Dogfooding: The Company & You 

Key Point: “Dogfooding” is a matter of integrity. You likely guessed that this refers to the adage many of us have heard: “Eat your own dog food.” The following outlines Facebook’s approach on the subject:

“Dogfooding” is a common practice of most IT companies for fixing the bugs in the application they create, but Facebook goes a step beyond by using the technique to retain employees, according to a report from The Economic Times. Facebook is using this technique to engage its young employees, with most of them being in their twenties and edgy and/or impatient… James Mitchell, head of the Hyderabad office (India) says, “Dogfooding is one of the best outlets that we can provide for young, enterprising intelligent minds. It binds them to the product and the company very strongly.” He says that Dogfooding is the standard through which voice of the employees can be heard. Facebook employees hack, test, and beat up all their products before (and after) they hit the market.

As per Facebook, Google and other leading companies, it’s strategically important for employees to “dogfood” its own products. And I believe this concept applies to us personally, too. One example is that I strongly believe we personally cannot stay in the high performance zone indefinitely. In full, high-performance, we eventually become fatigued and stressed so we need to intentionally REST. Leading firms like The Energy Group, who study this process deeply, understand and teach groups how to flow from high-performance to rest, and back again. They advise everything possible to avoid prolonged time in the fatigue/stress zone. If one stays too long in this stress zone, well, unintended bad things typically happen to us.

I’ve written about the importance of personal energy management a few times over the years. Most of my readers know my team and I have been leading an intense enterprise initiative since January. It’s been relentless; The thinking, planning and execution. It’s involved many 14-hour days, weekends, travel, and the excitement/anxiety associated with high risk/return movements. So… Dogfooding… Both my team and I need to internationally REST. Take some white space, and reenergize before we step on the gas again.

Character Moves:

  1. Dogfood your company products.
  2. Dogfood your beliefs and values. Both 1 and 2 are about integrity.

Dogfooding in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Millennials all want to move a million miles an hour towards our goals, and certainly don’t live with much patience. But, even NASCAR crews have to take a pit stop and “check their tires.” If you need kibbles and bits of advice, this is a good one to chow down on.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Great Leaders Are Great Storytellers

Key Point: If you want to inspire team members, you have to make a personal, emotional connection. One of the key competencies of great leaders is the ability to have team members emotionally relate to a desired future state; ideally a massive transformative purpose (MTP). People literally have to feel, see, and use other senses to “picture” milestones along the way. Data or other so-called points of factual evidence are not sufficient. Emotion needs to be involved. Hence, great leaders are great storytellers. 

Christine Comaford, of the SmartTribes Institute, recently posted an exceptional infographic outlining why leaders need to be great storytellers. Please invest in carefully reviewing and learning from it. See below:

Character Moves:

  1. Every day you have a storytelling opportunity to advance yourself, team, and/or organization. How do you rate on the CURVE model? (Thank you SmartTribes Institute).
  2. Become an intentional storyteller by practicing the CURVE story model. It takes practice, practice, practice. And the end result is: Did you move others to take positive forward action? If not, you’re an entertainer at best and vanilla pudding at worst. Be a more impactful leader by becoming a practiced storyteller. 

Great CURVE in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: This CURVE model is fantastic, especially when it comes to the effects on brain activity, specifically neural coupling and dopamine. A Millennial’s biggest concern at work may just be losing that “thrill,” and slipping into a state of mindlessness that takes away any emotional desire to compete… Oops, we woke up 20 years later and still haven’t progressed. That’s terrifying. That’s surely not the story I want to tell, and it would be beneficial to learn from great leaders who need us to contribute in developing invigorating chapters as soon as possible.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Dad’s Day… The Gifts We Leave Behind

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

Determine your MTP: Massive Transformative Purpose

Key Point: A well-defined MTP (Massive Transformative Purpose) is instrumental in building a different and more valuable kind of company. And most successful new startups these days have this defined before they even kick-start. And an MTP is not primarily about making tons of money for shareholders (although when the MTP is achieved, that’s what happens too). It’s a much bigger inspirational WHY the company exists in the first place.

This past week I met with a 24-year-old Canadian entrepreneur who just sold his first start-up to a global company for $xx millions of dollars. He knows this “take over” company will scale his MTP, and make it a world wide reality. I remember talking to him about his idea a few years ago. There were a number of more prestigious and certainly hipper things this guy could have done in the short run, including but not limited to grad school, high end consulting, big company management, etc. But, he had a massive thought about changing the lives of the elderly incontinent by taking advantage of digital sensors and the ubiquitous wifi/Internet now available to nursing homes. So, what did he do to prove out his thesis that the elderly incontinent deserved the dignity and well-being to live in clean adult diapers? (Not “sexy” at all and for many people his age, well beyond interest, focus or comprehension). Well, he and his team decided to take a minimal viable prototype to nursing homes and learn from there. The entire start-up team stayed at three different nursing homes over a 12-month period. Yup, these 20-plus year olds moved right in to those homes, often staying in sleeping bags on the floor of an unused space, literally living with residents and staff. They knew their technology would work, but to really understand the impact of their product, they immersed themselves in full observation. The result was a dramatic improvement to the prototype, and ultimately a big win for the nursing home residents and their beleaguered care givers… No more middle of the night wake up calls – less sores, infections and indignity. Purpose matters. A massive transformative purpose matters even more. It is really thinking BIG! This mindset applies to our current giant or more modest challenges; from adult diaper wetting to feeding all the hungry. 

So WHY does your company exist? What difference does it make in the world? Simon Sinek talks about the “why.” See the following from an article in Dare2: “Exponential organizations talk about the Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP). It is no longer enough just to be in the market to create profits for your stakeholders. Customers and employees are attracted to companies that aren’t purely commercial, but have a greater purpose and communicate this purpose. Zappo’s MTP is ‘Delivering Happiness.’Yeah, maybe on paper they are selling shoes, but there’s a big difference for employees who wake up every morning to sell a lace up shoe in size 8 versus an employee that wakes up to deliver happiness in size 8. MTPs also give companies a much bigger board to strategically play with. Google’s MTP is ‘Organizing the world’s information.’ The breadth of this makes projects like autonomous cars and Google Glass — products that otherwise seem really out of touch with Google’s strategy — fit perfectly because it supports their greater purpose. Even Coca-Cola has an MTP. It’s ‘Open Happiness,’not ‘We are in the market to maximize the benefits for our shareholders and be the leading distribution chain for sugary soft drinks.’ Most startups are born with an MTP. It is their guiding light. The upward bound that holds all their activities together. ” 

When in NYC last week, I heard about an MTP regarding nutritiously feeding the entire world for pennies a day based on open source thinking. A very talented software developer got tired from having to break development activities to eat. So, he quit software development and hacked a basic nutrition formula that would cost effectively provide all of us our daily needed source of nutrition and then open sourced it. It’s called Soylent! Their MTP: “We at Soylent seek to use science, technology, and business as tools to improve the quality and accessibility of nourishing food. We aim to provide complete nutrition to all while reducing the costs of its production. To accomplish this mission, we have focused on creating a line of products to provide affordable, convenient, complete nutrition that is accessible to all. When we say “all” – we really mean all. In the last three months, we have already donated more than half a million meals to food banks around the country, with the goal of donating 1 million meals this year.” Read more on their site.

Character Moves:

  1. Do you work for an organization with a clear sense of WHY and greater good, purpose? And what about an even bigger thought? A Massive Transformative Purpose? Don’t be afraid to be part of thinking BIG. Like Google’s Ray Kurzweil notes, “If you want to be a billionaire, help a billion people.” Why would one want to work for a company or organization that just wanted to make a lot of money for a bunch of rich people? Especially if it diminishes humankind rather than advancing it? Think big, be big for humankind. Now is the time.

MTPs in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Wow, good for those guys! When you hear stories of how entrepreneurs actually get up and DO, it’s always inspiring. That’s why I recently wrote this piece on a guy I admire, Gary Vaynerchuk… It’s people like this that can really fire you up, make you ask how you can better tackle your day, and think BIG, no matter what industry you’re in.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
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Listen to Lorne's latest podcasts

Confidence, Patti Smith and Dylan: Failing authentically

Breathe fire: Leading and inspiring ourselves

Asking for feedback: The why

Taking on a new role: Lorne's journey

Lessons from Dot: Integrating technology into workplace culture

 

The Character Triangle Companion

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The Character Triangle

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Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle

 

Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

Free Resources

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