Newsletter Issue 30

Every few weeks we send a newsletter to our subscribers with the new content we have written, new episodes of our podcast, and other interesting links we’ve found on the internet.

Subscribe to our Newsletter here.


From The Heartbeat Podcast: Interview with Amir Salihefendić, CEO + Founder of Doist

Amir Salihefendić is the founder and CEO of Doist, a productivity software company serving over 13 million people. As a remote, bootstrapped company, Doist’s products include Todoist and Twist. In our conversation, Amir gets real about motivation, the importance of constant learning and evolution, and hiring.

Amir also turns the table and asks me a few questions about our recent new product launch 🙂 Don’t miss our chat here…



Transcript of the interview is here.


What I’ve been reading lately

Closing the Culture Gap
I found the data and the conclusions in this piece interesting. Affirms what many of us have likely experienced – that the C-suite is more excited about cultural change than everyone else in the company – and what to do in spite of this: “First and foremost, you must identify your organization’s “critical few” traits: the core attributes that are unique and characteristic to it, that resonate with employees, and that can help spark their commitment.”Written by DeAnne Aguirre, Varya Davidson, and Carolin Oelschlegel, strategy+business

The Art of Balancing Autonomy and Control 
This piece observes an unlikely group of managers – hackathon organizers! – to uncover insights about what makes them successful as leaders: “The distinction [of hackathon organizers] from traditional management is akin to that between directing actors in film versus theater — in the former arena, directors are expected to control and intervene in the process to perfect the finished project, while in the latter, directors focus on preparation in advance as they accept the uncertainty and improvisation which is integral to the live performance. “ (Note: They ask you to sign-in to read the full article – I think it’s worth it 🙂 )Written by Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, Sarah Lebovitz, and Lior Zalmanson, MIT Sloan Management Review

The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures
A well-written reminder on the duality that a work environment must embrace to be successful: “Creating a culture that simultaneously values learning through failure and outstanding performance is difficult in organizations with a history of neither. A good start is for senior leadership to articulate clearly the difference between productive and unproductive failures: Productive failures yield valuable information relative to their cost. A failure should be celebrated only if it results in learning.”Written by Gary P. Pisano, Harvard Business Review

I hate manager READMEs
A strong, compelling take on a recently popular best practice of writing “Manager READMEs”. I personally think Manager READMEs are highly culture dependent and can be helpful in certain teams. But I really enjoyed reading Camille’s thoughts on it – she makes excellent points: “First of all, be real: you probably do not know yourself as well as you think you know yourself. It’s the Dunning-Kruger of self-awareness.”Written by Camille Fournier

How To Be A Leader That Inspires People To Change
Ignore the cheesy title 🙂 It’s a good, light kick in the pants to remember this time of year, as a leader: “There’s only one leadership strategy. Everyone knows this. You can only lead by example. There’s no other effective way to inspire people.”Written by Darius Foroux

Directly from my desk

The most counterintuitive leadership tip? Leaders, stop doing what you’re good at.
“Focus on what you’re good at, and the team never becomes good at it themselves. Focus on what you’re good at, and you never see things for what they really are.”

You have a micromanaging boss. What can you do?
“There are 5 reasons your boss is micromanaging you. Here’s how to manage up, and around them.”

A handy leadership tip

From our online leadership community of almost 1,000 managers, in Know Your Team

If you’re annual planning for the first time, ask your team to consider the following:

  • What were your group’s successes/wins?
  • Where didn’t you do as well as you would’ve wanted?
  • What metrics can you show, i.e., how are you measuring progress?
  • What’s your vision for your department for the year ahead?
  • How is what you/your department are working on contributing to the mission of the organization?
  • Do you have clarity on how what your department matters to the whole organization?
  • What are the two or three things that would make it easier for you/your department contribute your best work?
  • Is there anything that you think the leadership team should be focusing on that we’re not currently?

Other annual planning tips:

  • Set company goals quarterly. Set team micro-goals monthly. Set individual contributor micro-microgoals weekly. Don’t try to predict the future.

Just for fun

The Simple Joy of “No Phones Allowed”
“A few nights ago I saw Jack White in concert. It was a wonderful night, and a big part of that was due to a new rule he has imposed on all his tour dates: no phones.”

Thank you all for a wonderful year. Talk to you in 2019! <3

Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Know Your Team. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.

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