have to be scrappy, resourceful, and curious. Don’t just wait for your manager to tell you what to do next, don’t just think inside the box, don’t get pigeon-holed into a certain job description. Don’t be afraid to take an idea and run with it. 

Operates like a small company

Organizations can no longer afford to be bogged down by bureaucracy, not in this fast paced world we are living in. No matter how many employees you have you have to operate like a small company. 

Small companies are agile and adaptable. They are able to make quick decisions and pivot at a moment's notice. Again, with the pandemic I think companies have been forced to do this for now. We all had to act quickly at the beginning of 2020. But if you want to succeed in the future you have to be able to continue to act small and agile. You will not win if you operate at the speed of sludge. 

Are your employees empowered to make their own decisions or do they have to go through multiple levels of hierarchy to get an answer? Do you have small enough teams or do you have 40+ people in meetings? Do you allow employees to run with ideas or do they have to sit in back to back meetings all day? 

Don’t tell me it’s not possible to make quick decisions, we’ve all had to do it this year. And if you can do it for COVID-19, you can do it anytime. 

Focuses on “want” instead of “need”

In the past when there was a position to be filled inside of an organization the leaders would post a job ad and qualified candidates would apply. There would be an interview and the candidate had to convince the interviewer why they would be the best fit for the position. It was always assumed that the candidate needed a job and they were at the mercy of the organization to hire them. It was about what the candidate could bring to the organization. 

Now with globalization and the fact that individuals can work pretty much anywhere around the world as well as the fact that it is a lot easier to be an entrepreneur and do your own thing now it is no longer the individual who has to do the selling. Individuals have so many choices, they don’t have to settle for anything. It is up to the organization to prove it is a place where the individual would want to work. 

In order to attract the best talent you have to create an organization where people want to come work, you cannot assume that they need the job anymore. 

Adapts to change faster

The world is moving at such a fast pace. Organizations can no longer afford to take a “wait and see” approach. They cannot sit back and follow in the path of what others are doing. In order to succeed organizations have to look forward, act fast, and move more swiftly. Things will never be as slow as they are right now. This goes for technology, workplace trends and also reacting to current events. 

Innovation everywhere

Does your organization allow anyone to come forward with a new idea? Or do all of your innovations come from a certain department or level of hierarchy? In order to succeed in this rapidly changing world of work, innovation has to come from anywhere and everywhere inside your organization. 

And ideas and innovation are two different things. Ideas happen all of the time. We all have hundreds of ideas every single week. But it’s the process of taking an idea and actually turning it into something that leads to innovation. 

Does your organization allow anyone to come forward with an idea? If an employee has a suggestion, feedback, or an idea do they have the potential to do something with it? 

Runs in the cloud

On-premise technologies have a shelf life, and their days are surely numbered. If your organization is purely operating with on site servers and technologies it won’t be long before you fall behind your competition. The future is cloud based technology. It allows organizations to scale up or down very quickly. 

More women in senior management roles

This is a big one. We have made some progress here, but not enough. Less than 8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. We need much more diversity in our leadership roles. Without diversity in leadership, companies are missing out on a huge talent pool that brings with it a new set of skills, mindsets, and perspectives. 

How can you properly serve your customers and create new products and services if everyone on your leadership team is exactly the same, without any diversity? We definitely need more women leaders.   

Flatter structure 

The stereotypical hierarchical structure that we have seen in most of our organizations is the pyramid with the CEO at the top and multiple layers in between them and the frontline workers. We can agree that while some structure inside of organizations is good, we need to have a more balanced system. 

Information, communication, and ideas should not all come from the top down. It should move from side to side, from the bottom to the top as well as the top down. It doesn’t need to be flat, but it needs to be flatter. We need less layers between frontline workers and the CEO. 

This principle helps with agility and nimbleness as well as creating purpose and meaning for employees. When the organization is flatter and communication is flowing freely, employees have a better sense of what is happening inside the organization and why.

Tells stories

We like to tell stories to our customers through our websites, social media, TV ads, etc...So why don’t we take time to create stories for our employees? Stories help us to connect emotionally with an idea or a brand. They paint a picture and make values and purpose come to life. 

Employees want to work for an organization that they believe in. They want to find value and purpose in the work they do everyday and what better way to explain the organization’s mission then through stories. When they know what they are working for employees are more likely to go above and beyond. We all want to know that what we do every day impacts our community and our world. Take the time to tell your company’s story to every single employee. 

Democratizes learning

Just as learning in our schools is outdated, learning inside of our organizations is outdated. It is too structured and formal. If you sign up for a learning opportunity at work most likely you are going to watch a video from the 80s or you will attend a scripted lecture with someone going through a PowerPoint. 

 

Learning should reflect the year we live in. If it is so easy for me to learn something on my own through YouTube or Khan Academy or Coursera why can’t it be the same way inside our organizations. Learning has to be democratized. It must be put into the hands of every employee because every employee has something to teach and every employee has something to learn.  

Shifts from profits to prosperity 

Profit is the financial gain that an organization receives and it is the primary measure of success inside of most organizations. But prosperity looks at much more than money. It looks at employee health & wellness, community involvement, diversity & inclusion, sustainability, etc…

The purpose of a business can no longer be just about making money, it’s about impacting all stakeholders. Not shareholders, stakeholders. Our communities, partners, suppliers, vendors, customers, and employees all have a stake in the success of the business. 

We have to move away from just the dollars and cents and focus on the greater impact our organizations make on the world around us. 

Adapts to the future employee and the future manager

Organizations that want to succeed in the future of work have to be able to adapt to the future employee and the future leader. Leadership is changing in a big way, for more information on how it is changing you can check out my new book, The Future Leader. But organizations need to know what the future of leadership looks like and make sure they are promoting the right people to those positions. Organizations also have to stay on top of what employees want and need. We cannot just continue on and assume that we can succeed while continuing in the old ways of working. 

Right now, we're seeing such an amazing time and exciting evolution around how we work, how we lead, and even how we structure our companies. Don’t get stuck in the old way of doing things. We must continue to adapt, learn, explore, and grow if we want to avoid getting left behind.

This episode of Future of Work is supported by Teamistry, a podcast that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways… to beat the odds.

Each episode tells a unique story and provides practical lessons for your team and your business. I got a sneak peek of season 2 and was immediately sucked in with its documentary-style narration, details about stories I thought I knew but didn’t, and practical lessons that I was able to apply to my business. Check it out at here.

Direct download: Audio_-_Jacob_-_14_principles_podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:16am PDT

People analytics is crucial to creating great experiences. 

I was once speaking overseas to a large organization that was very interested in investing in employee experiences. 

The Chief HR Officer said that the average tenure in the organization was eight to ten years. I told him that was great and asked him why that was, but he said he didn't know. 

He also said, “When people do leave the company, they always leave at the two-year mark.” But when I asked what happened at the two-year mark, he said he didn’t know.  

Without people analytics, you don’t have data. And data is what helps you truly know your people. 

Look at the data you already have about your people--engagement data, salary data, geographic data, demographic and background data, performance review data, etc. You have a lot of ways to find data and learn about your employees. 

This episode is sponsored by Teamistry, a podcast by Atlassian. Check them out at http://bit.ly/fowatlassian

 

Direct download: 1._Do_You_Need_People_Analytics_-_sponsor_added.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 4:22am PDT

We are facing a leadership crisis today.

The world of work is changing, which means we need a different type of leader to guide our people and organizations to success. 

The old ways won’t work anymore. 

In my newest book, The Future Leader, I interviewed over 140 CEOs from around the world to get their view of how leadership is changing, what it’s going to look like in the future, and what we need to do now to be future-ready leaders. 

One thing was clear in all of their responses, what has worked in the past will not work in the future. We need a new kind of leader. Leadership can no longer be based solely on confidence, seniority, the ability to make money for the company, acting like you know it all, etc...

Another thing that I found in my research for the book was the lack of leadership training inside of organizations. Most people become leaders in their mid to late 20s, but most leaders have admitted that they didn’t receive formal training until they were in their late 30s and early 40s.

That means there is a period of 15-20 years where leaders inside of our organizations are leading, but they haven’t been taught how to do it effectively. No wonder we have such a lack of strong leadership.

But just because you don’t receive formal training inside of your organization doesn’t give you a free pass to be an ineffective leader. You can take training into your own hands. You have the ability to learn what you need to know to be the best leader you can be. 

The first step is answering a tough question

If you are ready to be a future-ready leader, the first step you need to take is to define leader and leadership for yourself. What does it really mean to be a leader? It may seem like a simple question, but it is actually the hardest question for the 140+ CEOs I interviewed to answer. 

We see leaders in action every single day, whether they are good or bad. It is something so common, that we don’t tend to spend time defining leadership because we assume everyone knows what it is. It’s like water. You wouldn’t explain water to someone, because we all just know what water is. 

But defining leader and leadership is such an important step. Without a definition we get inconsistency inside of our organizations. Most organizations have some great leaders that people love and some horrible leaders that people can’t stand. That wouldn’t happen if we had a clear definition of leadership. It would help put filters in place that help the right people get promoted to leadership positions. 

If you want great leaders, start by defining what a great leader is. And use that definition to promote people inside of your organization.

The Notable Nine

From the interviews that I did with the 140+ CEOs I ended up with four mindsets and five skills that leaders need to adopt in order to succeed in the future of work. They are: 

Mindsets:

  1. Explorer: Become a perpetual learner, be curious and focus on agility and adaptability
  2. Chef: Learn how to balance humanity and technology
  3. Servant: Serve your leaders, your team, your customers and yourself by being humble and vulnerable
  4. Global Citizen: Surround yourself with different people and look at the big picture

Skills:

  1. Futurist: Look towards the future and think through different scenarios
  2. Yoda: Practice emotional intelligence and empathy
  3. Translator: Develop listening and communication skills
  4. Coach: Motivate and engage others and create effective teams across geographies and generations
  5. Technology Teenager: Embrace new technology and be tech-savvy

Leaders must be like lighthouses

On the cover of my book is the image of a lighthouse. And I think it is such a great visualization of what a leader should be. A lighthouse is designed to help mariners and explorers reach their destinations, but in a safe way. It helps travelers keep out of shallow waters, off of the rocks, and away from danger. And I think of leaders in very much the same way.

The whole purpose of a leader is to guide their people and organizations to success, but in a safe way. With the nine skills and mindsets leaders can build themselves up to be a lighthouse so that they can shine a bright light onto the sea of uncertainty that we’re all a part of. 

But one thing a lot of leaders forget is that if there are no ships in the water, then a lighthouse is useless. Without great people to lead, a leader is pointless. Leaders can’t just focus on building themselves up, they must also focus on the success of their people.

 

This episode of Future of Work is supported by Teamistry, a podcast that tells the stories of teams who work together in new and unexpected ways… to beat the odds.

Each episode tells a unique story and provides practical lessons for your team and your business. I got a sneak peek of season 2 and was immediately sucked in with its documentary-style narration, details about stories I thought I knew but didn’t, and practical lessons that I was able to apply to my business. Check it out at this page

Direct download: Audio_-_Jacob_Morgan_-_Blakes_Show.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:21am PDT

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit a lot of organizations hard in a way that they might never recover.

Some of these organizations have chosen to let thousands of employees go just to make their numbers better.

And it got me thinking, what if organizations couldn’t fire people when the company didn’t meet its numbers?

Would they be able to come up with creative solutions to keep those people employed? Would they do things differently?

Cutting employees should always be the company’s last resort.

Employees are the greatest asset of organizations around the world.


Jim Heppelmann is the CEO of PTC, a technology software company with 6,500 employees in 30 countries. Jim was named one of “7 IoT leaders to Watch in 2017” by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, he was recognized as “IoT CEO of the Year” by PostScapes, “Technology CEO of the Year” by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, and he received the CAD Society Leadership Award for his work with the Internet of Things. Together with Harvard Professor, Michael Porter, Jim has co-authored three highly influential articles on the transformational impact of the Internet of Things on business. 

David Cote is the former Chairman and CEO of Honeywell and author of the bestselling book, Winning Now, Winning Later: How Companies Can Succeed in the Short Term While Investing for the Long Term. During his time at Honeywell David fixed a toxic work culture and grew the company’s market capitalization from around 20 billion to 120 billion, delivering returns of 800%. Currently David is Executive Chairman of Vertiv Holdings Co, a global data center products and services provider. He is a member of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group on Foreign Relations and the Conference  of Montreal. 

Both Jim and David have had unlikely paths to being the CEOs of two well-established, global companies. Jim grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota as one of eight children. In college he studied mechanical engineering with an emphasis on computer-aided design. 

It was actually one of his older sisters who inspired him to attend college and study to become an engineer in the first place. After she graduated from college and got her first job she was already making as much as their parents, and Jim was amazed by that. So engineering brought him to college, but once he got there he fell in love with computer science.  He studied at the intersection of where software meets engineering.

David nearly quit high school, because although he was good at school, he hated it. He ended up sticking with it and became the first one in his family to graduate high school. David was accepted to the University of New Hampshire, but decided he didn’t want to pursue college so he went to work as a mechanic with his dad in a small garage.

After that job didn’t pan out he went to Michigan to work as a carpenter with his uncle, but learned he wasn’t good at that either. So he enlisted in the Navy for six years on a nuclear submarine. The day before he was supposed to swear in he called the chief petty officer and asked what would happen if he didn’t show up. And although the chief petty officer made it sound almost impossible to get out of, when David realized cops wouldn’t just show up at his door and arrest him, he made the decision not to go.

After that David decided to go to college, but after two years there the Assistant Dean of Students told him he could no longer live on campus because he was too much of a troublemaker. So, needing some money, David decided to get a job working second shift while going to school, which he did for 6 months, when a buddy of his invited David to come work with him on a fishing boat in Maine. 

Because he was spending so much time on the boat he ended up doing very poorly in school, so he decided to quit. He ended up getting married and one month later his wife was pregnant with their first child. David says this is the moment he realized he had to do something, he had to get direction and stay focused. He was scared he wouldn’t have enough money to raise their child. And from that moment on he had a purpose and a focus that has brought him to where he is now. 

David’s advice on how to lead in tough times 

Leaders today are definitely leading through difficult times, and David has led through his share of challenging times as well. He says one of the toughest times was the great recession of 2008-2009. And he knows how it feels to be in the middle of a crisis and feel like it is the worst one ever. But it is important to realize that while these recessions are unique, there are certain actions that we can take regardless of the situation that can help organizations to survive it. 

David’s advice for anyone leading in tough times is:

  • Don’t panic
  • Make sure that you keep thinking independently 
  • Never forget to put the customer first
  • Be thinking about the recovery even while you’re in the middle of the recession

What to do if you feel stuck in your job

Some people may read or hear David’s background story of what he went through before he became CEO of Honeywell and they may feel like they are in a similar situation where they feel stuck in a job. Maybe you feel like there is not a clear progression forward in your career. David gives his advice to people in this situation, some things that helped him get to where he is now. 

And he breaks this advice up into a few different points. First of all, you have to have performance, and your performance can’t just be okay. You’ve got to be like the top 10%. Where you went to school makes a difference for your first job, after that it is up to how you perform. Be a standout in all you do. 

You also need visibility. If you are performing very well, but the person who can do something about your career can’t see it, nothing will happen. So make sure you have visibility. But you have to be careful with this one because you don’t want to go around tooting your own horn or wearing your ambition on your sleeve. It is a delicate balance.

If you have a boss who doesn’t feel that you are performing as well as you think you are, this is where you have to be self aware and figure out is there something you can fix or do you just have a bad boss, which David says happens less often than people think. So learn to be self aware and realize when there is something you need to fix. We all have issues, and it’s important to know what they are. 

Achieving work-life balance as a CEO 

As the CEO of 6,500+ employees, Jim seems very relaxed and happy. He doesn’t seem stressed out at all. One thing that has helped him with this a lot is having a work-life balance. He not only leads the organization, but he also makes time to spend time with his family, take care of the animals on his farm, and cook. But that wasn’t always the case.

Jim says when he first became a CEO he burned the candle at both ends, he tried to do everything on his own. And overtime he learned that was not sustainable. When sharing what he learned he says, “what I should do is focus my energy where I really bring a lot of value to the table, again, which tends to be around product strategies, marketing strategies, marketing messages, competitive strategies, and so forth. And let somebody else manage the financial plan, let somebody else manage the professional services margins, and things like that because I don't need to do that and I don't bring a tremendous quality to it, you know, nothing super unique or special. And at the end of the day, you’ve got to pick your battles, there's just not enough time for a CEO to be in charge of everything. So I got a lot happier after I realized I should roll with the punches and just really add value where I think I have the most value to add.”

This is such great advice for all CEOs, don’t try to have your hand in all the cookie jars. Don’t take everything upon yourself and don’t think you have to have all the answers. You will get burnt out that way. Surround yourself with people who are good at what you are not good at and rely on them. 

Three ways to battle entrenched thinking 

No matter what industry you work in, you may find that people around you are entrenched in old ways of thinking, especially if they have been in a certain role for a long time. People don’t like change, it’s just a fact of life. So how do you change that? Jim has three ways that he battled entrenched thinking inside of PTC when he first joined. 

  • Make change part of your company branding--Create a company culture that likes change. Part of what Jim did to change the culture was he adopted some slogans like Take a Fresh Look. Everything about the company should embrace change and discourage getting complacent. 
  • Lead by example--Live out the values you want to see inside your organization. If you want employees to embrace change, you must first be the one to embrace change. Make sure people know it is not about making one change and then staying there, it is about constant change. The point is to try to be that company who changes all the time, you can't pin them down, because they're too busy changing. 
  • Celebrate change--Recognize individuals who step out and do something different, even if what they tried didn’t work. 

Jim and David may not have thought about being CEOs growing up and in their early careers, but it goes to show that no matter what your past looks like, you can achieve greatness. Every leader has their own unique path to greatness, every individual has their own unique path, to unlock the potential of who they are. We all deal with our own challenges and obstacles, but it is important to remember that your past does not dictate where you can go and what you can achieve. 

If you have a growth mindset, meaning you believe you can continue to grow and develop throughout your life through dedication and hard work, then you can achieve great things. 

So what is your story going to look like? I hope these two stories from David and Jim motivate you, inspire you, push you and get you to realize that you can build and shape a future that you want to have for yourself.

Direct download: Special_Podcast_Episode_26_Oct._-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:47am PDT

What are you doing to push yourself out of your comfort zone?

Pushing yourself is important because growth only happens when we venture into the uncomfortable. We can’t be scared to go there.

The stress, anxiety, awkwardness, and frustration is all temporary. These things exist as a way to challenge you, so you must overcome them.

Nothing worth doing is meant to be easy.

What are you doing to push yourself out of your comfort zone either personally or professionally?

Direct download: What_are_you_doing_to_push_yourself_out_of_your_comfort_zone.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:22pm PDT

Steve Bilt is the CEO of Smile Brands, a company with 5,000 employees that provides business support services to over 425 dental offices. Smile Brands has been on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list three times and Steve is one of the top CEOs on Glassdoor.

Steve was recognized as People Focused CEO of the Year and Healthcare CEO of the Year by American Business Awards. He is also a top rated US Large Company CEO on Glassdoor, Comparably and CEOWORLD Magazine. 

Steve was on the founding management team of Smile Brands in 1998. He started as the company’s CFO before becoming the CEO a year and a half later. As the CEO he worked hard to build close relationships with the dentists so that he knew what kind of support they really needed. That is what has set Smile Brands apart from other companies, because it allowed Steve to tailor the business model in a way that works at scale with a lot of dentists. 

Several other companies who were trying to provide similar services ended up failing, and Smile Brands was able to acquire a few of those companies. From 2003 to 2004 Smile Brands went from 45 locations to over 300 locations. 

Smiles for everyone

The mission of Smile Brands is really built on three words--Smiles for Everyone. It is the purpose behind everything they do. Steve really wanted to make sure that every party involved in Smile Brands got a fair deal and was happy with the result. So everyone at Smile Brands is focused on making sure patients, employees, vendors, the community, and the investors all get a fair deal, it is always a win-win for everyone. 

Giving an example of this mission Steve says, “I was just on the phone today with someone saying, you know, I'm sensing by your body language, that you feel like this isn’t a good deal for you. It's a good deal for us, but if you don't, you shouldn't do this. That's Smiles for Everyone. The guy was like, wow, that is great to hear. And let me clear that up. And as we had a great conversation with that basis, we think that way with all of our employees, our patients and everyone that becomes part of your DNA as a culture.”

At one point Steve left the company. He had been the CEO for a while and it was suggested to him that he retire. At the time he took the hint and left. After he left the company the leadership decided to try to move to a more execution oriented model, which was very different from Steve’s purpose driven style with focus on direct interaction with the dentists. 

The mission statement went from Smiles for Everyone to Give providers and their dental teams the freedom to put patients first so that they can become the most preferred dental office in their community. And while it’s not a bad statement, it really did not resonate with the Smile Brands team. Moving from focusing on purpose to focusing on metrics really caused the company to lose its soul and its art. 

Steve was actually away for 2 ½ years and he missed the business a lot. But in 2016 he was given back the role of CEO. And as he went around to different locations to meet with employees he realized how much they had been waiting to go back to Smiles for Everyone. In fact he had originally had bracelets made with the phrase on it for everyone to wear. And when he returned he found people pulling the bracelets out of their drawers saying they had been saving them for the day he returned. 

Creating a mission that resonates with employees

Anyone can come up with a mission statement or a company purpose that sounds good. But it can’t be something that just lives on a wall or in the company handbook. It has to be something that is infused into every aspect of the business. 

Steve believes it needs to be something short and catchy that people can remember. It needs to be something that you can evaluate and check in on to see how well the company is living up to it. It has to be something that is living and breathing inside your company.

For example, with the mission Smiles for Everyone, Steve says he uses the phrase in every meeting and he tries to use it in every interaction to show people what it actually looks like to live out the mission. 

Steve says, “As soon as you start to lengthen it, to create more explanation for it, you're doing two things, you're making it harder to use. And you're also telling people what the standard of success is. When the point of the mission statement that we have is only you can say what makes you smile in this situation. So I can't put criterion around it to say, well, as long as my lighting is good enough, you're gonna be happy with this interview. As long as my, you know, shirts the right color, I can't put the standards on it. Only you get to judge that. And so that's why I kept it very short, so it was highly subjective. But you as the constituent and me as the constituent would evaluate it qualitatively. That's another thing, which means I have to ask you, if it's working for you, not just hand you statistics and say it is working for you, which is what most businesses do.”

Leading through a pandemic

This year has been difficult on so many businesses around the world. And Smile Brands has definitely been impacted by current events. Their business dropped by around 93% in three days when the pandemic first started. Steve and his leadership team knew they had to act fast. 

One thing they implemented right away was daily calls for the leadership team. For the first full month of the pandemic the leadership team met every single day Monday to Sunday. And after the first month they eliminated their Saturday and Sunday meetings, but they still meet every Monday through Friday even now, six months into the pandemic. 

He also told his leadership team early on, “his is my first pandemic. So I'm probably not going to do it that well. I'll make you guys a promise, my second pandemic, I'm gonna be really good at this.” He says it was tongue in cheek, but it also was his way of letting leadership know that they have the freedom to figure out things together as they go. He was telling them none of us have been through this before, so mistakes will be made, and that’s okay. None of us should be afraid to fail. 

They also did have to furlough 85% of their workforce, which was a really hard decision for Steve and his team to make. But he explained to employees that while it is painful to go through this now, it would be even more painful to go through this and come out the other side and not have a job to come back to. 

One of the biggest things they have done to help employees through this tough time is constantly communicating with them. Employees have been kept up to date throughout the entire pandemic so they know what is going on, what to expect, and how to plan for the future. 

They also provided webinars and assistance with common issues employees were dealing with, such as how to sign up for unemployment in their area. 

Steve says, “We also set in mind a canyon metaphor, not a mountain metaphor, but a canyon metaphor. And the reason the canyon was so important, as we sort of started here, we slid down to the bottom, which could still be a mountain metaphor. But what I wanted people to think about is surviving on that canyon floor during COVID. And then building back to a new place, not climbing back to the old place. So we really reinvented every aspect of our business, while we're on the canyon floor.”

The good news is they have started emerging from the canyon floor. They’ve got 100% of their revenue back and they are starting to hire back their employees.

Steve’s advice for leaders looking to be more effective 

One of the biggest pieces of advice Steve offers to others looking to be more effective leaders is to find a mechanism as a leader to be wrong. Leadership is not about knowing everything and having all the answers. 

He says, “It's not reality, especially today, when things are happening so fast, and short cycle. And oh, by the way, we're in the middle of pandemic and social unrest and everything else. So you know, you're doing a lot more to help people understand how to explore their way to making decisions or to commit to a decision than you are necessarily knowing the answer. So I think that's number one. And so, you know, that thing about that being my first pandemic was a freeing trick, if you will. All of us as a leadership team need to say, hey, don't sweat it. We don't have to be right. We just have to be moving.”

Steve believes that one of the most powerful things leaders can do is to say “I don’t know the answer to that. Let’s figure it out”. Growth comes when everyone is questioning things and exploring things together instead of having answers given to them. 

Direct download: Steve_Bilt_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:03pm PDT

I have someone I work with who helps me with content. She assists me with writing course descriptions, research, worksheets for courses, etc.

A year or so ago, I threw a lot of work her way and her response to me was, "How would you prioritize these different projects?". It was her way of saying, "No, I can't do all of this, you need to pick and choose."

It took me a while to realize that what she was really doing was saying no to me, but in a way that didn't cause any tension or friction.

This is much better than saying something like, "Sorry I can't do all of this," or "Sure, I can do it", but then not being able to deliver.

It made me realize that I was indeed throwing too much work at her, and it forced me to think about what projects were important and what could wait.

She still uses this every time we speak--it's an amazing technique that anyone can use. Give it a shot and see what happens!

Direct download: How_Can_You_Say_No_Without_Getting_in_Trouble.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:54pm PDT

Doug DeVos is the co-Chairman and former CEO of Amway, the world’s largest direct selling company that provides health, beauty, and home care products. The company was actually founded over 60 years ago by Doug’s father and his father’s best friend. The company now has around 15,000 employees. 

Doug has been inducted into the U.S. Direct Selling Association Hall of Fame and he received the Direct Selling Education Foundation’s Circle of Honor award. He currently chairs the Executive Committee for the National Constitution Center and he is a chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations.

The world has been going through some challenging times over the past year with the pandemic, political unrest, extreme weather, and social injustice. Businesses are having to learn how to adapt quickly. 

The founders of Amway, Doug’s father, Rich, and his father’s best friend, Jay, were no strangers to tough times. Growing up Rich’s family went through the Great Depression, they didn’t even have a dime to their name. Rich’s father lost his job, they lost their house, they had to move in with Rich’s grandparents. But they didn’t give up. 

Before Rich and Jay started Amway they were in World War II together and when they came back to the US they wanted to start a business. So they started a flight school, even though neither one of them knew how to fly. After that endeavor failed they bought a boat and decided to sail to South America. They made it to the coast of Cuba when their boat sank. But that didn’t stop them. 

Doug shares, “It was these stories of determination and persistence that seemed to turn out well in the end. And that's been my experience, not that life is without challenge, of course, there's challenges. Of course, there's tragedy. I know you've dealt with it, everybody deals with it. You lose a loved one unexpectedly. Something happens that you didn't plan on, it's crushing. But you just have to keep moving forward. And in my experience, I've seen people move forward from really, really tough circumstances, and find a better future. And it's a lot better to keep that pursuit alive than to just stop and feel stuck.”

How Amway is navigating through challenging times 

Just like every other business around the world, Amway is finding ways to continue providing great products and services in the midst of tough times. And Doug shares that the key to successfully getting through times like this is knowing who you are as a company. As a company you have to understand who you are and why you do what you do. That is the foundation that you can go back to in times like these.

Doug says, “When you talk about injustice in the world, we go back and say we have provided an opportunity for everybody, anybody from the very beginning. So we can express our values through how we operate. You know, because we've been doing it ever since we began. So we don't have to make something up or try to catch up or adjust. But what we do have to do is look at ourselves honestly and say, can we do it better? Can we provide a better opportunity for more people, that becomes more real, and can we give them better products to sell and better support with technology and operations? Those are the things that we have to challenge ourselves and be honest to say, you know, in some aspects of the business, we could be better, we should be better, and we will be better.”

Inside of Amway they have also had to reinvent themselves in three main ways to keep working effectively in this new world of work. 

  • Technology: They have heavily invested in new technologies to allow them to keep working while everyone is at home. They are coming up with creative ways to allow employees to communicate with each other, with leadership, and with customers while working remotely from home.  
  • Workplace practices: They have changed the way they receive feedback from employees. Instead of doing a survey every two years they are now getting feedback every 30 days. The leaders at Amway have put attendance and vacation policies on hold and they are focused on making sure all of their employees are set up well at home, that they are safe, that they are supported, and that they are rewarded. 
  • Communication and collaboration: In order to keep moving the company forward in these times the leadership at Amway knows they have to express the company vision to everyone. They have to be able to communicate and collaborate while working remotely. They have found that they are communicating more often now, with technology, than they did when everything was done in person. 

Doug says Amway is continuing to be successful because, “We believe that people given an opportunity can have a business of their own and be successful, we feel the same way with our employees, they want to work, they want to be productive, they want to do well. And so when we allow that to happen, we can follow their lead.”

The center of Amway’s culture 

Culture is a critical part of any company. When asked how Amway looks at culture Doug says they start with the heart. When it comes to fostering culture he believes that you have to have a heart for the business and for other people.  

Doug gave an example of a time when Amway had put a program in place to foster communication within their manufacturing team. And after going through the program an employee described how much of an impact it had on him. The employee said he had a coworker who he couldn’t stand working with. The coworker was hard to get along with and they just didn’t work well together. But after going through this program and communicating with each other he learned that his coworker was going through some really tough things at home and he brought a lot of huge burdens in with him to work. And after understanding that they were able to communicate better and ended up enjoying working together. 

Leading with your heart is a big part of the Amway culture. The other two major components are having a growth mindset and always being creative, and thinking of new ways to move forward.

The concept of leading with your heart is so needed inside of organizations right now. As we go through tough times leaders need to be able to be empathetic and understanding of what employees are going through. Even when tough decisions need to be made, like letting people go or huge layoffs, leaders can make those decisions while showing they care. For example, at one point when Amway had a downturn and had to lay off quite a few people they reached out to other local businesses to see if they were hiring. They worked very hard to match outgoing employees with local jobs based on their skills and abilities. So being empathetic doesn’t mean you will never have to make a hard decision, but it means you won’t make that decision easily and you will do whatever you possibly can to try to help your people. 

Some people may feel that leading from the heart is too soft or doesn’t make sense for making money. But as Doug shares, “leading from the heart doesn't mean you don't hold people accountable. It doesn't mean you don't set targets and goals for yourself or for others. It just means that when you're working with people, you work with them differently, that you're not a boss with a subordinate, you're a leader with a team. And so your role, you begin to think of your role differently of bringing people in.”

The biggest challenge for businesses right now 

This year has been difficult for business leaders, and while we will get through this pandemic eventually there will always be challenges for leaders to overcome. One major issue Doug believes that businesses are facing now and that they will continue to face for a while is division. And the worst thing we can do, Doug says, is blame other people instead of working together to overcome challenges.

He says, “I'm blessed to have had a chance to continue to serve on the National Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. And you find that through the US Constitution, you know, there's a lot of things there. But what it is, is it's an idea, and a document that helps bring people together, not that we have all the answers, we want to be a more perfect union.  But it's a place if we'll work together, even if we disagree. And there's been a lot of disagreement since the founding of our country. But people found a way to work together, even the formation of the Constitution took a whole bunch of people all summer long arguing until they found something. But they didn't give up on the conversation. They didn't give up on their future. And I think I think the biggest challenge for business is to continue to apply that faith, that belief in the future, and really challenge ourselves to work through whatever the challenges are, but to do it together, don't blame other people, but figure out how to connect with other people. Say, let’s focus on the problem or the challenge and see what we can do to address it.”

There are always going to be changes in the marketplace and challenges that come our way, but the most important thing is to face these challenges together in collaboration. Overcoming things together will always be more effective than dividing and turning on each other. 

Another challenge that business leaders of the future will have to deal with is the pace at which things are changing. Leaders in the past had the luxury of being able to be able to know the general direction that they needed to go, but the variations today are so dramatic and things are so uncertain it is hard to know which way to go. 

So what can leaders do? Doug says, “You lead then from the inside out, you know, you start with your values and your belief systems, what do you believe in? And then you figure out how to apply it to those changing conditions. You know, we would have to do that on a regular basis to say what do we believe in? Because your belief system, whatever it is for you, it is going to drive a set of behaviors, in my opinion. So when you believe something, you're going to go in a direction and then you're going to make adjustments, you know, to the uncertainty Wow, I didn't see that one coming. But here's how we can turn this challenge into an opportunity. You know, and here's how we can move, and minimize the bad or maximize the good in whatever change is happening.”

And ultimately you have to believe in your people and the teams around you to try to come together and find solutions. 

How to reinvent yourself 

A lot of people these days are having to figure out how to reinvent themselves, whether it is because they are being laid off or because they foresee disruptions coming in their industry, etc…

Doug himself has recently gone through a reinvention after moving from CEO of Amway to co-Chairman. And he has some advice for others trying to make a transition. First of all, he says that just because your job or your position or something around you has changed, it doesn’t mean that your value as a person has changed. You still have the same talents, the same skills, and the same values as you have always had. 

He also says it is important to look at the bigger picture, don’t pigeonhole yourself into a certain industry or job title. Consider alternatives that would be a fit for your skills. It might be something outside of your comfort zone or something you hadn’t considered before. Be open minded and curious. 

And finally he says, don’t let yourself get stuck. This is something he learned from his father and his grandfather. No matter what setbacks you face, just keep moving forward. 

He says, “You'll probably have a few failures, a few things won't work out, you won't get the next opportunity to come your way that you were hoping for. But if you keep at it, and you keep that attitude strong, and you keep working at it, I think people put their money on people who are trying to find a way forward even in tough situations.”

Direct download: Doug_Devos_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 6:59pm PDT

When was the last time you did something to recognize your people?

I'm amazed at how easy it is to show appreciation, yet how few of us (especially #leaders) actually do it!

Here are some super simple ideas for you:

  • 🙌Go up to someone and thank them for the hard work they are doing.
  • 📧Send an email to the team or company recognizing someone for their hard work.
  • 🍕Take a coworker out for lunch.
  • ☕Bring a coworker coffee or tea.
  • 💬Post a comment thanking someone on your internal collaboration tool.
  • 📣Shout out an employee during an all-hands meeting.
  • ❤️Give an employee a gift card.
  • 📜Write a personal note to a coworker.

There are literally hundreds of things you can do, so why aren't you doing them?

One of the best ways you can serve those around you is by recognizing them. It feels terrible to work hard on something and not be appreciated!

Direct download: How_Can_You_Recognize_Your_People.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 5:45am PDT

Marc Randolph is the co-founder and founding CEO of Netflix. He also served on the board of Netflix up until 2003. And Netflix wasn’t his only startup, he’s founded or co-founded 6 other successful startups. He is also the author of the bestselling book, That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea

From very early on Marc was entrepreneurial. As a kid he was always trying to find problems and unique ways to solve them. He sold seeds door to door, did candy arbitrage, he even carried a notebook around with him to write down invention ideas he had. He was always starting clubs and groups and coming up with products throughout high school and college. And as Marc shares, one of the keys to being an entrepreneur is practice, practice, practice. 

In his early career Marc had a small startup that he was helping run. After the company was sold he had to find something else to do so he went to work at another startup company which just happened to be led by a man named Reed Hastings. 

How Netflix came to be

Marc and Reed ended up carpooling to work each day so they got to know each other pretty well. One day they found out that the startup they were working for was being acquired and they both would be losing their jobs in the merger. So they had to figure out their next move.

Marc had several more ideas for products and companies so he wanted to continue his successful journey with startups (he had done 5 previously). But Reed wasn’t as eager to start another company, he had other plans. But they came to an agreement that if Marc came up with a great idea Reed would be the angel investor and he would share the board. 

So Marc got to work to come up with the next winning idea. And as they carpooled into work Marc would pitch Reed his ideas. And after many not so great ideas such as personalized dog food and customizable shampoo, Marc pitched an idea that at the time didn’t make sense, but that later on would become Netflix. They both agreed that in theory the idea was a great one. The only problem was that at the time he came up with the idea of video rental by mail the only video format was the VHS cassette which was heavy and expensive to ship. So that idea at the time was discarded with the dog food and the shampoo. 

It just so happened that at a later date Reed found an article about a new technology called the DVD and realized this could be the missing piece to an otherwise great business idea. So they went and got a used music CD and a small envelope and they mailed it to themselves to see what would happen. And in less than 24 hours they had the small envelope with an unbroken CD in their mailbox and they knew they had something. 

How to scale culture 

As Marc shares culture is not just what you say, it’s not something that you put up on posters around the office, or some catch phrases that you come up with in a meeting. He says, “Culture is how you act. It's how you are, it's the things you do. And even more importantly, culture springs from how the founders and the early employees act with each other, with their employees, with their customers. And so, huge amounts of the Netflix culture arised organically, from the way that Reed and I behaved, the way that I treat people, the way I worked with people before.”

When Netflix first started as a company they had a very small staff of around 20 or so people and most of them had worked together before in other companies. So it made it easier to maintain a culture at that point. Marc says he knew that he could ask an employee to take ownership of a project due in two weeks and then know that in two weeks they would show up with the results no matter what. The small team worked really well together and had a culture of mutual respect, trust, and ownership.

But that gets hard to maintain when your company grows and you have 100, 500, or 1,000+ employees. 

“When you get bigger, something happens where someone shows up late, or they show up but don't have everything done. And a lot of managers would say, Oh, this isn't good. Okay, we can't have that happen. Everybody, I want status reports. I need to know if there's gonna be a problem in advance. So everyone needs to send status reports. And everyone goes, Oh, status reports. And then someone else shows up and they're there on time with it all done, but they spent too much. And  many managers will go, Oh, I can't let that happen. Okay, I need to pre-approve anything over $100 to make sure you don't make a spending mistake. I need everyone to send expense reports. And then everyone goes, oh, god expense reports.”

And as Marc goes on to share what happens over time is you build the company in a way that protects you from people with bad judgment, but along the way with these added rules, steps, and processes you are simultaneously driving the people with good judgment crazy. And that is how you lose good employees. 

So what the team at Netflix decided early on was that they would build a company just for people with good judgment. People that they knew they could count on, people that weren’t afraid to work hard and take ownership of things and in exchange the leadership team could give employees freedom and the ability to make their own decisions. And while Marc admits there was a time when they almost lost the culture as they grew, ultimately they have been able to keep it with intentionality, even now with almost 9,000 employees. 

How Netflix overcame a 40% decrease in workforce

Up until the spring of 2000 Netflix was doing great. They had been offering monthly subscriptions, they had no due dates and no late fees and people were loving it. But then the dot com bubble burst and they were in trouble. They were on the brink of going broke and they needed help fast. Marc and his team were actually exploring selling Netflix at that point. 

But they also had another idea that they felt could save the company from ruin and that was to pitch an idea to Blockbuster. And while it may seem odd now because Blockbuster isn’t even around anymore, back in 2000 business was booming for them. They had 9000 locations and Netflix saw an opportunity to make a partnership. Basically they were hoping that Blockbuster would agree to a blended model, which would mean they would continue their current in-store business, but they would also give customers the option of ordering a movie online, having it delivered to their house, and then dropping it back off to a Blockbuster location in person or vice versa, picking a movie up in person and then mailing it back in. 

But Blockbuster wasn’t interested. They said no to Netflix, and they decided to use that model but to do it on their own. So not only did Netflix not get the rescue they were hoping for, but now they had another competitor. But that didn’t stop them. They realized there would be no one to save them, they would have to save themselves and that just pushed them to work harder. 

But even though they were working hard to figure out a solution, they were still bleeding cash. Marc and his team knew they had a tough decision to make. They were going to have to say goodbye to some people on the team. They had to lose 40% of the employees. And as Marc shares it was the most painful decision he has ever had to make, especially because a lot of these people were hired by Marc himself. 

After reducing the workforce the Netflix team went into survival mode. They got back to the nitty gritty of the business to figure out ways to bring costs down, turn visitors into subscriptions more quickly, and how to run things more effectively. Marc says they had some big breakthroughs, but they also had a lot of luck involved in bringing them out of this tough time. 

The greatest lesson Marc has learned 

Marc has started six successful businesses, he has mentored hundreds of early stage entrepreneurs, he has been a CEO, a board member, and an investor. Along the way he has learned a lot, but his biggest piece of advice for leaders looking to create great companies where people want to work is to empower people to make mistakes. 

He says, “The thing that I've learned over and over and over again, is that there's no such thing as a good idea. That too many companies believe that there are good ideas and the people who have them, that the proportion of good ideas commensurate with how high you are in the company. And I learned that's just ridiculous, and that the only way to find out whether ideas are good or bad is to try them. And so the trick is not building an organization just good at coming up with ideas, but building an organization which is tremendously good at trying thousands of bad ideas.”

In order to do that leaders not only need to allow their people to make mistakes, but they also have to give people the power to make decisions. This is incredibly hard to do, but as Marc shares just because it is hard doesn’t change the importance of doing it. Marc believes that the most effective way to build a culture of innovation and risk taking is to demonstrate it at the top.

Also, when it comes to entrepreneurship Marc believes that while anyone can have a good idea, “The singular difference between an entrepreneur and someone else is a predisposition to action. Everyone thinks of ideas, a small number of people say let's do something about it.”

Randolph’s Rules for success 

Marc’s dad imparted eight rules for success to him as a young adult, and he still looks at this list everyday, in fact it’s hanging up above the sink in his bathroom. So I asked Marc to share what these eight rules are. They are:

  1. Do at least 10% more than you are asked
  2. Never, ever, to anybody present as fact opinions on things you don’t know. Take great care and discipline.
  3. Be courteous and considerate always--up and down
  4. Don’t knock, don’t complain--stick to constructive, serious criticism
  5. Don’t be afraid to make decisions when you have the facts on which to make them
  6. Quantify where possible
  7. Be open-minded but skeptical
  8. Be prompt
Direct download: Marc_Randolph_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 7:25pm PDT

One aspect of the servant mindset is practicing self-care.

This is something we often forget, especially in times of crisis.

You won’t be able to serve others if you are not your best self.

So make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Even with the pandemic, I still make time to exercise each day, eat healthy, and spend time working on #chess because these things make me happy!

What are you doing to look after yourself during these tough times?

Direct download: What_Are_You_Doing_to_Look_After_Yourself.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:50am PDT

Hubert Joly is the former Chairman and CEO of Best Buy. Currently he is a professor at Harvard Business School, he is on the board of two companies--Johnson & Johnson and Ralph Lauren. He is coaching and mentoring a number of CEOs and senior leaders and he is writing a new book which is set to come out next May titled: The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism

Hubert was elected a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. He was honored as one of the 25 most influential executives of the business travel industry in 2006 and 2009 by Business Travel News Magazine. He was voted one of the top 100 CEOs on Glassdoor in 2017 and 2018. And he was named one of the best CEOs in the world by the CEOWorld Magazine. 

He didn’t always dream of being a leader. In fact, when he was 10 years old he wanted to be a vet and then in high school, he felt his career would be in economics. After college, he spent 12 years at McKinsey & Company as a consultant before ultimately realizing he wanted to lead a business. And he has led quite a few companies through turnarounds and major digital transformations. 

How Hubert Transformed Best Buy 

When Hubert was first approached about the position of CEO at Best Buy the company was struggling. It was on the brink of closing. Most people would have run away as fast as they could, not wanting to be attached to a failing company. But Hubert did his due diligence, he visited several locations, spoke with employees, and thought about what could be done to turn the company around. And he ultimately took the job. 

He realized early on that while everyone gets excited about technology and gadgets and love using them, a lot of times we need help figuring out how to use them. So Hubert knew Best Buy had to be able to help people solve technology issues and answer questions. 

Hubert also saw the need for displaying actual working products on the shelves instead of boxes with products inside. Looking at shelves of boxes is not inspiring, people need to be able to see and experience the products for themselves. 

So he saw a lot of opportunities to improve Best Buy. He says, “I felt that there was an opportunity. That we have enough assets and that because the problems were self inflicted, we could effectuate a turnaround. So I told the recruiting committee of the board, look, I want the job and here's my eight page memo on what I'm going to do if you guys recruit me and I never looked back.”

Hubert says there are four levers in a turnaround. They are to grow the revenue line, cut costs, optimize benefits, and then if the first three are not enough, as a last resort you go after the headcount or redeploy people. 

The three ways to cut costs before cutting your headcount 

A lot of leaders first starting at a struggling organization probably would have thought about cutting back on the headcount first to save money. But Hubert not only didn’t take that route, he actually put more money into training, incentives, wellness, etc…

As he shares, “I'm not the cut, cut cut guy. I'm a big believer that in business you have three imperatives in business. One is the people imperative, you need to have good people well trained, well equipped. Then you have the customer or business imperative, you need to have happy customers to whom you sell, you know, compelling services. And then you, of course, have a financial imperative, which is you need money. But the financial performance is an outcome of excellence on the customer imperative, which itself is an outcome of excellence on the people imperative. So it's people, business, finance, and you treat profit as an outcome, not as your singular focus.”

Hubert truly believes that leaders should treat humans as a solution to the problem, not as a source of the problem. And we should use headcount reduction only as a last resort.

How to balance profit and purpose 

Hubert is a big believer in being focused on purpose and humanity in business and killing the idea of shareholder primacy. The sole purpose of a company can not be just to make money. He still understands that companies need to take care of shareholders, but taking care of them should be an outcome, not the first priority. 

People should be at the heart of the business. They are the engine that allows the business to work. So how did Hubert convince the board members and shareholders at Best Buy that purpose and people mattered just as much as profit and revenue? 

 

He shares that part of the issue with past management is that they would tell shareholders a lot of exciting stories about what could be done, but they never delivered actual results. When he laid out his plan for the shareholders and board members at Best Buy he focused on what he calls the say-do ratio--the ratio between what they said they were going to do and what they actually did. 

There were plenty of opportunities, but the shareholders needed to see that they could actually be executed. So every quarter Hubert would give them progress reports with tangible results. Leaders need to keep shareholders in the journey. Give them hope and confidence that things are going to work, but be honest and open with them and keep them in the loop. 

As long as you are delivering and focusing on that say-do ratio you should keep your eye on the prize. Don’t let shareholders sway you too much. Hubert says, “I think management teams that use the short term focus of the investors as an excuse to not do the right thing, I think are completely misled. I have found that if you go to the investors, and share with them, what you're doing, the investments you're making, the return you're expecting, they'll believe you and follow you. And then in the end, during our second phase, I actually told our investors our purpose is not to make money.”

When leading Best Buy Hubert believed the purpose of the company was not to make money, it was to enrich lives through technology by addressing key human needs. He made it clear that they were not in the business of selling TVs, they were in the business of understanding what it is people are trying to do in their life and being there to advise and support them. But when you run your business with that mindset, the money will be the outcome. 

The danger that leaders need to avoid 

In the past people looking to become leaders were taught that being smart was really important. It was believed that if you wanted to be a great leader you had to know it all, have all the answers, you had to be able to solve any problem, and show others that you are intelligent. 

Hubert sees that as a danger for leaders. Having this mindset makes it easy to fall into the trap of power, fame, money and glory. While these things on their own are not necessarily bad, they are easy to get wrapped up in. Leaders who make decisions based solely on gaining more power, fame, money or glory usually end up in scandals and disasters. 

Instead leaders should lead with humility, integrity, transparency and empathy. Leaders no longer have to know everything, they can look to the people around them for ideas, solutions, and results. 

The five Bs of purposeful leadership

In order to avoid the traps of power, fame, money, and glory Hubert says leaders need to reset. And he gives 5 Bs that leaders should focus on in order to truly be purpose driven and centered on their people.

  • Be clear about your purpose as a human being--What drives you in life? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to contribute? Make sure you lead with those things in mind and make sure the company you work for aligns with your purpose. And this also means you understand the purpose of others around you and what drives them. 
  • Be clear about who you serve as a leader--Your focus should be on the people around you, not yourself. If you are serving yourself or your boss, that’s a problem. 
  • Be clear about your role as a leader--Your role as a leader is to create an environment in which others can be successful. It’s not to be the smartest person in the room or to know it all. 
  • Be a value driven leader--Having integrity is fundamental
  • Be an authentic leader--You have to be able to be vulnerable and genuinely connect with people around you. 






Direct download: Hubert_Joly_Podcast_-_DONE_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20am PDT

I have witnessed first hand the difference between sympathy and empathy when I worked with two different companies.

In the first company, there was a relatively new employee being introduced to a senior leader.

The new employee was talking about how nervous she was, how she wanted to make an impact, and how she wasn’t sure she was doing a good job.

The senior leader said, “That’s pretty tough, I'm sorry that you feel that way. But don't worry, I’m sure you'll be able to get through it. ”

A couple of months later, the same thing happened at another company.

The senior leader sat down with the employee and asked her to share more about her fears and struggles within the company.

The senior leader also shared his experience when he was new and told her that he’s always there to help her.

That is the difference of sympathy and empathy.

The first leader just showed sympathy by saying “I’m sorry”.

The second leader showed empathy by putting himself in the employee’s shoes and matching his emotions by relieving his past.

Direct download: 4._Sympathy_and_Empathy_are_Not_the_Same_Thing.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:16pm PDT

Jim Heppelmann is the CEO of PTC, a technology software company with 6,500 employees in 30 countries. Jim was named one of “7 IoT leaders to Watch in 2017” by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, he was recognized as “IoT CEO of the Year” by PostScapes, “Technology CEO of the Year” by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, and he received the CAD Society Leadership Award for his work with the Internet of Things. 

Together with Harvard Professor, Michael Porter, Jim has co-authored three highly influential articles on the transformational impact of the Internet of Things on business. 

Jim grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota as one of eight children. It was during his upbringing on the farm that he really learned the value of hard work as well as the ability to take things apart and put them back together, which is in part why he was successful as a mechanical engineer. 

It was actually one of his older sisters who inspired him to attend college and study to become an engineer in the first place. After she graduated from college and got her first job she was already making as much as their parents, and Jim was amazed by that. So engineering brought him to college, but once he got there he fell in love with computer science.  He studied at the intersection of where software meets engineering, which turned out to work great as he is now the CEO of a company that produces software for engineers.

An inside look at the role of CEO

A lot of people may think they have an idea of what CEOs do throughout the day, and of course it differs a bit for each CEO depending on the organization. But Jim shares what it is like for him day to day as a CEO. 

He says, “I don't want this to sound derogatory in any way, but maybe I'm responsible for herding cats, because there's a lot of people that are part of a lot of initiatives, a lot of programs, a big organization. And I'm trying to keep all of that moving in the right direction generally. So I'm not doing the precise tweaks, but try to keep everybody understanding where we're going. And make sure they're moving in that direction, and they're moving at the right pace. So that, you know, it all comes together each quarter when we're delivering products or projects or trying to make the quarter quarterly results happen.”

He also shares that a large part of his day is made up of meeting with his people to check in to see how things are going, what projects they are working on, how they are solving problems, etc...He doesn’t try to tell people what to do, but he makes suggestions and tries to guide people in the right direction. 

One part of the job that gives him a lot of energy is interacting with customers. He really enjoys figuring out what it is they are trying to do, how PTC can help them, and getting feedback on the good and bad aspects of their products.

All in all Jim sees himself as the vision guy. While he realizes the need for internal meetings and keeping the organization on track, he really loves working with the engineers on the next generation approach they are building and working with the customers on where the company is going and the vision for the future of PTC. 

Why CEOs should have a short attention span

Jim often wakes up in the middle of the night with new ideas or ways to solve a problem. And the joke at PTC is that about the time Jim gets bored with something that is when it really starts to work. That’s because as long as he is focused on solving something he is going to come in to work with those middle of the night ideas to keep tweaking and fixing certain things. 

But Jim believes that CEOs should be a little impatient and have a short attention span. Why? Because Jim says the biggest problem with CEOs at his level of tenure is they have become entrenched in old thinking. 

About some CEOs, he says, “They made a decision five years ago. Maybe even eight years ago, and for a couple years, they improved it a little bit. And then they've just spent the last five years tell everybody why it works. And saying we're not going to change it. And I'm a little bit of a different cut. I say, hey, we did this, we improved it, it's working. But we’ve got to think about what's next. And then let's not wait until it's not working to think about what's next. Let's some of us start thinking about what we're going to do next, even while this is still working pretty well.”

Jim is always looking for the next round of changes that make PTC better, or that protect them from a new threat headed their way. This is a quality that he believes all CEOs should have. Always looking to the next thing, don’t just ride current success. 

Achieving work-life balance as a CEO 

As the CEO of 6,500+ employees, Jim seems very relaxed and happy. He doesn’t seem stressed out at all. One thing that has helped him with this a lot is having a work-life balance. He not only leads the organization, but he also makes time to spend time with his family, take care of the animals on his farm, and cook. But that wasn’t always the case.

Jim says when he first became a CEO he burned the candle at both ends, he tried to do everything on his own. And overtime he learned that was not sustainable. When sharing what he learned he says, “what I should do is focus my energy where I really bring a lot of value to the table, again, which tends to be around product strategies, marketing strategies, marketing messages, competitive strategies, and so forth. And let somebody else manage the financial plan, let somebody else manage the professional services margins, and things like that because I don't need to do that and I don't bring a tremendous quality to it, you know, nothing super unique or special. And at the end of the day, you’ve got to pick your battles, there's just not enough time for a CEO to be in charge of everything. So I got a lot happier after I realized I should roll with the punches and just really add value where I think I have the most value to add.”

This is such great advice for all CEOs, don’t try to have your hand in all the cookie jars. Don’t take everything upon yourself and don’t think you have to have all the answers. You will get burnt out that way. Surround yourself with people who are good at what you are not good at and rely on them. 

Three ways to battle entrenched thinking 

No matter what industry you work in, you may find that people around you are entrenched in old ways of thinking, especially if they have been in a certain role for a long time. People don’t like change, it’s just a fact of life. So how do you change that? Jim has three ways that he battled entrenched thinking inside of PTC when he first joined. 

  • Make change part of your company branding--Create a company culture that likes change. Part of what Jim did to change the culture was he adopted some slogans like Take a Fresh Look. Everything about the company should embrace change and discourage getting complacent. 
  • Lead by example--Live out the values you want to see inside your organization. If you want employees to embrace change, you must first be the one to embrace change. Make sure people know it is not about making one change and then staying there, it is about constant change. The point is to try to be that company who changes all the time, you can't pin them down, because they're too busy changing. 
  • Celebrate change--Recognize individuals who step out and do something different, even if what they tried didn’t work. 

The impact of augmented reality on the future of work 

One of the major trends Jim is paying attention to at the moment is augmented reality and the impact it is having on the future of work. There are so many applications for this technology. And one way it could help has been magnified by Covid. One quarter of the world works behind a computer screen and digitalization has done amazing things for knowledge workers who are in these positions especially in these times when they can easily work remotely from their homes. But for the other three quarters of the world the front line workers don’t have any other option but to go to work physically at a specific location or they can be laid off or fired. 

Augmented reality (AR) could really solve this problem for frontline workers. It can also help people make fewer mistakes, do their jobs more efficiently, and it can even help with the current skills gap problem.

In the US the demographics have changed, and we no longer have new generations of workers going into factories and industrial work, for a variety of reasons. People felt like this work was moving overseas, this type of work is no longer seen as desirable, etc...So what we now have is a majority of people in this industry reaching retirement age with no one younger coming in to take their places. This is the skills gap problem. 

How could AR help solve this problem? It could record the knowledge of the current workers to be used for training in the future and it could also be used to show potential workers what the work is really like to convince them to go into that field of work. 

As Jim shares, “AR can play a huge role. Because for example, we can capture the expertise of the retiring worker, that kind of AR YouTube idea. We can capture that expertise, store it, and when a new worker shows up through a Hololens, or phone or tablet actually redeploy that coaching that's been digitized into the physical environment for the benefit of the new worker. So the new worker can be coached in the actual environment by somebody who retired two years ago. It's just a very powerful idea.”

Direct download: Jim_Heppelmann_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:40am PDT

Leadership is a lot like working out.

When you work out and really push yourself, you're actually tearing down your muscles.

When you recover and rest, your muscles heal and become stronger.

In other words, before you become bigger and stronger, you first have to go through a process of tearing down and rebuilding.

And a lot is the same for leadership.

If you want to become a better, future-ready leader, you first have to go through a process of tearing down and getting rid of your outdated ways of thinking about work and leadership.

You have to push yourself and be uncomfortable in order to see results later, just like working out.

Direct download: 3._Leadership_and_Exercise.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 6:33pm PDT

Dan Pink is the bestselling author of six books including Drive, To Sell is Human, and his newest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. In 2019 London based Thinkers 50 named Dan the 6th most influential management thinker in the world. 

He has contributed to Fast Company, Wired, The New York Times, Slate and others. And prior to working on his own, he worked in several political positions, including chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore from 1995-1997.

Dan has been writing for around 20 years and a lot has changed in the world of work since he first began. But his first book was actually ahead of the game back in 2001 when he wrote Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live. He recognized the trend before the iPhone came out and just a few years after broadband internet. 

Now the numbers have risen quite a bit and we are seeing a lot more people go off to work for themselves, thanks to advances in technology and the changing relationship between organizations and individuals. And now with the pandemic and we are seeing a lot of people make career transitions and try to do their own thing. 

As Dan shares, one of the interesting things that has come about from Covid-19 is the quick move to remote work for so many people. Companies who pushed back on work from home situations for so long because they thought it would never work were forced overnight to set employees up to work remotely. And Dan believes that is a potentially significant, lasting change that will make remote working much more normalized.  

The science of time

Dan’s newest book, When, came about while he was trying to figure out the best way to work from home and be productive. He wanted to know when to do work, when to do certain tasks, when to start a project and when to abandon a project, etc…

And while he was researching the topic of perfect timing he realized there was a lot of information available, but it was all over the place. And he found that contrary to common belief timing is not an art, it is really a science.  

He says, “It wasn't simply, you know, in one domain, it wasn't simply saying in economics. It was in economics, it was in social psychology, but it was also in anthropology, it was in linguistics, it was in molecular biology, it was--there's a whole field called pronto biology. It was in epidemiology. It was in anesthesiology. I mean, there's like, you know, all these different fields and so it took me two years to go through the research.”

But what he found over the course of the two years of research has helped him find the best timing for different tasks and allowed him to find his optimal schedule for productivity. 

How to optimize productivity (32:52)

Through his research Dan found that spread over the various fields that have studies on time was the conclusion that our performance changes throughout the day. The day turns out to be pretty fundamental and our brain power does not remain constant during the course of a day. We all have daily high points and daily low points that we need to pay attention to. Understanding these basics can help us make better decisions about when to do certain tasks during the day. 

One example of this change in performance comes from a study of students in Denmark who took a standardized test. They all had to take the test on computers, but the school didn’t have enough for everyone to take the test at the same time. So some students took the test in the morning and others took it in the afternoon.

And the test results showed that the students who took the test in the afternoon scored systematically lower than the students who took it in the morning. Their scores looked as if the students had missed two weeks of lessons. 

There are also studies in hospitals that show that handwashing in hospitals deteriorates significantly in the afternoon. And anesthesia errors are four times more likely at 3pm then they are at 9am. 

As Dan shares, “I mean, over and over again, just about every dimension of performance, you see systematic differences in performance based on time of day. And so while you might not always be able to control your schedule, most of us don't have full control over our schedule. It isn't simply the case that these differences are meaningless or that a cup of coffee can cure it. You actually want to take a much more thoughtful, intentional, systematic approach to when you do things in the course of the day.”

How should we structure our day?

Based on the findings from Dan’s research it appears there are three types of people. Those who rise naturally early (larks), those who naturally sleep late and wake up late (owls), and people who are in the middle (third birds). Most people are in the middle. And there are multiple tests you can take and instruments to help figure out where you are on the scale, but Dan gives one simple way to figure out which one you are. 

First, think about when you would ideally go to sleep, if you had a free day and you didn’t have anything that would require you to sleep at a certain time. Naturally when would you like to fall asleep. Then think about when you would ideally like to wake up in the morning, again if nothing was causing you to wake up (kids, work, noise, etc..). When would you ideally wake up? 

Then using those two times find the midpoint of sleep. For example, maybe you would ideally like to go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 8am. Your midpoint of sleep would be 4am. Now if your midpoint of sleep is before 3:30am you are probably a lark. If the midpoint of sleep is after 5:30am you’re probably an owl and if your midpoint is between 3:30am and 5:30am you are probably a third bird in the middle. People in the middle tend to be larkey, but not a full fledged lark. 

So taking that information you can find out how to start experimenting to get to your ideal productivity. We all move through the day and experience three periods of time:

  • Peak--the time when we are most vigilant and productive. We are best able to avoid distractions during this time. This is when you should focus on analytic work that requires heads down focus and attention. For larks and third birds this is early in the day. For owls this is late afternoon. 
  • Trough--This is a terrible time of day when we see drops in performance. This is when you want to do basic administrative work or work that doesn’t require massive brain power or creativity.  
  • Recovery--For 80% of us we hit this point in late afternoon/early evening. This is when our vigilance is down, but our mood is up. This gives us a mental looseness that is good for insight tasks. During this time focus on creative problem solving or things that require divergent thinking. 

Even though we can loosely map out the periods of time, not everyone’s daily schedule will be the same. There is no magic routine that works for everyone. There are some out there who say things like you need to wake up at 5:30am to start your morning routine for a successful day. Don’t try to copy and paste what someone else is doing. Experiment with your daily schedule and see where your peak, trough, and recovery happen and work your day around what works best for you. 

What to do if you don’t control your own schedule 

For those of us who make our own schedules, this can be easy to experiment with and discover. But for a majority of people their schedule is created by the manager or other leaders inside the organization. So what can you do if you don’t control your schedule?

Dan suggests that in this situation you talk openly and honestly with your manager. Let them know these are the hours I am most productive in so I would like to save that time for the most intensive projects. 

He gave an example of a guy in Philadelphia who realized he did his best work right away in the morning, but every day the manager had him scheduled in back to back meetings from 9am to 11am. So he talked with the manager and wanting to allow the employee to be productive, they changed things up to make it work. 

Also, make the most of the margins you can. Maybe you don’t have full control of your schedule, but maybe there is a half hour during your peak time that you can get good work done. Don’t squander that time using social media, answering routine emails, or talking to a coworker, use it when you can. 

How to get over a slump 

Another aspect of timing that has an affect on us is beginnings, middles, and ends. And the peculiar thing about midpoints that Dan found in his research is that they can have dual effects. Sometimes they can drag us down and sometimes it fires us up. 

Dan gave an example he found from Jonah Berger and Devin Pope based on a study done with the NBA. What they did was they looked at the score of games during halftime and how it worked at predicting the end score of the game. And what they found was teams who were leading at halftime were more likely to win. 

But there was an exception. Teams that were trailing by one point at halftime were more likely to win than teams who were ahead by one point at halftime. Being just slightly behind gave players more motivation while being slightly ahead allowed players to feel complacent. This is the same way in our work. 

So what we should do is acknowledge the midpoints, imagine you’re a little behind and let it fuel your motivation, let it wake you up rather than let you rollover and become complacent. 

Advice for leaders who want to be more mindful of employees’ time 

So what can leaders do with this information to help employees get the most of their peak time? First of all, Dan says leaders need to recognize that their team’s brainpower doesn’t remain constant over the course of the day. And that when people do certain tasks has a material effect on their performance so you have to be intentional about it. 

He says, “These leaders are intentional about what to do, they all have to do lists and strategic plans and all that. They're intentional about how they do stuff because they have, you know, they have coaches, they have learning and development and training departments. They're intentional about who does stuff because they have an HR department that hires people. But when it comes to when they do stuff as leaders or when their team does stuff, they think it doesn't matter. And it matters. Evidence is overwhelming that it matters. So my best advice is to give the “when” a seat at the table.”

Also, be aware that every project has a beginning, a middle, and an end and all of these points have an effect on us. Picking the right date for a project to start gives you a better chance. And pay attention to the midpoint and let it motivate your team instead of letting it discourage them. 

Be intentional about timing and the effect of time. Because whether or not you pay attention to it you make a choice. We either make choices intentionally or our timing decisions happen by default. 

Direct download: Dan_Pink_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:36am PDT

How crazy is this?

Most people don't enter #leadershipdevelopment programs until they are in their 40s, yet they actually become leaders in their 20s and 30s!

This means that most #leaders spend 10-15 years leading others before they are actually taught how to lead.

It's no wonder so many employees around the world aren’t engaged in their jobs--we simply don't have enough leaders who are taught how to lead effectively.

This is because of the outdated "climb the corporate ladder" mentality that has been around for decades.

The idea is you can only be taught how to lead after you spend years working for a company, which we all know is now no longer the case.

Direct download: 2._Most_Leadership_Development_Programs_are_Too_Late.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:16pm PDT

Arthur Blank is the co-founder of The Home Depot, a home improvement retail chain which today has a market capitalization of over 300 billion and over 400,000 employees. Arthur is also the author of the new book, Good Company, which comes out on September 15. Arthur has been named one of the world’s 100 greatest living business minds by Forbes in 2017, Executive of the Year 2018 by Sports Business Journal, and one of the 50 most influential people in Sports 2016, 2017, and 2018 by Sports Business Journal.

Arthur owns the Atlanta Falcons NFL team and the Atlanta United Soccer team. His family businesses also include the nationwide PGA Tour Superstore, three ranches in Montana, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium which hosted the 2019 Super Bowl. Under his leadership The Home Depot was voted America’s most socially responsible company in 2001.

How Home Depot Came to Be
Back in the 1970s Arthur and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus were working together as employees of Handy Dan, one of the first home improvement retail chains. They were both fired in 1978, but they both knew they wanted to stay in the business of home improvement and so they decided to create their own store that could compete with Handy Dan, which was very successful at that time.

In 1979 Arthur and Bernie started their first four stores in Atlanta, Georgia. As Arthur puts it, it was “a large warehouse, no frills, downmarket store, low prices, great service, great services, etc”. With those four initial stores they tested to see if their model would work. They really listened to their customers to find out what they wanted more of or less of, how the service was, how the hours were, etc...And they kept the things that were good and tweaked the things that needed work.

In 1981 they went public and opened up four more stores in Florida. A lot of people, including the executive VP of Goldman Sachs at the time, thought there was no way they could make their model scale across different states and so many stores. Fortunately, they were wrong. Arthur and Bernie had not only found a way to create a great culture, but they also found out how to keep it consistent across multiple stores and locations.

The secret to success
Arthur and Bernie had found a way to not just have a successful business, but they were able to compete, and eventually surpass, companies that had been around for decades. Why?

Arthur says, “I will tell you the conclusion I've come to is the only way we can do this, because I basically agree the culture is really the reason-- it wasn't really so much the products, or the pricing, or the assortment-- all of that was terribly important, but the underpinnings all of what we did was this culture that was unique. That we only can do that if we begin promoting people based on culture first, not could they literally just write it down and make a list, etc, etc. But do they live it? Are they ambassadors for it? Do they represent our values day in, day out? And if the answer was yes to those questions, they were ready to be promoted as a store manager, district manager, district manager or whatever it may be”.

They knew that culture was the most important thing. That if the employees were happy at work, engaged, and well trained they would provide top notch service to the customers. They also knew they had to actively listen to customers and employees to continue to adapt. While other chains that had been around for 20, 30, 50 or more years continued to operate in the same ways without innovating or changing.

From the time they started Arthur and Bernie knew they had to have core values in place. Those values were: put people first, listen and respond, include everyone, innovate on a continuous basis, lead by example, and give back to others. And those values weren’t just words that were written in the employee handbook or on the walls. They were values that everyone inside the company had to live and breath every day. And they were the guiding factors in who got hired and who got promoted. That is what has set them apart.

What most leaders get wrong today
Arthur shares that successful leaders are ones that have a set of values and stick to them. They consistently lead based on those values--they are able to live those values out and articulate them to others.

The problem, Arthur says, is that a lot of leaders today just want to send out a memo every other day reminding employees about the company values, yet they themselves don’t live them out. In order to be a great leader you have to not just talk the talk, you have to walk the talk as well. They have to lead by example, roll their sleeves up and set the pace for the organization.

He also says leaders need to walk in the footsteps of your frontline employees. Don’t just read about how things are going, go down once and a while and experience yourself. That’s when ideas will come and things can adapt and change. Don’t just sit in your office passing down commands and reading reports. Get out and interact with everyone.

The marriage of purpose and profit
It seems that a lot of leaders feel that purpose and profit are mutually exclusive. You can focus on one of them or the other, but you can’t put both first. Yet, Home Depot seems to have mastered how to focus on both.

Arthur says that it is more important now than ever to focus on both, because people are demanding it. Especially younger people, they want to be associated with companies who are sustainable that will be around for a long time, but they also want to be a part of something that is doing good. They want to be a part of organizations that are profitable, but also ones that give meaning and purpose to the work individuals are doing.

Arthur believes the companies that want to win the best talent must find a way to focus on both profit and purpose.

Leading by example
Arthur is a leader that lives out the value of leading by example. And he has a lot of great stories of how he and other leaders have lived this value out.

One story that shows how Arthur has led by example goes back to the early days of Home Depot. In order to fill their shelves they had a lot of products coming in which arrived in boxes with packing materials and so they ended up with a lot of corrugated materials. They were supposed to have compactors to break the boxes and other materials down to keep the space clear, but the delivery of the compactors was delayed and they didn’t get them until 2 or 3 weeks after they opened.

At one point there was so much material that there wasn’t any room to receive any more merchandise and everyone was working to get it cleared out. Instead of staying in his office and letting others clean it all up, Arthur rolled up his sleeves and started working on clearing it all up. In fact he ended up staying for 24 hours in the store cleaning up so they could have more room to accept more boxes.

Another employee saw Arthur working nonstop and went to the store manager and said “You know, there's this nut in the back. He's been here for 24 hours, hasn't left, he's compacting all this stuff so we can get more merchandise up on the shelves. I mean, I don't know who he is, but you ought to consider him for a promotion sometime”. And the manager had to let the employee know that Arthur was one of the founders. No one expected someone that high up to be down there working that hard.

Arthur gave another story of how to lead by example. And this one is about the CEO of the stadiums Arthur and his family own, Steve Cannon. And Steve makes it a regular practice to go and do the work of the frontline associates. In fact he has a program in place called, you walk in my shoes. And one day he was working at a concession stand and while working there he noticed that the french fries were packaged in a way that caused one third of the fries to fall out. As a result of working in the shoes of frontline associates he was able to pinpoint a major problem and fix it to create a better customer service.

That’s something that probably wouldn’t have been noticed unless he was able to experience it himself.

Arthur also shared a time when he was at his guest ranch and was having a drink at the bar there and he overheard a customer talking about how a toilet was clogged up in the bathroom. Arthur went into the bathroom and fixed not just one but two toilets. And by the way, he didn’t tell anyone about it. He did it quietly and without complaint. But employees noticed and they were shocked that the owner would be fixing toilets.
Why did Arthur do it? He says, “to me it wasn't a big deal I just you know, I didn't tell our guests because it's not important but you know it's important for the associates to feel there was no job beneath me. No job beneath that leader wherever it may be. That I'm there with them. I'm side by side with them.”

Direct download: Arthur_Blank_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:01pm PDT

Leadership starts from within.

It’s not just about leading others, you should also lead yourself.

Leading yourself means that you set your own goals, learn new skills and mindsets, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and are the director of your career and life.

You can't always rely on others to tell you what to do or what to learn. Ultimately, nobody is going to look out for you but YOU!

Direct download: Being_a_Leader_of_SELF_v2.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:20pm PDT

David Cote is the former Chairman and CEO of Honeywell and author of the bestselling book, Winning Now, Winning Later: How Companies Can Succeed in the Short Term While Investing for the Long Term

During his time at Honeywell David fixed a toxic work culture and grew the company’s market capitalization from around 20 billion to 120 billion, delivering returns of 800%. Currently David is Executive Chairman of Vertiv Holdings Co, a global data center products and services provider. He is a member of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group on Foreign Relations and the Conference  of Montreal. 

David’s journey to being CEO is anything but ordinary. He nearly quit high school, because although he was good at school, he hated it. He ended up sticking with it and became the first one in his family to graduate high school. David was accepted to the University of New Hampshire, but decided he didn’t want to pursue college so he went to work as a mechanic with his dad in a small garage.

After that job didn’t pan out he went to Michigan to work as a carpenter with his uncle, but learned he wasn’t good at that either. So he enlisted in the Navy for six years on a nuclear submarine. The day before he was supposed to swear in he called the chief petty officer and asked what would happen if he didn’t show up. And although the chief petty officer made it sound almost impossible to get out of, when David realized cops wouldn’t just show up at his door and arrest him, he made the decision not to go.

After that David decided to go to college, but after two years there the Assistant Dean of Students told him he could no longer live on campus because he was too much of a troublemaker. So, needing some money, David decided to get a job working second shift while going to school, which he did for 6 months, when a buddy of his invited David to come work with him on a fishing boat in Maine. 

Because he was spending so much time on the boat he ended up doing very poorly in school, so he decided to quit. He ended up getting married and one month later his wife was pregnant with their first child. David says this is the moment he realized he had to do something, he had to get direction and stay focused. He was scared he wouldn’t have enough money to raise their child. And from that moment on he had a purpose and a focus that has brought him to where he is now. 

Becoming the leader of an organization with a toxic culture 

David remembers the first days as CEO of Honeywell very vividly, and they were not very pleasant. He says there were some things that were fairly straightforward at first--introductions to employees, doing a lot with the press, etc.. But there was another part of those first days that really took David by surprise. 

He was instructed by the board early on to not focus on any numbers or the financials until he became Chairman four and a half months later. He would be in meetings and he would ask a finance guy, “so how’s the quarter going?” and they would respond with, “Dave, I’ve been instructed not to answer any of those questions from you”. He said it got very weird. 

Then when he became chairman he realized why they were keeping it all from him. David says, “The aggressive bookkeeping was, I'd say unhealthy to be conservative. You look at it over a previous decade, we only generated 69 cents of cash for every dollar of income we ever generated, which gives you a sense for the bookkeeping. We have a severely underfunded pension plan. That also had aggressive accounting. We had environmental liabilities that 100 years old, chemical company has that had never been addressed, nor recorded. And we had exposure to asbestos in two areas, none of which had been recorded or addressed”. 

Things looked bad. And on top of all of the financial and legal issues they also had three warring cultures inside the organization. David knew he had to bring all of the cultures together under one new culture. In a few days David and his team developed a new culture, which they ended up calling the 12 behaviors. He knew that he had to have a culture where people work together and actually act on strategic decisions before any strategies could be put into place to fix the accounting and legal issues. 

There were people who were thankful for the new way of doing things, but there were others who pushed against it because they were used to doing things a certain way. David knew that in order to make the new culture stick, he had to be firm and not give way to anyone trying to push back. 

He says, “That's when you're in the crucible at that point. Because writing all the values down writing all the behaviors down, that's the easy part. The tough part is when you get to walk the talk, do you stick with the investment in the seed planting that you talked about? Do you not allow them to do the accounting transaction or the distributor load? And those are the ones where I can say, to a fault, maybe, I never succumbed on any of them. And I would tell them, I want you to make it. You still have to figure out how you either sell more or cut costs, but I'm not going to do this and if you miss it, you miss it, but it's on you. And I made sure I put in audit practices to make sure that none of this stuff happened. But it's easy to know whether the accounting happened, distributed loadings a little tougher, you got to do a little more work to find out, was that happening. But once the employees start to see you walk the talk, that's what starts to change the culture. You can have all kinds of posters and all that, but posters don't do it. People need to actually see that it's working that way.”

How David defines leadership 

When defining leadership David breaks it down into three crucial elements. Good leaders must:

  • Have the ability to motivate a large group of people--this is the most visible part of the job, but it’s only about 5% of the job
  • They can pick the right direction--too many leaders can sound great, but do they make the right decisions to put the organization on the right path, in the right direction? You may be able to motivate people, but if you spend years wandering around with them instead of having a specific direction to lead them in, your not good for the organization
  • You have to mobilize everyone--So you’ve motivated people, you’ve picked the right direction, now you have to get the whole organization to move there step by step

How to lead in tough times 

Leaders today are definitely leading through difficult times, and David has led through his share of challenging times as well. He says one of the toughest times was the great recession of 2008-2009. And he knows how it feels to be in the middle of a crisis and feel like it is the worst one ever. But it is important to realize that while these recessions are unique, there are certain actions that we can take regardless of the situation that can help organizations to survive it. 

David’s advice for anyone leading in tough times is:

  • Don’t panic
  • Make sure that you keep thinking independently 
  • Never forget to put the customer first
  • Be thinking about the recovery even while you’re in the middle of the recession

Why leaders must focus on short term and long term goals, not just one or the other 

One of the main reasons David wrote his book, Winning Now, Winning Later is because he saw that most leaders feel that they have to choose between focusing on the long term or focusing on the short term. Leaders tend to see them as two conflicting things. 

But David argues both have to be done at the same time. Because if you are not investing in the long term, eventually the long term becomes the short term and you’re out of gas, you’ve got nothing. Performance in the short term is also a validation of whether your long term plan is any good. 

As David shares, “I think it's a mistake if you pick one or the other. And I oftentimes said, one of the most deadly questions to respond to, is when an employee says something like, Hey, boss, which one do you want me to do? And the answer always has to be I expect you to do both. I want things right. And I want them fast. So I don't want it to be--I have to choose between the two, I want you to always find a way to accomplish both.”

Advice for people who feel stuck in their job 

Some people may read or hear David’s background story of what he went through before he became CEO of Honeywell and they may feel like they are in a similar situation where they feel stuck in a job. Maybe you feel like there is not a clear progression forward in your career. David gives his advice to people in this situation, some things that helped him get to where he is now. 

And he breaks this advice up into a few different points. First of all, you have to have performance, and your performance can’t just be okay. You’ve got to be like the top 10%. Where you went to school makes a difference for your first job, after that it is up to how you perform. Be a standout in all you do. 

You also need visibility. If you are performing very well, but the person who can do something about your career can’t see it, nothing will happen. So make sure you have visibility. But you have to be careful with this one because you don’t want to go around tooting your own horn or wearing your ambition on your sleeve. It is a delicate balance.

If you have a boss who doesn’t feel that you are performing as well as you think you are, this is where you have to be self aware and figure out is there something you can fix or do you just have a bad boss, which David says happens less often than people think. So learn to be self aware and realize when there is something you need to fix. We all have issues, and it’s important to know what they are.

Direct download: David_Cote_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 11:08am PDT

Javed Khan is SVP and GM at Cisco Collaboration, a multi-billion dollar division inside of Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT, networking, and cybersecurity solutions. Prior to his current role, Javed ran Cisco’s Cloud Calling business as the VP and General Manager and before that he led the Webex Meetings business unit. 

Just like many organizations around the world, when Covid first started becoming a global issue Cisco had to take action in order to keep business going while also enabling employees to work from home. Because of the products they build, they had some advantages over other companies as they already had communication and collaboration tools everyone was familiar with. 

But one challenge they had to overcome was an overnight need for their products from existing and new customers. The demand for their products was suddenly three times bigger in a very short period of time. So as a company they had to hurry to scale very quickly in a time when they also needed to move their workforce out of the offices. It required the team to come together, work a lot of long hours, and support their customers. 

How to create and foster casual interaction with a remote team 

Javed and other leaders at Cisco also understood that they needed to support employees in a new way. This new way of working made collaboration and casual interactions with coworkers very different, but leaders at Cisco knew they had to find a way to keep both collaboration and social interaction going, because they are so important. Especially in the times we are facing now when people are anxious, worried, scared, etc…

At Cisco, they have done a few things to keep employees informed, involved, and engaged. First of all the leadership team leads frequent check in calls, this is different from their quarterly all hands meetings where they talk business and give updates. These check in calls are where people can casually hangout, sometimes they talk about social topics relevant at the time, sometimes they have entertainment, and sometimes they bring in external speakers. 

They also have small groups that will get together to talk, without an agenda, about anything they want. These are usually on Friday evenings and employees are allowed to include their family in the calls if they want, but they are just casual conversations to allow small groups of employees to catch up and have fun. 

The future of the office

With our current events there has been a lot of debate around whether or not employees will go back to working in offices once this is all over. Will everything go back to the way it was, or will office buildings disappear? 

Javed believes we will see a hybrid setup post Covid. There will be an increasing acceptance of people working from home and we will have more technological advances that make it possible. But there will still be roles and situations that require working from an office. Some people will be able to work from home 100% of the time, some will have to be in the office 100% of the time, but a lot of people will probably do some kind of hybrid of working from home and occasionally going into the office. 

Also, while we have technology to connect with each other and it will only get better, there is no substitute for in-person, face to face interaction. 

Digital transformation during Covid

One thing Covid has done for businesses is it has made leaders realize the need for digital transformation. And it has forced companies to go through this transformation very quickly. Where leaders in the past have asked will this technology make us more productive, will it make our lives easier, will it improve our bottom line, etc..Now when thinking about digital transformation they are thinking about it in terms of, will this help me to stay in business. 

As Javed shares, “People immediately went into a survive mode, where suddenly these technologies got deployed and tested overnight, and there were some learning pains. But I feel like companies fell into two categories. There were companies who had already started on this journey of enabling remote work. And they had a baseline of the stack already enabled. for them. It was a matter of, Oh, I have 10,000 employees. You know, I have 100 employees who had worked effectively using this, how do we scale it out to the entire corporation, but I already have this baseline technology in place. And there were others who had not started on this journey. And in those cases it took a little bit more work, you know, retraining your employees. But once you got through that initial phase--raise technology and develop product and some of the devices we have, once you go through that initial learning, we were able to get most of the companies up and running pretty quickly. But nothing forced that digitization more than the last few months. We've been trying to get people to use video for a long, long time and I think now, video you know, if your video is not on you get reminded--I can't see you on video.”

How to evaluate how employees are doing without an annual review

One thing that Cisco is known for is their unique culture and getting rid of their annual performance reviews. So how do leaders know if employees are engaged and being productive if they don’t have an annual review? 

As Javed shares, it is about having ongoing, honest conversations with employees. It is important to check in regularly and let employees know about the good things they are doing, and the things they need to improve on throughout the year, not just on one specific date. 

Keeping conversations to once a year makes issues a surprise to employees, and it is hard to remember something that you did 5-6 months ago. Meeting one time a year is not effective and it can damage the manager/employee relationship. 

Cisco also understands that keeping company culture consistent is key. Whatever culture you are trying to create, make sure you stick with it through good times and bad. If employees see a change in culture during bad times like we are going through now, they will see right through it and know they can’t trust their leaders. 

Advice for people early in their careers

Javed is the leader of a multi-billion dollar division inside Cisco, but he has learned a lot on his way to the top and he has a lot of experience and advice to share with others. When asked his advice for people early on in their career who want to advance, Javed says, be curious and be willing to learn. 

He says, “I did not set out to be a manager as an example, I started my career as an engineer and thought I was just going to be coding for most of my life. But as I got in, you know, got into trying out, leading a small team, or learning to lead. I think just being curious and trying those things out has helped me out a lot. The other thing is just learning from other people who do that better. Right. So a big part of me transitioning from an engineer to becoming a leader was watching other leaders motivate and speak and inspire. And while I might have thought that that might be something that I wouldn't be doing, I think watching them learning from them, then being curious about the techniques and how leaders lead, I think has been a big part of my success. So be thirsty.”

Advice for leaders today

Javed also shared his advice for leaders who want to adapt, stay relevant, and better themselves. And he says his biggest piece of advice is to stay connected with your employees personally. Especially in the difficult times we are in, it is important to know how they are doing, what are they excited about, what are they scared about, how do they feel about work, what do they care about...etc…

“Because the rest of it, I think we've got a system and processes in place. You're able to measure, you're able to be effective, But in today's world, I think spending more time with your  employees making sure you're understanding what else is going on, and what else they need beyond just the tools that work, I think is a big part of leadership today. And the biggest learning I've had in the last few months, you'd be surprised at how much else is going on in typical person's lives and how it might be impacting their ability to be productive.”

Direct download: Javed_Khan_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:17am PDT

Collaboration has never been more important than it is now.

We are living in a globalized world where boundaries don't seem to exist anymore. And because of this, we’re now seeing more diversity in the workforce.

We are also seeing more and more remote workers. According to a study by Upwork, 63% of employers have remote teams.

That is why collaboration is crucial in the future of work. Organizations need to focus more on collaboration tools that will enable them to connect their people seamlessly.

Direct download: The_Impact_of_Collaboration.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:36am PDT

Blair Sheppard is Head of Global Strategy and Leadership for PwC, a global network of firms delivering world-class assurance, tax, and consulting services for businesses. He is also the author of the new book, Ten Years to Midnight: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions, which came out on August 4th. 

 

Prior to PwC, Blair spent the majority of his career as a professor at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. During his time there he also served as Founding CEO and Chairman of Duke Corporate Education and as Dean of the school. As Dean, Blair was the primary architect of Duke Kunshan University which opened in 2014. 

 

Blair was the first recipient of faculty of the year at Fuqua, he received the Business Person of the Year award for Education in 2011 by Triangle Business Journal, and the Eminent Scholar Award from the Institute of Finance at Frankfurt University in 2007. 

 

The concept behind Blair’s book, Ten Years to Midnight, started with a conversation he had with his boss at the time at PwC. They were discussing the fact that a lot of things in the world were looking dark and gray and they wanted to figure out what the major issues were and what causes were behind them. So they set out to interview people in around 60 countries around the world. They interviewed people from all walks of life--government leaders, heads of business, cab drivers, individuals in coffee shops, etc... And what they found was the whole world was worried about the exact same things. 

 

So Blair and his team started to research these major issues and what they found was that there are four major crises the world as a whole is facing right now and we have about 10 years to fix them before it is too late. 

 

The crisis of prosperity

As Blair and his team were researching for the book, one thing they found is that due to economic disparity in the world and people put at a disadvantage because of that, a lot of parents feel that their children will be worse off than they are. 

 

Blair says, “Think about 50% of the retirees in the United States are going to retire with basically no savings, kids graduating from college with a trillion and a half in debt, with a huge tax obligation we just created for them, right. And then people have a job and a mortgage and the kid in school who are likely to lose that job right and have to transition. That group is now collectively saying I'm really worried about the future. And when people stop believing in the future, they stopped dreaming, creating, developing, so we call that sort of a crisis of prosperity.”

 

The crisis of technology

Another key element we are facing right now is disruption from technology. There are great things that come with advances in technology--medical advances, improved quality of life, availability of valuable information, etc… But there are also negative impacts as well. 

 

One example Blair points out is social media. While the creators of social media intended their platforms for good, there are negative things that come from it, like increasing suicide rates. Technology also allowed us to create the Industrial Revolution which has brought about an improved quality of life in some aspects, but it has also harmed our environment. 

 

Aside from these examples there are other growing unintended consequences of ubiquitous technology that we have to fix. 

 

The crisis of institutional legitimacy

As it is growing clearer by the day, people around the world have lost trust in our institutions. We don’t trust the police force, we don’t trust the tax systems, we don’t trust our education systems, we don’t trust our governments. 

 

Blair says, “this is the one that worries me the most, by the way, because as soon as you stop trusting the institutions that make our life work, it's sort of like a fish not trusting water. It just doesn't work.”

 

The crisis of leadership

The three previous crises combine to produce this fourth crisis, which is mainly caused by polarization. A lot of times when people lose hope and feel that things are getting worse they blame the people in power. There is just a sheer inability to lead when the world is so fractured and polarized. In order to lead effectively leaders need people to trust them.   

 

About all four of the crises, Blair says, “The worry we have is that they're all pretty serious right now. But if we don't get our arms around them in a decade, they become really ugly, all four of them, all a sudden become really ugly.” So what can we do to start addressing these problems?

 

Conquering the four crises

In his book, Blair says that what we really need in order to address these issues is new types of leaders to rework our institutions, culture, and our way of thinking. We need leaders who have ingenuity, vision, innovation, energy, focus, and empathy. 

 

With the prosperity crisis we need to step back and figure out how to get everyone on a level playing field. Lack of access to technology shouldn’t hinder people around the world. But right now there are a lot of people being left behind in the world. And globalization stops working when you have enough places and people in the world that fall behind. 

 

As Blair shares, “While we're focusing on being global competitors, we also have to help create thriving local communities. While we're measuring GDP, we have to look at economic dispersion, how well the whole economy is doing, how well everyone's doing, and other measures of social well-being, not just financial. And while we're driving technology, we've got to say, have we thought about the unintended consequences of the thing we're building? It's sort of like the way we do drug development, right, which is-- does it really do what it says, and what are the side effects?”

 

In regards to the technology crisis, Blair says one thing we have to be mindful of is how technology is impacting work. Will there be more jobs or less jobs in the future? Just like in the Industrial Revolution, the transition will be hard, but what problems can we think through ahead of time? 

 

There is also a lot to figure out around AI. It can violate privacy and put control in too few hands as well as make decisions that we can’t understand. How can we make sure that we keep it in check? Jobs, AI at scale, and technology making us dumber are all serious negative side effects of technology that we have to navigate as we continue advancing forward. 

 

When thinking about the technology crisis as individuals it is important to be aware of disruptions that are happening in your industry and be prepared to move if you see signs your job could be eliminated. Be curious and keep on learning new skills and surround yourself with people who are different than you are. Don’t just associate with people who work in your department, branch out and spend time with people in different roles, industries, and parts of the world. 

 

When addressing the leadership crisis it is important for leaders to understand the main underlying causes of this crisis, which are polarization and distrust in leaders. So they need to find ways to help people come together, to find solutions or compromises and they need to rebuild trust with employees, customers, and communities. It is also crucial that leaders know what the purpose of the company is. Because if you want to innovate inside of your organization you have to know what matters at the core of your business, otherwise it is easy to get lost. 

 

Blair’s advice for leaders who want to build trust is to be consistent, know what your values are and stay true to them. And in every decision you make, be transparent about what you are doing and explain what you are doing and why. Be very self reflective and self aware and know the impact you are having on people. 

 

Climate change and small business creation

Along with the four major crises, there are also other issues that are so urgent we can’t wait for them to be fixed. Two of those issues that Blair points out are climate change and creating small business at scale really fast. 

 

So why should leaders and organizations care about these two issues? With climate change it will impact everyone eventually, including your organization. But if we wait to be personally affected by it, it may be too late. It is also most likely that organizations will be forced to go net zero soon with new policies. So why wait to be forced into it. 

 

But this will impact your business eventually. Blair says, “There are physical risks associated with climate. So let's imagine you hold real estate in downtown Miami and the first floor is underwater. You kind of care about it now. Right? Let's imagine you're in California and your property sits in front of a mudslide, let's imagine you own timber, and it's under fire. And so every business in the world has physical risks associated with climate, and every year they're going to get worse.”

 

As for small business creation, a lot of small businesses have been impacted by current events. And every organization, whether they realize it or not, depends on small businesses to thrive. Small business, for a lot of companies, is the first step in the supply chain. So you depend on it. But the owners of these small businesses are also customers of larger companies and if they don’t come back, your revenue stream is going to go down. Small business is a crucial part of our economy. So every leader should be concerned about these two more urgent issues. 

 

What can leaders do now?

Blair gives a few tips that any leader out there can implement now to start making change.

  • Part one:
    • Look at the direct implications of climate risk on your company and figure out what you can do to get to net zero
    • Take a look at your organization and assess your ability to compete in a platform based world
    • Figure out if you are prepared for the pressures toward localization that we’re going to see
  • Part two:
    • Look at yourself and your leadership team. Are you ready for the three points above and have you invested in those things? 
    • Make sure you have a diverse team with people who are different than you are
  • Part three:
    • Pick a place (a city, a town, a village, etc...) you care about and make it better

 

“If you are working on making something in the world that's physical geography better. It will force you to think about all the things you're not thinking about today that are important for your business. And then when someone comes back and says you're the bad guy, you're not. Because you're actually working the issue. And so it has two positive benefits you actually are helping. And so if I go back to your question, you know, one of our leaders who said, I'm going to worry about Black Lives Matters and diversity. And they did it before it was a big issue. And I think that taught a lot to us as a firm. And it actually puts us in a position where we're kind of on the right side of the balance sheet when people start judging how you're doing. And everyone should do that. But really make it better. Don't fake it. Right? Go after it.”

Direct download: Blair_Sheppard_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:34am PDT