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KF# 37. Drives Vision and Purpose Archives - How to be Awesome at Your Job

559: How to Unify, Motivate, and Direct Any Team by Picking a Fight with David Burkus

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David Burkus says: "Put to words the vision that's already in people's hearts and minds."

David Burkus discusses how crafting a compelling vision in terms of a fight can inspire your team to action.

You’ll Learn:

1) The three kinds of fights that inspire

2) A simple trick to greatly boost motivation and efficiency

3) The secret to getting along with the coworker you dislike

About David:

One of the world’s leading business thinkers, David Burkus’ forward-thinking ideas and bestselling books are changing how companies approach innovation, collaboration, and leadership.

As a skilled researcher and inspiring communicator, Burkus’ award-winning books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and his TED Talk has been viewed over 2 million times.

A renowned expert, Burkus’ writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, USAToday, Fast Company, and more. He’s been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, CNN, and CBS This Morning. Since 2017, Burkus has been ranked as one of the world’s top business thought leaders by Thinkers50.

Resources mentioned in the show:

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David Burkus Interview Transcript

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

David Burkus
Oh, thanks so much for having me. Great title for a show, by the way. I just need to say that.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. Yes, well, I like it clear. So, that’s what you’re getting here. I understand one thing that you’re awesome at is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and you got a blackbelt. What’s the story here?

David Burkus
Yeah, so I have been doing Jiu-Jitsu since probably 2016. Like a lot of people, I have that exact same story of college student, etc., go to Blockbuster when it’s still around and rent one of those old UFC DVDs and watch this guy named Royce Gracie destroy everybody. And, suddenly, you’re going, “What is this weird art from Brazil that everyone is talking about?” So, you go to the first class and get just like beaten to a pulp, but you go, “That was so much fun.” And if you keep doing it for 13 years, eventually the hand you a blackbelt. You get to be not terrible which is about what I would rate myself now.

Pete Mockaitis
Blackbelt equals not terrible.

David Burkus
Yeah, yeah. There are some people, like one of our coaches has been doing it for, let’s see, he’s probably 50 so 40 years and he’s still pretty fit. So, you’d think that you could beat up an old man, but you really can’t.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, now, David, do you have any pro tips if, let’s say, someone is at a grocery store and they’re buying the last roll of toilet paper or hand sanitizer, and then someone attacks you, what do you advise?

David Burkus
Well, the first thing would be to not get in that situation, right? Distance is your friend. So, the more that you can, I think, have situation awareness about who that guy that’s been eyeing the toilet paper awkwardly is and realize, “This is a situation I need to walk further away from,” that’s really your friend. That should be the biggest goal. I think a lot of people end up jumping. I mean, you watch it now but you also watch it during Black Friday shopping and things like that. People jump into confrontation way too quick. Keeping space from people is your friend.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Now, that’s advice for personal safety. Now, when it comes to rallying a group of folks, you advocate that people pick a fight. What do you mean by this phrase?

David Burkus
Yeah. So, pick a fight, referring to… it’s a bit of a double meaning, right? So, I believe that, fundamentally, we’ve had these conversations about purpose for probably two decades now and, yet, a lot of people are still really bad at saying what the purpose of a company is. We do mission statements or we try and start with why. We try and do all those things and it doesn’t really rally people the way it should.

And so, I believe, fundamentally, when you look at the research that one of the best ways to give a clear and concise and motivating statement, a purpose, is if you can frame it as the answer to the question, “What are we fighting for?” As a leader, if you can do that, and individually if you can do that, it just seems to, like you said, rally and motivate people a bit more.

But here’s the key, you have to choose your fight wisely. So, that’s the secondary meaning, you also have to pick the right fight which is almost never competitors. For the average employee, you’re almost never motivated by, “I work for Coke, and I want to destroy Pepsi.” “I’m probably going to go to work for Pepsi one day,” or something similar. So, you have to pick what is that higher purpose, that bigger thing that you’re striving for, that’s what the right fight looks like.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s interesting. So, we’re fighting for something as opposed to against something. I guess maybe you could fight against something if it’s like intrinsically evil, like poverty or disease.

David Burkus
Yeah. The way that I phrase it is, “What are we fighting for?” not “Who are we fighting?” right? It’s not about the other because, again, you see. I mean, we’re seeing it right now as we’re recording this. This was totally unintentional, by the way, but we’re seeing it right now. This is arguably the first time in world history that every country in the world is fighting for the same thing and we’re all fighting against the same thing, and it’s sort of that proof of concept. There’s not time and situations like this for little squabbles over which country is right and all this sort of stuff.

And the same thing happens organizationally when you have that true sort of purpose worth fighting for. Those little silos, politics, turf wars, they all get squashed to that larger purpose. So, that’s why I really emphasized, it’s, “What are we fighting for?” not “Who are we fighting?”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so, when you’re picking what you’re fighting for, we got some pro tips and pointers already in terms of not who we are fighting against. And so, maybe paint a picture for us with an example in terms of maybe if you’ve seen some cool transformation stories or some contrasts like, “Here’s an example of an organization that’s fighting for something and it works great. By contrast, here’s an organization that’s not quite doing that, it’s not working so great.”

David Burkus
Yeah. So, my favorite example, and one we talk about in the book, of changing that fight midstream, because it’s easy to see, “Okay, this startup has this sort of big fight-based mission,” but it’s a lot harder to do with an established organization. But in the late 1980s and throughout the entirety of the ‘90s, a gentleman by the name of Paul O’Neill took the reins at Alcoa, which is an aluminum-manufacturing plant. They make a lot of different types of aluminum. Fun fact, they make the aluminum foil that goes around Hershey’s Kisses, or they did for a really long time.

And what they were running into when Paul O’Neill took over, stock price was declining, their efficiencies were declining, I mean, it’s a normal 1980s, 1990s story of losing out to offshoring and manufacturing in developing countries and that sort of thing, and a lot of people were wondering, “What are you going to do to turn this company around?” And the way O’Neill describes it, he says, “Part of leadership is to create the crisis,” but he knows the crisis of a declining stock price isn’t going to rally anybody. The crisis of “We need to be more efficient” isn’t going to rally anybody.

So, he chooses, as his fight, safety. He gets up on the very first day of his tenure at this press conference and says instead of, “Here’s how we’re going to increase profitability or shareholder value, etc.” We’re in this era where CEOs basically go right to buy-backs and try and back stock as a cheap way to raise the stock price. He doesn’t do any of that. He says, “I’d like to talk to you about worker safety. I’d like to talk to you about the number of people that lose a day of work because of preventable accidents and I intend in my time at the leadership of Alcoa to go for a zero-accident company.”

Now that’s unheard of in manufacturing but that’s something worth fighting for. It speaks to that sacred value of who’s to the left and to the right of you. And, ironically, if you make a plant more safe, you make it more efficient anyway, so he knows that there’s still this goal, “We’re going to turn the company around,” but just turning the company around doesn’t rally anybody. He chooses to name the enemy. And in this case, the enemy is safety, because if we beat that enemy, we’ll find a lot more things that we accomplish along the way as well.

In his time, by the time he retired in the late 1990s, the stock price had increased fivefold. The company ran more efficiently. Alcoa now is like a pinnacle of safety. There are other manufacturing plants that go to Alcoa to learn how to be much more safe. But, before he came, that was never a concern. It was an acceptable cost of doing business. It hints at the first of like the three templates of fights that I outline in the book. I call it the revolutionary fight, which is when you say, “This has been a norm or a standard that the industry does, and we refuse to accept it as normal any longer. We don’t find it acceptable.” In Paul O’Neill’s case it was safety, “We don’t find some level of acceptable loss acceptable anymore. We’re going for zero.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so, that’s a revolution. While we’re at it, what are the other two?

David Burkus
Yeah. So, the other two, the underdog fight, my personal favorite fight because I’m from Philadelphia and we’re the city of underdogs, is about not necessarily about what the industry is doing but how you’re perceived by the industry. Sometimes it’s by competitors, other times it’s by critics, etc. You leverage the underdog fight when you can point to a way that people are disrespecting your team, disrespecting your company, or underrating it, and you can point to why they’re wrong. And this is really key, you need two things. It’s not enough just to be criticized because they might be right. You also need a rebuttal. You need rejection but also rebuttal for this one to work.

And it turns out, I mean, this is, like I said, I’m from Philadelphia. We know the Rocky story. Our favorite sports hero is a fictional character who lost a boxing match. New England gets Tom Brady. We get a fictional character who loses a boxing match. But it turns out, more modern research has shown that that really, that desire to prove the critics wrong, even in a business context with the way people frame their careers, the way people frame whether or not going into negotiations, like salary negotiations, etc., the more that you can frame that narrative, that this is about proving the haters wrong, the more you can actually inspire and motivate somebody. So, that’s the underdog fight.

And the ally fight is, I think, one that a lot of organizations look at because if they’re really a customer-centric organization, this is an easy one for them because the ally fight is not about our fight at all. It’s not about what we’re fighting for but we can point to a customer or some other stakeholder who is engaged in a fight every day, and we exist to help them. We exist to provide them what they need to win that fight.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, so I’m picking up what you’re putting down here in terms of these are kind of visceral, emotional, maybe even primal human things here in terms of like, “No more,” for the revolution or, “We’re going to prove them wrong,” like the Rocky story, or, “We are going to help someone who’s in need of our help,” and you sort of tap into that heroic action there. So, yeah, I’m digging this. So, then can you give us some examples? So, we got Alcoa in terms of, “Hey, efficiency in plants and let’s lower costs and stuff,” doesn’t do it as the way safety does. Can you lay out a few more to make it all click into place?

David Burkus
Yeah, a few more from the revolution or from the underdog or the ally?

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s take them all.

David Burkus
So, my favorite revolution story, this isn’t actually in the book, so this is new for you, is I have this around my phone, and you can see it but everyone else is just going to have to like Google it. There’s a company based out of Vancouver called Pela Case, they make cellphone cases. The difference between them and every other cellphone case is theirs don’t sit in a landfill for 10,000 years when you get a new phone. If you throw it in a compost pile, it will decompose within 10 years. It’s totally biodegradable if you compost it.

So, their revolution is there’s this whole consumer goods company that finds using petrochemicals and creating plastics totally acceptable because we need to lower cost or whatever. It’s an acceptable norm that they’re using this thing that’s destroying the environment. They refuse to accept that. You ask anyone who works for Pela, “What are you fighting for?” they’ll tell you they’re fighting for a waste-free future. They’re never going to change consumerism. We’re not going to get people to, it’s not like a plastic bag, you can’t reuse it, right? As soon as there’s a new cellphone with a different design, it’s hard to reuse that case. But we can change what’s consumed to itself be waste-free.

And what I think is really telling, they just did this about six months ago, they launched their second product which proves that their focus is on this waste-free revolution idea, because their second product has nothing to do with cellphone cases, which no strategic advisor would ever say. You have this little niche inside of electronics, inside of smartphone case, the next thing you do is make an iPad case or something else. No. Their next thing was sunglasses because that’s the next thing that’s consumable that they could tackle, right? We buy sunglasses in May. We’ve lost them by September. So, if we can trust that they’re biodegradable, somebody finds them, they get put in that landfill, they’ll decompose, they’ll biodegrade eventually, then at least we’re making it waste-free even that. We’re never going to change consumerism but we can change what’s consumed to make it waste-free. That’s my other favorite revolution story.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, and that reminds me. You talk about it doesn’t seem like a strategic adjacency from the classic strategy matrices type of thinking, but from that fight, that purpose perspective, that makes total sense. And I’m reminded of Pat Lencioni who we had recently, talked about a company and their purpose, why they were founded, was to provide good work opportunities for people in the community, and so they did roofing, but they’re like, “Hey, man, if people didn’t want roofs, we could shift to landscaping or concrete, that’s fine.”

And so, that might not seem like, I don’t know, the same skillset or whatever, but it fits in from that perspective and it continues to be inspiring even when there’s a shift afoot. So, that’s pretty handy. Well, so then how do we, let’s say, I’m thinking if we zoom into maybe an individual contributor or someone who has a small team, how would you recommend…I’m just going to throw you into the fire here. Let’s just say, “Hey, you know, we’re a marketing team, and what we try to do is get a lot of impressions, and conversions, and brand awareness, and our story out there.” And so, these are the kinds of the things that we measure and so maybe that’s a little bit flat from a fight perspective. How might we go about tapping into the power of the fight?

David Burkus
Yeah. So, the first thing, like if you’re running a small team, for example, the first thing you got to do is figure out which of these fights will most resonate with your existing people. This is actually the big misconception with a lot of the leaders that I work with is that you, as the leader, get to declare and cast the vision. It doesn’t work that way and it never really has. You get to put to words the vision that’s already in people’s hearts and minds but they haven’t really thought about enough. And so, there’s that idea. What’s going to resonate the most with you?

If you’re an individual, again, I think it’s thinking about each of these in turn and figuring out which of these narratives. I know a joke that I’m from Philly, but the truth is, the way that I’m wired, that underdog fight is actually what inspires me, motivates me to get to work, etc. And then you got to choose what stories you need to be exposing yourself to, to keep that up.

So, let’s say you choose the ally fight, for example. You’re that marketing team, you find out what the ally fight, meaning it’s, “Yeah, we’re measuring progress with impressions,” but what the larger company does can be framed inside that ally fight, then you have to figure out, “How can I make sure that I’m seeing evidence of that finished product?” This is, I think, the big problem in a lot of motivational research inside of organizations is that very few people inside the organization actually get to experience what, in psychology, we call task significance. They actually get to see the end-product of their labor and get to see how it helps people.

Adam Grant sort of did a lot of research on this about 10 years ago and reframed it. It’s what he called prosocial motivation, the idea that if you’re working to help people, you’re more motivated. But even task significance, even if it’s one of the other types of fights I think is hugely important. So, I think the biggest thing you can do, once you figure out what resonates with you, is, “How do I make sure that I’m catching that material, that I’m catching success stories from clients? If it’s the ally fight, how do I catch stories about what’s going on in the industry and why we’re doing differently so that I’m seeing that on a regular basis?”

Because most of us in the day-in, day-out, especially if our performance metrics and things like that, or how many impressions we get on random websites, we lose sight of that larger thing. And so, if you’re the only one that can do it for you, do it for you. If you’re running even a small team, that becomes one of your job, it’s how do you curate those stories. It’s not your job to cast the vision. It’s your job to curate those stories.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Well, that reminds me of right now is, hey, we’re speaking on the podcast and all I really see is you, and then I see impressions, downloads, etc. in my platform. So, we had a 10 million downloads celebration in Chicago, which is informal, we had some folks over for dinner. And then I’ll just give a shoutout here, we had a couple from Alabama, and Andrew told me that they started listening to the show on the way back from a funeral, and they were listening to kind of a heavy audiobook, like Tom Clancy, I think terrorists and stuff, it’s like, “You know what, let’s just mix this up and change it to something,” and then heard the show, it was really upbeat and it was useful and inspiring, and it keeps coming back. And so, I thought that was super awesome that, one, they valued it enough to drive from Alabama to Chicago just to have dinner. So, that was super cool.

And to remember that, these numbers, we talk about impressions, translate into human beings who are having an experience that is empowering and worthwhile and, boy, that can resonate hugely if it’s in sort of medical care. But even in smaller matters in terms of, boy, I’m just looking around my desk, a candle that makes for a nice intimate, positive experience for someone who’s having dinner or praying or just setting a mood that’s more pleasant for everyone there. And if you’re marketing candles, I think that does connect and resonate a whole lot more than, hey, 12,400 people saw our Facebook ad about our candles.

David Burkus
Yeah. You know, I totally agree. A lot of organizations, too, will rather than even create impressions, will just label growth, “This is how we’re growing and therefore that.” But growth isn’t a sense of purpose, right? That’s like saying, “Hey, we’re driving 65 miles an hour. Now we’re driving 70. We should all be excited.” Where’s the car going? Tell me more about that. And I think that’s incumbent on if you’re in any leadership role, even if it’s a small team, but it’s also incumbent upon us.

One of the practices I’ve had, admittedly it’s easier to do when you’re an author, but one of the practices I’ve had is to develop what I used to call the win folder. I don’t know what it’s currently called. I should look on my desktop. But it’s basically when people really do send you those thank you emails. I drag them into a folder so that when I need them, I can pull them back. We get those for any of our work.

Even if our work is the impressions and somebody elsewhere in the company said, “Hey, thank you so much for this. I know this project was rough. And look at this success.” When they give you that sort of thank you email or that success email, find a way to keep that because that’s going to be the easiest way to give yourself that reminder is to keep looking back on those sort of things because those are…I mean, we like to think that an organization’s customer are just the people that spend money with them. But your customers are everyone in the organization who benefits from the work that you do. So, finding ways to capture stories from all of them is hugely important.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely, yes. Well, why don’t you go ahead and tell us about a win that keeps you inspired?

David Burkus
Yeah. So, I have a bunch of them. So, I was a full-time business school professor for seven years, and this started as a non-digital, right? We taught business, and I taught a couple of the sales classes. We taught about thank you notes, and people actually listened to me and started sending them. So, I had a little box that was full of those thank you notes. Now, it’s been electronic. Probably my favorite one in the last six months or so, and this is why it comes to the top of my mind, is my prior book was called Friend of a Friend, which is a book about how networks inside organizations but also if you’re looking for a job,  or you’re in sales and trying to find more clients, networking works as well.

And I got an email from a woman who was totally dissatisfied with her job in PR and moved to New York thinking, “I was a PR major, this is where I’m supposed to go to get into film and television and news and media and all that sort of stuff,” and just hated it, loath it. Walked through Barnes & Noble, found the book, which is great but also a little depressing because I wish people like that would already know I exist, but that’s a whole other dilemma. Found the book, read it, and sort of started to develop a plan of action for moving into that world of fashion. And now that’s the world that she’s in. I have no idea why fashion appealed to her, but if you’re already in New York, it’s not a bad place to transition from media over to because it’s also based there.

And, literally, it was two emails. She sent one, I sent one, and then I think she sent one back. I have those two emails in my computer about her job transition over time. I look at it, especially when I look at the sales numbers for Friend of a Friend and we have an off week. I go back and I pull emails like that.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s powerful. Thank you.
Okay. So, then by contrast you say that it’s not so effective for the leaders to go offsite and go figure out and cast a vision or a mission statement. You say that they’re often terrible. What’s the story here?

David Burkus
Yeah. I mean, I think they all start well-meaning. The process that we use to develop a lot of them is really flawed. So, we go off to an offsite, usually we start with sort of a draft, we start with what we do which is just not necessarily why we do it but just what we do. Like your example of the roofing company, it’s not really why we do it, it just happens to be this is the business that worked best for the people we have. But we start with that description of what we do, and then everybody turns into like college English professors or parliamentarians and starts debating the specific wording, where this comma goes.

The first thing we need to do, because we care about everybody, is we need to make sure that everybody gets represented. And so, we talk about shareholders, and customers, and stakeholders, and the community, and a ton of different people. And then it’s not enough to say what we do, we also have to say how we do it, so we throw in buzzwords like synergy and excellence and innovation and all of that sort of stuff. And the end result is a phrase that ends up, and it’s way longer than the answer to the question, “What are we fighting for?” part of the reason for the question is just cut through the crap of a mission statement and tell me what you’re fighting for. But it also becomes incredibly difficult to even remember.

I have literally been in the room with CEOs of companies, and said, “What is your mission statement?” and seen them like look under the table, at their phone, or they have to look up their investors, or About Us page of their website to find it because we’re all excited when it came out two years ago and we put it on a glass plaque. But if it doesn’t actually inspire people, using one of the three levers that we were talking about, it gets very easily forgotten.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I hear you. Well, now I’m intrigued. So, some people might say, “Well, you know, that’s really great for any number of those examples, safety with aluminum, candles, writing books.” Have you seen some folks do a bit of connection to a fight in maybe an industry or a set of activities that would seem like the opposite of inspiring? Like, “It’s really hard to find a purpose here but, by golly, these guys did it and it worked for them.”

David Burkus
Yeah, there’s a couple different there. One of the big things we’re seeing is, like you said, I, after I wrote the book, became aware of a company in Cincinnati called Jancoa that is very similar, they’re a janitorial company, but their whole thing is to help people get settled. Usually, folks that are trying to climb the socio-economic ladder, or immigrants, etc., trying to find and get them settled and move on, so there’s that idea that what we actually do isn’t necessarily all that important, so there’s that idea.

But then there’s other things that people do or sometimes it’s supplied to you from the business model that makes what you do not necessarily all that important. Now, if I’m getting it, something that might be behind your question, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody properly leverage a fight and say, “We’re going to do evil,” right? “But we’re going to call it the revolution because the rest of the industry does good.” And this actually is an example that’s coming into my head but it reminds me of we were just talking about mission statements. Sometimes if you’ve got a good fight that you’ve adopted, the mission statement isn’t actually all that important.

So, there’s a little company, you may have never heard of them, they’re called Hershey, the Hershey Company, they make this candy. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it. And for a long time, actually, they had the worst mission statement I’ve ever seen. Their mission statement was literally “undisputed marketplace leadership. That’s our mission. In this industry, we aspire to that.” And, thankfully, they changed it over time mostly because people, like me, criticized them for a really long time. But the truth is they didn’t need that mission because their fight has been a part of the company DNA for a lot longer than that. Not a lot of people know this, but if you work at Hershey you definitely do.

Milton Hershey, before he died, set up a school for biological and societal orphans, the Milton Hershey School. It’s literally almost across the street. You basically, if you go to Hershey Pennsylvania, you have the headquarters of Hershey, Hersheypark, which is an amusement park, and then on the other side of Hersheypark is the school right there, all sort of laid out. Almost along the same street. And this isn’t like a corporate social responsibility, “We give some of our profits to this school that Milton started.” When Milton was preparing his estate, when he was getting ready to die, he set up a trust for the school and willed his shares to the trust. So, the trust and the school is still the majority shareholder of the school. It’s not the profits that fund the school. The trust owns the school. Milton Hershey School owns Hershey Foods.

And so, they could get into any industry they want at this point as a company, and there’s a lot of different divisions now, they’re in entertainment, they make a lot more than just chocolate, all of that sort of thing. So, I think they’re probably my favorite example of a company that you could go into any business, and as long as the trust still owns the primary business, you could change your mission statement to whatever you want to because the sense of purpose that people are going to feel is that ally fight, “What are we fighting for? We’re fighting to give those kids an education.”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. Well, so we talked about the fight a lot. I’d love it, adjacent to that or complementary to that, do you have any other best practices that make a world of difference when it comes to motivating a team?

David Burkus
Yeah. So, the task significance piece, I think, is a huge one. I think the biggest one that we are probably in dire need of in this world of virtual work that we’re about to face is, I think, we don’t often tell people how best to interact with us. Like, if you think about the majority of research that you read on people inside of teams, how you interact with your coworkers, etc., most of it is like, and I’m guilty of this, most of is content about how to deal with that coworker that disagrees with you, how to deal with this coworker that you can’t get along with, etc.

I think we’d be a lot better if we thought about us as the problem, and we actually presented to our team, “Hey, here are my little idiosyncrasies.” So, like mine is I’m very easily distracted not by little shiny things, but you’ll say something and then I’ll think about the ramifications of it, and you’ll keep talking but I’ll be over here thinking about how that affects some downstream issue. Like, it’s just I’m a systems thinker like that, and you may have to catch me up at times. You may also find me super excited about an idea that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about but it sparked in that meeting.

So, I try and present to people, “These are the little idiosyncrasies of how I work.” I’ve sometimes heard this described as an owner’s manual for yourself. What if you created an owner’s manual for yourself and gave it out to the rest of your team, and said, “Hey, based on people that used to work with me in the past and my own introspection, these are the things you can expect, strengths and weaknesses, so that we can get a little more clear”? I think that goes a whole lot further than just reading a bunch of listicles about, “How do I deal with a coworker that we disagree with?”

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. And it’s so powerful in terms of that display example of vulnerability invites others to do the same and just can go so far in building trust and camaraderie and all kinds of good things.

David Burkus
Yeah. Oh, no, I totally agree. I had this situation, in the spirit of trust and vulnerability, I’ll actually share this from two days ago. I was in a back-and-forth, more chat-based debate with somebody that’s, we’ll call him a colleague. Like a lot of the work that I do now is we don’t work for the same company but we’re working for the same mission, be it getting the book out or whatever, and we’re arguing back and forth.

We’re saying something, and he said, “Sorry, this was harsh, whatever,” and I said, “No, I wasn’t offended,” and then I immediately hit him back with, “No, actually, that’s a lie. I was but then I reminded myself of this.” And I forget what the this was but it was basically like, “No, in that moment, I really was angry at you for like 45 seconds but I got over it and here’s why.” And I don’t think he had ever had somebody actually say, “Yeah, you made me angry and I got over it because I care more about this project,” right?

So, those little, I think, displays of vulnerability, I think, are hugely important. I do want to caution here around vulnerability and authenticity that it’s also not an excuse to be a jerk. Like, this owner’s manual is not, “Here’s all the things you can expect about how I tell it like it is.” Right, this is not what we’re talking about.

Pete Mockaitis
Sometimes I’m going to scream at you.

David Burkus
“Sometimes I’ll just throw things and walk off.” No, that’s not what we’re talking about. But we are talking about, “Hey, here are the things I know about what it’s like to work with me, and some ways that I found are easiest. Here are my flaws so that we can work around them.” And, hopefully, that inspires a conversation. That works a whole lot better than like, “Let’s all do a book club, or let’s all take a personality test and talk about our differences.” I don’t know that those go all that far but that vulnerability and open sharing definitely does.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And I think the tools whether it’s Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder, any number of things out there, can be a fantastic starting point in terms of like, “Yes, this is highly resonant for me, and so I will share it.” And it’s interesting, you mentioned that that person had never had anybody admit that they were upset or offended. I think that’s a whole other ballgame. But there have been some times where people have said that they did this thing, and they said they’re sorry, and I really was kind of ticked off, and I said, “Oh, I forgive you.” It’s like people are used to hearing that, and they’re like, “Actually, that feels more intense.”

David Burkus
Right. You’re supposed to respond with, “No worries,” or, “Oh, it’s no problem,” or whatever. Like, “No, it really was a problem, but I forgive you because I care about you.” Yeah, and it’s the same deal with like I learned this from my kids and like parenting books, which is, ironically, more relevant. Most of them are more relevant to the workplace than they are to parenting. But one of the other things around emotions is it’s always okay to say your emotion. It’s never okay to blame somebody else.

So, when we work on with our kids, you can never say, “Mom, you’re making me mad.” You can say, “I’m mad.” You can say you’re mad at me as much as you want, but you got to take responsibility for your emotion. And then when you say you’re mad, I’ll help you. That might be because I have to apologize, or that might be I need to help you calm down, whatever. It’s totally cool to label your emotions. But I think we’re in this game where we only got half of that in the corporate world where we were talking about you’re not suppose to use you-statements, use I-statements. We ended up just saying nothing instead, and we just kind of mask those emotions. So, people say, “I’m sorry,” and we say, “No worries,” and that’s a lie on both counts because they’re not sorry and we’re still angry.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s true. Well, hey, man, labelling emotions when we’re working out with our two-year old who’s been doing a lot of screaming, maybe you heard some, and so we got these emotion flashcards which are really helpful in terms of the different happy, disappointed, sad, angry, and that’s been going far. We also say, “Johnny, can you please stop screaming?” And then when he does, we clap, and he likes being applauded.

David Burkus
Oh, I like that. I like that. Mine are not two but I might still steal that. For my coworkers, I mean, not for my…

Pete Mockaitis
“Will you stop screaming?” All right. Well, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

David Burkus
No, I think to bring it all together, I think emotions, again, are a powerful thing in the workplace, and we’re just sort of realizing that. And that’s one of the reasons I think this purpose thing, like you said, it’s almost primal, this idea of a fight because it taps into that emotional level. Purpose is great but if it’s just logically apparent, we see how AB equals C, and C is a good thing in the world. That’s not as motivating as let’s tap into that actual emotion of, “Here’s an injustice I need to fix,” or, “Here’s a critic I need to prove wrong,” etc. So, ironically, we hit from both angles, that power of sort of emotions that work used properly.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, now, can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

David Burkus
Yeah, one of my favorite quotes. I mean, I’m trained as an organizational psychologist, even though I always wanted to be a writer. And one of my favorite quotes from that world is W. Edwards Deming, “In God we trust, all others bring data.”

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

David Burkus
So, I talked about it a bit in the pro social motivation piece around, and some of Adam Grant’s studies. You probably heard these, because I know you and you’re smart, around the doctors and handwashing, very timely study for right now but also the call center workers and spieling the beneficiaries. But I feel like we need to shine more attention on a lot of those studies because one of the things you realize right off the bat is that organizations are pretty terrible at sharing those stories, at sharing those wins and those people who benefit from work. So, it’s a popular study already but it’s not popular enough.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And for those who have not heard it, now is your chance to popularize it. What should they know about it?

David Burkus
Oh, yes. Sorry, we’re all getting nerdy here. I apologize. I shouldn’t assume. So, Grant, while he was a Ph. D. researcher at the University of Michigan, the first study of this was a call center study looking at…especially if you’re going to a state school. I went to grad school at OU, and the very first thing I got in terms of any communication from the University of Oklahoma was a call from a student trying to raise money for scholarships. Every large school has these call centers where we’re just calling alumni asking for money all the time. And I appreciate him because they’re trying, they’re working, these are kids who were trying to pay their own way through school. Talking to them is a bit like talking to the Cat in the Hat, or the Green Eggs and Ham guy. I forget it. It’s Sam. It’s a bit like talking to Sam-I-Am because it’s like, “No, I don’t want to donate a thousand. No, I don’t want to donate in a box. No, I don’t want to donate $20 worth of fox.”

So, Grant looked at this, I mean, it’s incredibly sort of draining job, and Grant looked at it and thought, “How can we increase that task significance piece, leverage the pro social motivation?” is the term that he would use. And so, he designed this study where, basically, everybody in the call center got put into three groups. One group got an extra 10-minute break one day, another group, during that 10-minute break got to read letters from students saying how much they appreciated the scholarship that they earned because of these call center efforts, and the third group got to meet an actual student. So, they went to the breakroom for the normal break and there is a student who describes how the scholarship helped him, how he wouldn’t be able to afford to go to the University of Michigan without it, etc.

Interestingly enough, there’s no effect in group one or two. Obviously, there’s no group in group one because they just got an extra break. But group three made more phone calls afterwards for a number of weeks, raised more money per phone call. None of these groups received any training on how to be a better salesperson, anything like that. It was just the sheer motivation to, “I can put a face and a person to who I’m helping. I know what I’m fighting for at this point. I know it just feels like I’m on a phone call but I’m fighting to help keep those kids who would otherwise not have it, stay educated,” had a dramatic effect on their motivation with no other interventions.

So, Grant wrote all this up in a series of follow-up studies, too, and kind of labeled this term pro social motivation, which I think, personally, like I said, I think it needs to be more popular, talking about extrinsic motivation at all time, we’re talking about intrinsic. I think we’re going to start talking about pro social motivation like it’s a third lever of that level of motivation, that it goes alongside these other two.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thanks. And how about a favorite book?

David Burkus
One of my favorite books is by an intellectual hero of mine named Roger Martin, it’s called The Opposable Mind, and it’s about how, especially in business, but even in life, his thing was when we look at a lot of different mental models of how a business should operate, for example, it’s low cost or differentiation, or we look at how you interact with customers, either speed of service or quality of service, a lot of times those models that seem opposed are not actually opposed. And it’s the leader or even the individual contributor that can find a way to integrate those two models and leverage the strengths of both, that’s why it’s called The Opposable Mind, that can really thrive and create something new.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

David Burkus
This is going to sound super, super low-fi, my absolute favorite tool is Facebook Messenger. I don’t know why. I feel like there’s a lot of stuff you can do in iMessages or Slack, but there’s a little bit more you can do inside of Facebook Messenger, but then there’s not all the other disruptions. And what I like about it is I probably could figure out how to do this better on my computer. But what I like about it is I can get at it from just about anywhere. I’m on my tablet, it’s auto-installed there. I’m on my phone, it’s there. I’m on my desktop, it’s sort of a click away. So, I never could get messages to work the way it should. I know that seems weird but that’s probably how I interact with more colleagues and that sort of stuff. And I don’t use Facebook for anything else. I literally only have Messenger on my phone.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And how about a favorite habit, something you do that helps you be awesome?

David Burkus
So, we talked about kids already so I’ll tell you this one and yours is at the age where you could start this. My wife brought this into our daily kind of shutdown routines. So, apparently, when she was growing up, it was a common question they asked on the dinner table. Our life is such that we have more family breakfast than we have family dinners, so we didn’t ask it there. But before we go to bed, we ask both of our kids, “What was the favorite part of your day?”

And when the oldest was about three, maybe three and a half, he started asking it back to us and wouldn’t let us put him to bed until we gave him an answer too. And so, that little, now we’d call it a gratitude practice and all of this sort of fluffed-up stuff, but I really just like that question, “What was the favorite part of your day?” Let’s spend 30 seconds and go, “What was the favorite part of today? What went absolute best today?” And so, we still do it. Now, they’re eight and six, but we still do it almost every night. We probably don’t remember every night but we still do it pretty much every night.

Pete Mockaitis
And what’s a particular nugget you share that you’re known for?

David Burkus
I like to say that I’m trying to make the experience of work suck a little bit less, and I do that in a variety of ways. Pick A Fight is one of them, a lot of the other books that I’ve written, but we also put out a lot of content, just like you said, about how to interact better with coworkers and show motivation. I think work, the big grand overarching theme, or my personal fight, is that work is far more important to think about work-life balance as just the number hours because toxic work will drag itself home, and positive work will make homelife better as well. So, we need to be talking about the experience of work in a way where people leave it more energized than they came.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And if folks want to learn or get in touch, where would you point them?

David Burkus
I would point them to the show notes for this episode because you do an awesome job of writing up all those show notes with all of these little lightning-round questions. And if you’re listening to this, you already know where that is. And, let’s be honest, both of our names are a little hard to spell so no one is going to remember that. I’d send you to DavidBurkus.com but you’re already listening to the show. You know where the show notes are. Find me there.

Pete Mockaitis
Alrighty. And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

David Burkus
Find your fight. Look at the tasks that you do and the story that would resonate the most with you, and find a way to frame it, and remind yourself of that story all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. David, this has been a treat. Thank you and good luck in your fights.

David Burkus
Oh, thank you. Thanks so much. Thanks for fighting for people to have a more awesome job.

558: How to Escape Non-Stop Urgency and Become Visionary with Michael Hyatt

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Michael Hyatt: "Success is not about how much you accomplish, it's whether you're accomplishing the right things."

New York Times bestselling author and leadership mentor Michael Hyatt shares what it really takes to become a vision-driven leader.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why anyone can be a vision-driven leader
  2. The 4 key components of a good vision script
  3. How to turn your vision into action

About Michael:

Michael Hyatt is the founder and CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company, a leadership coaching and development firm twice listed on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing US companies. A longtime publishing executive, Michael is the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson, now part of HarperCollins. He is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of several books, including Your Best Year Ever, Living Forward, and Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

Michael is the creator of the Full Focus Planner, which combines quarterly goal-tracking and daily productivity in a proven system for personal and professional achievement. His blog and weekly podcast, Lead to Win, are go-to resources for hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, executives, and aspiring leaders. He has been featured by Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Wall Street Journal. Michael and his wife of 40 years, Gail live just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Items Mentioned in the Show

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Michael Hyatt Interview Transcript

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

Michael Hyatt
Thank you, Pete. I appreciate you having me on.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yes. Well, I’m looking forward to dig into this. We’re going to talk about visions and leaders. So, I want to kind of hear from your own experience. Tell us, who’s the greatest leader you’ve encountered firsthand and what was their vision like?

Michael Hyatt
Oh, man. Yeah, I would say probably John Maxwell. He’s well-known in corporate circles for sure but I had the privilege of being his publisher for about a decade and got to know him pretty close. And he was sort of my unofficial mentor. But, yeah, he had a tremendous amount of charisma and was always able to just be super relatable. And the thing that I loved about him the most is he led from his heart.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, we’ve had him on the show a couple of times, I’m a fan, so right on. Very cool. And I’m curious, did you have any particular moments with John that really kind of hit you, like, “Hmm, yeah, do that. Do that in my leadership”?

Michael Hyatt
Yeah, there were a couple of times. When I was the CEO at Thomas Nelson Publishers, which was a pretty large publicly-held company, I remember him telling me when I first took that job, he said, “You know, you hear people say all the time it’s lonely at the top.” He said, “I just want you to know that’s a choice. You don’t have to be lonely at the top. That’s totally a choice.” And I’ve always remembered that because I thought there’s a real reason why you need friends outside of work, and why you need people that you can relate to outside of work that can kind of understand you, get you, be an encouragement to you, and support you when things are not going that great at work.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, that’s a handy tip. Excellent. So, well, let’s dig into your latest upcoming book here, “The Vision Driven Leader.” So, I’m curious, that sounds like that’s how leaders should operate. But if leaders are not driven by vision, what is driving them?

Michael Hyatt
Yeah, the thing that’s driving them typically is the tyranny of the urgent.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Michael Hyatt
Most leaders I know that are leading are not driven by vision, and I think that most of them think they should be driven by vision but it’s not taught in business school, there are only about two books that I could find on the topic on Amazon, nobody’s really written about it, and because there aren’t a lot of visionary leaders in the marketplace, people just assume that it’s a special kind of charisma, or clairvoyance, or gifting, and most people just kind of go, “I don’t have the vision thing so I guess I can’t lead from vision,” so they just kind of do the next thing that comes across the plate.

And being driven from vision is a very different way to live. It’s a way to live by design, a way to run your business or your department or your division by design, because the alternative, Pete, is to drift and nobody ever drifted to a destination they would’ve chosen. And if you’re just in reactive mode all the time, then you’re really squandering resources, you have lack of focus, lack of attention, and if you can consolidate all that around a vision, it changes everything.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so I’m intrigued by your assertion there that there’s only a couple of books on Amazon. I guess I think that, hey, a vision is one of like the main things you got to have as a leader, and you should craft and communicate and inspire through that. And so, you’re saying that is a rarity. And so then, I want to kind of zero in on the distinction here. So, I guess there’s a lot of books that kind of talk about vision. You say there’s only about two that do what exactly?

Michael Hyatt
Yeah, I think the issue is that people confuse it with mission, and people think that a vision has got to be something that’s short, brief, clever, something you can slap on a coffee mug or put on a T-shirt, and that’s really not robust enough to guide you. But just to make it clear, mission and vision seems similar but I differentiate the two in the book.

A mission provides day-to-day clarity by kind of defining the identity and scope of the business. And an effective mission statement keeps on you task by answering some certain questions. But a vision is really not about now, and a mission is about now. A vision is about then. A mission is typically short, something that you can repeat almost from memory, but a vision is going to be more robust blueprint of the future that you’re trying to create. So, I think it’s important to differentiate those two things from the other.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so then let’s zero in. So, the subtitle of your book, we’ve got 10 questions there that focus efforts, energize team, and enable scaling. Well, I love powerful questions. So, can you lay some of them on us here?

Michael Hyatt
Yeah, like the first one is, “Are you a leader or a manager?” And this is a fundamental question, both of them are important, but they’re distinct functions. Sometimes they’re the same. Sometimes your role, they require that you have a leadership role and a management role, but let me kind of differentiate the two.

First of all, leaders create vision while managers execute vision. Think of it this way, if you’re leading, you’re leading people somewhere, otherwise you’re just taking a walk. That somewhere is your vision. If you don’t have a vision, you’re just taking a walk. Leaders inspire and motivate. Managers maintain and administer. Leaders take risks, managers control risks. Leaders stay focused on the horizon, while managers have their eye on short-term goals and objectives. Again, both are important but the essence of leadership, the foundation, the thing that’s kind of the number one priority is vision.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, so then I guess a couple of clarifiers. One, can a person be both a leader and a manager?

Michael Hyatt
Totally.

Pete Mockaitis
And I imagine you’re doing some activities that are more in the leader column, and some activities that are more in the manager column, depending on the hour of the day.

Michael Hyatt
Yeah. Well, let me give you an example of where we’ll separate it in two people, but I really think this is a skillset and something that anybody can develop, and this is why I wrote “The Vision Driven Leader” because it’s my conviction that anybody can be a vision-driven leader.

But Steve Jobs is probably the most iconic biggest example, somebody that was a visionary leader. His wife, at his funeral, said that the thing that Steve brought to the table was that he didn’t just see what reality lacked, but he set about to try to remedy it. So, he saw what was missing and went about to try to remedy that.

And so, you can remember when the iPhone was introduced. Steve wasn’t just a guy that said, “Hey, let’s make an incremental improvement on the phone keyboard,” which was very prevalent at the time. No, he said, “Let’s completely eliminate that. Let’s make it software-driven. Let’s let it be operated with one finger,” and he had one button on that initial iPhone. Of course, now it doesn’t even have a button. But that was an iconic kind of vision.

Meanwhile, you’ve got Tim Cook who is really the manager, who is behind the scenes optimizing the supply chain, making sure that costs could be controlled, risks could be managed, and it took both of those guys to really develop an amazing company. But here’s the thing, when Steve died, everybody, all the press, all the tech press, people on Wall Street said, “Well, I guess that’s the end of Apple. Maybe they’ll last for a while, maybe they can coast on their momentum, but the visionary is gone.” Not so fast.

Tim Cook stepped into the role of leading that company and became visionary in his own way. It’s different than Steve’s but it was still visionary. And guess what the stock price did. Basically, the market cap of that company tripled under Tim’s leadership. So, the company has gone on to amazing heights that even Steve couldn’t take it to. So, yeah, so I think these kinds of roles can be…they are roles, they’re not the essence of who you are. Anybody could be a vision-driven leader.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s a good line there. They are roles and not the essence of who you are. And so then, you say that we are often kind of caught up in the urgent and the stuff that we’re handling, and the vision is bigger and it’s kind of where we’re going. So, could you just sort of lay down a few articulations of visions for us so we can get that distinction crystal clear, like, “Oh, that”?

Michael Hyatt
Let me give you a definition. So, when I’m talking about a vision, I’m not talking about a vision statement. A statement is not sufficient. I’m talking about, and the word I use in the book is a vision script. It’s a written document that’s three to five pages in length, it articulates an imagined future, at least three years into the future, maybe five years or more depending on your industry, it’s superior to the present, it motivates you, it’s written in the present tense, and it guides you and your team in day-to-day decision-making.

And it’s organized, and I talk about this in the book, around four key components: the future of your team, that’s where it’s got to start, the future of your products, the future of your marketing, and the future of your impact. And those are just sort of the objective, measurable metrics, things like financial size, or market reach, number of customers, web visits, or something like that.

But the reason it starts with your team is your team is going to be the primary means by which you realize this imagined future. They’re going to be the ones who are going to help you bring that into reality. Your team, the people you attract, the culture that you’re creating is the single biggest driver of operating results. This is why some leaders can’t seem to make any progress in their organizations. They’re fighting against this invisible wall of culture. So, you’ve got to reimagine something different and begin to create that. That’s why the team component of that goes first.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I also want to get your view, so if you’re not at the super senior, or CEO, or just a notch or two below level, how do you envision – huh, vision – these vision scripts or principles playing out for someone who has a small team or someone who does not yet have formal direct reports but is doing that influencing across functions and such?

Michael Hyatt
Well, it totally works at any level. So, I talk in the book about when I became sort of the mid-level manager at Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was given a responsibility for one of our 14 book divisions. So, I was two steps removed from the CEO, I was in charge of this division, and I discovered, much to my surprise, a few days after I took the job, that that division was number 14 out of 14 in every important metric. They had the slowest revenue growth. It was the least profitable. In fact, it had lost money. Team morale was terrible. The division was failing.

So, the CEO said to me, he said, “How long is it going to take you to turn this division around?” And so, I said to him, I said, “I’m not sure but I think probably about three years.” The first thing I did was I booked an off-site retreat. I went away for 24 hours, and I just tried to get clear on what I wanted to create for the future. This is the first time I’d ever done this but I thought, “This thing is such a mess that I’ve got to imagine something different that’s going to motivate us and something that we can build toward.”

And I’ve been heavily influenced, though I’ve never met him, by Stephen Covey, and habit number two in the seven laws is “Begin with the end in mind.” So, I began to think to myself, “Okay, what is it that I want to create here?” And I started writing down everything I could think of, and I end it up, this is like an early version of the vision script, I end it up with 10 statements or 10 bullet points about the reality that I wanted to see in the future.

So, for example, let me give you an idea. So, that division had not had any bestselling books for years, and so I wrote down, “We’re publishing five New York Times’ Business Bestsellers per year.” So, literally, I wrote that down like it was a present reality. I said, “We’re publishing 48 books a year.” Now, the interesting thing was, at the time that I wrote that, we’re publishing 120 books a year, so I was essentially proposing that we cut the list by more than half because I felt like the increased focus, the concentration of resources, would better ensure the success of each of the books. So, it was a radical thing.

Another example, I said, “All of our employees are maxing out their bonuses,” because I wanted our team, I wanted us to earn the maximum bonus because I knew that would motivate people, and people can work for that because they would have the incentive to succeed because they would directly benefit if we did.

So, after that retreat, I came back with those 10 items written down, and I got together my inner circle, a handful of direct reports, and I said, “Look, I’ve been thinking about the future, and I’ve written some things down, this is kind of the beginning of a vision, but I don’t have it perfect, and I need your help. This is a rough draft. It’s wet cement. I’m probably missing some things, there are probably some things I don’t have quite right, and I need your input.” So, I involved them, I invited them to a conversation, where over the course of the next few weeks, we collectively got clearer on what it was that we wanted to create.

Once we got that together, then we shared it with the entire team. It was so motivational, everybody was inspired by it, we got excited about it, we let that be an operating document that informed our daily actions, and we worked hard. It didn’t take us three years like I told the CEO. It only took us a year and a half. We went from number 14 to number one in revenue growth, number 14 to number one in profit margin, and that division remained the most profitable division at Thomas Nelson Publishers for 10 years, for a decade, until I left the company in 2011.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yes, that is quite lovely in terms of once you start to describe specifically those bits in a present reality, it just naturally stirs something inside you, like, “Yes, I want that.”

Michael Hyatt
Definitely.

Pete Mockaitis
“Let’s go get that.” And, now, a few things that leap to mind here are, one, how do you deal with the potential cynicism or lack of belief, like, “Yeah, Michael, that’d be great but, I mean, come on, you know, not in the cards. Yeah, I’d love that yet here we are”?

Michael Hyatt
Yeah. Well, cynicism is really a cancer, and it’s a really hard thing to deal with in a lot of organizations because people have dealt with a lot of disappointment, they listened to leaders that articulated a vision but not rolled up their sleeves to help. It seems so pie in the sky. People have to believe it. And I think it really starts with you as the leader. You’ve got to be sold first. If you’re not buying what you’re selling, you don’t have a chance of selling to other people. You’ve got to be able to believe it, and you’ve got make it compelling.

This is like so many things in any kind of organization. It comes down to sales. We’re all in sales. I don’t care what your role is, if you can’t sell your ideas to your boss, if you can’t sell it to the people working for you, you’re not going to be successful. So, what you go to do is you’ve got to tune in to the most popular radio station on earth that everybody listens to, and that’s WII-FM, “What in it for me?” That’s the question that everybody is asking, and so you’ve got to be able to answer that question when you’re selling the vision.

What’s in it for you? It might not just be financial compensation, although that helps, and that’s why I put the one bullet point about maximizing bonuses, but it’s also for a sense of meaning. People work because they want to be connected to a larger story. They want to feel like they’re a part of something meaningful, something that’s making a difference, something that’s making a dent in the universe. And this is particularly important for the millennial generation. Millennials often get a bad rap because people say they don’t have the work ethic, they’re entitled, whatever. I’ve got an entire company full of millennials. They’re the hardest working people I know. But the reason they are is because they’re connected to a vision they believe in.

And that’s another key too. It’s got to be their vision. It starts with you as the leader, you can’t outsource this, you can’t delegate it, it’s got to start with you, but in the process, it’s got to become ours. It’s got to become a collective vision, otherwise people are going to be disengaged, and they’re going to be cynical, and they’re not going to work towards the fulfillment of it.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. So, once we’ve got it situated in terms of we’ve got a draft, we got some inputs, we’ve got it fleshed out and revised based upon that, what are some of the key questions and next steps to turn that into specific actions that starts bringing it closer to that vision?

Michael Hyatt
Yeah, one of the things I talk about in the second part of the book, I talk about, “Is it clear? Is it inspirational? But is it practical?” This has got to translate into your daily actions. And here’s what the linkage looks like. There’s so much emphasis on most corporations on execution, “We got to execute. If we could execute better, we can accomplish more.” Well, here’s the thing, if the execution isn’t based on a vision, you’re going to create a lot of sideways energy, a lot of unproductive fake work. But the vision acts as a filter. It enables you to separate opportunities from distractions.

And so often, the more successful you become, distractions show up masquerading as opportunities, and this is why people get overwhelmed, like companies have too much to do, why people work in 70 to 80 hours a week. The vision focus is that effort. But once you’ve got a clear vision, then you can ask yourself the question, again, the three-year time horizon, “Based on that, what do our annual goals need to be for this year so that we can achieve that vision over the course of the next three years?” I recommend seven to 10 goals on an annual basis. That’s got to be further disseminated or distilled down to two to three goals per quarter.

Then, from that, we come down to the weekly priorities. And everybody’s got to have weekly priorities that are based on those goals, and I recommend no more than three. Probably you got a thousand things you could do this week, but what are the three most important? And then, finally, what are your big three daily tasks? The average person has, and we’ve done a lot of research on this, but the average person who uses a task management system has 15 tasks on any given day that they have to do. As a result of that, they wake up feeling overwhelmed. Even if they get eight of those done, more than half, they end up with seven that are unchecked, they go to bed defeated. They’re playing a game they can’t win.

Instead, if you take sort of the Pareto principle, that 20% of the effort drives 80% of the results, there’s probably 20% of those 15 tasks that are really going to move the needle, that are the high-leverage activities that really, really matter. So, 20% of 15 is 3, so identify your three big tasks for the day, declare it a victory if you get those three done, and do that day after day after day, and you’ll incrementally move toward that vision. And that’s exactly what my coaching clients do, that’s what the leaders we consult with do, and that has made all that difference, and it links that vision with daily action.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, you’ve given me some fun data there, those 15, and I guess, in practice, most of the time, people do not accomplish all 15, and then you do have those carryovers that are frustrating. And so, I’ve thought a lot about the 80/20 Principle and I am…it’s funny how you talk about do those three and you get to declare a victory. Sometimes I wonder, it’s like, “Well, there’s those three things, but what about the amount of time? It’s like have I really earned a victory if I did those three things in one hour?” And so, take it.

Michael Hyatt
Yeah. Well, I was going to say, it’s not about how long it takes. Here’s the thing, success is not about how much you accomplish, it’s whether you’re accomplishing the right things. And this is the question that real leaders ask, they’re not asking, “How much could I get done?” but, “Can I get the right things done?”

And as it turns out, there’s not that many things you have to do to contribute toward the vision. Now, let me just give you a case in point. So, I have about 500 business coaching clients, many of those are business owners, some of them are entrepreneurs, some of them are just leading inside a corporation. But on average, people that are responsible for revenue in my business coaching clients, on average, in the first 12 months in the program, using this kind of vision-driven approach, their business grows by 62%. On average.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Michael Hyatt
That’s interesting all by itself. But here’s what makes it even more interesting. On average, they shaved 11 hours off their work week. They’re able to achieve more by doing less because they’re not fixated on all these stuff that doesn’t contribute to the vision. They’re focused on the stuff that contributes to the vision and to the future reality that they’re trying to create. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely, yeah. Well, that is exciting for all the overworked people experiencing that. All right. So, we’ve got the crafting the vision, breaking it down into the particular activities. I want to hear, when you are going about communicating this, what are some of your top do’s and don’ts for conveying it effectively with other people?

Michael Hyatt
Well, the first thing I would practice is something I call cascading communication, but it’s got to begin with a written vision statement. So, it’s not enough to just have this rattle around in your brain, let it be vague, or ambiguous, or just kind of floating out there. You’ve got to express it, and so that’s why I always say you’ve got to write the vision. That will force clarity. By writing it down, that forces clarity. So, you’re going to end up with a vision script, again, a document that’s three to five pages in length.

You’re going to practice cascading communication which means that you’re not just going to like go back, get your entire department together, or your entire division, or your entire company, and then just read it. No, that’s not the way you want to do it. You want to submit this, first of all, to a small, small group, your inner circle. Then you want to roll it out to the next level down, and then the next level down. This gives an opportunity for input, so if you’ve got some glaring errors, or some things that you’ve absolutely missed, or don’t have quite right, you’ve got a chance to correct those before you roll it out to a broader group.

So, each time you roll it out, there should be a little bit less change. But even when you roll it out to the entire group, and you’re standing in front of whatever organization you preside over, whether, again, that’s a department, or a division, or the entire company, you basically want to say, “Look, we’re crafting, we’ve crafted and we’ve worked on a vision of the future. This is a reality that we want to create. And we, as a leadership team, or a management team,” or whatever you call it inside your organization, “we’re committed to this future, but we can’t do it ourselves. We need your help. There may be things here that we’ve missed, and we want to invite you to contribute to that and to give us some feedback.” So, you want feedback.

And, by the way, you’ve got to reframe negative feedback as something that’s truly helpful. If somebody sees something you’re missing, I would much rather know from a teammate than to roll it out into the marketplace and figure out when the market doesn’t accept it, or you embarrass yourself, or fall flat on your face. So, you want to involve everybody in that process, so it does involve cascading communication, that’s one thing.

Second thing, it’s not a one-and-done kind of thing where you finish your vision script, you make a big announcement, “Ta-dah!” and then you put it on the shelf and forget it. No. Here’s the thing. Vision leaks. Andy Stanley talks about this in his book on vision, but vision leaks. What that means is that in a daily grind, as we’re trying to work through all the tasks, and we’re trying to deal with all the incoming stuff that we’re reacting to, it’s very easy to forget where this task you’re doing fits into the bigger story. That’s why leaders, true leaders, have to be the voice for the vision. If they’re not giving voice to that vision, the vision might as well not exist. The only thing that keeps it alive is you constantly repeating it.

Another story, 2009, I was in the teeth, the midst of the great recession. It was a horrendous time. Our sales have fallen by 20% that first year, the entire industry had fallen by about…the book publishing industry had fallen by about 20% that year, I mean, it was rough. And I remember complaining to my executive coach, I said, “I am so tired about talking about the vision. I feel like it’s kind of a lost cause at this point. We got to re-strategize, and I’m tired of hearing myself talk about it.” She said, “Well, I’ll tell you what, when you’re tired of hearing yourself talk about it, you’re half done. This is the time people need to hear the vision because people are discouraged, people are not seeing the results of their work. They need to be reminded why they’re working, what’s important, what you’re trying to create.”

So, I rolled up my sleeves, redoubled my effort, and kept preaching the vision. I had to keep it alive, and I really think that was the only thing that got us through the great recession, was the belief that we were creating a future that was bigger than the recession and would come to pass once we got through the other side of the recession, which we did.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, very cool. Well, let me follow up on your point with regard to that this applies to all folks at all levels. So, how do you recommend you apply some of these questions, or principles, or approaches when you got no direct reports whatsoever? Do you make a vision for yourself, and a plan for yourself, or how do you think about those matters?

Michael Hyatt
Absolutely, because you’re still presiding over an area where you have responsibility. And if you’re responsible for any kind of results, you can have a vision for what those results can be. So, to give you an example, our social media manager has zero direct reports, but she’s got her own vision script about what it is she’s trying to create for us in terms of our social media channels, in terms of she’s got an outside team, very small team of contractors. She’s got one contractor that she’s working with, that’s her team. What’s her product? Well, it’s the posts. What’s the marketing? How does she do this? What’s the impact she’s wanting to have?

But for her to get crystal clear on that, the alternative, again, if you don’t design the future, you’re going to get to the future. You’re just going to drift into it and you’re going to drift to a destination that you didn’t design using one that’s not desirable. So, I really believe that everybody at every level needs to have a vision for what it is they’re trying to create in their role, even if they’re just a solopreneur, even if they’re one person in a department with no direct reports, or they have a small department or a division. It doesn’t matter. You still need vision. Begin with the end in mind.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, Michael, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Michael Hyatt
Well, I would say that inevitably when you’re coming up with a vision, you’re going to experience resistance, there are going to be challenges. Just because you come up with a vision, it doesn’t mean that, all of a sudden, like magic, this begins to start happening. Steven Pressfield wrote an incredible book called “The War of Art.” And one of the things he talks about in that book is the resistance. And anytime you purpose to make an improvement, I don’t care whether it’s trying to lose weight, improve your marriage, improve your business metrics, whatever it is, you’re going to encounter opposition.

And it may just be in the form of something that’s not direct or personal, just challenges in the marketplace or whatever, or maybe just people that oppose your vision. But, regardless, the value of a vision is when you get into that messy middle, when you’ve invested too much to quit, and you’re not sure you have the resources to finish, it’s that vision that gives you the tenacity to stay in the hunt, and follow through, and not quit, not bail out before you realize it. So, this has a really practical consequence for staying engaged when you want to quit.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. Well, now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Michael Hyatt
Yeah, I would say one of my favorite quotes about writing that’s apropos to a vision is “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips.”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fun. Thank you. And how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Michael Hyatt
I think the research that I’ve done in my book “Free to Focus,” which is my last book, was the importance of actually limiting the amount of time you work so you increase your focus and your productivity. One of the things I discovered in that process is that once you work more than about 50 hours a week, you actually go backwards in terms of productivity and accomplish less. So, all these people that are out there advocating what I call the hustle fallacy, you need to work 70 or 80 hours a week, or like a loan you need to work 80 to 100 hours a week, they don’t have the science on their side. People that are more productive and accomplishing bigger results are people that are putting firm boundaries around their work and have a life outside of work.

Pete Mockaitis
And what’s the magic number or the range?

Michael Hyatt
Oh, 50.

Pete Mockaitis
Fifty, all right.

Michael Hyatt
Yep.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Michael Hyatt
I’m typically a fan of the last book I read, and one of the most recent ones I read that I really loved was Jason Fried’s book “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.” He advocates some of the same kind of concepts. But if I had to point to a book, one of my favorites of all time is, I’ve already mentioned, is Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Michael Hyatt
The tool I’m using the most right now is a tool called Dynalist. Have you ever heard of it?

Pete Mockaitis
I think I’ve seen it listed but I’ve never used it. Tell me more.

Michael Hyatt
It’s an outlining tool. I used to use a tool called Workflow. And I tend to think in hierarchical outlines, so whenever I’m trying to create content, that’s where I start. But Dynalist is kind of like Workflow on steroids. It’s got a lot of features that Workflow is missing. But, yeah, I love it.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool. And a favorite habit?

Michael Hyatt
My morning routine. That’s crucial. Having a morning ritual that sets me up to win is critically important. And of my morning ritual, there’s a number of things that I do there. I think my daily practice of exercise while listening to either podcasts or audiobooks is critical to both my physical maintenance and my intellectual growth.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget that you share, you’re really known for, people kind of quote it back to you often?

Michael Hyatt
I think the whole thing about self-care and investing in yourself, that if you want to accomplish more, you’ve got to drive the roots deep and plant the tree on firm ground. And I think a lot of leaders don’t do enough of that. They’re run rugged by their work. They’re not reinvesting in themselves. You’ve got to fill the well if you’re going to have anything to share with other people.

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

Michael Hyatt
Well, first of all, to find out about the book, you can go to VisionDrivenLeader.com/awesome, we’ve created a special landing page for your listeners. And there, if you buy the book, “The Vision Driven Leader” from any outlet and bring the receipt there, you can turn it in, we’ve got a number of free bonuses there including the Audible version of the book. So, if you buy the physical book or the Kindle and come there, we’ll give you the Audible book that you can listen to as well for free.

Also, the Kindle edition of my last book, and then a tool called the vision scriptor tool which will take you by the hand and walk you through the process of creating your first draft of a vision script for your department, or your division, or whatever you preside over. So, again, that’s all at VisionDrivenLeader.com/awesome. For all other things related to me, my podcasts and my other products and tools and blog and all that, it’s in MichaelHyatt.com.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Michael Hyatt
Yeah, I would say you’ve got to be, if you want to succeed, if you really want to grow, if you want your career to progress, you’ve got to be a vision-driven leader. It’s essential. I don’t care at what level you are, if you develop a vision, if you develop the habit of developing a vision, if you’re being vision-driven, that’s going to make you stand out and give you a competitive edge against everybody else that is totally in reactive mode. You’ll create bigger better results, you’ll get noticed, and you’ll get promoted faster.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Michael, thanks. This has been a treat and good luck to you.

Michael Hyatt
Thanks, Pete. Appreciate it.

467: Finding Internal Clarity and Purpose with Paul Durham

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Paul Durham shares strategies to develop and execute your personal vision with great clarity.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The wonders of guided journaling
  2. How to get your days to lead to your desired future
  3. Why you need to involve others to get to your vision

About Paul 

Paul Durham’s passion for studying models of human development expresses itself in his mentoring and executive coaching. After earning a degree in Philosophy from Oberlin College and teaching in the Oakland public schools, he embarked on a career as a successful musician in Los Angeles, releasing albums on major labels, receiving widespread radio play, appearing on film and TV soundtracks, and developing a fan base that persists to this day. Always entrepreneurial, he parlayed his industry experiences into a variety of businesses including commercial music production, song licensing, and ringtones. Now 50 and the father of a teenage son, he has blended his comprehensive experiences into executive coaching and programs designed to help people find their paths and take flight.

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Paul Durham Interview Transcript

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

Paul Durham
You’re welcome, Pete. Thanks for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I think we have so much fun stuff to dig into. But I want to go to a moment in which you said your band was playing and you had 70,000 people throwing mud at you. What is this?

Paul Durham
Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like only the thousand people in front were throwing mud at us, so 2,000 it seemed.

Pete Mockaitis
Were they pleased or angry? Why were they throwing the mud?

Paul Durham
We were in Florida. It was a little bit of a mystery. It was 1998, my band was on tour. We had a song on MTV, and a song in the Top 40, I think top 5. Like, rock and alternative track, so we were playing all these big radio festivals. We’re opening for Foo Fighters and Green Day, and all this kind of classic ‘90s band. And when we hit the stage in Florida, they seemed like they liked us but I think it had rained. And I think throwing a little bit of mud at the band was just kind of part of the fun, which is not so great when you’re playing like a $4,000 vintage electric guitar, which we were young, we didn’t know better at the time. You take your crappy guitars out on tour with you.

But, anyway, my bass player got very irritated and then, finally, at some point, threw the whole audience the finger, and waved his arms in the universal signal for bring it on. And a black cloud of mud descended on us from there. And, yeah, we were basically covered in mud, and we just played all the louder and harder at that point.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, was any of the equipment destroyed?

Paul Durham
No, but our poor crew guy was up all night pulling mud out of like the hollow body and the drums.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s the glamor of rock and roll, huh?

Paul Durham
Well, I had our manager kick him an extra couple of hundred bucks because he was really above and beyond. We were idiots.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, we all have kind of fun points of intersection. Now, you use my podcast microphone, the Shure Beta 87A when you’re singing on stage.

Paul Durham
I do. On stage, yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Which is cool. And so that makes me feel all the more validated. Thank you for that. And I became aware of you from my father-in law, he said you do some really cool stuff with YearOne education which is for younger people, but I think there’s so many parallels and valuable takeaways. So, could you orient us to what do you do there and what kind of results do you see there?

Paul Durham
Well, I’ve been in the music business for 25 years, I’ve relied on mentors. And so, when the sons and daughters of my friends get interested in the music business, and their parents don’t know what to do, they ask me if I can mentor them, which I’m always really happy to do, and have been doing for years.

And then, several years ago, a friend of mine said, “Can I hire you to coach my son? He wants to drop out of college and go become a professional musician?” And I had been meeting with this kid and I recognized that some of my advice may have influenced his decision, which I then went into a moral panic, and I was like, “Yes, I will coach your son.” And he was like, “Well, how much should I pay you?” I said, “I have no idea.” So, he said, “How about $40,000? That’s what I’m spending on his private school.” And I was like, “Well, that seems like a bit much but how about half that?”

So, then I went home and realized, “Oh, I need to create a curriculum to justify charging money for this thing that I’ve been doing for years.” And, in creating that curriculum, I got really excited about the idea of creating a framework for young people who are smart and ambitious and interested in things, but maybe not the best fit for going to college, not ready to go work at 7-Eleven either, but something in between.

And then I really started realizing that pretty much kids who are going to college as well should probably take a year. They’ve been in school for 13 years, like three quarters of their life, maybe they just want to take a year, figure a few things out, get some experience under their belt, grow up a little bit, get some skills so that when they do head to college, and they face the culture shock of being totally responsible for themselves, their eating, their bedtimes, their homework. They’re not in school eight hours a day, and studying two hours a night. They’re in school for two hours a day and need to be studying a lot of the rest of that time. That’s a big shock.

That maybe if they went to a program and got some preparation, that they would be much more likely to be successful in college, which is good, given how incredibly expensive college has become. Three times more expensive than when you and I were in school and adjust the dollars. So, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And I understand that as you engaged these folks, you see some real transformation. So, could you maybe tell us a tale or two that illustrates this?

Paul Durham
Well, it’s such a great age, 18, 19, 20, where people, especially the way we raise kids these days. They’ve really been under our thumb. That’s how I raised my son too. It’s sad but true. We’re really kind of overmanaging our children in such a way that when they hit 18, a lot of them don’t know very much about the real world.

And so, for example, Kaito, this friend’s son of mine, he was really unclear about paying rent, about getting a checking account, about how often the oil needed to be changed in his car, etc. And when we sat down and we started to work some of those out and started to help him get clear about his vision, to show him, plug him into a really effective powerful time management system, and getting responsible for his money and that kind of thing, he really just started to blossom in a way.

And we might think, “Oh, well, that’s something that parents should handle.” But I think we underestimate the fact that the degree to which teenagers don’t listen to their parents, you know. And as a culture, we have disconnected young people from mentors. And we’re hyper social species like bees and ants. We need more than just our parents to get ourselves raised into full adulthood. We need mentorship.

And so, I sort of recognized the power of having someone that a kid could rely on, that could hold them accountable. And, in Kaito’s case, he went from mastering a lot of kind of basic life skills into getting clear about what kind of music he wanted to record, and then going through a transition of connecting with him with a mentor in the music business who was a string player like himself. And he started doing publishing chores and kind of administration for that guy, and soon discovered, “Oh, my gosh, this is what I want to do. I don’t want to play music. I want to be in the business of music,” which was a big remarkable shift for him that he went through.

And then he just really got lit up. He just started reading music business books like crazy. This was a kid, we couldn’t even get him to read a novel. And now he’s reading music business books, he’s reading personal development books because he found that fire that I think most of us have experienced at different points in our life, that pointed him in a direction, and he just really went crazy.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, to what extent do you see a similarity carry over in terms of professionals who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s and the teenagers?

Paul Durham
I think it’s really more similar than we would think. I do executive coaching with real estate developers and corporate guys in Silicon Valley. And I think we have this idea that we’re going to figure out what we’re really good at, and that once we figure out what we’re good at, we’re just going to keep doing that. It’s kind of this old industrial model where you go work at a job, and then get a gold watch at the end, you know.

And I just don’t think that’s how people actually are. I think passion is a moving target. And as we work, and as we master things, those passions shift and we become more interested in other things. And so, really getting clear about vision, everybody talks about this, but spending the time, going deep, going deep over time and continuing to develop that clarity of vision is so important and people staying connected to their work, staying connected to their job, staying connected to that business that they started, that they love, and now they’re tired of, staying connected to that role in their corporation that they were so excited to get, and it was so interesting for a few years and now it’s just not. It’s not that interesting.

It’s like we blame ourselves because we’re not being good cogs. But the fact is that our vision and interest have evolved but we have not kept up in terms of our awareness of that evolution. So, for me, when I work with an adult, it really begins with the clarity, the excavation, and the definition of vision. So, we can start from there.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Well, so let’s hear just that. So, how did you go about getting that clarity and excavating a vision?

Paul Durham
Well, I do a lot of guided journaling. I think writing is very powerful. I think when a client is talking to me, or they’re talking to their wife or husband, or they’re talking with their therapist or their boss, people bend themselves depending on who it is that they’re speaking to. But when you’re writing on pages that no one else is ever going to see, you don’t have to bend yourself. It’s the one safe space in which you can receive feedback from the person who knows you best, which is you.

I don’t like to tell people what to do a lot. It’s tempting as a coach because it’s fun to exercise power. But what I really try to do is to create frameworks in which people, in which I draw out of people what they know, the wisdom that they have, and the clarity that they have, which we just don’t take time in our cellphone, Netflix, driving to work kind of world. We just don’t take time. We got kids. We got jobs. It’s stressful. And if we don’t take that time, we don’t get the level of clarity that we really need to connect to our hearts and then to connect our hearts to our work.

So, yeah, I would say guided journaling, conversation, inquiry, really asking why, asking, “Okay, so you created this situation. Where is the benefit in it for you? Or maybe there isn’t a benefit. Okay, so what else would you want? What else would you imagine?” You give yourself permission to really, “What if failure wasn’t an option? What would your life look like? What would you try?” Just really kind of get people to expand beyond their survival emotional status that is arising for all of us week by week, and get into more of a visionary space where something else is possible, something different is possible.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, with the guided journaling, is it your view that pen and paper is superior than digital media?

Paul Durham
Absolutely. Maybe because I’ve been scribbling songs in notebooks for 30 years, but I have a huge prejudice against typing when it comes to really connecting to the deepest part of ourselves. I think this culture is like brains on a stick, and we’re not brains on a stick. We are bodies and the brain is a part of the body. So, for me, writing is really a great way that I find that I can connect to the wisdom of the body by moving my body, by moving my hand across the page, and having to navigate the whole physicality of it. I think that that actually evokes a lot of, yeah, just the body’s deeper wisdom.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, you sort of mentioned a number of those questions pretty quickly. But could you highlight one or two or three that just seem to open up the floodgates of self-awareness and insight quite frequently?

Paul Durham
Yeah, it’s a lot of different things. I have people do a five-year exercise where you describe the life that you’re living five years from now. What kind of sheets are you sleeping in? What kind of house do you live in? Who’s beside you? What do you do for a living? What do you do with your days? What’s your physical exercise like? What’s your diet like? What is your life like in detail? So that people can really get a sense of, “There is a desire in my heart for a life that I have not yet achieved.”

And not that it’s all about more, better, different because a lot of times it’s just about settling into who you are and what you have. But that life that we can imagine often has important elements of what we’re not being true to in terms of who we are. Because maybe you’re not living on mansion on a beach. Maybe you’re living in South America and you’re providing healthcare to a village. Or maybe there’s some vision in you that you’re afraid to express because of the pressure of modern life that needs to come out and walk around a little bit, breathe.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, cool. So, you do some of these journaling. And, let’s say, once you zero in on something like, “Yes, that is a desire,” what then?

Paul Durham
Well, then we start testing it. Then we start testing it over time. Write some letters to your parents that you don’t mail to them. Write a letter to your spouse that you don’t give to them. Write a letter to yourself as a young person. Walk around in the world and feel what it’s like with that vision in you. It’s, all of a sudden, your job lit up because you recognize that there’s a way in which you can express that vision at work with your coworkers. Like, maybe there’s an element of service that emerges in your vision that you’re not actually expressing at work.

A lot of times people’s jobs are dead and dry because they are there for themselves and their families. And it’s not that we don’t serve our families by going off to work every day. But I find that without a service attitude, an attitude towards service, anything can get dry. You can be a singer or songwriter in a rock band, and it can get very dry if, for me, if I’m not thinking about the people who have sent me. Facebook messages in the middle of the night, saying, “You saved my life,” you know. It means a lot to me. And if I don’t think about those people in my work, the service I’m doing, then my work gets very much about logistics and technical craft and money, stuff like that.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And this is a theme that’s come up a few times and it’s amazing how easy it is to slip out of the service orientation and forget who you’re enriching, and then go focus on like what’s right in front of you, like, “There’s 83 emails. I need to answer them all.”

Paul Durham
That’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, boy, when you’re in that moment, what are some of your favorite ways to reconnect to the purpose and the service that’s going on there?

Paul Durham
Well, I mean, me, probably like a lot of other guests that you have, I really believe in structures, I believe in automating your finances, I believe in spending a lot of time leveraging time management tools. I think the FranklinCovey paper planners are unbelievably powerful. I think trying to organize, prioritize your life on a computer screen is, on some level, hopeless. That’s just my opinion. I think you need a separate device. It’s the same reason why I wear a watch so I don’t have to look at my phone to tell what time it is.

And I think it’s important to organize your email. Use smart folders so that you’re not staring at 10 emails. You’re staring at the two important emails. So, I think those things are really important. But I also just find that if you are looking at your phone first thing in the morning, and you’re prioritizing the world’s, it’s basically you’re putting the priorities of the world ahead of the priorities of yourself and your heart, whether it’s your boss or coworkers emailing you, or nonsense on Facebook, the fantasies that people put up on Instagram, just all the crap we poison ourselves with first thing in the morning.

Maybe we have 20, 30, 40 minutes before our kids wake up to actually be a person and figure out who we are. And I find that the most important thing is to take that time and to meditate, or to journal, or to exercise if you need to. But to do something that settles you into who you are into yourself and what’s important to you because, otherwise, the day, and we’re off to the races and the rest of the day doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to your email box.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s intense. And so, we got some journaling, we got some smart practices associated with time management. Well, let’s say we just get one or two of these practices in terms of like that’s the most transformational and gets you the most kind of realigned to your desires and priorities. What would you say are some of the biggies there?

Paul Durham
In terms of the morning practices?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, I guess the morning practices as well as it sounds like I don’t yet want to resign that the rest of the day is not mine.

Paul Durham
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
How can I get a little more for me?

Paul Durham
Okay. Well, I think weekly time management is critical. I love the FranklinCovey system where you figure out your roles and your goals so that you know what the absolute most important thing you need to do or the two most important things you need to do today as a father, or as a boss, or as a spouse, or as a person with a body who needs to exercise and eat a certain way.

I think defining those big rocks, as they call them, that whole metaphor of the guy comes in, he’s got a jar of big rocks and gravel and sand and water, and he’s like, “How am I going to get all this stuff in the jar?” And he’s like, “No, you can’t.” He’s like, “Well, I can.” But the way he does it, he puts the big rocks in first, then he puts the gravel, then he puts the sand, then he puts the water. And if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you can’t get all of the little rocks in the jar. So, it’s really starting with those big rocks.

And I find the weekly is vastly superior to daily.

Daily is just really kind of keeping your head above water. It’s weekly time management that we define, that we can sit back on a Sunday afternoon, and define the big priorities in our lives, and make sure that we’re taking one step forward in each one of those. And, yeah, it’s only one step, but you take one step forward in each of the main priorities, the main roles in your life, one year is going to go and you’re going to be a different person in one year.

Honestly, a lot of what I do in my coaching is just saying, “Look, we spend all this time getting clarity about these deep long-term goals that you’ve been putting off for a decade and that you really want to do. Okay, let’s take the steps because we’ve got to take the steps this week. Send me a picture of your weekly plan, and I’ll be holding you accountable a week from now.” I think that accountability is really powerful.

It’s easy for me to sit here and say all this stuff into the microphone, but in my own life, when I want to make a shift, I hire a coach because if I could’ve done it by myself, I would’ve done it. I have all the tools. I know what the tools are. If I haven’t made the shift, it’s because I need help. We need help as people. So, weekly time management, and if I had to point to one other thing other than really taking the time to get clarity of vision, doing a course.

I just saw there’s life book course where they guide you through all this stuff. I’m like, “Oh, I’ve been doing that.” It’s like, “Yeah, that’s important. It’s important to get clarity about your vision and what you really want, who you want to become. Who do you want to be? What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?” A lot of us are no on track to hit that target of who we want to be on our deathbed. And we think, “Well, I got the house paid for.” It’s like, “Man, none of that stuff matters.” Who you are and who you’re becoming, that’s what matters. That’s what’s going to matter to your kids. Not some Swiss watch you left them.

So, yeah, it’s the vision, it’s the weekly planning, and then it is connecting to your soul. And some people do that through meditation. I practice Zen meditation for years, and I love meditating, but I find that, nowadays, I wake up and I really want to get my day started, so I need something more active than meditation so I really turn to the journaling. And I find that you can get the artist way. That’s, really, I’ve been doing those daily morning pages for years, just sit down and write through pages. No matter what it is, or even if it’s like writing and writing, I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, over and over. Pretty soon you will know what to write and you’ll connect to a source of wisdom about yourself that you didn’t know was there.

Pete Mockaitis
And I guess I’m curious to hear, if you think about some of your clients, the most dramatic transformations that you’ve witnessed, kind of what’s core to the human nature or condition when it comes to making change? And it’s kind of difficult for us. How do we succeed when we’re kind of in the thick of it?

Paul Durham
Well, I think it’s different for different people. I think it’s different at different age. I think we really have to honor our part in the lifecycle. When I was in my 30s, I was working 60 hours a week. I was just killing myself to build a number of different businesses, and that’s what I was interested in. And now, at 50, if I say, “Man, I just don’t have a 60-hour week in me anymore. I just don’t have it.” There’s a reason for that.

I think working with people at 18, 19 and 20, working with people in their late 30s, and then working with people kind of around 50 has helped me see that honoring lifecycle plays. A lot of guys who hit 42, 45, they’ve had some success, and the color just goes out of the world for them, and they’re like, “What’s wrong with me? I got a nice relationship, or I got a nice house, or I got nice kids, or I got a great job, or whatever. But, man, what is it? What is it that I have been neglecting all these years that now has finally caught up to me?”

And the solution for that is not to take testosterone and go to the gym five days a week and just try to bust your ass back down to 30 years old. The solution to that is to listen to what your lifecycle is pointing you towards. And, in doing that, that’s where I feel like I’ve had a lot of success for these young people. I’m like, “Get hungry. Get passionate. Make mistakes. Go make mistakes so you can learn how to fail, and you can build your resilience, and you cannot be afraid.”

But for someone, just get out there and do it. Just take people out to lunch, like interrupt people in the lobby, make a fool of yourself. Do whatever it takes. But for a man or a woman in their 50s, it might be very much more like, “Hey, maybe have you thought about working less? Have you thought about finding a way to stop trying to grow your career and start trying to grow your being?”

So, I don’t know, I would say the specific success stories, I don’t know, it’s also individual. Sometimes guys just need to be told what incredible jerks they are. Seriously. Like, sometimes they hire me to tell them what jerks they are because they’re just jerks, and no one will tell them because if anybody tells them that, everyone around them pays too high of a price. And they’re like, “Oh, man, I really am a jerk.” I’m like, “Yeah, maybe you should look into that.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Paul Durham
But, you know, we live in these isolated boxes and we insulate ourselves with money from the perspective and wisdom that others have of us and it’s too bad.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’d love to get your take then in terms of how do we have less of that insulation and to get more valuable input from other people so we can see things more accurately?

Paul Durham
Yeah, that’s a great question. So, I would say that another way in which 18-year-olds are the same as 45-year-olds is that 45-year-olds don’t take risks either. We just don’t take risks, man. We just stay in our comfort zone. We don’t go talk to people we don’t know at a party unless we absolutely have to. We don’t necessarily go take some online education course and take it really seriously or have a goal and really hire a coach and just say, “Look, I’m just going to take this money and I’m going to make this shift. I’m going to make this shift.”

And I think that there are opportunities all around us that many of those opportunities lie in the service realm, in the realm of volunteers, it’s like, “Oh, I need to spend time with my kids.” Okay, well, take your kids. Take your kids and go volunteer. Take your kids with you and go out for a day and do something that really helps other people in a direct fashion, not just write a cheque kind of fashion.

So, that’s what I would really say is that we don’t take risks. We are afraid to fail, “I’m afraid of signing up for that online education course that seems like really legit and like it would be speaking to exactly what I’m suffering with right now because what if I don’t take the time and I waste the money?” It’s like, “Okay, so you don’t take the time and waste the money. But if you did follow through, you know you would get 50 times the value back from that course.”

Or, “Oh, I’m stuck in my job. I don’t know what to do about it.” Well, there’s all kinds of nonsense that shows up in my Facebook feed every single day about starting your own business. Have you tried one of those? Because, yeah, maybe it will be nonsense and a scam, but maybe it would be real. You actually could like be able to quit your job, or at least learn more about business which you might be able to then bring back into your job and create more value and success there.

So, that’s what I would say. It’s just, I don’t know, it’s like the richer we get as Americans, the more afraid we get and the more risk-averse we get.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, boy, I don’t remember the quote. I think it was St. Augustine of Hippo said something about when we don’t have wealth, we just worry about how we’re going to survive and acquire it. And when we do have it, we worry about how we might lose it.

Paul Durham
I know. I know. Well, it’s like the Buddha saying, “Suffering comes from losing things and from having things,” because when we lose things, it’s painful. And then when we have things, we’re afraid of losing them, and that’s painful. So, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I also want to get your take in terms of when you’re in the moment and you know a certain thing needs to be done, it’s on your weekly plan, by golly, and you’re just not feeling it, how do you power through?

Paul Durham
Yeah, I don’t power through.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Paul Durham
That’s what I don’t do. When I was 30, I just power through, man. I could just eat a big, giant wheelbarrow full of crap from morning to night, all day long.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s quite an image.

Paul Durham
I just pile up those tasks and just motor through them. And, partly, I work a lot smarter now than I used to. But I would say go for a walk. Go walk around the block. Find out who you are. Just reconnect with who you are. You’ll get it done faster I promise you. You might, “Oh, I don’t have time.” Yeah, you have time. You have time to look at Instagram. You have time to waste your time. You’re returning emails that if you actually like were a little bit more centered you would recognize should be ignored.

So, that’s what I try to do more and more and more. Try to settle into who I am rather than what I have to do, what I’m trying to get. If I can settle into who I am, so much stuff falls away, so much stuff that doesn’t need to be dealt with, and certainly doesn’t need to be dealt with in a kind of unskillful fire-setting ways that happen when I just jump on it, “I’m just going to crank through this stuff.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I guess I’m thinking certainly there’s many things that we’d be better off not doing, that don’t fit us and need to go, so I’m right with you there. But I guess I’m thinking like if you’ve been through all the process associated with the journaling and the pondering and the identifying of a desire and, “Yes, that is very important, and then, yes, this is the key step I need to take in order to do that.” And then it’s the moment that you’ve calendared for yourself to do that, and you’re like, “Hey, I’m not really feeling it.” Then what?

Paul Durham
Totally. Yeah, it’s funny. I’m building a new business right now over the last few years, so this new education business for young people. And it’s a whole new world. I talk to people and they’re like, “Oh, you’re kind of making a new thing.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I’m making a new thing. There’s nothing I can go out and just rip off.” It’s very disheartening in moments.

And when I run up against that, if I have the presence of mind to think of my clients, to think about their lives, to think about the struggles that they have, to think about some of my clients that are a year or two out of the program and the lives that they’re living and the messages that I get from them and where they were when they started, and I think about, man, if I hadn’t kind of done this weird thing and put a bunch of time into developing something that I had no idea whether it would work, that kid would still be in her parents’ basement, in conflict with her parents about wanting to do something that she didn’t really know what it was, or she might be still using drugs or whatever.

It’s like I just get so stuck when I’m in myself and for myself. And I even extend that, even thinking about my son or my family, it’s like my son is kind of, in certain ways, an extension of myself. I’m doing this for my family. It’s like, ‘Yeah, you’re doing it for your family but there’s a way in which your family is an extension of yourself.”

And if I can take myself and de-center my perspective a little bit so that I’m thinking about my clients, I’m thinking about my collaborators, I think about my mentors, how much they’ve invested in me, so on the one hand I’m contradicting myself if I’m saying, “Yeah, this all should really come from your deepest internal vision.”

But I tell you, if your deepest internal vision doesn’t have a service portion, if it doesn’t encapsulate something, especially if you’re getting up there in years, if you’re not giving back on some level, it’s not going to do it for you. And the day-to-day process of executing that vision is also not going to do it for you if you lose sight of the people that you’re here to serve. So, that’s what I try to do.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. Thank you. Well, Paul, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Paul Durham
No, I think I’ve been running my mouth a lot.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, then could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Paul Durham
Something that I find inspiring.

Pete Mockaitis
As a quote, yeah.

Paul Durham
Well, I think I mentioned it earlier, which is a quote from the coach that I worked with and who kind of trained me to be a coach. He always used to say, “If you were going to do it, you would’ve done it. If you could’ve done it by yourself, you would’ve done it by yourself.”

And so, really, we need help. We need help. We need help from our friends, man. We need help from our enemies. We need help from people who have the hard truth to tell us, our nemesis at work, or the spouse that we’re in conflict. We need help from them. We need help from allies, from coaches, from mentors. And if we can bring ourselves to reach out, I’ve got to tell you, it’s like pulling teeth to get these kids to ask even just family and friends out for lunch, let alone potential mentors. It’s one of the biggest things I have to get them over.

And then I say to myself, “Yeah, but you’re the same way. You’re the same way. There’s people you know that could help you that you’re reticent to reach out to and ask for help.” So, I really try to. And when they have big breakthroughs, I really try to take that as a model for myself of reaching out. If you could’ve done it by yourself, you would’ve done it by yourself.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Paul Durham
A favorite book. Well, I got to say I still really love “The War of Art.” I’m sure a lot of people say that on here. But it’s kind of a masculine book. There’s a lot of push to it. But in the spirit of reaching out and getting help, like that book is a resource where you can reach out and you can get help and you can be reminded that the thing you are resisting, you are resisting for a reason, and that that reason may very well be because it’s the thing you need to do, and we’re just scared of failing. In a way, we’re scared of being committed.

Everything I’ve been talking about is just about commitment basically. And when you commit to something, it’s scary because now you’re all in. So, that book can really help support that process of getting all in and rushing forward.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite habit?

Paul Durham
A favorite habit. Well, if I had to mention the habit that I like the most I would have to say Bulletproof Coffee. I really don’t like to eat in the morning, and having a cup of coffee with a bunch of fat in it allows me to get from when I wake up to when I actually want to eat, which is not usually until 11:00 or 12:00, so that is a good habit. It’s probably not a habit. It’s more of an addiction. So, here, I’ll try do better.

My favorite habit is to wake up in the morning and do something that provides a framework for me in which I can feel what I feel. Because I wake up and all kinds of things, you know, a weird dream, financial, relationship, parenting, business concerns. And if I can just, either through journaling or by meditation, or by kind of guided internal process, I can come to a place in which I feel what I actually feel, then that’s really valuable.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Paul Durham
So, my website is PaulDurham.com and from there you can go to YearOne, which is my program for 18 to 24-year-olds who want to take a gap year from college or who know they don’t want to go to college and are interested in forging a creative career through an apprenticeship model. Or you can connect to my coaching page, which I think I only have up because my GoDaddy client said I needed to have a website. All my clients come through word of mouth. So, yes, so I have a small website there as well, and then you can also connect to my band Black Lab.

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

Paul Durham
Yes, if you’re seeking to be awesome at your job, your coworkers are your number one resource. And the obstacle to accessing that resource is your pride and your fear. Like, your coworkers know who you are, they know what your strengths are, they know what your weaknesses are, and they can help you grow and develop. They can tell you strengths that you don’t even know that you have that you could really be capitalizing on. And they know the weaknesses that are crippling you and that are the reason why you didn’t get that promotion.

And so, if we can stop treating our coworkers as those neurotic annoyances in our life, and instead start looking them as valuable mentors, and even if they’re 20 years younger and dumber and more arrogant than you are, if we can just take them out to lunch, or take them out to a nice lunch, and say, “I want to take you out to lunch and pick your brain because I want to know what you think I could do better at work.” You make yourself vulnerable in that way, you will be awesome at work.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Paul, this has been a lot of fun. I wish you lots of luck in your adventures and music and all you’re up to.

Paul Durham
Thank you so much, Pete. I really enjoyed it.

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

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Jeremie Kubicek says: "Part of the issue of leadership is that we have expectations that we don't share and unmet expectations produce bitterness."

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 says: "See your failures as something that... you can shout from the rooftop so that other people may learn from them too."

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.