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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Executives, Empathy, and Experts: April 2019 resources

A very wet winter and April showers treated us well here in my world... for the first time in seven years, we are not living under a drought declaration. This is good news indeed. So I will let my favorite resources flow for this month's post. (Forgive the bad pun.....)

Eric Schmidt — Lessons from a Trillion-Dollar Coach. I will start with my favorite one first. While I find Tim Ferriss a tiny bit annoying (is it the affected way that he speaks? or how he manages to casually drop that he went to Princeton in every interview? hard to say...), but I cannot deny that he often attracts some great guests for interviews. This is not a short one (it clocks in at 1 hour and 44 minutes) but I will say that it is a master class in leadership. Schmidt shares ideas big and small, from how to manage a multi-billion dollar company quadrupling in size each year to how to run a weekly staff meeting. Do not run this podcast in the background... come ready to take notes, maybe even listen to it more than once. It'll be well worth your time.

Cultivating Empathy in the Workplace. I got this from the Kellogg Insight newsletter and recommend subscribing to it. I love this statement from the article: “As anyone who’s had to manage a lot of people can tell you, human beings are extremely sensitive to fairness and where they stand in the social order." YESSSS! While leadership no doubt wants everyone in the company to maintain laser focus on the task at hand, we all need to recognize that work is derailed daily by silly (but ever-present) office drama. We ignore it at our peril! Certainly, this topic won't be solved with a simple 5-point article, but it does get the conversation started.

I also recommend this brief (3 minutes) YouTube video on Empathy vs Sympathy by Brene Brown. I am not exaggerating when I say that a big chunk of my work, which ostensibly focuses on leadership development, is often spent assisting leadership in managing interpersonal conflict on their teams. It's a thing, people! Keep this in mind (again quoting the article): "Empathy is a fundamental skill in the workplace—but that doesn’t mean everyone experiences it the same way." Remain committed to cultivating the human piece of the workplace.

EXPERTS ON EXPERT: Michael Gervais. You may sense a theme here but I will say it anyway: I LOVED this interview, but I cannot deny that at times the host Dax Shepherd is a tool. And the last half hour of the podcast, where he and his cohost do this thing they call the "fact check" is totally missable... That being said, the interview itself is GREAT because Michael Gervais is one very smart and interesting dude. This is how the interview is described: "Michael sits down with the Armchair Expert to discuss working on the RedBull Stratos project, the nuisance of overcoming mental obstacles and his work with Microsoft employees to maximize work performance. The two talk about the mindfulness revolution, optimal coaching techniques and steps to train your mind." Fascinating, right?!

Rapid-Fire Resources. I'll spare you the extended commentary, but these are my must-listen podcasts this month:

  • Voices of the Movement. TREMENDOUS half-hour accounts of the history of the civil rights movement.
  • Going Through It. Really gripping interviews of key leaders sharing about the pivotal moments in their lives, careers, and relationships when they had to decide whether to quit or whether to keep going. 
  • The Daily. Oh my lands. I can't start my day without this one. (OK, maybe the tiniest bit of commentary there...) Followed by Post Reports.
  • Guardian Long Reads. This one was recommended to me by an Uber driver in Chicago. Go figure. But WOW is it good. 
One last goodie: if you like Strengths Finder, check out this amazing resource... the distribution of Top Five Strengths across 113 countries! Super nerdy, I know.

What are you reading? What are you listening to? 

I'll close with this:

Most men today cannot conceive of a freedom that does not involve somebody's slavery.

W.E.B. DuBois

Contact me with questions and feedback at Thanks for reading.

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