315: Leading with Speed with Alan Willett

By June 29, 2018Podcasts

 

 

Alan Willett shows how to lead with speed by measuring and tracking yourself, working smarter rather than longer, and having purpose. All the things that are need to stay competitive.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How to work faster and smarter rather than longer
  2. Approaches to accelerate the decision making progress
  3. Why and how to let people “add an egg”

About Alan

Alan Willett is of the rare species who is an expert international consultant, speaker, and author. He has worked with companies ranging from 1 person to some of the giants such as Microsoft and NASA. Alan says that his passion is helping people and organizations transform their friction points into profit points. Alan defines a friction point as “the space where the business needs and the implementation reality collides.” There is always heat generated! Alan is the expert who transforms organizational friction points to produce positive results for the business and the people.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Alan Willett Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Alan welcome back to the How to Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Alan Willett
It’s awesome to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m really looking forward to digging into some of your latest thinking. It was way back in episode 114 that we had you. It seems like you’ve had a few new thoughts since then.

Alan Willett
Indeed I have. What episode are we up to now?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh boy, we are past 300, which is wild.

Alan Willett
Wow. Congratulations Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. Yes, it’s been a fun ride. People are into it. Yours was one of the favorites. It seems sensible to come on back.

Alan Willett
Really, it’s great to be back. It’s a lot of fun before. I look forward to fun today.

Pete Mockaitis
First, I need to hear, speaking of fun, you have a Guinness World Record to your name. Tell us all about this.

Alan Willett
Okay. Well, yes I do. I did end up in the Guinness Book of World Records. It was called that back then.

Pete Mockaitis
Is it different now?

Alan Willett
Yes, now called the Guinness Book of Records.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, okay.

Alan Willett
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
I didn’t know that.

Alan Willett
Yeah, it’s a recent change I believe.

But yes, so I remember back when I was at Rochester Institute of Technology. In my sophomore year two weeks before Thanksgiving break, two weeks before finals, our cross country coach came to us and said, “Hey, I have a great idea. For RIP’s 150th anniversary let’s run across the county.” Being 19 and young and vigorous, I said “Sure, let’s do that.”

Two weeks later I finished my last final after my last all-nighters getting ready for finals we drove non-stop to California, dipped our feet in the Pacific Ocean, turned around and started running all the way back to the Atlantic Ocean.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. The record then is the distance or you were the first or what’s-?

Alan Willett
Good question. Well, our goal was to beat the Pony Express, which I’m told we did which is very cool. We also beat another team that had set a record previously of 20 days. We did it in 14 days.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh boy.

Alan Willett
14 days 4 hours and 8 minutes.

Pete Mockaitis
Well that is quite – does it stand to this day or did someone have to get up on that record and shatter it themselves?

Alan Willett
Oh somebody – actually subsequent RIT, Rochester Institute of Technology, team did it I think for RIT’s 170th anniversary. They beat us. Shame on them.

Pete Mockaitis
Everyone wants to surpass the previous generation.

Alan Willett
Yes, ….

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Let’s recap for folks who didn’t catch it the last time, you’ve got your company is called Oxseeker, Inc. What’s the company about and where did the name come from?

Alan Willett
Well, that name came from – two things. One is when I looked for names five years ago, six years ago, all the ones I thought were great were already taken, so I went back to an old standby which I coined the word oxseeker back in the ‘80s.

Zen poetry has ox has a symbol of enlightenment. I always thought seeking enlightenment was a cool concept, so I used that word to really now mean seeking excellence because what I really have been doing with my work all along is trying to make organizations constantly better, constantly seeking a higher level of excellence. That word really just sort of captured what I was about.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s so interesting. I did not know that the ox had that association prior to chatting with you.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of an ox in the context of intellectual stuff is I think Thomas Aquinas, his nickname when he was doing his studies was called like the ox because I guess he was just really big and didn’t say much and they kind of made fun of him, like he was dumb, dumb ox.

Then one of the teachers scolded his pupils the legend has it, like, “When this ox bellows, the whole world shall hear.”

Alan Willett
Ah, oh, I like this story as well. That’s good.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, add some layers to it. That’s good.

Tell us your latest fascination has been the need to lead with speed. I added the ‘need’ myself. I had to triple the rhymes there.

Alan Willett
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Why is it so important to you right now?

Alan Willett
Well, I realized a lot of my whole work has been about that. For example, my previous book, which we talked about before, Leading the Unleadable, was really about how to unwrap the gifts of those magnificent people who sometimes cross the red line, like the mavericks, cynics and divas because those people can really propel an organization forward at great speeds.

If you just fire them, you lose that fire. If you let them run rampant, they destroy the organization, so you’ve really got to manage them well.

As I keep going into organizations, I keep hearing about the increased need for speed. This almost feels cliché because around the 1990s seems like things were picking up. Now they’re really picking up speed.

To stay competitive, you’ve got to constantly be learning, constantly upping your game, constantly providing better value to your customers or to your organization and you’re just working more. Regardless, you’ve got to be there. To me it’s even more than speed, it’s acceleration.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so you’re saying just because in the nature of competition and globalization and sort of technology and these forces that we hear a lot about, is that kind of what’s behind it to put the extra necessity these days?

Alan Willett
Yes, absolutely. There’s a second part too which is I have seen too many people just burn out, really creative, smart, fun people that couldn’t take the pace.

What I’ve really been trying to help a lot of people do and organizations do is not just survive, but thrive, to learn to love how to handle this pace and how to handle this pace in a sustainable way so that they get plenty of rest, have plenty of fun but are still setting the beat, setting the pace that is right for today’s competition.

Pete Mockaitis
Then that sounds like a little bit of a tension there in terms of being speedy and also not burning out, so what are some of the pro tips to accomplish both?

Alan Willett
Ah, well, here first let’s talk about that balance. If I may go technical for a minute, do you know I was also a software engineer for a while? I actually wrote software.

Pete Mockaitis
I do. The software people love you because you sort of speak both the languages that connect with the software developers and those who love and manage them.

Alan Willett
One of the things – here let me put a couple things together here with this story. This is about the balance and learning from this.

Some of the things that I mean by leading by speed for example is one, we really want to hit speed to value. It’s not about just furious activity signifying nothing, the sound and the fury. It’s about speed to value. You’ve got to have a purpose, a place to go, something that you want to provide.

In the next part I want to note is that you want a speed dashboard. In other words, like a car has lots of different odometers, speedometer, is it overheating or not, all those kind of warning lights. That’s what you need too. Meaningful, useful set of data that answers the question, “Am I going faster?”

One of the things I did as a software engineer when I was writing code is I learned some techniques to really track my own data so I had that useful data. One of the things I did was tracked how fast I was going, how many objects per hour I was producing of good quality code. The other one I was tracking was how much rework I was doing, how many defects.

I stayed up late one night until like 4 in the morning to finish a program. It sounds like a good idea, right?

Pete Mockaitis
Pros and cons I’d say.

Alan Willett
Well, I thought I put in this extra 10 hours, I’ll be farther ahead.

Here’s what happened. When I tested the program the next day, it was full of errors. I repeated this exercise a few more times just because I was a scientist, curious. I found out when I worked extra hours late at night, my defect injection rate went sky high. I made way more mistakes.

Those defects took me longer to correct than had I went to bed and came up the next day and just wrote a couple of hours of code the next morning when I was well rested. Really, working harder actually made me dumber. Working longer made me stupider.

One of the really things I really kind of worked with organizations and people is not about the long hours, it’s about really smart hours. It’s about making sure you have this major set of data so you actually know you’re going faster and know how to go faster. You have the data to improve.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s intriguing. I’ve read some studies along those lines with regard to a number of different environments and industries.

I think it was similar. It was video game development. They talked about when they have rush mode or whatever the term they use in the industry, like when they work real hard because they’ve got to make sure to deliver the thing on time as the deadline is coming in. They saw a similar pattern across. It’s not just you, but it’s many folks who are doing intricate knowledge work.

When you push hard and sleep less, sometimes your – it’s really quite disheartening to put all that effort in and discover you would have been better off having enjoyed some sleep and rejuvenation and being sane and actually getting a better result on the other side.

Alan Willett
Absolutely. Now there’s exceptions to this, I’ve got to note. But really when you’re doing that type of work, the intricate things where little mistakes cost you a lot of time, be well rested. That simple.

But let’s scale it up. Overall what I’m talking about when I talk about the sustainable speed of leadership, it’s really looking at this as a more of a marathon than a sprint or a series of sprints. It’s really looking at yourself and saying how do I continuously improve and I stick to it for the long term.

I’m planning – I grew up on a farm. We don’t retire on farms. We just keep working. I’m in this for the long term. I want to keep continuously improving and I don’t want to get burned out, tired out while I’m doing it. What’s my engine for improvement? To stay relevant, to stay competitive. How do I keep that balance?

One of the things I’m working on in the book I’m working on is called the four-dimensional balance, which is really about four key concepts: the center of speed, how to keep your eye on the true prize, owning the speed of the game clock, and four-dimensional balance.

Those are some of the big concepts I’m playing with of how to really keep people focused on how to achieve this intricate balance as you put it.

Pete Mockaitis
Now so how does one keep the eyes on the true prize and what are some of the distraction prizes that tend to lead us astray?

Alan Willett
Oh, that’s easy. For example – great question though. Your eye on the true prize. First, true prize for me is a lot of things, like just simply doing good in the world, making sure that you’re really truly providing value to your customers. Some of the false indicators can be, “I need to make a profit for this quarter,” “I need to have double digit growth.”

I know actually some CEOs for example that really focused on this double digit growth. They focused on it so hard that they started to fire people that weren’t achieving it. Later that CEO was convicted for keeping two sets of books. I actually believe he didn’t actually know that people were keeping two sets of books but the only way to stay employed was to have double digit growth, so they gave it to him.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. That’s kind of pushing it so hard that you’re cheating and then in a way it’s kind of like, well it’s so intriguing in terms of the details, that juicy, scandalous situation. But I guess it’s my understanding that people really do feel a great sense of temptation toward cheating when it’s kind of absolute, the only way this must be or it’s just … everywhere.

Alan Willett
Right. I forget the exact quote, but one of the quotes I really like is something that was along these lines. “Chase wealth and it will flee from you. Chase wisdom and wealth will follow.”

Pete Mockaitis
Sounds so wise. Chasing wisdom.

Alan Willett
I believe it is. Back to the true prize. It’s really, really being focused on what you really want to achieve for yourself in your organization.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. When it comes to dashboards, can you give us some examples of all the more precisely great metrics or things to track versus suboptimal things to track? You mentioned quarterly profits can lead one astray. What are some superior things to track?

Alan Willett
Here, let’s talk about an individual for a minute because I know your audience is mostly individuals. Then we can talk about the larger one.

Let’s look at individuals and just say you’re doing knowledge work like many of us have to do these days. Well, a couple of things I try to track is how much value we provide for the effort we’re putting in. Now that’s a really tricky thing to do, but it’s worthwhile doing.

Like you noted in software development, some of the things people use is function points or they can even use lines of code per hour, things like that. Those can be tricky but what you really want is a good proxy for value that makes sense.

Another thing you can measure actually is how much cost equality it takes to get something out the door.

Quick definition of that. Basically you do two weeks of development and eight weeks of testing before you can free it. You have 20% cost equality. If you have eight weeks of development and two weeks of testing and it works great and your customers love it. You have a 20% cost equality.

Productivity is inversely proportional. The better your cost of quality, the better your productivity. That’s a couple things personally one can track to really keep an eye on the prize. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
Yes.

Alan Willett
Absolutely. For a business, what you really want to be tracking to me I believe is customer loyalty for example. Are you keeping the customers that you want, the ones that you truly prize? Are you growing in the right direction, bringing on the customers you also want and really want to grow in that space?

I don’t think it’s about how big you grow, but I think it’s about having enough and being able to sustain that growth in a way that’s good for your organization.

I know an organization that I work with that was very happy being at 50 people in the organization and sustaining that. When they grew up to 350 people, which the leader at the time said he never wanted to do, they ended up blowing up. He got distracted from his true mission to go after something bigger.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’s helpful. Thank you. You mentioned you had four – is it four part would you call it? Four part balance?

Alan Willett
Four-dimensional balance.

Pete Mockaitis
Four-dimensional balance. Can we unpack these components?

Alan Willett
Sure, I can give you another example. Owning the speed of the game clock. I love that when – I like sports. You watch some of the greatest athletes. In my day it was Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, folks like that. Today it’s LeBron James, Steven Stephen Curry for the National Basketball Association.

But you watch these people, the best, they seem to be playing on a different pace than everybody else. I don’t mean faster. It seems like everybody else is kind of has frenetic energy around them and they’re just walking down the court and hit the right person at the right time. They just seem to be playing in a slower pace than everybody else with more results. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Alan Willett
Another one – there’s a lot of elements to that, how you can own the speed of the clock as a leader. Part of that is the center of speed.

One of my favorite Superbowl stories is where Joe Montana, San Francisco, they’re down by a few points with a few minutes – just a minute left on the clock or something like that. He’s in the huddle and he says to the whole – his team, he says, “Hey, isn’t that John Candy on the third row there?” Everybody looks up and says, “Yeah, yeah, I think it is.”

Joe was so cool, calmed everybody else down and then just calmly threw a touchdown pass to win the game. To me a lot of the center of speed is really this inner calm that everything will work out.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that. Now inner calm can be easier said than done. What are some of your perspectives for arriving at such a place?

Alan Willett
Learning that failure is seldom fatal and that you can learn a lot from it. If you’re not afraid of failure, you’re not afraid of winning either. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Alan Willett
That’s one of the things I think really people have to overcome. I go on a whole rant about our school system, but I believe our school system sort of embeds fear in people, fear of getting a bad grade, fear of getting something wrong, things like that. Really what we have to learn or unlearn in some ways is to overcome FUD.

Pete Mockaitis
FUD?

Alan Willett
Fear, uncertainty and doubt. One of the questions I’ve often been asked is what slows leaders down. There’s a lot of things that can slow leaders down, but the number one thing is FUD, fear, uncertainty and doubt. That’s what makes people for example, set up a committee to bring … to answer a question that should have been obvious.

Pete Mockaitis
The fear of I am scared to look really dumb and get this very wrong and have my sort of name and reputation attached to it, therefore I will go about sort of dispersing responsibility by assembling this committee and in the process of having the committee you’ve got all those extra people and decision steps and meetings that kind of slow it down.

Alan Willett
Right. There’s time and places for doing things like that. But too often that’s just a delaying tactic to avoid making a decision. Fear causes people to delay decisions until it’s obvious what the decision should have been.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I want to talk about decisions there when it comes to decision making rules or approaches or what are some great ways to accelerate decision making. One is I guess being courageous and not convening a committee when it’s not necessary. What are some of your other approaches?

Alan Willett
I would say there are three critical things to accelerating your decision making process. Number one, and these are, by the way, before you start the decision processes what you should be doing. Be clear about who’s going to make the decision, how the decision is going to be made, and what risk level is acceptable. I’ll unpack that a little bit more if that’s okay.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Alan Willett
There’s actually basically three – four decision making styles. Leaders that are really clear about this at the start do far superior.

They can say this, “I’m going to make the decision. I’m not taking any input. I just want you to know that.” It’s clear. Or, “I’m making the decision. I would like everybody’s – I would like these people’s input to make sure that I have all the data I need, but I’m going to make the call.”

By the way, if there’s a crisis in the cockpit in an airplane, that’s the number one decision making style. You don’t have time for consensus. Somebody’s got to decide, but collecting input greatly improves the effectiveness of pilots.

Number three is we are going to decide together. We’re not going to do this unless we have consensus. We’re all holding hands and leaping together.

Number four is you can delegate and you can say, “It’s up to you. Here’s your budget. Here’s your timeline. You make the decision. Here’s my input.” If you’re clear about those things at the start, you’re really going to accelerate the decision making process.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I think where things really get fuzzy and so annoying and unpleasant is when it’s very unclear in terms of the decision making process. Like, “Okay, we all know this thing needs to get done.” It’s a proposal or a product or an initiative or something. “We all know this thing needs to get done. We kind of know the players sort of who are involved,” but then beyond that it gets a little fuzzy.

I chuckle sometimes because I’ve heard listeners ask for clarification associated with decision making and the answer they get in terms of who has a decision is, “Well collaborate,” which is really a non-answer.

Alan Willett
It is a non-answer. I’ll give you a situation even worse than that, where the leader implies however vaguely that it’s up to the group to decide. Then the leader themselves makes the decision without any input.

Oh, that slows an organization down for weeks or longer because the level of anger is worse than if they said, “Hey, my decision. I’ll take input maybe, but I’m going to make the decision,” so much clearer, so much better, no anger.

Pete Mockaitis
This reminds me. I had a situation where I was trying to help out with a committee that just sort of planned some of our fun in terms of, “Hey, a few times a year we’re all going to get together. We’re going to have some camaraderie, some team building, some good times, so here are the activities.”

I thought, “Okay, this sounds like an interesting project.” I talked to some people and gathered a bunch of ideas, like, “Hey, what do you think would be fun for everyone to do.” We come up with all these ideas. “Okay, perfect. Now we’ll do a survey and see what everyone’s thinking.”

I recall one of the options was sailing. I was like, “That sounds really cool. I haven’t done much sailing and that might be really interesting. Heck, we’ve got some budget. Let’s live it up.” Then I presented it to sort of the senior person in charge of the committee who really did make it kind of seem like, “Oh yeah, you know what? Just see what everyone wants to do and yeah it’s just fun so go do it.”

He just – I said, “Hey, looks like the results are pretty strong on the survey for sailing.” It was intriguing because he didn’t admit to it but he kept saying, “You know what? I have a hypothesis that if you segment the data in this way, we’ll discover that in fact sailing is not the optimal choice.”

It was like, if you were committed to this activity why did you kind of say that we were going to do it this other way? It is like and what do you have against sailing is what I really wanted to know. It just didn’t seem honest.

Alan Willett
No, absolutely. That’s really problems come. By the way, if that leader really wanted to do that activity but wanted people to really be committed to that activity just say this, “Hey, this is the activity we’re doing. I want the group to figure out how to get people really involved, how to make this activity really sing, how to make it better.”

Absolutely leave people room to add an egg to that cake, but you can point the direction and say what cake we’re going to bake.

Pete Mockaitis
That is a nice metaphor there ‘add an egg to that cake.’ Is that the legend? Was it Sara Lee or one of those companies that they had the cake mix and they could have had it all encompassing but they wanted to make people feel like they had a part in the cake making process so they said, “And you add an egg,” so it’s like, “Oh, I did this.”

Alan Willett
Actually the legend is this. It’s true actually. That they were selling a cake mix without adding an egg. This is at a time when people made cakes from scratch. It wasn’t selling at all. As soon as they had people add two eggs, which changed the taste not a bit, people started to buy the cake mix like crazy because people really need room to add an egg.

I really believe that in my consulting work as well. I have learned over and over again that when leaders hand you something that’s done, they do not get the same level of involvement or quality when they leave enough room for people to add their own creative juices to it. When they do that, it gets better and people are more committed ….

Pete Mockaitis
What’s really cool about that notion of adding an egg is it’s really not all or nothing. You have a whole continuum of things from you figure out the activity to this is the activity but you figure out the food before or after or the snacks during or the refreshments or how we’re going to promote it.

There’s any number of ways that folks can have some decision making authority and involvement in doing that. It’s kind of fun that you get to kind of choose hey, how much is mine versus how much is others and what are kind of the ground rules.

Alan Willett
Absolutely. Going back to what I said, your question, “How do we improve the speed of decision making?” Let’s also say how do we improve the impact and results of decision making.

This is where leaders can constantly learn. They have to learn which of these styles to learn when because sometimes you may have a group of people that you really want to own the outcome and to be committed to it for the long term.

Perhaps this group of people, they need to go plant the wheat, grind the wheat, and all the steps to make this cake. If that’s the case, you should send the people to do this. Have them make it from scratch. Again, you point the direction, you say, “I want a cake,” but you let them figure out how to make it.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s funny. I’m imagining from sort of like a corporate speak perspective. Another way that there can be a misalignment there is either you’re using jargon like, “I need you to craft a baked solution that will be a culinary delight.” In a way there are many baked items that could fit under that purview but if a person really has in mind a cake, they should probably say a cake just so that that’s what you get is a cake.

Alan Willett
Absolutely. That’s where I say really to me leading with speed is really about constantly learning how to have the best impact not just for yourself but for your whole organization. It’s learning, if you will, the best language to present these things, the best style to get people on board, and what style is appropriate when.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m curious if we are talking about individuals in a workplace and this person wants to see some more speed right away, what would be some of your prescriptive tips and tactics for right here right now do these things and you should see a speed boost happening promptly?

Alan Willett
Okay. The quick answer of course is to listen to Pete’s Being Awesome At Your Job or reading my books. That’s fun to say. Actually that is true.

But my real answer is I encourage people not to look for immediate speed pumps because to me it comes back to what I said before. This really isn’t a marathon. The running metaphor kind of breaks down because you can’t constantly accelerate when you’re running. You hit these limits very quickly.

But from a leadership perspective, a self-leadership perspective, I really believe what people should focus on is creating their own, if you will, leadership acceleration engine. That is how do you constantly improve, not necessarily every day, but can you improve 1% a day.

Alan Weiss, one of my mentors, said if you improve 1% a day, you’re twice as good in 70 days. Just think if you keep that going, you can hit light speed leadership.

I think of leaders that had such great impact without any political power or position. Gandhi, for example, Martin Luther King, these are leaders that really had a dramatic impact without being paid for it, without being given a title. They’re able to constantly improve, constantly learn, and constantly improve the impact of their leadership force.

What I really encourage people to do is figure out what is the best methods for them to learn how to learn how to accelerate their ability to learn.

Pete Mockaitis
Lovely, thank you. Well, Alan, tell me anything else you want to make sure to cover before we hear some of your favorite things?

Alan Willett
There’s one big thing I wanted to mention, which is this. This is one of the new things I’ve been working on, which is we’ve coined the word ‘embrace friction’ at embracefriction.com. Let me explain what I mean by that. Have you heard a lot about the frictionless workplace? Things like that?

Pete Mockaitis
I know about your take with friction points and collisions, but I’m not quite sure I know precisely what you’re referencing here.

Alan Willett
I’ve seen a lot in books and podcasts etcetera talking about how to reduce friction at work or how to make the frictionless workplace. I think that’s rather silly because friction is natural in nature. Without friction you’d skid off the road. There’d be like an icy road, you’re in the ditch. Friction, you need it.

What I’m finding is too many organizations are actually trying to manage friction away, trying to get rid of the conflicts.

What I really believe is one of the biggest boons for speed we can have as leaders and people in organizations is figure out ways to embrace friction, to take those points where the heat is really hot and it’s like destructive and be able to transform those destructive friction points, the heat of those into the heat of innovation. How can you take those boring ideas and make a better idea out of them.

That’s one of the big things I’m working on now. I just want to encourage people to think about is when you hit those hot points, how can you change them? How can you change the way people are talking about it, engaging in it to put it to a higher level of better value.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. Now can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Alan Willett
One of my favorites comes back to Winston Churchill, “Do not do your best, do what is necessary.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right, thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Alan Willett
One of my favorite experiments that I encourage people to do is help people. Just see what happens. By the way, you should follow the Red Cross rule: don’t help people that don’t want to be helped. But do help people. Do good in the world and you’ll be surprised about how much good karma it does for you and others.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. How about a favorite book?

Alan Willett
One of the books I have really been liking lately is called The Essence of Value by Mario Pricken.

Pete Mockaitis
What’s that all about?

Alan Willett
By the way, I believe you can only get it in hardcopy. It’s fairly big, sturdy book. It’s because it’s well-designed. It’s really about why do people pay extraordinary money for some pieces and objects. How do you actually determine what is valuable of a thing, a service, etcetera? I find it fascinating on a number of levels, both historically and for running my own business.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. Thank you. How about a favorite tool?

Alan Willett
My iPad with my Apple pencil has been delightful lately. It has showed me new ways to take notes and to really do art.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. How about a favorite habit?

Alan Willett
One of my favorite habits now is when I go on long trips with one of my kids we listen to audio books and that’s just been a delightful way to connect.

Pete Mockaitis
Tell me, is there a particular nugget that you share when you’re teaching some of this stuff that really seems to connect and resonate and get folks nodding their heads and taking notes and retweeting?

Alan Willett
Oh that’s good. Absolutely. Go beyond mad good skills. It’s great to have good skills, but one of the things that we really work on is that good skills is nothing without other element, like the ability to make other people better, the ability to give feedback to other people that makes a positive difference and have them say thank you and you don’t get shot in the process. Mad good skills are great technically otherwise, but having a whole picture is dramatically cool and it takes you to the next level.

Pete Mockaitis
Lovely, thank you. If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Alan Willett
You can go to AlanWillett.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Alan Willett
Absolutely. Learn to own the game clock, which is if you’re feeling panicked and stressed, learn how to look up in the stands and say, “Hey, isn’t that John Candy?”

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. Thank you. Well, Alan, this has been fun once again. I wish you lots of luck as you’re continuing to illuminate and expand upon these ideas and just keep on doing the great things you’re doing.

Alan Willett
All right. Thanks Pete. A pleasure to be here.

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The Gold Nugget

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