Newsletter Issue 32

Every week or so, we send you our most recent blog posts on leadership, a new Heartbeat podcast episode, and recommended readings on management.

Subscribe to our Newsletter here.


From The Heartbeat Podcast: Interview with Natalie Nagele, CEO + Co-Founder of Wildbit

Natalie Nagele is the CEO and Co-Founder of Wildbit, a software development company that has built multi-million dollar products used by over 100,000 people all over the world. In our conversation, we chatted about her biggest leadership lesson learned in running Wildbit over the past 18 years. Watch the video interview below – or scroll down to listen to the podcast (yes, The Heartbeat is now a podcast too, yay!)


Listen to the podcast here.


Transcript of the interview is here.


What I’ve been writing lately

Leadership is your product, not your identity.
“The minute we fuse our identity to our leadership, we cling to it – and it blinds us.”

How to discuss poor performance with an employee
“Figure out if you have Problem A or Problem B.”

The 5 bottom-line benefits of building trust in the workplace
“85% of managers say they spend a moderate to large amount of time and energy on building trust. Yet, how many of us could specifically say what the specific outputs of trust are?”

31 best management quotes from The Heartbeat
“‘Don’t worry about most things because most things don’t matter.’ – Jason Fried, CEO and Co-Founder of Basecamp, from Episode 1”

What I’ve been reading lately

How to Tell Leaders They’re Not as Great as They Think They Are
“Although leadership talent is normally distributed, 80% of people think they are better-than-average leaders.”Written by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Harvard Business Review

The Surprising Value of Obvious Insights
“When leaders there started training and evaluating managers on what sounds like Management 101 — setting and communicating a vision, caring about your team, staying results oriented — the company was able to improve performance for 75% of its worst managers.”Written by Adam Grant, MIT Sloan Review

When Collaboration Takes a Toll on Productivity
“Being busy may increase interruptions. At the end of the day, being busy may not equal being productive.”Written by Emily Stone, Kellogg Insights

Do You Offer as Much Flexibility as You Say You Do?
“Employees are 43% less likely to experience high levels of burnout when they have a choice in what tasks to do, when to do them and how much time to spend on them.”Written by Nate Dvorak and Rachel Breck, Gallup

A handy leadership tip

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

What’s the best use of a leader’s time?

  1. Recruiting + Hiring
  2. Long-term strategy
  3. Communicating the direction to the team all the time

Read more here.

Just for fun

In Conversation: M. Night Shyamalan. The director on his failures, his successes, and Glass.
“Oftentimes, the reason we get into a cycle of success and failure is because we get blurry about what we can control. “

Newsletter Issue 31

Every week or so, we send you our most recent blog posts on leadership, a new Heartbeat podcast episode, and recommended readings on management.

Subscribe to our Newsletter here.


From The Heartbeat Podcast: Interview with Joel Gascoigne, CEO + Co-founder of Buffer

Joel Gascoigne is the CEO and Co-Founder of Buffer, a social media management platform serving millions of people, and generating $19MM+ in annual revenue. As a remote company with 82 people, Joel shares why transparency helps him be less stressed less as a leader, the value of seeking opposing viewpoints, and why you should go slow to go fast.



Transcript of the interview is here.


What I’ve been reading lately

Why Teams Should Record Individual Expectations
“Gathering independent expectations from each stakeholder shifts everyone’s focus to the real point of interest: how the decision at hand is likely to play out in the future. Those expectations are still essentially guesses, but they’re tied to the appropriate context.” (You have to create an account to view the whole article, but totally worth it!)Written by Ken Favaro and Manish Jhunjhunwala, MIT Sloan Management Review

Good Leaders Don’t Disappear
“You can’t follow someone you can’t see. That is why visibility and transparency mean so much in the realm of leadership. They are not just buzzwords; they produce the visceral experiences and tangible markers both potential and current followers evaluate as they mediate their level of trust and commitment to a leader.”Written by Jesse Sostrin, strategy+business

Why Trump’s Unusual Leadership Style Isn’t Working in the White House
“As Doris Kearns Goodwin, the presidential historian and author of the recent book “Leadership: In Turbulent Times,” told me this week, Mr. Trump manifestly lacks a long list of traits associated with effective leadership: ‘humility, acknowledging errors, shouldering blame and learning from mistakes, empathy, resilience, collaboration, connecting with people and controlling unproductive emotions.’”Written by James B. Stewart, New York Times

Are Your High Expectations Hurting Your Team?
“This study of more than 300 executives in 10 countries shows that approximately 35% of executives fail because of a tendency toward perfection. That’s because achievement-oriented leaders tend to be chronically dissatisfied. While you may be thinking that you’re “just pushing them to be the best,” you may actually be setting them up to fail.”Written by Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review

Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines: Learn to Listen, Improve Your EQ
“‘Involving more folks requires patience. And it requires putting your ego aside…We let our policy and procedures get in the way of doing the right thing.’”Written by Jennifer Luna, Insights by Stanford Business

Companies will perform better if employees are not cowed into silence
“Studies show that fear inhibits learning. And when confronted with a problem, scared workers find ways of covering it up or getting around it with inefficient practices. The answer is to create an atmosphere of “psychological safety” whereby workers can speak their minds.”Written by Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review

Directly from my desk

The Mindset Shift: How to become a good new manager
“Becoming a new manager isn’t merely a change in what you do – it’s a change in how you think.”

Building trust in teams: What and why?
“Many leaders accidentally optimize for likability as a means to build trust. “

A handy leadership tip

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

What questions do you like to ask during a one-on-one meeting?

  • What advice do you have for me?
  • If they could be proud of one accomplishment between now and next year, what would it be?
  • How’s life?
  • What are worrying about right now?
  • As a manager, what can I do better?
  • Are there any blockers I can help you with?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to talk about this week?
  • What rumors are you hearing that I should know about?
  • If you start a project/company, would you want me to be on the team? If so, would it be an expert role or a managing role?
  • What are your biggest time wasters?
  • Is there something we should start doing as a team?
  • Would you like more or less direction from me?
  • Do you get enough feedback on your work? If no, what additional feedback would you like?

Wanting to learn more? We’ve got a Guide to One-on-One Meetings and tool for running one-on-ones all included in Know Your Team – you can check it out here.

Just for fun

How Restaurants Got So Loud
“Restaurants are so loud because architects don’t design them to be quiet. Much of this shift in design boils down to changing conceptions of what makes a space seem upscale or luxurious, as well as evolving trends in food service.”

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

Newsletter Issue 29

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 Desiree Vargas Wrigley, Founder + CEO of Pearachute

Desiree Vargas Wrigley is the founder + CEO of Pearachute, a company that helps parents and their children drop into the best kids’ classes in town. Desiree most recently appeared on Shark Tank (getting an offer from Mark Cuban, along the way), and in her previous business as the CEO, scaled the company to $5MM+ annual revenue from scratch. In our interview, we talk about the complexities of the founder identity, hiring, growth, and more.



Transcript of the interview is here.


Latest reads

Making Work Meaningful: A Leader’s Guide
“[Most business leaders] take pains to broadcast the company’s strategy to employees. They say they really want employees to know that the organization has a higher purpose. And yet many of these messages aren’t getting through: in one survey of senior executives around the world, only 38 percent of leaders said that their staff had a clear understanding of the organization’s purpose and commitment to its core values and beliefs.”Written by Dan Cable and Freek Vermeulen, McKinsey Quarterly

Building & Managing a Remote Team: Best Practices from Doist’s Head of Marketing
“Managing a remote team effectively is not about monitoring the amount of time your team members spend online (in fact, that’s a great way to kill employee autonomy and motivation). It’s about building and supporting a team that doesn’t need to be micromanaged in the first place.”Written by Brenna Loury, Head of Marketing at Doist

How Fearless Organizations Succeed
“In any challenging industry setting, leaders have two vital tasks. One, they must build psychological safety to spur learning and avoid preventable failures; two, they must set high standards and inspire and enable people to reach them. In other words, today’s leaders must motivate people to do their very best work by inspiring them, coaching them, providing feedback, and making excellence a rewarding experience.”Written by Amy C. Edmondson, strategy + business

When People Would Rather Work with Competent Jerks Than Likable Fools
“When people have a chance to choose whom to work with, and their own success depends in part on those people, a new study finds that cold competence becomes more important and likability less so. When money is on the line, in other words, most people would rather work for a very competent jerk than a nice but less competent boss.”Written by Edmund L. Andrews, Insights by Stanford Business

How Leaders Can Stop Employees from Deliberately Hiding Information 
“Research confirms that people purposely hide information from co-workers. Some people hide information because it is complicated and time-consuming to explain. Some people hide information when they think they are competing for scarce resources. Finally, many people say they hide information because they don’t trust the requester, and they worry about how the information is going to be used.”Written by Jennifer Deal, Wall Street Journal

Eileen Fisher: ‘When Was Fashion Week?’
“I had $350 in my bank account when I decided to start the business. But this pattern maker came and helped me. I cut the pieces on the floor in my loft, carried it all out on the subway in garbage bags to a little factory in Queens. People were kind, people helped. Then at a boutique show, I sold $40,000 worth of clothes.”Written by David Gelles, The New York Times

Directly from my desk

8 ways to avoid your opinion swaying your team too much as “The Boss”
“As a leader, your opinion matters. But sometimes, it can matter too much. You can unintentionally sway team members by stating your opinion prematurely. Or, you can accidentally quell perspectives that are critical for you to hear.”

Feeling “off”? How to be a good manager when you just don’t feel like being one
“Whatever the reason may be, there’s no shame in it. I’ve had these “off” days, myself — and so many other leaders have too. As companies go through highs and lows, and our mind and emotions ride the highs and lows along with it.”

A handy leadership tip

From our online leadership community of almost 1,000 managers, The Watercooler

Best practices for performance reviews:

  • Managers should act as coaches. The team works best when managers are viewed as coaches and more experienced peers to help employees with their career development.
  • Have a clear agenda. Oftentimes, employees don’t know that they can use these meetings to talk about things they need coaching on that relate to their career.
  • Don’t tie performance reviews to pay increases (or decreases) – have this be a separate conversation. Here’s an HBR article that discusses this more in-depth.
  • Separate peer feedback from reviews. It’s important to make easier for peers to give feedback regularly. One Watercooler member does this in video form.
  • Ask specific questions to better understand where the person is at, uncover blindspots, etc. (This should take up about 70% of the time.) Here’s our Guide to One-on-One Meetings that covers exact question you can ask.
  • Hight Output Management by Andy Grove has great tips on how to run good one-on-one meetings.

Just for fun

A Narcissist’s Prayer of Thanksgiving. (My Glamorous Life)
A beautifully written, heartbreaking piece by Jeffrey Zeldman.

For those of you stateside, Happy Thanksgiving! <3

Newsletter Issue 28

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 Kathryn Minshew, Founder and CEO of The Muse

Kathryn Minshew is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Muse, a company that helps over 75 million people around the world find jobs and get career advice. In our interview, she shares the importance of trusting your gut, developing that instinct, and her framework for decision-making.



Transcript of the interview is here.


Latest reads

The Best Bosses Are Humble Bosses
“Teams with humble leaders performed better and did higher-quality work than teams whose leaders exhibited less humility… The performance gains held up independently of how much team leaders exhibited other positive leadership qualities unrelated to humility.”Written by Sue Shellenbarger, Wall Street Journal

Help Your Team Do More Without Burning Out
“Sustainable speed is achievable only if the team propels itself without your presence. Jim Collins wrote that great leaders don’t waste time telling time, they build clocks.”Written by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg, Harvard Business Review

Making Change Contagious
“Centola says there are two kinds of contagions: Simple contagions that spread effortlessly, such as the measles or the news about your company’s latest quarterly earnings, and complex contagions that don’t spread so easily, such as investing in bitcoins or using a new form of birth control.”Written by Theodore Kinni, strategy+business

Three Ways to Lead More Effective Teams
“The problem, Greer notes, is the existence of a hierarchy; somebody inevitably must lead. The problem is in the inflexibility with which most people impose a hierarchy. Greer advocates instead for ‘hierarchical agility — the ability of a team to flex its hierarchy throughout the day so that sometimes the group is flat and sometimes it follows the line.’”Written by Dylan Walsh, Insights by Standford Business

Favorite reads

How showing vulnerability helps build a stronger team
“That moment of vulnerability did not reduce their willingness to cooperate but boosted it. The inverse was also true: Increasing people’s sense of power — tweaking a situation to make them feel more invulnerable — dramatically diminished their willingness to cooperate.”Written by Daniel Coyle

The hidden value of organizational health—and how to capture it
“We found that the linkage between health and performance, at both the corporate and subunit level, is much clearer and much larger than we had previously thought.”Written by Aaron De Smet, Bill Schaninger, and Matthew Smith, McKinsey Quarterly

Dumb Rules That Make Your Best People Want to Quit
“How do you know if a rule is dumb? Ask yourself who needs it. If it’s directed primarily at the people you wish you hadn’t hired, it’s probably a dumb rule.”Written by Lolly Daskal

Just for fun

Overlooked No More: Melitta Bentz, Who Invented the Coffee Filter
Really enjoying this NYTimes series of doubly posthumous obituaries of extraordinary women.

Newsletter Issue 27

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 Peldi Guilizzoni, Founder + CEO of Balsamiq

Peldi Guilizzoni is the Founder and CEO of Balsamiq, a 10-year-old, bootstrapped, $6.3+MM annual revenue company with tens of thousands of customers in 193 countries. In our conversation, Peldi reveals a very counterintuitive lesson he’s learned: Our greatest strengths as leaders often hurt us the most.



Transcript of the interview is here.


Latest reads

The Four X Factors of Exceptional Leaders
“The most difficult aspects of leadership are paradoxes, and executives must embrace them fully, and understand that leadership requires a ‘both/and’ skill set.”Written by David Reimer, Adam Bryant, and Harry Feuerstein, strategy + business

Leading from Joy vs. Leading from Fear
“Yes, I succeeded at instilling a fear of failure, but also the dejection and disappointment that comes with it. It was not a catalyst for action and motivation, but rather the opposite. As I did the post mortem on what happened, I realized I was making four huge mistakes as a leader.”Written by Andy Dunn, Founder of Bonobos

The Problem With Popular Employees
“Forty years after the end of high school, those who were once part of the cool crowd get paid 10% more than their socially excluded peers… Popularity can negatively affect decision-making and lead to suboptimal performance by fueling overconfidence.”Written by Marissa King, Wall Street Journal

The Overlooked Essentials of Employee Well-Being
“Studies going back decades have shown that job control—the amount of discretion employees have to determine what they do and how they do it—has a major impact on their physical health.”Written by Jeffrey Pfeffer, McKinsey Quarterly

“A Blinding Flash of the Obvious”
“‘Poor cross-functional coordination and communication is the principal element in the delay of everything,’ Peters says. Internal barriers, not the competitors, are the big impediment to effective execution. Getting functions to stop feuding isn’t enough; they need to actively work together in a spirited, coordinated way.”Written by Theodore Kinni, Insights by Stanford Business

Favorite reads

Putting a Price on People Problems at Work
“In the course of a day, the executives estimated wasting an average of $7,227.07 per line item per day, for a total of $144,541.30 per day, summing each of the twenty points of waste. That’s an astounding $52,757,574 of lost value and potential per year per organization on people problems.”Written by Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson, Harvard Business Review

Is It Really Lonely at the Top?
“Participants in the high-power group reported feeling less lonely and less likely to feel a need to belong than participants in the low-power group or the baseline group. And participants in the low-power group reported feeling more loneliness and a higher need to belong than participants in the other two groups.”Based on the research of Charleen R. Case, Kyle E. Conlon, Jon Maner, Adam Waytz, Eileen Chou, Joe C. Magee and Adam D. Galinsky, Kellogg Insight

Just for fun

Why Westerners Fear Robots and the Japanese Do Not
“The West, the professor contended, has a problem with the idea of things having spirits and feels that anthropomorphism, the attribution of human-like attributes to things or animals, is childish, primitive, or even bad.”

Newsletter Issue 26

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 Ryan Carson, Founder + CEO of Treehouse

Ryan Carson is the Founder and CEO of Treehouse, a company that has helped 850,000 people learn how to code, and is dedicated to helping companies hire and retain more diverse, inclusive technical talent. In our conversation, Ryan talks about how investing in trust as a leader “changed his life” (his exact words!) – and his company.



Transcript of the interview is here.


Latest reads

How Bosses Waste Their Employees’ Time 
“At many companies, meanwhile, employees become aware of how self-absorbed their bosses are, and so focus on telling the bosses what they think the bosses want to hear, and on doing things they believe will keep their bosses happy. This leads to what Dr. Rao and I call “executive magnification,” when people bent on buttering up a leader react far more strongly to his or her words or actions than the leader ever intended.”Written by Robert I. Sutton, Wall Street Journal

The End of the Traditional Manager
“Today’s manager needs to be a coach, holding employees accountable while encouraging development and growth. With many of the details of management now being automated, what’s left is the most powerful tool a manager has – meaningful conversations.”Written by Adam Hickman and Ryan Pendell, Gallup

Don’t Try to Be the “Fun Boss” — and Other Lessons in Ethical Leadership 
“Our research suggests that key personality characteristics predict unethical leadership behavior. We collected personality data and supervisor ratings of ethical behavior (e.g., integrity, accountability) on 3,500 leaders across 30 organizations we had worked with. “Written by Kimberly Nei and Darin Nei, Harvard Business Review

5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a President at Tyson Foods, With Sally Grimes
“So often leaders work to craft an image of perfection — they don’t want to let their teams see them make a mistake or acknowledge a shortcoming. I haven’t found that to be sustainable leadership model — if you want your team to be bold, they can’t be afraid to fail.”Published by Authority Magazine

Favorite reads

Us versus Them: Reframing Resistance to Change
“Rather than assuming critical thinkers are resisters, we would do better to treat them as guardians. Guardians see what needs to be protected, and the trust that can be destroyed by a broken promise or a shortcut. Who else will ask the hard questions?”Written by Elizabeth Doty, strategy+business

Why Too Much Trust Is Death to Innovation
“When companies collaborate, low trust is detrimental to innovation. But so is very high trust. The optimal level, yielding maximum impact, lies in between.”Written by Francis Bidault and Alessio Castello, MIT Sloan Management Review

Why Bad Bosses Sabotage Their Teams
“Research shows that leaders will intentionally sideline high-performing team members, limit communication and social bonding among team members, or compile ill-matched teams if they think it will help ensure their own place at the top.”Published by Kellogg Insight, based on the research of Jon Maner and Charleen R. Case

Just for fun

Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds
“People believe that they know way more than they actually do. What allows us to persist in this belief is other people.”

Newsletter Issue 25

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 Wayne Sutton, Co-founder + CTO of Change Catalyst

Wayne Sutton is the Co-founder and CTO of Change Catalyst. As a serial entrepreneur and leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, he’s been featured on CNN, USA Today, BBC, and the Wall Street Journal. In our frank interview, he talks about self-awareness and depression as a leader.



Transcript of the interview is here.


Latest reads

The leadership journey of Abraham Lincoln
“Understanding this means abandoning the quest for the single definitive answer. Letting go of this quest frees leaders—emotionally and practically—to focus on the many possible approaches and actions needed to make a meaningful difference.”Written by Nancy Koehn, McKinsey Quarterly

A Brutal Performance Review Helped Sweetgreen’s CEO Manage Everything Better
“My executive coach had interviewed 17 people close to me – my wife, my mom, my co-founders, my direct reports and some other employees – and it was time to learn what they said. What do they think are my strengths and weaknesses? What are my blind spots? Where do I need improvement? I wasn’t sure I was ready to hear the answers.”Written by Jonathan Newman, CEO of Sweetgreen

The 5 levels of leadership
“But what makes a boss worth quitting over? Or, on the flip side, worth staying over? To understand what makes a great leader, we looked at data from 75,000 employees and more than 10,000 managers working primarily in the U.S., across industries including retail, hospitality, manufacturing, technology, finance, and health care.”Written by Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work

Paula Schneider on Running American Apparel and Fighting Cancer
“Paula Schneider has run two organizations that could hardly be more different. She was chief executive of American Apparel, and is now C.E.O. of Susan G. Komen, the breast cancer foundation.”Written by David Gelles, NYTimes

Workplace Perks: Wasteful Indulgence or Powerful Profit Driver?
“After controlling for several firm- and region-specific variables, including company age, debt level, and the GDP growth rate for the country in which a company is based, the authors found that treating employees well pays off: Firms with a higher employee-friendly culture score tend to see better returns on both assets and equity than do companies with average or low employee-friendly scores.”Written by Matt Palmquist, strategy+business

Favorite reads

Connect, Then Lead
“Leaders who project strength before establishing trust run the risk of eliciting fear, and along with it a host of dysfunctional behaviors. Fear can undermine cognitive potential, creativity, and problem solving, and cause employees to get stuck and even disengage.”Written by Amy J.C. Cuddy, Matthew Kohut, John Neffinger, Harvard Business Review

Are Bean Counters More Selfish?
“Emphasizing a “calculative mindset” encourages people to act more selfishly and less ethically when making decisions.”Based on the research of Long Wang, Chen-Bo Zhong and J. Keith Murnighan, Kellogg Insight

Just for fun

How to Make Friends, According to Science
“A recent study out of the University of Kansas found that it takes about 50 hours of socializing to go from acquaintance to casual friend, an additional 40 hours to become a “real” friend, and a total of 200 hours to become a close friend.”


Newsletter Issue 24

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 Hiten Shah, Founder of KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg, FYI and Product Habits

Hiten Shah is the founder of numerous successful SaaS companies, including KISSmetricsCrazyEggand now FYI and Product Habits. In our interview, he shares the pitfalls of being too nice as a leader and the importance of the word “outcome.” (And yes, he is in his car while filming this!)



Transcript of the interview is here.


Latest reads

Stacy Brown-Philpot of TaskRabbit on Being a Black Woman in Silicon Valley
“I get discriminated against all the time. No one thinks I’m a C.E.O. I sit on a plane and tell somebody, “Well, I run this company.” They’re like, “What? You run a company?” And it’s like shocking. You could imagine someone else sitting in that seat where no one would be surprised.”Written by David Gelles, The New York Times

The Problem of Virtuous Leadership
“According to Adam Smith scholar Ryan Patrick Hanley, executives can navigate today’s turbulence only by learning to see themselves as others might see them.”Written by Art Kleiner, strategy+business

Employee Burnout, Part 1: The 5 Main Causes
“The main factors that cause employee burnout have less to do with expectations for hard work and high performance – and more to do with how someone is managed.”Written by Ben Wigert and Sangeeta Agrawal, Gallup

What Not to Do When You’re Trying to Motivate Your Team
“A 10-year study of more than 200,000 employees shows that 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason, and according to Gallup’s 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, only 21% agree their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.”Written by Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review

Favorite reads

Untangling your organization’s decision making
“To start delegating decisions today, make a list of the top 20 regularly occurring decisions. Take the first decision and ask three questions: (1) Is this a reversible decision? (2) Does one of my direct reports have the capability to make this decision? (3) Can I hold that person accountable for making the decision? If the answer to these questions is yes, then delegate the decision.”Written by Aaron De Smet, Gerald Lackey, and Leigh M. Weiss, McKinsey Quarterly

How to Be a Good Boss: Start by Understanding Why You Want to Lead
“Two leadership styles—motivated by the desire for either dominance or prestige—are examined in research from Kellogg’s Jon Maner. Each one has pros and cons, and they work best under different circumstances.”Based on research of Jon Maner and Charleen R. Case, Kellogg Insight

Just for fun

The Limits of Grit
Fascinating 2016 New Yorker piece on what elements of “character” are essential to success, especially in children.


Newsletter Issue 23

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 Jordan Buckner, Founder and CEO of TeaSquares

Jordan Buckner is the Founder and CEO of TeaSquares, a two-year old snack-food company (that happens to be my favorite snack!) now sold in Whole Foods and soon 187 Jewel-Osco stores later this year. Jordan has been named to Forbes 30 under 30, and his company has an incredible social mission, to boot: They employ underprivileged adults on the South Side of Chicago. In our interview, Jordan shares what he wishes he learned earlier as a leader around hiring for values, and the importance of both strong vision and flexibility.



Transcript of the interview is here.


Latest reads

If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is?
“Today people in the worlds of business, investing, and politics continue to use vague words to describe possible outcomes. Why? Phil Tetlock, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who has studied forecasting in depth, suggests that ‘vague verbiage gives you political safety.’”Written by Andrew Mauboussin and Michael J. Mauboussin, Harvard Business Review

The Mindsets of a Leader
“One of the most revealing questions leaders can ask themselves is ‘Whom do I serve?’ Their answers to that question say more about their style of leadership and field of influence than their personality traits or emotional intelligence does.” (You’ll need to create a login to view the article for free here.)Written by Modesto A. Maidique and Nathan J. Hiller, MIT Sloan Management Review

When Your Team’s Path Forward Isn’t Clear, Carve It
“To carve the world means to bring forth something new by patiently and gradually working, with a sensitive hands-on connection, with the particular reality in front of you.”Written by Adam Kahane, strategy+business

Look Beyond “Culture Fit” When Hiring
“While an employee’s cultural fit at the time of entry was loosely connected with outcomes — those who fit well from the outset tended to perform well — a much more powerful predictor of success was an employee’s ability to recognize and internalize standards.”Written by Dylan Walsh, Insights by Stanford Business

A four-star general’s leadership advice: ‘Communicate, communicate and communicate’
“The lesson I learned over and over was the importance of working as part of a team, not for oneself.”Written by Tom Fox, Washington Post

Favorite reads

Reaching and Changing Frontline Employees
“Frontline supervisors-not senior managers-are the opinion leaders in your organization.”Written by T.J. Larkin and Sandar Larkin

The Downside of Transparent Decision Making
“If the committee knows that it’s going to be transparent the committee members will manipulate the information they share or share less information than they would otherwise.”Based on the research of Ronen Gradwohl and Timothy Feddersen, Kellogg Insight

The fairness factor in performance management
“Amid ongoing dissatisfaction and experimentation, our research suggests that there’s a performance-management issue that’s hiding in plain sight: it’s fairness.”Written by Bryan Hancock, Elizabeth Hioe, and Bill Schaninger, McKinsey Quarterly

Just for fun

The Myth of Quality Time
Love this 2015 New York Times Opinion piece: “There’s simply no real substitute for physical presence.”