Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 189 – This Is Not The Way Book – Unleashing Creativity: An Interview with Author & Founder Andy Reid

Dear leaders, this week I have a special interview with the author of This Is Not The Way, Andy Reid. 

Andy Reid is the founder of Genius Box who help companies big and small address company issues from creating North Stars to creating or optimising company strategies. 

In this interview, I ask Andy 6 questions:

  1. Your new book aka anti-manual “This is not the way” is a mass of knowledge and learnings from your successful career of change making, why an anti-manual and why now?
  2. You have helped many well-known and upcoming companies move their businesses forward, who are the best people to get into the room to create the most effective company-wide strategy?
  3. You interviewed a number of smart strategic operators and facilitators (not just because I was involved) and curated a number of actionable insights. What surprises or new approaches have inspired you to improve your workshops?
  4. You have suggested brainstorming don’t work – what’s the best alternative in getting the best ideas and concepts out of colleagues?
  5. Many companies always problem-solve the same way or mimicking how they’ve always done it – what’s the best way to problem-solve with your decades of experience?
  6. What’s the best piece of wisdom you can share from your anti-manual? 

The Interview

I am also interviewed in the book:

  • I offer my insights around company strategy is baking a better cake
  • How to thrive in workshops 
  • Who to bring into workshops (hint not just the leadership teams but never overload strategy is too many opinions, analysis and time to step out and create the compass is critical). 

Here’s my section

Here’s The Learnings Broken Down

In a world where business books often provide high-level strategies and case studies, Andy Reid’s new book, “This Is Not The Way (The Anti Manual)” takes a refreshing approach rather than the usual approach. 

Andy dives into the motivations behind the book, the importance of innovation, and practical tips for driving creative change within organizations. Andy’s insights and discover how you can become a fantastic creative facilitator alongside several experts interviewed including me.

Why an anti-manual and why now?

Andy recognizes that existing business books often lack actionable tactics for turning strategies into real-world actions. With “This Is Not The Way,” he aims to bridge that gap by providing tools, language, examples, and stories that empower individuals to align and excite their colleagues around a new organizational narrative. This book is a treasure trove of knowledge and learnings from Andy’s successful career as a change-maker. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or tactical guidance, “This Is Not The Way” has something for you.

The importance of getting the right people in the room

When creating an effective company-wide strategy, Andy emphasizes the need for individuals willing to embark on a challenging yet rewarding journey. Making change happen requires tearing down old rules, which are often met with resistance. The best strategists and facilitators are storytellers who can flexibly explain the vision and inspire others to follow. It’s also crucial to involve senior leaders who have a line of sight on the business, as their insights are invaluable.

Surprises and new approaches to improve workshops

Andy interviewed several smart strategic operators and facilitators for his book, he discovered that creative techniques have been around for thousands of years. What may seem familiar to him is often new and valuable to others. Incorporating experiments, stories, tools, and techniques into workshops injects novelty and creates tremendous value for the participants. By encouraging everyone to share their thinking and building upon each other’s ideas, workshops become collaborative and productive.

Say goodbye to brainstorming?!?

Brainstorming has long been hailed as a creative technique, but Andy challenges its effectiveness. Our minds often shut down when forced to generate ideas on the spot. Instead, he suggests providing a clear brief and allowing people time to incubate their thoughts. In facilitated sessions, starter thoughts can be shared, and participants can build upon them. By creating an environment that welcomes all ideas without judgment and capturing them consistently, teams can foster better idea generation and capture.

Innovative problem-solving strategies

To solve problems effectively, Andy advocates for injecting 10% of difference and newness into every endeavour. The brief can provide stimuli for thinking differently while changing the environment can spark imagination. 

An example Andy shares is using a musical metaphor for a project called “Project Allegro,” which allowed the team to design activities and tools that connected to the client’s need for a new perspective. The key is to embrace new approaches and avoid striving for perfection, as progress is often more valuable.

The wisdom within the “Anti Manual”

Through his interviews with various professionals, one consistent message emerged for Andy – the importance of providing a safe space for people to share their thoughts and ideas. Creating an environment of psychological safety encourages individuals to be themselves and embrace their unique styles. 

Stories play a significant role in conveying information and inspiring change. By valuing safety, personal style, and storytelling, leaders can pave the way for a new creative era.

This Is Not The Way Conclusion:

Andy’s book, “This Is Not The Way: The Anti Manual,” is more than just another business guide. It’s a call to action, challenging the traditional approach to organizational change and encouraging individuals to become fantastic creative facilitators. 

By implementing the practical tips and insights shared in this interview, you can unlock your creative potential and drive real change within your organization. Embrace the power of innovation, storytelling, and collaboration, and let your creativity flourish.

This week focus on moving your business forward by learning to do things differently, and refresh your strategy by embracing another approach. 

I highly recommend the anti-manual for executive teams. 

Have a great week and I will land in your inbox next week, 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

More Essential Reading For Leaders

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 188 – How To Get Better At Problem-Solving & Develop Leadership Level Problem Solvers

Dear leaders, do you want to know how to get better at solving problems? 

If the answer is no I’d be very surprised. 

When you’re faced with a huge problem or a brand new problem you’ve never faced before. 

What do you do?

  • Do you automatically stress and panic? 
  • Do you look for help?
  • Do you go into autopilot and make quick muscle memory-driven decisions? 
    OR
  • Do you revisit or review prior issues and problems to reignite the problem-solving muscle you have been building your whole professional career? 

Reflex Actions? 

We all have a bank of problems we have experienced or been connected to, some learn from them, others struggle to remember the details and don’t have the sixth sense that waves the big red flags in front of us to warn us. 

Problems become a reflex action for many experienced leaders (most don’t even have to think, they act).  

The best learn from problems and develop a sixth sense of how to think and tackle major problems and the most efficient stay calm under pressure, some even thrive. 

You’ll likely have a (unknown) two-by-two matrix in your head of where the problem fell and how you had to tackle these problems. 

The 2×2 could be problem size by problem impact, scored by small to big and then apply the actions right away. 

Reaction & The Ripple Effect Is Everything 

One of the biggest signs of a leader on their journey is instant stress and panic. 

You can always witness a less experienced leader who will run around, make a lot of noise and make people around them feel pressure and stress – this is either deliberate or often a sign they haven’t been in situations before or learnt from related problems. This ripples through the business and causes panic – this is not an environment to thrive in. 

If some appear to thrive in causing more confusion and chaos they aren’t a leader at all. 

Clarify, Remove Confusion, Confront 

The best leaders often will take a beat, ask clarifying questions, review their experience and bring in the best people to solve the problem(s) at hand. 

As I have shared before and in my superpowers and kryptonite newsletter, one of the powers I was made aware of was my “ability not to panic and to be a calm person in business problems” So below is how I got here and how you can apply a similar approach. 

I am often asked in coaching and inside of my problem-solving workshops how businesses can get better at decision-making and problem-solving and my answer is simple. 

Enter The Problem Wiki  

Create an open wiki of problems, and the solutions used and then revisit to remind yourselves you have faced numerous issues before and review how you’d tackle the issue today. 

Remember: Over the last decade (and specifically the last 4 years) we have lived and operated in numerous huge problems and the likelihood is you made 70% good to great decisions. 

In some cases, you may have made quick and less well-thought-through or informed decisions that (may) negatively impact you or the company. If it’s under 10% you’re likely doing a good job. 

The trick is to know – hindsight is a wonderful thing and to add notes to say this was in play or this wasn’t. Remember those guardrails I talk about often, this is where your guardrails will be important to keep note of and understand how to move when required and how to incorporate them in the future. 

Templated Help

The decision document (my free template for sharing the most important decisions and how you got to them and how to ask clarifying questions) is just one way to be able to review your decisions of the last year(s) and then revisit how well you did and where you can optimise decisions for the future. 

Without sharing with your leadership and management team and importantly reviewing how are you going to move forward as a business and let it positively spread throughout your business? Async coaching is something many do not talk about but can be priceless with the right approach. 

This week’s action item for you is to book a slot in your calendar to create a decision document and a problem wiki, review the last big 5-10 decisions and revisit the most important problems and the actions you took over the last year and add real detailed commentary to what, why, who and how you tackled these problems. If you then open this up and share internally you will offer a chance for those around you to learn and grow out the problem-solving muscle. 

Have a great week and I’ll land in your inbox next Monday morning with an extra special leaders letters. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 187 – The 2024 Corporate Buzzword Bingo Card

Dear leaders, what are the buzzwords you hate being said every day in meetings, used around the office, on Slack or Teams and stuffed into your emails? 

I bet I have them for you in the 2024 update to my annual buzzword bingo card. 

It’s a playful and the most popular post every year. Over the last two years, both 2022 and 2023 have been the most searched on social for and shared posts on the Focus Blog

The 2024 Corporate Buzzword Bingo Card

What Is In and What Is Out

  • Authentic – most likely the phrase you will have heard from Marketing, then across LinkedIn and now has become a mainstay across the board and senior leadership and becoming commonplace across the business 
  • Convictions – A word many use to justify decisions and insert into speeches and all company emails. Expect convictions to be used thousands of times by the CEO/founder and across the business (likely in connection to the vision and mission being refreshed and to try and inspire when the first performance dip of 2024)
  • Return to the office – mandate — mandate was the most hated work last year and it won’t go away this year. Expect ‘mandate’ to be used in other situations and 
  • Economic Headwinds – despite everyone going to experience headwinds, I expect the phase to be replaced and removed from most boardrooms 
  • RTO – RTO went out as the mandates came in and as discussed in last week’s newsletter the battle for hybrid and mandate is heating up 
  • Microeconomics – micro is out, macro stays, expect microeconomics is to be said less and referenced less and bigger themes replace it 

An important note between the humour, and buzzwords often alienates those who don’t understand them or aren’t taken through the significance of these buzzwords, as a leader you should help your team members understand the importance and consider providing them a chance to use where they are applicable. 

This week’s focus action is to share across your leadership team and have a bit of fun with these and maybe have a laugh at who uses the most, even circle back to them when you are under the bonnet. 

Have a great week and I’ll see you next week. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 186 – The Business Battles To Watch Out For & Tackle Head On

Dear leaders, Happy New Year. Thank you for your ongoing support and for reading Leaders Letters into 2024. 

It’s the first week of January, so you are likely looking ahead, some of you will be full of optimism, and others will be underprepared and dreading another round of annual planning and re-forecasting. 

I am keen to help you get a leg up for the year ahead and help you look out for eight big shifts on the horizon that will end up impacting you at some point in the next 12 months. 

The 8 Battles To Get Ahead With Are:

  • Taming Temu
  • The Next UI – Search Vs Chat Vs New
  • Google vs ChatGPT (vs Microsoft)
  • Death Of Cookies
  • App Stores
  • Return To Office – Return To Hybrid
  • Boardroom Battles
  • Merger, Acquisitions & Closures

There is a PDF available to download here and share with your business and fellow leaders.

Taming Temu 

Temu is the Chinese app that is top of the app stores and has super low prices for thousands of SKUs taking weeks to be delivered. 

  1. App Store Dominance: Dominating the app stores in Q4 and starting to dominate search engine results since April (2023) – this has sent shockwaves through competitors 
  2. Never-ending Choice – some say this is good and most experts will inform you that choice is a bad thing and humans hate it – in Temu’s case it driving sales and leveraging what other Chinese apps and games are built on, increasing time spent means more affinity with the app and their products    
  3. App Power: Forcing downloads of their app – Temu has worked out the best experience is on the app and the more information it can consume and tweak their targeting to you
  4. Non-Obvious Strategic Moves: Going against the well-known rule – Low-quality product’s long wait times are not putting off shoppers looking for a bargain and users are said to be spending 22+ minutes per day on their app 
  5. The Power Of Paid Demand: Temu have 265k paid keywords (in the UK alone – this is a tactic very few retailers use) and that is increasing – they are taking the paid acquisition page out of TikTok’s playbook and overspending to drive the brand awareness and mass adoption. 

The Next UI – Search Vs Chat Vs New 

  1. Interface Issues: If you have used a good AI tool you will know the problem is the interface and understanding how to use prompts properly – prompts are hard to learn and iterate on until you get exactly what you want, this is the ongoing challenge for OpenAI and Anthropic Claude and Google’s BARD and will continue this year. One of the stand-out opportunities for these companies is to change the interface we interact with and make it easier to be guided towards the right answer. 
  2. The New & The Next UI: The next UI (user interface) is going to evolve over the next 12 months, chat is a tricky UI (yes, we use it all the time but many of us dislike it and most chat interfaces are only as good as the response) as we have had years of a search engine of questions or queries and then a list of links (and in recent times multiple rich media results) and then we make our minds up. We have entered the “answer engine” stage with chatGPT and competitors of asking questions or entering prompts and we are supplied the answer and with a creative output, the better the prompt the better the end result.
    1. Chat and chatbots have been so bad for so long many will just let it go until we have a different interface despite everyone using the same style of chat and answer 
  3. The Biggest Google Issue For Years: This is the battle to win the next big evolution is on and we are going to either default to what we know Google or make the shift to an app. Expect the standard user to slowly move away from the traditional Google question and links (importantly with ads) to a Q& definitive A approach  
  4. Voice & AI: Voice search and voice navigation (talk to the device or app and it will take you to where you want to go exactly and ask if you would want to download, ‘want-to-buy’ or ‘want-to-start’ a training session etc) are going to continue to improve as it will be natural to have conversations with AI’s and what many will find is that AI is less judging than a human colleague – this could see a shift towards voice and conversation with AI rather than just refining search queries 
  5. Slow Adoption = Opportunity: We are going to land in a place where I guestimate 10% of users will adopt the new interface and others will flirt between the two – expect this to skew results, to influence costs (especially increasing budgets around paid media spends) and confuse many in-house teams. 

Google vs ChatGPT (vs Microsoft) 

  1. Site, App, SuperApp or OS – this is going to be the four-tier battle that will come to the forefront. Many experts are predicting webpages are going to be less important and we need to shift towards a more fluid experience. Something to question: Will an app be enough (will customers want to download the app and use it exclusively?) to answer all of the questions and expectations we will adopt from using new interfaces? Even an app with the capabilities of running a local and personalised LLM be good enough versus what new technology will unlock? I predict OpenAI and its competitors will have to go for a super-app approach to control UX and influence the big change that is due. I suspect it is likely for OpenAI and competitors to create an OS (away from an open Android OS) that runs on a set of their own devices. This is already in the rumour mill and I suspect this will appeal to innovators and early adopters upon launch and many years after that for the early majority to even consider it.  
  2. Google AI Friend Or Foe: Google has to go all in on AI and already has across many of its products (across the Google Workspace into docs, sheets and Gmail etc) – Google will have to lock down Android and its core experience on search to keep its dominance. Will Google allow its company to lose any market share across its other business areas to cement its core (search) or will it have to please advertisers in another way to drive search demand and keep driving up their auctions 
  3. Super-App? A question to consider: Is this the fight for the Western super-app (like WeChat in China) – the app that becomes where you start everything? We are likely to see strategic pushes by these new companies looking to own the majority of your actions and these AI assistants will likely be the natural step 
  4. OpenAI Dramas:  Despite the CEO firing drama of Q4 at OpenAI, Sam Altman has hundreds of disciples who are fully brought into his approach to driving AI and winning the AI market. Keep an eye on the acceleration in and around OpenAI and their ability to keep users. The struggle with OpenAI is keeping DAU (daily active users) and ensuring they make their interfaces more user-friendly and keep being the integration partner of choice 
  5. Enter Apple AI: Do not discount Apple’s ability to win in the AI arms race, they have invested huge amounts of money in acquisitions and investments into AI, they have the demand and desirable products and can integrate into their OS – Siri was a terrible product but can be easily replaced and updated in one OS update. This is also where Amazon has the ability to go further and offer more AI features away from AWS and shopping. Core businesses will be disrupted by huge innovation in AI 

If you have struggled to get into AI and chatbot, the Microsoft copilot app (iOS // Android) is a great way to transition into using AI and answer engines. I also recommend using perplexity, it is a modern answer engine that works similarly to Google without the clutter. 

Death Of Cookies 

  1. Cookie Crumbling: Cookies are a vital cog in the internet machine, this year they are due to be sunsetted by the largest tech firms. Cookies help:
    1. track the success of marketing and sales campaigns, 
    2. target your core customers (on and off-site)
    3. keep customers logged into your site and keep your site transactions and interactions secure. 
    4. With these being removed and replaced we are going to see a huge shift in understanding how users flow in and around your products.     
  2. Google’s Big Bet: Google has tried to step away from cookies for years and has struggled to create a replacement that is fit for its dominant advertising machine. If Google struggle to replace effectively it will send shockwaves through its auction ad product and all of the millions of merchants who use and rely on its services 
  3. Truly Private Browsing? Apple has already rolled out private browsing protection from cookies, we will see the battle between large tech firms and advertising companies on their approach and attempt to implement their version onto their customers. 
  4. Mindful Transactions: Cookies have been critical for years around tracking customer purchases and repeat purchases, many companies are having to think about removing their reliance on third-party cookies and data solutions while creating a zero and first-party solution. This will mean less companies should know about your transactions and create more secure personal data based on your email or unique identifier 
  5. New Tech: When there are big shifts there are brand new tech providers that are born and improve the experience of merchants and customers. Are you in a place where you can be a tech provider or join with new tech to get a leg up over competitors? 

App Stores 

  1. Unbundling: App Stores are about to be unbundled and the belief is there will be an opportunity for other app stores, this is going to be increasingly hard to happen, why? The canonical stores (Apple Appstore and Google’s  Android store) will win, they have the trust, they are the default and new doesn’t mean better. There is a – but, it will be interesting to see how the gaming industry changes its approach and how it can leverage its audience away from app stores taking a commission cut 
  2. Spread Too Thin? Companies and agencies will have to decide how thinly to spread their app, more distribution isn’t always better and will misdirect many resources. Most app recommendations still come from word-of-mouth recommendations – this is still going to be critical for winning app downloads 
  3. Competition = Investment: Apple and Google will have to invest in better app stores, better features, better discovery (organic and paid), better commission cuts and tailored recommendations where others will struggle to keep up or rethink what the app should be versus what it is
  4. Resource Battles: Epic and other well-known companies have pushed for this change but will they have the resources to fight against these big incumbents and push other alternatives while still building great products – this is a second and third-order effect that seems to be lost in the years of fighting 
  5. Optionality Can Be Worse: Companies and their apps don’t win by more options, many companies may struggle to understand this and despite the tax in both app stores, fragmentation will lead to pricing varying and different deals leading to harder-to-track successes and making it harder for financial tracking and forecasting

Return To Office – Return To Hybrid 

  1. Poor Quality Mandates: 2023 saw a huge shift in return to the office mandates, with many driving employees back in 4 days a week, some back to 5 and it is causing real issues for many employees. We will see the mandates changing and some businesses embracing hybrid to compete with their rivals and offering some teams mostly remote 
  2. Reonboarding Wins: Most companies never re-onboarded their employees into the office when it was RTO,  this was a big mistake and many are paying the price for it. An important step will be for companies to come together for the best outcomes for performance and their culture is to re-onboard their teams and decide what their office is for and what good and bad behaviours are. Mandating returns and reprimanding employees for missing their third day in the office isn’t going to improve work and performance it’s going to disengage and become a sticking point throughout teams and their departments. Expect more demands and explanations from teams if you have not clearly defined what the office is for and why attendance is so important. 
  3. Productivity Paranoia”: What employees want is a safe place to work and many offices have become surveillance-based environments where their bosses are policing them and this is not the environment for anyone to thrive. Expect real kickback on poor quality offices and bad people managers who demand in-office attendance when it is impacting delivery. Management teams and HR departments will continue to score low ENPS and trust levels if how we communicate and guide employees back to the office and around hybrid
    Something to keep in mind, RTO will continue across more large companies and while hybrid is still in its infancy, if you would like an advantage on the competition: improve the office setting (think about how you would reshape the office) and not default to the old ways of working  
  4. Remote To Hybird: The Remote Only Approach will be rethought by many companies that went fully remote and have not seen the bump in performance. We have heard several firms who went fully remote open offices again and this is a trend to expect to continue. Remote configuration is hard if you have not dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s on it.  
  5. Bad Policies & Meeting Free: Friend of Focus and Leaders Letter Bruce Daisley offered a free and very insightful report for work in 2024 – meeting free days is something many companies are trialling and without full training of what is a meeting, what success looks like and the actions need to be taken many businesses are just pushing more back to backs and low-quality peer to peer time. Unfortunately company culture either rewards or controls poor work time. Expect AI to either help or hinder with this being AI assistant, taking fully automated notes but not being able to cut through the noise and the same loud colleagues being rewarded by AI analytics within meetings 

If you are struggling with remote work and have not downloaded the free Gitlab handbookAutomattic’s field guide or Basecamp’s remote resources are critical reading. 

Boardroom Battles 

  1. CMO Woes: In Q4 alone we saw a large number of CMOs relieved of their duties, this is a trend that has picked up momentum and many CMO roles are being consumed or rolled into other leadership roles. Expect CMOs from across the spectrum to move around frequently. 
  2. Fractional C-Suite Members: There has been a movement towards fractional members of the leadership team, which often means an executive spread across a few clients and working on nominated days. This trend is typical across smaller companies, scaleups and startups, what this means is many companies are going to battle keeping leaders who will want to move towards a more flexible model or request to drop down to fewer days a week. I have personally seen and experienced Fractional leadership working, there have to be strict guide-rails and deep trust between discipline and between leaders otherwise it can become fractional vs full-time leadership. 
  3. Musical Chairs: We will likely see CEOs and founders moved around this year, many founders will be removed from their companies as they struggle with the evolving landscape and CEOs will start to move on from companies that are perceived as sinking ships, many will struggle to understand the vast shift in industries and not have the leadership skills to bring their company and their people along on their journey 
  4. AI Demands Vs CPO: We will see similarities in C-suite roles that are not seen to add to the performance and drive the business forward. In some companies, I can see CPOs being relieved of their duties as products will be all chasing after AI features and many will come up a dud and be copied 
  5. Leaner C-Suite Vs Expanded C-Suite: Speaking to several CEOs at the end of 2023, there was a feeling that with the changing landscape and large-scale layoffs, the C-suite is expected to become leaner and less bloat. CEOs have always known there are tiers (typically unspoken) across leadership teams (potentially could look like tier 1 CEO – COO – CFO, tier 2 with CTO – CIO – CPO and tier 3 CMO – CHRO) and will be looking to roll up responsibilities from lower tiers into higher tiers. 
    For others, they will be looking to expand out their C-Suites and add more under the C-Suite title. The C-suite’s performance and leadership will be under the highest scrutiny and expect leadership teams to change regularly over the next 18 months. 

Merger, Acquisitions & Closures 

  1. Nose Dive: The price of some companies will dramatically drop this year and result in many potential acquisitions or in some cases when the valuation is too low they may need to. We saw a number of end-of-year acquisitions and many companies rescued by deals, we should expect the same throughout this year 
  2. VC Winter: Continued VC winter and dampening of investments will mean many companies will have to look for untraditional survival tactics and look for investments from many different sources – this will have a big ripple on startups and even large companies needing to work through mergers, acquisitions or attempts to drive closures of their competitors  
  3. Big Deals: There are many rumours of large companies looking to acquire or be acquired. Disney has been rumoured to be up for sale or looking to make large acquisitions. We will likely see underperforming companies looking to sell or acquire adjacent competitors to avoid regulators reviewing the acquisitions. 
  4. Mergers: Something that is not discussed as often as acquisitions is mergers, mergers will be a lifeline for many companies this year and will see a number of agencies and platforms look to merge and reduce headcount to save the business.    
  5. Well-Placed PE: PE is going hard into well-negotiated acquisitions and creating many lean companies. PE might be the only option for many companies and will be unaware of the new demands PE creates.   

Have a great week and I’ll land back in your inbox on Monday morning. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard 

.
Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 185 – Free Metrics Masterclass From Jeff Bezos

Dear leaders, I have an ongoing loathing of bad metrics. 

Whenever I speak to companies the first thing that is often brought up is performance and then, their associated metric(s). 

My dilemma; is how quickly I tell companies they have bad metrics and often how rotten their OKRs (or equivalent systems) are. 

You will have heard me rant about noise vs signal many times in Leaders Letters. 

Many professionals allow noisy metrics to: 

  • Influence their decision-making process 
  • Confirm their biases 
  • Misunderstand what of the noise is driving significance and which signals are contributing to success or leading to failure. 

Usage Vs Chrun Metrics: In an app company I worked with, the big obsession was usage metrics, there was no metric for successful usage, just if they were a DAU (daily active users), a WAU, or a MAU. 

Churn was almost exclusively ignored. Yes ignored, retention and churn was not something they ever looked at, let alone discussed. 

Imagine if the user opened the app and most days they had a bad experience with the app and ended up using your competitor. 

An example would be Google Maps providing a bad experience and users churned after a couple of uses over to Apple Maps and their daily trips and memories (maps products aren’t just A-to-B products, they help you plan and live important memories) they were arranged and guided by Apple Maps. 

Yes, this does happen and is happening more frequently. 

What I have learnt over the last 22 years is metrics can be good and bad, and the worst metrics are often what senior people obsess over and distress others over. 

Enter Jeff Bezos And His Unknowing 3-Minute Metrics Masterclass On Lex Fridmans Podcast: 

  • Why metrics are mostly good but not great
  • Why metrics can become outdated and mislead companies and their leadership teams (this is common, many ELTs and SLTs never revisit original metrics and understand what I call the metric decay)
  • Why metrics are often just proxies 
  • How the world shifts and metrics do not (and many do not proactively change)
  • Why old metrics are often why day 2 companies struggle  (a day 2 explained by Jeff is “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”)

Watch The Masterclass 

» Scroll down to the bottom of this newsletter for the transcript

This 2-Minute Exchange Is Critical

“The proxy for truth. Let’s say in this case it’s a proxy for customer happiness, but that metric is not actually customer happiness. It’s a proxy for customer happiness. The person who invented the metric understood that connection. Five years later, a kind of inertia can set in and you forget the truth behind why you were watching that metric in the first place. And the world shifts a little and now that proxy isn’t as valuable as it used to be or it’s missing something. And you have to be on alert for that. You have to know, “Okay, I don’t really care about this metric. I care about customer happiness and this metric is worth putting energy into and following and improving and scrutinizing, only in so much as it actually affects customer happiness.”

And so, you’ve got to constantly be on guard and it’s very, very common. This is a nuanced problem. It’s very common, especially in large companies, that they’re managing to metrics that they don’t really understand. They don’t really know why they exist, and the world may have shifted out from under them a little and the metrics are no longer as relevant as they were when somebody 10 years earlier invented the metric.”

The whole podcast is a business masterclass and something you will want to grab your caffeinated drinks of choice and your notebook or notes app and take copious notes to action. 

More, Cheaper, Free & Stagnation

We live in a world of choice, cheaper products, more competition than ever before and in many companies they allow poor leadership and bad metrics to stagnate. 

I have been in a handful of incredible QBRs (quarterly business reviews) and AOPs (annual operating planning), I have also been in some time and energy-draining QBRs and AOPs which many would have paid to leave. 

  • In the best, we discussed the metrics, the actual signals creating real business impact and the actions we were taking forward and the optimisations we would make. 
  • At the worst, we never discussed what the signals were telling us, what the missing links were and how we would truly fix the rot, despite many of us attempting to force the change many executives are happy for BAU and status quo. 

I cannot imagine Jeff Bezos allowing Amazon, Blue Origin or The Washington Post to have bad meetings, QBRs or AOP cycles and not taking competitors seriously and focusing the rest of the exec team around positively obsessing over the customer. 

This week’s focus action is for you to review your metrics, understand which are working to improve your business, which are there just because they always have been there, which are actually limiting your company and the metrics that are negatively impacting you and your business. 

Have a great last week and get in touch if you would like to

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

.

The Transcript (source)

Jeff Bezos

(01:24:36) Well, I’ll talk about… Because I think it’s the one that is maybe in some ways the hardest to understand, is the skeptical view of proxies. One of the things that happens in business, probably anything where you have an ongoing program and something is underway for a number of years, is you develop certain things that you’re managing to. The typical case would be a metric, and that metric isn’t the real underlying thing. And so maybe the metric is efficiency metric around customer contacts per unit sold or something like. If you sell a million units, how many customer contacts do you get or how many returns do you get? And so on and so on.

(01:25:30) And so what happens is a little bit of a kind of inertia sets in where somebody a long time ago invented that metric and they invented that metric, they decided, “We need to watch for customer returns per unit sold as an important metric.” But they had a reason why they chose that metric, the person who invented that metric and decided it was worth watching. And then fast-forward five years, that metric is the proxy.

Lex Fridman

(01:26:02) The proxy for truth, I guess.

Jeff Bezos

(01:26:04) The proxy for truth. Let’s say in this case it’s a proxy for customer happiness, but that metric is not actually customer happiness. It’s a proxy for customer happiness. The person who invented the metric understood that connection. Five years later, a kind of inertia can set in and you forget the truth behind why you were watching that metric in the first place. And the world shifts a little and now that proxy isn’t as valuable as it used to be or it’s missing something. And you have to be on alert for that. You have to know, “Okay, I don’t really care about this metric. I care about customer happiness and this metric is worth putting energy into and following and improving and scrutinizing, only in so much as it actually affects customer happiness.”

(01:27:03) And so you’ve got to constantly be on guard and it’s very, very common. This is a nuanced problem. It’s very common, especially in large companies, that they’re managing to metrics that they don’t really understand. They don’t really know why they exist, and the world may have shifted out from under them a little and the metrics are no longer as relevant as they were when somebody 10 years earlier invented the metric.

Lex Fridman

(01:27:29) That is a nuance, but that’s a big problem. Right?

Jeff Bezos

(01:27:33) It’s a huge problem.

Lex Fridman

(01:27:34) There’s something so compelling to have a nice metric to try to optimize.

Jeff Bezos

(01:27:38) Yes. And by the way, you do need metrics.

Lex Fridman

(01:27:41) Yes, you do.

Jeff Bezos

(01:27:41) You can’t ignore them. Want them, but you just have to be constantly on guard. This is a way to slip into day two thinking would be to manage your business to metrics that you don’t really understand and you’re not really sure why they were invented in the first place, and you’re not sure they’re still as relevant as they used to be.

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 184 – The Important Themes Through My Coaching Sessions In 2023

Dear leaders, throughout 2023 I have coached, CEOs, founders, COOs, CGOs, CMOs and VP & Director level of Product, Growth and Marketing. 

It has been a highly rewarding year, especially with my passion for coaching and through my consulting (I have especially enjoyed the dedicated workshops and problem-solving-based hackathons this year). 

Professional Reflection & Retro 

In my annual review I ran earlier this week (I run a review every year, why? retrospectives are critical parts of improving as a professional), I reviewed the common themes from my coaching notes and wanted to share the themes that came up throughout coaching sessions and matching calls (the process to see if the “coachee” and I are a good match) to help you move forward with the end of 2023 and use the themes to help guide you in 2024. 

.

Confidence 

In themselves and in the team’s ability to deliver what’s required for success. This came up across all roles I coach and many CEOs and COOs are struggling with the confidence, in (1) making core decisions to drive the business forward and (2) ensuring the long-term success is actually taken care of – knowing they might not running the company. 
Confidence is something that is broken down are often performance and numbers-based, however, most are not recording and then celebrating smaller wins and micromoments to enable you and the team around you to understand wins and reflect to remind the team(s) of great moments and wins to promote confidence and delivery. Without knowing what helped success and what blocked it – how can you address confidence issues? 

Recommendation: Start to keep track of the wins and losses throughout the year, have a quick retro on each item and call out (1) what went well and the triggers of this, (2) what could have been improved and how potentially this can be removed in the next phase and (3) what went wrong and if you needed to go again or you could have stopped earlier for the same result.  
This is very similar to an after-action review and something I commonly recommend.  

Boundaries 

When I searched my coaching notes, boundaries came up in almost every session review, boundaries are often hard to set when you are not confident, you are not hitting targets or a new department lead or in a promoted role. 
Boundaries are crucial for owning your time, controlling how and when people can contact you and ensuring you can deliver work. Boundaries aren’t just for you, they are for your department, team leaders and for the business to know how you operate. As I tell many, think of boundaries like the guardrails at ten-pin bowling, not perfect but help to train and guide. 

Recommendation: Create a working schedule, that starts around X, finishes around Y and blocks out time for your own work and regular breaks. Many suggest they do not take a lunch break daily. Have a list of ways to contact you in emergencies out of hours (if business critical does it have to be a phone call, a SMS or on the emergency group chat) and use messaging scheduling as a way to control how and when you are contactable and how you communicate to your business, departments and teams to set boundaries for you and them. 

“Owning My Time” 

Every person I spoke to this year and coached brought up how they struggle to own their time and find the time for deep work. Without deep work you are not completing your role and critically thinking deeply (or thinking through first to third-order effects) If you do not own your own time, you are giving away the most precious items to us. Owning your time doesn’t mean you stop every meeting request or set too strict boundaries, it means using time blocking, setting non-negotiable requirements for meeting requests and being ruthless with requests. A title requesting a time slot or ‘got a quick five minutes’ shouldn’t mean you have to say yes. The best executives own their time and create barriers to getting any time on their calendar.  

Recommendation: Time block sections of your day where you are unavailable, and create statuses where your colleagues know you are in deep work (for example agree on instant messenger statuses green = contactable, orange = in a meeting, red = do not disturb / deep work etc) and creates requirements for others to complete for you to join their meeting requests. My focus recommendations for meeting requirements include – every meeting must have 
(1) a clear agenda 
(2) why was this not an email 
(3) what does success look like 
(4) what question(s) do we need to answer 
(5) owner of the meeting and a few others. 

Meeting Overload 

Many department leads and c-suite are blocked out with meetings, many suggesting they are booked in back-to-backs and then just about have time for lunch and to grab water or a coffee. I know every executive says this but often this approach can be confused with wearing the busy badge of honour, many knowing if in back-to-backs they are seen as working. One issue that many are unaware of is MRS (meeting recovery syndrome) and the knock-on effects bad meetings have and the mood you will carry into the next interaction and next meeting. Meetings are significant parts of most businesses, they have however caused a disconnect between getting work done and making decisions away from a Zoom room, a team call or being in a meeting room. 

Recommendations

  • Be clear in meeting requirements, what type of meeting is it (a brainstorming, a decision-making session that is needed versus an email chain, a workshop or a 1-2-1), what decisions have to be made, who has the sign-off for important decisions, what are the expected outcome from requested “meeting”.
  • Default meetings from 30 to 25 minutes, 60 to 45 minutes and any recurring meeting have a cadence of updates that everyone follows to ensure these aren’t just status updates, leaning more towards collaborative working sessions. 
  • Lastly, consider how a walk-and-talk or a standing meeting (if possible with all parties) can speed up the meeting. 
    Here are 25 meeting recommendations to improve your meetings and reduce overload

Struggle With Management & Leadership 

  • Team management is hard and from all the feedback, it is getting harder. This is something many need support with and something I am recommending more and more if creating a management style and approach that is unique for you versus just following what others are doing. 
  • Leadership is interrupted in many different ways. Being a department or division lead isn’t enough to be seen as a leader and knowing what type of leader you want to be and what the needs of your business are – is the only way you become a better and effective leader and executive. 
  • The demands of being both manager and leader take a toll even on the best and well-known CEOs with the best teams around them. There are times when the two blur together and times when inexperienced or time-poor struggle with management particularly of team members and many aren’t ever taught to be a manager of managers and taking on the extra responsibility of being a Head of Team/Department. Others struggle to know when to bring HR into conversations and when to bounce off issues with senior colleagues. 

Recommendations

  • Create your own management profile and work through what you need to work on and what you need to proactively learn and lean into more 
  • Create your own leadership profile and work through learning how to be the leader you need to be and want to be. Focus on communication and ‘holding a room’ if you are looking to become a CEO or have aspirations of becoming a founder. 
  • Understand when you can speak to colleagues with potential team issues and when to go directly to HR with everything logged. The best executives have a unique feel for what the issue is and who is best placed to help problem solve people issues or performance issues. 

Goal Setting 

Many leads stated how they despise goal setting, particularly how hard it was to set and track OKRs. Digging deeper most struggle as they are fully aware the goal is almost impossible to hit and they understand the constraints the team are under or how much additional work or headcount is required. Once breaking down the goals into more manageable and achievable steps most coaching collaborations end up in a different model, whether that’s using SMART goals methodology or moving across to think big act small by when framework understanding how to set goals and break these down into manageable tactical attacks.  

Recommendations

  • Review how you are setting goals and the framework you are using. 
  • OKRs are confusing without real training and are often rolled out and takes 12-18 months for them to make sense to a business, many opting to remove them. 
  • Most companies set goals from the top and often use spreadsheets with formulas to understand what the business needs, create strategy ~10 weeks before the end of the year and then ask the departments to build their departmental plans into the company-wide strategy to ensure they are realistic and review tactics regularly and then review plans quarterly. You can then revisit strategy up to twice a year by being informed by the business metrics and the leading indicators rather than looking to change everything all the time. 

Ongoing Costs Of Bad Decisions 

Everyone makes decisions, often in the most positive way possible, a common theme in bad decisions is selfish-based decisions, and political-based decisions (Me before the We decision) but never keeping track of decisions and whether they were bad decisions or decisions that were right at the time but need addressing with a market shift or reacting to a new market condition. What is key is to understand the cost (whether in £/$ or in headcount losses or motivation and performance). Also, have retros on whether decisions were slow or fast and if this impacted the business – most businesses come to understand slow decision-making is detrimental to performance and can have real long-term impacts.  

Recommendations

  • Create a decision document that shows what the major decisions were, why they were made, and how and who made these. You can then share across the business and receive feedback and questions. 
  • Taking this one step further is reviewing within your QBRs and reviewing if the decisions were “good” or “bad” and any impact they might have had. 

Bonus — Strategy 

Strategy is baking a better cake’ – this is a statement I say to almost every coaching client. Strategy is something we have forgotten its actual role within the business, strategy is often misunderstood, misinterpreted or misdiagnosed. 

Strategy takes time and dedicated resources away from just a room with execs and the CFO’s spreadsheet in mid-December or in an away session. 
Through Q&A I uncovered most professionals do not make the time to think and build the long-term strategy, they do not think about who has to be invited to contribute and how to gain the right level of investment needed.  

Recommendation: Have a clear idea of what strategy is and what it is not, arrange a kick-off meeting inviting department and discipline heads and work through 2-week window where they will be blocked out to work through strategy, the department plans to roll up into the strategy and where their teams co-create the tactical elements to use and roll out. Throughout the year block of time to review department plans as a leadership team and block out 2 sessions to review strategy but ensure you are incorporating QBRs and recent updates to guide you and not to guide biases. 

» Are You Or Your Business Struggling With Strategy? Here is my free strategy cheatsheet

This week’s focus action is to run your annual review, understand where you did well, where not so well and where the seven themes will help you for next year. 

Thanks for reading again this week, have a great break and for those celebrating enjoy Christmas and have a great week ahead. 

Danny Denhard

If you enjoyed this newsletter, I deliver a leadership newsletter every Monday morning. Sign up below

.

7 Recommended Following On Reading: 

  1. Do You Need A Refresh, A Reset, A Reboot Or A Restart?
  2. The Difference Between Mission, Vision, Strategy, Plans & Tactics
  3. The 5 Recommended Roles For 2024 Success 
  4. Community Your Next Competitive Advantage
  5. Your Leadership Superpower – Your Leadership Kryptonite
  6. Time For A Calendar Audit 
  7. Improve Company Culture With The Right Company Activities
Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 183 – The Future Of Work With Megan Witherspoon

Dear Leaders, recently I asked the previous 5 questions contributors who I should interview for the next round and this week’s guest Megan was recommended twice. 

So I knew I needed to invite Megan to the newsletter. Meet Megan (Witherspoon), Megan is the Vice President of Communications at Altria. Megan handles internal and external comms and is an industry leader, helping one of the largest brands in her space create clear and concise communications. Megan also leads ESG and offers a great way of improving the success of ESG. 

Megan has worked fully remotely for over a year and has a number of great recommendations for anyone in leadership to follow if seriously considering a fully remote role. 

The 5 Questions

Q. You handle internal and external comms, what are the most important 5 elements of comms you teach most regularly to leaders you work with?

  1. Be “in the know”– You have to know what’s going on in order to know what’s most important to communicate. This means deeply understanding the industry and business, staying up-to-date with what’s happening around the company, keeping a pulse on how employees are feeling and what they need, understanding evolving external perspectives and expectations, etc. Our communicators are some of the most “tuned in” people in the company.
  2. Drive strategic clarity – People are pulled in many directions all the time, balancing competing priorities and resource demands. Communications are critical for driving strategic clarity and focusing people on the most important things they need to know/feel/do. If you’re not clear what the business priorities are and why, you’re lost from the start.
  3. Less really is more – Gone are the days of “spray and pray” – sharing the same communication multiple times across multiple platforms in hopes that one breaks through. People don’t have the time or patience for it, the noise is deafening, and we will quickly be tuned out. It’s far better to know our audience and be targeted and deliberate – delivering the right message to the right person in the right time/place. And keep it short and simple. Word economy wins.
  4. Credibility takes years to establish and minutes to tarnish – Our words must always align with our actions. Our “inside voice” needs to match our “outside voice.” Our executives are the faces and voices for the company, so we must influence, shape, and protect them. And we should never try to re-write history – it’s already in the record, and no one will be fooled.
  5. Corporate speak kills – Jargon, acronyms, and business buzzwords are rampant. Different functions seem to speak their own languages (have you ever heard an engineer try to talk to a marketer?). Good communicators are translators – making sense out of the nonsense so that everyone can understand the message. But in order to be good translators, they need to understand the work and be good business partners and consultants.

Q. You grew up as a competitive swimmer, how has this shown up in your professional career?

Competitive swimming taught me so many lessons that are valuable in business. It taught me self-discipline and grit. It taught me time-management, teamwork, and how to be a good role model. It showed me that big dreams can come true with enough passion and persistence. It taught me how to lose gracefully, and that winning is a team effort. It showed me what a “coach” really means. And it gave me my first experience with burnout, which taught me to really listen to my mind and body and take better care of myself.

Q. You recently celebrated a year in a small mountain town in Colorado where you are one of the only fully remote team members, what are the 3 most essential areas to get right when allowing fully remote in the modern hybrid workforce?

  1. Be intentional about connecting. I believe relationship-building and networking can be just as effective (and in some ways more effective) in a remote environment as in-person. But it requires intentionality. We can no longer rely on happenstance encounters in the hallway or at the coffee bar, or surface-level chit-chat in the cafeteria (and really, how effective was that, anyway?). We need to dedicate time and create space to connect in a purposeful and meaningful way with people outside of our immediate work group.
  2. Flexibility requires flexibility. Today I have far more flexibility and control over my time than I ever had before. My quality of life is vastly improved. But flexibility requires flexibility. Because I live in a different time zone than most of my colleagues, I sometimes take 6 am meetings. Because I’m fully remote, I travel more for important meetings and events. I sometimes need to give up a little of my flexibility to meet the flexibility needs of others. It’s a give-and-take.
  3. Be present. It can be easy in the virtual world to recede into the background – to multitask during meetings, turn off the camera, avoid the team chit-chat on Teams/Slack, or neglect personal connections. But we can (and must) continue to be fully present even when not physically present. Turn on the camera. Speak up. Be engaged in the conversation. Make yourself available. Show up.

Q. ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) has come under the wrath of criticism in recent months, you lead ESG strategy, what can companies do more to ensure ESG is manageable and can keep their company accountable for positive change?

ESG is not a “bad word,” but it has been badly misused and abused. The best way to avoid internal and external criticism around ESG is to stay focused, clearly articulate the business benefits, and avoid exaggerations. Narrow in on the specific aspects of ESG that are most critical to address based on your particular company or industry (by conducting a materiality assessment, for example), with the long-term sustainability of the business in mind. We can’t do everything at once, or we risk doing none of them very well. We also can’t do one thing extremely well while neglecting other important areas. Know the issues that matter most, go deep on those, and clearly articulate the business value of the work.

Q. You are a leader who frequently discusses the future of work, what themes do you think we will be discussing in a year’s time when reshaping businesses to succeed?

I have a feeling a year from now we’ll still be talking about the impacts of remote work, the success or failure of return-to-office mandates and the pros/cons of various structured hybrid models. Hopefully, by then, we’ll be basing those conversations more on real-world data versus speculation and bias. Conversations about a 4-day work week will likely continue to grow, and we’ll be talking a lot about how AI is reshaping businesses, including when and how people work.

» Please go and connect with Megan on LinkedIn

This week’s focus item is to be in the know as Megan recommends, understand how you can find out critical information and be a driver of transparency. Consider how you could roll out my decision document template within your business. 

Have a great week and thanks for reading again this week. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 182 – The 5 Recommended Roles For 2024

Dear leaders, each year I make recommendations for the roles you will want to hire for the next 12 to 24 months. These are to help leaders think differently or zoom out and consider the broader landscape to improve performance. 

2023 has been known as the ‘year of efficiency’ from large businesses and the VC and PE worlds, and I predict 2024 is going to be seen as the ‘year of performance’. 

Therefore a performance theme is running through this year’s predictions. 

I have broken the ‘what’ of the role and the ‘why’ of the role with some commentary to give you a little more context for success. 

The Recommended Roles For Success In 2024 

The AI Compliance Officer (Internal) 

  • What? A dedicated compliance officer concentrates on AI’s good and bad uses within and around your company. 
  • Why? To help steer your business from what is safe and productive and be proactive in reducing risks and bad use cases of AI and LLMs. 

What to be aware of is the rush that many companies had to create their own AI feature, there is likely already damage been done and the busy CPO or CTO may night have protected the business as much as an AI compliance would. Like with many tools like Dropbox, Slack team members are already installing and bringing in the tools to their work and their teams, meaning they are using and sharing data with different AI tools without much protection.

The Project Manager (Internal) 

  • What? The modern twist on the unfashionable role, the classic project lead who takes important projects and drives towards set deadlines 
  • Why? Almost every business is slowing in the delivery of important work (especially larger projects) and it is hindering how a company performs. This role will be responsible for alignment, moving from stagnated or roadblock to nearer completion. Project Managers have the autonomy from leadership to push and push harder where many Product & Delivery Managers don’t. 

Having been a Project Manager and a Product lead you have very different roles and Product is often a fully political role, whereas a Project Manager can use brute secondary executive force to make changes. A great Project Manager will ensure great retrospectives are made and ensure the right performance impact is made alongside any cultural bridges they may have burnt. 

The Distribution Specialist (Internal) 

  • What? A dedicated person who specialises in positively obsessing about getting your company, your people and your products in front of right eyeballs. 
  • Why? Many companies have Social Media, they have CRM (email marketing), PR and Performance Marketers but this isn’t gaining the cut-through that is required to gain more exposure to the most important updates from your business. This is an incredibly small pool to hire from however it is critical in the nosiest content market (feeds have been flooded with quantity of content not a quality of content and relationships with key distribution centres and people will be critical for all non-huge companies) 

Most businesses struggle to hire a Marketing or Growth specialist who concentrates on Retention or modern-day Distribution, these roles are going to be critical for many companies to gain any traction and make sure their latest update or product feature or pricing change cuts through.  

The Performance Coach (Internal/External) 

  • What? The coach can be internal or external (could be seen as a similar person to the character Wendy Rhodes in Billions). The coach will help to improve “hard” and “soft skills” and bring in other coaches (and mentors where applicable) 
  • Why? Traditional exec coaches have created the same training materials for over a decade and the next gen of leaders needs more coaching, and more skills (particularly more EQ and workIQ alongside PQ political intelligence), while these exec trainers have strong materials they haven’t adapted and often does not consider the person receiving the coaching and won’t tailor to them and their profile.  

One important note, in the world of work we operate in today, there is a role for the “software coach”, a dedicated person helping all staff members to get the most out of the 40-50 different pieces of software we use daily to weekly (see a new person using Notion, or trying to work out Microsoft’s (version of Notion) Loop or a person switch from Slack to MS Teams) and you will see no-one is set up to be successful using the tool or software. 

The Corporate Creator (Internal) 

  • What? A dedicated employee who acts as the revised company representative, who creates compelling, informative and educational content about and around the company.
  • Why? The CEO has had to take on this mantel in recent years, many companies have pushed content to be shared and amplified across social media channels, specifically LinkedIn, re-shares, reposts and re-quotes have been down-weighted in their algorithms. The role of the spokesperson has also lost its shine with these roles being seen through and not being invited onto podcasts, news interviews and non-corporate press moments. 

The corporate creator has unofficially existed for a few years, the creators have often been brand policed versus being embraced and coached into what the brand would like to see alongside their organic content creation or curation. Be wary of your company not embracing these types of creators or collaborating with your employees in this way. 

There will be a demand for more content to be created, what you will need to ask as a business (and with the distribution specialist) is how can we increase the quality, increase reach and impact of your content versus creating huge quantities of content and spraying and praying. 

This week’s focus action is to consider how you would hire or incorporate these roles into your business without overloading the existing team(s). 

Thanks and have a great week ahead, 

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 181 – Which Are You Surrounded By? Problem Raisers, Problem Solvers Or Problematics

Dear leaders, when I look back over the last two decades of my career, there are a number of common themes that come up and bubble back up to the surface. 

In March 2020 I wrote one of my most popular blog posts called Problem Raisers Vs Problem Solvers Vs Problematics. 

In short, it is about the three different problem profiles. I have revisited the blog post and updated it to align specifically with leadership and how we can improve our teams(s) and importantly the leaders around us. 

» Throughout my career, I have made many observations about teams and individuals, as I have run teams in agencies, had two of my own consultancies, advised businesses & marketplaces and worked across multiple disciplines and business sectors; I have seen many versions of individuals who raise problems or pain points or become the problems themselves.

For the most part, people raise pain points, typically it is for the right reasons and depending on your work environment (or direct manager), you will see types of three profiles of people:

Problem Raisers — Problem Solvers — Problematics

Problem Raisers

Problem Raisers usually have the right intent, they want to raise pain points for themselves, for users or for clients. Problem Raisers want to create a fix to these pain points, however, they might not engineered in that way, they may not be creative (Problem Solvers are) or environmentally it is not their place (the position within the org or down to core individuals or departments to be the fixers) to offer a solution.

Problem Raisers are concerned about the problem but the fix is not always an important milestone for them, they potentially work around the problem or in some cases can continue to work without the Problem being explicitly fixed or removed.

A great team or cross-functional teams have a blend of Problem Raisers and Problem Solvers.

Problem Solvers

Problem Solvers (often seen as ‘the rescuer’ in Stephen Karpman’s The Drama Triangle) are those people who find pain points, raise problems and then offer solutions, typically driven by the outcome and fixing the problem that is at hand.

Problem Solvers can come in two subcategories:

  1. Empowered Problem Solver:
    Empowered Problem Solvers want to solve the puzzle, they see puzzles not problems. Empowered Problem Solvers have the ability to lead from the front and often act as the project manager and engineer the fix. The fix is their energy source and how they thrive.
  2. Problem Solver Solutioniser”: 
    The problem solver solutioniser are not empowered to make the change themselves and have to push for the solution from the passenger seat.

From experience, the best Problem Solvers typically have a growth mindset, they embrace change, they strive to improve themselves and the situation around them and want to take it on as a learning curve and grow from the experience.

There can actually be negative to Problem Solvers; they can get frustrated and fairly quickly and do not understand why these problems are not fixed. Problem Solvers often have high IQ and WIQ (work IQ) but can lack the PQ (political intelligence) needed to ensure these problems are addressed. 

The best MarketingGrowth and Product people I have worked with fall into the Problem Solvers profile and actively want to address the pain points at hand and the ones that are up and coming and prioritise accordingly. 

If a Problem Solver Solutioniser is ignored or their pain points are not addressed in a reasonable time, over time Problem Solvers can turn into Problematics and that can be a difficult place for you and your teams. 

Most often Problematics have a negative impact on their colleagues, they negatively impact how they are perceived and will then impact your department’s performance and the company’s subculture

As a leader, this is where you have to step up and ensure these changes are made or you or an external exec coach actually evolves the Problem Solver Solutioniser’s to have more PQ (political intelligence). 

Problematics

We have all worked with Problematics, they stand out, they are a negative (almost toxic) employee and unfortunately, the likelihood is they have been burnt, and the pain points they raise have not been addressed in the way they have felt heard.

Problematics feel like their pain points have never been addressed or fixed and every time they raise pain points it comes across as a problem or someone else fault.

Problematics are often overly negative and it starts to spread or they compare their experiences versus others and start resenting the work or workplace. Two or more Problematics in close proximity can have a real negative impact on people and teams around them.

Problematics fall into two subcategories: 

(1) Negative Problematics 
(2) Positive Problematics

I generally believe Positive Problematics can be moved back to Problem Raisers with specific coaching, supporting frameworks and measurements to help them understand the logic behind the decision made and re-engage them back into the business.

My Problem-Solving Power Half Hours can work with Positive Problematics and I recommend there are two or three sessions to uncover their issues and enable them to put across their business cases. 

Once a Problematic knows deep down things won’t change or they cannot make the changes they have recommended, unfortunately, they become Negative Problematics

Negative Problematics are faced with a realistic outcome and that is often unclear to them, it is to move onto a new workplace and have the opportunity to become Problem Raisers and reset their energy and become successful again with their role. 

Framework To Help

My favourite and most recommended framework that can help is the One Problem — Two Solutions framework:

One Problem — Two Solutions: With every problem raised, you should offer two possible solutions, one preferred and show how you landed with this solution and the second an alternative. 

This framework works particularly well with more senior people who are unaware of these types of pain points or those who like to make the decisions.

It is always important to ensure you show business impact, and external impact with revenue figures and I recommend going that step further and showing internal/cultural impact.

Offer a way to show which people or teams need to be involved and the timeline of the proposed solution. If this pain point is to replace other issues or stop work on existing items on roadmaps everything needs to be laid out and thought through. Often you will need to speak to the relevant teams to gain this insight however if you are a Problem Solver this will be part of something you have thought of.

As a leader, you can run the exercise in 1-2-1’s, informal check-ins or across your leadership team meetings and categorise your fellow leads into these three profiles and decide if you need to help enable them, back them more or in extreme cases move them towards an exit if they have moved too far towards a Negative Problematic. 

This week’s focus action is to categorise your department members into these categories and an interesting exercise is to apply this to your fellow management and leadership colleagues, this will give you a different perspective on how you can and should interact with your colleagues and the actions you have to take. 

Thanks and have a great week, 

Danny Denhard


Now Watch Leaders Reshaping Their Industries

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 180 – Caleb Parker’s Guide To Entrepreneurship

Dear Leaders, are you an entrepreneur? Or do you have an itch you want to scratch but struggling to know its time…
Or would you consider yourself an intrepreneur*? 

If yes, this week’s leaders letter with returning guest Caleb Parker is for you. Caleb is a true entrepreneur, what makes Caleb unique is his ability to understand complicated markets, building brilliant brands to stand out and evolve the industry before sweeping changes. 

Caleb and I had a great chat a few weeks ago and I wanted to bring it to you in the format you enjoy most, podcast, video and written formats.

Quote Of The Podcast

As entrepreneurs, we’re, we’re telling a story where we’re creating new ideas and we need to be sharing that with the world. I fundamentally believe that entrepreneurs make the world a better place.

I’ve said this many times to the point that it’s almost like a recording now, but for lack of for the, you know, trying to avoid being, you know, not authentic, I really believe that entrepreneurs, because we’re the ones who are standing up and saying, you know, there’s gotta be a better way.

And to be able to scale a business, to be able to grow a tribe, to be able to attract people to our cause, we have to be, we have to make sure people know about it.

— Caleb Parker

Caleb and I discussed some incredibly important topics:  

  • The new Misfits Mindset podcast and why it’s important 
  • Dedicating life to championing the entrepreneur mindset
  • Why modern companies have to embrace media 
  • The future of work and remembering the importance of people first approach 
  • The future of humanity 
  • AI and the shift we are experiencing and going to experience 

If you prefer podcasts click play and listen below or on your favourite player like Spotify or Apple podcasts

The Leadership Lessons & Takeaways From This Interview

  1. Entrepreneurs drive the business world forward, not always perfectly, however, without entrepreneurs we would stagnate and have a lot less disruption 
  2. As a business leader, you will have several itches, especially if you already have a business or operating in one, often another itch is bigger (and better) and going to be the bigger business you will end up working on and making positive changes with – Caleb see’s opportunity and runs full pace at it when the time is aligning 
  3. When it comes to LLM and AI – ‘missions’ are going to be more important. Missions are going to be incredibly powerful as a driver and it’s critical for people to connect to a (company or personal) mission to get their best work 
  4. What works for some does not work for others and that is ok but as leaders, you have to embrace differences and enable people to thrive – whether that’s in an office environment, working hybrid or becoming more flexible within business operations
  5. The world of work has to change, especially around the future of the office – it has to be more flexible and environments people want to work in and collaborate in not just be in to work in 
  6. The business world will change in the future and there may not be 100-year companies anymore, there could be more disposable companies set up for specific tasks and then change or fold once their tasks or job is done and that’s going to be empowering and offer futures for many professionals. 

Go & Connect With Caleb

This week’s focus item is to embrace your entrepreneurial side and look at how you can look at a set of problems from the outside in and push forward on it, what is the worst that could happen? 

Thanks and have a great week,

Danny Denhard


*intrepreneur – Is self-motivated, proactive, and action-oriented people who have leadership skills and think outside the box (link)

The Full Vodcast Transcript

Caleb Parker Bold To Brave 

[00:00:00] Danny Denhard: Caleb, firstly, thanks for joining me today. I want to give like a background on, on who you are and what you do and, and the mission you’re on, but I thought I’d give a little intro because what people tend to do is they tend to ask the guest first. And I think I want to give a a little shout out because we’ve, we’ve known each other for a little while and you’re one of those people that, always comes front of mind to things. So the way I I would explain you to people when, when I do intro emails for you is first and foremost, you’re, you’re a great person. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re a builder and an operator, which many people can’t do. You’re one of the select small percentage of people who understands what it takes to be a modern day company.

[00:00:41] So you integrate media and media creation into what you do. And you’ve always put community first. So have I done a good job 

[00:00:49] better than me? Probably thank you for that. I really appreciate it, Danny. Yeah, no, I, I think media is important. As entrepreneurs, we’re, we’re telling a story where we’re creating new ideas and we need to be sharing that with the world.

[00:01:02] I fundamentally believe that entrepreneurs make the world a better place. I’ve said this many times to the point that it’s almost like a recording now, but for lack of for the, you know, trying to avoid being, you know, not authentic, I really believe that entrepreneurs, because we’re the ones who are standing up and saying, you know, there’s gotta be a better way.

[00:01:20] And to be able to scale a business, to be able to grow a tribe, to be able to attract people to our cause, we have to be, we have to make sure people know about it. And so that’s where I think social media has been fantastic for helping us over the last 20 years to do that. I’m a big fan of using media for that.

[00:01:39] And you said mission, I guess my personal mission somewhere around 10, 12 years ago, I decided that I’m dedicating my life to champion in that entrepreneur mindset in that I’ve been going doubling down on that for the last several years. 

[00:01:57] And you’ve, you’ve had quite a successful decade or so you’ve been involved in many different businesses, all different shapes and sizes.

[00:02:07] You’ve, you’ve obviously got you’ve got a lot going on. I think somewhere to start might be with the new podcast series you’ve got, which is called Misfits, right? 

[00:02:16] Yeah. Misfits mindset. It’s it’s a, it’s about what we’re doing is sitting down with founders of scale up companies to really dive deep into how they think and how they approach decision making, how they attract people to their team, getting the right people on board, how they rally people around their purpose.

[00:02:35] And then when it comes to pivoting or making really tough decisions, what goes on in their brain, I think there’s a lot of podcasts, there’s a lot of content out there on how to do this, what to do tactics and creating strategies. But it’s the, it’s the mindset. I think it. It takes to, to really be successful.

[00:02:58] Because business is hard. And yeah, I just think that I really want to dive into that for my own learnings, but also for, you know, other entrepreneurs as I champion this, this mindset, 

[00:03:10] I think is something that you, you said when you go to like conferences. People talk about what they did. They don’t necessarily talk about why they did it and how they did it.

[00:03:19] And then on podcasts, it’s like the greatest resource for, for almost anyone, because you can find out what they did, why they did it. And some of the, the how, but what you hit the nail on the head is the mindset. No one really gets into that and drills into it specifically in and around business. And I think that’s like something that’s going to be unique and why people will want to tune in as of next week for episode one and the series, was there anything specific that you learned?

[00:03:45] Are there like two or three different really high level or really specific lessons that you took away or that you, you have to apply for your new business?

[00:03:58] Well, I don’t want to spoil the season, of course, but I will say that there, there are some, some recurring patterns that, that we, we noticed across the, the 10 episodes in season one, season two is in production right now. But we’ve got a range of people different industries and different phases in their business.

[00:04:20] They’ve all raised millions. They’ve all, some of them have exited. But I think resilience is one keyword that I would use, but I don’t want to go into too many details because it’s just, it’s a, it’s a great season and yeah, you’re right. Trailer and episode one drops on Monday the 30th and then for 10 weeks, we’ll have.

[00:04:39] Each, each episode coming out and you in something that might is there anything that really surprised you like that really jumped out and you, you really were surprised by what, what someone said or like an under undertone that happened that you weren’t aware of, or you didn’t think would come out of, of the questions and answers.

[00:04:58] Yeah, there’s, well, there’s one thing that pops to mind is in episode one with Holly hole. She’s the founder of an events company. She’s actually nominated for the great British entrepreneur awards. And I’ve always been for myself. I’ve always tried to separate emotion from business decisions.

[00:05:20] And she made the point that actually it’s not about separating emotions, about controlling emotions, because you need emotions in business, because that’s what helps you bring out and rally people in, you know, the positive aspects of the emotions. Can, can contribute to business success and that just made me see things a little bit differently.

[00:05:40] , Everyone understands IQ, you know, your, your intelligence, especially around like in the job that you’ve got a few skillsets that that I would apply to IQ. You’ve got EQ, which is emotional intelligence, which got a lot of attention a while ago, but a lot of people don’t actually work on it.

[00:05:56] And I think, like you said, like the emotions and being able to either control them or lean into them. It’s really important. And then I call it a PQ, which is political intelligence. Like I think what a lot of people haven’t realized is the two actually played together. There’s the emotional intelligence and then the political side, which is typically playing the game or, or leaning into working through some of the problems.

[00:06:20] And I think a lot of the time, the emotion sides, the emotional side is, is tapered down or, or, or held down, whereas actually a lot of the time you can win by embracing and blending the two, two sides together. So I’d love to, I’m going to be tuning in next week. 

[00:06:38] There, there is a, you bring this up. There’s another episode the founder of a company called Tokyo, which is TOQ.

[00:06:44] io.

[00:06:45] , so Eduardo talks about how how we can see truths on both sides of, of a conversation or a topic. And I think that plays very well into business and in sitting down and negotiating business deals, but it can go into, you know, relationships in everyday life to politics to. Everything 

[00:07:05] I can’t on a lot of people’s leadership journeys and entrepreneur journeys, they are so busy.

[00:07:15] They don’t ever take a step back and consider what’s happened or don’t actually try and. Feel their emotions and the emotive sides. I’ll be tuning in to to definitely dive into it and understand it. We you’ve also got like a new, a new company coming out that’s part of part of the podcast series to, to a degree, if you want to dive into it a little bit and give people a flavor of what you’re going to be doing and how it’s going to be driving business forward.

[00:07:44] Yeah, the, you know, the podcast itself the, you know, our audience are, are the people that we want to be surrounded by the people we want to do business with in general entrepreneurs, people with the people with the growth mindset we’re launching brave. And there’s some news that came out last week.

[00:08:00] I the founder of a brand co working brand called bold. We set up in 2016 was acquired in 2019. And back in may, I started working on brave, actually, I’ve been working on the idea for brave for quite some time, but officially back in may, I started working on brave and then we just announced the launch of the new company last week.

[00:08:20] in January, we’re launching the brave app and we’re, we’ve taking all of the growth mindset entrepreneurs from startup to scale up around the world and giving them an opportunity to connect with each other come to the, our events that we partner with other entrepreneurs to facilitate and to bring people together.

[00:08:40] We have a network of locations that people can tap into. But I don’t want to make this a sales pitch about braid because really, it’s really about the mission of championing that entrepreneur mindset. That’s just the way we facilitate that. 

[00:08:54] And that’s something that as long as I’ve known you it’s something you’ve been passionate about and you know, you’ve been doing it for such a long time.

[00:09:02] I think people often don’t realize like how long it takes and how much work it is to not only start a company, but have that like mission in the background where like you’re striving to always, always succeed and always have that like connective tissue or element where people have to come together to succeed.

[00:09:20] I think that’s something that’s probably been lost a little bit more recently. 

[00:09:24] Well, it’s the cliche thing where you say, okay, well, it’s 10 years of hard work, looks like an overnight success or whatever. And I think what, what I’ve learned in my journey is the vehicle may change, but the mission doesn’t.

[00:09:39] And, you know, I’ve been, I’ve, I’ve been in several different vehicles, but my mission has stayed the same in the past decade. And this is a new vehicle, it’s an evolution of an existing vehicle, but I think the mission of helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, making real estate easier for entrepreneurs.

[00:09:55] And I think it’s my small contribution to making the world a better place. 

[00:10:01] Sounds like great mission to me. I think there’s a lot of there’s a lot of, obviously there’s a lot of noise around to return to the office and office space and, and that, and Dropbox recently announced that they’re going to be giving back a lot of space.

[00:10:14] Do you think that office is going to be like this big, big contentious point for, for the future? Or do you think there’s going to be a shift and people will, you know, 2024, 2025 will come to a point and it will, there’ll be like a leveling of the market almost for return to the office and the office being like one of the most important elements to.

[00:10:36] It’s a success in, for, for corporations or businesses. 

[00:10:41] I look forward to the day where, where we don’t have to talk about return to office. 

[00:10:45] I look forward to the day when we have podcasts and not talk about return to office. I’d rather be talking about return to humanity. Because if you ask a hundred different people how they like to work and what makes them successful, you’re going to get a hundred different answers.

[00:10:58] So I think the last century that we’ve been working in offices in the knowledge based economy, it’s all been, real estate’s all been about taking a white box and giving it to a company, the company turning it into a branded box. And then that branded box. The company tells everybody to fit into, and I think going forward, it’s going to be a lot different in the sense that people understand how they’re.

[00:11:23] Team works best and everybody works best slightly differently. And so companies will to attract the right talent and they’re going to be more empathetic to people and they’re going to be able to help people be successful in their own way. And that’s going to mean a lot of different things for a lot of different companies, but the office quotations no longer has a monopoly.

[00:11:44] On work, it just becomes one of the tools in the whole platform of work. And so, to me, and this is some of the stuff that we want to address with brave is we want to be able to create offices that what we’re calling campuses are flagship locations and cities where there are places that destinations that people come to do certain types of work some days.

[00:12:07] And the app gives them access to tap into other communities and workplace environments on other days. But there’s going to be days where they don’t go into an office and they work from home. I’m working from home today. So I think the future is flexible and that’s what I’ve believed for some time.

[00:12:22] I’m just kind of surprised it took a global pandemic for other people to get on board with it. 

[00:12:27] I think for a lot of people and probably for the next generation to come, because there isn’t like a playbook, there isn’t a copy paste that you, that people can follow, it’s really difficult because.

[00:12:40] The people in charge are always going to default to or mimic the way that worked for them. And I think this is, this is like the one of the core tenants of, of, you know, my mission of trying to fix the broken world of work is to help people understand that everyone is different. Everyone is engineered slightly differently and everyone can work in different environments, but the traditional office spaces and isn’t always conducive to work and definitely isn’t conducive to, to collaboration. So it’s just something that you nailed it on the head is humanity. And, but what we’ve. Lost a little bit in this as well is, is understanding that some people can work in a busy, noisy coffee shop and others can’t.

[00:13:24] Some people will do their best work on their mobile phone between commuting on the way home and other people have to sit in absolute silence or sit in their bedroom on their bed to do their best work. It’s just, that’s sort of been lost in, in the last, you know, decade. 

[00:13:44] And even, even within one person, it’s not binary because sometimes I do a lot of travel, sometimes on a plane, I can be super productive on my laptop and getting things done.

[00:13:55] Other times on the plane, I don’t even want to open my laptop. I just want to watch some movies and drink some wine and have my meal and go to sleep or, you know, so I think it depends on the day. And so it’s not just. Depending on the company or depending on the person, it actually depends on the day in the mood that person’s in.

[00:14:10] So I think the future is a lot more human and empathetic. And I think the leaders that are going to succeed going forward, the companies that succeed with these leaders are going to be more in tune with their team and empowering their team to make those decisions for themselves. I think the other thing is you talked about how people learn to be successful growing up in the workforce themselves, and they’re trying to pass that on.

[00:14:35] I think the best leaders are leaning, leaning into the future by looking at what the next generation is doing. And so I was at a Google comp, I was at, sorry, I was at a conference two weeks ago at Google HQ in London, and they were talking about AI and they were talking about how AI is going to impact us.

[00:14:52] And look, there’s a lot of questions around that and we won’t go into that. But one of the questions that I thought about was, okay, well, if, if we no longer have to search for the answer, but we can speak the question and not just the answer comes back, but what to do with that answer and, and not just have one answer.

[00:15:14] A path, but multiple paths that we can choose from the A. I. Really takes all that up. What if we’re just thinking about the right path to choose? The answers are all there. Here’s the right path to choose. We have to decide that. So that’s going to just change the whole workforce. And, you know, we can go down a rabbit hole there, but.

[00:15:33] I think there’s more questions than answers around that right now, but I think it’s important for us to lean into the future of work by looking at how people are growing up today. 

[00:15:43] For sure. We can, we can flirt a little bit with AI. It’s overhyped at the moment. I think the, a lot of the tools are very similar.

[00:15:52] My true belief is that… At the end of it, we’re probably going to get to a point where we have assistants, like an AI assistant, that’s going to help us informed. The one thing that a lot of people aren’t talking around is like our competitive edge, which is that we’ve got the gut, which will often give us the best answer.

[00:16:12] So a lot of us are really data driven and that’d be really easy. 

[00:16:15] You got the what that gives us the best answer? 

[00:16:17] The gut? 

[00:16:17] The gut, yeah. So like our gut reaction, our gut feel drives us forward. So almost all big businesses. Say 20 years ago, didn’t have any of this data or any startup 15 years ago, had a tiny, tiny percentage of, of informational data.

[00:16:34] And what a lot of companies and people have moved away from is the gut, the gut feel or what’s, what’s driven them or made them successful. So some over lean and over index on it, but there’s a lot of companies now who are going to allow large language models to give them the answer. And without being cautious enough to query it or say to ourselves, but what do we, what do we believe and what’s our gut telling us, or what is it that we might’ve missed? That’s going to give us that competitive edge because otherwise all the data is going to be, data is going to drive all the decisions. It’s going to be moving away from what’s made a lot of people successful. I’m not, you know, everyone will quote Steve jobs in five years time and say, well, Steve jobs wouldn’t have, wouldn’t have given all of the data away and wouldn’t have enabled the machine to make all the decisions, especially on design or on features.

[00:17:28] We’re going to get to this point where we’re going to be assisted and I completely agree. It would give us the pathways or the steps that we could take. It’s just on us now as like the decision makers or the business leaders to decide whether that data is right, or those pathways are right, or we need to interject and become a different source of decision making because unless you’re going to give your complete knowledge center, like I’ve got almost 8, 000 Apple notes, unless I’m going to give that in into a large language model, it’s not going to necessarily understand me and help the team around me. And I think that’s what some of the async work is, is sort of done well, is everything’s around clear communication.

[00:18:15] And I wonder in the future, if we’re going to be able to get to a point. Where we can say, AI has given us this answer, how do we give the second, third, fourth order on it? And how do we empower people around us to, to say, actually, we don’t believe that is true. We need to tweak that. I think that’s something that a lot of people have almost stepped away from a little bit and gone on that hype cycle to a point, but I’m happy to be proven wrong in, in the future.

[00:18:46] I think, I think there is a lot of hype around it and I’ll be the first to raise my hand to say, I’m not an expert. I’m very curious about it. My friend, Jason says that nothing’s AI right now. It’s just machine learning. There’s no artificial intelligence. It’s just, it’s just, it’s learning right now. But I think I can imagine that in the future we’ll be able to ask it a question.

[00:19:07] It presents us with several options. We choose, let’s go back to the humanity side. We choose as a, as a human, what we think is the right path forward. And then it goes and completes the task. So I think what that does though, if that. Is a reality that we will one day live in from a leadership perspective, we have to stop valuing doing in time and put more value on outputs results in thinking, and that’s a big shift.

[00:19:39] That’s a big shift for leadership who’s used to managing people doing things on a systematic basis. 

[00:19:48] The question I was come back to now is. For the, for the middle managers and the people who are department leads or business leads is, are you going to enable and allow more policing? So like, are you going to allow human policing?

[00:20:03] So where they are, what they do, the delivery on the task, or is that going to be some sort of automation? That’s going to, that’s going to be the driver and the police, the police force on, on, on their work and the outputs of the company, because I think that’s where we’re going to land in. In a short while, and are we going to be able to.

[00:20:24] To trust, trust that enough, or is it going to be still relying on a combo of people and process that’s automated? 

[00:20:32] Look, I don’t have the answers here for sure, but my ethos is that we bring people together around a mission. We work backwards from that mission to how, how did we get there? We all get on the same page with that strategy, the tactics we’re going to deploy.

[00:20:52] And then we give each other the space and autonomy to choose how to do that and come together when we need to. Now that’s a bit maybe altruistic or maybe even utopia. And it doesn’t work right now for all companies because there’s a transition going in, in leadership styles. But the future to me is people aren’t policing.

[00:21:14] People are motivating. 

[00:21:17] That’s what the, you know, difference between a manager and a leader is motivation and driving people to, to get by into what they’re going to be doing long term. Manager often is someone who moves. Moves people from task to task or tactical channel to channel or spreadsheet to spreadsheet.

[00:21:36] Right. So yeah, I, I sympathize and appreciate you giving, giving your thought on that one. With a lot of the stuff that you’re doing, you’re, you’re kind of predicting a little bit of the future of work and some of the ways of working. Do you have do you have some predictions or do you have a, like some.

[00:21:54] Some feeling around what the future of work might look like. Obviously you’re shaping it a little bit with Brave and you’re sharing a load of insights through the podcast. Is there, are there. Do you have some thoughts around the future of work and when we might be moving towards? 

[00:22:09] Well, at a macro level, I think we’re going to see a lot more companies get started, a lot more people moving into entrepreneurship, a lot, almost call it solo inc or, you know freelancer inc.

[00:22:22] There’s going to be a lot of people where that become their own entrepreneur. Maybe they don’t build up a big company with lots of people around them, but they plug into other people’s companies and a lot of people working together in that way. I think there’s still going to be some big companies that grow.

[00:22:38] I think we’re going to see a lot more volatility around that. Seeing, we see companies today that have been around for over a hundred years. I think we’ll see less of those in the future. Companies will get set up to, for a specific cause they’ll go for several years and then they’ll go away and they’ll evolve into something else.

[00:22:53] Maybe. So macro level, I think we’re going to see a lot more uncertainty on jobs and stuff like that, but people on the flip side have the opportunity to create their own income, create their own wealth to control their own destiny. I think that’s going to be very difficult for some people. But this is why I, you know, I think you go back to the whole cliche of nurture versus nature.

[00:23:19] I think some people are born with sort of a innate ability to take on risk. And I think other people, even if they’re not born with it, can learn it. And so I think we need to be in our school systems, teaching people not to just go get a college degree or you go to university and then get a job that you stay at for a long time.

[00:23:39] It’s, it, we need to be able to navigate this new world and people need to be taught this. 

[00:23:45] But I think what all that means though, is that and I’ll come back to my world of the future of work as it relates to the future of office, because that’s where sort of I, I live. I think real estate in general has always been inflexible for entrepreneurs and is very expensive to get into in the past.

[00:24:08] We used to think the first thing when we’re going to start up a company, we’ve got to go get an office. And now we don’t have to do that. But at some point we need to access. Professional places that we can meet people, whether it’s our team or our, you know, team or our colleagues and and customers.

[00:24:26] And so I think the future of real estate becomes more flexible because it, as I said earlier, doesn’t have the monopoly on work anymore. It’s got to be more service driven. It’s got to be more hospitality driven. It’s got to facilitate a community because I think people want to go where they belong and that they are empowered to choose when and where they work best. It’s about going to places that I feel taken care of and I feel like I fit in.

[00:24:55] 100 percent agree that the one there’s that one thread there that I personally really like is. Years and years we’ve both worked in environments where the office is. Open plan, you have, you have your desk, you have your monitor or two monitors, you have your laptop or your computer, and that’s your space.

[00:25:16] And you work around people from your team or your department. And then everything turned into hot desking and people didn’t really change up. And they loved their desk, their cup on their desk. They knew that they were near the toilet or the kitchen. And then interestingly, now it’s not, you know, the office is still very much similar layout.

[00:25:37] People didn’t rethink or, or restructure it and didn’t embrace the opportunity to change it. And something that I worked with a startup a few years ago, and we, we really rethought the office. Like we thought about what, how people would want to collaborate, how rather than the customer support team didn’t want to be near the sales team.

[00:25:58] It’s how could you embrace a different layout or. Or different areas where people could be noisy and collaborate. And then more library based rules where people could go and be quiet. And, and the kitchen was more of like a, an informal breakout area where you could have meetings or brainstorm stuff like that.

[00:26:15] And I think that’s, what’s really important for the future is offices will look different, like they’re going to have to operate differently, connecting people and exactly what you said is. It can’t just be a gray box anymore. It has to be something that is interchangeable or some way you can feel like you’re, you’ve got your community there, which is just so important.

[00:26:40] And I think where leaders need to evolve most is understanding that it’s different now, like it has to change in the near future and the longterm. And I predict that people that are for. I haven’t rethought the office, so I’m going to lose. And those who really rethink it or rethink environments are going to be the ones that win.

[00:26:59] And I really liked the idea of companies don’t, don’t have to be there for a hundred years anymore. I think the people will spin up companies, solve specific problems and then move on to the next one. And they don’t have to be acquired or have to sell to, to see that as successful. I think they’re going to be so many different career paths people take and rather than having one career or two careers, you might have three or four.

[00:27:25] And then you can patch on top passions that you might have. So. I love your prediction or where you, you’re going to help reshape. Some people’s future of work. 

[00:27:36] Well, this is why I’m curious about the misfits mindset the scale of entrepreneurs, because if you think about being empathetic with people, but also rallying people around a mission and a purpose entrepreneurs, startups.

[00:27:51] Or where that ethos sits in, you can see it clearly the best, the people that are the early founders, the early senior team, the early employees, you know, all the way down to employee number 20, 50 at some point along the line, the further you get away from the founder in that early stage, the further you get away from the purpose and the mission, if you look at the companies today, I think the companies of the future, the leaders of those companies, and it doesn’t have to be just the founder and the CEO, but the leaders throughout the company are able to be so close to the mission and the purpose and are able to articulate that and have that front and center in all of their conversations with recruitment, attracting people with customers, with investors, everybody’s aligned around this mission and purpose.

[00:28:37] Because I have a theory that when someone is aligned, when someone is, is working towards something they really care about, they don’t think of it as work. So if. In the future of work, if people are aligning their, their purpose with their income, then they’re going to be happier. They’re not going to go home at the day and hate to go back to work the next day.

[00:29:03] They’re going to look forward to it. Mondays are going to be better for people. And so I think it’s important that leaders really articulate that. And don’t just treat people like an employee and like you’re solving my problem of getting to the next level. It’s it’s we’re all on the same team here trying to advance this particular cause.

[00:29:28] If you think about volunteerism over the last several years, volunteerism has rose significantly. People want to pursue something. People want to spend their time doing something that they care about and that they’re not getting paid for it. So imagine being able to do that and get paid for it. 

[00:29:48] That’s a, that’s a big idea that I pitched a number of years ago for, for somewhere I used to work.

[00:29:56] I saw that actually.

[00:29:57] And it was one of those ideas that like is more than money. But I don’t want to get into, into like too, like too, too much detail into it. But if you can “imagine more”, so for what a lot of people don’t realize is companies often just are based on transactions, transactions, and, you know, user data.

[00:30:17] What we’ve moved away from is understanding actually is things that are very often more valuable than that. So whether that’s the time that you can spend and donate or it’s the energy that you can give to someone or it’s the support you can give to other people, doesn’t always have to be monetary and very often the monetary doesn’t.

[00:30:36] It doesn’t match the love or the energy or the time someone else can spend. So interestingly, it all, it all comes around, but I completely agree when you can base your future on something that you’re really passionate about and that you, you want to pursue some companies will embrace that. And I think that’s something that we’re going to see more and more.

[00:30:57] And I. I personally would love to see people, even if they’re intrapreneurs, if they can get the support internally to, to push that forward, I think we’re going to be in a much better place commercially and, You mentioned the word

[00:31:14] transaction and, and I think companies and employees, that’s a transactional experience a lot of times. And we announced the Brave launch last week. And my LinkedIn DMs like got flooded and you can quickly see who really cared about the cause and who didn’t buy what they said. And like, I’ve had some people to say, look, if you need any help, I love your mission, I love what you’re doing.

[00:31:39] I’ll, I’ll, I’ll work for free to help you, you know, and then, you know, it’s like, okay, well, at which point we’re going to be hiring people, that person, she’s who I want to hire, or he’s who I want to hire because. Forget skillset and experience and all that it’s the, it’s the passion they have for the cause that makes the most difference.

[00:31:57] Cause you can teach all that other stuff. 

[00:32:01] A hundred percent funny enough with what you’re doing and, and where you’re going with, we’re seeing a lot of groups, you know, like iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, they’re becoming more and more powerful. In and out of companies, because you can learn far more and ask questions of people who know the company or know of the leaders and they’re going to get unfiltered responses, whereas online you tend not to get that, but it’d be really interesting in the future, especially in with Brave is you might get recommended someone who is an incredible employee who you wouldn’t want to lose, but it lines them up really nicely.

[00:32:38] And you can, you know, not let your. Your platform necessarily would love to do it, but that recommendation, that connection is going to be so valuable. And what people will pay high, high amounts for where they used to have to pay a recruiter high retainer fees to, to send someone who isn’t anywhere near as passionate or qualified.

[00:32:57] So I look forward to the launch. 

[00:33:02] Me too. Thank you. 

[00:33:04] Why don’t you promote the podcast, the new launch, obviously that’s coming out fully in January, but where should people connect with you? What, what should, how should they either help you or what, what can, how can people help you move, moving forward?

[00:33:20] Well, thank you. First of all I would say that misfits mindset drops next Monday, finding all the major podcast platforms. I’m on LinkedIn. So Caleb Parker on my social media, Instagram, formerly Twitter X at Caleb underscore Parker. So I’ll obviously share. And all those places, but listen to the podcast.

[00:33:41] I would, that’s where I would promote the most. You’ll find on the podcast how to connect with brave and our timings and when our first events are where people can plug into to connect with other like minded people. And then. Look, I think the best way people can help me is to, to go out and, and find the problem that they’re passionate about and go solve it because that, that’s how we create a better world.

[00:34:04] And that’s what I’m trying to, to champion. Let’s, let’s solve the problems of today. And and create a better future together. I know it sounds cliche and cheesy and all that, but I’m American. So I can, I can get away with it, I think. And you can tell it far better than us miserable Brits. So yeah, it’s it’s great.

[00:34:20] Thank you. Thank you for all your time your, your honesty and, and I look forward to the podcast and supporting you on Brave. 

[00:34:28] Thank you, Danny. Really appreciate it.