Author Archives: Paul LaRue

#ThursdayThought – Forget Others, Be You

A recent article revealed how Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon does things other CEOs won’t necessarily do, like take the subway or get his own coffee.

But the most impressive thing that David Solomon does in his off-time is spin classic rock as a DJ in New York City and other cities.

Unbecoming of a business leader you think? If anything, Solomon is being authentic, and isn’t worried about what the perception is, even though people tried to discourage him from continuing his DJ gigs when he became CEO.

If anything, he said to himself, “And why shouldn’t I — because I’m a CEO?”

Whatever you do in your career, be rounded. Be YOU.

If you think it’s uncool as a business leader to let your hair down and be who you are, think again. Many business leaders do, here are some examples.

Gary Vaynerchuck is renowned for going to garage sales on Saturdays and flipping merchandise online.

Keith Law, Senior Baseball Writer for ESPN, chronicles his hobbies of food and Euro-style board games on his personal website.

Warren Buffet plays the ukulele.

Apple founder Steve Wozniak plays polo … on a Segway.

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, likes to spend his time on the high-flying trapeze.

Cisco co-founder Sandy Learner likes to spend her time dressing in medieval garb, mounting her horse and brandishing a lance to joust. (Yes, joust).

What makes these people so genuine is that they don’t worry about the pretenses of position. They live their life, pursue happiness, and show everyone that success doesn’t have to be about living a life impressing others.

Whatever you do in your career, be rounded. Be YOU. It’s OK.

(header and polo images: flickr)

Sacrifice Self Or Employees?

Back in 2014 Simon Sinek gave a TED Talk about how good leaders make others feel safe.

Using a real life story from a military officer sacrificing his life to save others, and paralleling the parental duty of sacrificing for the nurturing of one’s children, Sinek outlined how these examples don’t reflect the current mindset of most business leaders.

And, unfortunately five years later, this still remains true.

Take as a prime example the fiasco at WeWork and SoftBank’s handling of the startup’s fall from grace.

In the last couple of months, the workshare company went from a potentially highly valued IPO to tumbling to a fraction of their value and being run by main investor SoftBank. They removed founder and CEO Adam Neumann who effectively ran the company into the ground and bought him out for a $1.7 billion golden parachute.

That was October. Last week, just about 4 weeks after, 2400 WeWork employees were notified that they were being laid off. As one would guess, many employees are outraged about Neumann getting off free while others have to suffer for his financial improprieties and erratic behavior.

This example shows the pervasive business mindset of sacrificing employees for the sake of a leader’s own self, or company stock price, or profits. All the things that Simon Sinek outlined in his talk that good leaders do NOT do.

This type of culture can only happen when a leader has good intentions for the people who trust them.

Sinek also told the story of a company back in the great recession of 2008 that was faced with a 30% loss of sales during 2008 and their labor needed to be cut by millions of dollars. When the board asked for layoffs, the CEO refused and instead gave every employee (including himself) 4 weeks of compulsory unpaid leave to be taken any time they chose over the year. He told the employees it was better for everyone to suffer a little, rather than a few suffer a lot. They saved $20 million, and morale greatly improved. As the leader instilled a sense of trust in the culture, some employees started trading leave – taking 5 so another would take only 3.

This type of culture can only happen when a leader has good intentions for the people who trust them. And people only trust their leaders when they know that their leader will take the risk themselves, and first.

When leaders do this, the natural response of people is to trust in return and to likewise sacrifice for the good of the leader’s vision. Because their leader would have done the same for them.

Great leaders find a way to sacrifice for their people, even if it hurts.

(image: pixabay)

8 Quick Ideas To Thank Your Team During The Holidays

You realize that it’s only a couple of days before the holidays, and you’ve missed the boat to do anything for your people.

Work can get so busy that before you know it, the holiday season upon you and here already. You’re still scrambling to accomplish year-end goals but also want to include your people in thanking them for their loyalty all year.

Just a few minutes to thank your people in these ways will show how they are truly valued in your organization

No worries, there is still time to give value and meaning to your teams. Here are eight quick and cost-effective ideas to thank your people:

  1. Buy them breakfast. Breakfast is a cheap meal alternative and a very fast on-the-fly menu. Very little planning needs to be involved here. Whether catered or picking up a bunch of baked goods and juices at the supermarket or a breakfast locale, you can start the days before Thanksgiving off in a nice way that shows your people that they’re appreciated. (Lunch and dinner can be done to this effect too, but breakfast is usually the least expensive and fastest route).
  2. Have an informal holiday meeting. You can even couple this with having a breakfast social. Gathering your people to tell them how much they are valued in your company and even highlighting some of the achievements of the past year shows them that they’re recognized for more than the results they generate and work they produce.
  3. Handwritten cards from the leadership team. The entire leadership group can divide and conquer to write off some nice holiday cards and pass them around to sign. For larger organizations, this may be the most effective way. Everyone (still) loves to get a tangible means of expression and thanks. Doing this during conference calls, meetings, or a little earlier in the morning can help get this effective means accomplished rather quickly.
  4. Buy a round of $20 grocery, gift, or gas cards. Usually, grocery cards are popular this time of year as everyone can use these for their families in hosting the holidays. Call the stores and find out if there are bulk discounts and take advantage of what they offer. Some may even allow you to place your order ahead and have ready for you to pick them up.
  5. Lift up those who’ve been down. Know those who are struggling during this time. Undoubtedly there are people hurting financially, or with an illness, loss of a loved one recently, or other hardship. Help them out however you can, and pay special attention that these folks aren’t herded into the rest of the group generically. Their circumstances will need some extra attention and will encourage them during these coming days.
  6. Remote conference calls, video chats, employee email. Especially for large and/or remote workforces, sometimes a quick impromptu 5-minute call or email that expresses sincere appreciation can be effective as people are still working into the holiday season. When you can’t meet them in person, meet them however you can.
  7. Ease up a bit. Sometimes the push of finishing the calendar year off strong coupled with the busyness of what the holidays bring to everyone’s personal lives creates a great deal of extra stress on your people. Being mindful and compassionate about what your people are burdened with and letting up a bit on work demands can show your people what they really mean to you.
  8. TBWA – Thank them by walking around. But when you can meet them in person, do so. Just having a boss or member of the leadership team shake their hand, pat them on the back, and look them in the eye with a genuine thanks goes a long way towards making someone feel highly esteemed in your organization.

Just a few minutes to thank your people in these ways will show how they are truly valued in your organization. You’ll be thankful you did!

(image: pixabay)

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