Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan

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
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:57am PDT

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.

Respect boundaries

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
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT

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
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:27am PDT

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 

Direct download: 3_Questions_To_Ask_Yourself_At_Work_Everyday_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:37am PDT

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
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT

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. 

Direct download: NEW_How_Coronavirus_is_affecting_Workplace_Practices.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:45am PDT

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
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:19am PDT

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:39am PDT