The Evangelist Phenomena

Abundance Organizational leadership

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Key Point: We may need to reinvent the way we engage teams to create “movements” within organizations. The company I work for made a commitment to move our productivity and communication application platform to Google’s G Suite. In order to transform the institution, we knew we had to reimagine and work in profoundly better ways, with much better, more modern tools. This included applying a software tool set that facilitated the full democratization of networked ideas, imagination and contribution. While we already had a culture that honored collaboration, connectivity and engagement, we knew that we needed a platform to accelerate innovation and exponential results. This called for a “movement” to cause a work renaissance that we branded as “Work Reimagined!”

A dedicated team of leaders assigned to this movement created a mini transformative purpose (mTP) that included: “Freeing and unleashing the ideas and contribution of 5,000 plus people, with the outcome of creating a work revolution to drive an exponential transformation of the company in making our Story (purpose) true.” We then created three major phases to fully engage all 5,000 team members: “Ignite and Listen,” “Excite and Discover,” and “Adopt and Master.” Each phase was populated with numerous tactics that will be further elaborated on in another blog. Additionally, we knew we needed a network of team members that would evangelize and propel the movement. Hence the birth and rise of our now famous “G Evangelists.”

Over a five-day period, we invited all 5,000 team members to “audition” for the G Evangelist role, which essentially asked for their commitment to become a spark for the Work Reimagined movement. While we outlined a role description, it essentially asked potential candidates to be willing to participate in a 30 day boot camp (starting two weeks after selection), commit to fully learn G Suite, help the company journey through the three stages noted above, and then be open to support assignments after. We told them NOT to seek approval from their next up manager, and promised, with the CEOs support, that we would clear the forward passage for any successful candidates. The response from the team community was incredible, and the sub-team leading this recruitment and selection process was remarkable. My following description will underwhelm the profoundly powerful outcome of this initiative. However, these are the highlights:

  1. Thousands of team members expressed interest.
  2. Over 300 people auditioned with the most creative applications imaginable. 
  3. Over 200 interviewed, and a final 50 were selected (we could have hired 300 exceptional team members).
  4. The 50 represented the most inclusive slice of the company possible; what proved to be a perfect blend 
  5. They came together as an inseparable cohort through the boot camp, and created a fiercely connected community to lead our movement: True G Evangelists.
  6. They have become teachers, coaches, experts, and facilitators (both individually and collectively), filled with deep knowledge and empathy.
  7. We have just entered the “Adopt and Master” phase, and to some extent their work is just beginning. 

While the jury regarding the long term effectiveness of the G Evangelist cohort is still out, so far the learning involves the extraordinary superhero powers of a self-nominated/carefully selected group of inclusive team members from all levels, positions, geography, generation, background, tenure, etc. to fully connect, collaborate and contribute. The learning content and boot camp facilitation was genius, even magical. And the groups’ road trip to Google HQ and Singularity was highly impactful. Further study and research on the effectiveness of these troops will likely reveal other insights. In the meantime, it is absolutely clear the G Evangelist 50 are leading the Work Reimagined movement with almost super human energy. Their momentum has created peer-to-peer flow, and the conditions for the work renaissance we are “star shooting” for. 

Character Moves:

  1. If you’re a leader, experiment with the idea of selecting a cohort of self-nominated, passionately committed people to sprint (outside of their day-to-day job) for a short period of time on a focused challenge. They will likely amaze you with their ability to get results; probably in highly inventive, even 10x ways. Give them the support and air cover to fully connect, collaborate and contribute without interference from upper management or other distractions. Expect greatness not sameness from participants, and they will deliver.
  2. As a team member, look to raise your hand and get involved in addressing gnarly problems and/or initiatives you have deep passion for. If your leadership is timid, find like-minded “Evangelists” and get s#!* done anyways! What are you waiting for? What have you really got to lose?  

Evangelists in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Wow, what an impressive project! My favorite part is the “if your leadership is timid, find like-minded ‘Evangelists,’ and get s#!* done anyways.” That is just plain always an option, no matter what you’re doing, and it’s applicable to more things in life than just work. An extra “to-do?” You bet. But, c’mon, if you’re a regular reader of this blog then you know what you should/can do. Let’s make it happen.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Hiking Through the Happiness Fog

Accountability Happiness Well-being

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Key Point: “Mood drives performance.” That’s the deep belief of Jim Moss, a Hall of Fame, gold medal-winning, pro athlete who in 2009 was suddenly rendered acutely paralyzed from a rare autoimmune disease. It is a well-documented story, recounted in numerous publications. With the possibility of living the rest of life in a vegetative state, Jim hacked his own healing, focused on being grateful and learning the science of mood and performance (neuroplasticity). He walked out of the hospital six weeks later. Inspired and profoundly motivated by this experience, Moss went on with his partner Jennifer to co-found Plasticity Labs. Their Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) is to give one billion people the tools to live a happier, healthier and high-performing life; to scale happiness globally, by building the first ever, mental health and happiness platform

So what is happiness? As Jennifer Moss, co-founder of Plasticity notes in a recent blog: “I still don’t know. But I believe it can be experienced. Like fog, it’s around us. We can see it. But, when we try to hold on to it – it slips through our fingers. Happiness is about a continued investment in building hope, efficacy, resilience, optimism (HERO), along with gratitude, mindfulness, and empathy. As we dig deeper into the ways we can build up more psychological fitness, we’ll analyze how to build up these traits in ourselves and inspire them in others. For many, happiness means the absence of negative emotions, but in the article, I wrote for Harvard Business Review, ‘Happiness Isn’t the Absence of Negative Emotions;’ I vehemently counteract the belief that being happy is only to feel joy, every minute, every day, all the time. I wrote the article to share my frustrations with the backlash on the Positive Psychology movement. After reading one too many articles about why happiness is harmful, I decided it was time to confront the naysayers. But what I believe about this brief history of happiness, is that it’s not about chasing pleasure, but rather, actively engaging in long-term, sustainable life goals that include daily investments in positive work, activities and relationships. However, I liken models to recipes – it’s subjective and rife with human variables built on strongly held biases, genetics and personal experience. Just like a recipe can’t guarantee your bread will rise, a happiness theory can’t guarantee you will be happy.”

So what? I work for a company that believes “good things happen when you pursue happiness.” It is an essential part of our purpose: To create happiness. So, I’m deeply interested in how the happiness science and research is evolving. I do like the way Jennifer Moss and Plasticity Labs are focusing on the HERO model; Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism; connected to gratitude, mindfulness, and empathy. Their view is that by concentrating on the traits of the model versus happiness itself, it results in the state of happiness being more present and accessible in our lives.

Character Moves:

1. Check out Plasticity Labs (note: I currently have no personal contacts or financial involvement with Plasticity Labs). I’m just very curious and supportive of their MTP; and perhaps you are too? They have great resources and research literature on happiness. And their research reinforces that measurably happy, high-performing workplace cultures earn up to 50 percent more revenue, and have the uppermost levels of both employee and customer satisfaction.

2. Happiness is elusive. We are very early days in the science, although in 425 B.C., the Greek philosopher, Socrates, famously made a statement about happiness: “Strive for honesty, be your best self and have emotional control.” Socrates was one of the first to openly debate that happiness is in our control. Of course, he was also sentenced to death for corrupting the youth with this belief. So the pursuit of happiness has its detractors. How genuinely happy are you? I’m honestly not sure how happy I truly am, and am working to better understand the meaning both as a noun and verb.

Happy Fog in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I wasn’t positive about this, but yup, one little Google search reveals that us Millennials know a whole lot about antidepressants. This Fortune article suggests we may be the “least stable generation on record.” Great! But it’s not hard to check Facebook and realize it’s a world where micro aggressions cause daily outrage, and some of our highest satisfaction comes from a “like” button after sharing topics that get us up in arms. Uh oh. (Meanwhile, it’s the safest, most free and best time to be alive in history) and we have things like Plasticity Labs to assist our happiness. It might be complicated, but in 2017 I think happiness has never been more achievable with the right mindset. As Jocko Willink would say, “get it.”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Leaders That Are Takers Suck

Contribution Management Respect

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Key Point: Some leaders are just lousy at sharing winning situations. And the higher they get in terms of position, the more scarce-minded they can become. These same leaders are often first class at laying blame at your feet if things aren’t going well. Or, they like to play it both ways; there to confirm how they were behind you if you win, but ready to abandon you if things go wrong. That strategy is often part of what’s helped them survive corporate politics. Ultimately, if someone is too “successful,” they need to show who’s boss. They can even become petty when they feel threatened, and will put you down in subtle or not so subtle ways. They have to be “alpha.”

The leaders I admire most and genuinely inspire me, generously give and share recognition for winning situations and ideas. They pay attention to catalysts; people who spark an idea that becomes a big thing. They understand that success has many authors, while failure is orphaned. And, who steps up to accept team or individual failure? It’s the strong and giving leader. They have the confidence to accept full responsibility, and give their teams or individuals necessary air cover. It’s leaders like that who become revered. Why? Because you can’t B.S. the troops. The team sees all and knows who contributes what. And they love transparent, authentic, genuine people in charge. Scarce-minded leaders often unknowingly become addicted to adulation and counter intuitively seem to become more and more convinced that their glorified success is almost exclusively of their own self-made brilliance. Their ego starts believing in their “press release.” Knowingly or unknowingly, they surround themselves with “yes people” and “adoring fans.” They also do not realize it’s the beginning of their demise. 

In your career, recognize that often the depth and specifics of your contributions will go unnoticed and/or be under appreciated. Even though you deserve “credit,” or at least a tip of the hat acknowledgement, it may not come. In fact, historians may rewrite the story of what really happened in ways that fully underrepresent the value you bring. As hard as this is to accept, it is likely to happen more than once. How you reframe these circumstances is very important. If not, it is easy to feel under appreciated, and eventually, even bitter.

Character Moves: 

  1. The most important validation of your contribution has to mostly come from you. Be honest and generous with yourself. Celebrate your many wins. Try not to be too disappointed when others swoop in to take or leverage your ideas as their own. You (and most often, the important people around you) know very well the contribution you’ve made. Relish that. 
  2. Be known as a generous giver and person who expands and shares the slices of the pie. Cover hard for your team if you happen to have a screw up. You and they, as I often note are, “very much worth it.”

No takers in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: I love the honesty in this. It’s not only ok that acknowledgement will often not come. For me, it’s very ok. You know what feels better than a “good job” from the big boss? Looking at your equals and knowing they know darn well who’s performing, who’s not, and then moving forward to get better and accomplish more. If we want to get “really Millennial” about this, how about this analogy? No one’s thrilled with the person who takes a gym selfie and posts it online for “likes.” But everyone is encouraged to appreciate their own results and have enough confidence to realize people notice, even if no one says anything.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Dad’s Day… The Gifts We Leave Behind

Accountability Gratitude

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Key Point: Many of us celebrated Fathers Day in North America last Sunday, and a great number of us fortunate enough to be fathers were recognized by our children, grandchildren and partners during the day. The most fortunate rejoiced together in person, while others apart hopefully benefited from the connections made possible by modern technology; FaceTime, and the like. Some unfortunately have little or no connection with their fathers. The designated day invited me take a moment in the quiet to reflect, enjoying the thoughtful gifts I received from my wife and children, on what “gifts” I’ve given them by word and action. What have they really learned from me? I certainly know that I’ve given them a full slate of imperfections; ways not to be or behave. I wish I could have done better, and of course, as long as I’m living there is still time to give more and do better as a Dad. 

I was reading a story in Forbes and this was the summary reflection of the most precious fatherly gift from the writer regarding his Dad: “It took me back to the questions my father had asked, 48 years ago. Do you love what you do, are you helping others, are you learning? My Dad has given me the gift of three powerful questions that have been in my heart since then. This has been my compass of success.” These are certainly three great questions and solid guidance to give our children and certainly ourselves. In my case, I’ve also committed to living the attributes of Character Triangle: Self Accountability, Respect, and Abundance. I am always humbled as to how easy the words roll off the lips when describing each value, yet how daunting it is applying consistent action on each of them.

Perhaps another important value worthy of teaching our children is personal adaptability. Indeed, some organizations are looking at measuring AQ (Adaptability Quotient) at both a company and individual level. Consider this note on organization adaptability: “… Forbes article highlighted that 50 years ago, the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 was around 75 years. Today, it’s less than 15 years and declining. The ability for people, teams and organizations to adapt to changes in their environments, stay relevant and avoid obsolescence is the defining characteristic between success and failure, growth and stagnation, business and bankruptcy.”

Adaptability Coach, Jeff Boss, also writes in Forbes: “To stay relevant as an organization you need to think and act adaptively (is that a word?); you need the right people in the right places which only comes from how leaders shape their environments. However, the internal processes within that environment are driven by individuals who are willing and able to adapt to that leader’s directives when called upon… The trend I see is common: An unwillingness to adopt something new simply because of all the ‘newness’ surrounding it, and this unwillingness typically stems from a number of factors: Lack of self/situational awareness, poor communication, unclear decisions, ego.

So, what does an ‘adaptable person’ look like? 

  1. Adaptable people experiment.To adapt you must be open to change, which means you must have the will—emotional tolerance, mental fortitude, spiritual guidance—to not only face uncertainty but smack it in the face and press on.” (My note: Be curious).
  2. “Adaptable people see opportunity where others see failure. To adapt is to grow, to change, and to change you must forego what you once believed to be ‘right,’ classify it as ‘wrong,’ and then adopt what you now believe to be the new ‘right.’ If you don’t, you stagnate.” (My note: Adaptable people always ask “how might we?”).
  3. “Adaptable people are resourceful. You can take away a person’s resources, but you can’t remove resourcefulness. Rather than getting stuck on one solution to solve a problem, adaptable people have a contingency plan in place for when Plan A doesn’t work. In other words…” (See next).
  4. “Adaptable people think ahead. Always open to opportunity (see below), adaptable people are always on the lookout for improvement; minor tweaks that will turn ordinary into extra-ordinary because they’re not married to the one-size-fits-all solution.” (My note: They think “Big” more than just ways of improving sameness).
  5. “Adaptable people don’t whineIf they can’t change or influence a decision, they–yup, you guessed it–adapt and move on.” (My note: They are self-accountable).
  6. “Adaptable peopletalk to themselves. But not in a weird way. When they feel their blood pressure rising, their teeth coming together and their fists clenching, they flip the ‘mental switch’ through self-talk. Engaging in positive self-talk is the single greatest habit you can learn for yourself.” (My note:  They can rapidly reframe situations).
  7. Adaptable people don’t blame. They’re not a victim to external influences because they’re proactive. To adapt to something new you must forego the old. Adaptable people don’t hold grudges or eschew blame needlessly but instead absorb, understand and move on…” (My note: Be Self Accountable).

Character Moves:

  1. To my kids and grandchildren: Consciously and continuously work on developing your Adaptability Quotient. Add a little grit and perseverance. Learn how and when to change your perspective as a way of increasing your intelligence. Be Self-Accountable, Respectful and Abundant. Seek heat and love more. Do what you love. Help others. Learn all the time.

Well that’s about it, kids and grand kids. It’s as “easy as that,” haha; a lifetime of continuous pursuit in one character move. I love you all more than you could imagine or reimagine. I’m so fortunate to be your Dad, everyday. 

Dad in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I think I can speak for my sisters and I when we know darn well we have the best Dad someone can ask for on this planet, and huge shoes to fill. We’re very lucky, and learning lessons through this bi-weekly blog experience is just a fraction of what I’ve been fortunate enough to gain in support, motivation and top notch guidance. I hope to never stop developing my “adaptability quotient,” and I look forward to the continuous pursuit to better character with an incredible leader. Thanks, Dad.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

‘You Better Read This or I’ll Kick Your A**’

Management Organizational culture Respect

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Key Point: Being sustainably exponential and transformative does not have to include being mean spirited, disrespectful, and culturally conflicted. The title of this blog was in the opening paragraph of Uber’s then CEO, Travis Kalanick’s, now infamous “Miami letter,” sent to 400 plus employees celebrating Uber’s rollout to its 50th city in 2013. I will refer back to the content of the letter, perhaps some foreshadowing as to where Uber is now. 

As of June 2017, Uber has officially started a total rebuilding of its culture after what’s been by most measures, a disastrous first half of the year. As part of the overhaul, the CEO has announced he’s taking a leave of absence and allowing a group of executives to lead the company through the implementation of sweeping changes. The following summary of Uber’s cultural status is noted below, as reported by PitchBook:

“In an all-hands meeting Tuesday, the company presented employees with recommendations from Covington & Burling, the law firm that conducted an independent investigation into the company after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler published a blog post detailing unchecked sexual harassment during her tenure. Uber’s board of directors had committed to instituting all the recommendations during a board meeting a few days earlier… The Covington report proposes many remedial measures for the $68 billion company, from changes in upper management to better board oversight to cultural changes such as earlier on-site dinners and options to work remotely. Uber has already implemented some changes from a separate internal probe, including the termination of 20 employees who were let go after investigations into sexual harassment, bullying and other types of claims. 

In a statement, HR chief Liane Hornsey wrote, ‘Implementing these recommendations will improve our culture, promote fairness and accountability, and establish processes and systems to ensure the mistakes of the past will not be repeated. While change does not happen overnight, we’re committed to rebuilding trust with our employees, riders and drivers.’ The 13-page Covington report can be accessed here.”

I specifically want to refer to the following recommendation regarding culture, as per PitchBook:

“Even before Fowler published her scathing blog post, Uber was widely known as an aggressive place to work. The Covington report suggests reworking the company’s values. Specifically, the report proposes letting go of values that have been used to justify poor behavior, including ‘Let Builders Build,’ ‘Always Be Hustlin’’ and ‘Toe-Stepping.’ One example of a symbolic cultural change is the re-naming of a conference room from the War Room to the Peace Room, per a Bloomberg report.”

And to help understand why Uber needs to culturally reframe, the following is an extract from Kalanick’s 2013 Miami Letter noted above:

“DON’Ts:

1) No lives should begin or end at 九

2) We do not have a budget to bail anyone out of jail. Don’t be that guy. #CLM

3) Do not throw large kegs off of tall buildings. Please talk to Ryan McKillen and Amos Barreto for specific insights on this topic.

4) Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic “YES! I will have sex with you” AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML

5) Drugs and narcotics will not be tolerated unless you have the appropriate medicinal licensing.

6) There will be a $200 puke charge for any public displays on the Shore Club premises. Shore Club will be required to send pictures as proof.

7) DO NOT TALK TO PRESS. Send all press inquiries to Andrew – anoyes@uber.com Additionally, stay vigilant about making sure people don’t infiltrate our event. If and when you find yourself talking to a non-Uber (look for the wristband), keep confidential stuff confidential… no rev figures, driver figures, trip figures… don’t talk about internal process, and don’t talk about initiatives that have not already launched.

DOs:

1) Have a great fucking time. This is a celebration! We’ve all earned it.

2) Share good music. Digital DJs are encouraged to share their beats poolside.

3) Go out of your way to meet as many of your fellow uberettos as you can.

4) If you haven’t figured it out yet, Miami’s transportation sucks ass. #Slang as many Miamians, drivers, influencers as you can as passionately as you can and let them know why Uber will make this great city an even better place. Every slang matters. #MiamiNeedsUber…

5) If someone asks to meet the CEO and Founder of Uber, kindly introduce him to Max Crowley.”

Character Moves:

  1. The CEO and leadership set the tone. My belief is that being truly exponential  includes a deep commitment to advancing humankind inside and outside the organization. Values like speed, adaptability, disruption can and should co-exist with inclusiveness, respect, accountability and abundance. Yes, we humans are imperfect AND we still can achieve 10x performance without bullying and harassment. Do not let so called “start-up values” justify lousy behavior. What values need to be revisited and/or are missing in your culture? How will you influence that?
  2. Commit to advancing humankind as a key element in 10x thinking. What good is disruption if it is harmful? We want modern companies to be about more than just money… And that applies to Uber, otherwise, I’d rather take a taxi. 

Read this in The Triangle,

Lorne Rubis

One Millennial View: I wasn’t aware of this 2013 “Miami letter” or Uber’s recent Q1/Q2 struggles, but I have heard rumors of shady play in that company. You can sort of tell this Kalanick guy probably thought he was pretty cool after sending that email: A rebel rousing, foul-mouthed executive turned “man of the people.” A real “CEO chum” that can still be everyone’s bud. I think we can learn that when it might come across as inappropriate, it probably will and likely come back and bite. There’s just a fine line… No one really wants to work for an out of touch Puritan, but you want someone who knows where the edge is. In Kalanick’s words, “Don’t be that guy.”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis