people

Fusion by Denise Lee Yohn

The Big Idea: The best companies fuse their (external) brand with their (internal) culture into one.

  • Culture is “the way we do things here.”
  • Brand is “how others feel about us.”
  • Herb Kelleher says that culture is the key competitive advantage of Southwest Airlines.
  • Brand-culture fusion improves employee retention, improves employee motivation and productivity, differentiates you in the marketplace, makes your brand more authentic, and improves customer loyalty.
  • First step is to understand your purpose (why we do what we do).
  • Second step is to understand your core values (how we do things around here.)
  • To align your brand and your culture: 1) communicate, communicate, communicate, 2) remember that actions speak louder than words, 3) engage every leader from bottom to top, and 4) get the right people on the bus.
  • Your tools to implement brand-culture culture are: Organizational Design and Operations.
  • Design your organization to cultivate your desired culture. Do this through Structure (org chart), Standards (company-wide rules), and Roles.
  • Operations is “how you run your organization”. Do this through process and workflow design.
  • Put someone in charge of “Employee Experience” (EX), just like you put someone in charge of “Customer Experience”.
  • Design the Employee Experience by paying attention to environment, tools, and intangibles.
  • Continue to make sure the Employee Experience aligns with your desired culture.
  • Design and nurture Rituals and Artifacts that reinforce your culture, your purpose, and your core values.
  • Make your employee handbook compelling and unique to your culture.
  • To engage employees, consider using videos or letters that highlight your brand and reinforce the brand-culture fusion.
  • If you have a stronger culture than brand, consider building your brand on top of your culture. Examples: Unilever and REI have focused on communicating their core values to customers and thereby, building a culture-first brand.

The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway

The Big Idea: In the end, relationships are all that matters.

  • Balance when establishing your career, in my view, is largely a myth. However, you can still experience a lot of reward while working hard on the way to success.
  • The most important decision you’ll make is not where you work or who you party with, but who you choose to partner with for the rest of your life.
  • Get to a place that’s crowded with success.
  • Money can buy happiness, to a point. But once you reach a certain level of economic security, the correlation flattens.
  • Invest in relationships. The payoff, small at first, is immense much later.
  • The definition of “rich” is having passive income greater than your living expenses. Keep your living expenses low and you can be rich quickly.
  • Consumption of alcohol predicts unhappiness better than any other factor.
  • Invest in experiences over things. Drive a Hyundai and take your wife to St. Barts.
  • Providing comfort for someone you love at the end of their life is deeply satisfying.
  • The happiest people are those in monogamous relationships who have children.
  • Everyone experiences failure and tragedy. The key to success is the ability to mourn and then move on.
  • Talent alone won’t get you within spitting distance of 0.1 percent. Hard work is more important.
  • Passion is overrated. Find something you’re good at and passion will follow.
  • It takes much less money than you think to be a great dad. Don’t let your ego mislead you.
  • Boring is more profitable. I try to avoid investing in anything that sounds remotely cool.
  • Help take care of your parents. Start now.
  • Show up early. Have good manners. Follow up.
  • If you’re good at working at a big firm, then you are likely better off doing just that — and not struggling against the long odds facing a small firm.
  • Entrepreneurship is a sales job with negative commissions until you raise capital, are profitable, or go out of business.
  • You don’t need a Nobel to see the similarities between 1999 and 2019.
  • Recessions are great times to launch a company. People, real estate, and services are all much less expensive.
  • Boom times are better times to develop your career at a big firm, when others are leaving to get rich during the boom times.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur or find yourself sitting on assets that represent a large portion of your wealth, I’m comfortable saying that while a bull market may not be the best time to sell, it’s most certainly not a bad time to sell.
  • I’m 80 percent in cash in 2019, which most reasonable financial managers will tell you is stupid.
  • Your gains and losses in the market are never as good or bad as they seem.
  • Take care of your credit score.
  • I’ve started nine companies: three were wins, four were failures, and two were somewhere in between. Only in America.
  • Reach out to friends on a regular basis.
  • Professional success is the means, not the end. The end is economic security for your family and, more important, meaningful relationships with family and friends.
  • My willingness to endure rejection from universities, peers, investors, and women has been hugely rewarding.
  • Love and relationships are the ends — everything else is just the means.
  • The key decision you’ll make in life is who you have kids with.
  • There is one shortcut to happiness: finding someone who chooses you over everything.
  • Here is the advice on marriage I offer: Don’t keep score. Don’t ever let your wife be cold or hungry. Express affection and desire as often as possible.
  • Nobody has an algorithm for successful parenting.
  • Exercise is the only real youth serum .
  • Marketers hate old people. Old people spend their time and money on things that matter, like healthcare, loved ones, and college funds for their grandkids instead of vintage sneakers, iPhones, and Keurig pods.
  • A house isn’t a much better investment than any other asset class.
  • A better proxy for your life isn’t your first home, but your last. Where you draw your last breath is more meaningful.
  • Where you die, and who is around you at the end, is a strong signal of your success or failure in life.
  • I believe parents want two things: 1. To know their family loves them immensely. 2. To recognize that their love and parenting gave their children the skills and confidence to add value and live rewarding lives.
  • I don’t think we go to an afterworld, but I do believe we can get to heaven while still here on Earth.
  • We are hunter-gatherers and are happiest when in motion and surrounded by others.
  • My life is easy compared to the billions of people who have trouble putting food on the table or who struggle with illness.
  • How can you live to be one hundred? Have good genetics, live a healthy lifestyle, and love others.
  • The successful are often rude and greedy. The super-successful people I know are usually nicer, more generous, and generally better mannered.
  • Gratitude is consistently correlated with greater happiness.
  • Nobody ever says at a funeral, “He was too generous, too kind, and much too loving.”

Lead with LUV by Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett

The Big Idea: Show your employees love and they will show your customers love.

Foreward

  • Most people are looking not only for monetary security but also for satisfaction in their work.
  • Southwest’s People have produced an unprecedented and unparalleled record of job security, Customer satisfaction, and Shareholder return.

What Is Leadership?

  • LUV is our symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • “Southwest Airlines, the Someone Else Up There Who LUVs You.”
  • We had a heart on our first signature.
  • You can’t manage a horse to water.
  • We want all our People to realize they have the potential to be a Leader.
  • We try to hire Leaders.
  • All of us can be Leaders, both at work and in our homes and communities.
  • When I think about who influenced my life the most as a Leader, I think of my Mother.

Celebrating Successes

  • We send out thousands of letters every year to our People, celebrating their successes and praising them for their efforts.
  • The Executive Office keeps track of every Employee’s birthday, company anniversary, the birth of children, and other important events.
  • We send out 100,000 cards annually.
  • We just believe in accentuating the positive and celebrating People’s successes.
  • To sustain our Company Culture, we cheer People on all the time.
  • We celebrate everything!
  • Giving People chocolates when something good has happened can make them feel like you’ve given them a million dollars.
  • You are letting them know that you love them for their efforts and you want everybody to celebrate their success.
  • The key to developing people and creating great organizations is to catch people doing things right and accentuate the positive by praising them.
  • Celebrating successes has been a key part of my own leadership for a long time.
  • Don’t praise your People just for showing up; celebrate specific things they have done.
  • Read The One Minute Manager to learn more.
  • People hate waiting until their annual performance review to get all the good news or bad news.
  • “Tough Love” still matters. I had to let a personal staff member go. If she couldn’t find a way to recapture her once-positive attitude and make it work, she needed to leave.
  • Don’t let poor behavior or performance go unnoticed.
  • I prefer praising and celebrating successes to dealing with problems.

Having Mentors

  • As long as you were respectful of others and treated people the way you would like to be treated, you would get that back in kind.
  • My biggest expectation with our People is that they be egalitarian in nature.
  • Everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to the overall success and well-being of the Company.
  • Our mission at Southwest is “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.”
  • Lead with your heart.
  • Herb is really brilliant and incredibly visionary. He would see the vision but he wouldn’t have any idea how many steps you had to take to get there; he would just want it done. I was pragmatic and systematic and quite organized. So that’s how our team, or partnership, started.
  • The first word that comes to mind is family.

Servant Leadership Is Love in Action

  • Love isn’t a word that’s used too often in corporate America.
  • It’s loving your mission, it’s loving your customers, it’s loving your people, and it’s loving yourself enough to get out of the way so other people can be magnificent.
  • Nine times out of ten, if we say that we work at Southwest, people have a story about us, and it’s a good one.
  • There are two kinds of leadership involved in Servant Leadership: strategic leadership and operational leadership.
  • Strategic leadership has to do with vision / direction. It’s the leadership part of Servant Leadership.
  • Leadership is about going somewhere — if you and your people don’t know where you are going, your leadership doesn’t matter.
  • We’ve always tried to make sure everyone knows where we are heading. Then, of course, we had to make it all happen.
  • Operational leadership is about: implementation — the “how” of the organization.
  • It includes policies, procedures, systems, and leader behaviors.

The Triple Bottom Line

  • Our entire philosophy of Leadership is quite simple: Treat your People right, and good things will happen.
  • When we talk to our People, we proudly draw a pyramid on the chalkboard and tell them: You are at the top of the pyramid. You are the most important Person to us. You are our most important Customer in terms of priority.
  • Therefore, I am going to spend 80 percent of my time treating People with Golden Rule behavior and trying to make sure that they have an enjoyable work environment where they feel good about what they do, about themselves, and about their position within this Company.
  • But if I do that, what I want in exchange is for you to do the same thing by offering our Passengers — who are our second Customer in terms of priority — the same kind of warmth, caring, and fun spirit.
  • If you do that consistently, our Passengers will recognize how significantly different this is from the behavior they witness at other businesses, and they will come back for more.
  • If they come back often enough and become loyal Customers, they will tell stories about us to their friends. Then we’ll make money, which keeps your job secure and pleases our third Customer in terms of priority, which is our Shareholder — thus a win-win for all concerned.
  • Three bottom lines: being the employer of choice, the provider of choice, and the investment of choice.
  • Profit shouldn’t be the object of a company, but rather a result of good work.
  • Just like a person can’t survive for long without food and water, a company can’t survive without profits — but no one would ever reduce the purpose and significance of human life to only eating and drinking.
  • Servant Leaders know that financial success is a byproduct of how their people and their customers are treated.
  • Profit is the applause you get for creating a motivating environment for your people and taking care of your customers.
  • Today’s workers generally want more than pay. They seek opportunities where they feel that their contributions are valued and rewarded — where they are involved and empowered, can develop skills, can see advancement opportunities, and can believe they are making a difference.
  • Combined voluntary and involuntary turnover has hovered around 5 percent for the past 25 years, and our voluntary turnover rate has always been 3 percent or less.
  • The People of Southwest Airlines are the creators of what we have become.
  • We give our thanks — and our love — to the People of Southwest Airlines for creating a marvelous Family and a wondrous airline!
  • We do think it’s very important to always show a healthy sense of humor. We’ve told new hires the same thing for years — we want them to take our business seriously, but we don’t want them to take themselves too seriously.
  • We often say that other airlines can copy our business plan from top to bottom, but Southwest stands apart from the clones because of our People and how we treat them.
  • Our Culture motivates and sustains us. So, for many of us, being part of our Company is not just a vocation — it’s truly a mission.
  • If you don’t take great care of your customers, somebody else will.
  • We want to create Raving Fans®, not simply satisfied customers.
  • The publicity we get from stories our Raving Fan Customers share about how our Employees treat them is more valuable and revenue-generating than advertising.
  • Our Flight Crews are always thinking of creative ways to make flights interesting and fun for our Passengers.
  • Let’s look at costs first, because in today’s competitive environment, the prize goes to those who can do more with less.
  • Downsizing is an energy drain, and it’s by no means the only way to manage costs. We started with a pared-down, efficient organization and have stayed that way, so downsizing has not been a big issue.
  • Treat your People as your business partners when it comes to managing costs.
  • If you keep your people well informed and let them use their brains, you’ll be amazed at how they can help manage costs.
  • One of our Flight Attendants suggested we take our logo off our trash bags, which had been color printed — this saved us about $ 100,000 a year.
  • Our Flight Attendants also noticed how many fresh lemons were going to waste on every flight because very few Passengers asked for them, so we eliminated lemons and have saved a lot of money that way.
  • Listen to suggestions from Employees.
  • Many revenue-generating ideas including our Early Bird fare, our Bags Fly Free program, our PAWS (Pets Are Welcome on Southwest) program, and our “cashless cabin” policy come from Employees.
  • Our union folks participate in everything we do; their Leaders are involved in all major decision making. As business partners, we are on the same side of the table.

Citizen of Choice

  • We are not only concerned about our People, our Customers, and our financial well-being, but also about how we give back to the community.

A Compelling Vision

  • Having some clarity about a compelling vision is crucial.
  • Three key elements of a compelling vision: 1) Significant purpose — What business are you in? 2) Picture of the future — What will the future look like if you are successful? 3) Clear values — What guides your behavior and decisions on a daily basis?
  • A Compelling Vision Tells You Who You Are (Your Purpose), Where You Are Going (Your Picture of the Future), And What Will Guide Your Journey (Your Values).
  • 1) I think a higher purpose is something that takes precedence over any short-term goal like profit.
  • We’re in the Customer Service business — we just happen to provide airline transportation.
  • 2) The second element of a compelling vision is having a picture of the future.
  • Our picture of the future is that every American has the “Freedom to Fly.”
  • To make that happen, we want to keep our costs low (resulting in low fares) while maintaining an efficient, reliable way to fly. We also want people to enjoy flying, so we want to keep our spirits high (warm, friendly, and fun-spirited Employees), which all amounts to Legendary Customer Service.
  • When we were just starting out, we wanted to “democratize the skies.”
  • Bill Gates wanted to democratize the computer industry!
  • It started with Herb and Colleen . . . and Gary Kelly now — they care for their Employees. They genuinely care for us.
  • 3) The third and final element of a compelling vision: having clear, guiding values.
  • People can’t focus on more than three or four values, if those values are to guide their behavior.
  • We have identified three key values: Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitude.
  • You want to be a winner. People don’t want to work for a loser. You want to win at what you set out to do.
  • So it’s a strong competitive spirit, but not in a warlike way.
  • Work hard and play hard.
  • Our second value: a Servant’s Heart. That’s the core of knowing how to lead with love.
  • People need to have a Servant’s Heart — a passion for serving others.
  • Our People enjoy what they do, and they pass that joy onto our Customers.
  • The way you treat Employees and respect them and the way they trust your word and trust you.
  • Our People know that they can expect us to always treat them with respect.
  • Book: A Life of Servant Leadership by Robert K Greenleaf.
  • Don’t ever ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t be willing to do right along with them.
  • Herb sat right there with me until four o’clock in the morning, on the floor, licking envelopes and putting stamps on envelopes.
  • We’re all in it together.
  • Pilots come back and help us pick up trash.
  • The first is to give underperformers a loving reprimand for not living up to our expectations.
  • The second step kicks in: career planning. We let underperformers pursue their career someplace else.
  • One of the important things I’ve learned over the years is that behavior is controlled by its consequences.
  • We want to enjoy our work life as much as we do our home life.
  • We have fun, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, we maintain perspective, we celebrate successes, we enjoy work, and we are passionate Team players.
  • Having fun is part of our Culture.
  • We actually test for a sense of humor when we hire People.
  • We sent a rude customer a note that said, ‘We will miss you.’
  • Once you become legendary in your service, your Customers and fans often exaggerate or even fabricate stories.
  • On Halloween, we dress up in crazy outfits and have a lot of fun.
  • Fun means we enjoy and celebrate life and each other in a laid-back, down-to-earth environment that is welcoming, warm, and enjoyable.
  • We celebrate everything.
  • We have a gazillion Employee recognition programs.
  • Early in our history we occasionally flew on “the other guys ” and we saw that there were no smiles, no warmth, and no enjoyment. It was all very robotic.
  • We made a decision that we didn’t have to be stodgy or stuffy to be a successful business. We didn’t even want to use the word professional.
  • Do you have a few well-established values for your organization or department that guide everyone’s behavior?
  • What business you are in (your purpose) and where you are going (your picture of the future).
  • Disney in entertainment, Nordstrom in retail, Chick-fil-A in quick-service restaurants, Ritz-Carlton in hospitality, Wegman’s in the grocery business, WD-40 in the “squeak and clean” business, Synovus in financial services and, of course, Southwest Airlines in the airline business.

What Makes Servant Leadership Work?

  • Vision and direction are the leadership part of Servant Leadership.
  • When it comes to vision, values, and direction, you have to say it over and over and over again until people get it right, right, right!
  • Servant Leaders feel their role is to help people achieve their goals.
  • Leaders serve and are responsive to people’s needs, training and developing them.
  • As a customer, you can always identify a self-serving bureaucracy when you have a problem and are confronted by ducks who quack, “It’s our policy! Quack! Quack! Quack!”
  • We empower our People to use common sense and good judgment. Yes, we have written rules and procedures, and you can go look at them, but I say to our folks every day, “The rules are guidelines. I can’t sit in Dallas, Texas, and write a rule for every single scenario you’re going to run into.
  • Our folks are marvelous about handling all kinds of situations with our Customers.
  • Servant Leadership and empowering your People is not soft management. It is management that not only gets great results but generates great human satisfaction for both our Employees and our Customers.

Defining Love

  • He identifies nine components of love: patience, kindness, generosity, courtesy, humility, unselfishness, good temper, guilelessness, and sincerity.
  • I think when you’re vulnerable, People realize that you, too, are human.
  • I loved the book The Power of Positive Thinking.
  • The second trait that Jim Collins identified to describe great leaders, after will, which we mentioned earlier, was humility.
  • People who are humble feel good about themselves. They have a solid self-esteem.

Maintaining a Strong Culture

  • Our reputation as a family-oriented Company is real.

Jason Fried, Why 40 Hours is Enough

The Big Idea: focus on profit not revenue; meetings interrupt deep work; remote work leads to deep work and attracts top talent.

  1. Think of your company as the primary product that you are building. What are the features and benefits of your company? What areas of the company need improvement?
  2. Think about how the company is built early on, because, later, it’s much harder to fix.
  3. Focus on profit. If you’re profitable, you can stay in business forever. Companies that raise and spend money learn to become good at raising and spending money.
  4. 40 hours a week is plenty of time to do great work. Learn how to eliminate time-wasters.
  5. No meetings. Instead discuss things online and asynchronously, so that people can engage when they are ready.
  6. No conversations allowed in open office spaces.
  7. Turn off notifications to let people concentrate.
  8. No real-time chat, with some exceptions.
  9. Build a remote work company if you really want to hire the best people in the world. Not just in your city.

Dream Teams by Shane Snow

THE BIG IDEA: To build a dream team, find independent thinkers from diverse backgrounds. Then ensure there is just enough tension to generate creative solutions but not so much tension that the team is dysfunctional.

INTRO

  • Between 1960 and 1990 , the Soviet national hockey team won nearly every international match it played. It was one of the best sports teams of all time. The same Soviet players underperformed when split up in the NHL. Then Detroit Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman reunited them and they won the Stanley Cup again.
  • Research shows, that for some tasks, individuals always outperform teams. But for hard things in work and life, for thing that require creativity and innovation, teams are required. 
  • Humans are built for collaboration. There’s science behind this kind of magic that results in magical teamwork.

CH 1: BUDDY COPS AND MOUNTAINTOPS

  • The Pinkerton detective agency foiled a plot to assassinate Lincoln. A female detective Kate Karne provided the insight needed to save Lincoln. 
  • Adding women to law enforcement improves performance not because they are smarter but because they add a different perspective that forces others to think differently.
  • These two parts of our mental tool kit — perspective and heuristics — go hand in hand. Our teammate’s diverse heuristic allowed him to find a better solution .
  • If you want innovation, put people with different specialties together. It helps prevent groupthink. 
  • Dr. Scott Page, professor of “complex systems” says teams with diverse mental tool kits consistently outperform groups of “the best and the brightest.”
  • Cognitive diversity is a key element of teams that exceed the sums of their parts.
  • Routine problems don’t require much cognitive diversity, while novel problems benefit from it greatly.
  • The more diverse the thinkers in a company’s higher ranks, especially its boardroom, the better a company performs.
  • Cities with more immigrants from different parts of the world tend to produce more patents.
  • This runs counter to the advice that we tend to get in many of our organizations. “Get more people like that on the bus!” “Let’s double down on our strengths!” “She’s not a culture fit!”

CH 2: TROUBLE IN SHAOLIN

  • The merger of Daimler and Chrysler failed because they couldn’t resolve organizational cultural differences.
  • Hip-hop was found on battles (rap battles) but Wu-Tang Clan was able to use friction to drive creativity and change music history.
  • The Tension Zone is the zone in which there is enough tension to drive innovation but not enough tension to explode. 
  • The Wright brothers would resolve arguments by taking turns arguing both sides. This helped decouple arguments from ego.
  • Couples that know how to argue last the longest.
  • Businesses that rank high in “innovation”—the ones that grow quickly and produce game-changing products and services—tend to encourage the airing and clashing of diverse viewpoints. Not just having differences, but speaking up.
  • Companies that don’t innovate tend to make people follow a single, “approved” way of thinking.
  • “Having a manager who ignores you is even more detrimental than having a manager who primarily focuses on your weaknesses.”
  • When steel rubs against steel, it makes both blades sharper.

CH 3: THE MAGIC CIRCLE

  • Argentina has one of the largest populations of Jews in the world. They are well-known for being friendly to Jews. Why? Because the culture encourages everyone to play soccer together. 
  • Playing together resolves tension, breaks down barriers, and builds friendships.
  • You can learn more about someone in an hour of play than in a year of talk.
  • RZA’s rap battles were actually a kind of game that helped dissolve tension and keep driving creativity. 

CH 4: ANGELIC TROUBLEMAKERS

  • Picasso’s most productive years as a painter was when he was living with a girlfriend who pushed him out of his comfort zone.
  • Cognitive entrenchment is when our brains become inflexible because of certain habits and heuristics. These habits and heuristics that are useful in prior situations are no longer useful. 
  • The longer people work together, the more similar their work styles tend to become. The business world often calls them “best practices,” but psychologists correctly call them “groupthink.” If we’re not aware of them, they can stifle innovation and peak performance.
  • In Dream Teams, there is often a teammate who can give us a nudge away from groupthink. 
  • For developing new insights, it’s often more helpful to study the extremes (outliers) instead of studying the typical (focus groups.) Eg. Dominatrix-for-hire and comfortable shoes. (Tim Ferriss: but ignore those who are an outlier bc of natural ability or a head start.) 
  • Dr. Charlan Nemeth of UC Berkeley spent her career studying the science of human influence. Having a naysayer in the group made the rest of the group think harder. Dissenters stimulate the kinds of thought processes that lead to progress.

CH 5: THE BLACK SQUARE

  • Sometimes bad ideas can be useful because a bad idea can be very good at pointing us in a new direction.
  • Eg. International Dome Symposium in Winooski, the painting The Black Square in Moscow
  • Provocation spurs us to action.
  • Cognitive expansion happens when we add cognitively diverse people to our team and pay attention to them.
  • Dissent helps groups think harder about problems together.
  • Many of our most successful modern companies — from Apple to Airbnb — seemed like bad ideas in the beginning.

CH 6: WELCOME TO PIRATELAND

  • Shared values are long-term. Shared goals are short-term. 
  • Companies who talk about shared values a lot will tend to unify their people quickly and effectively. They have low turnover and relatively stable businesses.
  • Values that are too strict and cult-like will tend to stifle dissent, stifle innovation, and stagnate a company.
  • Some organizations try to combat stifling values by making “creativity” and “experimentation” values themselves.
  • Superordinate goals can get different people to work together. Play and humor can depressurize groups that have too much tension between them.
  • Values are not created equal.  Values that help us include different kinds of people and ideas are the kinds of values we want our teams to share.
  • Eg. Battle of New Orleans, Rattlers vs Eagles, Built to Last companies.

CH 7: WHEN MALCOLM CHANGED HIS MIND

  • People who are open-minded are more likely to consider creative solutions and to innovate.
  • What does it take for humans to become open-minded?
  • The answer is something psychologists call “intellectual humility.”
  • How do you increase open-minded and intellectual humility?
  • People who travel become better at  “idea flexibility” or being able to solve problems. They are more open-minded.
  • People who actually live in foreign places are even more likely to have high intellectual humility than those who just visit.
  • Dr. Galinsky and his colleagues found that graduate students who had lived abroad were more likely to consider out-of-the-box solutions to problems in group projects.
  • Neuroscientists find that multilingual people’s brains do look physically different. 
  • Eg. Malcolm X’s transformation after his pilgimage to Mecca.
  • Eg. Saul the Christian persecutor became Paul the Christian apostle.

CH 8: OXYTOCIN, A LOVE STORY

  • Stories have power. Stories can activate oxytocin and empathy, or they can turn on primal fear .
  • Stories Asians told others about themselves helped change their position in America. Eg. George Takei and Bruce Lee.
  • Stories Hollywood told about gays generated oxytocin + empathy and helped increase acceptance of gays in America.
  • Anytime people experience character-driven stories, their brains pump out more oxytocin .
  • Positive social encounters release oxytocin — things like hugs , acts of kindness , and emotional stories .
  • Every one of the world’s greatest sports dynasties had something surprising in common: their players, and in particular their team captains, had a whole lot of humility.
  • This isn’t just humility; it’s intellectual humility. It requires being open to and willing to change when change is hard.
  • People who read a book or more per month, the data shows, are significantly more likely to be have intellectual humility. 
  • Readers experience more stories, have more empathy, and are more open-minded and have more intellectually humility. 

DREAM TEAMS CHEAT SHEET

  • Recruit for “culture add” not “culture fit.”
  • Recruit for ability to elevate team, rather than for individual stats.
  • Determine team members’ dimensions of internal and external differences that could lead to productive tension and innovation. 
  • Make sure everyone on the team knows each other’s “superpowers” or unique abilities.
  • Use play and humor to depressurize group tension.
  • Give explicit permission (or even rewards) for dissent and productive criticism.
  • Have team members get to know each other’s stories.
  • Debate instead of brainstorm; when necessary, switch sides of the debate.
  • Speak candidly.
  • It’s the leader’s job to make sure tension does not get personal.
  • Seek diverse sources of information.
  • Develop and prioritize curiosity.
  • Pay attention to outsiders, weirdos, and far-out ideas.
  • When possible, rally teams around superordinate goals.
  • Celebrate the uniqueness of the subgroups within the organization.
  • Allow subgroup members to have their own values.
  • Create unique rituals that the organization can do together to bond.
  • Spend significant time immersing yourself in places with cultures different.
  • Learn a language.
  • Read more books. 

Great People Decisions by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz

The Big Idea: 1) IQ matters but the best predictor of success is relevant experience plus high emotional intelligence (EQ). 2) Interview 20 individuals before selecting finalists. 3) The preferred strategy for sourcing is to contact people who may know the best candidates.

INTRODUCTION

  • Organizations are all about people.
  • People are the problem, but they are also the solution.
  • Making great people decisions is vitally important to your organization.


CHAPTER ONE – Great People Decisions: A Resource for You

  • As an individual, people decisions are also the single most important contributor to your career success. Once you become a manager, you start working through others. 
  • As a CEO or chairman, people decisions are both your highest challenge and your biggest opportunity.
  • Great management, according to Marcus Buckingham, is to first hire great people, then to assign the right person to the right job.
  • The first step in any hiring decision is to think very carefully about what you really need. Outside of work, you should also choose nannies and gardeners just as systematically.
  • According to some studies, the best interviewers had predictive validities 10 times better than the worst interviewers. So some people are better at evaluating talent. 
  • Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan say “having the right people in the right place is the job no leader should delegate.”
  • When hiring, figure out what are the key indicators of a successful hire, assign appropriate weight to those different dimensions. 
  • Managers can definitely improving their hiring success. A few basic concepts about people assessment allows managers to become much better at hiring. These are learnable skills .
  • Hiring is an area where very few business executives get any formal training at all. You don’t necessarily learn from your experiences, sometimes, because there is a lack of immediate and clear feedback on your people decisions.
  • In addition to career success, better hiring decisions will increase your personal happiness. Your work relationships and your professional satisfaction impacts your personal happiness.


CHAPTER TWO – Great People Decisions: A Resource for Your Organization

  • According to Built to Last, greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline. 
  • According to Jim Collins, outstanding leadership and the ability to build superior executive teams were the two essential and foundational prerequisites for remarkable, long-lasting corporate excellence.
  • First, get the right people on the bus.
  • The choice of CEO has an impact on profitability as big as the choice of industry. 
  • In The War for Talent, people choices are a key driver of organizational performance.
  • According to McKinsey, poor performance was often caused by the wrong people at the top.
  • According to Jack Welch, “you can have all the greatest strategies in the world, but they aren’t worth much without the right people.”
  • GE has been an outstanding breeding ground for great leaders. GE’ most important product was not light bulbs or transformers, but managerial talent .


CHAPTER THREE – Why Great People Decisions Are So Hard

  • The best organizations in the world made all sorts of mistakes when it came to people decisions. 
  • 4 Hiring Traps
  • 1. The odds are against you. There are only a small number of exceptional performers
  • 2. Assessing people for complex positions is inherently difficult. Many knowledge worker jobs are truly unique. Requirements and priorities can rapidly shift. Intangible traits are much harder to evaluate. Many top candidates have no tolerance for any kind of thorough evaluation. 
  • 3. Powerful psychological biases impair the quality of the decision-making process. We tend to procrastinate about our people decisions. We tend to overrate a person’s capabilities. Individuals also tent to overrate our own capabilities and skills. Motivation does not equal skill. We tend to overweigh first impressions and make snap judgments based on criteria not related to abilities. We tend to overrate a candidate based on a company reputation from their resume. We tend to overweight an individual’s abilities and underweight the situation they worked in. We tend to seek out confirmatory information and avoid disconfirmatory information. We tend to hire someone based on familiarity. The most important step for avoiding these biases is awareness. 
  • 4. Misplaced incentives and conflicts of interest can easily sabotage these decisions. Keep an eye out for candidates who feel like a position is the perfect fit for them based they want (or need) the job. Such a candidate is likely to exaggerate their capabilities and resume. Also keep an eye out for nepotism and cronyism during the hiring process.


CHAPTER FOUR – Knowing When a Change Is Needed

  • Human nature inclines us to procrastinate in our people decisions, so few executives have a succession plan.
  • Five Discontinuity Scenarios That May Require Change in Leadership
  • 1.Launching New Businesses
  • When the launch of a new venture calls for a people change, both types of candidates — internal and external — should be properly considered. 
  • 2.Doing Mergers and Acquisitions
  • 3.Developing and Implementing New Strategies
  • When you change strategies, you very often have to change horses. Jim Collins’s Good to Great says “First Who . . . Then What. They first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats — and then they figured out where to drive it . ”
  • 4.Dealing with Performance Problems
  • Fundamental attribution error: sometimes the situation is the cause, not the leader.  Are you experiencing a bumpy ride? Is it your car? Or is it the road?
  • 5.Coping with Growth and Success
  • Leaders mush manage the present and anticipate the future. 
  • Powerful forces that tend to work against change. 1) The universal human impulse to prefer short-term comfort over uncertain, but possibly better, future. 2) Culture in which personal relationships trump the rules. 3) People underreact when things are tranquil and overreact when there is chaos. 
  • Jack Welch says candor is very hard to achieve and even runs up against human nature. 
  • Howard Stevenson says the most common mistake: you never fire people early enough.
  • If you as a boss are “ loyal ” to an incompetent employee, that makes you appear less honest and therefore costs you more than it gains. 
  • We tend to escalate our commitments and try to hang on, despite clear signs that it is time to bail. 
  • Jim Collins on how “good to great” companies decide who should get off the bus, and how: they apply exacting standards at all times and at all levels. They are rigorous, not ruthless.


CHAPTER FIVE – What to Look For

  • What is the best predictor of a person’s success in a job?
  • First of all, the ideal candidate doesn’t exist. 
  • So you want to understand which strengths are critically important and which weaknesses aren’t fatal.
  • Does IQ matter? Yes, but it’s not usually the critical factor. It matters most when you hire someone with no previous experience in the job
  • Does experience matter? Yes, experience matters a lot .
  • Does personality matter? Personality is too subjective. Personality tests are not particularly valid and any conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Emotional intelligence, in business where we depend on others, could be more important to personal success than IQ .
  • Actual job-related behaviors were the best indicators of potential success.
  • Richard Boyatzis published The Competent Manager to describe competencies and job performance.
  • First, a distinctive set of competencies is required for every job and for every company.
  • Second, the list of typical key competencies for managers and senior executives tends to be short.
  • Egon Zehnder identifies four key competencies for successful managers. 
  • 1. Successful managers need to have a strong “results orientation” (i.e., be focused on improving the results of the business).
  • 2. Successful managers know how to focus, align, and build effective groups.
  • 3. Successful managers how know to work with peers and partners they have no direct authority over. 
  • 4. Successful manager have a “strategic orientation” that enables them to think Big Picture.
  • The candidates who were most likely to be extremely successful combine relevant experience plus high emotional intelligence (EI).
  • Lack of EI is very highly correlated with failure.
  • What is Emotional Intelligence? a. self – awareness  b. self – management c. social awareness d. social skills 
  • How are emotional intelligence competencies measured ?
  • Observations, particularly 360° assessments.
  • The effects of conventional management training seem to vanish within a few months.
  • Emotional intelligence can be developed, but this will not happen in traditional developmental programs. First, managers must want to change. Then there must be a realistic learning agenda and the opportunity to practice the competencies. It requires a significant personal effort and time.
  • One of the things that you should be looking for when making people decisions is potential. What is potential? Ambition + ability to learn from experience.
  • What is ambition? Need for achievement + need for affiliation + need for power .
  • Should you be looking at values when evaluating someone? Yes. Should you aim to develop those values? No.
  • The right people share the core values of an organization. A company can teach skills, but not character. You’re better off finding someone who’s already on board with your values ,
  • What about the concept of teams? Performance depends on good team work. Effective teams easily outperform individual stars. Aim for competency diversity in your teams.
  • Summary a. Never compromise on values. b. IQ is indeed important.  c. EQ – based competencies are absolutely essential. d. Hire individuals with high potential. e. For very senior positions, experience assumes more importance. 
  • Avoid the trap of thinking that any single candidate will have every quality.


CHAPTER SIX – Where to Look: Inside and Out

  • When is it better to go for outsiders versus insiders?
  • Statistically, promoting an insider doesn’t have a significant impact on company performance. 
  • Outsiders add great value when the predecessor was fired and change is needed. Outsiders destroy value when the succession is natural (retirement.)
  • When promoting an insider, always make sure that the person you are promoting has the necessary capabilities. Insiders tend to get scrutinized less carefully than outsiders.
  • Large companies skilled at developing internal people, such as GE, will quite likely have the best candidates within. 
  • Always better to consider both internal and external candidates for a search .
  • Companies underinvest significantly in the generation of potential candidates.
  • How do you know when to stop looking ?
  • Statisticians have demonstrated that in such a situation , the best strategy is the “37 Percent Rule .” You would need to interview and pass on at least 37 people women (on a base of 100) and hire the next person who is more qualified than the best from the 37.
  • It’s more practical to reduce this rule from 37 to 12. 
  • Because candidates are also evaluating you, statistics says to interview 20 individuals before setting your aspiration level.
  • Remember to look internally, scrutinize insiders just as carefully, and invest time building an internal talent pipeline.
  • How do people find jobs?
  • Personal contacts were the predominant method of finding out about jobs. Weak ties were the key, so develop a good personal network.
  • Job postings have serious limitations. It is hard to get the attention of the best candidates. The pool of respondents is typically very large, but of very limited quality.
  • The preferred strategy for sourcing is not to think about candidates, but to think about people who may know the best candidates. It makes much more sense to drum up people who are likely to know of several high-quality candidates right off the bat.


CHAPTER SEVEN – How to Appraise People

  • Investing time, effort, and money in better assessments is your largest opportunity for making great people decisions.
  • The best tradeoff for the candidate and the company is a combination of effective interviews and reference checks.
  • There is always some analysis of a resume, however, the vast majority of resumes are misleading.
  • Reference checks are typically used in practice to eliminate candidates.
  • Interviewing can be improved by the use of the situational interview and the behavioral interview.
  • Untrained interviewers make snap judgments and then look for evidence to support those judgments.
  • Most interviews are ineffective at best, highly unstructured, with the interviewer doing most of the talking.
  • The key to effective interviewing is first identifying the critical competencies, for this particular position, and describing them in behavioral terms. 
  • Past behaviors are the best basis for predicting future behavior.
  • If you focus only on the critical competencies, you will achieve much better assessments and much more powerful people decisions , and do less work in the process.
  • In short, research confirms that identifying the relevant competencies for a job, and assessing them through effective interviews, is an extremely valid and powerful way to predict outstanding performance.
  • There are two distinct approaches to the structured interview: behavioral questions (past behavior) and situational questions (hypothetical behavior). I prefer behavioral questions.
  • Effective interviewing requires significant preparation. Your questions should be focused on behaviors, and should be followed up with significant probing to understand what was the candidate’s exact role, and what were the consequences of his or her actions.
  • Interviewing skills can be learned through role-playing, often videotaped, training sessions.
  • Proper reference checks are an essential condition for success in any assessment.
  • When I asked Jack Welch how he really found out about a person. He told me that he never trusted the references given by the candidate. 
  • Weeding out the outright fakes is entry-level reference checking. Second level involves finding people who can confirm that your candidate’s self-reported achievements are real. A third type of reference helps you hone in on competence and potential.
  • A former boss would tend to be very good for assessing things like results orientation and strategic orientation. A peer would be well positioned to assess collaboration and influencing skills. Direct reports could comment on the candidate’s competence in the areas of team leadership.
  • Some interviewers are better than others. The best interviewers had predictive validities 10 times bette. R
  • Instead of a panel interview, have more than one highly effective interviewers independently in the finalist.
  • Team interviews can be more effective for higher-level positions, more complex jobs. They also reduce the duplication and exhaustion of back-to-back interviews.
  • When the final decision approaches, strict discipline becomes absolutely crucial. All too often, expediency intervenes, discipline breaks down , and terrible people mistakes are made. “Discipline” means reviewing, once again, the performance expectations, and reviewing the evidence
  • Once you become more experienced you can listen more to your own intuition. Until then, you should question your intuition frequently.
  • Developing your assessment skills will be key for your career success and for your company’s success.
  • Invest in good interview training.
  • Review the recruitment and interview process. 
  • Remember to review people decisions again, one or two years down the road.
  • Be willing to undo a bad decision .


CHAPTER EIGHT – How to Attract and Motivate the Best People

  • The first critical step of selling a job is understanding the main motives and the primary concerns of the candidates.
  • Anyone can hire average people. Hiring the best people, especially those who aren’t looking for a job, demands your best.
  • Take time to understand the candidates and their motivations. Address your concerns. Share your passion about your company, your projects, and the job you are offering.
  • Make sure that your compensation packages are aligned with your retention priorities. 
  • The evidence about the inherent power of “pay for performance” is surprisingly inconclusive.
  • A reasonably high level of total compensation is needed to attract the best .
  • Balance long-term with short-term incentives. Long-term incentive should be along the lines of restricted shares rather than stock options (which have strong upside but limited downside.) Short-term incentives might be a yearly bonus.
  • Most complex jobs require collaboration, and therefore individual incentives can be extremely negative.
  • Avoid the “golden parachute,” which creates a perverse incentive to promote conflict and get fired.
  • The signing bonus is nearly as bad , because it pays reluctant candidates to suspend their judgment about the job to earn the signing bonus.
  • What candidates look for, first and foremost, is not more money, but a job where they can do their best, with a challenge that perfectly matches their skill level, in a place where they will grow and develop, in an organization they like, with a good boss and a great group of peers.
  • You want the right candidate, one who really cares about the job and the organization.
  • If you have the right people, they will do everything in their power to make the company great. —Jim Collins
  • When working with an executive search firm, a fixed flat fee and a retainer arrangement can sidestep all of these fee-related structural problems . It can reinforce personal trust with structural integrity.


CHAPTER NINE – How to Integrate the Best People

  • Bringing a spacecraft safely back to Earth is similar to integrating a successful candidate into a new job.
  • External candidates are usually expected to hit the ground running and also often have a compensation package that creates jealousy and resentment.
  • The Dynamics of Taking Charge by John J . Gabarro is the best book ever written on the integration of new managers.
  • Integration is hard. Integration takes time. If managers act too quickly, they may do so based on the wrong diagnosis, and fail. If they take too long, they will frustrate the organization.
  • The manager most likely to fail at integration is the “Lone Ranger,” who can’t involve others in the learning and action stages. So, hire emotionally and socially intelligent managers who can get others to help them in the diagnostic phase. 
  • To avoid integration failures: be aware of the common traps, prepare the manager, and follow up closely. 
  • When it’s clear the integration isn’t working, pull the plug. This is never easy.
  • New managers should always have a sponsor, a champion. The power of “personal touch” can’t be overemphasized. There’s simply no substitute for one-on-one sessions .


CHAPTER TEN – The Bigger Picture

  • Just like hiring and promoting, delegating more often and more effectively improves your organization’s results, and helps ensure your own career success.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and DHH

The Big Idea: choose to have a calm, profitable, healthy workplace. 

  • Why is work so crazy? Physical and virtual distractions at work. And an unhealthy obsession with growth.
  • Sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honor, it’s a mark of stupidity.
  • How many hours at the office are really spent on work itself?
  • The answer isn’t more hours, it’s less bullshit. Less waste, not more production. Fewer distractions and less stress.
  • It’s time to give people the uninterrupted time that great work demands.
  • Basecamp has been profitable every year. Profitability alleviates stress.
  • Where does our money come from? Customers, not venture capital.
  • We don’t have a single employee in the Valley.
  • We put in about 40 hours a week most of the year and just 32 in the summer.
  • On balance we’re calm — by choice, by practice. We’re intentional about it.
  • Protect people’s time and attention.
  • 40 hours of work per week.
  • Ample time off.
  • Meetings are a last resort.
  • Asynchronous communication first, real-time communication only when necessary.
  • Sustainable practices for the long term.
  • Focus on profitability.
  • When you realize the way you work is malleable, you can start molding something new, something better.
  • We didn’t just assume asynchronous communication. We tested out everything and figured it out.
  • We found that paying for people’s vacations was better than cash bonuses.
  • Hustlemania has captured a monopoly on entrepreneurial inspiration.
  • You’re not very likely to find that key insight or breakthrough idea north of the 14th hour in the day.
  • Improve iteratively and continuously. Fewer explosions and more laying of bricks and applying another layer of paint.
  • Put in a good day’s work, day after day, but no heroics.
  • The business world is obsessed with fighting, winning, dominating, and destroying. But there is another way.
  • Do we have enough customers paying us enough money to cover our costs and generate a profit? Good. Then we’re successful.
  • What matters is that we have a healthy business with sound economics that work for us. Costs under control, profitable sales.
  • We’re serving our customers well, and they’re serving us well. That’s what matters. And just for the customers, we’ve invested in many softwares like CRM that help us in managing customers and have been trying to follow whatever Salesforce has professed.
  • “Comparison is the death of joy.” —Mark Twain
  • There’s no chasing others at Basecamp, just deep work and keeping customers happy.
  • We don’t do goals.
  • We don’t mind leaving some money on the table and we don’t need to squeeze every drop out of the lemon. Do we want to maximize value through constantly chasing goals? No thanks.
  • We are working on building a long-lasting sustainable business with happy employees.
  • How about something really audacious? No targets, no goals. And if you must have a goal, how about just staying in business? Or serving your customers well? Or being a delightful place to work?
  • Everyone wants to be a disrupter these days. If you stop thinking you must change the world, you lift a tremendous burden of yourself and your team. 9pm. meetings and weekend sprints are not as necessary.
  • “NO PAIN, NO GAIN!” looks good on a poster at the gym, but real life is not like the gym.
  • Most of the time, if you’re uncomfortable with something, it’s because it isn’t right. Listen to your discomfort. It was the discomfort of knowing two people doing the same work at the same level were being paid differently that led us to reform our payment structure.
  • It was discomfort working at companies that had taken large amounts of venture capital that led us to pursue a path of profitable independence.
  • Working 40 hours a week is plenty. During the summer, we even take Fridays off. If you can’t fit everything you want to do within 40 hours per week, you need to get better at prioritizing and focusing, instead of working longer hours .
  • Cut out what’s unnecessary.
  • Protect what’s both most vulnerable and most precious: your employees’ time.
  • Eight people in a room for an hour doesn’t cost one hour, it costs eight hours. Plus the cost of the interruption in concentration.
  • Instead of update meetings, we ask people to write updates daily, when they have a free moment. Others can read them when they have a free moment.
  • 60 minutes isn’t really an hour if it’s broken up into four 15 minute blocks.
  • Productivity is for machines, not for people. We believe in effectiveness .
  • Stop equating work ethic with excessive work hours.
  • Work doesn’t happen at work because of all the interruptions. To facilitate collaboration, we borrowed an idea from academia and have people schedule office hours. People are welcome to stop by and discuss work during office hours.
  • The shared work calendar is one of the most destructive inventions of modern times. Taking someone’s time should not be easy.  Meetings should be a last resort, especially big ones.
  • We don’t require anyone to broadcast their whereabouts or availability at Basecamp. Hours worked and butts in seats don’t matter; only actual work matters. The only way to know if work is getting done is by looking at the actual work. That’s the boss’s job.
  • We don’t require anyone to broadcast their availability and we reject the proliferation of chat tools invading the workplace. Know how to reach someone in an emergency but also recognize there are very few actual emergencies.
  • The expectation of an immediate response is the ember that ignites so many fires at work. Create a culture of eventual response rather than immediate response.
  • Instead depending on chat to stay caught up on work, catch up on what happened today as a single summary email. We also write monthly updates called “Heartbeats.”
  • We do care and we do help. But a family we are not. A family sacrifices everything for each other. We’re people who work together to make a product that we are proud of. You don’t have to pretend to be a family to be courteous. Or kind. Or protective.
  • The best companies aren’t families. They’re supporters of families.
  • A leader sets the example that everyone follows. If you value reasonable hours, plentiful rest, and a healthy lifestyle for yourself, then others will follow. If you, as the boss, want employees to take vacations, you have to take a vacation. Workaholism is a contagious disease.
  • The trust battery between the two of you is either charged or discharged, based on things like whether you deliver on what you promise.” A low trust battery is at the core of many personal disputes at work.
  • What the boss most needs to hear is where they and the organization are falling short. The boss needs to ask: “What can we do even better?” “What’s something nobody dares to talk about?” “Are you afraid of anything at work?” “Is there anything you worked on recently that you wish you could do over?” “What do you think we could have done differently to help Jane succeed?” “What advice would you give before we start on the big website redesign project?”
  • The CEO is usually the last to know how things are really going.
  • There’s no such thing as a casual suggestion when it comes from the owner of the business.
  • On low-hanging fruit: he further away you are from the fruit, the lower it looks. Declaring that an unfamiliar task will yield low-hanging fruit probably means the person doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
  • In the long run, work is not more important than sleep.
  • At most companies, work-life balance is a sham. If work can claim hours after 5:00pm, then life should be able to claim hours before 5:00pm to regain the balance.
  • CVs might as well be tossed in the garbage. Everyone know they are exaggerations. To work at Basecamp, you have to be good people.
  • To evaluate someone, we put a real project in front of the candidates so that they can show us what they can do.
  • Be wary of senior people from large companies. Trying to teach a small company how to act like a big one rarely does anyone any good. Unlearning can be just as hard as having to pick up entirely new skills.
  • But be patient. Unless you hire someone straight out of an identical role at an identical company, they’re highly unlikely to be instantly up to speed and able to deliver right away.
  • Talent isn’t worth fighting over. Someone who’s a superstar at one company often turns out to be completely ineffectual at another, so a superstar somewhere else is not worth fighting for.
  • Talent at Basecamp rarely comes from traditional war zones like San Francisco or New York. More likely, it’s Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Toronto.
  • We look at people’s actual work, not at their diploma or degree.
  • It takes patience to grow and nurture your own talent.
  • Most people just don’t enjoy haggling, so Basecamp has a fixed salary structure. Everyone in the same role at the same level is paid the same.
  • Once every year we review market rates and issue raises automatically.
  • The goal at Basecamp is to pay everyone at the top 10 percent of the market for their role and level.
  • We get the market rates through a variety of salary survey companies.There’s also no penalty for relocating to a cheaper cost-of-living.
  • We don’t pay traditional bonuses, just a generous salary.
  • There are no stock options at Basecamp because we never intend to sell the company.
  • We’ve vowed to distribute 5 percent of the proceeds to all current employees if we ever sell the company.
  • There is profit-sharing. Basecamp distributes 25 percent of growth in profits to employees in that year.
  • Basecamp isn’t a startup. Basecamp is a stable, sustainable, and profitable company.
  • Happiness and productivity are found in working with a stable crew.
  • Free dinners are a hoax. A free dinner for working late sounds more like a bribes than a benefit.
  • We don’t offer gotcha benefits, only relevant “outside the office” benefits. Benefits: fully paid vacations, 3-day weekends all summer, paid sabbaticals, continuing education allowances, charity matching, CSA (community-supported agriculture) shares, one monthly massage, a monthly fitness allowance.
  • Offices should operates by library rules. The office should be quiet and calm. Conversations should be kept to a whisper.
  • The purpose of a vacation is to get away. We used to offer unlimited vacation, but we eventually noticed that people actually ended up taking less time off.
  • When someone leaves, be honest and clear with everyone about what just happened. At Basecamp, an immediate goodbye announcement is sent out companywide.
  • Following group chat at work is like being in an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda. It’s completely exhausting. Chat puts conversations on conveyor belts that are perpetually moving away from you. Chat is great for hashing stuff out quickly.
  • The two rules for chat at Basecamp is “Asynchronous most of the time. Real-time only sometimes.” And if it’s important, slow down and take it offline to think.” Important topics need time.
  • A deadline with a flexible scope will result in a healthy, calm project.
  • When we present work, it’s almost always written up first. Then it’s posted to Basecamp, so people can have time to digest and respond, with a written respond on Basecamp. We don’t want first impressions.
  • Friday is the worst day to release anything.
  • Culture isn’t what you intend it to be. Culture is what culture does. What we do repeatedly hardens into habits and that becomes your culture.
  • Right from the beginning of Basecamp, we insisted on a reasonable workweek. We didn’t pull all-nighters to make impossible deadlines. When calm starts early, calm becomes the habit. If you start crazy , it’ll define you .
  • Today we ship a feature when it’s ready rather than waiting until all features are ready.
  • If every decision has to be made by consensus, you’re in for an endless grind. Someone in charge has to make the final call. Instead, get used to saying “I disagree but let’s commit.” Then move forward.
  • Knowing when to embrace Good Enough is what gives you the opportunity to be truly excellent when you need to be. Separate what really matters from what sort of matters from what doesn’t matter at all. Be clear about what demands excellence.
  • When we spend six weeks on a project, we begin prototyping as soon as we can in those first two weeks. As we pass the mid-point, it’s time to focus in and get narrow. New ideas that arrive too late will just have to wait.
  • “Doing nothing” should always be on the table. It’s too easy to fuck up something that’s working well. “What if we did nothing?”
  • Calm requires getting comfortable with “enough.” If it’s never enough, then it’ll always be crazy at work.
  • Every mature industry is drowning in “best practices.” So much of it is bullshit. There are so many reasons to be skeptical of best practices.
  • Unless you’ve actually done the work, you’re in no position to encode it as a best practice.
  • Many best practices are purely folklore. No one knows where they came from, why they started, and why they continue to be followed.
  • All this isn’t to say that best practices are of no value. Some are helpful to get you going, at which point you can abandon them as you need.
  • You can’t develop a calm culture if you’re constantly fretting about what the best practices. Create your practices and your patterns.
  • “Whatever it takes” is the rallying cry for captains of industry and war generals. Reasonable expectations are out the window when we operate according to “whatever it takes.” There certainly will be rare moments when whatever it takes is truly called for .
  • Rather than demand “whatever it takes,” ask , “what will it take?” Then decides if it’s worth it. Discuss strategy, make tradeoffs, make cuts, or come up with a simpler approach.
  • Too much shit to do is the problem if you’re obsessed with productivity hacks.  The only way to get more done is to have less to do. Saying no is the only way to claw back time.
  • “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all .” — Peter Drucker
  • At Basecamp, we’ve become ruthless about eliminating wasteful tasks.
  • Nearly all product work at Basecamp is done by teams of three people. The team is usually two programmers and one designer. We don’t throw more people at problems, we chop problems down to size. Big teams make things worse all the time.
  • Work expands to fill the time available. Work expands to fill the team available. You can do big things with small teams.
  • Rather than jumping on every new idea right away, we make every idea wait a while. First we finish what we started, then we consider what we want to tackle next. New ideas can wait.
  • Learning to say no is a required skill if you want to be calm.
  • We’ll take a risk, but we won’t put the company at risk.
  • When we make big changes to Basecamp, we give it six months and see how it turned out. We’ll tweak it along the way. We’ll be ready to revert if needed. We prefer managed, calculated risk with a safety rope attached.
  • In the summer, we work 4 day, 32 hour weeks.
  • In the autumn, we pay for a weekly community-supported agriculture share for each employee .
  • Until you’re running a profitable business, you’re slowly (or quickly) running out of business. We focus on keeping out our costs in check.
  • Being profitable means having time to think and space to explore. Being profitable means being in control of your own destiny and schedule.
  • When companies are in the red, employees worry about their jobs. When companies talk about burn rates, two things are burning: money and people.
  • Selling to small businesses and selling to enterprises are two very different approaches requiring two very different kinds of people.
  • Learn to launch. Generally, you just have to ship it. Do your best, believe in the work you’ve done, and ship it. After you ship, you can iterate on real insights and real answers from real customers.
  • We’ve never committed to a product road map. Promises in a product road map pile up like debt. Promises are easy and cheap to make, while actual work is hard and expensive.
  • We’ve been ripped off and cloned a hundred times. We’ve learned you have to move on.
  • People don’t hate all change. What customers and employee don’t like is forced change. We still run three completely different versions of Basecamp, so that customers don’t have to change if they don’t want to.
  • Things get harder as you go, not easier. The easiest day is day one of a new company. As you get bigger, you hire people, there is more competition, and there are increased costs.
  • When it comes to complaints, remember that, mostly, everyone wants to be heard and respected.
  • Companies are culturally and structurally encouraged to get bigger and bigger. But the good old days, the founders miss, are when their business was simpler and smaller.
  • We wonder why didn’t they just grow slower and stay closer to the size they enjoyed the most?
  • Our goal is to maintain a sustainable and manageable size. We still grow, but slowly and in control.
  • We chose calmness, so we cut back on products and features, even when times are great. Cutting back when times are great is the luxury of a calm, profitable, and independent company.
  • A successful business is healthy profits, increased benefits for our employees, and an environment where people can do the best work of their careers.
  • Choose to: protect people’s time.
  • Choose to: work reasonable number of hours.
  • Choose to: relieve people from the conveyor belts of information.
  • Choose to: give employees the focus that their best work requires.
  • Choose: contemplation and consideration prior to communication.
  • Choose to: give endless growth a rest.
  • Choose to: give teams control over what can be reasonably accomplished given the time.
  • Choose to: finish what you started before moving on to the next idea.
  • A calm company is a choice

Rework by Jason Fried

You don’t have to work miserable 60 / 80 / 100 – hour weeks to make it work. You don’t even need an office.

Ignore the real world. It’s a place where new ideas , unfamiliar approaches , and foreign concepts always lose .

Learn from your successes. Failure is not a prerequisite for success.

Long-term business planning is a fantasy. You have to be able to improvise. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t think about the future or contemplate how you might attack upcoming obstacles. That’s a worthwhile exercise. Just don’t feel you need to write it down or obsess about it. Working without a plan may seem scary. But blindly following a plan that has no relationship with reality is even scarier.

Why grow? Why is expansion always the goal? You’ll need a better answer than “economies of scale.” Grow slow and see what feels right. Premature hiring is the death of many companies. Once you get big, it’s really hard to shrink without firing people, damaging morale. Runs a business that’s sustainable and profitable.

Workaholism is stupid. Working like crazy just isn’t sustainable. Workaholics try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force. Workaholics create guilt and poor morale among their coworkers. You end up just plain tired. No one makes sharp decisions when tired. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.

Instead of entrepreneurs, let’s just call them starters.

To do great work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference. This doesn’t mean you need to find the cure for cancer.

Scratch your own itch.

Start by making something, now. What you start is what matters, not what you think or say or plan to start. Ideas are cheap and plentiful.

The most common excuse people give: “There’s not enough time.” There’s always enough time if you spend it right.

Keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing. A strong stand is how you attract superfans, not just customers. Also, when you stand for something, decisions are obvious. Ex: Whole Foods.

Be authentic with your mission statement. Having an authentic mission statement means truly standing for something.

Outside money is Plan Z. When you take outside money, you give up control. The pursuit of “cashing out” begins to trump building a quality business. Spending other people’s money is addictive. Customers move down the totem pole. Raising money is incredibly distracting. You start having meetings with your investors and / or board of directors.

You need less than you think. There’s nothing wrong with being frugal. Great companies start in garages all the time.

Start an actual business not a startup. Actual businesses worry about profit from day one.

You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy. You’ll be able to focus on getting customers to love you, instead of getting acquired.

Be the smallest, the leanest, and the fastest. Avoid: excess staff, meetings, thick process.

Constraints are actually advantages in disguise. Southwest — unlike most other airlines, which fly multiple aircraft models, flies only Boeing 737s. Because of this, Southwest has lower costs and a business that’s easier to run.

You just can’t do everything you want to do and do it well. Sacrifice some of your darlings for the greater good. Getting to great starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good .

There’s the stuff you could do, the stuff you want to do, and the stuff you have to do. Find out what’s essential and focus all your energy on making it the best it can be.

Ignore the details early on. Nail the basics first and worry about the specifics later. We sketch out ideas with a big, thick Sharpie marker, instead of a ballpoint pen.

Long projects zap morale.

Be a curator. Constantly look for things to remove, simplify, and streamline.

Gordon Ramsay’s first step is nearly always to trim the menu. When things aren’t working, cut back.

Focus on what won’t change. The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in. Eg. Amazon and Japanese automaker focus on core principles.

It’s not the gear that matters. Content is what matters.

Launch now. Once your product does what it needs to do, get it out there. When you impose a deadline, you gain clarity.

Instead of describing what something looks like, draw it. Get to something real (a prototype) right away because people need to see something to start working on it.

Sometimes abandoning what you’re working on is the right move.

Interruption is the enemy of productivity. Long stretches of alone time are when you’re most productive. Use email, over chat/meetings/call, as much as possible.

Meetings are toxic. The true cost of meetings is staggering.

If you must have a meeting, follow these simple rules: set a timer, invite as few people as possible, always have a clear agenda, meet at the site of the problem, end with a solution.

Good enough is fine. Aim for maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Problems can usually be solved with simple, mundane solutions. When good enough gets the job done, go for it.

Quick wins. Momentum fuels motivation. No one likes to be stuck on an endless project. The longer something takes, the less likely it is that you’re going to finish it. Small victories let you celebrate and release good news. Ask: “What can we do in two weeks?”

Don’t be a hero. If you already spent too much time on something that wasn’t worth it, walk away. You can’t get that time back.

Forgoing sleep is a bad idea.

We’re all terrible estimators. Estimates that stretch weeks, months, and years into the future are fantasies. The solution : Break the big thing into smaller things.

Start making smaller todo lists. Prioritize visually. Put the most important thing at the top.

Make tiny decisions by breaking up big decisions. Smaller, attainable goals like that are the best ones to have .

Don’t copy. Copying skips understanding — and understanding is how you grow. When you copy, you never lead, you always follow.

Make you part of your product or service. Zappos sets itself apart by injecting CEO Tony Hsieh’s obsession with customer service into everything it does. Polyface sells the idea that it does things a bigger agribusiness can’t do .

Being the anti – ______ is a great way to differentiate yourself and attract followers. Having an enemy gives you a great story to tell customers, too.

Underdo your competition. Solve the simple problems and leave the hairy, difficult, nasty problems to the competition.

It’s not worth paying much attention to the competition. Focus on competitors too much and you wind up diluting your own vision. Focus on yourself instead.

Say no by default. Use the power of no (to certain customers) to get your priorities straight. Recommend a competitor if you think there’s a better solution out there.

Let your customers outgrow you.

Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority. The enthusiasm you have for a new idea is not an accurate indicator of its true worth.

To create a product that exceeds expectation, you might need to promise a bit less. Over-promising and under-delivering is like a one-night stand. You don’t want a one-night stand with your customers, you want a long-term relationship.

Being obscure is a great position to be in. When you’re obscure, you can try new things. No one knows you, so it’s no big deal if you mess up.

Build an audience. An audience can be your secret weapon. Every day they come back to see what we have to say. When you build an audience, you don’t have to buy people’s attention — they give it to you. Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience.

Teaching probably isn’t something your competitors are even thinking about. Etsy teaches. Gary Vaynerchuk teaches. Teach and you’ll form a bond you just don’t get from traditional marketing tactics.

Give people a backstage pass and show them how your business works. People love finding out the little secrets of all kinds of businesses.

Don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to real.

Press releases are spam. Instead, call someone. Write a personal note.

Forget about the Wall Street Journal. You’re better off focusing on getting your story into a trade publication or picked up by a niche blogger.

Marketing is something everyone in your company is doing 24 / 7 / 365.

The myth of the overnight sensation. Dig deeper and you’ll usually find people who have busted their asses for years. It’s hard, but you have to be patient. Starbucks, Apple, Nike, Amazon, Google, and Snapple all became great brands over time, not because of a big PR push upfront. Start building your audience now.

Never hire anyone to do a job until you’ve tried to do it yourself first.

The right time to hire is when there’s more work than you can handle for a sustained period of time.

Pass on hiring people you don’t need, even if you think that person’s a great catch. Don’t worry about “the one that got away.”

Hire slowly. Hire a ton of people rapidly and a “strangers at a cocktail party” problem where everyone tries to avoid any conflict or drama. No one says, “This idea sucks.”

We all know resumés are a joke. The cover letter is a much better test than a resumé.

There’s surprisingly little difference between a candidate with six months of experience and one with six years. How long someone’s been doing it is overrated. What matters is how well they’ve been doing.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need someone from one of the “best” schools in order to get results.

With a small team, you need people who are going to *do* work, not *delegate* work. Avoid hiring delegators. Delegators love to pull people into meetings ,

Hire managers of one. They don’t need a lot of hand-holding or supervision. They’ve run something on their own or launched some kind of project .

Hire great writers. If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking .

It’s crazy not to hire the best people just because they live far away. To make sure your remote team stays in touch, have at least a few hours a day of real-time overlap. Meet in person once in a while .

Test out employees. You need to evaluate the work they can do now, not the work they say they did in the past. Hire them for a mini-project.

Own your bad news. When something bad happens, tell your customers.

Getting back to people quickly is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to customer service.

A good apology accepts responsibility. If you’ve built rapport with customers, they’ll cut you some slack and trust you when you say you’re sorry.

Put everyone on the front lines. Good restaurants sometimes have chefs work out front as waiters for a stretch. Listening to customers is the best way to get in tune with a product’s strengths and weaknesses. The more people you have between your customers ’ words and the people doing the work, the more likely it is that the message will get lost or distorted along the way.

After you introduce a new feature , change a policy , or remove something , knee – jerk reactions will pour in. Ride out that first rocky week. Make sure you don’t foolishly backpedal on a necessary but controversial decision. Let them know you’re listening .

You don’t create a culture. It happens .

Culture is the byproduct of consistent behavior. If you treat customers right, then treating customers right becomes your culture. So don’t worry too much about it. Don’t force it. You can’t install a culture. Like a fine scotch, you’ve got to give it time to develop.

Don’t make up problems you don’t have yet. Most of the things you worry about never happen anyway. Optimize for now and worry about the future later. The ability to change course is one of the big advantages of being small.

Skip the rock stars. The environment has a lot more to do with great work than most people realize. Rockstar environments develop out of trust, autonomy, and responsibility.

When everything constantly needs approval, you create a culture of non-thinkers. Realize that failing to trust your employees is awfully expensive .

Send people home at 5. You shouldn’t expect the job to be someone’s entire life.

Policies are organizational scar tissue. Don’t create a policy because one person did something wrong once. Policies are only meant for situations that come up over and over again.

Talk to customers the way you would to friends. Avoid jargon. Don’t talk about “monetization” or being “transparent;” talk about making money and being honest.

Write to be read, don’t write just to write. Whenever you write something, read it out loud. When you’re writing, think of the person who will read your words.

Four-letter words you should never use in business: need, must, can’t, easy, just, only, and fast. Need: very few things actually need to get done. Can’t: you probably can. Easy: people rarely say something they have to do is easy.

Stop saying ASAP: when everything is high priority, nothing is.

Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

The Big Idea: to win in business, learn how to recruit A players.

CHAPTER 1: YOUR #1 PROBLEM

When do most hiring mistakes happen?

Most mistakes happen when managers are:

1. Unclear about what is needed in a job
2. Have a weak flow of candidates
3. Do not trust in their ability to pick out the right candidate
4. Lose candidates they really want to join them

Why is it preferable to hire internally?

One of the hardest challenges is to hire people from outside the company. A resume is a record of a person’s career with all the accomplishments embellished and all the failures removed.

What are the ten voodoo hiring methods you should avoid?

1. The art critic: going on instincts
2. The sponge: let everyone interview; no assessment is very deep
3. The prosecutor: aggressive interviews and brain teasers
4. The suitor: all talking and no listening; sell the job but not learn about the candidate
5. The trickster: gimmick questions and gimmick scenarios
6. The animal lover: nothing but pet questions; favorite but irrelevant questions looking for creative answers
7. The chatterbox: small talk
8. The personality tester: not predictive of performance on the job
9. The aptitude tester: helpful but only part of the larger equation
10. The fortune teller: hypothetical, behavioral questions; academic literature makes a strong case against; not predictive of actual performance

What is an A Player?

You are who you hire. An A Player is a candidate who has at least a 90% chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only the top 10% of possible candidates would achieve.

What is the “Who Hiring” Method?

1. Scorecard: not a job description; outcomes and competencies that define a job well done
2. Source: have a talent pool before you have slots to fill
3. Select: series of structured interviews
4. Sell: don’t lose the perfect candidate at the 11th hour

CHAPTER 2: SCORECARD

What is the Position Scorecard?

Scorecards describe the mission for the position, outcomes that must be accomplished, and competencies that fit with both the culture of the company and the role.

What is the first failure point of hiring?

The first failure point of hiring is not being crystal clear about what you really want the person you hire to accomplish.

What are the three parts of the scorecard?

The scorecard has three parts: job’s mission, outcomes, and competencies.

What is the mission part of the scorecard?

The mission is the executive summary of the job’s core purpose.

Mission statements help you avoid one of the most common hiring traps: hiring the all-around athlete. All-around athletes have impressive pedigrees, speak well, learn well, and seem able to do it all. Hiring all-around athletes rarely seems to work. A family-practice doctor knows something about a lot, but you wouldn’t let him perform open heart surgery on you. If you need solutions to specific problems, you want the specialist.

What is the outcomes part of the scorecard?

Outcomes, the second part of the scorecard, describe what a person needs to accomplish in a role. 3-8 outcomes, ranked in order of importance, is usually right.

Set the outcomes high enough so that you scare off B and C Players and excite A Players.

Job descriptions focus on a list of things will be doing, but scorecards describe what a person must get done to consider themselves successful in the role.

Seek to make the outcomes as quantifiable and clear as possible.

New hires will appreciate the clarity, since they know what they’ll be judged on.

What is the competencies part of the scorecard?

Outcomes describe what must be accomplished. Competencies define what a new hire needs to have/be to achieve the outcome.

What are critical competencies for A Players?

Critical competencies for A Players (from University of Chicago, used by author’s consulting firm)
1. Efficiency
2. Honesty/Integrity
3. Organization and planning
4. Aggressiveness
5. Follow-through
6. Intelligence
7. Analytical skills
8. Attention to detail
9. Persistence
10. Proactivity

What are some other possible competencies to include?

Other possible competencies, depending on position:
1. Ability to hire A Players
2. Ability to develop people
3. Flexibility/adaptability
4. Calmness under pressure
5. Strategic thinking
6. Creative thinking and innovation
7. Enthusiasm
8. Work ethic
9. High standards
10. Listening skills
11. Openness to criticism
12. Communication
13. Teamwork
14. Persuasion

How strict should you be with competencies?

Don’t create a rigid checklist of competencies, because there are multiple ways to succeed in a position. One person might rely on creativity to succeed, while another person might rely on aggressiveness and persistence in the same role.

What does the CEO of Heinz look for?

CEO of Heinz looks for: 1) chemistry, 2) commitment, 3) coachable, 4) humble, 5) smart

Why is cultural fit so important?

One of the biggest hiring mistakes made by CEOs is not evaluating cultural fit.

Bad cultural fits hurt in the short-term for the position, but they also hurt in the long-term, because they affect other people around them.

How do you start to define your company’s culture?

Begin by evaluating your company’s culture. Write down keywords in a brainstorming session. Generate a tag cloud.

Don’t be afraid to write down what cultural competencies might seem blindingly obvious. In the midst of hiring, the clearest things sometimes get overlooked.

Part of successful hiring means having the discipline to pass on talented people who are not a fit.

Why are scorecards so important?

Scorecards are the guardians of your culture.

Scorecards become the blueprint that links the theory of strategy to the reality of execution.

1. Set expectations with new hires
2. Monitor employee progress over time

What is in a scorecard?

1. Mission: 1-5 sentences answering “What is the core mission for this position?”
2. Outcomes: 3-8 specific, quantifiable objectives to achieve
3. Competencies: a) List competencies that describe what behavior is needed to achieve the outcomes for this position. b) List global, cultural competencies that describe your culture for all positions.

CHAPTER 3: SOURCE

Always be working on a talent pipeline, before a new hire is needed.

What are the best ways to find candidates?

Ads are a good way to generate lots of resumes but a lousy way to generate the right flow of candidates. Using recruiters depends heavily on the quality of the recruiter assigned to your project.

The number one method is to ask for referrals from your personal and professional networks. This stance is unanimous among everyone interviewed.

A good question to continuously ask people you meet: “Who are the most talented people you know that I should hire?” Then call them and stay in touch. Do this for years and you’ll have a tremendous talent pool.

Ask your customers and business partners to look out for talent.

Ask your current employees for referrals. In fact, make it part of the job description (and employee scorecard) to refer new A Players.

Incentivize your team with gifts, cash, and PTO for referrals.

Early stage companies often use their advisory board as recruiters.

Being a member of a CEO network gives you access to a network of great recruiters.

Are recruiters helpful?

External recruiters can work well but they need to know the inner workings of a firm. They are like a real estate agent in that they are most helpful when they know your budget, your preferences, your dealbreakers, and your true needs.

You can also hire recruiting researchers. They don’t do the interviews but only identify names. It’s a low-cost way to augment your recruiting. Just be careful about lack of filtering and qualification.

How do you avoid having a weak talent pipeline?

Sourcing talent is not hard. The hard part is having to discipline to source while doing your regular daily work.

Create a system to automate and organize the talent recruitment part of your job. Use spreadsheets and weekly call lists. Or use an applicant tracking system. Spend 30 minutes each week calling potential A players, until you have one live conversation. End those calls by asking them “who are the most talented people you know who might be a good fit for my company?”

CHAPTER 4: SELECT

What should you use instead of traditional interviewing or voodoo interviewing?

Traditional interviewing is terrible at selecting A players.

Four Interview Sequence
1. Screening interview
2. Who Interview
3. Focused interview
4. Reference interview

What is the screening interview?

The screening interview is a short phone interview to clear out B and C players. This is the opportunity to save lots of time later by screening out people quickly.

Use the same questions every time to ensure consistency and quickly learn how to qualify candidates.

What is the structure of the screening interview?

1. What are your career goals?
2. What are you really good at professionally?
3. What are you not good at or not interested in doing professionally?
4. Who were your last five bosses, and how will they rate your performance on a 1-10 scale when we talk to them?

1. What are your career goals? Don’t talk about what you’re looking for, to avoid tainting the discussion. Anyone lacking career goals needs to be screened out. Listen for candidates with passion and energy about topics relevant to the role. Alignment is more important than skill.

2. What are you really good at professionally? Push candidates to tell you 8-12 positives so you can build a complete picture of their professional aptitude. Ask them to give you examples. If you see a major gap between someone’s strengths and your scorecard, screen that person out.

3. What are you not good at or not interested in doing professionally? Push for a real weakness or a real area for development. Don’t let them weasel out. If you still need to push, rephrase as “what will your references say is your weakness or area for development?” If you see any deal-killers relative to your scorecard, screen them out.

4. Who were your last five bosses, and how will they rate your performance on a 1-10 scale when we talk to them? Note the assumption that we WILL talk to them. Find out why they were rated that. 7 is a neutral, anything below requires explanation. Occasionally someone is fired but actually an A player.

How should you start and end the screening interview?

Start the screening call by reviewing the scorecard, then launch right into the screening questions. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, end the call after 15 minutes. If you like what you’re hearing, schedule a follow up to finish the screening. End the call with an offer to answer questions.  After the screening call, compare your notes to the scorecard.

What are some other tips for the screening interview?

Stick with the four screening questions but if you want to learn more, ask a follow-up question that begins with “what”, “how”, or “tell me more”.

Weed people out as soon as possible. Try to weed out 80% of people at the screening stage. Listen to your gut when something doesn’t match what’s on paper.

What is the Who interview?

Start your next stage, 2. Who Interview, when you have narrowed your list down to 2-5 candidates. This is the key interview. The literature says that this interview is the most reliable predictor of performance. Use the power of data and patterns of behavior for making predictions about future performance.

What is the Who interview?

The Who Interview Guide is a chronological walkthrough of a person’s career. Ask the same 5 questions for each job. Learn the story of a person’s career. Remember that people love talking about themselves, so this should be easy.

Always conduct the Who Interview starting with the first job on the resume and talk forward.

What is the structure of the Who interview? What are the 5 questions you ask for each job?

1. What were you hired to do?
2. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
3. What were some low points during that job?
4. Who were the people you worked with?
5. Why did you leave that job?

1. What were you hired to do? Learn what their original scorecard was. What were their missions and outcomes?

2. What accomplishments are you most proud of? Let them elaborate on the high points of their career. See if those accomplishments match your scorecard. See if there is a mismatch between the accomplishments and the original scorecard for that job.

3. What were some low points during that job? If hesitation, reframe it. “What went really wrong? What was your biggest mistake? What would you have done differently?”

4. Who were the people you worked with? Get all bosses’ full names with full spelling! This forces them to tell the truth. Then ask what they thought it was like working with each boss. Look for overly negative answers. Then ask what each boss will say about their strengths and weaknesses. Keep pushing until you get the truth about what their boss will say. Ask how they would rate the team they inherited and what changes they implemented to make a better team. What will they say your strengths and weaknesses are as a manager?

5. Why did you leave that job? Were they promoted, recruited, or fired. Were they taking the next step or running from something? Get as specific as possible. Don’t let the candidate off the hook with a vague answer.

How long should the Who interview take?

The Who Interview takes 3 hours on average. For every hour you spend on a Who Interview, you’ll save hundreds of hours by not dealing with poor performance.

Who should conduct the Who interview?

Conduct the Who Interview with two interviewers, not one. So that two people can take alternate taking notes and asking questions.

How do you start the Who Interview?

Start the Who Interview by explaining the question structure and there will be room for candidate questions at the end.

What are some tips for the Who interview?

1. You have to interrupt the candidate. But do it with positivity instead of reprimanding.
2. Use 3P’s when assessing an accomplishment. How did the accomplishment compare to P=Previous year, P=Plan, and P=Peers?
3. Being pushed out of a job vs being pulled out of a job = very important difference.
4. Get as specific as possible until you can completely visualize what the candidate is saying.
5. Look at body language for a mismatch in verbal vs nonverbal communication.

What is interview #3, the Focused interview?

Use the Focused interview to gather specific information about your candidate. The Focused Interview is focused on the scorecard (mission, outcomes, and competencies.) Go through each point in the scorecard and make sure you ask about it. Include cultural competencies to ensure cultural fit.

What might a typical interview look like?

Typical Interview Day
8:30-8:45: team huddle
9-12: Who Interview
12-1:30: other employees take the candidate to lunch
1:30-4:30: Focused Interviews x 3 (or on a second day)
4:30-5: team debrief

What is the reference interview?

Don’t skip the references. Conduct reference checks for all hires.  Ignore references your candidate gave you and contact former bosses, peers, and subordinates. Ask around to find those people. Tip: ask the candidate to make an introduction to help facilitate the calls. Check 7 references = 3 bosses, 2 peers, 2 subordinates.

What questions do you ask in the reference interview?

1. In what context did you work with the person?
2. What were the person’s strengths?
3. What were the person’s biggest areas for improvement back then?
4. How would you rate the person’s overall performance on a scale 1-10? Why? (Note: adjust for inflation. A 6 is really a 2.)
5. The person mentioned he struggled with ____ in that job. Can you tell me more?

What are some code words you might hear when talking about a risky candidate?

Code for risky candidates: can only confirm dates of employment, “if…then” responses to qualify their reference, lots of “um’s and er’s”, hesitation instead of enthusiasm, lukewarm or qualified praise, neutral references

What are some general red flags to watch out for during the who and focused interview?

1. Doesn’t mention past failures.
2. Exaggerates answers.
3. Takes credit for the work of others.
4. Speaks poorly of past bosses.
5. Cannot explain job moves.
6. For managers, no hire/fire experience.
7. More interested in compensation vs job.
8. Tries too hard to look like an expert.
9. Self-absorbed.
10. Too much talk about winning. (might be petty)
11. Adding too much value. (instead of giving praise, tries to always improve, too much ego)
12. Starting sentences with “no,” “but,” and “however.” (overactive ego and overly argumentative)
13. Blaming others.
14. Making excuses.
15. Proclaiming “that’s just me” indicates a fixed mindset.

How do you make your final selection?

1. Review scorecards
2. Review your ratings of candidates vs score card (A, B, C)
3. Eliminate B and C’s
4. Rank all A’s and start with #1

The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman

The Big Idea: Happy employees are a competitive advantage.

 Chapter 1: Success is Overrated, Why Great Work Places Reward Failure
  • make it okay to try new things and fail
  • learn something from every failure, always
  • reward attempts, not just results
Chapter 2: The Power of Place, How Office Design Shapes Our Thinking
  • office design matters
  • eg. red invokes attention to detail, but also anxiety
  • eg. silence invokes focus, but also anxiety
  • optimal: caves + campfires
  • caves are quieter spaces where people can focus and think
  • campfires are interactive spaces where people can collaborate and communicate
  • good to have: safe and warm environment, nice views, scenes of nature, sunlight, lots of plants, aquariums,
  • use your workspace to convey what your company is about: Apple Store = simplicity, framed pictures, employee artwork,
  • let the team design their workspace
  • don’t forget about nice bathrooms (art, plants, magazines)
  • if possible, let people telecommute
Chapter 3: Why You Should Be Paid to Play
  • to improve problem solving and creative thinking, go on a walk
  • exercise improves your mood, triggers chemicals that reduces stress, and improves thinking
  • napping also improves problem solving and creating thinking
  • a careful balance of work and recovery is vital
  • late nights and burnout culture lower long-term productivity
  • disconnecting is important
Chapter 4: What Happy Workplaces Can Learn from a Casino
  • small, frequent pleasures can keep us happier than large, infrequent ones
  • perks communicate on an emotional level and provide a motivational boost
  • on-the-job rewards are significantly more motivating than cash bonuses
  • variety increases happiness
  • variation of activities make the workplace more enjoyable
  • unexpected pleasures deliver a bigger thrill
  • unexpected events have greater emotional weight
  • a constant flow of surprises keeps you engaged (movie, massage therapist)
  • experiences are more rewarding than objects; they involve other people, the memories improve with age; they can be relived
  • we don’t always know why we’re happy
  • color/scent/music can give an unconscious happiness boost
  • a grateful mind is a happy one;
  • gratitude: gratitude journal; ask staff to share what they are most proud of since last meeting; ask staff to thank someone else for a contribution made
  • excessive/extreme happiness can increase tendency to make mistakes, reduce motivation; people who don’t have negative emotions are called psychopaths
Chapter 5: How to Turn a Group of Strangers into a Community
  • the strongest predictor productivity: friendship at work
  • how to create workplace friendships: proximity, familiarity, similarity
  • how to accelerate friendship: share personal information
  • shared group activities (sports) >> happy hours and cocktail parties, because of interaction
  • a shared purpose (or common enemy) can unite factions
  • friendships at work help people stay emotionally and physically healthy
  • gossip can be a problem but it can also be useful to establish company culture and norms
  • gossip tends to happen when people are feeling powerless or insecure
  • identify strategic and persistent gossipers early
  • gossip tends to be a problem when leaders gossip
Chapter 6: The Leadership Paradox, Why Forceful Leaders Develop Less Productive Teams
  • intrinsic motivation > extrinsic motivation
  • emphasizing rewards reduces intrinsic motivation
  • the more emphasis placed on salary and bonuses, the more employees are going to focus on them
  • autonomy increases intrinsic motivation
  • let your team set their own calendar
Chapter 7: Better Than Money, What Games Can Teach Us About Motivation
  • the only thing that sustains happiness is status, respect and admiration among friends/family/peers
  • being recognized feels good
  • recognition feeds our need for competence
  • competence increases intrinsic motivation
  • being ignored is often more psychologically painful than being treated poorly
  • undeserved positive feedback is demoralizing to others who actually deserve the recognition
  • feedback is more effective when it is provided immediately
  • feedback is more effective when it is specific
  • compliment the behavior, not the person
  • public praise is more powerful than private praise
  • reward high performers with more responsibility
  • encourage peer-to-peer recognition
  • find a way to give meaning to the work (eg. nonprofit fundraisers)
  • to experience flow, work needs to be not too easy and not too hard
  • consider making on-the-job learning a requirement
  • acquiring new skills releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine
  • consider peer-to-peer coaching (pods of 3)
Chapter 8: How Thinking Like a Hostage Negotiator Can Make You More Persuasive, Influential, and Motivating
  • good communicators listen much more than they talk
  • good bosses listen much more than they talk
  • good listeners do a lot of paraphrasing and repeat backs
  • resolve workplace conflicts by understanding there is a task channel and a relationship channel
Chapter 9: Why the Best Managers Focus on Themselves
  • attitudes, emotions, and behaviors are contagious
  • leaders attitudes and habits are adopted by the members of their teams
  • culture comes from the top, so be aware that someone is always watching
Chapter 10: Seeing What Others Don’t, How to Eliminate Interview Blind Spots That Prevent You from Reading People’s True Potential
  • first impressions persist
  • referrals from your high performers (with no referral bonus) is the best strategy for hiring
  • interviews that involve a work assignment are optimal
  • cultural fit matters but too much similarity can lead to groupthink and impair innovation
Chapter 11: What Sports, Politics, and Religion Teach Us About Fostering Pride
  • pride in one’s company matters a lot
  • pride is fundamentally about status
  • share your company’s history with the team
  • share your company’s mission and vision with the team
  • being different is good (company culture)
  • include altruism alongside making a profit
  • emphasize everyone’s contribution: decision making, recognition by name
  • consider thanking a high performer’s family for that person’s efforts at work
  • avoid inflated job titles