Wed, 8 July 2020
Money is no longer the number one tool organizations have to retain and attract top talent. Just because you created a sustainable company doesn’t mean that every employee wants to work with you and customers want to transact with you.
Employees and customers around the world want to be part of an organization that positively impacts the environment, society, and communities around the world.
What you need to be asking yourself is what can you do to create an environment where your employees actually want to show up to work? What can you do to create an environment where customers genuinely want to transact with you?
Sun, 5 July 2020
Chris McCann is the CEO of 1-800-Flowers, a floral and gourmet food gift retailer and distribution company with over 3000 employees. The company was started back in 1976 when Chris’ older brother opened his first flower shop. In the 1980s Chris joined his brother in the business and they have been working together ever since.
Chris was named to the National Retail Federation's "The List of People Shaping Retail's Future 2018." And under his leadership, 1-800-Flowers was named one of 2017's most innovative e-retailers on the Internet Retailer 'Hot 100' list.
This episode is brought to you by Cisco. Nearly overnight, the entire world has found itself adapting to a new way of working. The future of work requires a modern approach to collaboration – helping people securely connect wherever they work, while staying safe and being productive. Cisco is shaping this path forward. Visit https://futureofwork.webex.com/ to learn more.
Chris actually studied political science in college with the hopes of being a lawyer. When he was back home for holidays and weekends he helped out with the family businesses which included his father’s painting business and his brother’s floral business. When the time came for him to decide whether or not to continue on to law school, his brother convinced him that there was great opportunity in the floral business, but no other company was filling that role at the moment. No one had taken the opportunity to become what Jim described as the McDonald’s or the Holiday Inn of the florist world.
When Chris realized there could be a great future in his brother’s business, he decided to jump in and try it. The brothers agreed to a six month contract and they have been renewing that contract 6 months at a time to this day. Chris is currently on his 72nd six month contract right now.
Learning to lead
Chris had worked other roles inside his brother’s business throughout the years, including delivering flowers to customers, but once he decided to go full time with his brother he soon took on a leadership role. He talks about the process and how he really learned along the way. Later on he did take some leadership courses at Cornell University, but in the early part of his career he had no formal training. Mostly he learned from other leaders he came to know, including the CEO of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon and the former CEO of AXA Financial, Ed Miller.
Chris gave an example of a time when he had turned to Ed for advice when having to let a person go. “As we were growing our company, we had people that were with us for a long time. And sometimes you run into a situation where the job outgrows the person, but yet the person was very loyal to you and very important in growing the business early on. And letting that person go would be very, very difficult to do. And I remember having conversations with Ed about this. He said, “You're not being loyal to that person”. I said, “Well, I sure am, I'm keeping them in a job”. He said “no loyalty is making sure that every person on your team is in a position to succeed, whether inside your company or outside your company. So if the job has outgrown someone and you don't have a position in your company. It's your responsibility to do everything you can to get them the right job outside of your company”. And that really transformed the way I thought about people.”
Chris also learned a lot from his brother, who not only started the floral company, but he also worked full time as a social worker who helped troubled boys. Jim brought a mantra into 1-800-Flowers that he learned from his time as a social worker. When working with kids in difficult situations, Jim said, in order to connect with them and be able to help them he realized he first needed to build a relationship with them. So he brought that mantra into the business, you build a relationship first, you do business second. And that really shaped Chris as a leader.
How to lead in turbulent times
Chris has had to lead his team through some very challenging times. He led the company during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, during the recession, and he is leading them now through the pandemic. When leading in times like this Chris says the most important things for leaders to focus on are communication and visibility.
He says that as leaders we need to communicate a lot more than usual during tough times to let people in the company know that you are on top of things and that you are looking out for their best interest. As leaders you also need to make sure you are visible to people during these times too. Even in normal times you shouldn’t be sitting in your office all day, but especially in times of turbulence people need to see you and they need to feel like you are accessible. People today are fearful and they have had their lives disrupted, they need to know that the mission of the company hasn’t changed, that they are still impacting the lives of their customers, and that the leaders of the company acknowledge times are hard.
As Chris shares, “There are some things that will not change, and that's our commitment to our vision, any company's commitment to their vision and their values is very important to be communicated to people. I think that at the same time, you have to be flexible, because you have to as a company respond to the changes being thrown at you. You don't have to change as a company, but you have to change the challenges being thrown out. And then also, I think, the most important thing that we've done in this situation, which is different than the financial crisis, it's certainly different than the 9/11 attacks. The fact that people needed to know that every decision we made would be made with the safety and health of our associates, our customers, our vendors, first and foremost.”
Dealing with tough decisions
When it comes to making tough choices Chris has learned that the first thing leaders must do is make the decision very diligently, you can’t just react. It is important to take a step back, look at whatever data you have, and analyze all the impacts of your decision. In almost every decision there are positive impacts and there are negative impacts. Know what the positive impacts are and figure out how to manage the negative impacts appropriately.
“For example, if you close a facility, it may be the right decision for the business, it may be the right decision for the profitability of a company, but there's negative impacts on the people that are in that facility. What do you do for them? How do you help manage that process? It goes back to our earlier conversation about loyalty. So I think, as we look at this, you need to really understand the information, assess the possible outcomes. And then most importantly, I think, take responsibility. Once you make that decision, you can't pass that responsibility on to someone else. It's your responsibility to make sure it's successful.”
You may have to involve other people in your decision, but regardless as the leader, the responsibility always falls back on you. So it is important to think decisions through carefully.
Dealing with imposter syndrome
It is very common for leaders to struggle with self doubt or a lack of confidence, especially when they don’t get formal training. Chris admits he feels imposter syndrome from time to time. When asked how he deals with it, Chris says it takes time and experience. Each time you face a tough decision or a problem within the company it will take you to the next level. And the more experience you have the more comfortable you will be to the point where you can feel like you know what you are doing and it doesn’t matter what others are doing because you are measuring your success based on the inputs and successes of the people around you.
Chris shares a few theories he and his brother used in their business. He says, “I remember as we were growing our business early on, we said there are two management theories that we will follow. One we call the Nike theory. And it was just do it because there's nobody else here to do it. So figure it out and get it done. And then the other was the Reebok management theory. And Reebok at the time was all about cross training. And we made sure we did that, made sure we'd rotate people throughout the company. And as you do that, and you get experience in each of these different areas, you really build your own self confidence.”
Direct download: Chris_McCann_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 8:34am PDT
Wed, 1 July 2020
A few years ago, I was asked to give a talk to a few thousand people. A week or so after the talk, the client sent me feedback from the attendees and it was...terrible! I scored below a 3 out of 5 and was shocked!
I was confused and asked the client to send me the actual responses so I could see why I scored so low. As I read through the feedback it all made sense--context!
For starters, from the thousands of people in attendance, only 60 filled out the form. As I read the comments I saw people complaining that there was no restroom break, they didn't like the food, it was too dark, it was too loud, etc.
In other words, 95% of the feedback had absolutely nothing to do with me at all! Context matters a great deal in business and in life.
Direct download: Context_Matters_in_Business_and_in_Life.mp3
-- posted at: 2:54pm PDT
Sun, 28 June 2020
Frances Frei is a Professor of Technology and Operations Management at Harvard Business School. She is also the bestselling co-author of two books, Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business and Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You.
In 2017 she joined Uber’s team as the first SVP of Leadership and Strategy to help the company navigate its public crisis in leadership and culture. She has a popular TED Talk titled How to Build (and Rebuild) Trust which has over 4 million views.
Frances has always been interested in operations--how things work and how to make things work better. But being interested in operations has led her work to focus on leadership. As she shares, “I pretty quickly came to the conclusion that if it weren't for the pesky humans, operations would work beautifully. And then I got super intrigued by the humans, and then realized that the humans were led. So then that took me to leadership aspects, but the technology and the operations have stayed strong. So most of the companies I've worked with have some, they're either being disrupted by technology or they're digitally native. But everything I do is around how to make people and organizations better.”
Leadership is about making other people better
In her book, Unleashed, Frances talks about one of the big assumptions that people have about leadership that is actually incorrect. For the last few decades the focus has been on building leaders up and getting them to inspect themselves. When actually leaders should be focused outside of themselves--it should be about making other people better first. Leadership isn’t about you, it is about other people.
Leaders should walk into a room and not want everyone to be thinking about them as a leader, but the leader should be the one thinking of everyone else and how to set those people up for success.
The problem with Uber and how they fixed it
While teaching at Harvard Business School (HBS), one of Frances’ students approached her to convince Frances to have a conversation with Uber’s then CEO, Travis Kalanick. Due to several scandals and bad decisions the company was going through a very public crisis at the time in leadership and culture. After Frances and Travis talked for three days, Travis asked for her help and she officially joined the team in June of 2017.
She was prepared to stay until the job was done, and as she shares, they were able to turn things around much quicker than she had expected. At the core of what they did was a massive amount of executive education.
Frances shares the major underlying problem, “Of all the problems that were surfaced, well over 90% had to do with a person and their manager. There were 3000 managers at Uber. So there were either 3000 bad people, or Uber was doing something systematically to not set managers up for success. We very quickly found out that it was the latter. And here's what was going on, I get hired as an individual contributor, and then the company was growing so fast that like, five minutes later, you got promoted to a manager. You didn't have any training. And then five minutes after that, by the way, you became a manager of managers. Turns out that management is a skill, a skill that can be taught, but no one was teaching folks. So we had to teach people how to manage, like, how to give effective feedback, how to set goals, all of the basics, including then how to be inclusive. How to set people up for success. So that was one part, is that it was clear that managers were at the tip of the spear where the problems were, but it wasn't their fault and education would solve it.”
From there Frances was able to get Uber and HBS to partner to create a training platform that was accessible to all 3000 managers across the world. Through this platform they gathered top experts in teams, globalization, leadership, etc...who then taught classes on things like how to build trust, how to set a team of people up for success, and how to design and shepherd a culture. This training continues on inside the company even to this day. And it has had a huge impact on how the company operates.
What to do when company values are weaponized
Frances works with other companies, as she did with Uber, to help fix broken cultures. When asked if there has been anything she has tried that failed, she brought up the topic of weaponized company values. What is a weaponized value, you may ask. Frances explains it as taking an internal value, which may sound like a wonderful thing, and using it in a negative way for your own personal benefit.
She gives the example of a value inside of Uber when she first arrived, which was Default to Trust. Now that sounds like a beautiful cultural value, basically saying let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt. But what was happening was senior leaders were taking that value and throwing it in the face of junior people who started questioning them. They used Default to Trust as, stop questioning and just do what you are told for their own selfish reasons.
The part that failed was that she thought the answer was to re-educate people and change the thought process behind the value that was twisted. But in those kinds of situations, Frances says, the only thing to do is get rid of the value altogether. Once a value has been weaponized there is no amount of re-education that can bring it back to the original intent. Let it go and come up with a new value.
The three elements needed for successful change
In light of all of the challenging times we are facing around the world--including the global pandemic and the protests in America, Frances shared her advice to leaders on what to do in difficult times like these. There are a lot of CEOs and leaders around the world who are stepping forward and taking action for the better, but in order to make those changes sustainable there are three elements, Frances says, that have to be present. The three elements needed for successful change are:
- Honor the past--Talking about the past in a sincere and detailed way is important in any change whether inside of an organization or a society. You need to say, some of you will remember we did this before, here’s what happened. Here are some good things that came from that, and here are some lessons we learned. Don’t assign blame to individuals, share the good and the bad and the lessons learned. Then explain the changes being made and why they will make things better.
- A clear and compelling change mandate--This is the answer to the question “why now”? This is normally the hardest thing for a company to come up with, because if things are going well, it’s hard to get people to want to change. You have to be able, in a short and concise way show a super compelling reason why change is needed. You have to get people’s pulse up to get their entire heart and soul into the change.
Have an optimistic way forward--The way forward has to give hope, but it also has to be extremely thorough and detailed. What specific steps need to be taken to get us to a better future?
Direct download: Frances_Frei_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 10:45am PDT
Wed, 24 June 2020
How is it that in an organization there are leaders who everyone hates, are scared of, and don’t want to work with, and in that same organization there are leaders who everyone admires, respects, and wants to work with?
In this mini-podcast episode, I talk about the two types of leaders and why we have these in our organizations.
Direct download: June_Podcast_-_The_Two_Types_of_Leaders.mp3
-- posted at: 3:36pm PDT
Sun, 21 June 2020
Robert Glazer is the bestselling author of Elevate: Push Beyond Your Limits and Unlock Success in Yourself and Others. He is 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 such as Adidas, LinkedIn, Target, Instacart, and Hotwire.
Robert has around 260,000 LinkedIn newsletter subscribers, he has a 100% approval rating as a CEO on Glassdoor, he is ranked #2 on Glassdoor's list of Top CEO of Small & Medium Companies in the US, his company has a 4.9 out of 5 star rating as a place to work, and 99% of employees would recommend the company to a friend. He frequently contributes to Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and Thrive Global and he is the host of the popular Elevate Podcast.
The team of 170 people at Acceleration Partners is 100% remote, and they have been since day one. So Robert knows the ins and outs of successfully leading a team that he doesn’t see in person every day. This is something that a lot of CEOs are having to learn on the fly now, as a large portion of organizations are moving to virtual during the pandemic.
How to create a culture for a remote workforce
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.
A lot of organizations try to be the best place to work for everyone. But just as not everyone will like the same food, or the same music--not everyone is going to be a good fit for your company, and that is okay. As organizations we need to learn to embrace that fact. We need to be open and honest with potential hires about what it is really like to work inside the organization. It is not effective to sugar coat what their experience might be.
Robert says staying consistent in your core values is very important for building that culture. Inside of Acceleration Partners they reward and punish based on the company values, which are Own It, Embrace Relationships, and Excel & Improve. Those are the values that they consistently talk about and support. There is no question about what the company stands for and what they look for in their employees.
For people who feel that it is a good fit, the company has a lot of tools and resources that they utilize to help everyone feel connected. Employees use Slack to communicate, they have frequent video calls, they have regional in person meetups, and they have a company wide in person AP Summit at the end of each year.
But ultimately it is the people who create the culture. So having those core values set up from the beginning and using those for attracting and hiring is critical.
Four ways to elevate yourself
In his book, Robert lays out four elements that go into bettering yourself. They are:
- Spiritual-- this is not religious, it is about knowing who you are and what you stand for. What do you want the most and what are the standards you live by each day. You need to know where you are going.
- Intellectual-- This is how you get to where you are going. You need to have long term and short term goals. You have to establish routines and healthy habits.
- Physical--If you don’t take care of yourself physically you will be too tired and unfocused to get things done. Eat healthy, exercise, take care of your body.
- Emotional-- This is how you react to challenging situations and it affects the quality of your relationships
All of the individual elements impact each other. If you don’t take care of yourself physically you feel tired and sick. If you feel sick and tired you are more likely to be impatient with people around you, you can’t focus on your goals, you don’t stick to morning routines, etc...You have to have all of these elements balanced in order to effectively elevate yourself.
Robert has used these four elements to build the training for employees inside his company. He says, “We've always believed in investing in people holistically, like what are the things that we can train them on-- about health productivity, time management, leadership-- where they get better at work, but they also get better outside of work? They're better parents, they're better spouses, they're better children, brothers and sisters. Now is sort of the real breakthrough, what we’re seeing is 80% of our people, in leadership, have really grown up from within. We were able to get our people to keep growing with us because we were investing and building their capacity. So a lot of our training actually even revolves around this as part of that thing I mentioned before I take a bunch of leaders off and I work with them on their personal core values, I don't think you can be a good leader if you aren't clear what you value and you can communicate that, f you don't know how to set goals, if you don't know all these other things like these affect your performance overall.”
How leaders can encourage others to build these capacities for themselves
Leaders need to support their team holistically. As Robert shared, when employees are happy, healthy, engaged, and thriving outside of work they are going to show up to work ready to go.
Encourage employees to start book clubs or workout challenges. Provide access to learning platforms. Offer training on how to set goals or create healthy habits. Be sure to lead by example and work on these four elements in your own life as well.
Direct download: Robert_Glazer_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 3:45pm PDT
Sun, 21 June 2020
The world is changing quickly. What do you need to know and do in order to be successful now and in the future? Hi, my name is Jacob Morgan, I’m a 4x best-selling author, speaker, and futurist and this show is all about you…helping you become more successful at work and in life. Each week you will get access to several episodes which range from longer interviews with with the world’s top business leaders. Educators, or authors to shorter episodes where I will share a specific hack, tip, or strategy that you can use to become more successful.
From leadership, to the future of work, to employee experience this show will live you the insights and the tools you need to succeed and thrive both professionally and personally. If you want to future proof your career and your organization then this is the show for you!
Make sure to follow me on Spotify on subscribe to the show on your favorite platform. You can do so easily by going to futureofworkpodcast.com
Direct download: Spotify_Trailer_-_final.mp3
-- posted at: 9:44am PDT
Wed, 17 June 2020
How we think about hiring talent has been around for decades. We make them jump through hoops with evaluation tests, interviews, and more. One business leader even told me he asked the people interviewing him why they did things a certain way, to which they replied, “I don’t know. We’ve always done it like this.”
Are we spending too much focusing on the process of finding top talent instead of on the talent itself?
In this midweek podcast episode, I share stories about talented people not getting jobs because of the unnecessary process that companies use and why it shouldn't take months to hire a single person.
Mon, 15 June 2020
Liz Wiseman is a New York Times bestselling author of three books, including Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. She has been listed on the Thinkers50 ranking and in 2019 she was recognized as the top leadership thinker in the world. She is a researcher, an executive advisor, and the CEO of the Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm. Some of her recent clients include Apple, Disney, Tesla, Facebook, and Twitter.
Previously, she was the Vice President of Oracle University and the global leader for Human Resource Development at Oracle Corporation. She frequently guest lectures at BYU and Stanford University.
In Liz’s book, Multipliers, she describes two types of leaders that we have all encountered--diminishers and multipliers. As Liz says, organizations cannot afford to have leaders who are diminishers. The good news is multiplier leadership can be learned and developed.
Diminishing leaders vs. multiplier leaders
Liz gives a great metaphor for these two types of leaders. Diminishers tend to keep people on choke chains while multipliers let people off the leash, but they still hold on. It’s as though the employees are kites allowed to soar while the leader is still hanging on to the kite strings.
It’s not that diminishers are necessarily horrible people trying to control everything. As Liz shares, “Some of it comes from that micromanaging bully, narcissistic boss who, you know, gives you a little task to do rather than challenges and opportunities. But most of it's coming from what I call the accidental diminisher. And these are leaders who care about their people, want to be good leaders trying to do the right thing. Like in my case with Ben, I was just excited to be collaborating with him. Where I needed to say, this is yours let me back away. Hold the strings of the kite rather than suffocate you because of my enthusiasm.”
The multiplier effect
As Liz researched for her book she interviewed well-respected professionals and after asking them to identify some multiplier leaders they had worked for she asked them what percentage of their capability those leaders had been able to get from them. On average it was 95%, however she found that a lot of people gave answers of over 100%.
At first she challenged that, saying your intelligence and capability is always capped at 100%, it’s not possible to be over that. But these individuals said that the leaders were able to not only get 100% of their ability, but they stretched them and caused them to become smarter over time.
Liz says, “We know this, that intelligence. It languishes. It shrinks essentially when it's not used. And when intelligence is challenged and used and applied, it grows. We literally get smarter and more capable around certain kinds of leaders and people and colleagues and roommates and family members. And that is really the multiplier effect. It's getting all of people's capability plus a growth dividend. And then the dynamic that happens across an organization where people come to work knowing that not only are they going to be fully utilized, they're going to be challenged. That you need to show up, game ready. That's the multiplier effect.”
The five disciplines of multipliers
For the book, Liz analyzed data on over 150 leaders and she found several areas where multipliers and diminishers act similarly including customer service and market insight. But she found five active ingredients unique to multipliers. They are:
- The Talent Magnet: They attract and optimize talent to its fullest. They get the best out of everyone, regardless of if the people report directly to them or not
- The Liberator: They require people’s best thinking. They create an atmosphere that is both comfortable and intense.
- The Challenger: They extend challenges. They lay down challenges that stretch, but they also generate the belief that it can be done
- The Debate Maker: They debate decisions. By allowing people to debate decisions early on they help people understand the change and be a part of the execution.
- The Investor: They instill accountability. They have high expectations, but they also provide necessary resources needed to deliver and sustain results.
Diminishing behaviors to watch out for
There are several diminishing behaviors that leaders can look out for, and to do this you have to practice self-awareness. As a leader most likely you won’t have employees coming to you to point out your flaws, you have to be aware of them yourself.
One of the first behaviors Liz points out is being idea rich. If you as the leader provide all of the answers, all of the ideas, people around you tend to either get lazy or they are so busy running around trying to bring your ideas to fruition that they don’t have time to think of anything on their own. She suggests leaders keep a notepad or sticky notes around to write down ideas as they come up, and keep them to yourself until the next group meeting to discuss with your team.
Another behavior to watch out for is being optimistic all the time. Optimism in itself is not a bad thing, but there are times when individuals or the organization as a whole is going through a tough time. It is important to acknowledge the struggle sometimes. Especially as we look at the times we are going through now, try to understand what your people are going through and let them know you acknowledge this is a tough time.
A third one to be aware of is being a rapid responder. Liz says, “If the manager is so quick to respond. Then nobody else gets to do their job. Nobody else gets to take accountability because that manager has just taken it from them. So the little rule I use, I've had some rapid responder tendencies in the past is I use a 24 hour hands off rule, which means if an email comes in and one just came in on Friday, it was sent to me and one other person on my team who is actually the one responsible for this project. Well, I knew he was out for a bit. In a meeting and he wasn't going to get to this and my fingers on the keyboard. About to reply because I'm like, oh, this is important. And this person is going to want to hear from us. And I just take my fingers off the keyboard and I'm like 24 hours. Hands off. Which gives him a chance to come back from his meeting, come back from his son's Little League game, whatever it is, and take ownership and responsibility. But people can't take ownership for something unless the manager lets go of it.”
By being aware of these behaviors, and other problem ones, and embracing the traits of multipliers we can get the absolute best from our team. Imagine what our organizations could do if we allowed our people to operate at 95% and greater.
Direct download: Liz_Wiseman_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:02am PDT
Wed, 10 June 2020
How do you get to inbox zero? Simple! Give those around you more autonomy and decision making power. One of the reasons why so many people have trouble reading all their email is because they are CC'd on everything.
Chances are if you can't get to inbox zero it's because you are bad at time management, you don't delegate, you don't give autonomy and decision making power to others, and you are a micromanager.
Want to clear your inbox? It has nothing to do with you! Empower your people!
Mon, 8 June 2020
HP has over 55,000 employees and like many other companies around the world they had to pivot to working virtually during COVID-19. HP was able to adapt very quickly and they have a lot of unique programs and tools in place to support their employees. Leading the way is Tracy Keogh, their Chief HR Officer and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s global task force for Future of Work. Tracy and I talked at length in a recent episode of "The Future of Work With Jacob Morgan."
How to maintain a culture in a virtual setting
Many leaders may be trying to figure out how to maintain corporate culture when all of the employees who are used to coming into the office every day now find themselves working from home. Tracy says, “I actually think you can maintain your culture. It's with every action and every program that you do even if you're not in the same office. I don't think I've ever seen our culture more alive or evident than during this pandemic. People are very attentive during these times. So I feel like you need to put culture first, as you're thinking about any activities or decisions that you're making.”
A few examples of the things they put into place to help employees working from home include:
- Homework clubs--When employees moved to work from home Tracy interviewed 4 teachers so employees could listen in and learn from them. Then they broke up into homework clubs led by teachers to assist parents trying to navigate home education
- Themed days-- Motivational Mondays, Training Tuesdays, Wellness Wednesdays, Thoughtful Thursdays, and Family & Friends Fridays.
- Weekly call with medical director who answers questions from employees about issues related to health, wellness, & COVID-19.
- Online cooking classes
- A global dance party-- They hired a DJ and had a 12 hour dance party starting in one timezone and working its way across the world for all employees.
Another crucial component here is leaders who are practicing empathy and emotional intelligence. As Tracy and I talked about, now is an important time for leaders to be human beings first and business leaders second. For example, one of the leaders at HP held a meeting where the employees all had their kids on their lap.
The idea here is to take as much of the in-person aspect as you can and move it to the virtual world, but then organizations must build on top of those things with intentionally designed activities and programs.
Digitization and re-skilling
One of the biggest trends Tracy is currently paying attention to is digitization and re-skilling. Realizing this is important, HP has been focused on evolving the knowledge base of their employees. Tracy believes talent development in general looks very different now than it has in the past. She says, “I think we're moving more towards skills-focused versus role focus people, because people move in and out of different roles, but it's those skills that we need moving forward so that we really want athletes who can apply their different skills to solve problems in different ways, depending on the environment and the business challenge.”
HP has also changed the way employees learn. While training is important, they realize that experience and projects play an important role in how employees learn new skills. The company works with employees to map out their career path to figure out what experiences and projects are best suited to where they want to go.
During COVID-19 HP actually took their merchandisers (who work in retail stores showing customers equipment and helping them make product and software decisions) and had them help with their customer service and support teams. HP wanted to find a way to keep these employees paid and on-staff so they focused on the skills that these employees and found other roles where those skills could easily be translated to. HP did the same thing with interns, moving them to a virtual setting (and keeping them paid).
Overcoming difficult times
There’s no doubt we are facing uncertain times, but it is up to us as individuals to decide how we are going to come out on the other side. Tracy says,
“Try to look at the positive of the situation. This is an incredible learning opportunity. This is unprecedented in the world's history, that the whole world has had this kind of issue happen at the same time. And so taking some time and stepping back and thinking about what you've learned, how you've grown, what you've done well, what you wish you were better equipped to do and then figuring out, 'Okay, well, this is what I've learned about myself during this time. Then how do I look moving forward, to make myself smarter, stronger, more resilient, better, and what can I do in the future?' I think it's an amazing learning time. One of the things that I've given as gifts to most of my friends' children is a journal. Just to take time to write, it'll be something historic later on. When you look back that you were there in the pandemic of 2020, and what your thoughts and feelings were. I think taking that inventory and understanding that for people is important, and then looking back and seeing what you've learned and then how it propelled you forward, I think it will be really kind of the best thing to do about this. Take advantage of the opportunity."
For leaders trying to navigate these times, Tracy’s advice is to connect with your people and show your leadership. Communication and listening to employees is key. HP has been taking frequent poll surveys to ensure all employees are supported and feel engaged. She says it is critical, especially in these times, to be transparent and open with employees. Even if you have tough messages to share. Empathy is also very important for leaders to show in this time.
Direct download: Tracy_Keogh_Podcast.mp3
-- posted at: 4:51am PDT
Thu, 4 June 2020
According to the more than 140 #CEOs I interviewed, one of the most important #mindsets for future #leaders is that of the Chef which is all about balancing #humanity and #technology. Chefs usually have to balance many ingredients to create a beautiful and tasty dish. As a leader, you just need to balance the two and you need both of them.
In this midweek podcast episode, I will be talking about the best way to balance technology and humanity in your company.
This episode is brought to you by Mitel. Don't compromise on business continuity. Mitel can meet all your business communications needs while working from home with all-in-one cloud calling, conferencing, collaboration, and contact center tools – free until 2021. Visit Mitel's https://bit.ly/mitelsponsors to learn more.
Mon, 1 June 2020
Most of us have had our lives disrupted by the current pandemic in some way. We have had to find new ways to connect with friends and family, we aren’t traveling as much (or at all), and we’re having to adapt to new ways of working and learning. Whitney Johnson is one of the 50 leading business thinkers in the world and bestselling author of 3 books and as she told me during our discussion “if we’re going to manage the disruption, we need to disrupt ourselves.”
How to disrupt yourself and why it matters
Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School was Whitney’s mentor and she co-founded The Disruptive Innovation Fund with him. It was Clayton who coined the term disruptive innovation, which he talked about in his book, Innovator’s Dilemma. The idea behind the term was that a small sometimes silly idea can take over the world, for example how the telephone disrupted the telegraph or how the automobile disrupted the horse and buggy. In more modern examples, we can see how Netflix disrupted Blockbuster and how Uber disrupted cabs.
Whitney took that idea and instead of applying it to a product or a company she applied it to individuals--personal disruption. But she says there is one big difference between personal disruption and what Clayton was talking about. With personal disruption, you are both the small silly idea and the idea taking over the world. You are both Netflix and Blockbuster. You are both Uber and the cab company. As you can imagine this can pose a bit of a mental challenge.
Why should we disrupt ourselves? Whitney says, “the question you have to ask yourself is, do I wanna jump or do I want to get pushed? When you jump, you're acting. When you get pushed, you're going to feel pushed, and it will feel like a failure. And it's a very different equation around resilience and rebounding than if you've chosen to jump.” Disruption is going to happen, whether we want it to or not. We control whether we disrupt ourselves or let disruption happen to us.
The seven steps to managing the S-Curve of learning and mastery
In Whitney’s book, Disrupt Yourself, she gives seven accelerants that can help you speed up your learning and mastery.
She says “The idea is, the base of the S the growth is slow until you reach a tipping point or you near the curve and you move into hyper growth. And then you get to saturation, the growth tapers off. That insight could help us understand how we learn. It could help us understand how we grow, how we develop. So, whenever you start something new, you are at the base of an S. Whether it's a new project, a new job, whether it's dealing with COVID-19, you're at the base of the S and growth is happening, but it can feel very slow. It can look like a slog. But knowing that helps you avoid discouragement. And then you put in the effort, and you accelerate competence and confidence and engagement. The idea of personal disruption is, you move up that S-curve, you learn and then you leave and then you repeat. You do that over and over again, and the faster you're able to do it, the higher-growth individual you can become.”
The seven steps are:
- Take on market risk - The idea of playing where no one else is playing. We are much more likely to be successful if we can be the one to create instead of waiting to compete with others who have already created.
- Play to your distinctive strengths - lean into what you do well, and mitigate the weaknesses that derail you.
- Embrace your constraints--Your constraints could be time, money, supporters, etc. Whatever they are, embrace them and use them to your advantage. Tension positively impacts innovation. Don't look at what you don't have, focus on what you do have.
- Battle your sense of entitlement - Don’t sit back and wait for things to come to you. You are no more or less important than anyone else. Put yourself out there and make it happen because as I always say, nobody is going to look out for you...but you.
- Step back to grow - Your journey to success isn’t a straight line. Sometimes in order to disrupt yourself you may have to take a few steps back to ultimately move forward. It's analogous to trying to summit a mountain. Sometimes you may climb up high only to realize you need to go back down a bit to take an alternate path to the top.
- Give failure its due - The more you are willing to fail, the faster you will get better. We have to separate the act of failing with the emotional response of shame. We all fail, it's a part of life. What matters is how you respond to failure and how you talk to yourself about failure.
- Be driven by discovery - Take a step forward, gather feedback, and adapt. One of the most crucial mindsets that leaders need to possess is that of The Explorer.
When working to become a high-growth individual, it’s all about patience
It’s so easy for us as humans to want fast results. But when it comes to disrupting ourselves, Whitney says patience is key. “I started running January of last year and I said I'm going do five minutes a day. Up until that time, I would get really impatient, thinking 'I've gotta get good at running fast.' Impatient me would have been like, 'I need to run a 5K by April,' so now we're in May of 2020. I have not run a 5K but yesterday, when I ran, I was at 39 minutes. I've gone from five minutes to 39 minutes because I've been patient. So I think for anybody who wants to be a high-growth individual, it's that idea of interest and compounding effect is just put in the time, day after day after day, and you will suddenly become that high-growth individual you wanna be.”
This episode is sponsored by Mitel. Don't compromise on business continuity. Mitel can meet all your business communications needs while working from home with all-in-one cloud calling, conferencing, collaboration, and contact center tools – free until 2021. Visit mitel.com/jacob to learn more.
Direct download: Whitney_Johnson_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 12:52am PDT
Thu, 28 May 2020
As we grow older and learn new things, regrets are pretty normal. Regrets are not always about life-changing decisions, they can also mean things that could have made your life easier if you knew them earlier.
In this mini-podcast episode, I share two pieces of advice that I would give my younger self. How about you? What would you say to your younger self?
This episode is sponsored by Cisco Webex. They are launching ‘The Future of Work’ to help you understand the trends transforming the workplace and navigate the new normal. Filled with insights and expertise dedicated to the future of work, you’ll find all you need to transform your workplace. Check it out at https://bit.ly/fowwebex
Sun, 24 May 2020
Companies are going through difficult times right now with the current pandemic, and while Pehr is not currently the CEO of a company, he is no stranger to leading during challenging circumstances, including recessions. When asked how current leaders are handling organizations during this tough time, Pehr says there is one critical thing that leaders are not doing a good enough job with.
Putting people ahead of profits
There are very few leaders today who are actively putting the well-being of their people ahead of profits. Pehr says, “I put people before profits in the sense that if I don't have good people, we could not have productivity, we could not go to have our aspirations come true unless we have good people. So I have people before profits and it's not declining profits. I think that profits are very important for any shareholder company and that the shareholder should have their part of course, but that the people will create it.”
He says companies today are not only laying people off, but they are doing it brutally. And that’s not the way to lead. During the recessions Pehr went through as a CEO he made it a priority to take care of his people and to protect the most vulnerable. Because of that his employees trusted him, they were more motivated, and they felt safe.
Creating meaning and purpose for employees
The backbone of any organization is it’s people, if you want to succeed your people have to be happy, motivated, engaged, etc… Pehr did a lot at Volvo to prioritize the well-being and purpose of his employees. He actually got rid of the whole assembly line in order to keep employees from getting injured.
Instead of having employees work on a small piece of a part that was moving down the line they were able to work on a whole part of the car while it was stationary. “That made them save, first of all, their hands and their body, so they were never injured, they didn't have to run after a product or walk with a product. And they could also do a whole part of a car, which is something that is satisfaction, that if you do the whole body, if you do the interior, if you do the mounting of the engine and the transmission, that is a full cycle of work, and it's meaningful, compared to having a simple tool and just mounting something that you know what it would become, but it was meaningless.”
Pehr understood that employees completing a mundane, partial job would cause frustration and boredom. And when people are bored quality declines.
Another thing Pehr made sure to do as a CEO was to have a presence with his employees. He didn’t hide away in a corner office, he walked through the factory and talked with individuals. And he says this is important not only for factory settings, but for a CEO in any industry. Take the time to get to know your people.
Advice for leaders of the future
In his upcoming book, Pehr reflects on what he learned as CEO of Volvo. He says, “In reflecting on what has been formative in my own life, I consider the consequential parts, not to be things or titles, but people. When a company or an organization has been the most rewarding, it has always been due to the people that the company or organization brought into my sphere, people I had the privilege of getting to know.” This quote really speaks volumes to who Pehr is as a leader and his belief in putting people first.
When asked for advice on how to implement this way of leading, Pehr said he thinks a lot of it has to do with a person’s upbringing and attitude about life. It’s not something that can easily be taught, but more so something you have to have from within.
He says leaders have to have sympathy with their whole team, regardless of what role they have. You can’t play favorites. He also believes it is a mistake to hire only people who think and act like you do, even if you get along with them best. “If you don't have people that are unlike you and that bring something to you, then it won't work well. To have pals around you is not the way to run a business and the people who are underneath the top management, they will see it very quickly.”
Direct download: Pehr_Gyllenhammar_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 3:21pm PDT
Fri, 22 May 2020
One of the most important skills future leaders should have is self-awareness. Being aware of your own flaws so that you can improve on them is a sign of great leadership.
In this week’s mini-podcast episode, I explore self-awareness in-depth and share stories and examples of how to practice it.
This episode is sponsored by Cisco / Webex. They are launching ‘The Future of Work’ to help you understand the trends transforming the workplace and navigate the new normal. Filled with insights and expertise dedicated to the future of work, you’ll find all you need to transform your workplace. Check it out at https://bit.ly/fowwebex
Mon, 18 May 2020
This episode is brought to you by Cisco Webex. To help navigate our new reality and its impact on workplace transformation, Cisco Webex is launching The Future of Work; a destination to help you understand the trends transforming the workplace; highlighting remote work as well as workstyles, innovative workspaces and integrated workflows for teams. To learn more visit futureofwork.webex.com
Joy and happiness are two very important aspects of life, and they are just what we need now as we face difficult times around the world. What is happiness and joy to you? We all have times that we struggle to find one or both. In her book, Ingrid shares a moment of awareness that changed her life. She shares, “Joy isn’t hard to find. In fact, it’s all around us”. Before we are able to create more joy and happiness at work and at home, we first need to define them separately, because a lot of times they get grouped together.
The important distinction between joy and happiness
In our quest to live fulfilled lives, it is important to understand the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is a long-term, ongoing evaluation of how we feel about our relationships, health, work, purpose, etc...Usually we evaluate this based on a certain period of days, weeks or months.
Joy, on the other hand, is an intense momentary experience. Things that make you laugh, smile, make you feel alive. It may be spending time with family, enjoying time working on a hobby you’re passionate about, a celebration, great conversation with friends, etc... In other words, joy is the little moments that build up to happiness.
As Ingrid shares, we may not notice it but we tend to put off joy in our pursuit of happiness. She says, “When we focus on happiness, when we are asking ourselves this question, "Am I happy, am I happy?" Often what we focus on are the big things. So we focus on, "I gotta get that promotion, I gotta buy that house, I gotta find my partner." And a lot of those things are not in our control fully, and a lot of them are things that to get them we put off joy. So we say, "Okay, I gotta get that promotion, so I'm not gonna go see my parents this weekend. I'm not gonna go hang out with friends. I'm not gonna do that hobby that I've been dying to take up. I'm gonna put that off until after I get the promotion." And then what happens, we get the promotion, and then we need more. We settle in and we're looking toward the next milestone, and so joy falls by the wayside.”
Why you should stop thinking about happiness entirely
A lot of our struggle with “finding” happiness and knowing if we are living a happy life is the vagueness of the word. We tend to treat happiness as a future state, something to achieve, a destination. Once we get to our destination of happiness, everything will be great. The problem is, we never truly arrive at an end.
We think we will be happy once we get that promotion, or the new house, or have our first child, or have enough money to go on that trip. But once that milestone is over, we don’t stop and say “that’s it, I’ve achieved life”, we go on to the next milestone. It is never ending, so having that mindset will only lead to disappointment.
So what should we do? Ingrid says we should stop thinking about happiness altogether. Instead we need to focus on adding moments of joy into our lives. She says, “If you know that adding little moments of joy to your day adds up to not just to happiness overall but to... That it reduces stress, that it increases our resilience by lowering those physiological responses to stress and also facilitating more adaptive coping mechanisms. We're more likely to grow from a crisis, for example, or from a difficult time at work if we invite little moments of joy into our struggle. So, it impacts our health. It impacts our connections. We have greater trust and intimacy when we have little moments of joy that we share with our partner. It impacts I talked about productivity and cognition. So if we know that these little moments of joy are helping us in all these different ways, I focus on that. I'm like, "Okay, how can I create a few more moments of joy today, this week, in my marriage, in my work? How do I create those things? How do I share them with others?" And the happiness takes care of itself”.
The 10 aesthetics of joy
In her book Ingrid shars 10 aesthetics of joy, which are ways in which we can create these little moments of joy in our lives. They are energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration, and renewal. She shared a few of them with me in depth.
Play is one of our most direct roots to joy. Play is how we find new ideas, adapt to change, explore the world, break out of our comfort zones. Ingrid says “It’s one of the most mysterious but most essential tools for survival.” One example of how to bring play to a work context is keeping a game on your desk as a reminder of the need for play at work.
In order to feel a sense of joy, we have to feel physically free. But Ingrid’s research also found that while we like to be free, we also don’t like to be fully exposed. We need prospect--we need a view of our surroundings and an idea of what’s happening around us. And we need refuge--a protected space to hide out. In an office setting this translates into having a workspace with both open space and closed off areas for employees to use. This gives employees a feeling of freedom.
Celebration is what happens in a moment of intense joy when our joy feels so contagious that it draws other people in. Celebration can be spontaneous or planned. It can be shown through singing, dancing, food, etc...In the workplace this is one thing we can definitely improve upon. We tend to celebrate birthdays in a plain, boring break room with a cake, and maybe a banner. It’s not very joyful. Ingrid suggests that instead of celebrating birthdays, organizations should celebrate more work-relevant events. Join dates, promotions, successes, and even failures.
Bringing joy to work
Even if you don’t love your job, you can find moments of joy anywhere you work. Some things that you can start doing today to create more joy at work include being more curious, thinking back to what you liked to do as a child, make space and time for joy, keep items that spark joy on your desk, and give yourself permission to find joy. Plan time on your calendar to focus on joy if you need to. For leaders, lead by example and show your employees how to bring joy to the office.
To leaders, Ingrid says, “Joy starts at the top. If you don't model the behavior of demonstrating that joy is important within your organization, it won't carry any weight because people are so used to the mentality that joy is extraneous, it's not important, I'm not supposed to bring that to work, that it needs to be modeled at the top. And I've seen this in working at IDEO, you see it very, very clearly that leaders at IDEO are joyful. David Kelley, founder of IDEO, is a joyful guy, and he brings that to his work. And he's playful and he tells his funny stories, and sometimes they're stories of failure and they're... But it's a maybe a vulnerable thing. I think recognizing that it may take some vulnerability on your part to feel safe to express joy and exhibit joy in that way.”
Direct download: Ingrid_Fetell_Lee_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 3:54am PDT
Fri, 15 May 2020
Have you fallen into the trap of constantly working and feeling the need to keep pushing, no matter how exhausted and worn down you feel? We’ve all been there. In fact, many companies and people have the mentality that in order to succeed, you have to constantly hustle and work non-stop, even when you’re tired.
But that’s not true.
To set yourself up for success, you need to take breaks. When you’ve been working hard for a long time, things start to catch up with you. If you’re physically exhausted or mentally spent, you can’t do your best work. Your brain and body need to rest and re-energize. Pushing hard can work for a short-term goal or project, but it isn’t sustainable in the long term.
A break doesn’t have to be a long hiatus. Even taking a day or half a day to focus on the things you need to do to get yourself back into the physical, mental, and emotional state to perform your best can make a difference. Spend time with family and friends, exercise and get outdoors, or spend time on a non-work hobby. Work on tasks that don’t require a lot of brainpower or creative energy, such as responding to emails, getting organized, or reaching out to people. Acknowledge that you’re tired, physically or mentally, and give yourself the time to step back and recharge.
No one can go full speed all the time. Remember that your life and career is a marathon, not a sprint. There are times where you’ll need to push harder, but there’s also times when you need to allow yourself to take a break. If you want to be at your peak performance levels, you’ve got to relax your brain and body and allow yourself time to recharge. Push past any guilt you may feel about taking a break and think of how it will help you in the long run.
Rest, recharge, re-energize. Your body and mind will thank you for the break.
Direct download: Its_ok_to_take_a_break.mp3
-- posted at: 3:26am PDT
Mon, 11 May 2020
Mark is a business advisor with over 20 years of experience helping Global 1000 and start-up companies to create new growth strategies, navigate disruptive innovation, and manage corporate transformation. He is the co-founder and Senior Partner of Innosight, a strategic innovation consulting and investing company. Prior to that Mark was a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and a nuclear power trained surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy.
This episode is brought to you by Cisco Webex. To help navigate our new reality and its impact on workplace transformation, Cisco Webex is launching The Future of Work; a destination to help you understand the trends transforming the workplace; highlighting remote work as well as workstyles, innovative workspaces and integrated workflows for teams. To learn more visit futureofwork.webex.com
Every company wants to be more innovative in order to stay relevant, to be successful, to bring in the best talent, and to help the world. But innovation takes planning, effort, focus, and intentionality. So what is keeping companies from being innovative? Mark shares three barriers to breakthrough innovation and how we can overcome them.
Barriers to Breakthrough Innovation
Mark has been an advisor and consultant to many Global 1000 and start-up companies and one thing that companies keep coming to him to figure out is how they can foster disruptive breakthrough innovation.
Mark says, “You'll hear companies talk about, we've gotta be more innovative. And what they really mean is, a specific kind of innovation, they mean, how do we get beyond our core? How do we get out from underneath ourselves and do something that really gets us into the new and different? And so, they're looking for that more disruptive breakthrough kind of innovation. And what we find is, most breakthrough innovation efforts stall or breakdown or fail, either because there's; one, not enough resources invested upfront to really give it the kind of wherewithal it needs to succeed. Two, when there's challenges in the core, or there's just general difficulties and priorities to do other things that resources will get pulled from breakthrough innovation efforts. And then finally, leadership tends to get impatient with sometimes the incubation and development period that these growth efforts take. So those are the familiar kinds of problems that happen with breakthrough growth specific to the efforts, but we also find leadership teams themselves just suffer from, as we know all the time, just being very short-sighted and short-term-ism, the importance of profitability over sustainability. So there are all these incentives and biases that crop up in the way that further break these things down.”
In response to these challenges Mark formalized a way of thinking that can help leaders overcome these barriers and stay relevant. We need to move away from how we traditionally think about vision statements, strategy and long term planning and start leading from the future.
How Companies Normally Think About the Future and Why it Needs to Change
Traditionally when trying to plan for the future companies have used what has been termed as a present forward mindset. What does that mindset look like? Mark says, “basically you take the existing structure and processes and rules and norms of today and you put that within a business, and you try to continue to extend that forward by both incremental and breakthrough innovations that are tied towards improvement of the core. And there's nothing wrong with that, in fact, organizations do need to operate and execute, they need to continue to do product development, they need to drive marketing and R&D for the sake of continuing to serve the current set of customers or consumers, that is something that needs to move forward. But the challenge is, if that's all that you do, you're making this huge assumption that businesses can be extended out indefinitely over time, and as we know, if you take the horizon far enough, there's likely to be severe commoditization to a business or real disruption, things that create discontinuities just like in the crisis today.”
So what mindset does Mark suggest we move to? He termed it future back, where you look out to the future (about 5-10 years) to develop your vision and you work your way back to present day to see what strategy you need to put in place to get there. How far you look into the future will vary from company to company, so it is important that you and your team work together to come up with the appropriate time horizon for your type of business.
No matter how far you look out, one important thing to note, you cannot come up with a future picture and a long term plan and think that’s it. Companies who either come up with this plan once and never revisit it, or who think they can come up with one plan and keep their heads down for several years getting there are not going to succeed.
Use this long term goal as a north star that gives hope and inspiration, but you have to bring that narrative to life by revisiting it often, be in the mode for learning, experiment with different things. It has to be able to be adjusted as time goes on as the rest of the world changes.
How to Implement Future Back Thinking in Three Phases
In his book, Mark shares the three phases we go through to implement future back thinking. They are:
- Develop an inspiring vision--this is not your typical 1-2 sentence vision statement. It’s about developing a clear-eyed view about what the next 5-10 years look like for the world and then for your specific company
- Translate it into a clear strategy--If vision is about being a storyteller, then strategy is about becoming an engineer. After creating inspiration, hope, and purpose behind what the organization wants to achieve you have to translate that into something tangible that you can act on
- Prepare for and manage its implementation--This step is about implementation and milestones, but a huge piece of this is also about setting the organization up for success. You have to have the right leaders in place and you have to carve out the resources (and keep them carved out) needed.
What Non-Leaders Can Do to Move Their Company to Future Back Thinking
If you are not a leader inside of your organization is there a way you can help push your team to start using future back thinking? Mark says, “I think we all have an opportunity to spread language and a way of thinking, and hopefully, leadership will pick up on that. I think reinforcing the importance based on case examples of visionary organizations that are able to... Be able to inspire the organization and then practically think of ways to anticipate alternative paths in the short-term, like what we do in the COVID crisis. And then do not think of anything as one and done, but remain agile and willing to pivot and that think in the sense of humility as being behind learning and learning being behind innovation. All of this, I think, by language alone and principles can turn an organization, and it's not just leadership that can do that, people everywhere can influence by what they say and what they talk about.”
Direct download: Mark_Johnson_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 6:14am PDT
Fri, 8 May 2020
With the current pandemic, millions of people around the world are working from home. This will likely continue over the coming months, and everyone should adjust to this new normal way of working.
In this week’s mini-episode of The Future of Work Podcast, I’m sharing tips on how you can effectively lead a virtual team from the comfort of your own home.
This episode is sponsored by Cisco Webex. To help companies navigate the new reality of #remotework, they are hosting a future of work marathon series with customers and industry experts. Make sure to check it out at https://bit.ly/webex0504
Mon, 4 May 2020
Leaders especially are constantly running around trying to "put out fires." But, what if there was a way to stop the fires from happening to begin with? That is the premise of Dan Heath's new book: Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen. Dan is the best-selling author of six books five of which he wrote with his brother Chip Heath (who I had on my podcast a little while ago). These books include classics such as: Made to Stick, Switch, and The Power of Moments.
How do we stop chasing fires and start preventing them? It's all about Upstream thinking. You can listen to the full in-depth conversation with Dan below
This episode is brought to you by Cisco Webex. To help companies navigate the new reality of remote work, join us for a live future of work marathon series with customers and industry experts: #RemoteWork - The Future of Work is Now.
The Upstream Parable
Back in 2009 Dan heard a parable that is well known in public health and it really resonated with him. It is what inspired him to write the book. He tells it like this, “You and a friend are having a picnic on the bank of a river. And you've just laid down your picnic blankets, you're about to have your meal when you hear a shout from the direction of the river. You look back and there's a child thrashing around in the water, apparently drowning. So you both dive in, you fish the child out, you bring them to shore. Just as you're starting to calm down you hear another shout. You look back, there's a second child splashing around again, apparently drowning and so back in you go. You fish them out, then there are two more children who come along right behind and so begins this kind of revolving door of rescue, where you're in and out, and fishing kids out and it's exhausting work. And right about that time, you notice your friend is swimming to the shore, steps out, starts to walk away as though to leave you alone, and you cry out, "Hey, where are you going? I need your help. All these kids are drowning" and your friend says, "I'm going upstream to figure out who's throwing all these kids in the river."
And that is the problem with most organizations. We are too focused on our own work and trying to quickly solve any issues that come up in order to just keep moving forward - we reward busy work. The result is an endless cycle of putting out fires as they come, when instead we should be able to recognize recurrent problems so we can get to the root cause. If we can find out how to fix the systems that cause the problems in the first place, we would save so much time and energy.
How to move from downstream thinking to upstream thinking
Inside of most companies employees are divided into separate functions--marketing stays in the marketing department, sales in sales, HR in HR and so on. This setup is not conducive for upstream thinking as it keeps everyone secluded and not working together to address problems. As Dan told me:
"Focus in organizations is both an enemy and an ally. It's an ally in the sense that when we get people focused on particular measures or a particular area of responsibility, it makes them more efficient. But, focus is also an enemy in the sense that it blinds you to things that are just slightly outside of your box."
Dan gives a great real life example from the travel website, Expedia. One employee working in the customer experience group was looking through some data from their call center and he found that for every 100 people who booked a flight through their site, 58 of them were calling for help. This employee saw something wrong with that picture, since the company’s whole business model is self service travel planning. Call center agents are focused on things like reducing call time and the number of issues, they don't ever ask "hey, how can I keep Jaco from calling to begin with?"
What this employee discovered was the number one reason people were calling was to get a copy of their itinerary, which should be an easy task. So this employee and his boss went to the CEO with the data and convinced the CEO to create a task force to address the issue. The task force met together and found multiple ways to address this problem and they saved the company 100 million dollars.
This is such a great story, because this employee could have easily ignored the data, no one was complaining. Everyone answering phones in the call center was just taking these calls and quickly assisting people over and over again. But had they ignored it they would have wasted countless hours and resources.
Here's another example from Linkedin who was actually a research sponsor for new book, The Future Leader. Dan Shapero is the Chief Business Officer at Linkedin and as many of you know, Linkedin has a recruiting tool you can subscribe to. It's an annual subscription and the general process was that around month 11, Dan and his team would see which accounts haven't been that active and then they would try to swoop in and try to get these people to renew for the following year. But then Dan started to wonder if there was a way to get earlier warning of who would churn. It turns out that Linkedin has tons of data but they never really used it. They could actually get a good sense of who is going to churn by around week 4! So instead of investing a ton of resources towards the end of the process, they decided to invest more in the on-boarding of new subscribers. This change resulted in tens of millions of dollars in profit. This all happened because of the shift from Downstream thinking (how do we get as many people to renew) to Upstream thinking (how do we keep people from NOT wanting to renew in the first place?).
Three main barriers to upstream thinking
In the book Dan lays out three main barriers to upstream thinking. They are:
- Problem blindness--We cannot solve a problem when we don’t perceive it as a problem.
- Lack of ownership--It is easy for us to lay blame on others instead of owning it. We all have influence in situations, we just don’t always use it.
- Tunneling-- We adopt tunnel vision because we want to keep moving forward. If we hit an obstacle we want to get it behind us as quickly as possible and continue on.
It is so easy to stay in our rut. As Dan shares, “our schedules are so overloaded that we're so locked in, head down, that we forget that there's even another mode to be in. And yet, if we want our work to improve, it has to be at that level, it has to be at the level of stamping out problems rather than just reacting to them again and again.”
We adapt to irritants, when we don’t have to
Humans are extremely adaptable creatures, we can block out what we don’t want to pay attention to, but that’s not always a good thing. One example Dan gave was this, “I came across this woman who told me she had just been moved physically within her office so she had just taken over a new desk, and her desk was right by a stairwell door. And they're often reinforced so they're heavy doors, and this thing just creaked like crazy and it drove her nuts, and of course a lot of the people around had kind of adapted to it. And a couple of days of this thing just distracting her, she finally just brought in a can of WD-40 from home and generously lubed up the hinges on the door. All the sudden it was quiet, just perfectly quiet and she said her office mates treated her like she had come down from on high. They were just in awe that she had solved this problem. And I think that's a great example of where our capacity to adapt as human beings is actually maybe a little bit too powerful. That we adapt to things in our lives and in our work, and even in our country that we needn't have adapted to that we could have solved with just a little bit of forethought.”
To hear more real-life examples of upstream thinking and get more of Dan's insights listen to the full interview by clicking the play button.
Direct download: Dan_Heath_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:01am PDT
Fri, 1 May 2020
Change is a natural part of life, but it’s also naturally difficult for most people. But in order to make progress in our careers, businesses, and lives, we’ve got to be willing to make changes and be open to new ways of doing things.
There are two types of change: linear and exponential. When most of us think about change, we tend to think about linear change. That means moving forward one step at a time for consistent but small progress. But the pace of change is increasingly so quickly, we really need to be thinking about exponential change.
I love the thought experiment created by futurist Ray Kurzweil. He puts it this way: if you were to take 30 linear steps, where would you end up? Not far from where you first started. In fact, you could likely look back and easily see where you began. But if you took 30 steps exponentially, you would make tremendous progress. After 30 exponential steps, you would end up traveling around the earth 26 times. That’s a massive distance and so far from where you originally started. The difference is simply changing from thinking about linear progress to exponential progress.
We live in an exponential world. Things are changing rapidly, especially with the development and application of new technology. We can’t afford to think about linear change when everything around us is changing exponentially. To be successful, we have to adjust our thinking and take linear and assumptions and adjust them for an exponential world.
The potential for growth is huge by simply changing your thinking. When you consider exponential thinking, you can uncover new opportunities and move yourself forward much faster. It’s time to leave linear change behind and focus on exponential change.
Before Covid-19 sent most of us home to work, the workplace was already rapidly transforming. To help companies navigate this new reality, join Cisco Webex for a live future of work marathon series with customers and industry experts: Remote Work - The Future of Work is Now. Visit https://bit.ly/webex0504 to learn more.
Mon, 27 April 2020
Safi Bahcall is a second-generation physicist, a biotech entrepreneur, a former public company CEO, and bestselling author of Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries. He was also on President Obama’s Council of Science Advisors and it was during that time that he started down the path that would lead him to write Loonshots.
What Safi realized was that there is a better way to change the culture of an organization. When giving his explanation he uses the example of a glass of water. When the water is room temperature you can swirl the water with your finger and it will slosh around. But when the temperature is lowered and the water freezes it becomes rigid and you cannot insert your finger anymore.
He says, “You can think of culture as that pattern of behavior that you see on the surface. You
have a wildly political culture or a very innovative culture. You have molecules that are totally rigid or they're sloshing around. You can think of structure as what's underneath that drives those patterns of behavior. So in a glass of water, a small change in temperature can transform you between those two behaviors. So the reason it matters so much is that no amount of yelling at your employees to, "Hey, everybody, let's innovate more," or, "Let's watch two-hour movies about brotherhood or sing Kumbaya." All of that stuff won't make much difference, just like yelling at a block of ice, "Hey, molecules, could you all loosen up a little bit?" It's not gonna melt that block of ice. But a small change in temperature can get the job done. A small change in temperature can melt steel. And so that's what the core idea is. It's what are those equivalents of the small change in temperature or sprinkling salt in a glass of water, that can have a big impact on the patterns of behavior that you see on the difference between a political culture versus an innovative culture.”
How do you change your organization’s “temperature”? Essentially it is about what the leaders reward and what they celebrate. If you reward rank only, then your organization is going to have a very political culture because everyone is fighting against each other to get a higher rank. On the other hand, if you reward and celebrate intelligent risk taking and results, then Safi says you “naturally create environments where people are pulled to innovate rather than pushed or yelled at from the top to innovate.”
Leaders also need to get to know their individual employees in order to personalize incentives. Not everyone is motivated by money. Some people are motivated by new opportunities, some by having a choice in what projects they work on, some want to get public recognition. The more you can personalize rewards, the better.
Of course, CEOs of large companies don’t usually have the time to figure out what every employee is motivated by, and that is why Safi believes every organization should have a person or a team in place to create and maintain these personalized incentive packages. Just like organizations have a Chief Revenue Officer and a Chief Technology Officer, they should also have a Chief Incentives Officer.
“If you're running a company, which would you rather have? A workforce that's got the best gadgets of anybody in your industry or the most motivated workforce in your industry? Personally, I'd rather have the most motivated workforce. Yet, what companies have as they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Chief Technology Officers. And then, you know HR is sort of a back-office afterthought. But imagine if you thought of it strategically. You have a budget. How do you think just as strategically about using that budget to incentivize your people? Like you do with a Chief Revenue Officer to use your marketing budget or a Chief Technology Officer to get the best product. What if you could make that a weapon?”
What you will learn:
- How small changes can have a big impact on the culture of an organization
- The best way to approach incentives
- Safi’s unique advice for entrepreneurs
- Whether or not we should get rid of hierarchy
- The two forces working in every organization and how to manage them
- What is intelligent risk-taking and why leaders should encourage it
Direct download: Safi_Bahcall_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 12:57am PDT
Fri, 24 April 2020
When I travel to speak or attend conferences, people are often surprised that I work so closely with my wife. We each run our own business, but we spend most of our day working within just a few feet of each other in our home office. To some people, working in such close quarters with your spouse sounds difficult, but we’ve been able to create a positive environment where we encourage each other and play major roles in each other’s success. It isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely a great situation overall.
Here are my top three tips for working with your spouse:
Take time and space
I won’t pretend that every minute of every day is great. At times, we both need to step away and take a break from each other. It can be as simple as putting in headphones, going on a walk, or taking our work to a coffee shop for a few hours. Don’t feel bad about needing to take time or space for yourself — it’s natural to need a break. The important thing is being open with your spouse and having the agreement that you can take a break when you need so that the other person doesn’t get upset or offended.
Just because you’re working in close proximity to your spouse doesn’t mean you need to be in their business all day. It can be tempting to want to chat with them or ask for their feedback on projects all day, but doing that can be annoying and seriously limit how productive you both are. Set boundaries and respect them. Understand when the other person is working and needs to focus. Just like you wouldn’t bug a co-worker in an office with a question every five minutes, don’t do it to your spouse.
Help each other
One of the best parts of working with my wife is being able to pick her brain and get her help on projects. We ask each other questions and give each other advice regularly throughout the day at times that work for both of us. We support each other to be as successful as we each can be, which is beneficial for our businesses and our marriage.
Working with your spouse can be incredibly rewarding. It’s been a great experience for my wife and I to build each other up as we build our businesses. But it definitely comes with a learning curve. These tips can turn working with your spouse into a pleasant experience that preserves your marriage.
This episode is sponsored by Linkedin Learning, they help employees achieve their goals with insights-driven course recommendations and relevant, high-quality content. If you want a free demo, just visit this page.
Direct download: How_To_Work_With_Your_Spouse_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 3:35am PDT
Mon, 20 April 2020
Dr. Steven Rogelberg is the Chancellor’s Professor at UNC Charlotte. He is a professor of Organizational Science, Management, and Psychology as well as the Director of Organizational Science. He has over 100 publications addressing issues such as team effectiveness, leadership, employee well-being, and meetings at work.
Steven is also the author of The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance, which is based on his 20 years+ of research on the topic of meetings.
Most of us have to deal with meetings on a regular basis, whether they are in person meetings or virtual, and they can feel like a waste of time. But Steven says, the solution to bad meetings is not to get rid of all meetings, he says that would be a dangerous approach. “Meetings are really an evolution in the world of work. It's a recognition that organizations can be better with and through people. As organizations basically recognized that employee voices would be helpful and meaningful, they wanted to develop systems and approaches to capture those voices. And that's really where meetings come in. So a world without meetings is actually much more problematic. We need meetings for communication, cooperation, consensus decision-making, and in many regards, organizational democracy takes place in meetings.”
So, if we shouldn’t just get rid of meetings, what is the solution? Steven has found that there are many problems with meetings that we need to address in order to make horrible meetings into great ones. He says, “There's no magic formula for an ideal meeting. The research doesn't suggest that you can do A, then B, then C, and bam, that's the ingredients for an ideal meeting. What the research suggests is that the best meeting leaders have something in common. And what they have in common is a similar mindset and it's the mindset of being a good steward of others' time. And when you have that mindset, you start to become intentional. You start to think about various decision points that exist when you're running a meeting. You just don't dial it in. So you start to ask yourself, "Why are we meeting? What do we truly need to accomplish? Who really needs to be there? What's the best way of getting this work done?" I'm sure we'll talk later about the fact that there are some alternative techniques such as leveraging silence in meetings, that can be very, very powerful. So the key characteristic of an excellent meeting is a meeting that's designed in an intentional way and a way that truly honors the time of those that are attending.”
A few things you can start to implement right now include:
- Intentionally picking a time length for the meeting --don’t just default to 30 or 60 minutes
- Only invite people who are essential to the meeting. If others are interested you can tape the meeting and share it with them later
- Utilize silence in the meeting--this allows ideas to freely flow without interrupting each other and it helps introverts to participate
- The leader should facilitate the conversation, but they should not be the only voice heard, it is important to get everyone to participate.
“When you have a bad meeting, you just don't leave it at the door. It actually sticks with you. You ruminate and you co-ruminate, you have to tell someone else about your bad meeting. So, the consequences of bad meetings for individuals and for teams, and then as a result for organizations is really well-established. But there is a flip side. What we have found is that when leaders are more careful in the calling of meetings, really making sure that they are relevant, when leaders carefully manage time in meetings, and when leaders create freedom of speech in meetings, that employees report feeling more engaged with the jobs overall. While we often think about meetings as being places of drain, meetings done right can actually be places of gain.”
What you will learn:
- A look at the evolution of meetings
- The biggest challenges that meetings bring
- Aspects that the best meetings have in common
- How to leverage silence in meetings
- What steps you can take to have a great meeting
- What to do if you have so many meetings you can’t get work done
- Advice for meeting leaders and participants
Direct download: Steven_Rogelberg_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:27am PDT
Fri, 17 April 2020
Success at work has a lot to do with how you work, but it also relates to how you think. I’ve interviewed more than 300 top business executives and CEOs for my podcast and books and love to pick their brains about how they think and the habits they follow.
I’ve learned that success at work requires everyday effort and constant evaluation. It’s not something you can dedicate yourself to once, but something to be constantly tweaked and updated.
To be successful, follow the example of top business leaders. Ask yourself these three questions at work every day:
- What did I learn today? It’s no secret that the business world is changing rapidly. The things you learned in school or even at a conference a few years ago are likely largely outdated today. To be successful, you must become a perpetual learner. It requires conscious thought and energy to learn something new every day, whether it’s from a conversation with someone, a book, a podcast, or another source. If you start to notice multiple days in a row when you haven’t learned anything, it’s time to re-commit to regular and consistent learning.
- What is the best thing I did today? It’s easy to get hung up on what you didn’t accomplish in a day or the things that could have gone better. Instead, reflect on what you did well. What made you feel good, proud, or accomplished? Practice positivity and gratitude and you’ll be amazed by the positive changes in your life.
- What can I do better tomorrow? Some of the most successful people I’ve talked to are constantly evaluating themselves and tweaking their approach to work and relationships. Even small updates and changes can lead to big progress over time. Taking time to be self-aware and look for ways to improve sets you on a path for continual progress and development.
As a bonus question, ask yourself who you can help the next day. No matter if you’re a manager or an entry-level employee, there are always people you can help. It doesn’t have to be huge, but reaching out to someone and offering a helping hand shows humility and builds relationships.
Asking yourself these questions at the end of every day only takes a few minutes, but the practice of self-evaluation leads to strong self-discipline and continual improvement. If you want to be a business leader, you’ve got to think like one. And it starts by asking yourself these questions every day.
Mon, 13 April 2020
Jonah Berger is a Professor at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a world-renowned expert on change, word of mouth, influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He is also the bestselling author of numerous books including a brand new one titled, The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.
How many times have you tried and failed to change someone’s mind about something, whether it was a family member, a coworker, a friend, or a boss? Jonah says it is because we are going about trying to change their mind in the wrong way. He says, “If you look at a
chair in a room you are sitting in and you wanna move the chair, pushing that chair is often a pretty good approach, right? If you push that chair in the direction you want it to go, it often moves in that direction. But there's one problem, when we apply that same notion to people which is that people aren't chair. When we push physical objects, they tend to go, when we push people they tend to push back. Rather than changing, they often do the exact opposite of what we want. And so what the book is really about is, is there a better way? Could there be a different approach? And if you look to chemistry there actually is. There's a special set of substances in chemistry that make change happen faster and easier. They don't do it by adding more pressure or pushing harder. They do it by removing the barriers to change and those substances which you can probably guess are called catalysts.”
Changing minds is about removing barriers that are preventing the change. In his book Jonah lists 5 key barriers to change.
- Reactance--people resisting change because they feel like they don’t have control
- Endowment--We tend to feel attached to the way we already do things, and that makes it extremely hard to change our ways
- Distance--When we are faced with ideas too far from our current way of thinking they tend to get ignored or we even potentially do the exact opposite
- Uncertainty--It is easier to convince someone to make a change if you can find a way to help them experience the differences the change will bring. That way they can see the benefit for themselves
- Corroborating evidence--Sometimes one person saying change is needed is not enough, you may need multiple sources to provide enough evidence for the change to take place.
So how can you start removing barriers to change in your life and work? Jonah says, “I think the first thing is just to start by finding those barriers, identify those roadblocks, those parking breaks. We tend to have barrier blindness, we tend to ignore them, but in case we don't know what they are, we can't solve them. And so, really start by being more aware of what they are and discovering them. And only then, once we've discovered them, then can we solve them. I talked about five ones in the book. I think those are the five ones that come up again and again and again, but there are others, in different situations, people may experience others and so I would start by understanding those five and then look for others in your own situation.”
What you will learn:
- Five key barriers that prevent change from happening and how to overcome them
- How employees should approach leaders regarding change
- How to move from making decisions based on fear to being more logical
- How we can change our own minds
Direct download: Jonah_Berger_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:30am PDT
Fri, 10 April 2020
The global coronavirus pandemic has brought tragedy in sickness, death, and loss of work. It has undoubtedly changed how billions of people around the world live. But at the same time, it has also changed how we work and potentially sped up the future of work.
From a business context, this global tragedy is forcing organizations to evolve their workplace practices quickly. Companies that perhaps didn’t believe in flexible work options or didn’t have remote work programs in place are now telling their employees they must work from home. And in order to stay productive and keep the business running, these organizations are being forced to quickly adopt workplace flexibility policies. That also means they are upgrading their technology to give employees the tools and resources to work remotely, such as internal collaboration tools, web conferencing capabilities, and security measures to share and protect information.
The mass movement to remote work to protect employees is also forcing organizations to rethink their approach to leadership. Managers and leaders still need to lead employees, even if they can’t see them or now oversee dispersed teams. In many cases, that means evolving how leaders engage with and motivate their teams.
In many ways, this horrible event is a wake-up call for organizational practices and policies that companies need to think of in terms of leadership, technology, workplace flexibility, security, and more. Although it has come out of a terrible situation, this could propel organizations to continue with their flexible work options and have the tools in place for the long term.
After we make it through these trying pandemic times, organizations will have the tools in place for flexible working and know that it works. That doesn’t mean every company with keep their flexible work arrangements, but they will know how to work and lead in a remote environment. If an employee or a team wants or needs to work remotely, the organization will already know how to make that happen, which opens so many doors for both employees and organizations.
Our world is facing difficult times, but changes to how we work could actually propel positive change in the form of better adoption of flexible working and more power to the employee.
Mon, 6 April 2020
Laura Vanderkam is the author of several books on productivity and time management, including Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.
These days most of us have been forced to step away from our normal routines, and that can feel stressful and chaotic at times. But as Laura shares, it is all about our internal dialogue and how we shape the way we handle the current situation. “It can be easy to tell ourselves stories about the chaos and how crazy it is and how you can get nothing done. But once you have a story in your mind, you start looking for evidence to support that. And so if your story is, Everything's crazy, I can't get anything done, this is horrible, this is terrible, well certainly you can find a couple of stressful moments in any given day, and then now you've got points of evidence supporting your story. But if you start from the story of, Well, this is challenging, but I am a resilient and productive individual, I will get through it, well you can also find evidence of that. You can celebrate little moments like, Wow, I just pitched a huge project over Zoom and it worked, they said yes.That's wow, great. Or, I managed to have lunch with my family. When does that happen on a weekday? So you can celebrate things like that.”
In her book, Off the Clock, Laura shares seven strategies we can use to avoid stress and feel better about the hours we have. They are:
- Tending your garden--we need to cultivate our time the same way we tend to a garden, and the work is never done
- Make life memorable--People feel time is more abundant when they do things out of the ordinary
- Don’t fill time--we are very good at filling time, a lot of times with unimportant things, but it is up to us to be mindful and choose what to do with our time
- Linger--it is important to slow down and notice things. We need to learn to savor our time
- Invest in your happiness--It is important to use our resources to spend more time on things we enjoy vs. things that make us wish time away
- Let it go--Unhappiness stems from a mismatch between expectations and reality. If we can’t change reality, we have to learn to change our expectations
- People are a good use of time--Interacting with others and spending time with people is never a waste of time
Putting these strategies into practice can help us take charge of our time. The fact is time is going to continue moving on whether we pay attention to it or not. It is so important to be aware of how we use our time because then we can pinpoint areas we need to work on in order to make every second count.
Laura’s advice to leaders of organizations is, “People who feel a sense of autonomy are generally far more happy and more productive. So as much as possible, if you can give people some control over their work, over when they do it, over how they work. I'm a big fan of, now we're all working remotely, but I'm a big fan of allowing people to do that from time to time, if that would make them feel better about it. Of letting people set their own hours, if that is remotely possible. And even people who do have to be scheduled for shift, maybe there could be a lot of input into when those shifts are, that people can work with each other to come up with shifts that they are all happy with, that it's not just decreed from above, that it's things people have a say in. And that can go a long way toward making people feel like they matter.”
What you will learn:
- Seven strategies to avoid stress and feel better about the hours we have
- Laura’s thoughts on work-life integration and the hustle culture
- How to change our view of the challenges we face
- How to savor life’s best moments no matter how busy you are
- How to make life memorable
- How to invest in your happiness
Direct download: Laura_Vanderkam_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:19am PDT
Fri, 3 April 2020
3 Ways to Build A High-Performing Team
People everywhere want to unlock the secret to building a high-performing team. After all, your team often makes or breaks the success of your company. When your team works together well, great things can happen. But often teams are slowed down by inefficiencies and difficulties.
From my experience working in a variety of teams and now assembling and leading my own team of 10 people around the world, here are three things you can implement today to build a high-performing team.
- Know strengths and weaknesses. This applies to yourself and the people on your team. Practice self-awareness and know what you’re good at and where you need help, and then find team members to help with your weaknesses. If you’re good at big-picture strategic planning but have a weakness in organization, find someone on your team who has organization as a strength. Optimize the roles people play on the team by keeping each person in their area of strength.
- Set clear and transparent goals. For a team to be high-performing, they have to know what they are working towards. Without clear goals, it’s hard to make progress. Make sure everyone on the team is on the same page with the goals, and be transparent about how and why the goals were created.
- Give and receive constant feedback. Feedback measures if you truly have a high-performing team. Instead of checking in with employees once a year for an annual review, keep an ongoing dialogue of information going back and forth. Let employees know what they are doing well and where they can improve, and let the feedback go both ways so you can continually improve, as well.
These three high-level strategies can have a huge impact on building and developing high-performing teams. By playing to each person’s strengths, setting common goals, and creating feedback loops, you can turn nearly any team into a high-performing team that works together to make great progress.
Direct download: How_to_Build_A_High-Performing_Team_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:39am PDT
Mon, 30 March 2020
Jeremy Gutsche is the founder and CEO of Trend Hunter, a website where people from around the world can share business ideas and trends. It’s basically like a giant innovation focus group. He is also the author of two books, Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change and Create the Future: Tactics for Disruptive Thinking.
As Jeremy points out in his books, it is still possible to innovate in times of uncertainty, which is encouraging with what we have going on in the world right now. He says, “Chaos creates opportunity always. And what happens is that we get intimidated by the doom and gloom of bad times. But actually, if you look in history, what happens is that we get caught in a groove. Successful people get caught in a groove. Successful people are the ones that miss out and get disrupted because we get caught on a path of repeating past decisions. And chaos changes that. So if you look historically, you will see an astounding list of companies that were founded during periods actually of economic recession. Disney, HP, Apple, Burger King, Fortune Magazine, the list goes on and on, I've got about 50 in the book, but these are all companies that were actually started in a period of recession. And of course, this is a difficult time that we're in with Coronavirus. It is going to spark different opportunities, people are trying new things, like more of these virtual seminars, ideas, we're starting to rethink about what's important and why.”
So during this time are there specific mindsets and skills individuals should be focused on in order to deal with these crazy times? Jeremy says it is important to embrace what is happening around us instead of trying to fight against it. We are all going through the same difficult time so everyone will be more understanding of failures or mistakes, but it won’t work to fight against what we are going through, so just embrace it.
He also says we have to be willing to destroy the old way of doing things. “It's a simple note that right now the rules of the game have changed. And if you're willing to just embrace looking into what those new rules could be, combined with your curiosity and insatiability, then you're really well prepared for the future.”
Jeremy has always focused on trends, for his books and for his website. So how can you go about spotting trends? Jeremy says “The trend is your friend and your best guess at where the future is headed is to better understand trends. And I'd say just increasing your knowledge of how trends work could actually have a pretty big impact. And I'll give you two example lessons on that. The first lesson would be, that we tend to use the word "trend" to represent a pretty wide range of things. On one end, there's this super mega trend like the rise of female purchasing power or eco, and those are interesting but they're just so big and everybody knows them that they're not necessarily going to change your mind too much. You're gonna follow them anyways and that's life. On the other end, we use this word "trend" almost incorrectly to describe what's trending on Twitter, and the new little product that's interesting. But actually that's so little and a flash in the pan that you might not be able to do anything with it. So what you're actually looking for would be something in the middle which we would probably call cluster or consumer insight, which would be when you can find grouplings of multiple examples that all show you something that's new and interesting.”
Things you will learn:
- Long term implications of something like Covid-19
- How to innovate in chaotic times
- Why success can be a double edged sword
- What skills and mindsets individuals need right now
- Real life examples of companies who found a way to thrive in difficult times
- How to spot trends
- What leaders can do to support people on the front lines of the virus right now
Direct download: Jeremy_Gutsche_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:01am PDT
Wed, 25 March 2020
You’ve decided it’s time for a change and is ready to switch jobs. What should you do now? Switching jobs isn’t something that should be taken lightly, but if you find yourself in a toxic work environment where you can’t advance, it may be time to move on. After you’ve made the decision to look for a new job, here are three things to consider:
Understand why you want to leave
People leave their jobs for a huge variety of reasons. Before you leave your job, make sure you’re leaving for the right reason, not a superficial reason like there not being enough perks or your desk not being in the right spot. A good reason to leave your current job is if you feel stuck or if you and your manager don’t get along, even after trying to improve the relationship. Changing jobs is exhausting, so before you get in too deep, make sure you are leaving for the right reasons.
In our modern work environment, your skillset is often more important than your job title. Organizations value employees who have the right set of skills. Take the time before you leave your current job to develop skills that will make you desirable and valuable to future employers. Take advantage of programs or trainings your current employer might offer and build a skill portfolio.
Leave on good terms
No matter how rocky the time at your current job has been, don’t burn any bridges on your way out. References and resumes still matter, so try to make things right before you leave. The last thing you want is a disgruntled former boss or co-worker making it difficult for you to move on to a new opportunity with a bad reference or a black spot on your resume.
Remember, you are in control of your career path. If you’re in a situation that isn’t getting better no matter how much effort you put forth, it could be time to switch jobs. Don’t take the decision lightly, and once you’ve decided to go, follow these three tips to ensure your job search and transition goes as smoothly as possible.
Direct download: Best-Tips-For-Changing-Jobs.mp3
-- posted at: 3:05am PDT
Mon, 23 March 2020
Toby Ord is a philosopher and Senior Research Fellow at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute. He focuses on the big picture questions facing humanity such as global poverty, health, the long term future of humanity and the risks which threaten to destroy our entire potential. Toby is also the author of a new book called, The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity.
How does he research and think about future risks and possibilities? Toby says, “I have looked into a lot of the astrophysics of questions about the earth's lifespan and things like that. And when it comes to particularly the risks that we might face over the next 100 years. Yeah, I've had to read a lot about science and technology and really talk to a lot of experts. That's been a real focus with the book. It looks at a lot of issues in cutting edge science and I really... This is a real area where it's easy to screw it up when you're writing a book like this if you have a great idea about something closer to your own discipline, but then you have to say a lot of things about other disciplines for it to make sense. It's easy to just kind of make it up. So I wanted to really make sure I didn't do that. And I talked to really the cutting edge experts in all of these different risks and I also have them look over the book before it went to print to make sure that I hadn't made any errors and that I was faithfully conveying the cutting edge information about these things.”
In his book Toby breaks up the future risks into three categories:
- Natural Risks such as asteroids, super volcanoes, and stellar explosions
- Anthropogenic Risks such as nuclear weapons and climate change
- Future Risks such as pandemics and unaligned AI
Toby also spends a lot of time advising governments and leaders at organizations around the world. When it comes to the things they are most concerned about Toby says, “So some of this was on my earlier work about global poverty. So trying to understand how we can most effectively help people in poor countries. And some of it has been... Yeah on future trends and technologies and ideas for example, about interest in AI and work. I would like them to always be asking me these other questions about existential risks. These are risks to the entire future of humanity and what they could be doing to protect us. They don't tend to ask me about that. Hopefully, after this book comes out, they will... But my experience when talking to them about those existential questions is that... And they say, "Wow that's really interesting, but it's above my pay grade." And everyone seems to react like this at least up all way through the national level of government. That it's something where it just feels a bit too big for them to deal with. And they're used to thinking about the new cycle the next week or so or about the election cycle. But something that's, that you're talking about, what do we need to put in place such that we can be protected from engineered pandemics in 20 or 30 years time? How do we need to start working now in order to avoid that? It's so far beyond their normal horizons and it's at such a level thinking about not just a country and not even just global level, but the entire future of humanity that they're not really used to thinking about those questions at all. And I'm hoping to make them better at thinking about these things.”
But despite all these risks Toby is not pessimistic. He shares, “We have the potential to have a really great future. It's not a pessimistic book. And I think that we want to with clear eyes see the types of risks see how high they are and then act appropriately and defend our future, so that we can have a great future going forwards.”
What you will learn:
- How Toby goes about determining what the future risks for humanity will be
- A look at some of the most immediate risks we face
- Toby’s view of the future of AI and automation
- How we can think about the big picture without getting overwhelmed
- How we are currently doing when it comes to climate change
- How much technological progress have we experienced
Direct download: Toby_Ord_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:39am PDT
Wed, 18 March 2020
Are you prepared for the future? What about your organization or the people around you? Futurists don’t predict the future, but they do make sure their organizations aren’t surprised by what the future will bring. More people are becoming futurists, especially as the pace of change increases and many organizations look towards the future with uncertainty. But futurists don’t just take a shot in the dark to guess what will happen — their projections are rooted in thinking through multiple scenarios to make sure they and their organizations are as best prepared as possible.
Here are three ways to think like a futurist:
Look for signals
Every day, futurists scan the horizon for things that are coming in the future. These things may seem small now but can turn into major events and developments for the future. Signals could be geopolitical events, technology developments, demographic changes, or a number of other things. Signals come from reading reports, listening to podcasts and talks, researching, and talking to people with a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise.
Think of implications
From there, futurists consider what the signals could mean. Thinking of implications means taking things one step further, looking at how new developments could manifest in different areas, and considering the potential impact. Things in the future are connected, and futurists work to connect those dots to make sure they understand and are prepared.
There isn’t just one way the future will work out. Organizations and people who only consider one way of doing things won’t succeed in the future. Futurists look at multiple different possibilities and are open to new ideas. They ask lots of questions and run through a variety of scenarios by asking themselves what would happen if they went down a certain path. They follow that path to the end for a long-term view instead of stopping short of letting it fully play out.
Thinking like a futurist takes practice and involves paying attention, having an open mind, and running through numerous possibilities to find potential outcomes and which is the most likely. Getting in the habit with these three steps to thinking like a futurist can put you in the mindset to better understand the future and help those around you prepare for what’s to come.
Direct download: Three_Ways_to_Think_Like_a_Futurist.mp3
-- posted at: 8:02am PDT
Mon, 16 March 2020
Jim McKelvey is the co-founder of Square and the author of a brand new book, The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. Square was founded in response to a problem Jim had in his glassblowing business. He ended up losing a big sale because he couldn’t take an American Express card. So he set out to solve that problem along with his former intern, Jack Dorsey.
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 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.
The reason behind how they beat Amazon, Jim says, “In Square's case, I outlined about 14 things that we were doing absolutely differently from everybody else, 14 separate things and we were probably doing some more subtle stuff on top of that and each of those 14 things influenced each of the other 14 things so it was very complicated but imagine the difficulty of trying to copy 14 things at once and what I do is I just... You need to just fall back to math, you say "Well what are the odds of copying one thing successful?" Well, let's say it's 8 out of 10. Four out of five times you're gonna get it right. You're gonna try to copy something that's been done before, you're a company like Amazon, you got a lot of smart people, a lot of money, you got an 80% chance of nailing it. Okay, great, so that's one thing. Do two things, that's 80 squared or 80% squared so now you've got a 64% chance and you keep adding and adding. Now you're down to the point where the odds of actually going in and successfully copying all of these things which are necessary for the company to succeed is very slim and even a company like Amazon couldn't do it.”
When it comes to true entrepreneurship Jim doesn’t believe is starting with a product or a service. He says it all starts with a problem that needs to be solved. “So if you say somebody has an idea for a thing, I'm not particularly interested but I am very interested in a problem that somebody tries to solve. If somebody says to me, "Hey, I have invented this widget." I don't care. If somebody says to me "Jim, I've got this problem and I am annoyed by this thing and here's how I plan to eliminate that problem." That's fascinating because the elimination of problems, the solution to an existing problem is super fascinating because that's what moves the world forward.”
And Jim shares that innovation cannot happen without failure. So we shouldn’t be afraid to fail. He says, “I see people who I know are capable of doing great things disqualifying themselves. It's not even that they're failing, it's that they're not trying because they sit there and their whole life, they've been conditioned to get this guarantee before they do anything and then you come to the situation where by definition, there are no guarantees. It is impossible to have a guarantee that something that has never been tried before will work. Then the answer is, "Well, don't ever try" but that's insane, right? But we've become so conditioned for this that I figured we needed a way to, first of all, discuss it in a way that allowed people to argue with me. So read the book, use my definitions and then get in my face.”
What you will learn:
- How to get your team to innovate
- Why we’ve been defining the word entrepreneur the wrong way
- How Square was created and how they took on and beat Amazon
- Whether or not you should follow your passion
- How to deal with failure
- Jim’s view on whether or not you can buy happiness
Direct download: Jim_McKelvey_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:35am PDT
Wed, 11 March 2020
Here are three ways to upgrade your technology and improve the employee experience:One of the most important aspects of employee experience is technology. Think of how much your employees use technology every day — it’s a crucial part of every business, and if your company doesn’t have the right technology resources, it can be a drain on the employee experience.
We’re surrounded by great technology in our everyday personal lives, but many employees face the struggle of having to set aside those programs and devices to use slow and outdated programs at work. Consumer-grade technology is tools that are so useful and intuitive that you would use them in your personal life if possible. An outdated computer or a clunky intranet system can be frustrating to employees, lower their productivity, and cause burnout. Employees should have tools at work that match what they use at home and reflect the year we live in.
Video communication and collaboration
More employees are working flexible schedules or connecting with remote teams, so they need technology that can help them work effectively. The best video and collaboration tools allow employees to communicate anywhere on any device. No matter if it’s Slack or an internal chat system, employees should have a way to collaborate beyond just email.
Although it’s not an actual technology itself, flexible work is powered by technology. Modern employees crave a flexible schedule, but an organization can’t offer flexible work without the right technology in place. Things like collaboration tools, video, and task management systems make it possible for employees to work remotely, which can greatly improve their experience.
All companies need technology, no matter what industry they are in. Technology plays a huge role in the employee experience. Focus on these three improvements to create a technology-powered experience for all employees.
Mon, 9 March 2020
Victor Hoskins is the President and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Prior to that, he was Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for the District of Columbia. In his current role, he works hard with his team to attract companies and jobs to the area. Most recently he led the team responsible for winning the Amazon HQ2, which will be bringing anywhere from 25,000 to 37,000 jobs to Northern Virginia.
What was it like to compete for the Amazon HQ2? Fairfax county was one of 238 jurisdictions in the running and their initial proposal was 250 pages long. A few months later Amazon responded with over 100 questions which took 1100 pages to respond to. It was definitely not an easy feat!
When looking at the big picture Victor has been paying attention to two main trends when it comes to talent. The first one is the need for regions to find ways to keep college students in the area after they graduate. In Victor’s region there are 60 universities and he says, “there's a real retention effort that we're launching focused on the kids that are in school right now and connecting them directly to companies, whether that company is Leidos or that company is Booz Allen, whether it is North Broman or Boeing we're trying to connect them directly to the companies as they're going through their undergraduate education because what we find and what I think all of us found is, when you work at a place while you're in school you may be going back to that place or a similar company when you get out of school so really bridging that, making that connection or may not just doing this at the undergraduate level but we also want to look at this at the high school level, trying to get these kids into internships, just to get to understand what companies do and develop their interest early on.”
The second thing he is paying attention to is the need for companies to retrain the talent they already have instead of hiring new people. It makes a lot more sense to utilize the people already inside of your organization who know the company culture, then to hire a new person who has to learn everything from square one.
When it comes to AI and technology, Victor is not worried. We have had many shifts in the way we work in the past, for example there was a day when milk and ice was delivered by horse and carriage, but we have always adapted and created new jobs. He believes we will continue to adapt, create, and learn.
Victor’s advice to students in high school or college is do your best every single day. He says, “I feel like I'm at a job interview every day. Every day, I'm at a job interview, which means that I have a chance to make a good impression or bad impression. Me, I choose every day to make an extraordinary impression. I throw my body and my mind into everything that I do. Listen, I was at that brown bag talking about a book. It was the last thing on earth to discuss before I go six feet under. I mean, to me that was a moment to explain something to them that I do wanted to talk to them about since I got there. And this is, this moment right here, this is the greatest moment in my life right now, you know why? Because you only have these moments so do them in an extraordinary way. Do not be average.”
What you will learn:
- What it was like to compete with 238 jurisdictions to win the Amazon HQ2
- What companies like Amazon and Nestle are looking for in talent
- Workplace and talent trends Victor is paying attention to
- How Victor inspires his team
- How companies are attracting and retaining talent
Direct download: Victor_Hoskins_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:32am PDT
Wed, 4 March 2020
With the growth of AI, machine learning, and automation, many people are worried about their jobs and think everything will soon be run by robots. But no matter how advanced technology gets, there are some things it will never be able to do as well as humans. These uniquely human abilities and characteristics, including practicing empathy, innovation, creativity, communication, collaboration, vulnerability, mentoring, and so much more can only be done by humans. It’s important for humans to embrace their natural abilities and showcase them at work.
Over the past few decades, we’ve been conditioned to leave our natural human abilities outside of the office. But to succeed in the future, we have to embrace these qualities. That means doing things like taking a stand to be vulnerable at work, fighting for something you believe in, and taking the time to coach and mentor someone. A lot of technology now is developed to take over mundane and repetitive tasks. Don’t run away from technology. Instead, leverage it so that you have time to work on more human qualities. Be intentional in how you tackle this. If you can automate a task that usually takes you three hours a week, spend those three hours developing a human quality and encouraging your teammates to do the same. Even if those abilities are hidden deep within us, they can come out and shine with practice.
Technology may be a driving feature in future organizations, but humans also need to be involved. Employees who can tap into these human qualities will be more valuable and in-demand at work. People who are good at communicating, collaborating, and innovating will have more opportunities for growth because people will want to work with them and work for them.
Technology is always changing, but the need to remain human stays the same. To create more value and be successful in the future of work, practice being human at work and encourage others to do the same.
Mon, 2 March 2020
Jason Fried is the co-Founder and CEO of Basecamp and bestselling author of Rework and It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work. He has also given a TED Talk titled Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work.
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.”
Anything that cannot get done in 40 hours can wait until the next day or the next week. The reason is 50, 60, 80 hour weeks are not sustainable. In an emergency, they can be done once in a great while, but to keep it up consistently, it doesn’t produce the best results.
Jason says, “I'm sorry, 80-hour weeks if you wanna be in business for a long time. Sometimes you're gonna burn out, or you're gonna burn people out, and it's gonna be very difficult. Okay, maybe you can do it, but it's not gonna be pleasurable, it's not gonna be enjoyable. You're not gonna keep a good team together with you for a long period of time. And you're gonna lose a lot of great people along the way. And I don't wanna lose great people. It's hard enough to find great people. So I wanna keep them happy with the reasonable work hours, challenging work, great people, great environments, and those kinds of things.”
Just because you put in a lot of hours doesn’t mean you are producing good work, you can spend extra hours on bad work. Most of the time the best ideas and new innovations come after people come back to a problem refreshed. Working until you are beyond exhausted and stressed doesn’t usually lead to breakthroughs.
“It's just kind of unusual in the United States, with our work hustle culture that's just I think really damaging and really destroying people over the long term. And I know that, hey, sometimes when you're in your early 20s you wanna put all the hours in, and you want bust your ass and the whole thing, I get it. But the thing is that it's not sustainable. And when you have companies that encourage that kind of behavior when those companies themselves know it's not sustainable, that's almost fraudulent, and I just don't wanna be that kind of company.”
There may be people reading this who are feeling stuck in a situation at work where leadership encourages people to work 60+ hours and rewards those who come in early and stay late. For those people, Jason says you should assess the situation and figure out what you have control over. Can you talk to leaders to get them to change? Can you set an example and change the mindset? If you have some control, figure out how to make it better.
If you don’t have control, it may be time to look for another job. “Most people who profess the craziness and are all in on these long, long, long hustle things, they keep doing it until they can't. They don't choose all of a sudden, like when they're 35, to go, Oh, I don't have to do that anymore. I'm gonna go back to a normal day's work. Because the habits they've built are all built around busy, and packed schedules, and hustling, and the whole thing. So it's very hard to break habits. If that's what you're used to doing, you're gonna keep doing that, and at some point it's going to collide with reality and life. Or it's going to keep you from reality and life. And I think that's really unfortunate too. Work is not that important to keep everything else out of your life.”
What you will learn:
- The problem with the hustle culture
- Why Jason feels work should be capped at 40 hours per week
- What to do if you feel trapped by work
- Advice for leaders who want to give employees more autonomy
- What it is like to work at Basecamp
Direct download: Jason_Fried_Podcats_-_done.mp3
-- posted at: 12:00am PDT
Wed, 26 February 2020
Is college worth the time and cost? It’s a constant debate, and everyone seems to have a strong opinion on the matter. I regularly see posts on social media about the pros and cons of attending college. While there isn’t a definite answer that applies to everyone, I believe college is still definitely worth the investment.
No matter your career goals, here are three reasons why college is still worth it:
- Networking and Job Skills
Aside from what you actually learn in college, perhaps the greatest benefits are the job and life skills you gain. College teaches life skills like collaboration, accountability, and meeting deadlines, plus valuable skills for any profession, like writing and analytical thinking. College is also a great place to build your network. The people you meet and work with in college can provide valuable connections throughout your entire life. Many people end up starting companies or working with people they met in college.
- Most Jobs Require a Degree
Even though some people believe college isn’t worth the cost, the majority of jobs in the U.S. still require a college degree. A growing number of companies are using AI to sort through job applications and search for keywords, meaning a resume without a college degree could likely be automatically eliminated, no matter how strong the other experience or qualifications. Employers want people who hold degrees because it shows they can stick with something for four years and have skills in the right areas.
Even if your eventual plan is to become an entrepreneur and work for yourself, college is a strong insurance policy. The vast majority of small businesses fail, and you’ll want something to fall back on. Just because you get a degree and have a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t still be an entrepreneur. Starting a business as a side hustle and then transitioning to being a full-time entrepreneur is a safer option and only available if you have a college degree.
The education system isn’t perfect, but the benefits of going to college still far outweigh the costs. A college degree is incredibly valuable, no matter if your plan is to climb the corporate ladder or make it as an entrepreneur.
This episode is sponsored by my friends at Conga, the company that’s helping people spend less time on manual work and more time on the projects they love. If you’re tired of endless paperwork and manual processes, make sure to check them out at http://bit.ly/congaddxg
Mon, 24 February 2020
Michael Bungay Stanier is a bestselling author of The Coaching Habit and the upcoming book, The Advice Trap: Be Humble, Stay Curious & Change the Way You Lead Forever, which comes out on February 29. He is also the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations transform from advice-driven to curiosity-led.
If you’ve had the chance to read The Coaching Habit you know the seven essential coaching questions, but Michael’s newest book builds on top of that and helps readers figure out how to take steps to stay curious and change behaviors.
Michael shares that the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is the advice monster. What is the advice monster? He says, “the advice monster is that thing that keeps looming up going, "No. No. No. I know you think you're curious but let me just pull you back onto the dark side, and have you lurking into telling advice and offering solutions and being the person with the answer." And everybody listening in right now knows this experience, somebody starts talking and you don't really know what's going on. You don't really know the people involved. You don't really have the context, you certainly don't have the technical specifications required and after about 10 seconds, you're like, "Oh, oh no, no. I've got something to say here. No, no, no, stop talking." And if you recognize that at all in yourself, and you do, you know you do. This is your advice monster. It's the pattern of behavior that has you going, "The way I add value is I jump in and I provide solutions.”
And while human nature is to think our advice is good, that’s not usually the case. And Michael shares three main reasons why giving advice isn’t the best course of action.
- We try to solve the problem
- Your advice isn’t as good as you think
- Sometimes it is better to let people solve their own problems
The answer is to be curious a little bit longer and take a more coachlike approach. “It is not a bad idea to just as a philosophy to go, "Look, even if I have good advice, what if I just shut up? Not forever, not for days, not for months, but just a little bit longer." That's how we define coaching, or being more coach-like. Can you stay curious a little bit longer? Can you rush to action and advice-giving a little bit more slowly? That's it. It's like coming back to this idea, that there's a time and a place for advice, it's not just as fast as you think it is.”
What you will learn:
- What is the advice monster and how do we become aware of it
- How to develop the coaching habit
- How the role of leadership is changing
- Some myths about coaching that we need to overcome
- How leaders can become more effective coaches
Direct download: Michael_Bungay_Stanier_Podcast_-_done.mp3
-- posted at: 12:23am PDT
Wed, 19 February 2020
No matter if you work for yourself or in an organization, time management is one of the most essential skills you can master. Managing your time makes you more productive and opens the door to new personal and professional opportunities.
Here are three proven strategies to manage your time effectively:
- Understand Where Your Time Goes
You can’t manage your time if you don’t know how you currently use it. When I first started working for myself, I would get to the end of the day and realize I hadn’t accomplished anything substantial. My time had been spent doing smaller things that pulled at my attention. But I had to come to that realization before I could make changes and have a frame of reference of how to manage my time. Spend a week keeping a journal of where your time goes. Track what you’re doing throughout the day and what is happening. You may be surprised at certain patterns or distractions that can lead to major time management changes.
Some people claim that multi-tasking is the most efficient way to get things done, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every time we switch tasks, our brain needs time to refocus, which makes us less productive overall when we’re pulled in different directions. Batching tasks is grouping things together and doing them back to back. You might batch your writing or brainstorming tasks and do them in the same block of time. I batch checking my email and social media to certain times of the day to avoid distractions.
- Prioritize The Most Important Tasks
Start each day by prioritizing the three most important things you want to get done that day. There is always more work we can do, which can feel overwhelming and pull you in multiple directions. Prioritizing your top tasks sets the direction for the day. When you’ve accomplished those things, no matter how long it takes, you know you’ve been successful. As you master this strategy, you can extend it to the top four or five things for the day.
Time management comes with practice. Try these strategies to find what fits your work environment. When you can control your time, you’ll find you get more done, have more energy, and can enjoy more time doing things you enjoy.
Direct download: How_To_Manage_Your_Time_Effectively.mp3
-- posted at: 2:15am PDT
Mon, 17 February 2020
Dr. Denise Trauth is the President of Texas State University. She is currently in her 18th year leading the university. Prior to that Dr. Trauth was provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Under Dr. Trauth’s leadership, Texas State has experienced its largest construction program since being founded in 1899, became a federal Hispanic-Serving Institution, was designated a Texas Emerging Research University, has been reclassified as an “R2: Doctoral University – Higher Research Activity” under the Carnegie Classification system, and moved up to NCAA Division I.
Dr. Trauth and her team at Texas State make sure they are staying in touch with industries in the area in order to provide the most relevant and up to date education for students. She has noticed two big trends currently impacting the business world. She says, “What we see in particular is that business is being impacted by two factors in particular: One is technology, and the other is globalization. And those two factors have a big impact on everything we do. It might not be terribly apparent in every single one of our academic programs, all 200 of them, but it does infuse the way we think about curriculum, the way we approach curriculum, and particularly, how we think about adding degree programs or getting rid of existing degree programs.”
Technology impacts every aspect of our lives, so it’s not surprising that it is changing the way students learn. And while Dr. Trauth doesn’t believe that face-to-face learning will be going away anytime soon, it is important to utilize technology in education.
“We have configured the classrooms differently. That's one thing. All of these classrooms obviously are capable of having lots and lots of technology, whether you're talking about the individual devices, or you're talking about the devices the instructor is using. What that means is, all of our new buildings and a lot of our older buildings have been converted. So there's lots of places to plug in and recharge, that makes a big difference. The other big difference is what we're calling, Makerspaces. We have about five or six Makerspaces across our campus here in San Marcus and also our campus in Round Rock, where students can do everything from 3D printing to manufacturing some kinds of prototypes for classes. A lot of opportunities; lasers, laser printers, lots of opportunities for students to make things.”
Globalization is also impacting the future, for the good and the bad. As Dr Trauth shares, “What's happening on the other side of the world has great implications for us and the implications are widespread. Starting with the cultural implications. Our students, more and more, are working with... When they graduate and they go to work, and we try to replicate this on our campuses, that they're going into a very diverse environment, where people don't all think alike. Where people certainly don't all look alike, and it's important that we educate our students to go into that kind of a world where there's just a lot of different ethnicities, races, religions, philosophical backgrounds, political parties. That's all now a part of a college education. So that's kind of where it starts for us, is educating our students for this cultural diversity that if they haven't experienced it in the university, they're gonna experience it when they go to work”.
Dr. Trauth’s advice for leaders who want to stay relevant is two-fold. First, she says it is important for employers to reach out to universities to get involved, especially by joining advisory boards. Secondly, employers should be tolerant of educational differences. Students may be different than the employer, but that is a good thing.
What you will learn:
- What the future of education looks like
- Big trends Dr. Trauth is paying attention to in the world of education
- How education leaders are planning for the future of learning
- What skills and mindsets employers are looking for in prospective hires
- How technology is impacting education
- How to teach students to be lifelong learners
- Advice for employers, leaders, and individuals looking to stay relevant
Direct download: Dr_Denise_Trauth_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:21am PDT
Wed, 12 February 2020
Chances are, at some point over the course of your life and career, someone will shoot down a project or idea that you’re passionate about. Hearing No is a part of life and something everyone faces. The difference between success and failure often comes in how we react to hearing No.
I recently had the chance to interview former GE executive Beth Comstock. She told a story about an idea she had for a project early in her career. She did her research and presented it, only to be told No. But Beth didn’t give up there. She re-worked her project and presented it again. Again, she was told No. This happened over and over — Beth made adjustments to her idea, listened to feedback, and then went back to present. Over and over she was told No.
Finally, a top executive told her Yes. When she asked why he said it was because she had made it impossible to say No. Her persistence had paid off and her idea finally came to fruition.
In the business world, No really means Not Yet. Don’t let one person’s opinion of your ideas get you down. It simply might not be the right timing for your idea. The most successful leaders encompass the growth mindset and look at challenges as opportunities instead of roadblocks.
Hearing negative feedback about your idea can be difficult, but it can also be powerful inspiration to prove the doubters wrong and deliver amazing results. That comes from not giving up and continuing to push, even when you hear No.
Not Yet is very different from No. Follow Beth’s example and re-work your proposal and make adjustments. Don’t give up. Eventually that No can turn into a Yes.
This episode is sponsored by my friends at Conga, the company that’s helping people spend less time on manual work and more time on the projects they love. If you’re tired of endless paperwork and manual processes, make sure to check them out at http://bit.ly/congaddxc
Direct download: In_Business_No__Not_Yet.mp3
-- posted at: 2:10am PDT
Mon, 10 February 2020
My new book, The Future Leader, comes out on February 26th and it is based on interviews I had with over 140 CEOs around the world. In the book the two questions that I wanted to answer were: Is the leader of 2030 going to look that different than today? And if so, how is that leader actually going to look different?
To find out the answers to my questions, I interviewed CEOs around the world from organizations like Mastercard, Unilever, Audi, Best Buy, Oracle, Kaiser, SAP, Koc Holding, Enel, Carnival Cruise Lines, Dominos, Dunkin’ Brands, National Grid and many others. I also teamed up with LinkedIn and we surveyed 14,000 employees around the world. And this gave me a very good picture around what the future leader is gonna look like.
And what I found out from these interviews was that most of the top CEOs around the world believe that while there are going to be some attributes that remain the same for leaders of the future-- things like being able to create a vision and execute on strategy-- they also believe that business leaders are going to need to arm themselves with a new set of skills and mindsets in order to stay relevant.
Why do they need a new set of skills and mindsets? It's because our organizations are going to look fundamentally different over the next 10 years than they do now because of technology and artificial intelligence, because of things like purpose and meaning that employees care about, globalization, the changing nature of talent, etc... And because our organizations are going to look different, it makes sense that we are going to need a new type of leader to guide and lead these organizations over the next 10 years and beyond.
So what I created after interviewing all these CEOs is something that I call The Notable Nine, a collection of four mindsets and five skills that leaders of the future will need to succeed.
The four mindsets are:
- The Explorer: This includes practicing curiosity, being a perpetual or lifelong learner, having agility and nimbleness in your way of thinking, having a growth mindset, and being open-minded.
- The Chef: As a future leader, in 2030 and beyond, you are going to have to balance ingredients, and there are two ingredients that you as a future leader are going to have to balance. The first ingredient is technology and the second ingredient is being purpose-driven and caring.
- The Global Citizen: As a leader you must think globally and embrace diversity
- The Servant: Leaders need to know how to serve their team, serve their customers, serve their leaders, and serve themselves. There is more to being a servant leader than we usually talk about
The five skills are:
- The Futurist: Making sure that you can think in terms of possibilities and scenarios.
- Yoda: This one is all about emotional intelligence--specifically empathy and self-awareness
- The Translator: Listening and communicating with all of the channels that you have access to--email, video chats, text messaging, Slack, Facebook at Work, etc….
- The Coach: You need to believe that your job as a leader is to help make other people more successful than you are
- The Technology Teenager: Leaders must be tech savvy and digitally fluent just as today’s teenagers are
These are the four mindsets and five skills I want you to teach your team, to everybody in your organization. That's it. Four mindsets, five skills. If you can do this and teach others these things, I'm very confident that you will become a future ready leader and you will be successful. And by the way, success doesn't just mean making money. It means having a positive impact on society, on the world, on communities in which you serve.
To order the book or learn more about it, go to getfutureleaderbook.com.
What you will learn:
- What it will take to be a successful leader in 2030 and beyond
- A look at the global leadership gap (leaders around the world think they are doing much better than they really are!)
- A look at the insights found from Jacob’s interviews with over 140 CEOs around the world
- The trends shaping the future of leadership
- The greatest challenges future leaders will have to face
Direct download: Jacob_Morgan_Special_Podcast_-_2.10.20.mp3
-- posted at: 12:42am PDT
Wed, 5 February 2020
It’s a pattern that has been around for decades. Once a year, employees gather their accomplishments and projects for the past 12 months and talk with their managers and HR representatives to plead their case of why they’re a valuable asset to the company. At the end, they may get a few suggestions for improvements and maybe even a raise. Then it’s back to work until the same time rolls around next year and it all starts again.
Annual performance reviews are standard in many organizations, but the way they’ve always been done can be incredibly detrimental to the overall morale, productivity, and engagement at a company. There’s no absolute answer to if your organization should have annual performance reviews, but here are three things to improve the process:
Ask your employees. Many organizations are quick to kill traditional annual performance reviews without asking their employees. Take a survey and hold focus groups to find out what employees are looking for and the format they prefer to receive feedback. You may be surprised with the results.
Provide regular feedback. The main downside of traditional annual performance reviews is that they only happen once a year. Waiting to give feedback until months after a project is inefficient for everyone. Instead, provide employees with regular feedback. That can happen with daily check-ins or with more formal meetings between employees and managers on a weekly or monthly basis. Regular feedback addresses issues in real time and helps keep things moving forward. With a feedback schedule, the annual performance review becomes more of a meeting to provide a raise and plan steps for the future.
Build relationships. In organizations with engaged employees, annual performance reviews are a collaborative meeting instead of a scary situation where employees have to prove their value at the company. Managers and employees should work to strengthen their relationships for more open communication. A trusting and transparent relationship can remove the fear from the annual review and create a more positive work environment.
Every organization needs to consider their own employee review process. What works for one company might not work for another. Follow these three tips to improve the process and find the right solution for your organization.
Mon, 3 February 2020
David Marquet is the bestselling author of the 2013 book, Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders and the new book, Leadership is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say and What You Don’t, which comes out on February 4th.
David was in the Navy for 28 years and he was ultimately selected to be captain of a nuclear submarine. And it was during his time as a captain of the USS Santa Fe that he changed his leadership style and that change led to him writing his first book.
What does David mean by “leadership is language’? He explains that while there are a lot of professions that require a person to work mainly with their hands, in leadership, because it is always about other people, leaders interact through words--face to face, emails, company statements, annual reports, etc...As he says, “the magic of leadership is that by changing your words you will change the world around you because if you ask a question a different way, you'll get a different answer.”
In his book David gives six plays that all leaders should use to improve how their teams operate. He says a big problem with leaders today is that they are trapped in an industrial-age playbook. In the industrial age leaders gave commands and employees followed, and that was it. But that way of leading is no longer effective, it is outdated.
The six plays are:
- Control the clock, don’t obey the clock--Pre-plan decision points and give your people the tools they need to hit pause on a plan of action if they notice something wrong.
- Collaborate, don’t coerce--As the leader, you should be the last one to offer your opinion.
- Commit, don’t comply--Rather than expect your team to comply with specific directions, explain your overall goals, and get their commitment to achieving it one piece at a time.
- Complete, not continue--If every day feels like a repetition of the last, you’re doing something wrong.
- Improve, don’t prove--Ask your people to improve on plans and processes, rather than prove that they can meet fixed goals or deadlines.
- Connect, don’t conform--Flatten hierarchies in your organization and connect with your people to encourage them to contribute to decision-making
David also explains the uneven “share of voice” that happens inside of so many organizations. Inside of meetings leaders tend to talk the most, which is not good. It is something that leaders need to be aware of. He says, “As a leader, you don't need to say a lot because you already know what you think and when you start talking, you're anchoring the group. Basically, the idea is you're bringing them to your way of thinking, which is what you think you wanna do but it's actually not. What you want to do is understand how they think and what they think, and at the end, you can decide what to do, whether you could do what they wanna do or what you wanna do, that's fine. But it's after uncovering what everybody thinks.”
What you will learn:
- The real life example of how David changed his leadership style while captaining a nuclear submarine
- Why employees should talk more than leaders
- 6 plays for all leaders to implement to improve how their team operates
- How to embrace variability, instead of reducing it
- How to foster a culture of collaborative experimentation
Direct download: David_Marquet_Podcast_-_DONE_1.mp3
-- posted at: 12:38am PDT
Wed, 29 January 2020
Motivation is key to your success at work. Your boss can try to motivate you, but in most cases, you can’t rely on anyone else and have to find your own internal motivation. No matter if you work in an office or remotely for yourself, everyone needs help from time to time finding motivation to push through and be productive.
Here are three effective ways to motivate yourself at work:
Start every day with an idea of what you want to get done that day. Setting goals gives your purpose and direction instead of just wandering around trying to find something to do. Goals can be big or small. I like to set large goals, smaller daily goals, and mini goals. For example, my large goal could be to write a book, so I set a daily goal to write for an hour. As I’m working on that goal, I can set a mini goal to write 500 more words. Setting goals pushes you in new directions.
You’re more likely to be motivated and productive if you feel the work you’re doing is useful. It can sometimes be a struggle to find meaning, especially in routine tasks, but connecting the work you’re doing to a bigger purpose can be incredibly motivating. Tell yourself stories about how your work impacts people and the world. You can also find opportunities to do things you like by volunteering for new projects and groups. Take time to talk to people and build relationships because we often find meaning from the people around us.
Find something to motivate yourself and work towards as a future reward. The most important reward is to simply acknowledge the great work you’ve accomplished. Use positive self-talk to celebrate what you’ve accomplished instead of getting stuck on all the things you have yet to do. Rewards can also take other forms like eating something, taking a break, or buying yourself something.
Staying motivated can be the difference between a fruitful, productive career and merely skating along and counting the hours until the day is done. Take control of your own motivation with these three tips to keep you engaged and productive all day long.
Mon, 27 January 2020
Bruce Daisley is a former Twitter VP and bestselling author of the forthcoming book, Eat Sleep Work Repeat: 30 Hacks for Bringing Joy to Your Job, which comes out February 25th. Bruce also has experience working for Google and YouTube.
There are some statistics that show that only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs. Why is that? Bruce says it is because, “If you have a look at status, higher power is dis-inhibiting. What I mean by that is if you watch people who are bosses, people who are presidents, people who are high status individuals, they generally are unencumbered by this sort of self-consciousness that the rest of us fail. And the correlate of that, the flip side of that is that lack of status is inhibiting, meaning that when we have no position in the hierarchy, when we are junior, when our opinions are told that they don't matter, it means that we repress how we feel. And you observe this more and more, countries that have strong hierarchy generally find that their workers are less engaged, because when they've got less input into decisions, when they've got less contribution to make, they generally think, "I can't get anything done here." So they're gonna repress their emotions. And so you observe this, one of the most hierarchical countries in the world is France, and worker engagement is one of the lowest, 3% of French workers describe themselves as job. I mean, it's a number so low that it makes you go back and check the methodology. But it's the same methodology they use around the world, and yeah workplace engagement is really low, we feel like we're bowing to our bosses.”
So how do we fix the problem? When it comes to fixing workplace culture there is the big picture, which means changing the policies the company has in place such as flexible working arrangements. But there is also the little picture--simple changes that individuals can make to improve day to day work.
Bruce gave some examples of some of the simpler things that we can implement right away to make work better. One thing is walking meetings, where instead of sitting down in a one on one meeting people can take a walk around the building inside or outside while meeting. This can break up the routine, allow people to get up and move around, and it may even produce more creative ideas.
Another example he talked about was moving the coffee machine or the water cooler because of the research that shows face-to-face conversation empowers workplace productivity. If there are teams who don’t normally interact moving the coffee or water can spark those conversations to start.
“I think the reason why the book has ended up being the best selling business book of the year in the UK, is because these changes are so simple, that anyone can stage their own intervention. They can say, Actually, we could do two of these things next week.”
What you will learn:
- What it's like to work at Twitter
- Why are so many people not happy with their jobs
- Who is responsible for your happiness at work?
- Simple things that can be implemented to improve productivity and happiness
- What happens if your managers just shut all your ideas down?
- What is a monk mode morning
- Bruce’s thoughts on the hustle culture that we're seeing
Direct download: Bruce_Daisley_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:29am PDT
Wed, 22 January 2020
For decades, most people believed there was just one path to career success: climbing the corporate ladder. Everyone was expected to start in an entry-level role, pay their dues, and get promoted as they worked their way up the organization. That was the only way it was done, and no one questioned it.
Thankfully, today we have many more options and fewer people spend their entire careers working their way up the corporate ladder. With new technology and opportunities, each person can build their own career ladder to chart their own path to success. For some people, that could be staying with the same organization, but for other people, the career ladder they create could involve becoming an entrepreneur or working for multiple companies.
Building your own career ladder comes with countless possibilities, but it also requires work and vision. Here are five way to build your own career ladder:
Knowledge has never been more plentiful than it is today. We have access to tools and resources to learn almost anything we want, and we can do it inexpensively. If you want to make a career change or learn a new skill, you no longer have to go back to school and invest tons of money and time. If you want to learn how to code, write a book, lead a team, or practice yoga, there’s a way to do that. Keep learning and developing your skills. Find things that interest you and skills that will make you a valuable asset. The more you know, the more directions your career ladder can take you.
Become a subject matter expert
Social media makes it possible to share messages and information with the masses. Use these resources to become a subject matter expert. Find a topic you’re passionate about or an area that is often overlooked and make it yours. You can post articles and thoughts on your own social media platforms and especially on the internal platforms within your company to showcase your knowledge. When people in your organization see your expertise in a certain area, it builds credibility and can open doors.
Build your personal brand
What do you want to stand for? A personal brand is what people think of when they think of you. It can range from being a great public speaker to being the go-to person for organization or personal finance. Decide your brand and build it by learning, sharing, and participating in conferences and conversations. A strong personal brand adds power to your career ladder.
Start a side hustle
A career ladder doesn’t have to stay within an organization. You can become an entrepreneur or at least test the waters with a side hustle. If you have a great idea, go for it. Take advantage of the resources available to you and branch out into something new. You might find your side hustle becomes a full-time startup and makes you a full-fledged entrepreneur.
Find a mentor
You’re in charge of your career ladder, but you don’t have to do it on your own. Find a mentor you trust who can give advice and act as a sounding board. They can provide connections to build your network and strengthen your ladder.
Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t the only way to career success. You have the power to build your own ladder and create your own path — but it requires work and dedication.
What are you doing to build your own career ladder?
Mon, 20 January 2020
Marissa Andrada is the Chief People Officer at Chipotle, a very popular restaurant chain with 2,500 restaurants and 80,000 employees. Prior to Chipotle Marissa had led HR for companies such as Starbucks, Kate Spade, GameStop, Red Bull, and Universal Studios.
Marissa has seen quite a few changes in HR over the past 10-20 years. One of the biggest changes she mentioned is a shift in leadership. Purpose, vision, and values have been around in theory for awhile, but it wasn’t until recently that companies took these words from something on a poster in the hallway to something that companies actually live out through leadership. And employees can tell when leaders are actually living out what they talk about in company meetings or if it is all just talk.
When it comes to tenure in restaurants, a lot of times employees are coming and going frequently. Although Marissa shares that tenure at Chipotle has increased, she also says they understand that not everyone will stay at the company long term, and that’s OK.
Marissa says, “We've introduced so many new things that I believe are just leading edge for restaurant and retail, and we believe that, for example, debt-free degrees, we believe that first and foremost, that we are investing in and creating future leaders for Chipotle and for our restaurants, and ultimately the company. And if not, we're creating future leaders for the world. I think there's a responsibility that companies have especially one as large as ours is not only to do well, but also to do good in the world. And so that's how I answer that question like that's why we do it.”
Chipotle has also moved away from the traditional annual performance review. They now have what they call a 4x4 conversation, which is a meeting that happens four times a year (at least) where managers ask employees four questions. The four questions are:
- What are your most significant accomplishments since we last met?
- What are the most important things you will focus on before we meet next?
- What obstacles are you encountering right now?
- What can I do better or differently as your manager to support you?
Marissa shares, “It's interesting when we first introduced the first 4x4 conversation, we just said, "Have a conversation," and people were freaking out going, "Where's the form? What do I fill out?" And then at the year end, they're like, "Where's my form? What do I fill out?" And we just kind of said, "Hey, we're all learning this together. At minimum, we want you to have this conversation. If you feel like documenting it, do it." And so that was what we did at the Restaurant Support Center. But then for our crew members, what we created was just kind of a template to walk through those four questions. But it also helped people to understand, "Hey, here's what I'm held accountable for," but it's not a traditional performance review form. It's really highly customized for that employee. And so that we have a different spin on that and that it's in a very Chipotle way and not a traditional performance review.”
What you will learn:
- What first drew Marissa to HR
- How they scale their values and culture across 80,000 people
- What Marissa is most excited about regarding People Experience at Chipotle in 2020
- The unique way they approach performance reviews
- Some specific mindsets and skills they look for in potential leaders
- How new employees get onboarded at Chipotle
Direct download: Marissa_Andrada_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 12:57am PDT
Thu, 16 January 2020
If you’re like most people, you often get caught up in your work and personal life. You’re busy every day with new activities, goals, and the mundane tasks of work and life. It can be hard to find time to be curious when you’re busy with all your other activities.
But curiosity is vital to our creativity and success. Curiosity allows us to solve problems, uncover opportunities, and have fun. It’s the curious people who shape the future.
So how can we balance our daily lives with the need to be curious? It comes down to making time to be curious. For most people, it takes real effort to set aside our daily tasks and allow our minds to wander and think of new possibilities. Here are five ways to make time to be curious.
- Schedule it in. The most basic tactic is to simply schedule time to be curious. If it’s on your calendar, you’re more likely to actually do it. Scheduling in curiosity time can come in many forms, from giving yourself a few minutes to step away from your responsibilities to finding a new hobby or creative outlet. You don’t have to block out hours at a time—even just a 15-minute block can make a difference. And the more you schedule time to be curious, the more you’ll find yourself naturally becoming more curious.
- Watch or read something new. Get out of your rut and watch a new movie or show you wouldn’t typically watch. Find a documentary, TED Talk, or podcast on a subject you know nothing about. Read a book in a genre you don’t typically read or a non-fiction book about something completely new. Let your mind ask questions as you read and wonder about the things you see.
- Let your mind wander. Give yourself time to simply relax and let your mind be free. For some people this means meditation, while others let their mind wander while they spend time outside or exercise. Forget your to-do list and let your thoughts go wherever they want. Take time to dig deep and really think about things and different possibilities. You might find yourself on a completely new thought or question than where you originally began.
- Explore with a partner. You might need the buddy system to become more curious. If you’re afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, try doing it with a friend. Find a new hobby or explore somewhere new together. Even just walking in someone else’s shoes can open your mind to new perspectives and curious possibilities.
- Talk to new people. Most of us fall into the trap of simply searching online when we have a question, getting the answer, and moving on. Instead, try talking to new people. Find someone who is an expert or who can answer your questions and have a real conversation with them. You’ll likely go beyond where your internet search would have taken you. Talk to people wherever you go, listen to their ideas, and think of things from their point of view.
People are naturally curious, but those tendencies often get squashed and replaced by to-do lists and busyness. Finding time to tap into your natural curiosity and building the skill can drive your personal creativity and innovation and help you create the future of work.
Direct download: Are_You_Finding_Time_To_Be_Curious.mp3
-- posted at: 5:00am PDT
Mon, 13 January 2020
Rita McGrath is a professor at Columbia Business School and author of the new book, Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen. She was also recently ranked #5 on the Thinkers50 list for her work in strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship and for being a champion of harnessing disruptive influences for competitive advantage.
What does it actually mean to see around corners? Rita says it’s not about predicting the future, because predictions are hard, but it is about paying attention to signals. She says, “it's more about expanding your range of possibilities that you're considering, and then really being prepared to challenge your own assumptions. And I think that's really where the seeing around corners part is so valuable, because if you think about it, any business grows up with a set of assumptions about what's possible and what's not. And what an inflection point does is it really changes the nature of those assumptions.”
Companies have to be able to pay attention to possible disruptions that could affect the way they do business. But what tends to happen is companies get comfortable doing the same thing and they think as long as it is working now, it will continue to work in the future. Companies such as Blockbuster and Toys R Us didn’t pay attention to signals all around that would have allowed them to adapt with the times and because they failed to pay attention they are no longer around.
Rita explains that the way to keep a lookout for inflection points is to think of a disaster scenario that would have a huge impact on your company and then work backwards from that “time zero event” to see if it has merit. For example, for someone working at a business school an example of a scenario would be students lose interest and employers don’t really care about business degrees. So the time zero event could be 50% of all existing business programs shut down, working backwards what would have to happen for that to take place?
And by looking at all the evidence you can figure out either this is not a likely scenario at all so just forget about it, or it is a very real possibility so what can I do to shift my strategy.
So what can you start doing now to improve your ability to “see around corners”? Rita says, “I think the first thing is this idea of the edges, that you really need to embed ways of learning about what's happening, that isn't right in front of you, that's farther out. Go to conferences that aren't directly related to what you do, maybe take a training course. Today, you can learn almost anything in 10 minutes a day on YouTube, and that's really interesting. I read a lot. I actually... One of the reasons I really like my Twitter feed, and to some extent, LinkedIn, is a lot of the people that I interact with introduce me to sources I wouldn't necessarily have run across on my own. And I think that's another kind of interesting practice. I would say, this takes time. Now, it doesn't take huge amounts of time, but if you're spending every waking moment nose to the grindstone, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, you're much more vulnerable to missing things than if you give yourself a little bit of that imagination space.”
What you will learn:
- What it means to see around corners
- Why leaders struggle to see around corners
- How to spot inflection points and avoid downfalls in business
- Real life examples of companies who survived disruption
- How is the role of CEO going to change in the next 5-10 years
Direct download: Rita_McGrath_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 12:00am PDT
Wed, 8 January 2020
As AI and automation grow, employees are concerned for their job security. Adding to that fact is uncertainty about the unknown future of work and what it will take to succeed over the next decade and beyond.
There are lots of ideas of what it will take to future-proof your career, but the simplest and best thing you can do is this: be a coach and mentor.
All leaders should be coaches and mentors, but it’s not just limited to leaders. Employees at all levels can find people to coach and mentor, either at work or outside of work. A coach is different from a traditional boss. A coach gives honest feedback to their mentee, pushes them, unlocks their potential, and removes obstacles from their path. In fact, the ultimate goal of a coach or mentor is to make the person they’re mentoring more successful than them.
This isn’t how it’s always been. It used to be that leaders and managers sat at the top of organizations and pushed down anyone with talent who threatened their success. Today, we’re seeing more leaders embrace the coaching and mentoring philosophy. And it’s the best thing they could do for their careers.
As technology becomes more prevalent and starts to automate tasks and take over parts of our companies, what helps us stand out the most is our ability to be human. A machine will never be able to coach or mentor as well as a human, which means coaches and mentors will have a role in any organization. Every company would love to have an employee, no matter if they are a junior associate or a top executive, who cares about people enough to help them on their way and bring them to greater success. All it takes is a human who wants to help others.
The future of work is uncertain and can be scary at times. But the need to be human and help other people will always exist. If you want to future-proof your career, start by finding someone to coach or mentor.
Mon, 6 January 2020
Tom Rath is a bestselling author and researcher who has spent the past two decades studying how work can improve human health and well-being. He has written several books, his newest one comes out in February and it is titled, Life’s Great Question: Discover How You Contribute to the World.
Tom set out to write this book as a result of his personal reflections over the last several years. He says, “I've really been personally reflecting on, given my own health challenges and threats and my mortality, what are the most important things for people to get focused on? In particular, most of my writing and research is focused on that nexus of people and organizations, and how can we help people to lead better lives through the organizations that they're a part of? And one thing I've observed after 20 years of, kind of following this area is that we're often so quick to look inward and think about self-development and our own brand and how we can improve personally, and the more I have studied these topics, my big takeaway is that we can get more done and life is less stressful and more liberating when we find real concrete ways to focus almost all of our energies on the contribution we're making to other people”
The book addresses topics such as how to separate our identity from our job title, why following our dreams is not always the best approach, and the things teams need to address in order to be effective.
One thing Tom has observed over the years is that the relationship between organizations and employees is broken. Why? Mostly because the basic structure of organizations today is outdated and ineffective for the modern age. It no longer suffices to bribe employees to work with monetary rewards, people today want more than that. They want purpose and meaning in the work that they do. They want to feel that they are contributing something to the organization and the world.
As Tom shares, “I think the question is how quickly can we get to a place where each of us as individuals and organizations start to say, "Are we producing people who are better off when they go home at night?" They're healthier and they're more financially secured, that does matter. They have better relationships with their family members because they chose to be a part of this organization.”
But this isn’t just up to the organizations to fix, individuals have a role as well. “Each of us has the responsibility to make sure that we're not tolerating a job or a work that's making our lives worse at the end of the day than we were when we showed up in the morning. And we need to start to ask some of those critical questions, ask the people around us, ask your best friend or your spouse, "Do you think I'm a better person because I'm doing this job right now versus where I was a year ago?" And sometimes they can help hold up a mirror where we need it as well.”
What you will learn:
- Why Tom first started writing, even though it is not what he originally planned on doing
- How he approaches his day to day work and life
- What’s wrong with the employee-organization relationship and how do we fix it?
- Advice for leaders who want to be role models
- How to discover what you contribute to the world
- Why following your passions and dreams is not the best approach
Direct download: Tom_Rath_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:03am PDT
Wed, 1 January 2020
Like most people, I’m constantly bombarded with requests from other people in both my personal and professional lives. I’m asked to meet friends for coffee, attend a conference, conduct an interview, answer questions for someone — the list goes on and on.
I used to say yes to everything because I didn’t want to miss out on making a new connection. But over time, I felt myself becoming exhausted and depleted. I could never meet my own goals because I was spending all of my time helping other people. So I started saying no. It was difficult at first, but I learned that in order to see my own professional and personal success, I had to invest time in myself. When you say no, you’re really saying yes to something you want to do. Something for yourself that gives you purpose and meaning.
As we become more connected with new technology, we’ll be even more inundated with requests. Learning how to say no is one of the most valuable things we can learn. You don’t need to be rude, but you also need to stand up for yourself. Here are three tips for saying no:
Think of the most important things that you want to protect. Be selfish. If you really want to write a book or start a new business, decide from the beginning that you’ll say no to anything that gets in the way of those goals. With pre-determined boundaries, you don’t have to think about every offer but can quickly say yes or no.
Don’t say maybe if you really want to say no. Be firm in your response and don’t leave the door open for the possibility that you might change your mind.
Don’t offer an explanation
Don’t feel like you have to give an excuse or explain yourself. Offering an explanation leaves the door open to saying yes in the future. If you feel you have to add something after saying no, give an alternative like introducing the person to someone else who could help.
Learning how to say no is an invaluable skill for both your career and personal life. With practice, you can start saying no and start saying yes to yourself.