Summary: A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management.
Mo Gawdat, founder of One Billion Happy and former Chief Business Officer at Google's X, spent years working in technological innovation. At Google's so-called "dream factory," he learned how to operationalize moonshot ventures aiming to solve some of the world's hardest problems. But then a personal tragedy — the loss of his son — set him on a new path. Gawdat launched a startup with the moonshot goal of helping one billion people find happiness. Gawdat is also the author of "Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy."
Krista Tippett, host of "On Being," believes we are in the middle of a big shift in the workplace. For a long time, she says, we were taught to keep all of our personal opinions and problems out of the office — even if that wasn't the reality. Now, as worker expectations change and people bring more of their authentic selves to work, Tippett says managers need to discover how to allow more honesty and emotions and humanity in the workplace, while still delivering in a high-performing environment.
Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, says it took him years to learn what really mattered at work and how to create that kind of workplace culture. As a company leader today, he works hard to make sure both his job — and the jobs of his employees — are joyful. That doesn't mean they are happy 100% of the time, he argues, but that they feel fulfilled by always putting the customer first. Sheridan is the author of "Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear."
Thomas Steenburgh, a marketing professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, was inspired by his early career at Xerox to discover why firms with stellar sales and R&D departments still struggle to sell new innovations. The answer, he finds, is that too many companies expect shiny new products to sell themselves. Steenburgh explains how crafting new sales processes, incentives, and training can overcome the obstacles inherent in selling new products. He's the coauthor, along with Michael Ahearne of the University of Houston's Sales Excellence Institute, of the HBR article "How to Sell New Products."
Corey Phelps, a strategy professor at McGill University, says great problem solvers are hard to find. Even seasoned professionals at the highest levels of organizations regularly fail to identify the real problem and instead jump to exploring solutions. Phelps identifies the common traps and outlines a research-proven method to solve problems effectively. He's the coauthor of the book, "Cracked it! How to solve big problems and sell solutions like top strategy consultants."
James Detert, a professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, studies acts of courage in the workplace. His most surprising finding? Most people describe everyday actions — not big whistleblower scandals — when they cite courageous (or gutless) acts they’ve seen coworkers and leaders take. Detert shares the proven behaviors of employees who succeed at speaking out and suffer fewer negative consequences for it. He’s the author of the HBR article “Cultivating Everyday Courage.”
Herminia Ibarra, a professor at the London Business School, argues that job transitions — even exciting ones that you've chosen — can come with all kinds of unexpected emotions. Going from a job that is known and helped define your identity to a new position brings all kinds of challenges. Ibarra says that it's important to recognize how these changes are affecting you but to keep moving forward and even take the opportunity to reinvent yourself in your new role.
Caitlin Rosenthal, assistant professor of history at UC Berkeley, argues there are strong parallels between the accounting practices used by slaveholders and modern business practices. While we know slavery's economic impact on the United States, Rosenthal says we need to look closer at the details — down to accounting ledgers – to truly understand what abolitionists and slaves were up against, and how those practices still influence business and management today. She's the author of the book, "Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management."
Nick Morgan, a communications expert and speaking coach, says that while email, texting, and Slack might seem like they make communication easier, they actually make things less efficient. When we are bombarded with too many messages a day, he argues, humans are likely to fill in the gaps with negative information or assume the worst about the intent of a coworker's email. He offers up a few tips and tricks for how we can bring the benefits of face-to-face communication back into the digital workplace. Morgan is the author of the book, "Can You Hear Me?: How to Connect with People in a Virtual World."
Rose Hollister and Michael Watkins, consultants at Genesis Advisers, argue that many companies today are taking on too many initiatives. Each manager might have their own pet projects they want to focus on, but that trickles down to lower level workers dealing with more projects at a time that they can handle, or do well. This episode also offers practical tips for senior-level leaders to truly prioritize the best initiatives at their company — or risk losing some of their top talent. Hollister and Watkins are the authors of the HBR article "Too Many Projects." with. They are the authors of "Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.”
David Smith, associate professor of sociology at the U.S. Naval War College, and Brad Johnson, professor of psychology at the United States Naval Academy, argue that it is vital for more men to mentor women in the workplace. In the post-#MeToo world, some men have shied away from cross-gender relationships at work. But Smith and Johnson say these relationships offer big gains to mentees, mentors, and organizations. They offer their advice on how men can be thoughtful allies to the women they work with. They are the authors of "Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.”
John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State, shares management and leadership lessons from his long career in public service. He discusses how to win people over to your side, bounce back from defeats, and never give up on your long-term goals. He also calls on private sector CEOs to do more to solve social and political problems. Kerry’s new memoir is "Every Day Is Extra."
Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, shares a compelling business case for curiosity. Her research shows allowing employees to exercise their curiosity can lead to fewer conflicts and better outcomes. However, even managers who value inquisitive thinking often discourage curiosity in the workplace because they fear it's inefficient and unproductive. Gino offers several ways that leaders can instead model, cultivate, and even recruit for curiosity. Gino is the author of the HBR article "The Business Case for Curiosity."
Bill Kerr, a professor at Harvard Business School, studies the increasing importance of talent clusters in our age of rapid technological advances. He argues that while talent and industries have always had a tendency to cluster, today's trend towards San Francisco, Boston, London and a handful of other cities is different. Companies need to react and tap into those talent pools, but moving the company to one isn't always an option. Kerr talks about the three main ways companies can access talent. He's the author of the HBR article "Navigating Talent Hot Spots," as well as the book "The Gift of Global Talent: How Migration Shapes Business, Economy & Society."
Mike Ovitz, a cofounder of Creative Artists Agency and former president of The Walt Disney Company, says there are many parallels between the movie and music industry of the 1970s and 1980s and Silicon Valley today. When it comes to managing creatives, he says you have to have patience and believe in the work. But to get that work made, you have to have shrewd negotiating skills. Ovitz says he now regrets some of the ways he approached business in his earlier years, and advises young entrepreneurs about what he's learned along the way. He's the author of the new memoir "Who Is Michael Ovitz?" Editor's note: This post was updated September 26, 2018 to correct the title of Ovitz's book.