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KF# 37. Drives Vision and Purpose

424: How to Help People Get to the Next Level with Jeremie Kubicek

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Jeremie Kubicek teaches how to multiply your leadership many times over.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Tools for being the best sherpa for your team, like the Support-Challenge Matrix
  2. Pro tips for better supporting and challenging yourself and others
  3. Critical expectations that need to be spelled ou

About Jeremie

Jeremie Kubicek is a thought leader who specializes in transformational leader development. He is CEO of GiANT TV, and Chairman and co-founder of GiANT Worldwide, where he helps people grow through powerful content across the globe. Additionally, Jeremie is the bestselling author of Making Your Leadership Come Alive.Together with Steve Cockram, he is also the author of 5 Voices and 5 Gears.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Jeremie Kubicek Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Jeremie, thanks so much for joining us here on How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Jeremie Kubicek
So good to be with you, Pete. Thank you for the time.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh well, thank you for the time. I mean, it’s a really big day for you and the book launch process. Tell us what’s going on. You just hit number one in Amazon category, which is cool. Congratulations.

Jeremie Kubicek
Thank you. I know. It’s really fun.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. What have you been up to and what’s the secret to your success here in this book promotion?

Jeremie Kubicek
I’ve done a lot of different books. My background and history, I used to run a lot of leadership businesses. So I was always the background guy for a number of years. So the corner office guy, right? Who did big events, Leadercast, Catalyst. I worked with John Maxwell and Henry Cloud, and those different thought leaders, and so on and so forth.

I’ve been writing my own books for the last, I don’t know, seven to eight years. One, you build the following. But what we’ve done is we basically built a leadership summit. That’s been really interesting. It has actually worked. Where we built a free two-and-a-half-hour event that anyone in the world can use with their teams. Then it has just driven a lot of appreciation, because it’s adding a lot of value to people, more than just a book. This is a thought. Take the thought and work it into your system. So that’s been our research and it has actually played out really nicely.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. So is that sort of like, buy the book and you get the free access to the event or the video?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yes and/or the opposite. Do the event and books come with it. So it’s either way. So a lot of teams are working with that. Then we have a lot of our own consultants, or coaches, or people that want to draw people they can actually put on the event and bring it in for their own networking or what have you. Then the book is basically what the participant gets when they come.

Pete Mockaitis.
That’s cool. Well, clever, clever. I don’t know how many listeners care about book promotions, but I sure do.

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah, I know.

Pete Mockaitis
But I guess what I’m trying to underscore here is, you are in the thick of it and we appreciate you taking the time.

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. Thank you.

Pete Mockaitis
So your book here, The 100X Leader? Or do you pronounce it internally in your head? 100 times leader?

Jeremie Kubicek
No. I said 100X. You said that right, yeah. It still means the same thing. Times and Xs. It’s multiplication.

Pete Mockaitis
[…] my consulting days. They always talk about three x-ing the revenue or something?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
That three times-ing or tripling. So what’s the big idea behind this book?

Jeremie Kubicek
The big idea is that in our world system, we don’t have enough of the right kind of leader. We have a lot of leaders, but leadership is not equal. All leaders are not equal. That jargon of leadership, it means too many different things. It’s too generic.

So we basically broke it down and said, “A 100X Leader is someone who’s trending to be a healthy person.” They’re healthy emotionally, physically, mentally, and a kind of more well-rounded person. They’re heading to that direction. They’ve acclimated enough to such a degree that they then can X or multiply themselves.

Most leaders that we find are either 60 negative or 75 plus. So they’re jaded and they show up at work, and they’re living accidentally. Everyone around them kind of gets the life sucked out of them when they’re around these people. Or there’s this 75 plus leader that’s generally healthy and they’ll add value if you come to them and they, “Yeah, yeah. Sure. What do you need? I’ll help you.” But they’re not intentionally looking to take people to the next level.

Pete Mockaitis
60 negative and 75 plus. Can you orient me? Is there ratio, or numerator, or denominator? What’s the number pointing to?

Jeremie Kubicek
Well, it’s an overall. It’s almost like what do you think of that movie? 1 through 10. Your view of the movie and my view of the movie. You might call it 8 and I might give it a 6. So it’s a little subjective. But it’s the construct of going, “Are you healthy? Are you moving in the healthy? So then we break it down in the book.

There’s five circles of influence. There’s self, family, team, organization, and community. So what’s interesting about it is that we find that most leaders haven’t done the hard yards to look at themselves in the mirror and go, “How am I doing in each category?” Because most people think of leadership only in the team construct. We said, “No, no, no. What about self and leading yourself? That is a leadership opportunity. What about your family and leading there? What about in the community?”

So there’s other categories of leadership. I could be useful, for instance, 60%, to myself. Maybe I dominate myself. Maybe I speak over myself negative words. Maybe I subtract some 60 negative in the self-circle. To my family, maybe I’m 70% and plus. So in each category, we’re basically using the idea of 100X that said, “How healthy are you?

Now, we have some tests in the book. We have certain things where you can actually test yourself and rank yourself, and come up with your number and what you think.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Jeremie Kubicek
That’s the general idea of it.

Pete Mockaitis
So you say 60 negative? These are kind of like two things here. It’s a 60 on the 0 to 100 scale and it’s a negative in the health?

Jeremie Kubicek
It’s negative in your influence. So X means multiplication of your influence. How influential are you? Do people want to follow you or do they have to follow you? So the idea is if I’m a 100X Leader. I’m someone that people want to follow, because I’m intentionally multiplying myself. I’m bringing the best that I have to help other people become the best they could be.

That’s what usually breaks down in most of the leaders that we run into, in organizations, are just waking up in the morning. They maybe have gotten beaten down to such a degree, so that anyone that comes in contact with them, they’re multiplication is they’re multiplying negative. They’re not multiplying positive.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So I’m kind of hung up on your figures here, but let me nail this down. Okay. So you’re saying that we take a good look at these five key areas. The self, family, team, organization, and community, and see how you doing 0 to 100 hundred in terms of just kind of what’s the performance level there.

Then we have a negative influence in terms of how other people are picking up on that vibe from you or a positive influence, if it’s a happy vibe. Or a multiplicative influence in the terms of they are now equipped to do all the more. Is that fair?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. Are you intentionally multiplying your skills, knowledge, and wisdom into those that you’re leading? Or it could be on the other end of the spectrum of dividing. I’m going to give an example. This week, I’m just working with a public company. The executive team, working with the CEO, helping this person understand himself. This person, the CEO, is really, really getting into it and understanding. “Ha! I can’t give what I don’t possess. So am I as a person and as a leader?”

So he’s moving to that direction. I’m giving him tools, which are laced throughout the book to help him become 100% or move in that direction. So his trajectory is good. But then we started looking at his executive team. As I gave him the numbers to play with, he was ranking his own team going, “You know, I think so and so is at a –.”

I’ll just make up names, so that if anyone’s listening. I think Bob is at a 70. I think there’s some things in his life that’s kind of keeping him—I think, Lisa, she might be at a 90. She’s got—But Tom, Tom is really 40. Not only 40. I think he’s divisive. Feels like he is against his own team. He’s against us. He’s accusing us. He is not bought in and he’s not adding any value in the organization.

So that concept of the 100X leader is really the idea of you becoming an intentional person and starting thinking about your own health and your own multiplication. Then we get into the use of the Sherpa, which we’ll get into. But we give metaphors to help people understand the construct of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. I hear you there. So then let’s talk a little bit about the Sherpa. So you’re using this as a metaphor of great leadership and why the Sherpa?

Jeremie Kubicek
Trying to explain this, like I’m doing here, is we basically said what is the metaphor? In Giant, in our company, what we do is we take really complex ideas and make them simple enough. Because we realized that in organizations to spread, it needs to be effective to the 13-year-old. If a 13-year-old will understand it, it will spread inside an organization. If a 13-year-old can’t get it, there’ll be dead ends.

So we create objective common language through visual tools. The metaphor we use was Mount Everest, but specifically the Sherpa on Mount Everest, which is the people group of Mount Everest who were born at 14,000 feet. They basically are helping people get to the next level. They’re synonymous with leading people up the mountain. So the idea is that most leaders think of leadership as like them climbing to the top and the best leadership. I’m like, “Well, that’s part of it. We want you to get acclimated, so you can make it to the peak.”

But the process of leadership is not about you climbing the mountain. It’s actually when you get back from the top, from the summit, and get back into base camp. Three days from now, Pete, I’m going to give you three whiny people. I need you to take these people up the mountain. So you’ve got to be 100%. You have to be acclimated, like a Sherpa is, to take people who may not be as acclimated as you are, and how do you help them get up to the next level?

That is leadership. That is the success of a leader. It’s not how many times you’ve peaked or summited, it’s how many times you’ve helped other people summit.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So then, can you walk us through in practice? How does one pull that off?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. So to do that, if you’re climbing a mountain, you need tools. If you’re climbing Mount Everest, you need to have rope training. You need to have altitude training. You need to be able to understand crampons, and ice picks, and ladders, and so on and so forth. So we’ve basically created these tools, so that you could be a Sherpa. Our goal is to train people to be Sherpa. Not the real Sherpa, but the figurative Sherpa.

One of those tools is called the Support-Challenge Matrix. The idea of the Support-Challenge Matrix is that, at all times, you understand the people that you’re leading. Do they need more support from you right now or do they need more challenge? Well, it’s important for you to know your own tendencies first. A lot of people that we’ve talked with have – they’re really good at providing challenge, but they’re not very effective in providing significant support. Or they could be the other end. They could be supporters. They bring a lot of support, but they don’t bring enough challenge.

So understanding what your own tendencies are and then understanding how the people that you lead. What do they need? What does support and challenge look like for them? So a Sherpa is always going, “Okay. My job is to fight for the highest possible good of those I lead. Do they know I’m for them? Do they think I’m against them? Or do they think I’m for myself? I’ve got to be for them, for them to really respond to me. What’s their tendency? How do they receive support? How do they receive challenge? Based on their personality, their wiring. Then my job is to see what they need, understand what’s undermining their influence, and help them get to the next level.” So that’s one example of getting people to the next level. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
So you say Support-Challenge Matrix. I’m visualizing a two by two or whether is the visual –

Jeremie Kubicek
Yes. That’s right. So you have 2:2 […]. You’ve got high support. If the X and Y and low support, you have high challenge and low challenge. If you put those two together, then going, “Okay. The best leaders in the world calibrate high support and high challenge.” We’ve called that verb as liberating. So to liberate. It means to provide and create a culture of growth and opportunity.

If you bring high challenge with low support, that’s a dominating tendency. There’s fear-based, manipulation. It’s yelling. So that domination never produces empowerment. It usually always produces compliance. For instance, I lived in Russia for a few years back in the early 90’s and I had watched 70 years of domination. I’ll never forget. I was coming out of my flat and there was another apartment complex next to me, and this guy carries out a speaker, puts it over his head, and slams it to the ground right by the trash.

It was really weird. He came to this like real emotional. Then there was a guy behind him and then another one. I stood there and watched 120 people. I counted. So 120 people came and threw their speaker, and slammed it, and crushed it. I asked the guy. I was like, “Hey, […]. What’s going on here? What is this?” He goes, “This is the listening device from the communists. We’re done. We’re tired of it.” When he told me what it was, it was in each apartment complex, the government had put a listening device. It was a speaker in the kitchen of every apartment. There was music playing 24/7. It was basically a big brother tactic that showed that we are always listening. So they didn’t know if they were not.

Pete Mockaitis
Whoa! It’s playing music and it’s listening. The whole time.

Jeremie Kubicek
That’s right. Well, you didn’t know if they’re listening. Because it was a placebo type. They maybe basically set it up, but people didn’t know. So it was fear-based.

Pete Mockaitis
They were then creating information process, I those old days.

Jeremie Kubicek
I know. That’s what you think. There’s 14 million listening devices and 14 million people. Surely, you can’t listen to all of them. But it didn’t matter. It was the culture of fear and manipulation. So that culture created domination. Well, if you look at the workforce. I’m not saying it is now but back then, if you look at the workforce of the Russians, it was abdicating. It was compliance. It was do enough to not get sent to prison. Do enough to not die. Do enough to keep in the party line. Not empowerment.

So domination, high challenge without high support, produces abdication. Whereas a lot of kids, especially in the Midwest – East Coast is kind of known for that high challenge, less support. In the Midwest, a lot of places are high support and low challenge. So it’s kind of hinting a lot.

Pete Mockaitis
You mean, it’s. Don’t you know?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. “Hey Pete, how’s it going? Big event next week. Are we ready for it?” Hint, hint, hint. Meaning, I have expectations, but I’m not sharing them. I hope you just kind of get it. Then when you don’t get it, then I come back to you. “You know Pete – You know Janice, she kind of knows what I’m wanting. So I’m going to have Janice –” It feels kind of like condescension or it kind of feels like mistrust. So that high support with low challenge produces a weird entitlement culture.

We just kept watching this in our studies, in our work. I mean, we’ve been working on this for years. Just inside companies going, “No.” These are cultures that are getting produced. Inside a culture, you could have a dominating culture with this team, an abdicating culture over here, a protecting culture over here. All these sub-cultures. We just started watching that. The same thing happens in your personal life. It happens with your kids. I could dominate one of my kids, protect one of my kids, and be an abdicator to one of my kids, all in one day. That’s what we’re trying to get people to be aware of. So that they can start leading themselves.

Pete Mockaitis
I guess I’m thinking of low support and low challenge. Sounds kind of something like you’re checked out. You’re not really saying it’s tentative

Jeremie Kubicek
Absolutely.

Pete Mockaitis
What’s going on? What do you call those?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah, abdicators. So the abdicating culture. There are certain brands. Private equity has a perception of dominating culture. The post office has a perception of abdicating cultures. It’s not that they are, it’s just there’s a perception, certain government entities. You get a lot of nonprofits. They have a protecting culture for the high support, low challenge. So what we’re after is to go, “What would it look like if we can break leadership down into bite-sized nuggets and give people some aspiration?

To go, “No, no, no. What would it look like for you to be 100% healthy? And then multiply. Develop people. That’s a liberating culture. That is what 100X leaders do. That’s what we’re trying to do. Break it down, so it’s palatable and applicable, and you can do something with this tomorrow.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’s cool. I guess what resonate for me is thinking about entitlement in terms of I think I can have some of those tendencies with regard to being supportive and not so challenging in the sense of how intensely I articulate, what I expect, and what you’ve given me is unacceptable.

Jeremie Kubicek
That’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
I kind of hold back a little bit in terms of what I’m really thinking at times. Because I don’t want to be a total jerk face. But hey, that’s my Midwestern influence that’s in there.

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. But see, if you know that about yourself and all of a sudden, you start reflection going, “Ha! I do that work. What about my partner? Spouse? What about my kids? What do they think of me? “Hon, do I that there too?” Then you start noticing it with myself. What’s my tendencies and the way I treat myself? It’s interesting. We spend so many times with people who dominate themselves. That domination to themselves leads to abdication. I mean, so you get in to go, what would it look like to liberate yourself, to support yourself, and to challenge yourself?

So there’s all types of dynamics at play and we start taking leadership and go into this in you in the morrow of a person, and it starts to change the way they think. They become intentional, not accidental.

Pete Mockaitis
I hear you. Well, slow down, Jeremie. I’m sure there’s a lot of art in the details of the implementation of challenging and supporting effectively. I can think of some good ways to challenge and some good ways to support, and some bad ways to challenge and to support. So it’s a whole another two by two, I guess. Watch out for consultants and agency. Could you give us some perspectives in terms of maybe tips, tricks, scripts, counterintuitive tidbits in terms of here’s how you challenge really well or here’s what not to do when you challenge? Here’s how you support really well and what not to do when you support?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. So a couple of things. One is, you have to understand your own tendencies and patterns first. Because we always – Here’s the tip. Support first before challenge.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Jeremie Kubicek
If people don’t know that you’re for them, they won’t receive your challenge very well. That’s number one. Number two, you need to use objective language, not subjective language. That’s why we’ve created The 100X Leader book because it’s full of visual tools and little axioms that you can use.

For instance, if I said this to you Pete, subjectively, “You know Pete, we’ve been working together for a long time and you’re a good guy, I just need you to step it up. I need you to get to the next level, just from a leadership perspective. So are we clear? Are we good?” Right?

Pete Mockaitis
No, Jeremie. We’re not at all.

Jeremie Kubicek
But do you see where I’m going? A lot of people, that’s what they get versus if I said this, “Hey Pete, we’ve been working together a long time. I still appreciate you. Here’s what I’ve noticed. I’m observing. You know the Support-Challenge Matrix, right?” Then I pull it out and I use that as the buffer. So I’m not the bad guy. The Support-Challenge Matrix is a mirror that’s in the book. It’s right there. You can visualize it.

And I go, “Sometimes, you have a tendency to be up here in the upper left corner. You bring a lot of support to people. They know your forum. But you’re leaving expectations out. Sometimes you turn into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and you don’t share your expectations. Then you kind of blow up a little bit. Then they feel like you went to domination.” So to be consistent would be at a place I’ve coached you.

So I’d like for you to consistently share your expectations with people. I want you to practice that. Pick so and so. Tell him what you expect. What are you looking for? Now, I’ve given the objective language. You don’t feel like I’m nagging you or giving you challenge. You don’t know what to do with it. I’m challenging you. But I’m providing enough support through objective language. Does that help?

Pete Mockaitis
I hear you. So you’re pinpointing the specific observation there. I guess if we had some more time and experience with each other, you could get even more precise. In terms of, Susie had no idea that you wanted ABC. When in fact, that was very important to you. And you were pretty cheesed off when things didn’t go as planned.

Jeremie Kubicek
That’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. Hey, do you have any additional perspectives in terms of how to support well and challenge well?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. Here’s another. It’s a small axiom. But we find these axiom stay in people’s minds. I’m a big fan of Harvard. I love academics. I’m a big fan of Stanford and just the different reports. But those reports do not transfer very well. They don’t scale. Because they’re case studies, they’re too complicated. So we give little axioms. Here’s an axiom. “Pete, I want you to learn.” Or let’s just say all the listeners. Everyone listening. “I want you to learn how to call people up, not out.”

Call people up, not out. That means basically that they know that you’re for them. You’re going to basically call them up to who they are. Not call them out on what they did. So an example of that with my kids. It works great with kids. It works great with teammates. My daughter. Real quick story.

She just told me that she wanted to be a leader at the beginning of this year. She’s a junior in high school. “I want to be one of the leaders of our school. I think I can add a lot of value.” I’m like, “Okay. How are you going to do that?” Well, then a week later, some of our best friends call us and they found a video on their nest, a video from their front door, that our daughter had toilet paper dumped.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh man!

Jeremie Kubicek
So all of a sudden –

Pete Mockaitis
Now you have it.

Jeremie Kubicek
All of a sudden, what I wanted to say, I wanted to call her out. My calling out was, “Are you kidding me? What are you thinking? These are our best friends? How could you do this? […] one, it’s toilet paper. It’s not that big a deal. But what I did as I was using her own medicine, they go, “No, no. Call her up.” “Kate, hon, you told me that you wanted to be a leader, like this is who you are. What happened?”

So I allowed herself to call herself out. And I called her up and I gave her an opportunity to go, “Dad, I’m so sorry. That’s not who I want to be. You’re right. I told you this. I get it. It was a mistake. A little bit of peer pressure. Yeah, thanks. I get it.” If I’m always calling people out every time I’m around them, it’s kind of dominating them. I’m challenging them with not much support. If I’m calling them up, I’m giving them a roadmap to get to that level. It’s a simple little axiom.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. It reinforces their identity, such that they can try do some self-service there. So that they may don’t need you to always be the person calling them out. If you are calling them up, the identity is more rooted and become sort of like the thing that does the self-policing.

Jeremie Kubicek
That’s right. Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. That’s a fun axiom. Give us some more please.

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. So when you think of it, we go – Expectations are another one to go. Most people don’t realize that they have expectations. So we created a simple little – It’s on page 123. It’s a little tool and it’s just managing expectations and some expectations scale that go – It should be right in the middle. Realistic. That if you go north, it goes unrealistic, and then it goes to impossible. If you go down, there’s limited and then resigned.

So part of the issue of leadership is that we have expectations that we don’t share and unmet expectations produce bitterness. So if you don’t share expectations, it’s not really fair. A lot of judgment takes place and a lot of subjective, a lot of drama happens because people just aren’t sharing their expectations appropriately.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Jeremie Kubicek
So we basically teach how to do that. The secret to developing others really is really you, getting really clear on your expectations about their development. A quick story on that. We’re just launching something called Giant TV. The idea of it is almost edutainment. It’s like Netflix for leadership. Okay? But it’s not just videos. It’s $9 a month, really inexpensive, but it’s a way for people to engage in development and growth.

Well, our team is very, very young in putting this together. So I just said, “You know what? I’m going to open source this.” One of our tools is called developing others. It’s basically using massless square and some other work on unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious – Just all the way through the process. So I basically said, “Guys, here we go. Giant TV.” When we were developing this last summer, we’re unconsciously incompetent. I am too. We don’t know what we don’t know.

Well, we had all these ideas. Then we started doing them and we quickly got to conscious incompetence. Me sharing expectations, I said, “This is what winning looks like. If we can get 5,000 people on Giant TV, by this next summer, we’ll have won.” That’s the expectation. But I am consciously incompetent. I thought I knew what we were doing. So by me opening and sharing this out loud, it enabled our team to not worry about me.

Me as a leader, I could be a liberating leader, because I was basically showing them. But along the way, one of our guys, Jake. I said, “Jake, do you realize your unconscious incompetence here? Do you see it? And conscious competence looks like this. This is what it means to be successful. So let’s get you there and let’s work out loud to do that.”

So this style of leadership, it gives language to people and it gives visual tools to take away any potential drama or any potential frustration, where I might be frustrated with an employee and then start working around them, and then complaining about them, and ultimately having to let someone go. Instead, we openly talked about where we’re clueless. That’s what a 100X Leader will do.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. I hear you there. So I’m intrigued with the scale of expectations, going from resigned to limited, to realistic, to unrealistic, to impossible. How do you utilize that? So I think, “Hey, what are my expectations?” I just list them out and then I kind of put them on the scale like, “Oh! It turns out that’s an impossible expectation.”

Jeremie Kubicek
Okay. Let’s play. So all the listeners, let’s take three of the most important people in your life and/or your job. Okay. So let’s say maybe there’s a spouse. Okay. My wife, Kelly. That’s one. Let’s pick one of my kids and let’s pick one of my teammates.

Pete Mockaitis
The other kid is like, “Oh!”

Jeremie Kubicek
They’re probably like, “Good! I’m not there.” Then what I’m doing is that I’m looking at that role and I’m looking at the relationship and the responsibilities in those roles.

In fact, let me take my wife out. It’d be even harder. Let’s just start with one of my teammates. I’m going to say Mike. Mike leads our enterprise systems. I have a general expectation of what I think Mike can do and what our business can do. Is it realistic? Well, I’ve talked it out loud. He talks his vision out loud. We see is our vision matched up? It does. Is it realistic? We both feel that it is. We get outside counsel and benchmarking. We’re in the right ballpark. You know what? I think we’re on the same page for the vision. Now, we got to make it happen.

Now in six months, if we’re not meeting the vision or meeting those goals, and he knows they were realistic, then that’s an opportunity to grow. We’ve got to tweak something, work on something. But I’m openly talking about those expectations. So at any time, he knows where I stand. I think that’s the key. Most people don’t know where their boss stands. They get a lot of hints or they get a lot of grunts. But they don’t get a lot of like, “Tell me exactly what you expect to happen.”

Now, some of the expectations by some of us are impossible. Like no one can do that. If you benchmark that, it’s impossible. This is interesting. I find a lot of bosses, a lot of leaders, they think that they’re motivating by putting this massive goal out there. But inside and maybe to a few of their colleagues, they’re saying, “You know what? If they get half of that, I’ll be happy.” But what happens is, it’s actually – It’s not motivational. Because the person is going, “These are impossible. I’m not going to make it. I better start looking for another job.” So they should go.

Pete Mockaitis
on Indeed and LinkedIn.

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. So then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because this boss is sharing this big goal going, “I’ll be happy with half of it.” The other person is like, “There’s no way we can do. That’s impossible.” Then they check out and go look for someone else.  Then the boss goes, “Yeah. This guy’s not making it. You can’t find good help these days, can you?” That goes on and on and on.

So we’re basically saying, “Look, if you’re a leader, you’re a Sherpa.” Your job is to get the person you’re leading to the next level. Well, that means that they need to know that you’re for them. That you have to fight for their highest good. That you are giving them the right support and challenge based on what they need at the moment. Then you show them what’s undermining their influence and you work together to get to the next level.

I’ve been interviewing Sherpa after Sherpa on Mount Everest. That’s what they do. Basically, it’s not about how many times they’ve climbed the mountain. The Sherpa is fully-acclimated, because they’re born at that level. So they can go up and down, but their job is to get that person to the next level. That’s what a 100X Leader does.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. I really dig that in terms of these tools and axioms, and getting there. It’s cool that you – I respect that you did your homework and you talked to real Sherpas.

Jeremie Kubicek
Oh yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
“Hey, that sounds like a cool metaphor.” We’ll leave it at that.

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. I’ve been interviewing them on base camp and I’ve been talking to climbers, who’ve been climbing at 8,000-meter peaks. They will tell you, “There’s no way I could have done it without Vanuru […] or would no way I could have done it without so and so, the Sherpa. It’s just that that is the idea. So their appreciation for the Sherpa is amazing.

They also go, “Wow! It’s so much different.” For me, thinking about being a Sherpa to another climber. Because those are different skills. I’m convinced of it. In our service, in our free agent world, we’ve not been training people on leading as a Sherpa. We’ve mainly been training people to get to the top. “Okay. Great. You made it to the top. Good for you.” But your job is to take these people up the mountain, not just to get up yourself. So it’s a different dynamic.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. That’s powerful. So I want to hear about when it comes to the expectation. A part of it is just like, “All right. You sit down.” You say, “Here’s mine. What’s yours? You can check it with a third party. You feel good.” We have a handy little five-part categorization for them. In the process, we get them out in the open. Could you maybe catalog or prompt or tease? What are some key expectations that really need to get talked about that often don’t get talked about?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. If it’s work, it’s going to be around what is success? What does it mean to win? That’s not talked about enough? How do I win? How does our team win? How does the organization win? In our expectations aligned there. But even to take it down to kids? How do we win? What does winning look like to the family dynamic? To your spouse, what does winning look like? To friends. Personally, what does winning look like?

So an example. This is me. Funny. But we have an event we just did in Cancun. It was a marriage retreat for our clients and they bring their spouses to learn our language. It’s really powerful. There are 40 couples. I’m taking my shirt off and I’d lost weight.

Pete Mockaitis
There you go.

Jeremie Kubicek
I’d lost some weight, Pete. But I wasn’t – Let’s just say, I’m not buffed, but I’m definitely better than I was the year before. But I, all of a sudden, look and go, “You know what? I want to have actually some muscles. I want to at least see one or two pack of muscle.”

Not six packs. It’s unrealistic. But is that an impossible goal? Or is it realistic between now and next February? I think it’s realistic. What am I going to do now? What’s my plan? What’s my team?

My point is I had expectations of myself. Historically, I’ve had expectations of myself on weight or health. I’ve not met them and I’ve dominated myself. So I’m listing my expectations by asking what does it mean to win and by when? So there’s a date with that. Well, the same is with people. I just don’t think there’s enough. I think we’re just so accidental when wake up. Most people wake up and just do their thing. They don’t think about this stuff.

So I think, if anything, The 100X Leader book prompts people to be intentional and think about things they’ve never thought about. But it also gives them tools to do something about it right then. You’ll see change happen right then. You don’t have to wait for nine months. You can teach the Support-Challenge Matrix. You know this as well as I do. When you teach something, you learn. So by teaching it to other people, you’ll start learning.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Yeah. I’m loving this. What is success for the individual, for the team, for the organization? Can you share a couple more critical expectations that really need to be spelled out?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. I’m going to give you an example. I have one guy. He’s gone from about 70%, maybe 60% healthy, and a little bit of a negative to about 90X right now. It’s a journey and a process. I’ve just used the tools to show him what it was like to be on the other side of himself. He realized he had unrealistic expectations from most people in his life. They mainly came out of insecurity. I’m like, “Why do you keep having these? Where is this coming from? He had basically – It goes into the law of self-preservation.

I asked these hard questions. “What are you trying to prove? What are you afraid of losing? What are you trying to hide?” When I asked that question, because I’m a confidant to him, he trusts me. Therefore, unbelievable amount of things started to come out. He’s trying to prove himself to a dad that he doesn’t like. He’s trying to prove himself to an industry, because he feels like his title means that he should produce at a level. He’s got a few things in his life that he was afraid of losing. So he was overcompensating through some arrogance.

Point is, all of that led to unrealistic expectations that got put on his team, because he wanted to be seen as the guy, and in the industry and his family. We’re like, “Do you see how this is affecting you? You’re not healthy and your team is not very healthy. They don’t necessarily want to work for you. They kind of have to work for you. Because they all need jobs and they’re –

It’s not bad enough that they’re looking for jobs, but they just kind of is.” That “aha” about a year ago got him to the place of like, “Hey, I want to get to the next level. What do I need to do?” So we spent nine months working on him. It wasn’t about them. It was him. I got a little letter from them about two weeks ago. The letter came from his senior leadership team and it’s basically like, “What have you done with him? We thought he had cancer or that he was leaving. He’s changed.”

It was transformation because he decided to be intentional and he decided to do something about it. But he really went after his insecurity. I was helping him through this process, figure out how he’d been dominating himself all because of this insecurity and the self-preservation.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s a really intriguing insight that I guess you get from lots of experience, is that real big expectations that are dominating can often be caused by some of the stuff in terms of what are you trying to prove, what are you afraid of losing, and what are you trying to hide? That’s some sophisticated human insight, Jeremie. Can you give me one more before we hear some of your favorite things?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. So what happened then in that is I helped him understand culture and that leaders define culture. So if he really, really wanted to have a legacy, if you wanted to be someone worth following, then he’s going to have to learn how to get past plus into multiplication. It’s radically affected that. So the metaphor we use there is Greenhouse. A great leader, a healthy leader, is like a good gardener. They’re looking at and their people are like plants. That plant needs water, and sunlight, and soil.

So an employee needs vision, encouragement, and time. So you can’t give what you don’t possess. In essence, what I was trying to do is show, “Look, you have all of these subcultures underneath you and your team. You have to be healthy to produce a greenhouse, a positive greenhouse. Not a toxic greenhouse.” So the positive greenhouse, that’s a liberating culture of empowerment, and growth, and opportunity. But that only means when you’re healthy. So that’s what’s cascading down into the organization.

So for anyone listening, you start with the idea of what’s it like to be on the other side of myself? What’s my tendency for myself? Am I dominating myself? What’s my tendency? What are my patterns? What are the actions? What consequences those lead to that are shaping my reality? If you want to change, then you change with support. Am I providing too low support? Am I providing too much challenge? How do I calibrate that with myself? What about my family? What about my team? And so on and so forth.

That’s holistic, because you think about life today. Today, everyone is holistic. People don’t compartmentalize like they used to do. So life affects us differently because of social media and everything else. So we want, holistically, you to be thinking about being a 100X Leader in every circle of influence. That only happens by being intentional, which then leads to consistency.

Pete Mockaitis
Good stuff, Jeremie. Well now, could you share with us a favorite quote that you find inspiring?

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. The phrase that I’ve used is, ”You can’t give what you don’t possess.” But the positive of that is, you give what you possess. I have a philosophy of give it all away. So giving yourself away for the benefit of others is just kind of a motif or a way that I’ve chosen to live. So that’s the phrase I use. It’s not necessarily an author, said by so and so. But it’s the phrase that is kind of an inspiration for me.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite study, or experiment, or a bit of research?

Jeremie Kubicek
I love the study – The project, Aristotle, that came from Google recently that talked about teams and team culture. It basically surmised that the best teams in the world have psychological safety, which means, we have the ability to talk about things. It meant to me that support and challenge works. Because if I can challenge appropriately and you’re not going to get your feelings hurt. But if I’ve created a culture where we can both support and challenge, we can get more done. So I just appreciate the research they did.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Thank you. How about a favorite book?

Jeremie Kubicek
Favorite book is a book by Chris Lowney called Heroic Leadership. It’s basically looking at the history of the Jesuits and how in the world in the 1500’s did the Jesuits build the largest organization, which is basically education world and the influence that a bunch of ragtag Jesuits have. It’s unbelievable read. Very inspiring. We based our business off of that book. It has really affected the way that we think about multiplication.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool? Something that helps you be awesome at your job.

Jeremie Kubicek
Well, a favorite tool is going to be the Support-Challenge Matrix. Actually, I probably would say, for me, the liberating others tool is when I’m looking at people, am I fighting for their highest possible good? Do they need more support or challenge right now? What’s undermining their influence and do I have the guts to show them that? To get them to the next level?

I think that’s why people want me to be around them and want us as an organization to be around them. It’s because we have the guts to help them get to the next level. It’s that combination. It’s like this desire to fight and to serve. I just love that tool, that concept.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s a great turn of phrase. Do you have the guts to show them? It phrases it such that the challenge is internal. Not “Oh my gosh! How are they going to react?” But rather, “Are you going to rise to this challenge and do what’s right?

Jeremie Kubicek
That’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s cool.

Jeremie Kubicek
That was it.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite habit?

Jeremie Kubicek
A favorite habit is I have a kind of a normal flow. My habit is shower in the morning. Basically, when I turn the shower on, I go after any negative thought in the shower. It’s like the cleansing. I go, “What is the negative thought or what’s the thought that is not right that I don’t need to trust? So that shower, metaphor and a symbol, is I’m trying to cleanse my mind of the wrong thinking. So that’s my habit. I use the symbol of the shower to do that.

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

Jeremie Kubicek
The best way to do that is if you wanted to go to GiantSpeakers.com. That’s an easy one. Or they can go to Giant.TV. Those would be the easiest places to learn more about us.

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

Jeremie Kubicek
Yeah. The final challenge would be simply explore what life might look like if you are more intentional in every circle of influence. Picture that you have a dimmer switch on your back. At the bottom, it’s accidental. At the top, it’s intentional. What would it look like if you move that lever all the way to the top?

Pete Mockaitis
Jeremie, this has been a treat. Thanks so much for taking the time. I wish you and The 100X Leader, and Giant all the luck in the world.

Jeremie Kubicek
Thanks so much, Pete. Sure. I appreciate it.

328: Inspiring Actions and Movements with Jennifer Dulski

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Jennifer Dulski breaks down how to rally communities around a common cause—and keep them going even without you.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The three ingredients of a successful movement
  2. The keys to mobilizing people
  3. How to leverage criticism

About Jennifer

Jennifer Dulski is the head of Groups and Community at Facebook. Prior to Facebook, Jennifer served as president and COO of Change.org, a social enterprise company that empowers people everywhere to start and win campaigns for change. She was an early Yahoo! employee, rising through the ranks over her nine-year tenure to ultimately lead one of the company’s six business units as group VP and general manager of Local and Marketplaces. Jennifer left Yahoo! to become CEO of The Dealmap, a site acquired by Google in 2011, making her the first woman to sell a company to Google. Jennifer has a deep passion for making the world a better place and is a prominent thought leader in Silicon Valley.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Jennifer Dulski Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Jennifer, thanks so much for joining us here on How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Jennifer Dulski
Thanks for having me.

Pete Mockaitis

So, you currently serve as the Head of Groups and Community at Facebook. And I have to imagine you’ve encountered some interesting groups, in terms of names and the communities and people who are coming together. Could you enlighten us, inspire us? What are some of the most noteworthy, surprising or funny Facebook groups you’ve bumped into?

Jennifer Dulski

Sure. So one of my favorite things about Facebook groups is that there really is a group for everyone and everything you can imagine. And many of the groups are about those things that are kind of closest and most important to us in our lives – parenting and health and work. And then there’s also a group for everything that makes you feel like you might be different or unusual, and many of the times people come together around things like school orchestra teachers, is one of my favorites, or there’s one called “Mama Dragons”, just for moms of LGBTQ kids who are talking about how to help raise their kids in a competent, supportive way.
And then there are fun, interesting hobbies, like there are groups for beekeepers. There are groups for people who are on a health kick. One of my favorites there is a group called “The Missing Chins”, which is a group of men who run together and they’ve lost jointly many thousand pounds, so they have collectively removed many of their chins, as they say. And then another favorite of mine is called “The Very Old Skateboarders”, which is a group of women in their 60s and 70s who love to go skateboarding together. And they say things like, “When we’re alone, we feel different and maybe a little bit odd, but when we’re together we’re birds of a feather all in the same community.”

Pete Mockaitis

That is cool. And how many very old skateboarders are there, per chance?

Jennifer Dulski

I don’t know the exact number, but there are many dozens of the very old skateboarders. Some of these groups are very large. There is a group that I was looking at the other day called “Planners Gone Wild”, which is for people who love to plan. They share their binders and their spiral notebooks, and so forth. That group has 50,000 people in it, so they really do range in size.

Pete Mockaitis

That is cool. So, I want to dig into your book Purposeful, and talk about some of those proactive pieces to be purposeful and inspire change and that kind of thing with a movement. But first, I’m sort of curious – in your role as the Head of Groups and Community at Facebook – what are the big things that you’re thinking through and working on day in and day out?

Jennifer Dulski

So, we’re trying to make sure that we can help everyone in the world find a community that is meaningful to them and adds value to their lives. And we announced a couple of months ago that we now have 200 million people who are in these very meaningful groups, and we see that being able to join a group like this actually helps people get a sense of belonging, feel connected, and it adds the ability to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. And so we’re working on growing that, helping everybody find the most relevant group for themselves.
And one of the challenges we think about is how do you help build empathy between people? We live in a world that’s very divided – increasingly so – and what we see happening in Facebook groups is that people come together over something they have in common. Maybe they love the same kind of dog, maybe they live in the same neighborhood, but they don’t necessarily always have the same political views, or have the same demographics. And we find that people can build really trusting relationships in these communities that’s helping bring our world closer together again.

Pete Mockaitis

That is really cool, because you have a certain affinity, like, “If this guy loves Yorkies, he can’t be all that bad.”

Jennifer Dulski

Right, it’s true. One of my personal favorite groups is called “Grown and Flown Parents”. It’s for people who have kids that are either teenagers or off to college. And this group is filled with hundreds of thousands of parents, all over the world in this case, and we all have something in common. We’re all talking about what do you put in your kid’s dorm room, or how do you pay for college tuition, or what did your kids wear to the prom? And yet, we have a lot of things that we might not see eye-to-eye on and it’s a lot easier to have those conversations once you build up that trust.

Pete Mockaitis

That is really cool, especially in a polarized, divided world. It’s like, “Okay, we both love Yorkies. We’ve hung out a few times. You seem intelligent and interesting, and sort of have a decent head on your shoulders.” So maybe I can say, “Why is it that you love Donald Trump? I don’t know anybody who does.” And then you can sort of go there and say, “Okay”, and then hear a lot of this sound bite animosity that’s out there.

Jennifer Dulski

It’s so true. We actually see some groups doing this directly. So there’s a group called “Make America Dinner Again”, which is doing exactly that – kind of hosting dinners with people who are willing to have these conversations. And it doesn’t necessarily mean they change their mind, but they build understanding of a different perspective. By the way, I looked it up, and “The Very Old Skateboarders” – I hugely underestimated it. Apparently there are nearly 3,000 very old skateboarders.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s cool. And we might have a couple listening to the show that are like, “Oh finally, a place I can go.” [laugh] So, share with us a little bit – your book Purposeful – what’s the big idea behind it?

Jennifer Dulski

So the big idea behind Purposeful is that we can all be movement starters. And I have been very fortunate in my career to be able to support and empower regular people who ignite extraordinary change in the world. I did this at Change.org, I now do it at Facebook, helping people who run communities. And what I’ve seen is that all kinds of people can do this. It’s teenagers, it’s grandparents, it’s stay-at-home moms, it’s veterans – anyone you can imagine has the power to start a movement, and that means all of us do.
And in Purposeful, I share the lessons that I have learned from working with and interviewing movement starters from all walks of life. There’s a young woman with Down syndrome who persuaded Congress to pass a new law for Americans with disabilities, there are two teenagers who helped redo the curriculum in the state where they live to add the concept of consent, there’s an entrepreneur who’s reinventing the way we think about personal nutrition. It’s basically activists and business people, all creating change.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. So, the word “movement” has some power behind it, which is bigger than just “Hey, help me with this thing I’m doing.” So what makes a movement a movement, and how could you turn a goal into a movement?

Jennifer Dulski

Yeah, so a movement is anything that rallies people around a common purpose. The idea is that most movements are started by one individual or a small group of people, but they really aren’t a movement until they rally other people together around that cause. And the first step in starting any movement is to create a vision. And the people that I’ve seen are most successful at this, they have visions that have three parts. So the first part is a desired future for the world.
So the most successful visions all have three parts to them. The first part is a desired future for the world. What is it that you want the world to look like? And it may be your workplace or your neighborhood – so for instance, maybe you’re trying to get parental leave offered at your company. Your desired future would be, “I envision a world in which everyone at my organization is offered paid parental leave.”
The second part is a purpose, which is why that desired future matters to you personally. So you might say, “This matters to me because I want to make sure all new parents are able to have the time required to successfully raise their children and take care of them in these early first few months.”
And then the third part of a successful vision is a story that brings the vision to life. And so, here you might use a personal story or one from someone that you know that really resonates with this issue. So for instance, there’s a woman named Katie Bethell, who’s working on the issue of paid parental leave, and she brings up the stories of two women – one who’s a Republican, one who’s a Democrat. They each had newborn babies who died in accidents in their daycare, because the moms were not in jobs that gave them parental leave, and they had to put tiny infants into daycare, which led to horrible accidents. And so, that story brings a vision to life and makes even more people realize why the vision of paid parental leave is important.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. Yeah, that’s powerful. Okay, so if those are the ingredients – establishing the vision with those three bits, what are the first steps a person might take in order to translate what might seem like maybe a mundane goal into more of a vision that inspires? I don’t know, maybe they’re thinking that they need a new IT system, or they need to change one process or approach they’re using at work for another one.

Jennifer Dulski

Right. So the key thing, the very first, most important thing is to just get started. Taking that first step is the thing that makes all the difference. And I sometimes describe it like starting a standing ovation. So, have you ever been the first person to stand up and clap in a standing ovation?

Pete Mockaitis

Yes, I have.

Jennifer Dulski

Wow, that’s awesome! Most people have not. I’m not surprised, actually, to hear that you have. But sometimes I ask this in big audiences people, and you might get one or two hands. And most people don’t do it, because it’s kind of scary to be that first one who exposes yourself a little bit and you think, “What if nobody joins me?” But generally people do. You don’t see many examples of having one person stand up and nobody else, not a single other person joining them. And once those first few people stand up and join the first person who’s clapping, then all of a sudden you get a standing ovation.
And movements start the same way. So, the first step can be something really small, for instance for the examples that you shared – you want to change a new system in your workplace – sometimes it’s just writing up your own thoughts and an outline of what you’d like to see happen and why. Sometimes it might be emailing people you know to start asking for help. Sometimes if it’s beyond your company it might be starting a petition or starting a Facebook group or starting a fundraiser. There are many, many things that can act as a first step. The key thing is, you need a little bit of courage, you need to be a little bit vulnerable because you have to be willing to ask other people for help, and you need to be determined, because movements don’t happen overnight; they take a lot of determination.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. So, any pro tips for those who are feeling some of the not-so-courageous feelings about going there with the vulnerability and exposure? Is there any psychological perspective or a word of encouragement you offer such folks?

Jennifer Dulski

So, what I use is a very clunky acronym – I call it IICDTICDA, which stands for “If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything”. And my advice is to try to do other things that scare you, and then what happens is that every new thing seems less scary in comparison. So for people who are afraid of public speaking, instead of just trying right away to go out and speak in front of a big audience, I might say, “Well, what’s something else that scares you? Are you afraid of heights, are you afraid of flying?”
One example in my own life – I used to be pretty nervous about flying, and so when I was in college I went with a friend in one of those glider planes, which is a plane without an engine, which might seem kind of crazy. But I said to myself, “Well, people do this every day and they live through it, so I’m just going to push myself to the edge of my comfort zone, try something.” I was quite scared, but when I landed I had that IICDTICDA feeling – this notion of, “Well, if I could do that, then I can probably do anything.”

Pete Mockaitis

That’s great. And it can be any number of things that you fear, even if it’s not directly related to the piece that you’re after. I’m thinking about, you might have fears associated with – I’m thinking about previous guests who talked about going for “No” and just seeing what gets liberated when you do that. Like at a store, you just ask them for a discount, like, “Would $4.50 work for you?”

Jennifer Dulski

That’s right. I love that. And I think the standing ovation is actually a good example too. You could just be the first to stand up and clap in the next show that you see. It would be scary, but it would show you that life goes on, even if the worst case scenario happens, which is no one stands up to join you.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, absolutely. I dig it. So, you’re starting to take some action, you’re pushing through that, finding the courage. And then, how do we go about getting other folks enrolled and engaged and interested in this?

Jennifer Dulski

Yeah, so it’s true – the next step is to mobilize other people. And one of the things that I found works well here is a) again – you have to ask for help, but b) empowering those people who work with you to take on a role that allows them to make a real difference too. So, an example that I love here is a woman named Jennifer Cardenas – she started a Facebook group in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. She was evacuating her home outside of Houston, and she started a group with people to say, “Let’s just keep in touch to see where we’re all evacuating to, to see if we can help each other.”
She invited 50 of her friends, and within three days that group grew to 150,000 people. And what Jennifer did was as those people joined, she embraced them. It’s all about embracing those first followers and getting them involved. So she invited 80 of her first people who joined the community to become volunteer moderators for the group. And then what happened a couple of days later, Jennifer ended up losing Internet service because she went to a place that didn’t have access in the storm. And those people that she had embraced as early supporters were able to keep running the community even though she wasn’t there. And they ultimately ended up working with the Coast Guard and the National Guard to rescue 8,000 people from Hurricane Harvey.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s excellent. Really cool. So you give them a specific role and they feel empowered and excited and they’ve got it going. And that’s helpful. And then, what about maybe even trying to enroll decision-makers who are maybe not the direct beneficiaries, in terms of you’re getting other folks on board and invested into your starter group?

Jennifer Dulski

That’s right. So, many movements, even once you’ve had the courage to get started and you’ve rallied other people behind you – in many cases if there’s something you want to change, you may not have the power to do it yourself. There may be a decision-maker, either a company executive or CEO or elected officials, politicians, who have the power to make the change you want. And the technique that I recommend here – there’s actually a whole chapter on this in Purposeful called Get to Know Goliath, because my belief is that it’s about understanding whom and what motivates the decision-maker that you’re trying to persuade that will make you most effective. So, I give an example of a woman named Luanne Calvert who used be the CMO of Virgin America. And she was trying to persuade the CEO of the company to say “Yes” to their new safety video, which I don’t know if you’ve flown Virgin America, but they have…

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, I did. With all the musical numbers. [singing]

Jennifer Dulski

Exactly, exactly. You could sing along to it. But before that they had an animated funny cartoon safety video that everybody loved. The loyal followers of their brand really loved this video. And it wasn’t FAA compliant, so she had to change it, and she was really nervous about that because she had to replace this very well-loved video. And so when she came up with the idea for this musical rhyming video, she wasn’t sure that it would be approved.
And she used a technique that I recommend called “influence mapping”, where she looked at the person she was trying to persuade and she said, “Who are all the people that may influence him?” And in this case, she went to the flight attendants, she went to loyal frequent flyers, she went to other Virgin America executives, and in the end when she was making the final pitch to the CEO, it was one of those people in that influence mapping process who helped her get the case sold into the CEO, who finally approved it. And as you know, the rest is history. It was very, very successful. Not only did people love it, but it has been viewed on YouTube 13 million times. Safety video for an airline, which is pretty crazy.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, that is good. And so, when it comes to that influence mapping, how do you get that picture, in terms of who has the ear of the decision-maker?

Jennifer Dulski

Yeah, so I recommend just looking at the situation and trying to talk to the people that you think are close to that person. So if it’s inside an organization, you can generally tell because you know who the close confidants of that person are. If let’s say you’re trying to persuade your city counselor or the mayor of your town, you may not know exactly who their influence map is. And so, in that case you can start asking people.
You can also do a technique that I call “Make it easy to say ‘Yes’”, which basically means in addition to thinking about who influences them, you think about what are the things that motivate that person? So for a politician, you can understand that it is issues like the budget that they have to manage, the voters that they have to persuade in case they’re running for reelection, the media that they have to be able to influence and they want to still look good in the media.
So, there’s a young woman who I feature in Purposeful named Amanda Nguyen, who has been fighting for the rights of sexual assault survivors. She herself is a rape survivor from when she was in college. And she found that the criminal justice system is just completely broken in this area. And she went to try to change these laws and she gathered a group of very passionate volunteers that had, as I said, a variety of skills – some were lawyers, some were financial analysts, some were engineers – and she worked with them to understand decision-makers, in this case Congress.
And she drafted a sample law working with attorneys, she analyzed all the budget implications working with the finance folks, and she found other people who could tell their personal stories to motivate the emotions of the members of Congress. And she was successful in actually getting this law passed unanimously by the United States Congress, which almost never happens, as you know. One of 21 bills since 1989.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s awesome, thank you. You also talk about using criticism as an advantage. How does that work?

Jennifer Dulski

Yeah, so the more successful you are in your effort to create a movement for change, the more criticism you are likely to be exposed to. It’s just true that the more public you get, people may have things to say about what you’re doing or how you’re doing it. And my view is that the people who are most successful here can both learn to separate the type of criticism that is perhaps outside of their control. So if people are criticizing you about your gender or your age or your appearance, generally I suggest people set that aside. And the rest of the criticism, which may be about exactly what you’re trying to do or how – then listening to it may have some value, in understanding other people’s perspectives.
And there’s a technique here I call “leveraging the naysayers”, where you can actually use that to your advantage. There’s a woman named Mary Lou Jepsen – she was starting an organization called One Laptop Per Child. They were trying to build these solar-powered, light, readable, very inexpensive laptops, which most people thought was not possible. And she took all the critics and used that as a way to debug her product.
She went and met with all the execs at a big tech company in Asia and they said, “There’s 23 reasons why this won’t work”, and she said, “Great. Let me take those back. I think I can solve 17 of them. And when I solve the rest, I’ll come back, see if you have any more criticism.” And she used that as a way to actually make her product work. So you can be tough enough to hear the criticism, sometimes it can make you better.

Pete Mockaitis

And you also talk about overcoming obstacles and failing well. How does that unfold?

Jennifer Dulski

Yeah, so there are likely to be a lot of obstacles in your path, which is true no matter what you’re trying to build or accomplish. I sometimes call it “the festival of failure”, if you can see your failures as something that not only do you want to learn from, but you can kind of shout them from the rooftop so that other people may learn from them too.
And I feature a story of two women founders of a company called Little Passports. This was a subscription product for kids to teach kids about global citizenship. So they would send a package in the mail every month with two characters, and each month they would go to a different country and kids would get a stamp for their passport and a sticker for the map and some souvenirs from the country, and information and so forth. But Amy and Stella, who founded this company had so many obstacles along the way.
Originally it was, they bootstrapped the whole thing, and then they hit some personal struggles. Amy ended up getting divorced while she was pregnant with one of her children. Her father ended up dying right as they were founding the company, and she just had such a tough time personally. Having a co-founder there in Stella to help support her through that journey helped them get through that first set of obstacles, and then every one that came after that. They had an issue where the warehouse almost took all their inventory, they had trouble raising money, they had one issue where something caught on fire in one of their products. They just took one obstacle after another and kept going with their vision at the core. And now they are a quite successful, profitable company. They’re doing about $30 million in revenue and they’re teaching kids all over the world to be better global citizens.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright. So some of the actionable pieces there is one, having support – a co-founder, and others who are on your team. And what are some other things, in terms of how you bounce back and find that resilience?

Jennifer Dulski

I describe it sometimes like climbing a mountain. So the other key piece of advice here is to just expect that there will be obstacles. So, if you remember that taking any of these kinds of leadership roles is like climbing a mountain – some days will be sunny and you brought a picnic lunch and you’re halfway up and you can see the top, and other days will be stormy and you feel like you’re at the bottom and you’ll never take another step.
And the key is to expect and know that there will be both kinds of days, and that neither will last forever. And just to keep climbing each day. So, push yourself on those cloudy days to keep taking another step and know it will get sunny again. And remember not to stop for the picnic lunch on the sunny day, because those sunny days won’t last forever either.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. Well, Jen, tell me – anything else you really want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Jennifer Dulski

Yeah, also I would mention that there is a Facebook group for the book, called Purposeful. So, they can find it at the website PurposefulBook.com – there’s a link to it. Even if people don’t read the book, but they want to participate in a community of people who are helping each other push their movements forward, whatever they may be – I would encourage people to join that. It’s free, of course.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, cool. Thank you. And now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Jennifer Dulski

So one of my favorite quotes is, “Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference, hasn’t tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.” [laugh]

Pete Mockaitis

And how about a favorite study or experiment or a bit of research?

Jennifer Dulski

So, one of my favorite studies is from Tom Gilovich at Cornell, who was one of my professors. And this piece of research says that people regret in the short term things they do. He calls it “errors of commission”. So, “Oh my gosh, I shouldn’t have asked that woman out. She said ‘No’. It was so embarrassing.” But in the long term, people tend to regret things they don’t do, or “errors of omission”. So, “I should have asked that woman out. She might have been the love of my life.” And this is the thing we go to our deathbeds regretting, is the things we never tried to do.

Pete Mockaitis

Thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Jennifer Dulski

Favorite book is Gung Ho!, which is by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. It is a book about leadership as taught through the lessons of a Native American folktale. And my favorite chapter is called The Gift of the Goose, and it’s about how geese fly in a V and they rotate who flies at the front and who takes the leadership role. And everyone in the back honks to cheer on the leader goose.

Pete Mockaitis

Is that why they’re honking?

Jennifer Dulski

That’s why they honk. They honk to cheer on the leader, which I think is a great metaphor for all of us to think about cheering each other on. And that sometimes will be the leader and sometimes we encourage other people to step forward and lead.

Pete Mockaitis

So does that mean the goose in front is not honking, but all the other geese are?

Jennifer Dulski

That is my understanding. I could be wrong.

Pete Mockaitis

I never knew this about geese. Thank you. And how about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Jennifer Dulski

One of my favorite tools is called the “horizon conversation”, and this also is on the resources page of the book website, if people want to … I learned it from an HR exec that I used to work with, and have adopted it since then. But it basically allows people to outline what they want on the horizon of their careers, where they might want to go, and then map out the gaps they have between what they know now and what they want to achieve, such that they can make sure the projects, jobs, etcetera, that they take in between are helping them fill those key gaps.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh cool, thank you.

Jennifer Dulski

And I’ve used it myself as well.

Pete Mockaitis

And how about a favorite habit?

Jennifer Dulski

A favorite habit. I think one thing I use a lot is just trying to remember a sense of perspective. So, when things get very difficult, which happens certainly from time to time – I try to remember those moments in my own life that were really tough. I tell a story in the book about having being diagnosed with a brain tumor in my late 20s. Got that call at work in the middle of the day. Clearly no matter what challenges I’m struggling with at work on any given day, they’re not as bad as that day. And so, to remember that we all have days like that and each of us, people sitting around us may be having a day like that. It just helps to keep everything in perspective.

Pete Mockaitis

And is there a particular nugget that you share that really seems to connect and resonate and get Kindle book highlighted or retweeted or repeated back to you?

Jennifer Dulski

I think the thing that I’ve shared that’s been the most retweeted is this concept of the work-life mashup, is what I call it. I wrote an article in Fortune. I tried to call it “Work-Life Balance is Bullsh*t”, but they wouldn’t let me. And they titled it “There’s No Such Thing As Work-Life Balance”. But my general concept here is that our work and our lives have become inextricably intertwined, and that one way to make the most of that is to consider it a mashup, or layers on top of each other.
And I had a quote that says, “I’m still a mom when I walk into work, and I’m still a leader of a company when I go home at night.” So, neither of those things go away, and it means that if I get a call from my kid’s school in the middle of the work day, I’m going to take it, and if something urgent happens at work in the middle of dinner, I’ll probably take that call too. And that particular nugget has been retweeted a lot of times.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright, thank you. And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Jennifer Dulski

So I am @jdulski on all the platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. And the website is PurposefulBook.com, which also has a link to the Facebook group.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. And do you have a final challenge or call to action you’d issue to folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Jennifer Dulski

The final challenge I’d issue is IICDTICDA – the one I mentioned before – “If I Can Do This, I Can Do Anything”. And I’d just encourage people to do one scary thing outside of work that might make them more brave inside of work.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright. Well, Jen, thank you so much for taking this time and sharing your wisdom. Good luck in all you’re up to, at Facebook with groups, and the book, and everything!

Jennifer Dulski

Thanks so much. It was great to be here.

303: Inspiring Teams through Purpose with Fred Kofman

By | Podcasts | 2 Comments

 

 

Fred Kofman shares how to unlock the power of purpose to strengthen your team and drive better performance.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The first hurdle to working in a group
  2. How to find the inspiration in your work
  3. How to solve the problem of disinformation

About Fred

Fred Kofman is a Leadership Advisor at Google and former vice president of executive development and leadership philosopher at LinkedIn, where he worked with the top CEO’s and executives around the world. Born in Argentina, Kofman came to the United States as a graduate student, where he earned his PhD in advanced economic theory at U.C. Berkeley. He taught management accounting and finance at MIT for six years before forming his own consulting company, Axialent, and teaching leadership workshops for corporations such as General Motors, Chrysler, Shell, Microsoft, and Citibank. At its height, his company had 150 people and created and taught programs to more than 15,000 executives. Sheryl Sandberg writes about him in her book Lean In, claiming Kofman “will transform the way you live and work.”

 

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Fred Kofman Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Frank, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Fred Kofman
My pleasure, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m so curious to hear, so you had a nice run there as the Vice President of Executive Development at LinkedIn. You just recently made a switch. What are you up to now and what’s the story?

Fred Kofman
Well, I’m now an advisor for Leadership Development at Google. Well, the story is I would say a transition, but along the same line.

I’d been with LinkedIn for five years. They are – I feel that they are all my brothers and sisters. It was an amazing opportunity that Jeff, the CEO, gave me to work with all of them. But after five years I think I worked with almost every executive in the company, so my mission was fulfilled.

I had shared what I can do and what I can help people learn and I felt that the value of my contribution was going to start diminishing quickly because it would be mostly repeats or tweaks, whereas there were a lot of other organizations that could use that and I wanted to offer my gift more broadly.

I agreed with the people in LinkedIn that I would be out in the market and combine the work I did with them with some work I would do for other companies. Then when I went out, some people from Google asked me if I could consider doing a more extended engagement with them, a project that would be more absorbing.

I thought it was a fantastic opportunity, so I just accepted and I’m here. I’m beginning this project of Leadership Development or advising them in the area of leadership development.

Pete Mockaitis
Very cool. I’ve been enjoying digging into your book a little bit, The Meaning Revolution. Could you give us how do you conceptualize it in terms of what’s the big idea behind the book and why is it important now?

Fred Kofman
There’s a fundamental problem that every person that is trying to work with a team has to solve. It starts with a couple, just two people or a family, a small team and is the same problem that an organization with hundreds of thousands of people will have.

That’s to try to combine or integrate the need to have each person be accountable, to do what they’re supposed to and also the need to have each person cooperate for the achievement of the common goal.
This seems obvious. You want a group of people that work together. Every company wants the same thing. We want people to work together and each person doing what they’re supposed to do.

But there’s a hidden problem with this. There’s some incompatibility between these two imperatives. That is that if you evaluate people based on their what’s called OKRs or KPIs, which are the key results or key performance indicators, people are going to focus on their own individual jobs.

Pete Mockaitis
Indeed.

Fred Kofman
And they won’t really collaborate with others and they will even build silos to make sure other people don’t prevent them from doing what they need to do.

Today we live in an illusion where people think they are getting paid or that they’re hired to do what they call their jobs, but they’re all wrong. Every person is wrong when they say, “My job is accounting,” or “My job is sales,” or “My job is engineering.” I think everybody’s job is to help the company succeed, just like every player’s job is to help the team win.

But a defensive player will think that his or her job is to stop goals and the offensive player will say my job is to score. That’s not wrong, but it’s not true either. The job is to help the team win.

You normally do your job as a defensive player by stopping the other team from scoring, but in some instances, under some conditions, it would be better for the team if you left your position and you went forward and tried to score. For example, if you’re losing one – zero with five minutes to go.

It’s a typical strategy that teams will send the defensive players to the offense to try to tie the game. But if a person thinks, “Oh, no, no, my job is just to defend,” they will not want to go forward.

The same thing happens in a company. If you feel that your job is to reduce costs, you are going to be less interested in satisfying the customer because it could be expensive to satisfy the customer, even though the best thing for the company to achieve its mission would be to pay attention to the customer.

Or if you’re in customer retention – I tell this story in the book about somebody that was trying to sign off on Comcast and saying, “I don’t want your service.” It went viral because that was a crazy conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Fred Kofman
It lasted like ten minutes with the customer service

Pete Mockaitis
Cancel the account. Yeah, I remember that.

Fred Kofman
Exactly. That costed Comcast tens of millions of dollars in brand loss – in brand, I would say, distraction.

This was a stupid tradeoff that a person made because they think or they have a performance indicator that is how many people cancel the service during your time, when you’re on the phone.

The less people that cancel their service, the better your performance, so of course you’re going to try to convince everybody not to and you will even try anything to the point that you’re going to upset the customers and then create a brand disaster for Comcast.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Then that’s making a lot of sense in terms of your job is broader than your job description, whether it’s to prevent customers from leaving or what not. Then at the same time, given that there are perhaps thousands of things that an organization needs to do in order to succeed and you’ve got to have some degree of division of labor and responsibility.

How do you think about that appropriate balance between folks sort of executing on their key performance indicators versus doing whatever is necessary to help the organization win?

Fred Kofman
Yeah. That is what the book is about. I’ll give you a hint; it’s not a balance. It’s a relationship of subordination. The primary goal is to achieve the mission. That is the super-ordinating imperative. That’s why you’re here.

If you’re a soccer team, you’re there to win the game. You’re not there to say, “Well, how do we balance winning the game with having more shots or having less goals scored against.” It really doesn’t matter. It’s better to win seven – six than to lose one – zero. You say, “They only scored one goal against us,” yeah, but you lost. It’s not really balance; it’s a subordination.

But it’s very difficult to try to incentivize this subordination because the moment you tell people, “We’re all here to win,” and you can’t observe what people do directly or even if you observe, know if people are doing the right thing or not, because many times it requires judgment or discretion.

When you give people a collective incentive and you say, “We all win together or we all lose together,” you become vulnerable to predators and parasites, people that will come and prey upon the system because they are –

For example, if you pay an average sales commission, like the whole everybody sells and then you pool the money and you pay every salesperson the same, well, all the people that are below average would love your company and they will come and work for you and all the people that are above average are going to leave because they are going to be brought down by the average.

In a sense, average pay drives the best ones away, if I can do a little verse, and makes the worst ones stay. That’s a very unfortunate result in economics that if you want to encourage individual excellence, you have to evaluate people by their own individual performance. But if you evaluate people through their individual performance, you’re discouraging them from contributing to the team objective.

That is in mathematical terms an insolvable dilemma. If you just take self-interested agents and you try to create an organization, you can’t. It just doesn’t work. There’s no clever incentive system that will solve this problem.

The book is about understanding why that’s the case, but then seeing how do you manage this problem better. What can you do?

Very, I would say, surprisingly for me in an ironic sense, the solution of the most material, the hardest problem is soft. I would say the solution to the economic problem is really spiritual because the way you have to integrate a team is not by payments, not by rewards and punishments, but by inspiring them. That’s where leadership or what I call transcendent leadership comes into play.

You have to give people the opportunity to participate in a project that they feel passionate about. They’re not doing it just because you pay them, but they’re doing it because it makes sense, because it fulfills a deep longing they have in their lives. It is done in a way that is ethical and makes them proud. It also gives them the chance to connect with other people who they just crave to be in community with.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, that sounds like a great place to be. Could you maybe help us go from a bit of a point A to point B sort of given what is currently the case in many workplaces? What are some of the very first steps to bring it into that spiritually robust, purpose-filled great place?

Fred Kofman
Yeah. Okay, let’s just say that some of your listeners are entrepreneurs or leaders in existing companies. The first step is to find the deeper meaning of what the company does.

Let’s imagine that I’m a doctor and I go home and I have a seven-year-old daughter that asks me, “Daddy, what do you do?” I say, “I make money.” Well, that’s not very inspiring. She goes, “Oh, well, good.” If she asks me why is that important, “Oh, because I can buy nice things for you.” She’d understand that and that’s okay. We have a nice house or we can eat tasty food and so on. But it’s not very uplifting.

If I dig deeper, what do I do “Well, I cure the sick,” or “I use medicine to make people well, to help them reestablish their health.” But if I go deeper, it’s like, “Well, when people are at risk and they have illnesses or they feel terrible or they are hurt, I help them first survive, and then come back to health,” and so on and so forth.

If I describe that as my job, as my profession, well, I feel uplifted. I feel happy and my daughter will be happy too. She will be proud to tell other kids at school what her daddy does.

I know it sounds a little perhaps simplistic, but if you are running an organization in the market, the people that are buying your product or service are finding some way in which that product or service makes their lives better. It makes them sufficiently better that they are willing to part with their hard-earned cash to acquire your product or service.

Don’t focus, as Peter Drucker, said, don’t focus on the drill because people don’t really want drills. Focus on the hole. What people want is holes. That’s why they buy drills, to make them. The question would be what is the human need, the human aspiration that your product or service is helping people to address and take care of.

You need to know that and you need to feel that in your bones, like deep inside that you’re super proud of what you do. If you’re not proud, like if you’re not on fire, you’re not going to be able to light up the people that you want to inspire. You need to feel it inside and then be able to communicate and invite people who join you in that project.

Don’t invite people to work and say “Okay, come and put your effort and I’m going to pay you.” Of course, that’s the economic deal, but the economic deal will only get you average performance.

Pete Mockaitis
This is really reminding me, Fred, of a fun chat I had. I think I was freshly hired at Bain & Company. I was chatting my fellow consultants in between some training stuff. Somehow it just sort of came up, it was like, “Hey do we do good as strategy consultants?” For me, it was kind of like, the answer was of course or else why would you have ever taken this job.

Then I went on I guess what was a rant associated with, “Well, what we do is we make companies more valuable which is extremely important because folks who are saving for retirement or for college education need for the stocks in their portfolio to appreciate and we help make that possible so that their dreams can come true.

Non-profits and foundations within their endowments have their investments placed in a basket of equities that individually we are helping make. And the leverage of us doing it is so huge in terms of being 23 years old and not having a lot of experience yet and trusted to tackle things that are going to liberate millions and billions of dollars of economic value that …”

So I went on this whole rant and the others were kind of like, “Whoa, I just thought this would be a good place so I could get into Harvard Business School or something.” I was surprised. I guess for me, I call it naïve or what, but I would just sort of assume, “But, of course, you would only choose a job that had deep purpose for you or else you would have chosen a different job.”

But different people, I quickly learned, operate from different starting points in their career decision making.

Fred Kofman
Absolutely. Yet, if you allow me, Pete, to challenge you a little bit.

Pete Mockaitis
Please.

Fred Kofman
I think you missed the most important part of your job when you described the benefits. I agree with every one you listed, but for me at the top of the list, not for me, economically, at the top of the list, the reason why these companies are going to become more valuable is because they will serve their customers.

The real value in the economy is not the mission of giving jobs to people or money to the investors. The real value in an economy, the one that propels humanity forward, is the competition to give value to the customers. That’s what good consultants help companies do. That’s what the mission of every company needs to be.

If not, we become a bureaucracy. But, “Oh look, we’re doing so much good because we’re hiring all these families.” Okay, that’s like 1% of the good you are doing. Don’t forget the 99% because the real good you’re doing is that people are buying your product because they find it useful in their lives.

You have no idea how much value you’re adding because as I say, if I use an Apple computer, it would cost me maybe 1,000 dollars to buy, but I would have been willing to pay 5,000 dollars. Even if Apple makes a profit of 2 or 300 hundred dollars, I made a surplus value or a consumer profit of 4,000.

Now, nobody knows that because there’s no place where I say I’m willing to pay 5,000. That’s something only I know how much value this computer is going to give me or how much would I be willing to pay for it.

I find it a little problematic today when people talk about social enterprises or “We’re doing good,” or we hire whatever people you’re hiring and say, “Well, so many families eat because of us.” Yes, that’s true, but that’s so small compared to the wealth that you’re creating in terms of life richness, not necessarily measured by money.

But we at Google today is the Input/Output conference for developers and just looking at all the developments in artificial intelligence and the assistant and all that, there’s thousands of people here that are just day and night thinking non-stop, “How can we make people’s lives better?”

There was a clip of a lady that had a difficult handicap. I’m guessing something similar to what Steven Hawking’s had. The kind of life that she was able to live because of the products that were created, it’s infinite. There’s no money in the world that would pay for that or she would not be willing to pay to access the level of quality of life that she’s able to achieve through some of these new technologies.

I want to be very emphatic. I emphasize this in the book, particularly in the last part, that there’s no system that we know that creates social cooperation and the growth and development of humanity like a market system, where everybody opts in because they think they’re getting a good deal or opts out otherwise.

Pete Mockaitis
I like that. It does connect and resonate and it’s easy to get kind of lost in the weeds a bit. As we discussed this, it kind of reminds me of the book, The Goal, in a manufacturing context in thinking about you had all these performance indicators about manufacturing, but it’s really just about making an efficient product such that it can be sold profitably and then that is enriching the individual end-user who are engaging it.

I’d love it, Fred, if you could tackle, maybe just bring to life a little bit some industries that might be kind of tricky in terms of finding that fulfillment and purpose. I guess some of them could just be controversial in terms of weapons or – well, I could name all kinds of controversial issues, like weapons, tobacco, alcohol, certain insurance drugs, insurance products, hedge funds.

Could you give us a few examples of how “No, no, if you’re working here is actually awesome in this way.” Or maybe you say, “Yeah, maybe work somewhere else.” What do you think about some of the trickier ones?

Fred Kofman
Well, let’s with weapons. What would be the need that a person buying a weapon can satisfy?

Let’s just say an honorable need. I’m not talking about a criminal buying a gun to murder people or to rob them. I’m talking about good people because if you’re going to be inspired, you have to believe that your mission is conducive to some higher good. If you can’t come up with anything, then you shouldn’t work in that industry.

I’ve never worked with gun manufacturers, but I’ve heard the arguments, so I’m sure you have heard them too. What would be the argument for a noble goal that weapons could pursue?

Pete Mockaitis
It’s interesting, when I said weapons, I was originally thinking of tanks and jets and nukes for nations. But I guess on the personal-

Fred Kofman
Okay, that works too. That works. What would be the reason to – let’s just say you’re working for McDonnell Douglas and you’re a leader and you want to inspire some young people to come work there.

Pete Mockaitis
I would suppose you would say, “We are keeping our servicemen and women safer with these offerings. We can rest easier in our homes, in our nation, knowing that we can resist the threat of a foreign power who would seek to kill and enslave us and we don’t have to worry about that much on a day-by-day basis because we have brave people equipped with these useful tools.”

Fred Kofman
I would work for you.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Fred Kofman
That’s inspiring. Again, I’m not claiming that this is true and that there are no weapons manufacturers that are evil. There are weapon manufacturers that work for the other guys too and they create the possibility of aggression or dominance or all these horrible things.

But at best, it’s possible to work for a certain kind of military-grade weapon manufacturer or even a gun manufacturer and say, “Yeah, it’s about protection. It’s about maintaining the quality of life, of sleeping well because I am aware that any thug can come and abuse you.” That’s inspiring.

Again, it’s not the weapon, but what is it that the weapon allows a human being to do that will allow this person to take care  of important human concerns in an ethical way, meaning without aggressing or without hurting other people in a violent manner.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. Now that that is well-established in terms of your view or purpose in terms of how folks are enriched by the existence of your product and service.

If you zoom into sort of the day-in/day-out of work life, how can we stay connected to that and let the meaning really serve to be energizing and empowering day after day. I’d particularly like to hear that from a vantage point of maybe not an executive or a founder, but perhaps a manager who only has a few direct reports.

Fred Kofman
Yeah, well, let’s start at the bottom, not even a manager with individual contributor. There’s a great story that I found and I use it in the book that refers to President Kennedy’s visit to NASA. I think it was 1962.

He went to NASA and was touring the facility and there was a custodian that was mopping the floors. Just being gracious, the President stopped and said hello and asked him, “So what’s your job here?” He said, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”

That is culture. That is a culture that clarifies every day what are we here to do. He was certainly mopping the floors, but that’s not the way he felt about it. Just like it’s different to put brick over brick than to build a cathedral. If you keep the cathedral or the man on the moon in mind, then everything you do takes a different meaning.

This is true, there’s lots of studies. I quote several of them in my book about hospitals for example, and you’ll see the custodians in the hospitals finding a lot of meaning in helping people regain their health and cleaning their rooms and even chatting with them and bringing some joy on the nurses too.

You say, “Oh, some of these are menial tasks. They have to change the sheets.” Yeah, but in the process of changing the sheets, they’re making contact with another human being. They are participating in their life. They are giving them hope when they feel down, when they’re distressed.

It’s profoundly meaningful. It’s almost like a saintly thing to do. You’re going and touching with love and compassion people who are suffering. That’s an amazing opportunity that you only get if you work in a hospital.

I know we may consider some of these things like, “Oh, it doesn’t really matter. You’re just washing clothes in a hospital or making rooms in a hotel.” You say, “Those things are just worthless, meaningless tasks,” but the truth is there are people who do find a lot of meaning in that, but it’s not about the task. It’s always about the goal, the human concern that is being taken care of through the task.

If you’re a manager, then your job is first to remember that and second to remind other people in your team what are you really doing, maintain this awareness day in and day out and everything we do is for that. Everything we do is to fulfill our mission, the service that we’re proud to provide to the community or humanity in general.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. I’m with you there. Then you also mentioned a few problems that crop up within the organization in terms of things being disorganized with disinformation or disillusion. Do you have a couple actionable steps you recommend for hitting these pieces?

Fred Kofman
Yes. You may have a clear mission and everybody could be aligned to the mission, but different people see different parts of the organization and have different opinions about what would be the best way to accomplish the mission. I call this touching the elephant.

There’s a great story of a king bringing five blind men and putting them next to an elephant and telling them to describe the shape of the elephant. They start arguing. One of them says, “The elephant is like a column,” touching the leg. The other one says, “Oh no, it’s like a wall,” touching the side. The other one said, “No, no, it’s like a snake,” touching the trunk and so on and so forth.

The king at the end says to them, “Well, you’re all right and you’re all wrong. You’re all right because the part you are touching is really like you describe, but you’re all wrong because you are … extrapolating the part you touch and using it to elicit or to infer what’s the shape of the elephant as a whole.”

Many times in organizations we do that. People are close to some part of the organization and they think that the whole organization is an extrapolation of the part they perceive. The ones that see the organization are so far away, it would be like seeing the elephant from a mile away, that you can see the whole thing, but you don’t have any granularity and you don’t have the details that are required to make intelligent decisions.

I call this disinformation. Different people have different information and nobody knows the whole picture with the level of granularity that’s required to make intelligent decisions. How do you solve this?

Well, if people are aligned on the mission and they know how to share information in a non-arrogant way, I call it humility, then they can come together and each person can say what they see, and what they infer, and what they experience in their immediate environment.

Then the other people can integrate that and create the pool of common information out of which they can make an intelligent decision together, what would be the best way to proceed to accomplish our mission. But that requires kind of gathering the intelligence of everybody and creating this collective consciousness, this group awareness that encompasses the information that everybody’s bringing.

That is surprisingly difficult to do. After I wrote the book I was having some interactions with General Stanley McChrystal who wrote the book Team of Teams. It’s surprising how in the military and particularly having to fight guerrilla warfare that is very decentralized, they were dealing with exactly the same problem in spades.

One of the biggest managerial revolutions that McChrystal triggered in the US military was the creation of the Special Operations Command, the Joint Special Operations Command as a learning adaptive network, as a group of people who were operating in a decentralized manner, but were creating this shared consciousness to have all their resources available to make intelligent decisions to win the war, not win each particular battle, but to achieve the mission.

Pete Mockaitis
Very nice. Thank you. Well, tell me, Fred, anything else you really want to make sure to cover before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Fred Kofman
I’d say that one of the consequences of this revolution from money to meaning is that you can’t do it as an addition to your personality. You can’t say, “Well, I’m who I am and then I’m going to do this.” The inspiration to use meaning as a galvanizing force, that inspiration requires you to be in a certain form, not just to do things. But who you are really creates the drive for people to follow you.

You have to earn your moral authority from your life. You can’t use formal authority to do this or monetary authority or economic power. You are trying to elicit the internal commitment from people so that they give you what you have no way to extract.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s a nice turn of phrase. ‘They give what you have no way to extract.’ Thank you. Now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Fred Kofman
Well, this is a quote from Mother Theresa that says, “Not everybody can do great things, but everybody can do small things with great love.” I find that very inspiring that this being a moral hero is not about having super powers; it’s about doing day-to-day things with great integrity, with great care, with great compassion. But it’s something I’d like to … in my life.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Fred Kofman
Well, I’ll tell you a shocking study if it’s favorite, but it’s the fact that the level of engagement worldwide is about 12 – 13%, so meaning almost 90% of the people hate their jobs. That’s incredible that so much suffering is happening because we don’t know how to work together and in way that uplifts human beings.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. How about a favorite book?

Fred Kofman
I’d say from Ludwig von Mises, Human Action. It’s not an easy book to read, but it’s a treatise in economics that changed my life.

Pete Mockaitis
Interesting. How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be more awesome at your job?

Fred Kofman
Gmail. Google search and Gmail. I think they’re incredible service opportunities. They’re so well designed.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite habit, a personal practice of yours?

Fred Kofman
I won’t turn on my phone until I finish meditating, doing my yoga exercises, and going to the gym.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. How about a particular nugget, a piece that you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks and has them quoting it back to you?

Fred Kofman
The distinction between a victim of circumstance or being a player and responding to whatever life gives you.

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

Fred Kofman
The best way would be to look at my profile on LinkedIn. I put hundreds of short videos and papers there. They’re publically available. There’s also a website called Conscious.LinkedIn.com. There’s also the book on Amazon or my previous book, Conscious Business.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, perfect. Is there a final call to action or challenge that you’d issue to folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Fred Kofman
Yeah, find something that inspires you then live in that space. Don’t waste your life doing something that doesn’t have that juice.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Fred, thank you so much for taking the time to share this wisdom and expertise. It’s powerful stuff and I just wish you tons of luck and all the meaning that you’re bringing to folks.

Fred Kofman
Thank you, Pete. It was a pleasure talking to you.

178: How to Lead Without Authority with Dodie Gomer

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Talent builder Dodie Gomer shares best practices for leading people to results–when you’re not in charge.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How setting a clear vision on tiny matters delivers huge benefits
  2. Tactics for projecting powerful composure
  3. The value of using “strong words” and eliminating “weak words” in your communications

About Dodie

Dodie Gomer believes far beyond technical potential. She is known as a talent builder. Dodie has 25+ years of corporate HR leadership. She inspires individuals to tap into their unique talent to go beyond their technical expertise and develop as leaders – even if they never plan to be a manager. Whether it is a keynote address, leadership workshop or as a succession planning consultant, Dodie will provide the right tools to build leadership for both individuals and organizations.

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073: Leading Change with Dr. John Kotter

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Professor John Kotter walks through the essential components of successful changes.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The eight critical  steps for sparking change in your organization
  2. How you can test drive ideas for your organization at a lower risk
  3. How you can find inspiring mentors

About John
Regarded by many as the worldwide authority on leadership and change, Dr. John Kotter is a New York Times best-selling author, award winning business and management thought leader, business entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and Harvard Professor. His ideas and books, as well as the company he founded, Kotter International, have helped mobilize people around the world to better lead organizations and their own lives, in an era of increasingly rapid change.

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