Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan

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 

Direct download: What_advice_would_you_give_to_your_younger_self.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:43am PDT

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
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:21pm PDT

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

Direct download: What_exactly_is_self-awareness_and_how_can_we_start_to_practice_it.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:51am PDT

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


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
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:54am PDT

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
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:26am PDT

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


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:


  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
Category:Business -- posted at: 6:14am PDT

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

Direct download: How_You_can_Effectively_Lead_a_Virtual_Team.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 6:14am PDT

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
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:01am PDT

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 to learn more.

Direct download: Are_You_Thinking_About_Linear_Change_Or_Exponential_Change_.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT