How to Become Your Best You, with Author and CEO Marcus Buckingham
There's no doubt that today, Marcus Buckingham is a master communicator. The entrepreneur and best selling author of First, Break All the Rules and Discover Your Strengths is one of the foremost experts on the topics of employee engagement and performance, and is a sought after speaker on these topics. You’d probably never guess that he grew up with a debilitating stammer. It's true: for the first eleven years of his life, this master wordsmith and public speaker couldn’t speak. So what changed? That’s precisely what we dive into in this week’s episode - overcoming the challenges that hold us back from becoming exactly who we want to be. Marcus tells us the incredible story of how we was able to overcome his speech impediment, and the lessons that he carried with him throughout his life and work. Marcus also shares a simple trick for finding your strengths, and why we should look more at our past successes than our failures. Key Takeaways Marcus explains how he came to be a public speaker, despite a childhood stammer. Marcus shares how he overcame his stammer, and relays the lesson that he’s carried with him ever since. Marcus points out that while failure can be instructive, you can only repeat and scale success by focusing on past successes. Marcus explains why the more you realize how unique - and, ultimately, alone - you are, the more you can actually contribute to and connect with others. Marcus describes the discipline he discovered that enables him to collect the feedback that life gives us, and where most people go wrong when it comes to this. Marcus clarifies the distinction between “non-strengths” and “weaknesses,” and describes how our non-strengths actually become weaknesses. Marcus shares a simple trick to help you find your strengths (see Love it/Loathe It bonus exercise). Marcus describes the one thing he loathes more than anything else, and how to turn your strengths into weaknesses. BONUS EXERCISE: Loved It / Loathed It In today’s episode, strength-finding expert Marcus Buckingham shares a quick and easy strategy for discovering your strengths. It works like this: Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side write “Loved It,” and the other write “Loathed It.” As you go through your week, reflect daily on the things that you looked forward to, that made time speed up, that energize, or that may have made you a little tired, but that you want to do again. Those all go in the “Loved It” category. Now think about everything you do that you put off, that makes time drag on, or that leave you completely drained and exhausted. Those go in the “Loathed It” category. Before long, you’ll have a clear picture of your strengths. The beauty of this method is that it’s not abstract - these are actual tasks, functions, or activities that you actually perform during your week. Now summarize your findings using specific action verbs (again, nothing abstract). For Marcus, these words were “interview” and “mingle” - he found that he loved interviewing people, but absolutely loathed mingling. Recommended Reading First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham Other books by Marcus Buckingham Just the Way You Are: How Heredity and Experience Create the Individual by Winifred Gallagher An Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari Links The Marcus Buckingham Co. https://www.tmbc.com/ @mwbuckingham on Twitter @marcusbuckingham on Instagram Arsenal Football Club This is episode is brought to you by the snack geniuses at SnackNation. SnackNation is a healthy office snack delivery service that makes healthy snacking fun, life more productive, and workplaces awesome. To try a free SnackNation discovery box (featuring 15 delicious snacks your team will love), visit get.snacknation.com/ao. You'll also receive a complimentary copy of the 2016 Ultimate Guide to Creating An Awesome Office.
11 Jun 2016
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, Pt.1 | #SPKup Episode 5
Ask yourself - as a leader, are you coming from a place of fear and uncertainty? Do you look for fault and blame in others, cling to an opinion and fixed worldview, and believe in scarcity over abundance? Or are you open to outside interpretations, curious about the world around you, and committed to learning more about yourself and those around you? In other words, are you leading below or above the line? That’s the topic of today’s special #SPKup episode as I explore the concepts contained in The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, a fantastic read and a book that’s proven to be a true game changer for me. As you’ll hear in this episode, the entire leadership team at Awesome Office HQ is currently reading (or re-reading) this amazing book, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share some of my learnings as I explore its valuable concepts yet again. We only cover half the points in part one, and will pick up again in part two. Here’s a quick recap of the points we Cover Commitment 1 - Radical Responsibility The idea with this first commitment is to locate the “cause and control” inside us, not in external events. This means we stop believing that the world should be a particular way, and instead believe that the world just shows up. In the second part of this process, we move from rigid, closed mindedness to curiosity, learning and wonder (something that naturally occurs if the first shift happens.) But most of all, radical responsibility is not about being right! Letting go of the need to be right is something all top tier leaders do. Commitment 2 - Learning through Curiosity Conscious leaders are passionately committed to knowing themselves (the basis of curiosity) and allow themselves to wonder. Success here depends on approaching people with an unreasonable benefit of the doubt, especially those you manage. Be truly curious in what they say. Commitment 3 - Feeling All Feelings So many leaders stay in their head and don’t access their guts or hearts enough. To be an effective leader, you need to acknowledge all your feelings. Emotions are just energy in motion. They’re neither good nor bad - they just are. The key is learning how to deal with your emotions and process them. Every feeling we experience is a way for us to grow and improve in awareness. Commitment 4 - Speaking Candidly According to the book, the team that “sees reality the best wins.” So many people are scared to speak candidly, but when they do that they’re robbing themselves and other people from the natural flow of energy, from what really needs to be said. Commitment 5 - Eliminating Gossip Gossip is defined as anything said with harmful intent, that you wouldn’t say in front of the other person. While gossip is a manifestation of our species’ desire for deep social bonds, it no longer serves us, especially in business. Here we break down why we gossip, and discuss strategies for reversing and avoiding our tendency to engage in this destructive behavior. Commitment 6 - Practicing Integrity Remember that integrity has nothing to do with being right or wrong, it’s all about being whole. (The root of integrity is integer, after all.) We discuss the importance of not blocking the natural flow of energy, and the Four Pillars that help us maintain our integrity. Commitment 7 - Generating Appreciation For this commitment, we talk about what it means to give people the unreasonable benefit of the doubt and why leaders need first and foremost to pay attention. Additionally, we dive into the various reasons why people don’t accept appreciation, and what masterful appreciation really looks like. Again, that’s just part one. We’ll cover Commitments 8-15 in part two next week. Recommended Reading The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp Special Offer for AO Listeners Save 25% off Your First Order at shop.SnackNation.com How legit is your snack game? It's a pretty important question. How you snack will determine how you eat, and snacking well is essential to experiencing an awesome life. Step up your snack game by visiting Shop.SnackNation.com. Use code AO25 for 25% off your entire order. Choose from a variety of today’s most innovative, delicious, and healthier snacks. You can even purchase just one unit at a time, rather than an entire box - or you can choose one of our curation boxes, where our SnackNation Snack Scientists do all the hard selection work for you. Check out Shop.SnackNation.com and use code AO25 to experience some snack magic and save 25% off your order.
11 Nov 2016
How to Become A World-Class Communicator - Hank Fortener Redux
This week we’re going back to the archives, to bring you one of our earliest and best guests, Hank Fortener. Hank Fortener is an adoption expert, speaker, and sought-after authority on culture and leadership. As the founder of AdoptTogether.org and World Adoption Day, Hank has dedicated much of his life to helping young people who are “without a tribe” feel a sense of family and belonging. AdoptTogether’s mission is simple but powerful - to create a world in which there is a family for every child. Through his organizations, Hank has helped thousands of families raise literally millions dollars towards adoption expenses to help bring their children home. Luckily for us, Hank has applied much of his learning around human behavior and belonging to the business world. In our conversation, Hank talks about the importance of empathy in organizational cultures; why solving problems is the most important job of any individual, team, or company; and why storytelling is at the heart of great leadership. Because of the way we launched our first five episodes, not as many people heard this episode as probably should have - which is why we’re resurfacing this episode now. Hank really set the standard of excellence for AO guests. Here is the full, unedited interview, all in one episode. Enjoy. Key Takeaways Hank explains the “Why” behind his organizations AdoptTogether.org and World Adoption Day. Hank tells us why he prefers the word “tribe” or “team” over “family” when describing relationship dynamics in the business world. Hank explains why empathy is the key to effective communication and how to cultivate empathy in your preparation before public speaking. Hank talks about why solving problems is more important than being right, and how to set aside your own ego in order to do so. Hank tells us how companies and leaders can (and should) become better story-tellers. Hank explains why leaders should make a place for charity, goodwill, and community in their organizations. Hank explains why he believes that profit-only business leaders will age out of the majority of the world’s most successful companies in the coming years. Hank explains what he means by “real-time clear thinking,” and explains why this, in combination with an overwhelming sense of empathy, is the key to great communication. Hank walks us through the tactics he uses to put himself in the mind of his audience before he speaks. Hank breaks down what he calls the “magic of communication.” Hank tells us why storytelling is at the heart of great leadership and great companies, and explains why listening and observation are actually the most important traits of great storytellers. Hank breaks down the difference between actual meaningful communication and mere self-expression. Hank tells us why the most successful people say no to most things, and yes to only a few. Finally, Hank explains why maximizing your team’s capabilities is the mark of a great leader. Links AdoptTogether World Adoption Day Mosaic @HankFortener on Twitter Hank on Instagram Hank on LinkedIn Special Offer for AO Listeners - Try SnackNation Market for FREE Introducing SnackNation Market. For the past few years SnackNation has only been available to businesses, but now it’s available for homes and awesome individuals too. SnackNation Market brings health- and taste-conscious folks expertly curated boxes of the most delicious, innovative and healthier snacks right to your doorstep. With SnackNation there is no more worrying about having a weak, unhealthy and tasteless snack game. We’ve secured a special offer for the listeners of this show: you can try SnackNation for FREE. Just visit SnackNation.com/AO right now, and get your first box free (just cover shipping and handling). That’s SnackNation.com/AO.
19 Jun 2017
How to Maximize Joy in the Workplace, Richard Sheridan Redux
This week we dig into the Awesome Office archives to bring you one of our absolute favorite conversations. From kid programmer in 1971 to Forbes cover story in 2003, Joy, Inc. author and Menlo Innovations CEO Richard Sheridan has never shied from challenges, opportunities, nor the limelight. His focus has always been around technology, but his passion is actually process, teamwork and organizational design, with one overarching goal: unlock the business value of Joy. Strangely enough, it all began in 1967, when a ten year old Richard decided to surprise his parents by building a piece of furniture while they were away for the evening. Hear his incredible journey to Menlo, and how culture became such a focus for Richard in this uncut interview. Key Takeaways Richard takes us back to one of the most formative experiences of his life, and explains why he credits this lesson as the inspiration behind Joy Inc. Richard explains that, while he’s a technologist, his greatest innovation came in the way he thinks about people, organization design, and process. Richard describes why we typically lose our sense of joy as we transition from childhood to adulthood, and why that’s detrimental to our businesses and our lives. Richard opines why most managers fall into the trap of mimicking their predecessors, and how that has perpetuated harmful organizational cultures and management practices. Richard explains how playfulness and productivity aren’t mutually exclusive, and how the TV show M.A.S.H. actually demonstrated that levity can exist in the midst of stressful or important work. Richard tells us the utterly unique way that Menlonians schedule all-staff meetings, and how the company is able to conduct these meetings in under 13 minutes. Richard explains why ear buds are forbidden at Menlo, and why he believes chatter helps fuel creativity. Richard describes the Menlo hiring process, which actually involves no resumes and no interview questions whatsoever. Richard tells us why he had to first rethink his own role in the organization before he could start to think about organizational change. Richard shares the insight that his eight year old daughter gave him regarding his own leadership style. Richard explains why low attrition isn’t necessarily the sign of a good company culture, and how some of the worst cultures he’s seen are ones in which no one ever leaves. Richard explains how boomerang employees can be a source of fresh ideas and innovation, and why so many companies miss out on them. Richard describes the tours he gives at Menlo, and how this daily story telling benefits himself and his team. Richard tells us why he believes the most important breakthroughs won’t be technological, but will be based on the expanding concept of what it means to be human. Richard shares why the biggest people-oriented crisis facing businesses today is a crisis of human energy - and why this represents a huge opportunity for organizations. Finally, Richard enters the ring and takes on…the Minute of Magic. Links Menlo Innovations Richard on Twitter - @menloprez Richard on Instagram - @menloprez Menlo Innovations on Twitter - @menloinnovation Visit Menlo Innovations Zingerman’s Deli Recommended Reading Joy Inc. by Richard Sheridan The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker In Search of Excellence by Thomas Peters Megatrends by John Naisbitt Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute Like this episode? Then let us know! Subscribe, rate, and review the show in iTunes. This show grows by word of mouth, and the more we grow, the more Awesome we can all create together.
23 Feb 2018
Most Popular Podcasts
AO 100 - Ten Quotes That Will Make You a More Successful Leader
Welcome to the 100th episode of the Awesome Office show. Yep, you read that correctly - 100 episodes. (Crazy, right?) Those of you who have been on this journey with us from the beginning know that the show has evolved a bit over these past 99 episodes. Since launching back in 2015, we’ve interviewed bestselling authors, learned from CEOs of some of the fastest growing companies in the country, recorded in front of live audiences, and of course, added a co-host - the lovable Sean Spear of Hughes Marino. But we believe - and I hope you agree - that as much as we’ve changed, the core mission has stayed the same: to provide meaningful insights on culture and leadership that will help you improve your business or just become a better version of yourself. With that in mind, for our 100th episode we’re taking a look back at the top ten clips from the past fifty episodes. (Reminder: if you like this, also check out our 50th episode which is a mash-up of our first 50 recordings.) You’re about to hear the concepts, insights, and stories that will help you become a better leader, improve the relationships and culture of the communities with which you’re involved, or perhaps just see things in a new and more evolved light. Key Takeaways Author Ryan Holiday dispels a Millennial myth about the need to "find yourself" before you can start meaningful work. 2:05 Author Diana Chapman reveals how to tap the hidden power of our emotions. 4:57 Brit Gilmore of the Giving Keys talks about leading a workforce who is transitioning out of homelessness. 7:48 Los York founder Seth Epstein shares the Zen parable that informs his leadership style. 12:34 Hawke Media CEO Erik Huberman reminds us that sometimes life just happens. 17:01 MeUndies CEO Bryan Lalezarian tells us why he believes just getting started is the key to success. 18:40 Hippeas CEO Livio Bisterzo makes the brand-culture connection in front of a live audience. 21:52 SunBasket CEO Adam Zbar breaks down why "solving the people" is better than "solving the problem." 25:40 Henco CEO Simon Cohen described the moment that changed everything for him. 28:24 Neuroscientist Dr. Robert Cooper reminds us what it's really all about. 37:52 Special Offer for AO Listeners - Try SnackNation Market for FREE Introducing SnackNation Market. For the past few years SnackNation has only been available to businesses, but now it’s available for homes and awesome individuals too. SnackNation Market brings health- and taste-conscious folks expertly curated boxes of the most delicious, innovative and healthier snacks right to your doorstep. With SnackNation there is no more worrying about having a weak, unhealthy and tasteless snack game. We’ve secured a special offer for the listeners of this show: you can try SnackNation for FREE. Just visit SnackNation.com/AO right now, and get your first box free (just cover shipping and handling). That’s SnackNation.com/AO.
17 Jul 2017
How to Approach Your Day Like a CEO, with Sean Kelly
These days, CEOs are kind of the new rockstars. Our collective obsession with entrepreneurship and innovation has transformed the Zuckerbergs, Musks, and Bezos’ of the world into pop culture icons. It can be easy to forget that Chief Executive Officer is a job - and a hard job at that. The role requires supreme efficiency, intense focus, and resolve. Every decision can have big consequences, and you need to be decisive in the face of uncertainty, criticism, and even self doubt. So no matter where you are in your career, you can learn a lot by the way CEOs approach their work. But what does a typical day look like for a CEO? Luckily, we happen to know one. In this episode producer Jeff Murphy talks with Awesome Office host and SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly to learn how he approaches his typical work day. As you’ll hear, Sean breaks down how he approaches a typical day, shares the framework he uses to break up his week, and provides strategies for maximizing your effectiveness from when you wake up until your head hits the pillow. He also tells us his most important activities and responsibilities, and how those have altered as the business has scaled from less than 30 people to 150.
2 Oct 2017
Ten Steps to Become Your Best You in 2017
If you’ve ever listened to the show, you probably know that we get FIRED UP around this time of year. And not just for things like holiday parties and time spent with loved ones. We get amped by the fact that the holidays are the perfect time to reflect, reset, and look ahead to the coming year. It’s a chance to think about who we want to be and how we’re going to get there. Yep, it’s the time for ANNUAL GOAL SETTING. (Fired up yet??) There’s a bit of an art and science to setting proper goals. In fact, the vast majority of people who set goals - as in 92% - never achieve them. And only 45% of people even set them to begin with. In other words, if you can set and achieve your goals, you’re truly in rarified air. In this episode, we present a peak inside the culture at SnackNation and Awesome Office Inc. HQ with Sean’s annual goal setting presentation to his team. Sean has spent more than a decade refining his approach to goal setting, and shares his top ten tactics and strategies for getting it right. He also dives deep into one of the most important (yet most under appreciated) aspects of goal setting: the emotional aspect. Here’s a quick recap of the ten steps to become the best version of yourself in 2017. Set a Theme Only Set 5-10 Goals Attach a Why One Goal for Each Area Ensure Goals are Compelling Make Specific & Measurable w/ Deadlines Don’t worry about the HOW Write them Down, Keep Visible Write the Next Action Step for Each Next Goal Get an Accountability Partner (Or 2) For more tips for setting yourself up for success in the New Year, check out episode 62 - How to Start Your Year with a Bang. Special Offer for AO Listeners - Try SnackNation Market for FREE Introducing SnackNation Market. For the past few years SnackNation has only been available to businesses, but now it’s available for homes and awesome individuals too. SnackNation Market brings health- and taste-conscious folks expertly curated boxes of the most delicious, innovative and healthier snacks right to your doorstep. With SnackNation there is no more worrying about having a weak, unhealthy and tasteless snack game. We’ve secured a special offer for the listeners of this show: you can try SnackNation for FREE. Just visit SnackNation.com/AO right now, and get your first box free (just cover shipping and handling). That’s SnackNation.com/AO.
17 Dec 2016
The Future of Workplace Culture, with Rising Realty founder and president Chris Rising
There's no doubt about it - big changes are coming. New technologies like artificial intelligence and automation will fundamentally alter the way we work. But what will that look like, and how should companies adapt? This week on the show co-host Sean Spear interviews Chris Rising, the Founder and President of Rising Realty. Chris is a 19-year veteran of the real estate business, and someone who’s always been ahead of the curve in terms of building spaces that support how the most innovative companies work. We loved this conversation because it brought together so many of the big ideas that we care about on this show - everything from office space and its relationship to culture, to personal habits and productivity, to the big technological changes poised to transform our economy and the workplace. Sean met with Chris at Rising’s dramatic HQ in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. In this episode, Chris dives into his personal journey - including the lessons learned from his Jesuit education and his experience as a college football standout at Duke University - shares his daily habits, and explains why he thinks offices aren’t going away anytime soon. This one runs a littler longer than most, but be sure to listen to the end to hear a challenge that should have a big impact on your energy and performance. Recommended Reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg Flash Boys by Michael Lewis The Third Wave by Steve Case Links Rising Realty Chris on LinkedIn LEED Certification Kolbe Personality Test Special Offer for AO Listeners - Try SnackNation Market for FREE Introducing SnackNation Market. For the past few years SnackNation has only been available to businesses, but now it’s available for homes and awesome individuals too. SnackNation Market brings health- and taste-conscious folks expertly curated boxes of the most delicious, innovative and healthier snacks right to your doorstep. With SnackNation there is no more worrying about having a weak, unhealthy and tasteless snack game. We’ve secured a special offer for the listeners of this show: you can try SnackNation for FREE. Just visit SnackNation.com/AO right now, and get your first box free (just cover shipping and handling). That’s SnackNation.com/AO.
3 Apr 2017
Top Lessons on Leadership from Harvard | #SPKup Episode 10
Each year, 190 CEOs from 40 different countries gather at Harvard Business School for an intense week of learning, teaching, and sharing. It's a truly special program organized by the Young President's Organization that brings together some of the best and brightest leaders around the globe. Among them, AO's own Sean Kelly. Sean's back this episode to give us his top learnings from another immersive week at HBS. And like year's past, the week was full of breakthroughs and surprises. One of those surprises - the telltale signs when it's time for an employee to move on. As we've said before on this show, effective leaders know that retention shouldn't be an end-all-be-all priority. High-growth businesses depend on individual growth - both personal and professional. Often, "graduation" out of a role - or even a company - is an inevitable outcome. But there are also instances when it's to both party's benefit if an employee simply moves on. This was a heated topic during the summit, and Sean lays out the telltale signs when this should happen. That's not all. Sean also shares why good is sometimes the enemy of great, how to measure the potential growth in a new hire, and the best stories he heard from this phenomenal group of leaders and thinkers. Special Offer for AO Listeners - Try SnackNation Market for FREE Introducing SnackNation Market. For the past few years SnackNation has only been available to businesses, but now it’s available for homes and awesome individuals too. SnackNation Market brings health- and taste-conscious folks expertly curated boxes of the most delicious, innovative and healthier snacks right to your doorstep. With SnackNation there is no more worrying about having a weak, unhealthy and tasteless snack game. We’ve secured a special offer for the listeners of this show: you can try SnackNation for FREE. Just visit SnackNation.com/AO right now, and get your first box free (just cover shipping and handling). That’s SnackNation.com/AO.
29 Jan 2017
How to Become an Expert Conversationalist, with Fatherly CEO and co-founder Michael Rothman
In our digitally connected, multi-screen world, where people hide their true selves behind layers of snark and our deepest emotions are expressed via emoji, conversation seems to be a lost art. But as this week’s guest attests, conversation is one of the most important skills we possess, both in business and in life. Michael Rothman is a digital entrepreneur, master conversationalist and storyteller, and all around fascinating guy. A founding employee at Thrillist, his latest venture is Fatherly.com, a lifestyle site for men entering parenthood - and a conversation in its own right (albeit of the digital variety). Michael shares his point of view on how to create engaging dialogue, both face-to-face and through digital media, and even shares his notes from one of the best communicators in the world - Oprah Winfrey. Turns out, Oprah is a fan of Fatherly, and Michael has had the opportunity to spend time with her and her amazing staff. On top of all that, Michael shares an amazing story about biking nearly 5,000 miles from New York to Los Angeles to raise scholarship money for his mentee and honor his beloved aunt. The grueling journey taught him a ton of lessons that still inform his life today, most of which were surprising even to him. Here are a few photos from that epic trek: Michael's epic beard. Michael and his pal Avi finally make it to the west coast. Michael's view for 55 days. Key Takeaways Michael tells us how he got to know Oprah Winfrey, plus the most unexpected thing about hanging out with her. 3:35 How to become more disarming in conversations, and why that’s important. 6:17 Michael tells us who he is at his core, and why it’s important to know yourself. 8:23 Michael breaks down the art of conversation, and shares how to maximize your networking opportunities. 10:40 Strategies to drive past surface level questions and get to know people on a deeper level when you meet them. 14:40 Michael shares the origins of Fatherly, and how it evolved out of Thrillist. 16:30 Michael describes the “dudes to dads” cultural shift that inspired Fatherly. 17:20 Michael shares the experiences that qualified him to launch Fatherly despite the fact that he’s not a father himself. 21:10 Michael shares how he and his team developed the hugely popular piece, “The 50 Best Places to Work for New Dads.” 29:49 Why Michael biked from New York to LA, and what it taught him about himself and his ability to overcome major challenges. 33:41 Links @MJRawth on Twitter Fatherly.com The Muse Recommended Reading "Bike That Sh*t: Or That Time I Lugged Myself 5,000 Miles Across America" by Michael Rothman “The 50 Best Places to Work for New Dads” by Fatherly "The 36 Questions that Lead to Love" (New York Times article) by Daniel Jones This is episode is brought to you by the snack geniuses at SnackNation. SnackNation is a healthy office snack delivery service that makes healthy snacking fun, life more productive, and workplaces awesome. To try a free SnackNation discovery box (featuring 15 delicious snacks your team will love), visit get.snacknation.com/ao. You'll also receive a complimentary copy of the 2016 Ultimate Guide to Creating An Awesome Office.
27 May 2016
Why Everything You Think You Know about Culture is Wrong, with Invite Manager CEO Tony Knopp
When you hear the word “company culture,” what comes to mind? If you picture a whimsical work environment filled with highly social Millennial co-workers, cruising around on hoverboards and gathering around the company’s kegerator on Friday (or Tuesday) afternoons, you’re not alone. According to this week’s Awesome Office guest, you’re also completely wrong. In this episode, co-host Sean Spear talks to longtime friend and mentor Tony Knopp, the CEO and co-founder of InviteManager. Together with his co-founders, Tony has built the leading entertainment enterprise SaaS company, so he knows a thing or two about building high-performing teams. Tony is a fascinating, driven entrepreneur who reads two books per week, and who brought a ton of juice to this episode. In our conversation, he shares stories from his early days at StubHub, explains why he decided to strike out on his own at the age of 27, and details why InviteManager has made “relentless recruiting” one of their core tenets. One of the things we found most interesting was Tony’s take on company culture, and why he thinks most people miss the mark when it comes to building the right culture for their business. Recommended Reading “The Sure Thing,” by Malcolm Gladwell The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore Mindset by Carol Dweck Links InviteManager Tony on LinkedIn @TonyKnopp on Twitter Can’t Buy Me Love
19 Mar 2017
How to Supercharge Your Business with Happiness, with Delivering Happiness CEO Jenn Lim
Happiness. Does it really matter? Ask most business leaders fifteen years ago, and you’d be hard pressed to find one who thought that happiness was a primary concern, especially within the organization. Work is about results, and happiness is incidental. Or so the thinking went. Then came along a little company called Zappos, with a visionary CEO named Tony Hsieh who realized that delivering happiness was a unifying theme throughout the business. Not only did delivering happiness sum up the ideal experience for his customer, but making happiness a primary concern internally actually drove results. There’s no one in the world who understands the power of Happiness better than this week’s guest, Jenn Lim. Delivering Happiness CHO Jenn Lim. Jenn is the CEO and Chief Happiness Officer of Delivering Happiness, a consulting firm she founded with Tony Hsieh to inspire science-based happiness, passion and purpose at work, home and everyday life. Jenn was a foundational team member at Zappos, and in 2010 she led the launch of Tony’s book Delivering Happiness, which has sold over 600,000 copies worldwide. Jenn refers to Delivering Happiness as a book that became a company that became a global movement. We caught up with Jenn on a Hawaiian “workcation,” and she digs deep in this interview, telling us about her upbringing, her days as an angst-ridden, Camus-reading teenager, and her own happiness journey, which includes stops at UC Berkeley, San Francisco tech, and Zappos. Eventually, this path led her to the principles of positive psychology that form the basis of Delivering Happiness. Key Takeaways Jenn takes us through DH’s happiness framework, and explains the difference between pleasure, passion, and purpose - as well as why a sense of purpose has the highest likelihood of creating sustainable happiness. 5:33 Jenn walks us through her childhood, and explains how her experience as a first generation American shaped her perspective on what “success” and “happiness” mean, as well as how those constructs changed over time. 8:53 Jenn describes one of the lowest moments of her life, and explains how this experience inspired her to focus more on discovering her own life's purpose. 13:37 Jenn describes the life-changing events that led her to focus on positive psychology and the science of happiness. 21:22 Jenn tells us about her introduction to Zappos, and the not-so-great first impression that CEO Tony Hsieh left on her. 22:25 Jenn describes how her working relationship with Tony flourished, and tells us about the bonds that forged between them while scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro. 24:13 Jenn walks us through the number one business case for workplace happiness, and lays out a strategy for creating values that actually mean something. 26:55 Jenn tells us the story behind Zappos’ famous culture book, and how she brought the project from idea to launch. Jenn shares a formerly-held belief about happiness that has since changed. 40:00 Jenn describes how the world of work will be different ten years from now. 46:12 Recommended Reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh The Stranger by Albert Camus The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand On The Road by Jack Kerouac The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo Links DeliveringHappiness.com Delivering Happiness on Facebook @DHMovement on Twitter Email Jenn directly: firstname.lastname@example.org UC Berkeley Special Offer for AO Listeners! 2 Week Free Trial and $25 Credit with SaneBox How many emails do you have in your inbox right now? A hundred? A thousand? Twenty thousand? An out of control inbox is probably THE biggest drag on your time and sanity. But it doesn't have to be this way. There's a secret to reaching inbox zero and taking back your email sanity. It’s called SaneBox and I can’t recommend it enough. SaneBox sorts through your email and moves all of the trivial stuff into a different folder so the only messages in your inbox are the ones you actually want to see. Aside from removing all of the junk so you can focus on messages that matter, there’s this a great feature called the BlackHole. Move an email into that folder and you’ll never hear from the sender again. It’s so rewarding. Because we could all use more organization in our email life, we worked out a great deal for our listeners. Visit sanebox.com/AO and they’ll throw in an extra $25 credit on top of the two-week free trial. You don’t have to enter your credit card information unless you decide to buy, so there’s really nothing to lose. Check it out today and let me know if you love the BlackHole and reaching inbox zero as much as I do. Go to SaneBox.com/AO to claim your $25 credit and try it for free now!
13 Aug 2016
How Top Performers Train their Minds to Win, w/ Dr. Glenn Fox of USC’s Performance Science Institute
When we think about training for high performance, we usually think about training our bodies. We might even think about working our craft. But how often do we consider training our emotions? Not very often, right? Well, if we care about performance, that’s actually a huge mistake. That’s a big part of we explore in this episode with Dr. Glenn Fox. Dr. Fox leads program design at USC’s Performance Science Institute, where he works with top athletes to devise strategies that optimize their abilities. He’s an expert on the ways that emotions - particularly gratitude and optimism - drive performance. According to his research, the ability to regulate emotions is the number one predictor of success in life. This is just as true in the workplace as anywhere else. Since gratitude and optimism affect performance, companies who proactively foster these positive emotions via a culture of recognition have an automatic leg-up on those who don’t. In this presentation, Dr. Glenn gives us a functional definition of optimism and gratitude that you can use at your workplace (it’s not just rosy thinking and pretending everything is great) provides the 3 core components of a Competitor’s Mindset and walks us through a visualization strategy that top athletes often use, and that we can use in our own lives too. Links Dr. Glenn Fox - bio and publications The Empiricist Blog USC Performance Science Institute Recommended Reading Peak: Secrets of New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Poole Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
11 Sep 2017
How to Become a Better Public Speaker at Work
For most people, it's scarier than dying. Of course, we're talking about public speaking, the most dreaded of all workplace activities. Despite the fear, public speaking is an incredibly useful skill for employees - and not just executives. It's an efficient way to communicate essential information, and it helps bring a company together. Most of us want to get better, but few know where to start. That's what this episode of Awesome Office is all about - how to become a better public speaker at work. In it, you will learn: Why public speaking is important, even if you aren’t your company’s CEO. The elements that make an effective speech or presentation. Why the words you say are only the third most important part of a good presentation - and what the one and two most important factors are. The importance of storytelling, and how to tell a compelling one. Why vulnerability and confidence are equally important, plus specific tactics for projecting a sense of vulnerability to your audience. The most common mistakes people make while speaking at work, and how to fix them. Ways to get more employees to practice public speaking at work. Quick Reference - Sean's Tips for Crafting a Masterful Presentation Passion - you have to believe that what you are saying is important to your audience. Stories - we connect and learn about the world through stories, so integrating storytelling is essential. Teach - people want to be taught, so focus on one or two takeaways. Conversation - don't talk at people, talk to them. Surprise - the element of surprise makes for a more memorable and more effective speech. Humor - there's no better way to endear yourself to your audience. Links Master public speaker Richard Greene SnackNation’s Crush it Call (video) The original Awesome Office interview with Hank Fortener on public speaking.
30 Oct 2017
How to Build an Authentic Culture from the Bottom-Up, with SnackNation's Joey Joyce
Building an authentic, employee-led company culture is what most of aspire to. It can be the key to making your org a magnet for talent. Retention and engagement suddenly become a breeze. The problem - it’s a lot easier said than done. As always, we’re here to help. This week we’ve got Joey Joyce on the podcast to share the secret to creating a culture inspired by your values, but built by your employees. Joey is a senior team member at SnackNation, and the president of SnackNation’s Culture Committee. His insights provide a framework for launching a Culture Committee at your organization. That’s what we dig into in this interview - tactics for launching, scaling, and maintaining an employee-led culture committee at your company. Here are Joey’s tips for launching a successful culture committee at your organization: Select a Representative from each department. Every department has its own needs, challenges, and subculture. Your committee should give everyone a seat at the table, and work towards a culture that works for all. Write a Mission Statement. Your committee should have a specific, culture-related purpose in sight. It might be to improve communication, make the office healthier, or to just make the day more enjoyable. Our Mission Statement was to live the company’s values, spread joy and optimism with events that the team would enjoy, and break down departmental silos and increase collaboration. Chart a Roadmap. Once you nail your mission, work backwards to create measurable goals and a path to achieve them. Capture and Incorporate Feedback. Some initiatives you’ll knock out of the park, others will require some adjustment before you get them right. You won’t know what works unless you ask your team. Field surveys… or better yet, just talk to people! When times are tough, AMF (Always Move Forward). One of the biggest challenges with a Culture Committee is that it’s basically extra work for everyone involved. Each member has her primary job responsibilities, which always come first. In any given week you might have an engineer struggling to ship a product on time or a salesperson feeling the pressure to hit her goal. The key, according to Joey, is to find the right balance and always move cultural initiatives forward. If only two people can meet for ten minutes, meet for ten minutes. Just AMF. Break out into subcommittees. Scale your committee as your company grows by creating specialized subcommittees. Practice Radical Responsibility. Ultimately, your Culture Committee will only work if members hold themselves accountable.
14 Feb 2018
Ten Tips to Negotiate Like a Boss | #SPKup Episode 3
We’re back this week with another #SPKup episode, in which Sean answers the questions and breaks down the topics that you’re dying to know more about. This time Sean focuses on a topic that he gets asked about all the time – Negotiation. For a lot of us, negotiation can be a bit mystifying, and as a result artful negotiation remains a drastically under utilized tactic. But the truth is, negotiation is a skill like any other, and anyone can master it. What makes Sean an expert? Besides the countless deals he’s negotiated in more than a decade as an entrepreneur, he also took top negotiation honors at a recent Harvard Business School executive leader summit. So whether you’re making the case for a better salary or making a million dollar real estate deal, here are the top ten tips that will help you come out on top of your next negotiation. Top Takeaways Sean shares why human connection is such an important part of negotiation. Sean explains why you have to have the mindset that you are actually the least important part of the process, and tells us what he believes is the most important part. Sean explains the importance of body language in negotiation. Sean reminds us what “winning” really means in the context of deal making. Sean shares why most deals don’t get done, and why preparation is the key to a fruitful negotiation. Sean tells us why adding more items to a negotiation is a tactic to get what you want. Sean explains how information creates trust in a negotiation, and why you should be willing to put more of your cards on the table, not less. Sean relays the importance of intangibles. Sean reminds us that money isn’t always the ultimate goal in a negotiation (even though most people assume it is). Sean tells us why get those early yes’s are so important, and how to get them. Sean describes the importance of making incremental progress, and why deadlines don’t work. Finally, Sean explains why not thinking big enough is one of the most common mistakes people make in negotiations. This podcast is brought to you by the good folks at Audible.com Just for the listeners of the Awesome Office podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download along with their free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service. We personally recommend Mindset by Carol Dweck. It’s the one book that will change your life more than any other, and the one we think everyone should read. And the cool thing is - you can download it for FREE by trying audible.com. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/AO.
30 Sep 2016
How the Best Leaders Use Vulnerability to Succeed - Tom Bilyeu Reboot
We’re doing a reboot of one of our absolute favorite episodes - our very first! After surveying our listeners, we realized that many of our newer listeners had never heard some of our early episodes. To us, these early conversations are essential. Not only do we constantly reference the lessons we learned therein, but they really set the stage for the next year and a half of Q&A. The Awesome Office Show is all about leading people, creating culture, and inspiring Awesome for companies of all shapes and sizes. So for the show’s very first guest, we went with someone who embodies the spirit of that mission; someone who has personally interviewed more than 1,200 candidates; someone whose passion for people and development permeates everything he does, and who has cultivated a culture of growth that helped transformed his company into the second fastest growing private company in America. We’re talking about Quest Nutrition co-founder and Impact Theory founder Tom Bilyeu Tom, along with his two partners, has completely reinvented the nutrition bar category in a periods of just a few years, and redefined what it means to snack healthy by creating healthy treats that taste like they’re bad for you, but actually are not. Having grown up in Tacoma, Washington in a family that struggled with obesity, Tom felt a personal drive to segue into the health and fitness industry and help his loved ones and others like them revolutionize their relationship with food. As it would turn out, this new focus on something deeply personal and passion-based led him and his two partners to found Quest. We expected Tom to drop some magic on our first episode, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. One of the most fascinating things we learned about Tom is that he credits much of his success to a concerted effort to rethink — or even unlearn — the lessons of the past, including the fixed mindset and so-called “slave mentality” that plagued him early on in his career. Tom had so much good stuff for us that we decided to give this conversation two episodes. So join us as we delve into the mind of Quest Nutrition’s Tom Bilyeu. Key Takeaways Tom discusses the “slave mentality” he held early in his career, and how he was able to recognize and break out of it. Tom explains why it’s so important for leaders to be vulnerable, and why you shouldn’t confuse vulnerability with weakness. Tom walks us through the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset, and explains why adopting a growth mindset has made all the difference in his life, his career, and his company. Tom takes us through his belief in the importance of disciplined practice, and how he tricks his brain into working through moments of boredom or frustration. Tom explains what he means when he says his job is to “free you from the matrix.” Tom describes the utility in listening to criticism no matter who its from, and how the adoption of a growth mindset led him to that conclusion. Tom describes the importance of culture, and why he made it an actual part of his job description. Tom talks about why he ditched the standard mission statement for Quest in favor of his “25 bullet points that every human being needs to know in order to achieve every dream they’ve ever head.” Links & Recommended Reading QuestNutrition.com InsideQuest.com Tom Bilyeu on Twitter The Quest Nutrition Belief System (25 Bullet Points) Mindset by Carol Dweck
28 Feb 2017
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, Pt.2 | #SPKup Episode 6
We're back with part two of our exploration of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, a book that's full of powerful and practical prescriptions, and one that I find myself reaching for again and again. (Missed part one? Check it out here.) Commitments 8-15 build on the themes of candor, curiosity, and integrity that we talked about in part one. Some of the ideas might sound familiar. Commitment 8, for instance, bears a resemblance to several concepts from positive psychology, while Commitment 11 reminds me of the Stoic philosophy I discussed with author Ryan Holiday in a previous episode. I think that's one of the reasons that I love this book so much - it combines brand new insights with proven leadership advice, and packages it in a way that's useful and just makes sense. Here's a quick rundown... Commitment 8 - Express Your Zone of Genius This commitment is all about finding that one thing that you do well and love to do. Similar to concepts like "unique ability" and flow state, your "zone of genius" is the area where you make the most valuable, creative contribution. Commitment 9 - Remember to Play Contrary to what most of us are taught earl in life, work doesn't have to be nothing but stress, misery, and toil. Play, laughter, and improvisation are vital to being productive and fulfilled. (Besides, what good is life without a little bit of laughter?) Commitment 10 - Consider the Opposite of Your "Story" We all have a "story" - it's the way we see the world, the assumptions we take with us when we approach problems. The idea here is to consider that the opposite of your story is as true or truer than your own. Commitment 11 - Be Your Own Approval Commit to being your own source of approval, rather than relying on it from others. Commitment 12 - Recognize You Have Enough How many times have you caught yourself saying "if only I had enough time. Enough money. Enough support. Enough space. Enough energy." This commitment reminds us that this imagined state of "enough" is never going to happen, and asks us to be satisfied in what we have now - and get stared solving problems! Commitment 13 - See People as Allies Whether or not you consider someone an ally or obstacle is largely a matter of choice. So which would you rather have, enemies or allies? Choose allies. Commitment 14 - Win for All Recognize that life is not a zero-sum game and commit to creating win-for-all outcomes. Commitment 15 - Be the Resolution Finally, the most important commitment - be the resolution the world needs. Stop being content with apathy and recognize problems as opportunities to step up and become the solution. To see more of what the 15 Commitments look like in action, check out the Conscious Leadership Group. Recommended Reading The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp Special Offer for AO Listeners - Try SnackNation Market for FREE Introducing SnackNation Market. For the past few years SnackNation has only been available to businesses, but now it’s available for homes and awesome individuals too. SnackNation Market brings health- and taste-conscious folks expertly curated boxes of the most delicious, innovative and healthier snacks right to your doorstep. With SnackNation there is no more worrying about having a weak, unhealthy and tasteless snack game. We’ve secured a special offer for the listeners of this show: you can try SnackNation for FREE. Just visit SnackNation.com/AO right now, and get your first box free (just cover shipping and handling). That’s SnackNation.com/AO.
18 Nov 2016
How to Crush Any Challenge You Face, with Spokeo CEO Harrison Tang
Imagine this: you’re a young, bright student at the top of your class with dreams of attending a top university. Up to this point, you’ve been able to earn excellent grades and handle life’s challenges with relative ease. Suddenly, at age thirteen, you’re thrust into a brand new culture. You don’t speak the language, your classmates make fun of you for reasons you don’t quite understand, and you’re back to square one academically. You still dream of gaining acceptance to a world-class college, but you have just five years until you start applying. That’s exactly the challenge that lay before Harrison Tang, the CEO and co-founder of Spokeo and today’s Awesome Office guest. Despite the deck stacked against him, Harrison was able to quickly master English, gain acceptance to Stanford University, and launch Spokeo with his college roommates upon graduation. Today Spokeo is the leading people search engine, with more than 18 million unique monthly visitor, and $78 million in revenue for 2015. Spokeo is also home to a unique company culture, one reflected in its numerous quirky conferences rooms - including the bacon-themed meeting space where Harrison recorded our interview. According to Harrison, those early experiences after immigrating to the U.S. from Taiwan were hugely formative, and helped him develop a process to tackle any challenges that arise - one that he still uses to this day. With his engaging stories, inspiring journey, and practical advice, Harrison was a delight to interview. Through it all, Harrison hasn’t lost his trademark optimism, sense of humor, and work ethic. We think you’ll enjoy this one as much as we did. Key Takeaways Harrison explains why he and his co-founders chose to set up shop in Pasadena rather than Silicon Valley. 3:25 Harrison delves into the hiring challenges - and benefits - of being located a little bit off tech's beaten path. 5:30 Harrison takes us back to his upbringing, and shares his inspiring journey to Stanford University after coming to the U.S. at age 13 from Taiwan. 8:08 Harrison describes the unusual way he mastered English as a teenager. 8:54 Harrison tells us how this experience taught him to overcome the biggest challenges Spokeo faced as a business, and why optimism has been so important to his success. 11:03 Harrison explains why adversity is an asset, and what he means when he says, “When there’s a tiger chasing after you, you run for your life.” 14:26 Harrison tells us the greatest lesson he learned from his parents. 17:30 Harrison talks about the origins behind Spokeo, and walks us through the pivot that led to their massive success. 19:04 Harrison describes the advice he would give his younger self at the beginning of his entrepreneurial career. 26:02 Harrison breaks down his process for dealing with challenges and fears. 28:12 Harrison tells us the habits that help him optimize his work and be the best leader he can be. 32:56 Harrison explains why he insists on respecting people’s time and giving his own time to his employees and colleagues - even when it seems like he doesn’t have enough of it. 33:47 Harrison describes the impact that fatherhood has had on his leadership abilities. 39:22 Harrison tells us the origin of Spokeo’s infamous bacon room, and how it reflects the company’s unique culture. 40:53 Recommended Reading Emma by Jane Austen The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson Links Spokeo @spokeo on Twitter @twhman on Twitter Special Offer for AO Listeners Save 25% off Your First Order at shop.SnackNation.com How legit is your snack game? It's a pretty important question. How you snack will determine how you eat, and snacking well is essential to experiencing an awesome life. Step up your snack game by visiting Shop.SnackNation.com. Use code AO25 for 25% off your entire order. Choose from a variety of today’s most innovative, delicious, and healthier snacks. You can even purchase just one unit at a time, rather than an entire box - or you can choose one of our curation boxes, where our SnackNation Snack Scientists do all the hard selection work for you. Check out Shop.SnackNation.com and use code AO25 to experience some snack magic and save 25% off your order.
14 Oct 2016
7 Tips To Living Your Best Day Ever
Are you optimizing every day to be the best that it can be? In today's fast paced world it can sometimes seem impossible to accomplish what you originally set out to with your day. Sean Kelly is here to help. In this episode of the Awesome Office Show the script is flipped as our host, Sean Kelly, answers the most common questions asked by the Awesome Office Community. From how to most effectively use your time, to the first thing you should do in the morning to guarantee productivity, Sean shares some amazing insight into how to experience a truly phenomenal day, every day.
13 May 2016