Amazing Workplace (no. 10) : Design Your Company To Attract A-Players with Lena Requist

How many times have you delegated an important project only to feel like you are having to babysit your team member to get it done right?  You may have despaired that ‘ they just don’t get it’ or ‘they aren’t able to drive it forward by themselves’

It’s ok, you can admit it.  You’re amongst friends.  I’ll be the first to put my hand up.  But I have to tell you, you know, friend to friend, that it may be your fault.

This is one of the reasons I recommend this podcast episode.  Lena Requist from Ontraport has a passion for helping team members grow.  Not only do they encourage employees to pitch their own projects that will move the business forward, but they recognise that there are some things they need to know to make them successful.  So they provide training to all employees to fill in the gaps.   Since implementing this training, she has seen 100% directives completed and deadlines met.

The rest of the podcast gives great examples of building an award winning culture.  Lena talks with Chris McNeill about retaining their culture through growth, how they make values a part of their every day and why you should employ people that have crazy, big dreams.

The Ontraport culture seems to be all about helping their people to succeed.  Lots to learn here.

Don’t miss the Recommended Podcasts of the Week from previous weeks

Future of Work (no. 86) : Primed to Perform -The Science Behind Building a Legendary Workplace Culture.

Hands up who wants a high performing culture?  Yep, thought so.  So tune into this little gem.   And no, it is not going to tell you to copy Google or Facebook’s approach to culture.  How refreshing!

This insightful interview is with Lindsay McGregor who has been involved with 20 years of research to understand what creates a high performing culture.  And it’s a science based on the concept of Total Motivation.

You see, Lindsay and her co-writer Neel Doshi, identified that how well people perform is related to why they work.  There are 6 reasons people go to work.  Three of the reasons  – play, purpose and potential – lead to higher levels of performance.  And three that lead to low levels of performance – emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia.

What I particularly liked about this interview is that Lindsay identifies how these are relevant to all industries.  You don’t think you can have ‘play’ in your work if you work on a factory line or a supermarket?  Well listen in – you will be surprised.

TED Radio Hour: Disruptive Leadership

I recently stumbled across this episode on the Ted Radio Hour.  A fascinating insight from leaders, from many walks of life, about what they have learnt about leadership.

Sheryl Sandberg, General Stanley McChrystal, Drew Dudley and Seth Godin talk about learning the hard way, being bossy, how leadership is an everyday act for everyone and what gives people the power to lead.   And Bunker Roy shares how you can learn to be a leader even if you can’t read and write.

That has got be worth an hour of your time, right?  Listen here…

Ted Talk:  Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe by Simon Sinek.

In this Ted talk, Simon Sinek asks what makes people do remarkable things.  Why will some people put others before themselves.

Great leaders make their people feel safe, no matter what is happening around them.  And when people feel safe and protected, they trust and cooperate.  And when that happens people do remarkable things.

How do leaders create that safe environment?  Listen to this Ted talk for a fascinating insight.

Oh if you are not amongst the 26 million people that have seen Simon Sinek’s viral Ted Talk ‘How great leaders inspire action‘, change that today.

Coaching for Leaders (no 241): Turn Followers Into Leaders with David Marquet.

David Marquet, a retired Commander of a US Navy nuclear submarine says that great leaders don’t give orders.  I didn’t expect to hear that from a military man.  He believes that one thing you need to do to build employee engagement is to give your people decision making authority.

And you want to listen to this guy.  He completely turned around the worst performing submarine in the US Navy fleet into something that Stephen Covey (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) called ‘the most empowering organisation he had ever seen’

Some great discussion on this podcast with host Dave Stachowiak about

  • Moving the authority to where the information is
  • How to change your leadership style when you actually like giving orders
  • Measuring your leaders by how a unit or department thrive after they leave
  • How to ‘act your way to new thinking’

It is a really insightful listen – go check it out here

Engaging Leader (no 133) : No Joke: Using Humor for Effective Communications with David Nahill

David Nahill says he was a ‘bumbling, shaking embarassment’ on stage.  But he went from being terrified of public speaking to being a regular on the comedy circuit and winning story telling competitions.  And he did that by spending a year learning from stand up comedians and applying their approach to public speaking.

There are real takeaways from this great interview hosted by Jesse Lahey.  David claims that you don’t have to be funny to apply the key principles of stand up comedy to bring humour to any communication.  Isn’t that the best news ever!

You have NO more excuses!  Listen to this – it is full of great tactics and a lot of humour.  Enjoy!

(By the way, David makes a great point.  The more senior you get, the less likely anyone will tell you your presentation sucked.  Just saying!  Here’s the link again )

Entreleadership (no. 141): Kansas City Royals – Building a Championship Culture

OK, don’t skip this one if you don’t like baseball.  This edition talks about picking talent, getting the best without a huge budget, leading in the tough times, believing in your team.  Everything here is as valid in the corporate world as it is on the sports field.

First up is Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist. He became a superstar with the Kansas City Royals in their World Series winning season.  Ben talks about the importance of striving for excellence even if you know you are not the best in every role.  How you just dig in and do your best even when you get the positions that will never get you individual glory.  He also shares his experience of the culture of a high pressure environment and the leadership style that works.

Next up is Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore, who talks about building a championship culture and team.  Dayton shares his thoughts on the importance of displaying positive traits as a leader.  About being transparent, vulnerable when you mess up and his belief that whoever manages failure best, wins.

Loads of lessons in these great interviews.  Don’t skip them.

Engaging Leader (no 130): The Storyteller’s Secret: Why Some Ideas Catch On And Others Don’t with Carmine Gallo.

Which leaders capture our imagination?  The ones that are great storytellers.  In this podcast, Carmine Gallo talks about how great storytelling can build strong emotional connections that can make change happen.  He refers to speaking greats such as Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg and Steve Jobs but the good news is that he believes great storytellers are not born, they are made.

This is a great listen to learn how the ancient art of storytelling can still have such a profound impact.  And how it can have a significant impact on your day to day activities including recruiting great talent and motivating your teams.

You can listen to the episode, hosted by Jesse Lahey, here.


Entreleadership (no 140): How Southwest Airlines Cultivates Amazing Company Culture – Gary Kelly.

A company that makes decisions based on its core values.  How refreshing! Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines gives a fascinating insight into the choices made for the business over the last fifteen years.  The overwhelming sense is these decisions have been made in line with their values and culture.  They have stayed true to these even when competitors took different paths.  A major part of their culture is putting its employees – or its family as he calls them – first.

I wrote recently about how playing lip service to core values can be toxic to an organisation.   Listen to this interview to hear how a true ‘value-driven organisation’ works.

Coaching for Leaders (no 237): These Coaching Questions Get Results – Michael Bungay Stanier.

Admit it.  Sometimes it is tough to be a leader, isn’t it?  Everyone just expects you to be good at everything.

Take coaching as one example.  Finding the right questions to ask to really help your team member.  Avoiding the temptation to tell them the answers, rather than guiding them to find them for themselves.  It is definitely a skill.

Which is why I like this week’s podcast because it gives simple guidance on the right questions to ask.  Including THE best coaching question ever, according to Michael Bungay Stanier (author of The Coaching Habit – Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way you Lead Forever) – and it only has three words.

Click here to find out more


Ted Talk by Celeste Headlee: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation.

If you could do only one thing with your team members, what should it be?  In my opinion, it is have conversations.  It is simple, and something we do in every area of our lives constantly.

But do we do it well?

This Ted Talk with Celeste Headlee, a radio host of a daily news show, gives rock solid advice on how to have a better conversation.  And we are not talking about the standard ‘Look the person in the eye and nod’, ‘Repeat back what you have heard’ (she says that there is no reason to learn how to show you are paying attention, if you are, in fact, paying attention)

This talk is full of some real gems on how to have more conversations where you feel inspired and engaged.  The ones you feel you have made a real connection with the other person

So take Celeste’s advice

“Keep your mouth shut, your mind open and be prepared to be amazed”

I have veered away from the normal podcast format with this one (I know, video and audio – I am really spoiling you!) so you may not find this on your usual podcast channels.  Just use the link above.

Future of Work (no 70): How AirBnB Creates Amazing Employee Experiences.

AirBnB is the company that has caused the biggest disruption to the travel industry in years.  Therefore it is not surprising that they have some innovative ways to work with their employees.

Lots to learn from this great episode.  The fact that their whole approach is around the employee experience is a great start.  This includes everything that impacts the employee – from compensation and benefits all the way through to facilities and the food they eat.

The host, Jacob Morgan, interviews Mark Levy, the Global Head of Employee Experience of AirBnB.  Some great takeaways from performance reviews, global culture, an enviable workspace and believing in ‘freedom as a framework’ from this company that strives to keep a ‘scrappy start up approach’.  It must be going pretty well as they have just won the coveted Glassdoor ‘Best Place to Work’ award.

Definitely worth a listen.  (Scroll down to get to the interview with Mark Levy)

HBR IdeaCast (no 512): The Art of The Interview.

Oh boy – this one is full of goodness.  If you are currently hiring for a new team member, take 25 minutes to listen to this.

There is lots of advice out there about interviewing to find the right person for your business. Sarah Green Carmichael takes a really interesting approach to the topic.  She interviews Cal Fussman, a hugely experienced journalist who has interviewed the likes of Mikhal Gorbachev, Richard Branson and Robert De Niro.  Sarah explores what can be learnt from world of journalism and applied to job interviewing to ensure we get to know the real person sitting in front of us.

The interview kicks off with Sarah asking Cal how you get a person to give a real answer; something that is not rehearsed and actually authentic.  And from there Cal delivers one gold nugget after another:

  • Why it is so important to make the interviewee feel safe
  • Why your preparation should include how you will earn trust from your candidate
  • How you won’t get the answers you need from the questions you have prepared
  • How to help candidates forget they are in an interview

There are points here you may not have thought about in terms of finding the authenticity in the person sitting in front of you.  Listen to it here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments

EntreLeaderhip (no 116) : Building the Best Place to Work with Ron Friedman.

Did you know that your brain sabotages you when you are interviewing potential candidates?  What assumptions do you make of candidates that are taller, better looking or have a deeper voice?  This is one of the reasons he prefers job auditions to job interviews (more detail in my blog post here).

Ron talks about the benefits to your business of fostering a culture where people will form good friendships.  How funding activities they want to do together rather than structured ‘team building’ sessions will bring great dividends

Another cracker for you this week.  A short interview with psychologist Ron Friedman at the start of this great podcast but it is packed full of insights.  Listen to it here.

I am also loving Ron’s book The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating and Extraordinary Workplace


The Future of Work (no 63) : Why Culture is the Greatest Competitive Advantage in Business Today.

Do you like to learn from companies that are just doing this stuff right?  Well this one is a corker.  The host, Jacob Morgan, speaks to the Chief People Officer of InfusionSoft about creating a culture that allows people to do their best.  It obviously works. InfusionSoft , a successful software company, not only has a shelf full of awards for being great employers, but also 90% of their employees would recommend them to their friends.

I listen to podcasts when I walk.  I know if a podcast will make it to this recommended podcast list if I have to stop and take notes on my phone as I listen.  I was late home after this episode.

Amongst the many gems in this episode, some key stand out points for me were:

Every quarter, groups of employees join a SWOT analysis session with the leadership team who want to get the input from the front line about what improvements they would make to the business.

They offer new hires $5k to leave at the end of onboarding.  If they choose to stay, they are asked to write down why.

This is not a company that is overflowing with google style employee perks.  They believe the best investment is helping their employees fulfil their potential.  They have a Dream Manager (is that not the best job title ever!).  Hal goes on to explain how, by helping employees achieve goals outside of work, they go on to challenge themselves more in the workplace. 

“We don’t believe in training employees, we believe in developing people” Hal Halladay

You can listen to the podcast here, or download from iTunes etc.  Let me know what your takeaways are in the comments below

The Art of Charm (no 461): Contagious Culture with Anese Cavanaugh.

Building a relationship with your new team member is probably the first thing you should think about.

And it is common knowledge that many people leave their job because of their boss.

But do you think about how your presence impacts the people around you.

This podcast, produced by The Art of Charm, talks to Anese Cavanaugh about how to create the impact you want.

As she says, we all know that person that “Walks into a room and all of a sudden you feel that room become careful. We are talking about that person’s energy, that person’s presence.”

Anese goes on to give great advice about how to deal with these people.

And, most importantly, what to do if that person is you.

As the host says this may be a little ‘woowoo’ for some of you.  But I challenge you to listen to this on your way to work and for it not to impact something you do that day.

Let me know what you think in the comments

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