50 Years New!

Be Respectful

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Story: She started with our company in 1968 when she was 17-years-old, and will soon be celebrating a 50 year anniversary, our longest tenured employee. Her parents literally wanted her to stay on the family farm. Instead, she applied one of the most important principles that thriving people do; she respectfully chose to live the life she desired rather than what others wanted for her.

Key Point: Out of consideration for her privacy, I will not share personal details. However, I would like to outline some of her (let’s call her Gloria) lessons from a journey of 50 years:  

  1. Be totally positive, and honestly realistic. Most situations, and almost every day has a bright side if you learn to frame it that way. Who wants to work with negative, cynical people?
  2. Embrace change and learn to love it. Actively seek it out. When you reflect on what change most often involves, it is much better than the status quo. Individuals and organizations have a responsibility to continuously move forward.
  3. Be an intentional, constant learner, continuously adding to your expertise, social/emotional skills, and be fearless in trying new things. This is tied to No. 2 above. Do NOT be complacent and think you’ve “gone as far” as you need to. If you stop, you will be left behind.
  4. Have fun every day. If you’re not laughing, you’re not living. Live the life you want in the present, rather than just hoping for a better state in the future.
  5. Whatever you do, when you put others first, things usually turn out for the best. Learn to keep your ego in check.
  6. If you’re a leader, commit to developing others first and do not make it all about yourself. Gloria’s best leaders have behaved this way.
  7. Have enough room in your life for that “convertible hot car” or something that makes life more fun.
  8. Be humble enough to do what needs to be done to move the organization, or the team forward. During her career Gloria has done everything from janitorial work to sophisticated financial advising. Roll up one’s sleeves and make things happen by taking on tough problems, and keeping the customer first .
  9. Failing at something does not mean one is a failure. Moving forward includes having the courage to get things done, with the understanding that one is going to goof up along the way. Get up, jump in the convertible, and accelerate to the next destination.
  10. When you do the above, 50 years zip by… Like 1968 was just yesterday. And more importantly, you will be driving down a highway that is always going forward. More often than not, the road is one worth taking.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. It is unlikely any of our readers will spend 50 years at one company. Nevertheless, Gloria’s lessons apply to us all. They are retro and modern at the same time. You have likely heard all of Gloria’s advice before. The question to ask yourself is, do you really live/work this way?

Riding with Gloria in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s a reason Millennials seek guidance and advice from people like Gloria. It’s true wisdom that can’t really be achieved from a newage textbook, podcast, or YouTube video. Thanks to her great service and willingness to share valuable insight, we’re lucky enough to get a true education 50 years in the making.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Pick Up the Trash!

Be Respectful Respect

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Story: John Wooden, UCLA’s former men’s basketball coach, is arguably the most legendary hall of famer in the NCAA. One amazing thing about Wooden was his reputation for humility. He was already enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player, and had an amazing run as a coach (10 National Championships, seven in a row). And what did he do daily? Picked up the trash in the locker room. Why? It was the right thing to do, and modeled the behavior he expected from his players.

Key Point: “Muscle humility”, a term coined by Daniel Coyle, author of the recently released The Culture Code, tells story after story outlining how service driven leaders literally and figuratively pick up the trash as a way of setting the tone for all. A few examples:

  1. There are stories of McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc, who would literally pick up discarded fast food trash every night from the street gutters near a McDonald’s franchise. 
  2. The famous rugby team, The New Zealand All Blacks, have a team value called ”sweeping the Sheds.” The leaders do the menial work, cleaning the locker room and modeling the ethic of togetherness and oneness. (Btw the All Blacks simple but straightforward hiring policy: “NO Dickheads”).  
  3. At the company I work for, we expect each other to clean up after ourselves when we have meetings. Why would we want to have someone else do that for us? 
  4. As part of the interview process for new recruits, some organizations provide an opportunity for prospects to demonstrate how thoughtful and mindful they are about others, by observing how they dispose of what they used post coffee/lunch.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Great and imperfect leaders serve others and recognize it is a privilege to do so. The idea that “Leaders Eat Last” is not an empty metaphor. Rather, as underscored in Simon Sinek’s book of the same title, it is a core value. Be one of those leaders! Be one of those team members!
  2. Picking up the trash frames up the idea that no job is too menial or dirty for any position or title. If you were the CEO of a bank, walked into an area where the ATM machines were housed, and saw the place was a mess, what would you do? I know and have seen what a great CEO does. He cleans up the area. People tell stories of ATB Financial’s CEO Dave Mowat doing just that.

Muscle humility in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I was thinking the other day, one of my least favorite things I’ll hear a co-worker say is, “well, that’s not my job.” 1. Duh. Everyone knows what your job responsibilities usually entail. 2. I’m not suggesting a marketing intern should step in for the legal or accounting team, but that’s not what we’re talking about. It’s usually a small favor to just make things run smoother. Like shutting down a teammate’s computer at the end of the day for them because they forgot. Sometimes “trash” is also just loose ends here and there… One day, you’ll leave a loose end too, and it’s cool if your fellow trash-picker-uppers have your back. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis 

What Competition Really Looks Like 

Be Respectful Culture Innovation Respect

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Key Point: People that lose their way “turtle,” and like to pretend and/or protect. They become fear-driven folks with a scarcity mentality. They pretend that things will eventually go back to the way things were in the “good old days,” and are dupes for every snake oil huckster that promises the “turn back the clock” lie. They also look for ways to try and protect their turf by most often crying out to the government to do something; create a regulatory fence to preserve their dwindling resources. In the meantime, what is happening around them is disruptive and rapidly advancing competition. At the macro-level, let’s take a look at what China’s market is like now, particularly in the entrepreneur sector. The following is borrowed from co-founder of Singularity University, Peter Diamandis’ blog

“9-9-6: Work Ethic

While I love the Silicon Valley work ethic, what I found in China was unparalleled.

The mantra is 9-9-6… Or 9-12-6…

Meaning, entrepreneurs are working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (or midnight), six days per week.

Seriously, no joke.

Another important difference I found was the more militaristic, “all-powerful CEO” in China’s startups. 

While in the U.S., a CEO may “guide” or “influence” his team, in China, what the CEO says is gospel. No discussion.

And when a CEO makes a decision, the company takes it and runs.

Chinese Innovation on the Rise:

While a decade ago, it might have been true that China was a copycat ecosystem, today that assumption is 100 percent wrong.

Chinese companies are innovating at a faster pace than I could have imagined, and it’s this innovation that has maintained a 9.71percent GDP annual growth rate.

One factor that is driving a vibrant entrepreneurial engine is the massive availability of capital. 

Because the Chinese government has imposed very strict restrictions on the outflow of capital, the wealthy in China are investing more and more cash into Chinese entrepreneurs, driving a frenzied ecosystem and driving up valuations.

‘The typical Series A there ranges from $15 million to $100 million. 

China has also committed to becoming a world leader in Artificial Intelligence. Just this past week, it laid out its development plan to achieve this by 2030, aiming to surpass its rivals technologically and build a domestic industry worth almost $150 billion.

Amazing Startups:

My host (and friend) for my recent visit to Beijing, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, the head of SInnovation (a $1.2B venture fund). Kai-Fu, a former Apple and Microsoft exec, was also the founding president of Google China.

Kai-Fu has an amazing record in investing in, and creating, a new generation of Chinese Unicorns (and pre-corns). He was kind enough to introduce me to three of these amazing companies: UISEE, VIPKid, and Face++.

UISEE takes a different approach on the self-driving car. Instead of aiming for public roads, UISEE has built autonomous driving vehicles for campuses, communities, parking structures, and more. This isn’t just a concept — their vehicles are operating and generating revenue.

VIPKid is massive and experiencing exponential growth… This startup has achieved $500 million in annual revenues in just two years! What do they do? They pair up, talented, underpaid American schoolteachers with foreign (mostly Chinese) students who want to learn English. But they do it with an amazing, easy interface. Last month they received over 80,000 applications to become teachers.

Face++ has built a revolutionary machine learning facial recognition system. Their software can recognize your face from live video better than any other software in the world. They have ranked No. 1 in almost every metric and competition. Already working with companies and the government, their ultimate goal is not just facial recognition, but to model the entire human brain.

These are just a few of the companies I came across that represent the radical innovation coming out of China.

My message to American entrepreneurs is don’t underestimate China as competition, or as an important future marketplace.

While most American entrepreneurs focus on the United States and ignore China, the opposite is not true… Chinese entrepreneurs are focused on China in the near term and America in the mid term.”

Character Moves:

  1. Be aware of what’s happening at the edges of your personal and business boundaries. If you become too introspective or local, erosion may cause you to become weakened and defensive. Be a curious pioneer, relentlessly seeking abundant opportunity. As Diamandis points out regarding China; “an opportunity to ‘co-Innovate’ is important. Either develop a joint-product for China with a Chinese partner, or to partner with a local giant to bring your product/service to this massive and growing market.”
  2. “China is going from ‘deceptive’ to ‘disruptive.’” Who at a micro or macro level is doing this to you personally and in business? If you do not actively use your mental and literal passport, you’re going to be replaced. It’s just a matter of when. Why? You are blind; so “pretend and protect” rapidly becomes like buying a lottery ticket to get rich; a hopeless strategy of hope. 

China-like in the Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Oh great, we thought so-and-so over in accounting had a target on us, and turns out it’s a whole country of more than one billion people. Really though, I guess as Millennials, it’s just a great reminder to stay sharp, refrain from being complacent, and try to remain on the frontline of trendsetting.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Why Can’t Organizations Believe This?

Be Respectful Culture Organizational leadership Respect

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Key Point: The very first point in the eight “cultural ingredients” or “recipe” I follow to drive a great culture is: People First. Most organizations pretend to believe this, but do not really act that way. They genuinely don’t know what being “People First” really looks like. Too often, it’s about the quarterly share price first (and exec bonuses, of course). These days, customer obsession is competing a little more for first amongst equals. However, very few top leadership teams look at everything through the eyes of what’s best for People First. And I’m not talking about mush headed thinking where People First becomes interpreted as an absence of high performance and great results. It’s quite the opposite actually. One consistent example: Southwest Airlines. 

Note the following from Forbes: “Earlier this year, Southwest Airlines announced it would be sharing $586 million in profits with its 54,000 employees – which equates to about a 13.2% average bonus for each employee, or roughly the equivalent of six weeks’ pay. And that doesn’t even count the extra $351 million the company contributed to its employees’ 401(k) plans.

In an era marked by squabbles over the minimum wage and the gap in pay between executives and front-line employees, those numbers stand out. (The company paid out a record $620 million the year before). Is it any wonder that Southwest employees always seem so happy when you’re checking into your flight?

As Gary Kelly, Southwest’s CEO said: ‘Our people-first approach, which has guided our company since it was founded, means when our company does well, our people do really, really well. Our people work incredibly hard and deserve to share in Southwest’s success. Remarkably, it’s the 43rd year in a row that Southwest has shared profits with its people, who also reportedly own about 10% of the company’s shares as well. The airline has also never laid anyone off or cut pay.

The company has long been lauded for its strong workplace culture and engaged workforce – which might also have something to do with getting employees to think and act like owners by sharing the profits of their shared success. (It’s worth noting that Southwest also has a union workforce, which sometimes leads to conflict from time to time.)

Herb Kelleher, the airline’s founder, is quoted in the book, Nuts by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, about the fact that in 1973 Southwest became the first major airline to introduce profit-sharing to its employees, as saying: Profit-sharing is an expense we want to be as big as possible so our people get a greater reward.’

(If you’re a fan of Podcasts, I’d also recommend listening to Kelleher’s interview with NPR where he talks about the early days of starting his groundbreaking airline).

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, to hear stories about flight attendants picking up trash, gate agents tracking down borrowed staplers, or pilots cutting back on fuel usage precisely because they know that will impact their company’s profits.” 

In Canada, WestJet Airlines followed the Southwest cultural and business model to the letter and had similar results for most of its history. Some recent critics suggest that the current leadership has abandoned this People First ethos and the company has clearly become “shareholder first.” Those arguing that there has been a cultural deterioration point out that the pilots of WestJet recently unionized because they no longer trusted the executive team to look at the world through their eyes. Apparently, one example was the implementation of a pilot scheduling software system where pilot efficiency was optimized at the expense to pilots’ well being. I love flying WestJet, and time will tell. You can’t fake “People First” though.

Character Moves: 

  1. Do not pretend you can really create or live in a great culture without a People First strategy. Challenge yourself to learn what the attributes/behaviors of a People First organization looks like. How would you measure that? What companies fits these criteria? 
  2. To be People First, you have to personally lead yourself and others that way. What’s something you’ve done in the last week to prove it? 

It’s always People First in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Asking why all organizations don’t commit to a People First culture is a great question. Happier employees should equal better work, right? I too love flying Southwest, and you can definitely tell that they’re sitting at the “cool kids table” at the airport, and well, some other airlines are likely envious of their People First skies.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

New Science Behind Smarter Teams 

Be Respectful Management Respect Team

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Key Point: “A new science of effective teamwork is vital not only because teams do so many important things in society, but also because so many teams operate over long periods of time, confronting an ever-widening array of tasks and problems that may be much different from the ones they were initially convened to solve. General intelligence, whether in individuals or teams, is especially crucial for explaining who will do best in novel situations or ones that require learning and adaptation to changing circumstances.” That’s the summary of important work underway by scientists trying to understand why and how some teams work smarter than others. 

As most of my readers know, I’ve been stressing the renewed importance of advanced teamwork impacting innovation/adaptability, and have been gathering this thinking under the umbrella of a reenergized movement I refer to as “Peer-To-Peer Power.” That’s why the insights outlined by these researchers are important for leaders to consider when making teams smarter. Contemplate two studies with practical applications on why some teams have a collective higher IQ and get better results.

One study highlights the following as differentiators:

First, their members contributed more equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group.

Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible.

Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. Indeed, it appeared that it was not diversity (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team’s intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at mindreading than men.”

Another study looked at teams working online and off, and again some teams consistently worked smarter than others. The researchers’ conclusions:

More surprisingly, the most important ingredients for a smart team remained constant regardless of its mode of interaction: Members who communicated a lot, participated equally and possessed good emotion-reading skills.

This last finding was another surprise. Emotion-reading mattered just as much for the online teams whose members could not see one another as for the teams that worked face to face. What makes teams smart must be not just the ability to read facial expressions, but a more general ability, known as Theory of Mind to consider and keep track of what other people feel, know and believe.

Character Moves:

  1. We need to challenge ourselves to discover why some teams work smarter than others. Think of the number of teams in your organization. How much conscious time is given to investing in their true effectiveness? A good agenda and process is no longer sufficient for effective teamwork. We need to put intentionality behind full participation, having more women in the discussion and perhaps most importantly, what the researchers refer to as “Theory of Mind:” The ability to track what other people feel, know and believe. 
  2. Let’s explore the latest work/advancement in emotion reading skills. By the way, one cannot effectively read emotions without full attention and presence in team environments. This is just as, or perhaps even more important in on-line team peer-work versus face-to-face. 

In the end, smarter teams need to get smarter results.

Smarter teams in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I think being able to “read a room” is as important of an IQ/EQ skill as many book-learned qualifications. I hope many Millennials might have an edge up on this. It’s a puzzle we should always be working on. Figuring out what our teammates feel, know and believe is crucial and the way piece together the true character by your side. Ironically, “reading a room” is unfortunately tougher than learning some things you can just read in a book.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis