A bi-weekly newsletter on how to become a better leader, written by Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Team.

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Issue 29 Interview with Desiree Vargas Wrigley, Founder + CEO of Pearachute


Every few weeks, I ask one question to a founder, CEO, manager, or business owner I respect…

A chat with Desiree Vargas Wrigley

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


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