Dinner of Truth

Books Respect Video

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Key Point: Becoming more self-aware is just plain hard. I’m reading Tasha Eurich’s great book “Insight”, which is a comprehensive tour on the subject. It’s an important read.

The painful truth is that we all have blind spots and yet most people around us are reluctant to share insights or feedback that might be perceived as undesirable. In the book, the author refers to a term coined by her researchers as the MUM effect; keeping Mum about Undesirable Messages. Findings confirm that when we’re in possession of information that might make someone uncomfortable, we tend to chose the path of least resistance and decide to say nothing. In fact, people are willing to tell white lies rather than the cold, hard truth. Of course, that avoidance does little to help you and me become more self-aware and positively grow.

Perhaps equally unfortunate is that many of us actually prefer the MUM “rule” being in effect. Why? Feedback can be and often is painful. When someone asks if we want feedback, our brain actually sends out physical pain signals. But avoiding feedback does little for us. The way people see us still exists whether we become aware of it or not. So, why not choose to learn the “truth” on our own terms?

You and I need loving critics. These are people who will be honest with us while having our best interests at heart. People like this are not necessarily someone we are closest to. However, there is a high level of mutual trust when this individual is willing to go out of their way to help us. This loving critic also needs to have sufficient exposure to behavior we want feedback on, and a picture of the impact of that behavior. They must be willing, based on a foundation of trust, to be totally honest.

How brave are you? If you have identified a loving critic, how about participating in a “Dinner of Truth?” Over a meal, ask your guest to tell you one thing that annoys them most about you. The rules include telling them why you’re asking, that nothing is off the table, and that you are NOT ALLOWED to respond defensively. You can only listen with an open mind and heart. How about a few Dinners of Truth?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. If you venture into the Dinner of Truth, it is helpful to mentally prepare for what might be said. Decide how deep you want to go, and remind yourself and loving the critic that this is about personal growth. Ask questions to clarify and better understand.
  2. Really really listen by applying Eurich’s “Three R Model:” Receive, Reflect and Respond” to the feedback. How you choose to respond and both learn and unlearn from feedback is an intentional practice. Read more about the “Three R Model” here. If you don’t do anything with the dinner feedback, you’ve wasted time with a very valuable ally.
  3. Recognize that being self-aware is understanding both who you are AND how others see you. That’s darn hard work, and we’re worth it.

Dinner of Truth in Personal Leadership

Lorne

P.S. Please click on and enjoy this video below of more Leadership Moves, and stay tuned for an upcoming embedded Lorne Rubis YouTube channel, and Instagram stories/Snapchat videos that will feature many more.

Watch: What If and How Might We

One Millennial View: It’s great to see “loving critics” can be embraced, and feedback be encouraged instead of censored. I’m so glad Eurich can define the MUM effect, develop the “Three R Model,” and how we can learn to incorporate a good meal with it. A “Dinner of Truth” might be tough to swallow, but it’ll only make us stronger and personally improve.

– 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

Collaboration: An Imperative in Modern Organizations 

Be Respectful Collaboration Personal leadership Respect

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Key Point: Collaboration is no longer a nicety to have. It is vital. Why? Content is exploding and moving so quickly that we simply need each other for the best innovative and sustainable results. It has always been more effective and gratifying to learn as a group (although sometimes frustrating). But today, it is an imperative. 

Effective collaboration needs more than great tools (like Google’s G Suite) and can’t be applied as the latest buzzword in management. It needs practice and a learning framework. This insight comes from  “The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use Them.”

The authors recommend the following ingredients to drive effective collaboration:

1. Joint Attention. 

“To collaborate, people need to pay attention to the same thing. Visual attention provides an index of what people are thinking about. If you are looking longingly at an ice-cold beer, it is a good bet that you are thinking about an ice-cold beer.” PS that’s why people working on the same doc together, seeing common info on a screen, and/or seeing each other by video, helps promote collaboration.

2. Listening. 

“Thoughts can be much more complex than an eye gaze. It also helps to hear what people are thinking. A common situation is that people refuse to listen to one another because they are too busy talking or they just discount other’s ideas.” In our organization we teach everyone the simple listening model: Connect, Understand, then… Act.

3. Sharing. 

“Sharing operates on two levels: Sharing common goals and sharing ideas. First, if people do not share some level of common goal, they will collaborate to cross-purposes. Second, if nobody shares ideas, collaboration will not go very far.”

4. Coordinating. 

“Have you ever had the experience of a group discussion, in which you just cannot seem to get your timing right? Either you always interrupt before the speaker is done, or someone else grabs the floor exactly when the other person finishes, before you jump in. Collaboration requires a great deal of turn-taking coordination.” 

5. Perspective Taking. 

“A primary reason for collaborating is that people bring different ideas to the table. The first four ingredients—joint attention, listening, sharing, and coordinating—support the exchange of information. The fifth ingredient is to understand why people are offering the information they do.” Some great thinkers believe the ability to change perspective involves a higher IQ.

The point of the five collaboration ingredients above, is that organizations need to be mindful about how each of the skills exist in their populations. Tools like the G Suite help because they naturally reinforce many of the points above. However, it is important to be intentional about the individual behaviors as well. All five are ideally present and alive. The more advanced we are in each, the higher the collaboration impact.

Character Moves: 

  1. How effective of a collaborator are you? Are you self aware of these five ingredients? What score out of 10 would you give yourself? 
  2. Are you proactive on the five ingredients? That’s a personal brand differentiator.  

Big five collaboration in The Triangle,

Lorne,

One Millennial View: Fellow Millennials: If you truly think that collaboration will negatively impact your individual goals, then you may seriously be in a rare, toxic atmosphere. You’re better off risking being a company player than a non-participant that has seen too many movies where a main character gets burned. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis