Tue, 29 September 2020
One aspect of the servant mindset is practicing self-care.
This is something we often forget, especially in times of crisis.
You won’t be able to serve others if you are not your best self.
So make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Even with the pandemic, I still make time to exercise each day, eat healthy, and spend time working on #chess because these things make me happy!
What are you doing to look after yourself during these tough times?
Mon, 28 September 2020
Hubert Joly is the former Chairman and CEO of Best Buy. Currently he is a professor at Harvard Business School, he is on the board of two companies--Johnson & Johnson and Ralph Lauren. He is coaching and mentoring a number of CEOs and senior leaders and he is writing a new book which is set to come out next May titled: The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism.
Hubert was elected a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. He was honored as one of the 25 most influential executives of the business travel industry in 2006 and 2009 by Business Travel News Magazine. He was voted one of the top 100 CEOs on Glassdoor in 2017 and 2018. And he was named one of the best CEOs in the world by the CEOWorld Magazine.
He didn’t always dream of being a leader. In fact, when he was 10 years old he wanted to be a vet and then in high school, he felt his career would be in economics. After college, he spent 12 years at McKinsey & Company as a consultant before ultimately realizing he wanted to lead a business. And he has led quite a few companies through turnarounds and major digital transformations.
How Hubert Transformed Best Buy
When Hubert was first approached about the position of CEO at Best Buy the company was struggling. It was on the brink of closing. Most people would have run away as fast as they could, not wanting to be attached to a failing company. But Hubert did his due diligence, he visited several locations, spoke with employees, and thought about what could be done to turn the company around. And he ultimately took the job.
He realized early on that while everyone gets excited about technology and gadgets and love using them, a lot of times we need help figuring out how to use them. So Hubert knew Best Buy had to be able to help people solve technology issues and answer questions.
Hubert also saw the need for displaying actual working products on the shelves instead of boxes with products inside. Looking at shelves of boxes is not inspiring, people need to be able to see and experience the products for themselves.
So he saw a lot of opportunities to improve Best Buy. He says, “I felt that there was an opportunity. That we have enough assets and that because the problems were self inflicted, we could effectuate a turnaround. So I told the recruiting committee of the board, look, I want the job and here's my eight page memo on what I'm going to do if you guys recruit me and I never looked back.”
Hubert says there are four levers in a turnaround. They are to grow the revenue line, cut costs, optimize benefits, and then if the first three are not enough, as a last resort you go after the headcount or redeploy people.
The three ways to cut costs before cutting your headcount
A lot of leaders first starting at a struggling organization probably would have thought about cutting back on the headcount first to save money. But Hubert not only didn’t take that route, he actually put more money into training, incentives, wellness, etc…
As he shares, “I'm not the cut, cut cut guy. I'm a big believer that in business you have three imperatives in business. One is the people imperative, you need to have good people well trained, well equipped. Then you have the customer or business imperative, you need to have happy customers to whom you sell, you know, compelling services. And then you, of course, have a financial imperative, which is you need money. But the financial performance is an outcome of excellence on the customer imperative, which itself is an outcome of excellence on the people imperative. So it's people, business, finance, and you treat profit as an outcome, not as your singular focus.”
Hubert truly believes that leaders should treat humans as a solution to the problem, not as a source of the problem. And we should use headcount reduction only as a last resort.
How to balance profit and purpose
Hubert is a big believer in being focused on purpose and humanity in business and killing the idea of shareholder primacy. The sole purpose of a company can not be just to make money. He still understands that companies need to take care of shareholders, but taking care of them should be an outcome, not the first priority.
People should be at the heart of the business. They are the engine that allows the business to work. So how did Hubert convince the board members and shareholders at Best Buy that purpose and people mattered just as much as profit and revenue?
He shares that part of the issue with past management is that they would tell shareholders a lot of exciting stories about what could be done, but they never delivered actual results. When he laid out his plan for the shareholders and board members at Best Buy he focused on what he calls the say-do ratio--the ratio between what they said they were going to do and what they actually did.
There were plenty of opportunities, but the shareholders needed to see that they could actually be executed. So every quarter Hubert would give them progress reports with tangible results. Leaders need to keep shareholders in the journey. Give them hope and confidence that things are going to work, but be honest and open with them and keep them in the loop.
As long as you are delivering and focusing on that say-do ratio you should keep your eye on the prize. Don’t let shareholders sway you too much. Hubert says, “I think management teams that use the short term focus of the investors as an excuse to not do the right thing, I think are completely misled. I have found that if you go to the investors, and share with them, what you're doing, the investments you're making, the return you're expecting, they'll believe you and follow you. And then in the end, during our second phase, I actually told our investors our purpose is not to make money.”
When leading Best Buy Hubert believed the purpose of the company was not to make money, it was to enrich lives through technology by addressing key human needs. He made it clear that they were not in the business of selling TVs, they were in the business of understanding what it is people are trying to do in their life and being there to advise and support them. But when you run your business with that mindset, the money will be the outcome.
The danger that leaders need to avoid
In the past people looking to become leaders were taught that being smart was really important. It was believed that if you wanted to be a great leader you had to know it all, have all the answers, you had to be able to solve any problem, and show others that you are intelligent.
Hubert sees that as a danger for leaders. Having this mindset makes it easy to fall into the trap of power, fame, money and glory. While these things on their own are not necessarily bad, they are easy to get wrapped up in. Leaders who make decisions based solely on gaining more power, fame, money or glory usually end up in scandals and disasters.
Instead leaders should lead with humility, integrity, transparency and empathy. Leaders no longer have to know everything, they can look to the people around them for ideas, solutions, and results.
The five Bs of purposeful leadership
In order to avoid the traps of power, fame, money, and glory Hubert says leaders need to reset. And he gives 5 Bs that leaders should focus on in order to truly be purpose driven and centered on their people.
- Be clear about your purpose as a human being--What drives you in life? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to contribute? Make sure you lead with those things in mind and make sure the company you work for aligns with your purpose. And this also means you understand the purpose of others around you and what drives them.
- Be clear about who you serve as a leader--Your focus should be on the people around you, not yourself. If you are serving yourself or your boss, that’s a problem.
- Be clear about your role as a leader--Your role as a leader is to create an environment in which others can be successful. It’s not to be the smartest person in the room or to know it all.
- Be a value driven leader--Having integrity is fundamental
- Be an authentic leader--You have to be able to be vulnerable and genuinely connect with people around you.
Direct download: Hubert_Joly_Podcast_-_DONE_1.mp3
-- posted at: 1:20am PDT
Tue, 22 September 2020
I have witnessed first hand the difference between sympathy and empathy when I worked with two different companies.
In the first company, there was a relatively new employee being introduced to a senior leader.
The new employee was talking about how nervous she was, how she wanted to make an impact, and how she wasn’t sure she was doing a good job.
The senior leader said, “That’s pretty tough, I'm sorry that you feel that way. But don't worry, I’m sure you'll be able to get through it. ”
A couple of months later, the same thing happened at another company.
The senior leader sat down with the employee and asked her to share more about her fears and struggles within the company.
The senior leader also shared his experience when he was new and told her that he’s always there to help her.
That is the difference of sympathy and empathy.
The first leader just showed sympathy by saying “I’m sorry”.
The second leader showed empathy by putting himself in the employee’s shoes and matching his emotions by relieving his past.
Sun, 20 September 2020
Jim Heppelmann is the CEO of PTC, a technology software company with 6,500 employees in 30 countries. Jim was named one of “7 IoT leaders to Watch in 2017” by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, he was recognized as “IoT CEO of the Year” by PostScapes, “Technology CEO of the Year” by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, and he received the CAD Society Leadership Award for his work with the Internet of Things.
Together with Harvard Professor, Michael Porter, Jim has co-authored three highly influential articles on the transformational impact of the Internet of Things on business.
Jim grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota as one of eight children. It was during his upbringing on the farm that he really learned the value of hard work as well as the ability to take things apart and put them back together, which is in part why he was successful as a mechanical engineer.
It was actually one of his older sisters who inspired him to attend college and study to become an engineer in the first place. After she graduated from college and got her first job she was already making as much as their parents, and Jim was amazed by that. So engineering brought him to college, but once he got there he fell in love with computer science. He studied at the intersection of where software meets engineering, which turned out to work great as he is now the CEO of a company that produces software for engineers.
An inside look at the role of CEO
A lot of people may think they have an idea of what CEOs do throughout the day, and of course it differs a bit for each CEO depending on the organization. But Jim shares what it is like for him day to day as a CEO.
He says, “I don't want this to sound derogatory in any way, but maybe I'm responsible for herding cats, because there's a lot of people that are part of a lot of initiatives, a lot of programs, a big organization. And I'm trying to keep all of that moving in the right direction generally. So I'm not doing the precise tweaks, but try to keep everybody understanding where we're going. And make sure they're moving in that direction, and they're moving at the right pace. So that, you know, it all comes together each quarter when we're delivering products or projects or trying to make the quarter quarterly results happen.”
He also shares that a large part of his day is made up of meeting with his people to check in to see how things are going, what projects they are working on, how they are solving problems, etc...He doesn’t try to tell people what to do, but he makes suggestions and tries to guide people in the right direction.
One part of the job that gives him a lot of energy is interacting with customers. He really enjoys figuring out what it is they are trying to do, how PTC can help them, and getting feedback on the good and bad aspects of their products.
All in all Jim sees himself as the vision guy. While he realizes the need for internal meetings and keeping the organization on track, he really loves working with the engineers on the next generation approach they are building and working with the customers on where the company is going and the vision for the future of PTC.
Why CEOs should have a short attention span
Jim often wakes up in the middle of the night with new ideas or ways to solve a problem. And the joke at PTC is that about the time Jim gets bored with something that is when it really starts to work. That’s because as long as he is focused on solving something he is going to come in to work with those middle of the night ideas to keep tweaking and fixing certain things.
But Jim believes that CEOs should be a little impatient and have a short attention span. Why? Because Jim says the biggest problem with CEOs at his level of tenure is they have become entrenched in old thinking.
About some CEOs, he says, “They made a decision five years ago. Maybe even eight years ago, and for a couple years, they improved it a little bit. And then they've just spent the last five years tell everybody why it works. And saying we're not going to change it. And I'm a little bit of a different cut. I say, hey, we did this, we improved it, it's working. But we’ve got to think about what's next. And then let's not wait until it's not working to think about what's next. Let's some of us start thinking about what we're going to do next, even while this is still working pretty well.”
Jim is always looking for the next round of changes that make PTC better, or that protect them from a new threat headed their way. This is a quality that he believes all CEOs should have. Always looking to the next thing, don’t just ride current success.
Achieving work-life balance as a CEO
As the CEO of 6,500+ employees, Jim seems very relaxed and happy. He doesn’t seem stressed out at all. One thing that has helped him with this a lot is having a work-life balance. He not only leads the organization, but he also makes time to spend time with his family, take care of the animals on his farm, and cook. But that wasn’t always the case.
Jim says when he first became a CEO he burned the candle at both ends, he tried to do everything on his own. And overtime he learned that was not sustainable. When sharing what he learned he says, “what I should do is focus my energy where I really bring a lot of value to the table, again, which tends to be around product strategies, marketing strategies, marketing messages, competitive strategies, and so forth. And let somebody else manage the financial plan, let somebody else manage the professional services margins, and things like that because I don't need to do that and I don't bring a tremendous quality to it, you know, nothing super unique or special. And at the end of the day, you’ve got to pick your battles, there's just not enough time for a CEO to be in charge of everything. So I got a lot happier after I realized I should roll with the punches and just really add value where I think I have the most value to add.”
This is such great advice for all CEOs, don’t try to have your hand in all the cookie jars. Don’t take everything upon yourself and don’t think you have to have all the answers. You will get burnt out that way. Surround yourself with people who are good at what you are not good at and rely on them.
Three ways to battle entrenched thinking
No matter what industry you work in, you may find that people around you are entrenched in old ways of thinking, especially if they have been in a certain role for a long time. People don’t like change, it’s just a fact of life. So how do you change that? Jim has three ways that he battled entrenched thinking inside of PTC when he first joined.
- Make change part of your company branding--Create a company culture that likes change. Part of what Jim did to change the culture was he adopted some slogans like Take a Fresh Look. Everything about the company should embrace change and discourage getting complacent.
- Lead by example--Live out the values you want to see inside your organization. If you want employees to embrace change, you must first be the one to embrace change. Make sure people know it is not about making one change and then staying there, it is about constant change. The point is to try to be that company who changes all the time, you can't pin them down, because they're too busy changing.
- Celebrate change--Recognize individuals who step out and do something different, even if what they tried didn’t work.
The impact of augmented reality on the future of work
One of the major trends Jim is paying attention to at the moment is augmented reality and the impact it is having on the future of work. There are so many applications for this technology. And one way it could help has been magnified by Covid. One quarter of the world works behind a computer screen and digitalization has done amazing things for knowledge workers who are in these positions especially in these times when they can easily work remotely from their homes. But for the other three quarters of the world the front line workers don’t have any other option but to go to work physically at a specific location or they can be laid off or fired.
Augmented reality (AR) could really solve this problem for frontline workers. It can also help people make fewer mistakes, do their jobs more efficiently, and it can even help with the current skills gap problem.
In the US the demographics have changed, and we no longer have new generations of workers going into factories and industrial work, for a variety of reasons. People felt like this work was moving overseas, this type of work is no longer seen as desirable, etc...So what we now have is a majority of people in this industry reaching retirement age with no one younger coming in to take their places. This is the skills gap problem.
How could AR help solve this problem? It could record the knowledge of the current workers to be used for training in the future and it could also be used to show potential workers what the work is really like to convince them to go into that field of work.
As Jim shares, “AR can play a huge role. Because for example, we can capture the expertise of the retiring worker, that kind of AR YouTube idea. We can capture that expertise, store it, and when a new worker shows up through a Hololens, or phone or tablet actually redeploy that coaching that's been digitized into the physical environment for the benefit of the new worker. So the new worker can be coached in the actual environment by somebody who retired two years ago. It's just a very powerful idea.”
Direct download: Jim_Heppelmann_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 8:40am PDT
Wed, 16 September 2020
Leadership is a lot like working out.
When you work out and really push yourself, you're actually tearing down your muscles.
When you recover and rest, your muscles heal and become stronger.
In other words, before you become bigger and stronger, you first have to go through a process of tearing down and rebuilding.
And a lot is the same for leadership.
If you want to become a better, future-ready leader, you first have to go through a process of tearing down and getting rid of your outdated ways of thinking about work and leadership.
You have to push yourself and be uncomfortable in order to see results later, just like working out.
Direct download: 3._Leadership_and_Exercise.mp3
-- posted at: 6:33pm PDT
Sun, 13 September 2020
Dan Pink is the bestselling author of six books including Drive, To Sell is Human, and his newest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. In 2019 London based Thinkers 50 named Dan the 6th most influential management thinker in the world.
He has contributed to Fast Company, Wired, The New York Times, Slate and others. And prior to working on his own, he worked in several political positions, including chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore from 1995-1997.
Dan has been writing for around 20 years and a lot has changed in the world of work since he first began. But his first book was actually ahead of the game back in 2001 when he wrote Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live. He recognized the trend before the iPhone came out and just a few years after broadband internet.
Now the numbers have risen quite a bit and we are seeing a lot more people go off to work for themselves, thanks to advances in technology and the changing relationship between organizations and individuals. And now with the pandemic and we are seeing a lot of people make career transitions and try to do their own thing.
As Dan shares, one of the interesting things that has come about from Covid-19 is the quick move to remote work for so many people. Companies who pushed back on work from home situations for so long because they thought it would never work were forced overnight to set employees up to work remotely. And Dan believes that is a potentially significant, lasting change that will make remote working much more normalized.
The science of time
Dan’s newest book, When, came about while he was trying to figure out the best way to work from home and be productive. He wanted to know when to do work, when to do certain tasks, when to start a project and when to abandon a project, etc…
And while he was researching the topic of perfect timing he realized there was a lot of information available, but it was all over the place. And he found that contrary to common belief timing is not an art, it is really a science.
He says, “It wasn't simply, you know, in one domain, it wasn't simply saying in economics. It was in economics, it was in social psychology, but it was also in anthropology, it was in linguistics, it was in molecular biology, it was--there's a whole field called pronto biology. It was in epidemiology. It was in anesthesiology. I mean, there's like, you know, all these different fields and so it took me two years to go through the research.”
But what he found over the course of the two years of research has helped him find the best timing for different tasks and allowed him to find his optimal schedule for productivity.
How to optimize productivity (32:52)
Through his research Dan found that spread over the various fields that have studies on time was the conclusion that our performance changes throughout the day. The day turns out to be pretty fundamental and our brain power does not remain constant during the course of a day. We all have daily high points and daily low points that we need to pay attention to. Understanding these basics can help us make better decisions about when to do certain tasks during the day.
One example of this change in performance comes from a study of students in Denmark who took a standardized test. They all had to take the test on computers, but the school didn’t have enough for everyone to take the test at the same time. So some students took the test in the morning and others took it in the afternoon.
And the test results showed that the students who took the test in the afternoon scored systematically lower than the students who took it in the morning. Their scores looked as if the students had missed two weeks of lessons.
There are also studies in hospitals that show that handwashing in hospitals deteriorates significantly in the afternoon. And anesthesia errors are four times more likely at 3pm then they are at 9am.
As Dan shares, “I mean, over and over again, just about every dimension of performance, you see systematic differences in performance based on time of day. And so while you might not always be able to control your schedule, most of us don't have full control over our schedule. It isn't simply the case that these differences are meaningless or that a cup of coffee can cure it. You actually want to take a much more thoughtful, intentional, systematic approach to when you do things in the course of the day.”
How should we structure our day?
Based on the findings from Dan’s research it appears there are three types of people. Those who rise naturally early (larks), those who naturally sleep late and wake up late (owls), and people who are in the middle (third birds). Most people are in the middle. And there are multiple tests you can take and instruments to help figure out where you are on the scale, but Dan gives one simple way to figure out which one you are.
First, think about when you would ideally go to sleep, if you had a free day and you didn’t have anything that would require you to sleep at a certain time. Naturally when would you like to fall asleep. Then think about when you would ideally like to wake up in the morning, again if nothing was causing you to wake up (kids, work, noise, etc..). When would you ideally wake up?
Then using those two times find the midpoint of sleep. For example, maybe you would ideally like to go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 8am. Your midpoint of sleep would be 4am. Now if your midpoint of sleep is before 3:30am you are probably a lark. If the midpoint of sleep is after 5:30am you’re probably an owl and if your midpoint is between 3:30am and 5:30am you are probably a third bird in the middle. People in the middle tend to be larkey, but not a full fledged lark.
So taking that information you can find out how to start experimenting to get to your ideal productivity. We all move through the day and experience three periods of time:
- Peak--the time when we are most vigilant and productive. We are best able to avoid distractions during this time. This is when you should focus on analytic work that requires heads down focus and attention. For larks and third birds this is early in the day. For owls this is late afternoon.
- Trough--This is a terrible time of day when we see drops in performance. This is when you want to do basic administrative work or work that doesn’t require massive brain power or creativity.
- Recovery--For 80% of us we hit this point in late afternoon/early evening. This is when our vigilance is down, but our mood is up. This gives us a mental looseness that is good for insight tasks. During this time focus on creative problem solving or things that require divergent thinking.
Even though we can loosely map out the periods of time, not everyone’s daily schedule will be the same. There is no magic routine that works for everyone. There are some out there who say things like you need to wake up at 5:30am to start your morning routine for a successful day. Don’t try to copy and paste what someone else is doing. Experiment with your daily schedule and see where your peak, trough, and recovery happen and work your day around what works best for you.
What to do if you don’t control your own schedule
For those of us who make our own schedules, this can be easy to experiment with and discover. But for a majority of people their schedule is created by the manager or other leaders inside the organization. So what can you do if you don’t control your schedule?
Dan suggests that in this situation you talk openly and honestly with your manager. Let them know these are the hours I am most productive in so I would like to save that time for the most intensive projects.
He gave an example of a guy in Philadelphia who realized he did his best work right away in the morning, but every day the manager had him scheduled in back to back meetings from 9am to 11am. So he talked with the manager and wanting to allow the employee to be productive, they changed things up to make it work.
Also, make the most of the margins you can. Maybe you don’t have full control of your schedule, but maybe there is a half hour during your peak time that you can get good work done. Don’t squander that time using social media, answering routine emails, or talking to a coworker, use it when you can.
How to get over a slump
Another aspect of timing that has an affect on us is beginnings, middles, and ends. And the peculiar thing about midpoints that Dan found in his research is that they can have dual effects. Sometimes they can drag us down and sometimes it fires us up.
Dan gave an example he found from Jonah Berger and Devin Pope based on a study done with the NBA. What they did was they looked at the score of games during halftime and how it worked at predicting the end score of the game. And what they found was teams who were leading at halftime were more likely to win.
But there was an exception. Teams that were trailing by one point at halftime were more likely to win than teams who were ahead by one point at halftime. Being just slightly behind gave players more motivation while being slightly ahead allowed players to feel complacent. This is the same way in our work.
So what we should do is acknowledge the midpoints, imagine you’re a little behind and let it fuel your motivation, let it wake you up rather than let you rollover and become complacent.
Advice for leaders who want to be more mindful of employees’ time
So what can leaders do with this information to help employees get the most of their peak time? First of all, Dan says leaders need to recognize that their team’s brainpower doesn’t remain constant over the course of the day. And that when people do certain tasks has a material effect on their performance so you have to be intentional about it.
He says, “These leaders are intentional about what to do, they all have to do lists and strategic plans and all that. They're intentional about how they do stuff because they have, you know, they have coaches, they have learning and development and training departments. They're intentional about who does stuff because they have an HR department that hires people. But when it comes to when they do stuff as leaders or when their team does stuff, they think it doesn't matter. And it matters. Evidence is overwhelming that it matters. So my best advice is to give the “when” a seat at the table.”
Also, be aware that every project has a beginning, a middle, and an end and all of these points have an effect on us. Picking the right date for a project to start gives you a better chance. And pay attention to the midpoint and let it motivate your team instead of letting it discourage them.
Be intentional about timing and the effect of time. Because whether or not you pay attention to it you make a choice. We either make choices intentionally or our timing decisions happen by default.
Direct download: Dan_Pink_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 9:36am PDT
Wed, 9 September 2020
How crazy is this?
Most people don't enter #leadershipdevelopment programs until they are in their 40s, yet they actually become leaders in their 20s and 30s!
This means that most #leaders spend 10-15 years leading others before they are actually taught how to lead.
It's no wonder so many employees around the world aren’t engaged in their jobs--we simply don't have enough leaders who are taught how to lead effectively.
This is because of the outdated "climb the corporate ladder" mentality that has been around for decades.
The idea is you can only be taught how to lead after you spend years working for a company, which we all know is now no longer the case.
Sun, 6 September 2020
Arthur Blank is the co-founder of The Home Depot, a home improvement retail chain which today has a market capitalization of over 300 billion and over 400,000 employees. Arthur is also the author of the new book, Good Company, which comes out on September 15. Arthur has been named one of the world’s 100 greatest living business minds by Forbes in 2017, Executive of the Year 2018 by Sports Business Journal, and one of the 50 most influential people in Sports 2016, 2017, and 2018 by Sports Business Journal.
Arthur owns the Atlanta Falcons NFL team and the Atlanta United Soccer team. His family businesses also include the nationwide PGA Tour Superstore, three ranches in Montana, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium which hosted the 2019 Super Bowl. Under his leadership The Home Depot was voted America’s most socially responsible company in 2001.
How Home Depot Came to Be
Back in the 1970s Arthur and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus were working together as employees of Handy Dan, one of the first home improvement retail chains. They were both fired in 1978, but they both knew they wanted to stay in the business of home improvement and so they decided to create their own store that could compete with Handy Dan, which was very successful at that time.
In 1979 Arthur and Bernie started their first four stores in Atlanta, Georgia. As Arthur puts it, it was “a large warehouse, no frills, downmarket store, low prices, great service, great services, etc”. With those four initial stores they tested to see if their model would work. They really listened to their customers to find out what they wanted more of or less of, how the service was, how the hours were, etc...And they kept the things that were good and tweaked the things that needed work.
In 1981 they went public and opened up four more stores in Florida. A lot of people, including the executive VP of Goldman Sachs at the time, thought there was no way they could make their model scale across different states and so many stores. Fortunately, they were wrong. Arthur and Bernie had not only found a way to create a great culture, but they also found out how to keep it consistent across multiple stores and locations.
The secret to success
Arthur and Bernie had found a way to not just have a successful business, but they were able to compete, and eventually surpass, companies that had been around for decades. Why?
Arthur says, “I will tell you the conclusion I've come to is the only way we can do this, because I basically agree the culture is really the reason-- it wasn't really so much the products, or the pricing, or the assortment-- all of that was terribly important, but the underpinnings all of what we did was this culture that was unique. That we only can do that if we begin promoting people based on culture first, not could they literally just write it down and make a list, etc, etc. But do they live it? Are they ambassadors for it? Do they represent our values day in, day out? And if the answer was yes to those questions, they were ready to be promoted as a store manager, district manager, district manager or whatever it may be”.
They knew that culture was the most important thing. That if the employees were happy at work, engaged, and well trained they would provide top notch service to the customers. They also knew they had to actively listen to customers and employees to continue to adapt. While other chains that had been around for 20, 30, 50 or more years continued to operate in the same ways without innovating or changing.
From the time they started Arthur and Bernie knew they had to have core values in place. Those values were: put people first, listen and respond, include everyone, innovate on a continuous basis, lead by example, and give back to others. And those values weren’t just words that were written in the employee handbook or on the walls. They were values that everyone inside the company had to live and breath every day. And they were the guiding factors in who got hired and who got promoted. That is what has set them apart.
What most leaders get wrong today
Arthur shares that successful leaders are ones that have a set of values and stick to them. They consistently lead based on those values--they are able to live those values out and articulate them to others.
The problem, Arthur says, is that a lot of leaders today just want to send out a memo every other day reminding employees about the company values, yet they themselves don’t live them out. In order to be a great leader you have to not just talk the talk, you have to walk the talk as well. They have to lead by example, roll their sleeves up and set the pace for the organization.
He also says leaders need to walk in the footsteps of your frontline employees. Don’t just read about how things are going, go down once and a while and experience yourself. That’s when ideas will come and things can adapt and change. Don’t just sit in your office passing down commands and reading reports. Get out and interact with everyone.
The marriage of purpose and profit
It seems that a lot of leaders feel that purpose and profit are mutually exclusive. You can focus on one of them or the other, but you can’t put both first. Yet, Home Depot seems to have mastered how to focus on both.
Arthur says that it is more important now than ever to focus on both, because people are demanding it. Especially younger people, they want to be associated with companies who are sustainable that will be around for a long time, but they also want to be a part of something that is doing good. They want to be a part of organizations that are profitable, but also ones that give meaning and purpose to the work individuals are doing.
Arthur believes the companies that want to win the best talent must find a way to focus on both profit and purpose.
Leading by example
Arthur is a leader that lives out the value of leading by example. And he has a lot of great stories of how he and other leaders have lived this value out.
One story that shows how Arthur has led by example goes back to the early days of Home Depot. In order to fill their shelves they had a lot of products coming in which arrived in boxes with packing materials and so they ended up with a lot of corrugated materials. They were supposed to have compactors to break the boxes and other materials down to keep the space clear, but the delivery of the compactors was delayed and they didn’t get them until 2 or 3 weeks after they opened.
At one point there was so much material that there wasn’t any room to receive any more merchandise and everyone was working to get it cleared out. Instead of staying in his office and letting others clean it all up, Arthur rolled up his sleeves and started working on clearing it all up. In fact he ended up staying for 24 hours in the store cleaning up so they could have more room to accept more boxes.
Another employee saw Arthur working nonstop and went to the store manager and said “You know, there's this nut in the back. He's been here for 24 hours, hasn't left, he's compacting all this stuff so we can get more merchandise up on the shelves. I mean, I don't know who he is, but you ought to consider him for a promotion sometime”. And the manager had to let the employee know that Arthur was one of the founders. No one expected someone that high up to be down there working that hard.
Arthur gave another story of how to lead by example. And this one is about the CEO of the stadiums Arthur and his family own, Steve Cannon. And Steve makes it a regular practice to go and do the work of the frontline associates. In fact he has a program in place called, you walk in my shoes. And one day he was working at a concession stand and while working there he noticed that the french fries were packaged in a way that caused one third of the fries to fall out. As a result of working in the shoes of frontline associates he was able to pinpoint a major problem and fix it to create a better customer service.
That’s something that probably wouldn’t have been noticed unless he was able to experience it himself.
Arthur also shared a time when he was at his guest ranch and was having a drink at the bar there and he overheard a customer talking about how a toilet was clogged up in the bathroom. Arthur went into the bathroom and fixed not just one but two toilets. And by the way, he didn’t tell anyone about it. He did it quietly and without complaint. But employees noticed and they were shocked that the owner would be fixing toilets.
Why did Arthur do it? He says, “to me it wasn't a big deal I just you know, I didn't tell our guests because it's not important but you know it's important for the associates to feel there was no job beneath me. No job beneath that leader wherever it may be. That I'm there with them. I'm side by side with them.”
Direct download: Arthur_Blank_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 3:01pm PDT
Wed, 2 September 2020
Leadership starts from within.
It’s not just about leading others, you should also lead yourself.
Leading yourself means that you set your own goals, learn new skills and mindsets, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and are the director of your career and life.
You can't always rely on others to tell you what to do or what to learn. Ultimately, nobody is going to look out for you but YOU!
Direct download: Being_a_Leader_of_SELF_v2.mp3
-- posted at: 1:20pm PDT
Sun, 30 August 2020
David Cote is the former Chairman and CEO of Honeywell and author of the bestselling book, Winning Now, Winning Later: How Companies Can Succeed in the Short Term While Investing for the Long Term.
During his time at Honeywell David fixed a toxic work culture and grew the company’s market capitalization from around 20 billion to 120 billion, delivering returns of 800%. Currently David is Executive Chairman of Vertiv Holdings Co, a global data center products and services provider. He is a member of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group on Foreign Relations and the Conference of Montreal.
David’s journey to being CEO is anything but ordinary. He nearly quit high school, because although he was good at school, he hated it. He ended up sticking with it and became the first one in his family to graduate high school. David was accepted to the University of New Hampshire, but decided he didn’t want to pursue college so he went to work as a mechanic with his dad in a small garage.
After that job didn’t pan out he went to Michigan to work as a carpenter with his uncle, but learned he wasn’t good at that either. So he enlisted in the Navy for six years on a nuclear submarine. The day before he was supposed to swear in he called the chief petty officer and asked what would happen if he didn’t show up. And although the chief petty officer made it sound almost impossible to get out of, when David realized cops wouldn’t just show up at his door and arrest him, he made the decision not to go.
After that David decided to go to college, but after two years there the Assistant Dean of Students told him he could no longer live on campus because he was too much of a troublemaker. So, needing some money, David decided to get a job working second shift while going to school, which he did for 6 months, when a buddy of his invited David to come work with him on a fishing boat in Maine.
Because he was spending so much time on the boat he ended up doing very poorly in school, so he decided to quit. He ended up getting married and one month later his wife was pregnant with their first child. David says this is the moment he realized he had to do something, he had to get direction and stay focused. He was scared he wouldn’t have enough money to raise their child. And from that moment on he had a purpose and a focus that has brought him to where he is now.
Becoming the leader of an organization with a toxic culture
David remembers the first days as CEO of Honeywell very vividly, and they were not very pleasant. He says there were some things that were fairly straightforward at first--introductions to employees, doing a lot with the press, etc.. But there was another part of those first days that really took David by surprise.
He was instructed by the board early on to not focus on any numbers or the financials until he became Chairman four and a half months later. He would be in meetings and he would ask a finance guy, “so how’s the quarter going?” and they would respond with, “Dave, I’ve been instructed not to answer any of those questions from you”. He said it got very weird.
Then when he became chairman he realized why they were keeping it all from him. David says, “The aggressive bookkeeping was, I'd say unhealthy to be conservative. You look at it over a previous decade, we only generated 69 cents of cash for every dollar of income we ever generated, which gives you a sense for the bookkeeping. We have a severely underfunded pension plan. That also had aggressive accounting. We had environmental liabilities that 100 years old, chemical company has that had never been addressed, nor recorded. And we had exposure to asbestos in two areas, none of which had been recorded or addressed”.
Things looked bad. And on top of all of the financial and legal issues they also had three warring cultures inside the organization. David knew he had to bring all of the cultures together under one new culture. In a few days David and his team developed a new culture, which they ended up calling the 12 behaviors. He knew that he had to have a culture where people work together and actually act on strategic decisions before any strategies could be put into place to fix the accounting and legal issues.
There were people who were thankful for the new way of doing things, but there were others who pushed against it because they were used to doing things a certain way. David knew that in order to make the new culture stick, he had to be firm and not give way to anyone trying to push back.
He says, “That's when you're in the crucible at that point. Because writing all the values down writing all the behaviors down, that's the easy part. The tough part is when you get to walk the talk, do you stick with the investment in the seed planting that you talked about? Do you not allow them to do the accounting transaction or the distributor load? And those are the ones where I can say, to a fault, maybe, I never succumbed on any of them. And I would tell them, I want you to make it. You still have to figure out how you either sell more or cut costs, but I'm not going to do this and if you miss it, you miss it, but it's on you. And I made sure I put in audit practices to make sure that none of this stuff happened. But it's easy to know whether the accounting happened, distributed loadings a little tougher, you got to do a little more work to find out, was that happening. But once the employees start to see you walk the talk, that's what starts to change the culture. You can have all kinds of posters and all that, but posters don't do it. People need to actually see that it's working that way.”
How David defines leadership
When defining leadership David breaks it down into three crucial elements. Good leaders must:
- Have the ability to motivate a large group of people--this is the most visible part of the job, but it’s only about 5% of the job
- They can pick the right direction--too many leaders can sound great, but do they make the right decisions to put the organization on the right path, in the right direction? You may be able to motivate people, but if you spend years wandering around with them instead of having a specific direction to lead them in, your not good for the organization
- You have to mobilize everyone--So you’ve motivated people, you’ve picked the right direction, now you have to get the whole organization to move there step by step
How to lead in tough times
Leaders today are definitely leading through difficult times, and David has led through his share of challenging times as well. He says one of the toughest times was the great recession of 2008-2009. And he knows how it feels to be in the middle of a crisis and feel like it is the worst one ever. But it is important to realize that while these recessions are unique, there are certain actions that we can take regardless of the situation that can help organizations to survive it.
David’s advice for anyone leading in tough times is:
- Don’t panic
- Make sure that you keep thinking independently
- Never forget to put the customer first
- Be thinking about the recovery even while you’re in the middle of the recession
Why leaders must focus on short term and long term goals, not just one or the other
One of the main reasons David wrote his book, Winning Now, Winning Later is because he saw that most leaders feel that they have to choose between focusing on the long term or focusing on the short term. Leaders tend to see them as two conflicting things.
But David argues both have to be done at the same time. Because if you are not investing in the long term, eventually the long term becomes the short term and you’re out of gas, you’ve got nothing. Performance in the short term is also a validation of whether your long term plan is any good.
As David shares, “I think it's a mistake if you pick one or the other. And I oftentimes said, one of the most deadly questions to respond to, is when an employee says something like, Hey, boss, which one do you want me to do? And the answer always has to be I expect you to do both. I want things right. And I want them fast. So I don't want it to be--I have to choose between the two, I want you to always find a way to accomplish both.”
Advice for people who feel stuck in their job
Some people may read or hear David’s background story of what he went through before he became CEO of Honeywell and they may feel like they are in a similar situation where they feel stuck in a job. Maybe you feel like there is not a clear progression forward in your career. David gives his advice to people in this situation, some things that helped him get to where he is now.
And he breaks this advice up into a few different points. First of all, you have to have performance, and your performance can’t just be okay. You’ve got to be like the top 10%. Where you went to school makes a difference for your first job, after that it is up to how you perform. Be a standout in all you do.
You also need visibility. If you are performing very well, but the person who can do something about your career can’t see it, nothing will happen. So make sure you have visibility. But you have to be careful with this one because you don’t want to go around tooting your own horn or wearing your ambition on your sleeve. It is a delicate balance.
If you have a boss who doesn’t feel that you are performing as well as you think you are, this is where you have to be self aware and figure out is there something you can fix or do you just have a bad boss, which David says happens less often than people think. So learn to be self aware and realize when there is something you need to fix. We all have issues, and it’s important to know what they are.
Direct download: David_Cote_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 11:08am PDT
Mon, 24 August 2020
Javed Khan is SVP and GM at Cisco Collaboration, a multi-billion dollar division inside of Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT, networking, and cybersecurity solutions. Prior to his current role, Javed ran Cisco’s Cloud Calling business as the VP and General Manager and before that he led the Webex Meetings business unit.
Just like many organizations around the world, when Covid first started becoming a global issue Cisco had to take action in order to keep business going while also enabling employees to work from home. Because of the products they build, they had some advantages over other companies as they already had communication and collaboration tools everyone was familiar with.
But one challenge they had to overcome was an overnight need for their products from existing and new customers. The demand for their products was suddenly three times bigger in a very short period of time. So as a company they had to hurry to scale very quickly in a time when they also needed to move their workforce out of the offices. It required the team to come together, work a lot of long hours, and support their customers.
How to create and foster casual interaction with a remote team
Javed and other leaders at Cisco also understood that they needed to support employees in a new way. This new way of working made collaboration and casual interactions with coworkers very different, but leaders at Cisco knew they had to find a way to keep both collaboration and social interaction going, because they are so important. Especially in the times we are facing now when people are anxious, worried, scared, etc…
At Cisco, they have done a few things to keep employees informed, involved, and engaged. First of all the leadership team leads frequent check in calls, this is different from their quarterly all hands meetings where they talk business and give updates. These check in calls are where people can casually hangout, sometimes they talk about social topics relevant at the time, sometimes they have entertainment, and sometimes they bring in external speakers.
They also have small groups that will get together to talk, without an agenda, about anything they want. These are usually on Friday evenings and employees are allowed to include their family in the calls if they want, but they are just casual conversations to allow small groups of employees to catch up and have fun.
The future of the office
With our current events there has been a lot of debate around whether or not employees will go back to working in offices once this is all over. Will everything go back to the way it was, or will office buildings disappear?
Javed believes we will see a hybrid setup post Covid. There will be an increasing acceptance of people working from home and we will have more technological advances that make it possible. But there will still be roles and situations that require working from an office. Some people will be able to work from home 100% of the time, some will have to be in the office 100% of the time, but a lot of people will probably do some kind of hybrid of working from home and occasionally going into the office.
Also, while we have technology to connect with each other and it will only get better, there is no substitute for in-person, face to face interaction.
Digital transformation during Covid
One thing Covid has done for businesses is it has made leaders realize the need for digital transformation. And it has forced companies to go through this transformation very quickly. Where leaders in the past have asked will this technology make us more productive, will it make our lives easier, will it improve our bottom line, etc..Now when thinking about digital transformation they are thinking about it in terms of, will this help me to stay in business.
As Javed shares, “People immediately went into a survive mode, where suddenly these technologies got deployed and tested overnight, and there were some learning pains. But I feel like companies fell into two categories. There were companies who had already started on this journey of enabling remote work. And they had a baseline of the stack already enabled. for them. It was a matter of, Oh, I have 10,000 employees. You know, I have 100 employees who had worked effectively using this, how do we scale it out to the entire corporation, but I already have this baseline technology in place. And there were others who had not started on this journey. And in those cases it took a little bit more work, you know, retraining your employees. But once you got through that initial phase--raise technology and develop product and some of the devices we have, once you go through that initial learning, we were able to get most of the companies up and running pretty quickly. But nothing forced that digitization more than the last few months. We've been trying to get people to use video for a long, long time and I think now, video you know, if your video is not on you get reminded--I can't see you on video.”
How to evaluate how employees are doing without an annual review
One thing that Cisco is known for is their unique culture and getting rid of their annual performance reviews. So how do leaders know if employees are engaged and being productive if they don’t have an annual review?
As Javed shares, it is about having ongoing, honest conversations with employees. It is important to check in regularly and let employees know about the good things they are doing, and the things they need to improve on throughout the year, not just on one specific date.
Keeping conversations to once a year makes issues a surprise to employees, and it is hard to remember something that you did 5-6 months ago. Meeting one time a year is not effective and it can damage the manager/employee relationship.
Cisco also understands that keeping company culture consistent is key. Whatever culture you are trying to create, make sure you stick with it through good times and bad. If employees see a change in culture during bad times like we are going through now, they will see right through it and know they can’t trust their leaders.
Advice for people early in their careers
Javed is the leader of a multi-billion dollar division inside Cisco, but he has learned a lot on his way to the top and he has a lot of experience and advice to share with others. When asked his advice for people early on in their career who want to advance, Javed says, be curious and be willing to learn.
He says, “I did not set out to be a manager as an example, I started my career as an engineer and thought I was just going to be coding for most of my life. But as I got in, you know, got into trying out, leading a small team, or learning to lead. I think just being curious and trying those things out has helped me out a lot. The other thing is just learning from other people who do that better. Right. So a big part of me transitioning from an engineer to becoming a leader was watching other leaders motivate and speak and inspire. And while I might have thought that that might be something that I wouldn't be doing, I think watching them learning from them, then being curious about the techniques and how leaders lead, I think has been a big part of my success. So be thirsty.”
Advice for leaders today
Javed also shared his advice for leaders who want to adapt, stay relevant, and better themselves. And he says his biggest piece of advice is to stay connected with your employees personally. Especially in the difficult times we are in, it is important to know how they are doing, what are they excited about, what are they scared about, how do they feel about work, what do they care about...etc…
“Because the rest of it, I think we've got a system and processes in place. You're able to measure, you're able to be effective, But in today's world, I think spending more time with your employees making sure you're understanding what else is going on, and what else they need beyond just the tools that work, I think is a big part of leadership today. And the biggest learning I've had in the last few months, you'd be surprised at how much else is going on in typical person's lives and how it might be impacting their ability to be productive.”
Direct download: Javed_Khan_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 2:17am PDT
Wed, 19 August 2020
Collaboration has never been more important than it is now.
We are living in a globalized world where boundaries don't seem to exist anymore. And because of this, we’re now seeing more diversity in the workforce.
We are also seeing more and more remote workers. According to a study by Upwork, 63% of employers have remote teams.
That is why collaboration is crucial in the future of work. Organizations need to focus more on collaboration tools that will enable them to connect their people seamlessly.
Direct download: The_Impact_of_Collaboration.mp3
-- posted at: 10:36am PDT
Mon, 17 August 2020
Blair Sheppard is Head of Global Strategy and Leadership for PwC, a global network of firms delivering world-class assurance, tax, and consulting services for businesses. He is also the author of the new book, Ten Years to Midnight: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions, which came out on August 4th.
Prior to PwC, Blair spent the majority of his career as a professor at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. During his time there he also served as Founding CEO and Chairman of Duke Corporate Education and as Dean of the school. As Dean, Blair was the primary architect of Duke Kunshan University which opened in 2014.
Blair was the first recipient of faculty of the year at Fuqua, he received the Business Person of the Year award for Education in 2011 by Triangle Business Journal, and the Eminent Scholar Award from the Institute of Finance at Frankfurt University in 2007.
The concept behind Blair’s book, Ten Years to Midnight, started with a conversation he had with his boss at the time at PwC. They were discussing the fact that a lot of things in the world were looking dark and gray and they wanted to figure out what the major issues were and what causes were behind them. So they set out to interview people in around 60 countries around the world. They interviewed people from all walks of life--government leaders, heads of business, cab drivers, individuals in coffee shops, etc... And what they found was the whole world was worried about the exact same things.
So Blair and his team started to research these major issues and what they found was that there are four major crises the world as a whole is facing right now and we have about 10 years to fix them before it is too late.
The crisis of prosperity
As Blair and his team were researching for the book, one thing they found is that due to economic disparity in the world and people put at a disadvantage because of that, a lot of parents feel that their children will be worse off than they are.
Blair says, “Think about 50% of the retirees in the United States are going to retire with basically no savings, kids graduating from college with a trillion and a half in debt, with a huge tax obligation we just created for them, right. And then people have a job and a mortgage and the kid in school who are likely to lose that job right and have to transition. That group is now collectively saying I'm really worried about the future. And when people stop believing in the future, they stopped dreaming, creating, developing, so we call that sort of a crisis of prosperity.”
The crisis of technology
Another key element we are facing right now is disruption from technology. There are great things that come with advances in technology--medical advances, improved quality of life, availability of valuable information, etc… But there are also negative impacts as well.
One example Blair points out is social media. While the creators of social media intended their platforms for good, there are negative things that come from it, like increasing suicide rates. Technology also allowed us to create the Industrial Revolution which has brought about an improved quality of life in some aspects, but it has also harmed our environment.
Aside from these examples there are other growing unintended consequences of ubiquitous technology that we have to fix.
The crisis of institutional legitimacy
As it is growing clearer by the day, people around the world have lost trust in our institutions. We don’t trust the police force, we don’t trust the tax systems, we don’t trust our education systems, we don’t trust our governments.
Blair says, “this is the one that worries me the most, by the way, because as soon as you stop trusting the institutions that make our life work, it's sort of like a fish not trusting water. It just doesn't work.”
The crisis of leadership
The three previous crises combine to produce this fourth crisis, which is mainly caused by polarization. A lot of times when people lose hope and feel that things are getting worse they blame the people in power. There is just a sheer inability to lead when the world is so fractured and polarized. In order to lead effectively leaders need people to trust them.
About all four of the crises, Blair says, “The worry we have is that they're all pretty serious right now. But if we don't get our arms around them in a decade, they become really ugly, all four of them, all a sudden become really ugly.” So what can we do to start addressing these problems?
Conquering the four crises
In his book, Blair says that what we really need in order to address these issues is new types of leaders to rework our institutions, culture, and our way of thinking. We need leaders who have ingenuity, vision, innovation, energy, focus, and empathy.
With the prosperity crisis we need to step back and figure out how to get everyone on a level playing field. Lack of access to technology shouldn’t hinder people around the world. But right now there are a lot of people being left behind in the world. And globalization stops working when you have enough places and people in the world that fall behind.
As Blair shares, “While we're focusing on being global competitors, we also have to help create thriving local communities. While we're measuring GDP, we have to look at economic dispersion, how well the whole economy is doing, how well everyone's doing, and other measures of social well-being, not just financial. And while we're driving technology, we've got to say, have we thought about the unintended consequences of the thing we're building? It's sort of like the way we do drug development, right, which is-- does it really do what it says, and what are the side effects?”
In regards to the technology crisis, Blair says one thing we have to be mindful of is how technology is impacting work. Will there be more jobs or less jobs in the future? Just like in the Industrial Revolution, the transition will be hard, but what problems can we think through ahead of time?
There is also a lot to figure out around AI. It can violate privacy and put control in too few hands as well as make decisions that we can’t understand. How can we make sure that we keep it in check? Jobs, AI at scale, and technology making us dumber are all serious negative side effects of technology that we have to navigate as we continue advancing forward.
When thinking about the technology crisis as individuals it is important to be aware of disruptions that are happening in your industry and be prepared to move if you see signs your job could be eliminated. Be curious and keep on learning new skills and surround yourself with people who are different than you are. Don’t just associate with people who work in your department, branch out and spend time with people in different roles, industries, and parts of the world.
When addressing the leadership crisis it is important for leaders to understand the main underlying causes of this crisis, which are polarization and distrust in leaders. So they need to find ways to help people come together, to find solutions or compromises and they need to rebuild trust with employees, customers, and communities. It is also crucial that leaders know what the purpose of the company is. Because if you want to innovate inside of your organization you have to know what matters at the core of your business, otherwise it is easy to get lost.
Blair’s advice for leaders who want to build trust is to be consistent, know what your values are and stay true to them. And in every decision you make, be transparent about what you are doing and explain what you are doing and why. Be very self reflective and self aware and know the impact you are having on people.
Climate change and small business creation
Along with the four major crises, there are also other issues that are so urgent we can’t wait for them to be fixed. Two of those issues that Blair points out are climate change and creating small business at scale really fast.
So why should leaders and organizations care about these two issues? With climate change it will impact everyone eventually, including your organization. But if we wait to be personally affected by it, it may be too late. It is also most likely that organizations will be forced to go net zero soon with new policies. So why wait to be forced into it.
But this will impact your business eventually. Blair says, “There are physical risks associated with climate. So let's imagine you hold real estate in downtown Miami and the first floor is underwater. You kind of care about it now. Right? Let's imagine you're in California and your property sits in front of a mudslide, let's imagine you own timber, and it's under fire. And so every business in the world has physical risks associated with climate, and every year they're going to get worse.”
As for small business creation, a lot of small businesses have been impacted by current events. And every organization, whether they realize it or not, depends on small businesses to thrive. Small business, for a lot of companies, is the first step in the supply chain. So you depend on it. But the owners of these small businesses are also customers of larger companies and if they don’t come back, your revenue stream is going to go down. Small business is a crucial part of our economy. So every leader should be concerned about these two more urgent issues.
What can leaders do now?
Blair gives a few tips that any leader out there can implement now to start making change.
- Part one:
- Look at the direct implications of climate risk on your company and figure out what you can do to get to net zero
- Take a look at your organization and assess your ability to compete in a platform based world
- Figure out if you are prepared for the pressures toward localization that we’re going to see
- Part two:
- Look at yourself and your leadership team. Are you ready for the three points above and have you invested in those things?
- Make sure you have a diverse team with people who are different than you are
- Part three:
- Pick a place (a city, a town, a village, etc...) you care about and make it better
“If you are working on making something in the world that's physical geography better. It will force you to think about all the things you're not thinking about today that are important for your business. And then when someone comes back and says you're the bad guy, you're not. Because you're actually working the issue. And so it has two positive benefits you actually are helping. And so if I go back to your question, you know, one of our leaders who said, I'm going to worry about Black Lives Matters and diversity. And they did it before it was a big issue. And I think that taught a lot to us as a firm. And it actually puts us in a position where we're kind of on the right side of the balance sheet when people start judging how you're doing. And everyone should do that. But really make it better. Don't fake it. Right? Go after it.”
Direct download: Blair_Sheppard_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:34am PDT
Fri, 14 August 2020
There was one question top CEOs had a hard time answer…
But first, some context.
Over the past 18 months, I had the privilege to interview some of the world's top CEOs for my book, The Future Leader. I spoke with CEOs from companies like Best Buy, Audi, KPMG, Oracle, SAP, Verizon, MasterCard, Royal Caribbean, InterContinental Hotels Group, and dozens of others.
I was trying to understand how leadership is changing what leaders need to do in order to adapt and be successful in the new world of work. I asked these CEOs about trends, skills, mindsets, challenges, and everything and anything in between.
All the leaders gave me fantastic answers, wonderful stories, and profound insights, everything flowed very easily...until we got to THE QUESTION.
"If I came from another planet and had no concept of 'leader' or 'leadership,' how would you explain it to me?"
This is where the awkward pauses started…
The problem is we don't spend enough time thinking about this because we all assume we know what good and bad leadership is and what it looks like.
For many, trying to explain leadership is like trying to explain water to someone. We don't do it because we all know what water is and we all know what leadership is...right?
All of the CEOs I interviewed defined "leader" and "leadership" differently. Sure, there are some common themes, but the definitions themselves are unique.
The worst thing you and your organization can do is NOT have a clear definition of what leadership is and what it means to be a leader.
The first and most crucial step for anyone embarking on their leadership journey is to define what this means to begin with.
Your definition and concept of leadership will change over time.That's ok, but you have to start somewhere!
What's your definition of "leader" and "leadership?"
For those of you want to be a future-ready leader…
The Leadership Mastery Framework is the only leadership course in the world based on expertise from more than 140 hands-on-in-the-field CEOs (from companies like Best Buy, Audi, MasterCard, Unilever, Verizon, and more). It’s built for striving leaders in every level of their companies and anyone who knows they have more to give to make a genuine impact.
This course is the fast track to leadership mastery for the future. I want you to reach every inch of your full potential and make the supersonic impact you’ve been itching for, and this course will show you how it’s not only possible but vital that you take action.
Enrollment CLOSES ON MIDNIGHT TODAY AUGUST 14TH.
Direct download: Define_leader_and_leadership_Edited.mp3
-- posted at: 1:41am PDT
Thu, 13 August 2020
Leadership isn't just about what you know how to do, it's also about how you think...your mindset.
What mindsets do you as a leader need to possess? There are 4 of them that over 140 of the world's top CEOs from companies like Audi, KPMG, Best Buy, Oracle, Unilever, MasterCard, SAP, and dozens of others identified as being most crucial for current and future leaders.
Leaders who embody the global citizen mindset think globally and embrace diversity. Not only do leaders need to consider how to enter new markets but they must also understand how to spread ideas and messages and how to find the best talent regardless of where in the world they might be. As a new or existing leader you will also have to work with, communicate, collaborate, and lead individuals who don’t think like you, look like you, act like you, or believe in the same things that you believe in.
Being a leader doesn’t mean that you get to sit at the top of the pyramid and tell everyone else what to do. It means that you stand at the bottom of the pyramid and help prop everyone else up. This is in stark contrast to what the business world is used to.
Chefs are masters at balancing ingredients, just like leaders must balance the two most important ingredients of any business: humans and technology. The human side of work is where things like ideas, relationships, loyal customers, leaders, and social impact comes from. The technology side of work is where things like efficiency, productivity, and speed take place. Future leaders must embrace technology; being hesitant about it will get you nowhere.
Explorers are seekers who traverse the unknown and embrace and practice curiosity. This is the mindset that will force the pursuit of new ideas, products, services, and methods of doing things. Explorer leaders are super perpetual learners. They are open to new ideas from the people around them and encourage time for experimentation. They embody the growth mindset and realize that where they are now isn’t where they will always be.
These four mindsets are the foundation for current and future leaders. This is how leaders need to think each and every single day.
For those of you want to be a future-ready leader and master these 4 mindsets...
The Leadership Mastery Framework is the only leadership course in the world based on expertise from more than 140 hands-on-in-the-field CEOs (from companies like Best Buy, Audi, MasterCard, Unilever, Verizon, and more). It’s built for striving leaders in every level of their companies and anyone who knows they have more to give to make a genuine impact.
This course is the fast track to leadership mastery for the future. I want you to reach every inch of your full potential and make the supersonic impact you’ve been itching for, and this course will show you how it’s not only possible but vital that you take action.
Enrollment CLOSES ON AUGUST 14th, I hope to see you inside!
Direct download: Mindsets_Edited_Final.mp3
-- posted at: 3:25am PDT
Wed, 12 August 2020
Do you regularly find your employees competing against each other?
This competitive type of culture is disappearing as people start to realize that team success is more important than individual success.
If your organization doesn't have this definition of teamwork, it’s time for you to change it.
Start by understanding your employees, team members, and leaders as human beings, not just as cogs or worker bees who show up to work every day.
Once you understand your peers as individuals, you'll really get a strong sense of where you might be able to step up and do something small to make their lives easier.
Tue, 11 August 2020
Leadership is changing...you as a leader MUST change, and perhaps more importantly, we should all DEMAND that our leaders change. It's necessary for the very survival of our organizations.
Things like globalization, the changing nature of talent, AI, and technology, the emphasis on purpose and meaning, and the demand for more transparency mean that our organizations are going to look fundamentally different than they did in the past. As a result, we need a new breed of leaders.
Research by DDI found that only 14% of organizations have a "strong bench," which is ready-now leaders who can step to replace those who retire or move on (DDI). Half of the organizations surveyed by DDI say their leaders are not skilled to lead effectively today and 71% say their leaders are not ready to lead their organizations in the future.
If you want to be an effective leader (now and in the future), someone who positively impacts your organization, your people, and your community, then these are the 5 skills that you need to master...and soon.
No matter if they are on the basketball court or in the office, great coaches don’t just tell people what to do, they make people want to actually do it. Coaches help people become better versions of themselves.
As a great coach, your job is to understand the similarities and commonalities between yourself and your team. Don’t fear the differences, respect them. Coaches create effective teams by connecting with people and truly understanding them as human beings, not just as workers.
This was the most important skill across all the CEOs I interviewed. Futurists consider different possibilities and must be able to identify patterns, stay connected to relevant trends, and scan for signals of what the future might bring. For leaders, this means that you have to be more connected than ever to your network.
Today’s teenagers are technology savvy and digitally fluent. Leaders of the future must be the same way. Leaders don’t need to understand the details of how technologies are deployed, but they do need to understand what impact a particular technology might have on their business.
That broad understanding helps you determine which tools might have the greatest impact on your business and which ones can wait.
Translation is the bridge that connects things or people together. Leaders of the future must be translators, or great listeners and communicators. Listening and communication have always been crucial, but they will become even more important in coming years. Future leaders need to cut through the noise to deliver and listen to important messages.
Leaders of the future must learn to channel their internal Yoda and be emotionally intelligent. For leaders, empathy comes into play when trying to resolve a conflict by understanding everyone’s perspectives, developing products or services for customers, or improving collaboration. At the heart of being Yoda is creating an emotional human connection with other people. Doing so makes us vulnerable, but it also makes us human.
Unfortunately, most organizations around the world and most MBA programs don't teach these skills.
For those of you want to be future-ready leaders and master these 5 skills...
The Leadership Mastery Framework is the only leadership course in the world based on expertise from more than 140 hands-on-in-the-field CEOs (from companies like Best Buy, Audi, MasterCard, Unilever, Verizon, and more). It’s built for striving leaders in every level of their companies and anyone who knows they have more to give to make a genuine impact.
This course is the fast track to leadership mastery for the future. I want you to reach every inch of your full potential and make the supersonic impact you’ve been itching for, and this course will show you how it’s not only possible but vital that you take action.
Enrollment CLOSES ON AUGUST 14th, I hope to see you inside!
Direct download: Skills_Edited_1_Final_Version.mp3
-- posted at: 10:56pm PDT
Tue, 11 August 2020
Most business leaders around the world are not good leaders. They aren't bad people, but their approaches to leadership are simply put...obsolete. We can especially see this quite clearly with what has been going on with Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, and the ongoing fight against racism and social injustice.
To give you an analogy, it's a bit like trying to fly a modern-day passenger plane while being trained on an original Wright Brothers plane. There's a chance you might get the plane in the air, but you won't go far.
Leadership around the world is failing us.
In the United States alone there are around 25 million supervisors and managers today, these are people who are responsible for others. I estimate that by 2030 we are going to have around 220 million leaders around the world.
That's a lot of leaders!
We have lots of people in leadership roles but unfortunately, many of them are bad leaders, there's just no other way around it. But, their days are numbered because the way that we think about leadership is changing...Leaders Must Change.
Being a leader is the hardest job in the world but it's also the most rewarding. Everyone in the world has the potential to become a leader, even if you're a leader of self.
The first step towards becoming that leader is making the conscientious choice that you are willing to get out of your comfort zone and do whatever it takes to positively impact your community, your organization, your people, and yourself.
Are you ready to take that first step?
Introducing... The Leadership Mastery Framework. The only leadership course in the world based on expertise from more than 140 hands-on-in-the-field CEOs. It’s built for striving leaders in every level of their companies and anyone who knows they have more to give to make a genuine impact.
This course is the fast track to leadership mastery for the future. I want you to reach every inch of your full potential and make the supersonic impact you’ve been itching for, and this course will show you how it’s not only possible but vital that you take action.
Enrollment closes on August 14th, I hope to see you inside!
Direct download: Leadership_pandemic_Final_Edit.mp3
-- posted at: 6:40am PDT
Fri, 7 August 2020
Julie Zhuo is the bestselling author of The Making of a Manager: What to do When Everyone Looks to You. She was also the first intern at Facebook when they had 100 employees and were just starting out as a company. She worked there for a total of 14 years and during her time there she became a manager and then ultimately the VP of Product Design.
Actually, it was because of her experience at Facebook and first becoming a manager very early on in her career that caused her to write her book. Her internship at Facebook was something she did while in college and then right after she graduated she took a full time job with the company. When she was asked to become a manager at the age of 25, she had had no prior training or management experience and she wasn’t exactly sure what she was supposed to do.
But as the culture at Facebook was at that time, as a startup, employees all had to try new things and say yes to some things that took them out of their comfort zone. So Julie said yes to the position. Then she went to a bookstore to read up on the skills that managers need, how to lead people more experienced than she was, how to delegate, etc… But what she found was books directed at CEOs and senior level executives on very advanced concepts, when what she needed was the basics to start out with like how to lead a one on one meeting and how to motivate employees. So she wrote her own book on the subject later on in her career to help others in similar situations.
The definition of a manager
Julie shares that when she first started out as a manager she didn’t have a very clear definition of what a manager was. The only thing she had was a general idea of what her past managers and bosses had done in the past, which was mostly give feedback and tell her if she would be promoted or if there was something she could do better. And that is the picture she had in her mind for years until she became a leader herself and learned over the years that a manager shouldn’t just be a series of actions, but they should be someone who is focused on getting results from a group of people and doing whatever necessary to help them succeed.
Julie also believes there is a difference between a leader and a manager. She says, “Sometimes people use them interchangeably, but to me, they're quite different. To me, leadership is a quality or a trait. And I think all of us are, you know, can be leaders in certain contexts or can exhibit leadership traits. Being a leader just means that you are somebody that other people will listen to, and will follow. And you have that ability to influence and help organize a group of people towards doing something together. I think of a manager as a specific role, like it's a specific job function with a set of responsibilities and the major responsibility of a manager is you are trying to get a group of people to work together and to achieve some certain outcome, right? There's a reason why teams are formed. There's a reason why companies are formed, they're trying to aspire to, hit their mission or they're trying to hit a business goal or they're trying to do this and that and your job as a manager is to help this group of people hit that goal.”
The word manager is descriptive of the role inside of the company, whereas leadership refers to qualities and traits people can have. Anyone can learn leadership qualities, but not everyone who has leadership qualities should necessarily be a manager. Everyone who is a manager should definitely have leadership qualities, though.
Common mistakes that new managers make
Over her career Julie has not only experienced being a first time manager, but she has witnessed others experience it for the first time as well. And there are certain mistakes and pitfalls that a majority of managers make when first starting out.
The first one is feeling that as a manager you have to have all the answers. A lot of people have this feeling that if they are unsure about something, it’s a signal that they are not cut out for the role of a manager. But that’s not true. As Julie shares, as a manager you are going to feel uncomfortable or unprepared at times, and that’s okay. You are having those feelings because you are managing for the first time, things are new. A lot of the confidence and know-how will come with time and practice. Every manager goes through this when they first start out.
And even as you get experience, those feelings may be there when you have to address something new later on in your career, the difference is you will be better equipped to deal with new situations as you progress and you will develop the tools you need to deal with uncertainty.
The second mistake that new managers make is feeling like they need to know how to do the roles of their employees as well or better than they do. For example, when Julie moved to the manager role she realized she had to lead a team of designers who were more skilled at designing than she was. Because of that she felt like she had nothing to contribute and she felt inadequate at her job. But now she realizes that was incorrect.
Your job as a manager is not to be the best at the roles of your employees. If you are very skilled in one specific area, then maybe you should be in that role as an individual contributor. But as a manager it actually benefits you to have a group of people who are more talented than you are. Your job is to elevate those talents so that everyone on the team can be working at their best.
The third pitfall that new managers can encounter is a feeling of superiority, or getting a big head from a promotion. Julie says that at Facebook they had a way of making sure that didn’t happen. When people moved to a role of management it wasn’t called a promotion. Instead they used the word transition, to recognize that management was on a parallel path with any other role. Because there are multiple ways to move up in your career. Just because you don’t become a manager doesn’t mean you haven’t improved and succeeded. It’s just a different path.
How to overcome imposter syndrome
Most of us have experienced imposter syndrome at some point, the feeling that happens when you don’t believe you are equipped to do something you are doing. When you doubt your ability and feel inadequate. Julie says she definitely felt this when she first became a manager and, in fact, she has felt it at times throughout her career even after gaining experience.
So how can we overcome imposter syndrome? Julie shares the following tips:
- Recognize that you can ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who have more experience in the area you feel doubt in. Learn from their expertise.
- Don’t be afraid to admit that you are nervous or that you don’t know something. Everyone goes through this at times, and it doesn’t mean you’re an idiot. It means you’re human.
- Turn to things that bring you energy and peace in those moments of anxiety and doubt. Go for a run, meditate, go out and see some friends, spend some time doing a hobby you enjoy, etc..This will help build your confidence back up before facing the issue head on.
The biggest difference between an average manager and a great manager
Whether you are a brand new manager or you have been managing for 20+ years, there are certain traits and qualities that make a great manager stand out from average managers. First of all, Julie says great managers are able to get great outcomes from their teams over and over.
But there are three other things that Julie uses to judge if someone is a great manager. They are people, process, and purpose. The first is, how does the individual deal with people? How do they nurture their talent. Do they play to people’s strengths and are they making sure that they have the right people on the right problems. Great managers need to know how to let their people shine and excel.
The second thing that a great manager has is the ability to figure out the processes. That is how people work together in the context of a team. And the third thing is a manager has to know how to convey a company’s purpose to employees. Because as Julie says, you can have the best talent, but if they don’t know what they are working towards, you are not going to get their best work.
Your people need to know what they should be aspiring towards, what you are trying to achieve together, what success looks like for them as a team, etc...
The first year of a manager
Julie walked us through the first year of a manager in increments of the first day, the first week, the first month, and then the first year to help us to understand her recommendations for people just starting out in that role.
First, on day one of being a manager you should talk with your manager and make sure you understand what success looks like for your role. Have them help you plot out benchmarks that you should be hitting throughout your first year as a manager. It is critical that you know on day one what you're expected to do. Knowing the expectations ahead of time ensures you will do a great job versus a mediocre job.
For the first week in that new role, Julie suggests you focus on listening to your people. You need to get started on developing trust relationships with the people on your team. Talk to every single person on your team, get to know them as an individual. What are their hopes and dreams? Where do they want to go in their career? What do they think about the team? Do they have problems or friction with anyone on the team? What could the team do better?
This not only helps you to get to know people, but it helps employees feel like they have contributed, they feel like they have a bit of ownership in the team.
Moving on to month one, this should be an extension of what you are doing in week one. You have to continue to invest in the relationships with your people. By the end of month one you should have a good sense of how the team operates. Julie says that before you change anything, it is important to know what the situation is now, to begin with. Don’t just try to change things up as soon as you move into the role. Really, it’s going to be 3-6 months before you get a great sense of the people and the business.
At the end of year one what you should be looking for is, as a team, have we set clear goals? And of the goals you have set as a team, are you starting to see the fruits of those goals? You should be asking for constant feedback from day one, so that you know what is working and what needs to be adjusted. You should get feedback from your manager, your peers, and members of your team. You should also sit down with your manager at the end of the year and see if the expectations that were laid out were fulfilled. If not, figure out together what needs to be adjusted to do better in the next year.
Direct download: Julie_Zhuo_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 1:02am PDT
Wed, 5 August 2020
Every employee inside of your organization has something to offer regardless of their generation or current life stage. This is why mentoring can flow both ways. When a younger employee mentors an older employee, we refer to it as reverse mentoring.
The purpose of these types of mentoring programs is to share information, skills, and knowledge. Especially in this technology-driven era, older employees often find it difficult to adapt, and the younger employees who are already familiar with the new technologies can teach them.
It's really all about connecting your employees and bringing people together from different generations, backgrounds, cultures, attitudes, values, and beliefs to work together to collaborate and communicate.
Sun, 2 August 2020
Tiger Tyagarajan is the CEO of Genpact, a global professional services firm with 100,000 employees that drives digital-led innovation and digitally-enabled intelligent operations for organizations around the world.
Prior to Genpact, Tiger worked for several well-known companies such as Unilever, Citibank, and GE. He was actually one of the industry leaders who pioneered a new global business model and transformed a division of GE into Genpact back in 2005.
Tiger serves on the Board of Catalyst, a global non-profit organization working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs to help build workplaces that work for women. He also was one of the founding supporters of the U.S. chapter of the 30% Club, which is committed to gender balance on boards of directors and in senior management. He is an active member of the Fortune CEO Initiative, a forum for corporate leaders committed to addressing major social problems as part of their core business strategies.
Just like organizations all over the world, Genpact has had to adjust to the new normal that we are facing with Covid-19. And with a team of 100,000 people all around the world, it is not a simple thing to do. As Tiger shares, when they first learned of Covid-19 there wasn’t a playbook that they could just look at and act on. Tiger and his team knew they had to do something and that time was of the essence, so perfection was not what they were aiming for. They knew they had to build something quickly, start using it, and then allow the team to improve it over time.
While the experience was stressful, there are a couple things that Tiger shares, that made a difference in the way Genpact reacted.
Leaders need to have North Stars
A practice that Tiger has put in place for himself, and one that he highly suggests for all leaders, is having a few North Stars in place that help guide you as a leader when making tough decisions. These are the values and the culture of your organization that you need to base all decisions on. And it is important for everyone in the organization to know what those values are, know what those North Stars are, so that everyone is on the same page.
Tiger says, “As long as you are clear about that, as long as everyone is clear about that, you have first of all an alignment, where everyone says-- that's the North Star, those are our values, that's our culture. And that therefore makes decision making easier and with speed. And second, you do your best to deliver whatever North Star you defined. So for us, the North Star for us was, we always pride ourselves on incredibly great service to our customers. And we think that's what makes us different. And that's what gets us new business and growth. And we also pride ourselves on being a great place to work for our employees. So therefore, right out of the gate, we said, we want to achieve two design principles in every decision. Number one, do the right thing for our employees-- protect their safety, and wellness-- and two make sure that we continue to find a way to deliver service to our clients because we quickly realized that a lot of the services we deliver, if you stopped delivering, our clients would suffer significantly, and the economy would suffer significantly. Whichever economy it serves. So we had to balance, in every decision, these two things, but it allowed us to take decisions that basically said, these are the two important things, everything else doesn't matter.”
So what are your North Stars? What are the values inside your organization, what is the purpose or the mission of your company, and what culture are you trying to create? Figure these out and making decisions will be a lot easier.
What will work look like post Covid-19?
Right now the way we work looks a lot different than it did even just 6 months ago. The question is, once we get past this, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, but once we get past Covid-19 what will work look like? Will it be changed forever or will some things go back to normal.
One thing that a lot of people are speculating about is that the office will be a thing of the past and that everyone will be working from home. Tiger doesn’t agree. While he does agree that some things will never go back to what it was before, he believes that offices will come back, at least in some form.
Tiger says that assuming that 50% or more of the work going forward will be done from home is too simple, it is more nuanced than that. There may be some roles that make more sense to do from home, for example inside of Genpact there are some employees who at certain times of the year have to work for five days straight without a break, sometimes into the midnight hours. For that type of work it would make sense to be in the comfort of your own home while working long hours.
But there are a lot of roles where it would not make sense to work from home long term and there are a lot of people who are excited and just itching to go back into the office. Some people thrive on that person to person interaction and collaboration, which is missing right now.
Tiger believes that post Covid there will be more flexibility in the way we work, maybe at certain times of the year or certain days of the week people will be able to work from home, but there will be times when the office is necessary. He also suggested the idea of companies possibly acquiring more office space than they have now. Instead of having one office building with 10,000 people, maybe it makes more sense to have 10 offices with 1,000 people in each one. This could bring offices closer to people, bring down commute times, and potentially cut down on air pollution.
The current situation is also impacting the speed at which organizations go through digital transformation. Some companies who have just talked about digital transformation for years, have been forced into acting on it quickly. Companies who were resisting change in the past, can no longer wait, even if they wanted to.
Tiger says, “What COVID-19 has done is created a couple of constraints that have forced innovation and experimentation. It's the single biggest experiment, people are calling it as the biggest experiment that humans have done considering the time frame. And, and I wonder whether other intractable problems in the world are actually solvable, by actually deliberately putting constraints on.”
Could problems like climate change be solved if we put our own constraints on it and forced ourselves to solve the problem now? Tiger thinks it is possible, but just like Covid is affecting everyone in the world, in order to solve climate change it would require everyone coming together. It couldn’t just be a small group of people.
Two things leaders must focus on in the new normal
Our current events have shaped the way our leaders need to lead. Not only have they had to make tough decisions about layoffs, closing offices, and trying to figure out how to keep business coming in, they also have had to assist employees in moving from working in the office to working from home in a very short period of time.
There are two things that Tiger and his team have pinpointed as changes they had to make to adjust to these times. One was the frequency of communication with employees. In the past, during normal times, Genpact leaders held town hall meetings once a quarter. Now they are holding town hall meetings once a month and they are sending out video blogs once a week.
When they would hold town hall meetings once a quarter around 5,000 to 7,000 people would show up, but now that they are virtual and held more frequently there are around 20,000 people joining.
The other important aspect that Tiger and his team have focused on is empathy, which is important in all times, but it is much harder when everything is virtual. Leaders have to understand the difference in leading an in-person meeting and leading a virtual one. With virtual, you can’t read body language as well. It also is easier in a virtual meeting to have everyone sign in and just start the meeting, skipping the usual banter and check-ins that happen when you meet in person. This is something that Tiger is really focused on fixing, because it is important to keep that casual conversation, to let employees know that you care about their well being and to judge how people are feeling. Are they stressed, are they depressed, are they excited? These are important things for leaders to know about their people.
In our new virtual world leaders have to go above and beyond the old ways to make sure they stay in touch with employees and empathize with them.
How Genpact is addressing diversity and inclusion
More than 15 years ago Tiger and his team at Genpact set out to address gender diversity inside of their organization. They realized not enough women were represented in leadership, and they knew that had to change. Over the past 15 years they have made significant progress, going from one woman on the leadership team to five and from zero women on the board to four women on the board now. He admits there is still a long way to go, but in a short amount of time they have made good strides forward.
In light of the current events around the world that are shedding light on racial inequality, Tiger and his team knew they again had to make some changes. But they knew time was of the essence and they didn’t want to talk about actions to take for months and months. They wanted to act immediately. They had a meeting on a Monday morning at 9am and by 10am a decision was taken and by that evening they announced their decision publicly. They added racial equality as a pillar of their D&I strategy. And they announced that they were putting Hope Cooper, one of the rising African American leaders in the company, in charge of the initiative.
Tiger released an open letter addressing the situation and how the company would react. The company also hosted six open listening sessions across the US so people in the African American, Black American population could share their experiences, their fears, and their ideas. Tiger and Genpact took those thoughts and created an agenda with defined metrics and initiatives with impact.
Since then Genpact has also partnered with organizations such as the NAACP to start a dialogue on how the company can bring its unique skills and support to the table to form a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship.
Tiger and his team are definitely not just about talking about change, when they see a problem that needs to be addressed, they are all in. They take the steps needed to immediately start the process of change. And that is so important for leaders to remember. You can’t just talk about changing for the better or impacting your community, you have to take action. That is the only way our organizations and our leaders are going to positively impact employees, communities, and the world.
Direct download: Tiger_Tyagarajan_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 9:48am PDT
Wed, 29 July 2020
One of the aspects of being a servant leader is practicing self-care. During times of crisis, we often forget to look after ourselves, which is a mistake.
If you want to show up and be your best self for your family and employees, then you need to remember to take care of your emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health. Even with coronavirus, I still make time to exercise each day, eat healthy, and spend time working on chess because these things make me happy!
What are you doing to look after yourself during these tough times?
Sun, 26 July 2020
Alex Osterwalder is the bestselling author of Business Model Generation, Value Proposition Design, and Testing Business Ideas. He also released a new book back in April called The Invincible Company: How to Constantly Reinvent Your Organization with Inspiration from the World’s Best Business Models.
Alex is ranked #4 on the Thinkers50 list of the top 50 management thinkers in the world. Along with Yves Pigneur, Alex invented several practical business tools, including the Business Model Canvas, that are used by millions of business leaders today. For this invention they won the Thinkers50 Strategy Award in 2015.
He is also the founder of Strategyzer, a company that provides organizations with corporate innovation strategy, training, tools, and software.
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. Check out their new page devoted to the future of work to learn more and check out their resources including articles, videos, and a workplace maturity assessment..
In the midst of the pandemic organizations are facing challenging times and over the last few months we have seen positive and negative decisions occur in response to what is happening. There have been some companies who have handled tough decisions while still keeping their people first--showing employees respect, empathy, and transparency. And there are other companies who have made, what seem to be, harsh and unfair decisions in a way that create anger and chaos. The question is, is there a way for organizations to prepare for uncertainties and challenging times in advance, so we don’t have to get to a point where these tough decisions have to be made?
Creating resilient organizations
There are situations where leaders will have to make tough decisions, regardless of how much advanced planning is done. But, as Alex’s book examines, there are ways to make our organizations more agile and fluid, so that when a crisis comes, they are able to not just survive, but thrive through it.
Alex gives a great example of two companies who faced the same crisis and their different outcomes. There were two large photography/film companies, Kodak and Fujifilm. Both were extremely successful at one time, but when the industry was disrupted Kodak kept using the same business model, which no longer worked. As a result Kodak went bankrupt and completely went away.
Fujifilm on the other hand had a CEO who had been obsessed with the thought of the company dying for awhile and had put a plan in place before it was too late. The company aggressively reallocated resources into a whole new way of business, which was cosmetics. It turns out the chemical process and the intellectual property related to aging film can be used in cosmetics for aging skin. So instead of staying on the same logical path of film, they saw the industry coming to an end and went an entirely different direction. They are still around today.
The key is they planned for this extreme disruption before it happened. If you wait until a crisis happens to react, you are never going to have a resilient company. You can’t make a change that big overnight, which is what a lot of companies are trying to do right now. You have to do the work upfront and be a bit of a futurist so that you can see multiple possibilities ahead.
So really, the responsibility for creating resilient organizations starts with the leaders. But the traditional way of leading organizations is not the right model for this type of change. We need a different style of leadership.
Moving away from the stereotypical leadership style
In the past a lot of people have viewed a leader as someone who is the smartest one in the room, the one who makes all of the decisions and picks the right ideas. As Alex shares, if you as the leader are the smartest one in the room, you have failed in your hiring.
Being a leader is not about being knowledgeable in every aspect of business and it is not about making every decision, it is about creating the environment for great ideas to emerge and succeed. It is the job of the leader to create the culture that embraces creativity and innovation, and to give authority to individual employees to make decisions.
Alex gives a great example from the German company, Bosch. They decided they were going to invest in 200 projects inside the organization. So they gave those 200 projects a budget of 120,000 Euros and they gave them three months. After the three months were up the company looked at the results from all 200 projects and they killed off 70% of the projects and re-invested a bit more into the remaining 30% based on the results they saw. The remaining projects got to continue on for a bit more time and then after that time was done they all got reevaluated. And based on the findings from the evaluation, they discontinued 75% of those projects. So at the end of the process they got down to 15 projects (out of the 200) to continue on with.
The important part, as Alex explains, is, “It wasn't the leadership that decided on the ideas, per se, it was the evidence that showed if they would get follow up investment. So what's the leader's role? It's about creating the right environment where these teams can explore, fail a lot, and learn the environment where the teams that didn't get follow up investments are not kind of stigmatized as losers because they couldn't get the project, right? No, that's a normal ratio from early stage venture capital. We actually know that one out of 250 ideas is an outsized winner. So, it's that kind of culture you need to put in place. So we don't start to stigmatize those who didn't succeed, because they're contributing to the portfolio. So as a leader, again, you shouldn't be the expert, because then you hired wrong. That obviously depends on the kind of domain you're in. And your main job is to create the conditions for success to emerge. So,you know, that is one of the messages that I found really, really intriguing from Alan Mulally, he likes to say, sometimes, as a leader, you can create too much value.”
How to create a culture of innovation
Leaders can’t just let culture happen, culture has to be designed and managed. If you want to create a culture of innovation, it has to be done intentionally. A lot of organizations have failed at innovation because the CEO is not spending a lot of time focused on it. And if people inside the company see that the leaders don’t care about innovation, or worse, that leaders are punishing creativity and new ideas, then people are going to stop trying. CEOs do have to spend time focusing on executing and managing the existing, but if innovation doesn’t have enough power, it’s always going to play second fiddle.
As Alex shares, “At Logitech, the CEO Bracken Darrell spends 40 to 60% of his time on innovation. That gives innovation power because it's symbolic if the CEO spends a lot of time on innovation. Then the next question is oh, so the CEO picks the winning ideas? No, the CEO creates the culture and metrics and spaces where innovation can emerge. And that is a partnership between innovation and execution. Those are two different domains and they need to live in harmony, not kind of entrenched in a kind of Warzone. So, sometimes innovators like to call themselves pirates or rebels. I think that's silly because pirates and rebels get killed. Like why would you want to be a pirate or rebel? It’s not about breaking the rules. It's about the leadership creating the right rules so we can do both. World class execution and world class innovation.”
If a leader feels like they just don’t have an innovative team, most likely there is a cultural problem. Either that leader or a previous leader in the company has punished people for actually exploring ideas or there is no incentive to innovate. The first thing that needs to happen to create an innovation culture is to tear down all of the blockers that are preventing people from innovating.
One of the biggest blockers to innovation that Alex mentions is business plans. He says business plans are the enemy of innovation because it is an execution document where you describe a dream in detail and you execute it. Innovation is about picking an idea, adapting it, and then changing it until you create value. There are other blockers like focusing on the wrong metrics and leaders thinking they can do everything on their own. You have to get rid of all of the blockers to innovation before you can put innovation into place. Alex suggests leaders read the shareholder letters from Jeff Bezos, which are publicly available.
How start building an invincible team
If you are a mid-level manager, or a leader who is responsible for a team, but maybe you are not the CEO of the company, what can you do to start building an invincible team? Using a method from Rita McGrath, Alex says the first step is to take a look at your CEOs agenda and see how much time is carved out for innovation. Or look at the company’s last four important meetings and see how much time was spent talking about innovation. In either of those instances if the answer is not over 40%, you actually need to consider if it is worthwhile to spend your time on innovation, because as he says you will be “fighting against windmills”.
This is an important first step because you have to know what your company’s innovation readiness is. Is your environment ready for innovation to happen? If it is not, take a look at the top levels of the organization and ask yourself who can you get on board as a sponsor to support innovation. Is there someone at the top level who is willing to push for innovation and offer top level protection for people to explore?
Alex says, “You need that top level protection, I'd say, because otherwise all you're going to do, and unfortunately we still see this in quite a few companies, all you're going to do is innovation theater. No company is lacking innovation activities. There's incubators, there's all that kind of stuff. I'm not even talking about ping pong tables, I'm talking about real innovation activity. But as long as it's not connected to strategy, it's really a little bit of a suicide mission. I know a lot of innovation leads are up for that suicide mission. That's why they call themselves rebels and pirates. But I think we need to be a little bit more pragmatic. And, you know, first understand, how ready is the company. And then based on that assessment, either change the job or say, Okay, here's the strategy.”
Direct download: Alexander_Osterwalder_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 12:02pm PDT
Wed, 22 July 2020
During this COVID-19 pandemic, we hear a lot of stories about all the good things that companies are doing for their people. But why does it take a pandemic for companies to start being more human? We should be human all the time and shouldn’t wait for a tragedy to start doing the right thing.
During these hard times, we’re seeing more conversations around the importance of being more human; connections, relationships, and how to stay together. To beat this pandemic, people have to help each other.
Humanity is, and will always be, the most important skill that leaders and organizations need to have in order to succeed.
Sun, 19 July 2020
Gary Hamel is the author of five books including bestsellers What Matters Now and The Future of Management. His upcoming book is called Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them, which comes out in August.
Gary has been on the faculty of the London Business School for more than 30 years and he is the director of the Management Lab. He has been named “The World’s leading expert on business strategy” by Fortune magazine, “the management innovator without peer” by the Financial Times, and he has been ranked by The Wall Street Journal as the world’s most influential business thinker. He is also a fellow of The Strategic Management Society and the World Economic Forum.
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. Check out their new page devoted to the future of work to learn more and check out their resources including articles, videos, and a workplace maturity assessment.
There are some companies that seem to dominate at strategy and innovation--like Google, Airbnb, and YouTube. These companies found a way to create rule breaking strategies that have pushed them into the forefront in their industries. But why is it that some companies can figure out how to do that, while others (the majority) have such a difficult time innovating? That is what Gary has been trying to figure out over his career and what he found was that most organizations are alike--they are all using the same bureaucratic model that stifles creativity, innovation, and adaptability. As organizations we need to move away from this old way of leading, but how?
Why we haven’t moved away from bureaucracy
One of the major reasons why organizations have not been able to move away from this outdated model is because leaders do not trust their people. But because of that lack of trust, it ends up being a self fulfilling prophecy. If leaders feel that they have to treat their people like children because they can’t be trusted, the people will feel that and they will stop making decisions on their own. If leaders try to control every aspect of the work, then what motivation does the employee have to do something new and innovative?
Gary says, “I make the point in the book that there's a great irony in the fact that most of us, you know, at some point in our life, we're going to buy a car or two or three as we go through life, many of us will ultimately buy a dwelling of some sort. And yet those same human beings go to work and can't requisition a $300 office chair without somebody's permission. And we know from a kind of academic research that when you shrink somebody's autonomy, you also shrink their creativity, you shrink their courage and people just kind of give up. And so, where they may be very engaged in other parts of their life, they're not very engaged at work.”
The reason why Gary wrote his book was because he became frustrated looking around at a majority of companies that aren’t focusing on innovation. They are only changing when they face a crisis and have to change. And while 87% of CEOs think innovation is the top three priority, 94% will tell you their organizations are not very good at it. So Gary wanted to help organizations to see that you cannot become more capable of innovation if you don’t change the structures and principles that have kept organizations in a stand still up until now. He also saw that organizations are not utilizing their people to the fullest. Not only that, they are actually holding the people back.
We have been using the wrong definition of leadership
There are many definitions of leadership, if you ask a room full of 20 people to define the word you will probably get 20 different answers. But Gary says we have been defining it all wrong. Over the last few decades the words leader and manager have been used interchangeably. And usually when we think of leaders we think of the top 20 people inside a company who make all the decisions.
How does Gary think we should define leadership? He says “Ask yourself, if you had no budget at work, if you had no title after your name, what can you get done? And so people who need the stick of bureaucratic authority to get something done, I don't think most of those people are leaders, maybe very good administrators, they're not leaders. Leaders are people who know how to mobilize the people around them, know how to get folks to move forward together, and can be catalysts in making that happen. But they're not necessarily defined by a particular place in the organization. So probably, since Drucker was writing, we really know how to train managers, I don't think then or now we really know how to train leaders. But we kind of gave everybody a battlefield promotion when we started referring to managers and leaders. My argument is there are not a lot of managers who are leaders, anybody can be a leader. It has nothing to do with credentials. It has nothing to do with hierarchy, whether you have the courage, the compassion, the sense of community to step up and make something happen, even when you lack that positional authority.”
So should we get rid of the concept of management altogether? Gary says, we may need to change our language when it comes to management, as it does not refer to a layer of the company or a certain elite group of people. Management is really anything that helps us combine our efforts, do something consistently with purpose effectively multiplying our individual work. Gary believes most people and most teams today are capable of managing themselves. So we need systems and processes of managing together, but we don’t need multiple ranks of managers who see their primary role as control and oversight.
How Adidas got rid of bureaucracy
Gary worked with Adidas and they brought him in to help them get rid of bureaucracy and to build a more innovative culture. They were lagging behind Nike and Under Armour in North America and they wanted to fix that. Gary says that in this instance he was able to train a couple thousand employees on how to think like business innovators. These employees were frontline, retail people who were now trained in innovating and then the company opened up the conversation to get ideas from these employees. Thousands of ideas were created in these open meetings and it got the employees excited and inspired for the first time in their careers. This was so successful they had a second round, but this time they focused on their manager model. They opened up the conversation about the business and the manager model to thousands of employees, which took a lot of courage on the part of the CEO. But that courage paid off big time.
A lot of times it is the CEO standing in front of the organization giving their perspective on problems and issues. They are the ones giving the roadmap for how to move forward. But what if any individual inside the company could give an opinion, could have their voice heard, could help solve problems.
Gary says, “ If you look back at all the people who changed our world, that's what they do, they're not waiting to be asked. They do not assume they're helpless because they don't have a title after their name. They see a problem. They build a community. They go, they build. They try something and they go from there. So these are the hackers. These are the activists who've changed things. And it's kind of amazing to me that, you know, I hear all these CEOs that say, “Gary, our organization needs to change faster”. So I ask them a question, “have you trained every employee to think like an activist? Do they know how to build a prototype? They know how to build a community around them to go try something.” “No,we've never done that.” So how can you complain that your organization can't change fast enough? Well, you haven't taught every single person how to be an agent of change in your organization.”
The 7 Principles of Humanocracy
In his book, Gary shares seven principles of humanocracy that define the DNA of a Human-Centric organization. They are:
- The Power of Ownership--Companies have a wealth of talented employees, but they aren’t given ownership of their work. Which means their ideas never see the light of day. Employees want to be passionate, engaged, and inspired. So give them the power to do so.
- The Power of Markets--While markets can’t function in the absence of appropriate regulatory structures, they are unmatched in their capacity to harness human wisdom and initiative.
- The Power of Meritocracy--If you want a human-centric organization you can’t have rigid hierarchies that make executives king-like and employees like underlings. Hierarchies should be natural and dynamic, based on an individual’s performance, not title or tenure.
- The Power of Community--As human beings we are programmed for community. We need to feel like we belong and that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Leaders need to strengthen the bonds of community within the organization.
- The Power of Openness--It is important for everyone in the organization to feel that they can voice their opinions. And people should be encouraged to voice different opinions and not feel they have to agree with the boss. Diversity of thought, background, culture, etc…is extremely important to the success of an organization.
- The Power of Experimentation--The pace at which any organization evolves is determined in large part by how many experiments it runs. You shouldn’t let your organization sit still and wait for a crisis to change. In good times and in bad, you must go try something new.
- The Power of Paradox--Conundrums are what make life interesting. You have to help your organization become a master of paradox. When you can master it, work will become more interesting and the organization will be more capable
If we want to see change inside our organizations, we can’t keep defaulting to the old way of work. As Gary shares in his book, “We need to embed new human-centric principles in every structure, system, process, and practice. If we’re serious about creating organizations that are fit for human beings and fit for the future, nothing less will do”
Direct download: Gary_Hamel_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
-- posted at: 5:12pm PDT
Wed, 15 July 2020
It's SO important for you to stay #positive and #optimistic during these crazy times with the #coronavirus. Here are 10 things you can do to stay positive and optimistic during tough times:
1. Understand that you control your actions and emotions
2. Avoid staring at your bank/retirement accounts
3. Don't keep the news on 24/7, set specific times to watch and focus on reputable sources
4. Stay away from negative and pessimistic people
5. Make sure you have a good POSITIVE support network
6. Remember that this is temporary, just like airplane turbulence
7. Take time for yourself and practice self-care
8. Remind yourself each day of what you have to be grateful for.
9. Focus your time and energy on something constructive whether it be work, starting a new business, playing chess, writing a screenplay, etc.
10. Use technology to your benefit to stay connected with friends and family
Sun, 12 July 2020
Martin Lindstrom is a New York Times bestselling author of seven books including Buyology, Small Data, and his upcoming book--The Ministry of Common Sense: How to Eliminate Bureaucratic Red Tape, Bad Excuses, and Corporate BS (Jan 2021).
Martin is the founder and Chairman of Lindstrom Company, a global branding and culture transformation firm working with Fortune 100 companies in more than 30 countries. He has advised companies such as Mattel, Pepsi, Burger King and Google. Martin has been ranked on the Thinkers50 list for 3 years in a row and TIME Magazine named him one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential people”.
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://bit.ly/webexfow to learn more.
Have you ever had to deal with rules or guidelines at work that don’t really make sense? Have you ever had a great idea for your organization that would save time or money only to have the idea killed as it went up the corporate command chain? I’m sure we’ve all experienced this bureaucratic red tape in our careers and this is exactly what Martin is trying to combat. He is trying to bring common sense back into the workplace.
How innovation is killed
For the past 20 years, Martin has been working with companies to transform their brand and corporate culture. And what he found was that every company has an immune system that works as a defense mechanism for change.
He says, “Companies have it (the immune system) because as soon as they migrate from being a small startup company to become a real serious bureaucracy, what happens is that people are protecting what they already have. And through that, they create processes and compliance and rules and guidelines. And all that becomes almost an invisible straight jacket, which is almost sucking the oxygen out of the room in terms of innovation and transformation.”
He gave an example of something he experienced while working with McDonald’s many years ago. The company had come to Martin to help reinvent the happy meal. Martin and his team came up with a great concept of redesigning the meal to be healthy, but fun. They realized that in order for kids to eat healthy there had to be a narrative that made the food cool, fun and exciting. They came up with a story where the broccoli was the bushes in the forest, and the tomatoes and the cucumbers were tools and weapons in the story along with all of the other food. They tested this on kids and they loved it. Parents loved it. The McDonald’s franchisees loved it. So McDonald’s gave the green light to pilot the idea across Europe. After two years the company went to launch the new happy meal and guess what it was? The old happy meal food with an apple added.
After that experience Martin realized he needed to understand the “immune system” and actually address the lack of common sense that happens with bureaucratic red tape and corporate command chains. Since then they have actually hired psychologists to join the team at the Lindstrom Company.
Why companies need to think like entrepreneurs
So what can companies do to start removing the red tape and stop killing innovation? Martin says they need to go back to the concept of entrepreneurship. One key trait entrepreneurs have is they see the world through the eyes of a customer or a consumer, they don’t see things through the eyes of a business person. Usually the reason an entrepreneur is starting a new business or service is to fill a gap they experienced so they are the consumer. They have felt the pain or frustration on the consumer side, so they know how to make the experience great for others. But what happens over time is the company grows and the entrepreneur starts getting nervous about others stealing their idea or that some of their 3000+ employees will mess up the company brand or philosophy. That’s when the safety net comes in, in the form of rules, regulations, policies, etc...And slowly the company starts seeing the world from the inside out instead of the outside in. This is when the common sense starts fading away.
As Martin shares, “When you lose a sense of common sense it is quite often because you lose contact with the consumer, the customer. Really the people who are paying your salary, and you need to reconnect with the real world. And most companies today believe that they’re doing that through data, they believe that the spreadsheets and all these statistics and research studies are telling them the truth. But the reality is, there's one little thing missing. And that thing is empathy. The ability to put yourself in the shoes of another person and feel what that person is feeling. And as soon as that happens, it's almost like you're resetting the whole mindset. And that's where common sense is coming back.”
The six roadblocks to common sense
In Martin’s new book he lays out six of the most common roadblocks to common sense. They are:
- Bad customer experience--The company is not feeling the pain the customer feels so no one inside the company acts on behalf of customers to fix problems. The way to fix this is through empathy--finding ways to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
- Politics--There are two issues in this roadblock. First not knowing what other people in other departments or divisions are feeling and not caring. And the second issue is the KPIs that are not aligned.
- Technology--Technology is a wonderful thing, but there are always multiple issues with it throughout the day that can be a time waster and it can build frustration. We spend around 15% of our day fixing tech issues. It can be a tool or a weapon
- Meetings and PowerPoints--Not only do we have too many meetings, but almost everyone is multitasking in them and the culture most companies have created around meetings is toxic. They run over, everyone has their own agenda, people are trying to show off instead of be productive. We cannot be productive if we spend all our time responding to emails and sitting in meetings.
- Rules, regulations, and policies--There are a lot of rules, regulations and policies inside of organizations that just don’t make sense. We have to be able to question rules and eliminate them if they are not reasonable.
- Compliance and Legal--A lot of times people in this function of the company say no just for the sake of saying no. When this function has too much power, it can destroy your company and how it evolves. You have to have the right balance between keeping the company safe and secure, but also they have to be service minded and remember that any rules put in place should be sensible and be for the best of everyone involved.
How do we get back to common sense?
We have all probably experienced at least one of the six roadblocks, if not all six. So how do we start moving our organizations back to common sense? Martin’s advice is, “First of all, acknowledge there is an issue. Number two, map down what the issues are. And the best way you can do that is to look around in your office everyday, take photos and map this down. Then the third thing is then to categorize it. The fourth thing is to create a whole new business model around it. So you actually are both earning money while you're fixing the problem at the same time. And the fifth issue I would suggest, is really to celebrate this whole thing internally.”
Why should we celebrate internally? A lot of times we want to change, but we don’t dare to. He gives an example of a group of chickens he had that were kept in individual cages for 6 months and then the cage doors were opened for them one day. They all went out the door of their cage for 30 seconds and then went straight back to the cages. So in order to get them to come out he had to put corn in front of their individual cages and each time he would put the corn further and further outside the cage.
Martin says, “That little piece of corn just outside the chicken case, I call a 90 day intervention. These are short lived, very quick changes you make in the organization. And what you do is whenever you succeed, you're celebrating that throughout the organization. And the celebration is really important, because if you celebrate when picking up the first corn, all the other chickens are looking around, and they feel Wow, I want to feel that too. And it kind of justifies or verifies, or at least it somehow tells the world this is the right thing. And it changes the culture as a consequence of that. And if you continue having these small wins, time after time, certainly it's solidified the fact that we are on the right path. And that's where you have a transformation of a culture happening. So really what I'm saying here is it's super important for you not to just have these long term goals and talk about what's happening five years from now is the goal still fine. But you have to break it down to small bite sized things and celebrate it every time. And I think the key problem in organizations today is that companies are setting those small goals sometimes, but they're not celebrating the success of them, the victories, and that's just as important as fulfilling them.”
Direct download: Martin_Lindstrom_Podcast_-_done.mp3
-- posted at: 2:09pm PDT
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.