The Future of Work With Jacob Morgan

One aspect of the servant mindset is practicing self-care.

This is something we often forget, especially in times of crisis.

You won’t be able to serve others if you are not your best self.

So make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Even with the pandemic, I still make time to exercise each day, eat healthy, and spend time working on #chess because these things make me happy!

What are you doing to look after yourself during these tough times?

Direct download: What_Are_You_Doing_to_Look_After_Yourself.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:50am PST

Hubert Joly is the former Chairman and CEO of Best Buy. Currently he is a professor at Harvard Business School, he is on the board of two companies--Johnson & Johnson and Ralph Lauren. He is coaching and mentoring a number of CEOs and senior leaders and he is writing a new book which is set to come out next May titled: The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism

Hubert was elected a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. He was honored as one of the 25 most influential executives of the business travel industry in 2006 and 2009 by Business Travel News Magazine. He was voted one of the top 100 CEOs on Glassdoor in 2017 and 2018. And he was named one of the best CEOs in the world by the CEOWorld Magazine. 

He didn’t always dream of being a leader. In fact, when he was 10 years old he wanted to be a vet and then in high school, he felt his career would be in economics. After college, he spent 12 years at McKinsey & Company as a consultant before ultimately realizing he wanted to lead a business. And he has led quite a few companies through turnarounds and major digital transformations. 

How Hubert Transformed Best Buy 

When Hubert was first approached about the position of CEO at Best Buy the company was struggling. It was on the brink of closing. Most people would have run away as fast as they could, not wanting to be attached to a failing company. But Hubert did his due diligence, he visited several locations, spoke with employees, and thought about what could be done to turn the company around. And he ultimately took the job. 

He realized early on that while everyone gets excited about technology and gadgets and love using them, a lot of times we need help figuring out how to use them. So Hubert knew Best Buy had to be able to help people solve technology issues and answer questions. 

Hubert also saw the need for displaying actual working products on the shelves instead of boxes with products inside. Looking at shelves of boxes is not inspiring, people need to be able to see and experience the products for themselves. 

So he saw a lot of opportunities to improve Best Buy. He says, “I felt that there was an opportunity. That we have enough assets and that because the problems were self inflicted, we could effectuate a turnaround. So I told the recruiting committee of the board, look, I want the job and here's my eight page memo on what I'm going to do if you guys recruit me and I never looked back.”

Hubert says there are four levers in a turnaround. They are to grow the revenue line, cut costs, optimize benefits, and then if the first three are not enough, as a last resort you go after the headcount or redeploy people. 

The three ways to cut costs before cutting your headcount 

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

As he shares, “I'm not the cut, cut cut guy. I'm a big believer that in business you have three imperatives in business. One is the people imperative, you need to have good people well trained, well equipped. Then you have the customer or business imperative, you need to have happy customers to whom you sell, you know, compelling services. And then you, of course, have a financial imperative, which is you need money. But the financial performance is an outcome of excellence on the customer imperative, which itself is an outcome of excellence on the people imperative. So it's people, business, finance, and you treat profit as an outcome, not as your singular focus.”

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

How to balance profit and purpose 

Hubert is a big believer in being focused on purpose and humanity in business and killing the idea of shareholder primacy. The sole purpose of a company can not be just to make money. He still understands that companies need to take care of shareholders, but taking care of them should be an outcome, not the first priority. 

People should be at the heart of the business. They are the engine that allows the business to work. So how did Hubert convince the board members and shareholders at Best Buy that purpose and people mattered just as much as profit and revenue? 

 

He shares that part of the issue with past management is that they would tell shareholders a lot of exciting stories about what could be done, but they never delivered actual results. When he laid out his plan for the shareholders and board members at Best Buy he focused on what he calls the say-do ratio--the ratio between what they said they were going to do and what they actually did. 

There were plenty of opportunities, but the shareholders needed to see that they could actually be executed. So every quarter Hubert would give them progress reports with tangible results. Leaders need to keep shareholders in the journey. Give them hope and confidence that things are going to work, but be honest and open with them and keep them in the loop. 

As long as you are delivering and focusing on that say-do ratio you should keep your eye on the prize. Don’t let shareholders sway you too much. Hubert says, “I think management teams that use the short term focus of the investors as an excuse to not do the right thing, I think are completely misled. I have found that if you go to the investors, and share with them, what you're doing, the investments you're making, the return you're expecting, they'll believe you and follow you. And then in the end, during our second phase, I actually told our investors our purpose is not to make money.”

When leading Best Buy Hubert believed the purpose of the company was not to make money, it was to enrich lives through technology by addressing key human needs. He made it clear that they were not in the business of selling TVs, they were in the business of understanding what it is people are trying to do in their life and being there to advise and support them. But when you run your business with that mindset, the money will be the outcome. 

The danger that leaders need to avoid 

In the past people looking to become leaders were taught that being smart was really important. It was believed that if you wanted to be a great leader you had to know it all, have all the answers, you had to be able to solve any problem, and show others that you are intelligent. 

Hubert sees that as a danger for leaders. Having this mindset makes it easy to fall into the trap of power, fame, money and glory. While these things on their own are not necessarily bad, they are easy to get wrapped up in. Leaders who make decisions based solely on gaining more power, fame, money or glory usually end up in scandals and disasters. 

Instead leaders should lead with humility, integrity, transparency and empathy. Leaders no longer have to know everything, they can look to the people around them for ideas, solutions, and results. 

The five Bs of purposeful leadership

In order to avoid the traps of power, fame, money, and glory Hubert says leaders need to reset. And he gives 5 Bs that leaders should focus on in order to truly be purpose driven and centered on their people.

  • Be clear about your purpose as a human being--What drives you in life? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to contribute? Make sure you lead with those things in mind and make sure the company you work for aligns with your purpose. And this also means you understand the purpose of others around you and what drives them. 
  • Be clear about who you serve as a leader--Your focus should be on the people around you, not yourself. If you are serving yourself or your boss, that’s a problem. 
  • Be clear about your role as a leader--Your role as a leader is to create an environment in which others can be successful. It’s not to be the smartest person in the room or to know it all. 
  • Be a value driven leader--Having integrity is fundamental
  • Be an authentic leader--You have to be able to be vulnerable and genuinely connect with people around you. 






Direct download: Hubert_Joly_Podcast_-_DONE_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:20am PST

I have witnessed first hand the difference between sympathy and empathy when I worked with two different companies.

In the first company, there was a relatively new employee being introduced to a senior leader.

The new employee was talking about how nervous she was, how she wanted to make an impact, and how she wasn’t sure she was doing a good job.

The senior leader said, “That’s pretty tough, I'm sorry that you feel that way. But don't worry, I’m sure you'll be able to get through it. ”

A couple of months later, the same thing happened at another company.

The senior leader sat down with the employee and asked her to share more about her fears and struggles within the company.

The senior leader also shared his experience when he was new and told her that he’s always there to help her.

That is the difference of sympathy and empathy.

The first leader just showed sympathy by saying “I’m sorry”.

The second leader showed empathy by putting himself in the employee’s shoes and matching his emotions by relieving his past.

Direct download: 4._Sympathy_and_Empathy_are_Not_the_Same_Thing.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:16pm PST

Jim Heppelmann is the CEO of PTC, a technology software company with 6,500 employees in 30 countries. Jim was named one of “7 IoT leaders to Watch in 2017” by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, he was recognized as “IoT CEO of the Year” by PostScapes, “Technology CEO of the Year” by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, and he received the CAD Society Leadership Award for his work with the Internet of Things. 

Together with Harvard Professor, Michael Porter, Jim has co-authored three highly influential articles on the transformational impact of the Internet of Things on business. 

Jim grew up on a dairy farm in Minnesota as one of eight children. It was during his upbringing on the farm that he really learned the value of hard work as well as the ability to take things apart and put them back together, which is in part why he was successful as a mechanical engineer. 

It was actually one of his older sisters who inspired him to attend college and study to become an engineer in the first place. After she graduated from college and got her first job she was already making as much as their parents, and Jim was amazed by that. So engineering brought him to college, but once he got there he fell in love with computer science.  He studied at the intersection of where software meets engineering, which turned out to work great as he is now the CEO of a company that produces software for engineers.

An inside look at the role of CEO

A lot of people may think they have an idea of what CEOs do throughout the day, and of course it differs a bit for each CEO depending on the organization. But Jim shares what it is like for him day to day as a CEO. 

He says, “I don't want this to sound derogatory in any way, but maybe I'm responsible for herding cats, because there's a lot of people that are part of a lot of initiatives, a lot of programs, a big organization. And I'm trying to keep all of that moving in the right direction generally. So I'm not doing the precise tweaks, but try to keep everybody understanding where we're going. And make sure they're moving in that direction, and they're moving at the right pace. So that, you know, it all comes together each quarter when we're delivering products or projects or trying to make the quarter quarterly results happen.”

He also shares that a large part of his day is made up of meeting with his people to check in to see how things are going, what projects they are working on, how they are solving problems, etc...He doesn’t try to tell people what to do, but he makes suggestions and tries to guide people in the right direction. 

One part of the job that gives him a lot of energy is interacting with customers. He really enjoys figuring out what it is they are trying to do, how PTC can help them, and getting feedback on the good and bad aspects of their products.

All in all Jim sees himself as the vision guy. While he realizes the need for internal meetings and keeping the organization on track, he really loves working with the engineers on the next generation approach they are building and working with the customers on where the company is going and the vision for the future of PTC. 

Why CEOs should have a short attention span

Jim often wakes up in the middle of the night with new ideas or ways to solve a problem. And the joke at PTC is that about the time Jim gets bored with something that is when it really starts to work. That’s because as long as he is focused on solving something he is going to come in to work with those middle of the night ideas to keep tweaking and fixing certain things. 

But Jim believes that CEOs should be a little impatient and have a short attention span. Why? Because Jim says the biggest problem with CEOs at his level of tenure is they have become entrenched in old thinking. 

About some CEOs, he says, “They made a decision five years ago. Maybe even eight years ago, and for a couple years, they improved it a little bit. And then they've just spent the last five years tell everybody why it works. And saying we're not going to change it. And I'm a little bit of a different cut. I say, hey, we did this, we improved it, it's working. But we’ve got to think about what's next. And then let's not wait until it's not working to think about what's next. Let's some of us start thinking about what we're going to do next, even while this is still working pretty well.”

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

Achieving work-life balance as a CEO 

As the CEO of 6,500+ employees, Jim seems very relaxed and happy. He doesn’t seem stressed out at all. One thing that has helped him with this a lot is having a work-life balance. He not only leads the organization, but he also makes time to spend time with his family, take care of the animals on his farm, and cook. But that wasn’t always the case.

Jim says when he first became a CEO he burned the candle at both ends, he tried to do everything on his own. And overtime he learned that was not sustainable. When sharing what he learned he says, “what I should do is focus my energy where I really bring a lot of value to the table, again, which tends to be around product strategies, marketing strategies, marketing messages, competitive strategies, and so forth. And let somebody else manage the financial plan, let somebody else manage the professional services margins, and things like that because I don't need to do that and I don't bring a tremendous quality to it, you know, nothing super unique or special. And at the end of the day, you’ve got to pick your battles, there's just not enough time for a CEO to be in charge of everything. So I got a lot happier after I realized I should roll with the punches and just really add value where I think I have the most value to add.”

This is such great advice for all CEOs, don’t try to have your hand in all the cookie jars. Don’t take everything upon yourself and don’t think you have to have all the answers. You will get burnt out that way. Surround yourself with people who are good at what you are not good at and rely on them. 

Three ways to battle entrenched thinking 

No matter what industry you work in, you may find that people around you are entrenched in old ways of thinking, especially if they have been in a certain role for a long time. People don’t like change, it’s just a fact of life. So how do you change that? Jim has three ways that he battled entrenched thinking inside of PTC when he first joined. 

  • Make change part of your company branding--Create a company culture that likes change. Part of what Jim did to change the culture was he adopted some slogans like Take a Fresh Look. Everything about the company should embrace change and discourage getting complacent. 
  • Lead by example--Live out the values you want to see inside your organization. If you want employees to embrace change, you must first be the one to embrace change. Make sure people know it is not about making one change and then staying there, it is about constant change. The point is to try to be that company who changes all the time, you can't pin them down, because they're too busy changing. 
  • Celebrate change--Recognize individuals who step out and do something different, even if what they tried didn’t work. 

The impact of augmented reality on the future of work 

One of the major trends Jim is paying attention to at the moment is augmented reality and the impact it is having on the future of work. There are so many applications for this technology. And one way it could help has been magnified by Covid. One quarter of the world works behind a computer screen and digitalization has done amazing things for knowledge workers who are in these positions especially in these times when they can easily work remotely from their homes. But for the other three quarters of the world the front line workers don’t have any other option but to go to work physically at a specific location or they can be laid off or fired. 

Augmented reality (AR) could really solve this problem for frontline workers. It can also help people make fewer mistakes, do their jobs more efficiently, and it can even help with the current skills gap problem.

In the US the demographics have changed, and we no longer have new generations of workers going into factories and industrial work, for a variety of reasons. People felt like this work was moving overseas, this type of work is no longer seen as desirable, etc...So what we now have is a majority of people in this industry reaching retirement age with no one younger coming in to take their places. This is the skills gap problem. 

How could AR help solve this problem? It could record the knowledge of the current workers to be used for training in the future and it could also be used to show potential workers what the work is really like to convince them to go into that field of work. 

As Jim shares, “AR can play a huge role. Because for example, we can capture the expertise of the retiring worker, that kind of AR YouTube idea. We can capture that expertise, store it, and when a new worker shows up through a Hololens, or phone or tablet actually redeploy that coaching that's been digitized into the physical environment for the benefit of the new worker. So the new worker can be coached in the actual environment by somebody who retired two years ago. It's just a very powerful idea.”

Direct download: Jim_Heppelmann_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:40am PST

Leadership is a lot like working out.

When you work out and really push yourself, you're actually tearing down your muscles.

When you recover and rest, your muscles heal and become stronger.

In other words, before you become bigger and stronger, you first have to go through a process of tearing down and rebuilding.

And a lot is the same for leadership.

If you want to become a better, future-ready leader, you first have to go through a process of tearing down and getting rid of your outdated ways of thinking about work and leadership.

You have to push yourself and be uncomfortable in order to see results later, just like working out.

Direct download: 3._Leadership_and_Exercise.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 6:33pm PST

Dan Pink is the bestselling author of six books including Drive, To Sell is Human, and his newest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. In 2019 London based Thinkers 50 named Dan the 6th most influential management thinker in the world. 

He has contributed to Fast Company, Wired, The New York Times, Slate and others. And prior to working on his own, he worked in several political positions, including chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore from 1995-1997.

Dan has been writing for around 20 years and a lot has changed in the world of work since he first began. But his first book was actually ahead of the game back in 2001 when he wrote Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live. He recognized the trend before the iPhone came out and just a few years after broadband internet. 

Now the numbers have risen quite a bit and we are seeing a lot more people go off to work for themselves, thanks to advances in technology and the changing relationship between organizations and individuals. And now with the pandemic and we are seeing a lot of people make career transitions and try to do their own thing. 

As Dan shares, one of the interesting things that has come about from Covid-19 is the quick move to remote work for so many people. Companies who pushed back on work from home situations for so long because they thought it would never work were forced overnight to set employees up to work remotely. And Dan believes that is a potentially significant, lasting change that will make remote working much more normalized.  

The science of time

Dan’s newest book, When, came about while he was trying to figure out the best way to work from home and be productive. He wanted to know when to do work, when to do certain tasks, when to start a project and when to abandon a project, etc…

And while he was researching the topic of perfect timing he realized there was a lot of information available, but it was all over the place. And he found that contrary to common belief timing is not an art, it is really a science.  

He says, “It wasn't simply, you know, in one domain, it wasn't simply saying in economics. It was in economics, it was in social psychology, but it was also in anthropology, it was in linguistics, it was in molecular biology, it was--there's a whole field called pronto biology. It was in epidemiology. It was in anesthesiology. I mean, there's like, you know, all these different fields and so it took me two years to go through the research.”

But what he found over the course of the two years of research has helped him find the best timing for different tasks and allowed him to find his optimal schedule for productivity. 

How to optimize productivity (32:52)

Through his research Dan found that spread over the various fields that have studies on time was the conclusion that our performance changes throughout the day. The day turns out to be pretty fundamental and our brain power does not remain constant during the course of a day. We all have daily high points and daily low points that we need to pay attention to. Understanding these basics can help us make better decisions about when to do certain tasks during the day. 

One example of this change in performance comes from a study of students in Denmark who took a standardized test. They all had to take the test on computers, but the school didn’t have enough for everyone to take the test at the same time. So some students took the test in the morning and others took it in the afternoon.

And the test results showed that the students who took the test in the afternoon scored systematically lower than the students who took it in the morning. Their scores looked as if the students had missed two weeks of lessons. 

There are also studies in hospitals that show that handwashing in hospitals deteriorates significantly in the afternoon. And anesthesia errors are four times more likely at 3pm then they are at 9am. 

As Dan shares, “I mean, over and over again, just about every dimension of performance, you see systematic differences in performance based on time of day. And so while you might not always be able to control your schedule, most of us don't have full control over our schedule. It isn't simply the case that these differences are meaningless or that a cup of coffee can cure it. You actually want to take a much more thoughtful, intentional, systematic approach to when you do things in the course of the day.”

How should we structure our day?

Based on the findings from Dan’s research it appears there are three types of people. Those who rise naturally early (larks), those who naturally sleep late and wake up late (owls), and people who are in the middle (third birds). Most people are in the middle. And there are multiple tests you can take and instruments to help figure out where you are on the scale, but Dan gives one simple way to figure out which one you are. 

First, think about when you would ideally go to sleep, if you had a free day and you didn’t have anything that would require you to sleep at a certain time. Naturally when would you like to fall asleep. Then think about when you would ideally like to wake up in the morning, again if nothing was causing you to wake up (kids, work, noise, etc..). When would you ideally wake up? 

Then using those two times find the midpoint of sleep. For example, maybe you would ideally like to go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 8am. Your midpoint of sleep would be 4am. Now if your midpoint of sleep is before 3:30am you are probably a lark. If the midpoint of sleep is after 5:30am you’re probably an owl and if your midpoint is between 3:30am and 5:30am you are probably a third bird in the middle. People in the middle tend to be larkey, but not a full fledged lark. 

So taking that information you can find out how to start experimenting to get to your ideal productivity. We all move through the day and experience three periods of time:

  • Peak--the time when we are most vigilant and productive. We are best able to avoid distractions during this time. This is when you should focus on analytic work that requires heads down focus and attention. For larks and third birds this is early in the day. For owls this is late afternoon. 
  • Trough--This is a terrible time of day when we see drops in performance. This is when you want to do basic administrative work or work that doesn’t require massive brain power or creativity.  
  • Recovery--For 80% of us we hit this point in late afternoon/early evening. This is when our vigilance is down, but our mood is up. This gives us a mental looseness that is good for insight tasks. During this time focus on creative problem solving or things that require divergent thinking. 

Even though we can loosely map out the periods of time, not everyone’s daily schedule will be the same. There is no magic routine that works for everyone. There are some out there who say things like you need to wake up at 5:30am to start your morning routine for a successful day. Don’t try to copy and paste what someone else is doing. Experiment with your daily schedule and see where your peak, trough, and recovery happen and work your day around what works best for you. 

What to do if you don’t control your own schedule 

For those of us who make our own schedules, this can be easy to experiment with and discover. But for a majority of people their schedule is created by the manager or other leaders inside the organization. So what can you do if you don’t control your schedule?

Dan suggests that in this situation you talk openly and honestly with your manager. Let them know these are the hours I am most productive in so I would like to save that time for the most intensive projects. 

He gave an example of a guy in Philadelphia who realized he did his best work right away in the morning, but every day the manager had him scheduled in back to back meetings from 9am to 11am. So he talked with the manager and wanting to allow the employee to be productive, they changed things up to make it work. 

Also, make the most of the margins you can. Maybe you don’t have full control of your schedule, but maybe there is a half hour during your peak time that you can get good work done. Don’t squander that time using social media, answering routine emails, or talking to a coworker, use it when you can. 

How to get over a slump 

Another aspect of timing that has an affect on us is beginnings, middles, and ends. And the peculiar thing about midpoints that Dan found in his research is that they can have dual effects. Sometimes they can drag us down and sometimes it fires us up. 

Dan gave an example he found from Jonah Berger and Devin Pope based on a study done with the NBA. What they did was they looked at the score of games during halftime and how it worked at predicting the end score of the game. And what they found was teams who were leading at halftime were more likely to win. 

But there was an exception. Teams that were trailing by one point at halftime were more likely to win than teams who were ahead by one point at halftime. Being just slightly behind gave players more motivation while being slightly ahead allowed players to feel complacent. This is the same way in our work. 

So what we should do is acknowledge the midpoints, imagine you’re a little behind and let it fuel your motivation, let it wake you up rather than let you rollover and become complacent. 

Advice for leaders who want to be more mindful of employees’ time 

So what can leaders do with this information to help employees get the most of their peak time? First of all, Dan says leaders need to recognize that their team’s brainpower doesn’t remain constant over the course of the day. And that when people do certain tasks has a material effect on their performance so you have to be intentional about it. 

He says, “These leaders are intentional about what to do, they all have to do lists and strategic plans and all that. They're intentional about how they do stuff because they have, you know, they have coaches, they have learning and development and training departments. They're intentional about who does stuff because they have an HR department that hires people. But when it comes to when they do stuff as leaders or when their team does stuff, they think it doesn't matter. And it matters. Evidence is overwhelming that it matters. So my best advice is to give the “when” a seat at the table.”

Also, be aware that every project has a beginning, a middle, and an end and all of these points have an effect on us. Picking the right date for a project to start gives you a better chance. And pay attention to the midpoint and let it motivate your team instead of letting it discourage them. 

Be intentional about timing and the effect of time. Because whether or not you pay attention to it you make a choice. We either make choices intentionally or our timing decisions happen by default. 

Direct download: Dan_Pink_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:36am PST

How crazy is this?

Most people don't enter #leadershipdevelopment programs until they are in their 40s, yet they actually become leaders in their 20s and 30s!

This means that most #leaders spend 10-15 years leading others before they are actually taught how to lead.

It's no wonder so many employees around the world aren’t engaged in their jobs--we simply don't have enough leaders who are taught how to lead effectively.

This is because of the outdated "climb the corporate ladder" mentality that has been around for decades.

The idea is you can only be taught how to lead after you spend years working for a company, which we all know is now no longer the case.

Direct download: 2._Most_Leadership_Development_Programs_are_Too_Late.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:16pm PST

Arthur Blank is the co-founder of The Home Depot, a home improvement retail chain which today has a market capitalization of over 300 billion and over 400,000 employees. Arthur is also the author of the new book, Good Company, which comes out on September 15. Arthur has been named one of the world’s 100 greatest living business minds by Forbes in 2017, Executive of the Year 2018 by Sports Business Journal, and one of the 50 most influential people in Sports 2016, 2017, and 2018 by Sports Business Journal.

Arthur owns the Atlanta Falcons NFL team and the Atlanta United Soccer team. His family businesses also include the nationwide PGA Tour Superstore, three ranches in Montana, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium which hosted the 2019 Super Bowl. Under his leadership The Home Depot was voted America’s most socially responsible company in 2001.

How Home Depot Came to Be
Back in the 1970s Arthur and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus were working together as employees of Handy Dan, one of the first home improvement retail chains. They were both fired in 1978, but they both knew they wanted to stay in the business of home improvement and so they decided to create their own store that could compete with Handy Dan, which was very successful at that time.

In 1979 Arthur and Bernie started their first four stores in Atlanta, Georgia. As Arthur puts it, it was “a large warehouse, no frills, downmarket store, low prices, great service, great services, etc”. With those four initial stores they tested to see if their model would work. They really listened to their customers to find out what they wanted more of or less of, how the service was, how the hours were, etc...And they kept the things that were good and tweaked the things that needed work.

In 1981 they went public and opened up four more stores in Florida. A lot of people, including the executive VP of Goldman Sachs at the time, thought there was no way they could make their model scale across different states and so many stores. Fortunately, they were wrong. Arthur and Bernie had not only found a way to create a great culture, but they also found out how to keep it consistent across multiple stores and locations.

The secret to success
Arthur and Bernie had found a way to not just have a successful business, but they were able to compete, and eventually surpass, companies that had been around for decades. Why?

Arthur says, “I will tell you the conclusion I've come to is the only way we can do this, because I basically agree the culture is really the reason-- it wasn't really so much the products, or the pricing, or the assortment-- all of that was terribly important, but the underpinnings all of what we did was this culture that was unique. That we only can do that if we begin promoting people based on culture first, not could they literally just write it down and make a list, etc, etc. But do they live it? Are they ambassadors for it? Do they represent our values day in, day out? And if the answer was yes to those questions, they were ready to be promoted as a store manager, district manager, district manager or whatever it may be”.

They knew that culture was the most important thing. That if the employees were happy at work, engaged, and well trained they would provide top notch service to the customers. They also knew they had to actively listen to customers and employees to continue to adapt. While other chains that had been around for 20, 30, 50 or more years continued to operate in the same ways without innovating or changing.

From the time they started Arthur and Bernie knew they had to have core values in place. Those values were: put people first, listen and respond, include everyone, innovate on a continuous basis, lead by example, and give back to others. And those values weren’t just words that were written in the employee handbook or on the walls. They were values that everyone inside the company had to live and breath every day. And they were the guiding factors in who got hired and who got promoted. That is what has set them apart.

What most leaders get wrong today
Arthur shares that successful leaders are ones that have a set of values and stick to them. They consistently lead based on those values--they are able to live those values out and articulate them to others.

The problem, Arthur says, is that a lot of leaders today just want to send out a memo every other day reminding employees about the company values, yet they themselves don’t live them out. In order to be a great leader you have to not just talk the talk, you have to walk the talk as well. They have to lead by example, roll their sleeves up and set the pace for the organization.

He also says leaders need to walk in the footsteps of your frontline employees. Don’t just read about how things are going, go down once and a while and experience yourself. That’s when ideas will come and things can adapt and change. Don’t just sit in your office passing down commands and reading reports. Get out and interact with everyone.

The marriage of purpose and profit
It seems that a lot of leaders feel that purpose and profit are mutually exclusive. You can focus on one of them or the other, but you can’t put both first. Yet, Home Depot seems to have mastered how to focus on both.

Arthur says that it is more important now than ever to focus on both, because people are demanding it. Especially younger people, they want to be associated with companies who are sustainable that will be around for a long time, but they also want to be a part of something that is doing good. They want to be a part of organizations that are profitable, but also ones that give meaning and purpose to the work individuals are doing.

Arthur believes the companies that want to win the best talent must find a way to focus on both profit and purpose.

Leading by example
Arthur is a leader that lives out the value of leading by example. And he has a lot of great stories of how he and other leaders have lived this value out.

One story that shows how Arthur has led by example goes back to the early days of Home Depot. In order to fill their shelves they had a lot of products coming in which arrived in boxes with packing materials and so they ended up with a lot of corrugated materials. They were supposed to have compactors to break the boxes and other materials down to keep the space clear, but the delivery of the compactors was delayed and they didn’t get them until 2 or 3 weeks after they opened.

At one point there was so much material that there wasn’t any room to receive any more merchandise and everyone was working to get it cleared out. Instead of staying in his office and letting others clean it all up, Arthur rolled up his sleeves and started working on clearing it all up. In fact he ended up staying for 24 hours in the store cleaning up so they could have more room to accept more boxes.

Another employee saw Arthur working nonstop and went to the store manager and said “You know, there's this nut in the back. He's been here for 24 hours, hasn't left, he's compacting all this stuff so we can get more merchandise up on the shelves. I mean, I don't know who he is, but you ought to consider him for a promotion sometime”. And the manager had to let the employee know that Arthur was one of the founders. No one expected someone that high up to be down there working that hard.

Arthur gave another story of how to lead by example. And this one is about the CEO of the stadiums Arthur and his family own, Steve Cannon. And Steve makes it a regular practice to go and do the work of the frontline associates. In fact he has a program in place called, you walk in my shoes. And one day he was working at a concession stand and while working there he noticed that the french fries were packaged in a way that caused one third of the fries to fall out. As a result of working in the shoes of frontline associates he was able to pinpoint a major problem and fix it to create a better customer service.

That’s something that probably wouldn’t have been noticed unless he was able to experience it himself.

Arthur also shared a time when he was at his guest ranch and was having a drink at the bar there and he overheard a customer talking about how a toilet was clogged up in the bathroom. Arthur went into the bathroom and fixed not just one but two toilets. And by the way, he didn’t tell anyone about it. He did it quietly and without complaint. But employees noticed and they were shocked that the owner would be fixing toilets.
Why did Arthur do it? He says, “to me it wasn't a big deal I just you know, I didn't tell our guests because it's not important but you know it's important for the associates to feel there was no job beneath me. No job beneath that leader wherever it may be. That I'm there with them. I'm side by side with them.”

Direct download: Arthur_Blank_Podcast_-_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:01pm PST

Leadership starts from within.

It’s not just about leading others, you should also lead yourself.

Leading yourself means that you set your own goals, learn new skills and mindsets, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and are the director of your career and life.

You can't always rely on others to tell you what to do or what to learn. Ultimately, nobody is going to look out for you but YOU!

Direct download: Being_a_Leader_of_SELF_v2.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 1:20pm PST

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