At Next Jump’s January 2018 Leadership Academy, Co-CEOs Charlie Kim and Meghan Messenger discussed organizational re-design for the 21st Century. As the business world grows more complex, the route to success focuses on the “people” strategy – coaching people to become better leaders and decision-makers.
— Transcript —
Charlie Kim: My crystal ball is as good as yours, which– we have very bad crystal balls. Let me start with a prediction. A prediction that by 2020, which is less than two years away, D-Day in the 21st century will occur, in both work and education, the successful organizations will have redesigned to succeed in the 21st century. Everybody else, as in the rest who haven’t made these changes, will be toast.
I’m going to start off by telling you a little story. There’s an interesting individual we met that helped us kind of get an insight to this. Tesla is a company most of you have heard of, Fisker is a company most haven’t heard of, yet at the early part of the 21st century, all the experts, all the analysts predicted that Fisker would succeed, and Tesla would go out of business.
Fisker was the company that built an electric car that when they ran out of electricity, would then start with gas, and so you didn’t have to worry about being on some highway and suddenly having no juice because gas is in the tank. Every analyst– Fisker was founded in 2007, Tesla in 2003. In the first 10 years of the 21st century, both companies trying to disrupt gas-driven cars in two different ways. Everyone predicted Fisker would succeed, yet there’s an individual we spend time with, he’s on the board of Google X, and he came to us and said, “We saw data, that said that Tesla would win and Fisker would lose.”
The data they saw was actually the data of how many Google employees were leaving Google to join Fisker, versus Tesla, and it was a ratio of 20:1 in favor of Tesla. The simple point here is that talent is the single biggest predictor of future success. This is more true in the 21st century than never was. Another individual we spend time with, Roger Martin. Roger Martin is known as one of the top strategists– strategy experts in the world. He spent 10 years writing a book after all the research with AG Lafley. AG Lafley is a well-known CEO of Procter & Gamble.
They studied companies. They studied companies of what companies had good strategy, what are the origins of good strategies, who drives good strategies. What was interesting in their 10-year study, was that the data changed as they did the study. In the early part of the study what they found was this, CEOs of large companies worried of CEOs of other big companies. Big companies worried about other big companies. At the same time, strategy, strategic plans were written every one to five years. You had the one-year plan, the five-year plan, maybe even a 10-year plan.
What a company produced was either a product, or service, or both. Yet as they did the study, they found profound changes in the data, they found that CEOs no longer worried about other big companies. The largest of companies, they worried about two kids in a garage simply with their creativity and imagination able to disrupt companies with a hundred thousand employees. They found that strategy changed every day. Every strategy that you create has underlying assumptions in it, but when those assumptions end up proving to be false and changing, you have to change the strategy. By the time you printed your strategic plan it was already outdated.
They found that what you produced, as in every single company was not products and services, but was a decision-making factory. 261 5th Avenue, this building is a decision-making factory. Every organization you’re producing decision makers, and this is the profound change they found. Now, we do deeper. We spent time with a lot of different groups, and you being in education you may know some of this, which is understanding the origins of how work and education are tied together. Public schools actually were invented as the training ground for work.
We have some guests in here that come from training and development learning apartments of large corporations. Well, the training and learning departments of the world was actually public schools. What we learned was in 1750, King Frederick the Great, the King of Prussia, actually invented public schools. Kindergarten was the gardening of children. You’ll find that work that the end of the sphere drives what happens at school, so the goal worked 1.0 is what we call it, was the king wanted to create loyal subjects to the king.
What is the best way to create loyal subject to the king? They found their two driving principles of this, its isolation and its fear. There’s a reason why when you go to school desks are set very isolated. Teachers change every semester so you can’t build relationships. At the same time, fear. Students are scared of teachers, teachers of principals, then principals of superintendents. When you drive those two principals into the public school system, you end up creating out of that factory the most loyal subjects of the king.
Fast forward from this age where the asset was actually land and natural resources to the 1900s which is the beginning of the 20th century. A guy by the name of Cubberley saw that what work needed most was followers. Followers being assembly line workers. You didn’t need people in a factory raising the hand saying, “I have an idea of how to run this factory in a better way.” No, you needed to sit in place come on time, get your job done, and then go home. He made a change, he made a change, right? Here in 1920, in the 20th century to change education 2.0 to drive compliance and uniformity, because the best way to get assembly line workers was to get people who were good at following instruction.
Compliance is another word for instruction. Uniformity. Everyone doing the same thing. When you look at the subjects, whether you move from math, then you move to reading, then you move to arts or you move to whatever course you move to, it did not have to connect. He just had to move down like you do in an assembly line. This model was very effective and very successful. We spent time over the last decade with organizations both at work, as well as education and some of the most cutting-edge successful organizations, and some of the more early leading signs of where change was coming.
There were two patterns that we found in the most successful organizations both at work and in education. What we saw at work was this. The most successful organizations drove two primary principles. One was decision making as a skill, so just like you would train people in Excel or public speaking, decision-making was a skill they spent a lot of time training people on, and the second was this emphasis of rate of learning. If you have people who are able to make the right calls, the right decisions and they’re getting smarter and better in the process, you end up getting what they called “adaptive learning teams.” Teams that were able to go into any situation, adapt, adjust, and make the right calls learn from them even when there’re mistakes and do better the next time.
When we looked at the most cutting-edge schools, it showed up mostly in charter schools, it showed up a lot in preschools where I feel the pressure from the brightest of parents coming and telling the teachers and the principals and the heads of preschools run the school better based on the research I have in my supercomputer in my hand. They were innovating faster and further, we found two driving things in schools. Creativity, being a key component, and collaboration, working together with others. These things look like four different things.
Creativity, by the way, is interesting. Creativity is another word for innovation. If you haven’t met an organization that isn’t obsessed about innovation, you’re not in the 21st century. You’re talking to an organization in a different century. Everyone is obsessed about innovation, and yet what’s interesting about creativity, and when you think about data, data-driven insights. All data comes from the past. Creativity is creating something that didn’t exist. Innovation is creating something that didn’t exist. If you drive your decisions based on data, you’re assuming the future is just like the past.
We all know that is not true. The need to be creative to create things to forecast and try things that haven’t existed is– by the way, Roger Martin found in their research as well– is a social process. Team matters more than ever before. To be innovative, to be creative, it is a social process where you have to collaborate. However, the interesting thing about collaboration and great teams, if you all have the exact same skills, that makes a bad team.
This is where the word diversity comes in. We’re not talking about the small D of women, or men, or races. We’re talking about diversity of thinking, finding people who are introverts and extroverts, people who are aggressive versus those were patient. When you get diversity of thinking coming together, creating together challenging their ideas what you will get in that process is better decision-making, and the rate of learning in those organizations also increase.
When you go back to Cubberley’s change– Cubberley drove the change, the upgrade in the public school system. 1920 is 20% of the way into the 20th century. Meaning the old model, the way an organization is designed works for up to 20% into the century before work has already changed education, the training ground had to catch up. Our prediction of D-day 2020, 20% of the way into the 21st century. The rules are different, no longer is the asset land, no longer is it machine, it is now people in the information age.
This asset, acquires different designs, different cultures to succeed, and we are less than two years away by the time work would have changed, and the change in education will likely come as well. Every company out there, every organization actually runs two businesses. The first business is how you make money, whether, it schools, you need funding, whether it’s government’s, they need funding as well. Then there’s a second business of how you run your company. How you run your organization. Strong teams getting stronger is the simplest way to talk about how to run your company.
In the 21st century, business two is now becoming more important than business one. If you do business two right, business one will follow and not the other way around. You might succeed, and we meet a lot of companies we help that are very successful, had the best year they had last year in business one. When they sit with us, you know what they confide in us? Something is not right, something is wrong. We had the best year we’ve ever had, but I sense something around the corner coming that is bad, that could literally put us out of business. I can’t put my finger on it, but I can give you all these little signals showing up, something is not right.
When you distill down to it, everything comes down to what’s happening in business two. We as a business have something very interesting. My mother is a pastor of a church. My mother– these weren’t her exact words, but she always said– Giving has always been very big inside of DNA of my background, how I was raised. My mother always said, “You give away what you’re good at, not why you suck at.” We got very good at running business two. We got good enough that we had visitors coming. The culture tours you took. We do 3000 to 4000 of them a year.
This Academy got so popular. We started this four years ago, it got so popular that we have waitlists coming up. We used to run them weekly for half a day and then monthly for three days. It crippled us, as an organization, so now it got moved to every other month. For every one of you here, it’s such an impressive group between the group here in New York, the group in Boston and London. I think you can see some of the faces for every one person here, many, many we turned down and said, “No. We would like to add more just there is no more space.”
We try to bring all different types, there are big organizations, small organizations, all different types to come together to learn as a community. We got good at business two, got written up in dozens of books, TEDTalks, some research by major universities saying, “Next jump is discovering some of the future elements of work and where it’s going.” In our view, we cannot even see the halfway point. We believe we’re so far from even understanding the beginnings of this. We don’t even see where the halfway mark is. As we got good we spent the last decade giving away, as my mother has said, what we got good at, not what we suck at.
We gave this away. We gave it more and more. The benefit of doing something pro bono is twofold. One is, we are not trying to build more hours, and we’re not trying to charge. In short, we want to cut to the chase and figure out does it add value for you? If not, are we helpful? If not, we’re out of here. It’s crazy the level of individuals we’ve interfaced with, where literally we are just cutting to the chase, no formalities. We do not want to waste any time, your time nor our time, can we add value? A decade of working with the best of the best, whether it’s from the best in the military, the best in the CIA, the best in governments, all types of educators, Olympic teams, professional sports, medicine, doctors, businesses, nonprofits, the list goes on.
There’s something interesting we did for the last decade as we shared and as we taught. We had one rule that we asked. The phrase was “Proof is in the adoption.” We share everything we’ve learned- lessons and mistakes- and you don’t try anything. Lose our number. Never ever call us again because we’re not interested in just having a discussion. We’re interested in finding practitioners, and that was one rule we had over the last decade.
Everyone who came to visit us, everyone that took culture towards academies, one-on-one mentoring sessions, coaching, they just took away something and we said, “Try something.” Even if you fail, you let us know, we will help. If you don’t try anything, lose our number, never reach us again. It’s interesting when you do a decade of that across different industries. Thousands of different organizations of all sizes and types globally. What comes back is adoption, and what they showed us was what were the things that we did that was easiest to adopt. We had a view, as I’m sure you do as teachers, this is what you have to teach and then you find by the students that’s not what they take to. We found the top three things the organizations took.
These were the three things that we found the greatest adoption, whether was at military, whether it was at Zappos, whether it was at big companies and banks or nonprofits and schools, these are the three things. I’ll go through it really quick because, although this is interesting, this is not actually the punch-line thing you need. Proof is in the adoption, the first thing was TP. TP stands for training partners. It’s the most basic unit of training and working as a team. The second is situational workshops, which is a scalable way to coach and mentor a team of people in one hour every week.
The last was the feedback app. Of all the technology actually built, we have 50 of them which were released five. The feedback app just took greater demand because there has been an explosion of interest coming from the millennial population, the age of real-time feedback and reviews to want feedback. These are the three, but here was what was interesting. Ten years, a decade of giving and helping, we had this. In the last year, we flipped this whole equation around. Project FU. It sounds– and is exactly as it sounds. There is no greater FU than success.
We, as a company, took a model from day one, as we are in 24 years now, of giving away 10% of our profits, in the form of cash, in the form of people and technology help. Their investors don’t– that’s still a big number for a business, so people don’t like it, especially, investors board members, but they kind of let it go. What ended up happening as you were giving, all different types of giving, we started to give more of our business to how we run our company. The culture and all the programs and how we develop their people and the interest level exploded and reached the peak by 2015.
The demand was so high at the craziest of levels coming from the craziest of people. You almost couldn’t say no. As a result of it, we found ourselves dedicating 50% of our profits, our people, and resources, helping other organizations through business two. Once at 10% investors weren’t willing to let it go. When I got to 50%, we had an uproar. Investors, board members, even employees saying, “This is not a business. We did not join this company to give away all the money we’re making. It’s nice to help people but not at this level.”
We had an outcry an out roar and Meghan and I penned the documents that we sent out a letter to our board and investors in 2015 talking about our ecosystem. You may have seen in the Culture Tour. We have an e-commerce business working with mostly 41,000 companies. That’s how we make money. But very similar to Google, where they can give away maps and Gmail, and in the process of giving value to users, the traffic goes and clicks on ads. In our case, we will give away all the software to how to do recognition evaluations of feedback and the same traffic will go and shop on our e-commerce site. That ecosystem is what we’re going to build.
They said that’s an interesting strategy, interesting idea, and they let us go. Well, the interest level kept growing, and in fact, the interest and demand from clients and outsiders and everyone in business two far outstrips business one. The noise from the investors was, “Where’s the proof? Where’s a proof? Two years goes by and the noise got so much louder. Meghan and I, roughly nine months ago sat down and base he created project FU.
We said, “How about if we flipped the polarity of how we are helping companies?” I’ll go into later why helping companies was so important because actually, I tell [unintelligible 00:20:13] why we did it was when we looked at all the non-profits out there. I know some of the on profits are here. Non-profits, charitable organizations, they’re always lacking in a few resources; one is money, the other one’s technology, and talent. It’s very hard. We put our business hats on and thought through where does that sit? Where do the world’s capital, technology and talent, where’s the greatest concentration?
It’s in for-profit companies. If for-profit companies change their business model and gave away, forget about 50%, but even 10%, they don’t even give 1% right now. They gave 10% of their profits, their talent, and their technology, you would fix every problem in the world 10 times over. We went on a social movement to make that happen and that’s where the last 10 years of business two came about. We did it by saying– the way we gave it, and in hindsight, this is kind of a passive route. This Academy doesn’t feel passive if you’re an employee of [unintelligible 00:21:18], or maybe you guys here, it feels past or relative to what we’re doing in project FU. It’s all related.
In the last 10 years, we basically kind of put the onus on the other company to figure out what to do. We had a [unintelligible 00:21:32] which is will help you more if you try something. We gave 70+ programs and figured out you can take whatever you need. It’s like a buffet, and you can take whatever you want and if it doesn’t work we’ll come help you.
We did that for a decade. We flipped it and said, “How about if we took ourselves, our top leaders, our top experts with everything we know not only from the way we ran our company for 24 years, and ongoing, but how we’ve helped and see the insides of a thousand-plus organizations ourselves? How about if we went in and went all into one company? A very large fortune 500 company. What’s, and how much faster could we create adoption and impact?”
We put this out there to people we know, and we had around a hundred top companies, very large, the who’s who of who, and we went through a six-month process of selecting one. We got down from a hundred to eight and then we couldn’t pick. They all were pushing to pick and get selected and get our help and what we would do is we provided the technology and basically our time and help pro bono. The technology was something that if they wanted a free version, we would own the data and what’s happening in the activity and then we create a paid version, the large enterprise version, if they wanted to own their own data.
There was a way to monetize that, the software, but above all else, we will provide all our knowledge and expertise pro bono with the software contract. After this beta group, we have an army of two dozen consulting firms we have been training the trainer because they will go in, and we will bring in sort of approve Next Jump Consultants to help. Here we are down to eight firms, and we made the hard choice we picked three. Three firms and so the last three months we have been immersed in three firms. One is Fidelity, so Fortune 500 big financial firm. The other one is the Airforce, and the third one is the Navy.
These are huge organizations. The Airforce is 670,00 employees, and the Navy is 640,000 employees, and we put forward and our plan, and what we believe we can get done is in six to nine months bring them to be redesigned for the 21st century. Now, that is not an easy feat, and so we have been in the details of everything they’re doing and just in their world. This Academy’s little refreshing is the first time Meghan and I are almost burrowing out of three organizations, where we feel like Airforce employees, Navy employees, and Fidelity employees.
What we learn, though, in here was completely different than what we thought we knew. We will walk you through as much as we know. We always see ourselves very much like a teaching hospital. We’re like a teaching organization, so you’re going to get a flavor of everything we know up-to-date and there’s a lot we don’t know, so take that with a grain of salt too. Going into how to run your company, this notion of team to mission. Formula we got from the military, the stronger the team, and the stronger the team is trending the gray of the mission. The two matter because, by the way, when you don’t have a mission you just focus on team, it’s what we call intramural sports.
Intramural sports, it’s very different. Thank you for coming. That’s not fair, this is fair. Participation is good enough, but you have to remember performance does matter. Mission is different for the military, it is for schools as it is for businesses, but we have a mission and we are playing professional sports. Performance matters and the two are connected.
When it comes to mission, though, this term, VUCA, got popularized by Harvard, but it was invented from the military, Volatile Uncertain Complex and Ambiguous. This is how the world has turned. One of the best analogy is just simply think about parenting kids, and if you want to bring cupcakes into school for a kid’s birthday, it is VUCA. It is no longer what it was before. I mean just the aspects of raising children is an indication of what it’s like even to lead an organization. It is completely VUCA and uncertain and getting worse, by the way.
When it comes to team, this diagram, this picture is illustrated what it feels like. Exhausted and tired. I do not want to be here, and I do not like my team members. This is what people are dealing with. Bob Keegan, professor at Harvard. I led a research team and I love this insight, he said when they studied organization, organizations that were performing at the highest levels ironically did not have a performance mindset, they had a learning mindset. Their thesis and what they found was the future of work is that work is the next adult learning institution.
When you leave school, you’ve got at least 40 or 60 more years of learning, but it’s happening at work. As we dug in deeper on team and how to get strong teams, there are three things that really come to mind which should not be a big surprise. How you attract talent, how you retain talent and how you develop talent are the three drivers of building strong teams. When you really drill down into it, the root element is if you develop talent better than anybody else, you will be able to retain and you will be able to attract. You’ll see this a lot in sports teams.
Sports teams are great coaches who are able to get talent better faster than any other team even for lowered pay. In the NBA professional sports, they will stay in the team, and they will attract other talents at below-market costs as well. Not that we pay an extra bucks below market, but I think we pay above it, that’s different story. How to create change at an organization level? Before coming to all the details, there are three things that we have found. When you want to change an organization this is that scale. Intent matters, because people need to buy in. Why does this matter? Why are we doing this?
Now, a lot of organizations overdo writing memorandum, and kind of what we’re going to do. The strategic thing is a fly out and all the research backing, what we’re going to do, but of course, if you don’t follow through quickly you lose the trust of your troops or your people.
Programs and technology matter, because those together– programs are like processes. They matter because that answers a question, “That’s what you intend to do?” Well, what to do, and how to do it in scale shows up when these two things show up. We used to believe for the longest time, the last 10 years helping all these companies, these were the only three things that really matter the most to create change in organization.
We learned the hard way through a lot of ups and downs and trust that we have thousands of organizations adopted something that we did and those something’s concentrating the three things I showed you, but even with that success we found number four really matters, and matters even more in the 21st century. If you understand how things fail, the difference of what’s in theory versus what’s in practice and it will come down to adoption techniques, just because you know it’s the right thing. Just because you know it’s good for you, doesn’t mean you’ll do it.
You see this in doctors to patients, teachers to students, leaders to followers, and it definitely shows up from parents to children. How you do that, if you don’t know that– and parenting the classic thing is, “I want my children to eat vegetables which they still really don’t, and I can force it, if I mention it more often, or I can threaten things that, of course, I won’t follow up on.” These are things that are actually bad. If I don’t know how things fail, I’ll keep doing bad and it only gets worse, and this is classically what’s we saw happening in almost every organization.
Before we go into how things fail and options techniques, let me give you a sense of flavor of what is right. If you know what is right, then we can focus on how to avoid or work around the things that are going to make you fail. If you want to build strong teams, you need hiring, and you need to focus in the environment you need both. People always ask us, “Can I pick one another? Which is more important? You need both.
If you hire amazingly well, and you’ll see a lot of CEOs especially in the 20th century focus on so much on hiring and the belief was, “If I hire right, everything takes care of itself.” That’s a common phrase you heard. If I hire correctly everything takes care of itself. Well, if you hire correctly and you put them into a rotten environment, trust me, they will rot too, but if you have an amazing environment and you keep putting rotten apples in, the environment will rot. You need to work on both.
The four things we found was hiring and recruiting. This is a funnel. You got to get more people to apply then you pick the best and they go into your environment onboarding matters because very much like marriage they say, “Don’t see a marriage counselor when you have trouble in the marriage, go see them before you get married because in the beginning, you’re most open. Just talk about the differences in both of you.”
A developmental gym. I’m going to go into that more detail and then the selection process, which is promotions, recognition, how you pay people, how you evaluate, how you promote. This really matters because these are the rules people want to know, “How do I get to be a VP? How do I get paid more?” They want you to give you the backwards plan on how to get there but what we found was, when you make that happen but don’t give them the training ground, the setup to get there, it kind of is a cruel joke. Not only do most people fail, very perverse things show up.
People figure out how to cheat the system so then you end up layering in rules on how not to cheat the system and so the whole thing just unravels in an unproductive way. What we found in all this and we’ll go into more detail, is the root, root, root thing that matters most is setting up the developmental gym first as you move on to this, the other three areas. It’s not to say the other areas aren’t important but sequence really does matter. What comes first and what comes next does matter. Going into the developmental gym, there are three legs to it. One is, you need practice ground. Can you ever imagine a sports athlete, Olympic athlete going Olympics– coming out Winter Olympics never having practice ground?
The only thing there was, was life and death mission critical games. You need practice. The greatest teams that perform in games have the greatest practices. I’m a big Patriots fan so I love the fact they’re going to Super Bowl. Belichick in the offseason, he is known to plan out every minute of his team’s– of every member of his team practice time. Every minute of practice is mapped out strategically. It’s the level of effort the coach is putting into practice.
Then you need feedback to know how you did and you need coaching because we all have biases and blind spots. I’m going to give you three quick stories of people we spend time with that may help illustrate practice, feedback, and coaching because when you do this right, you can learn to make the right calls, decision-making, judgement.
Fascinating individual we met by the name of Josh Waitzkin. Josh, same age as me, is 44, lives in New York City. He became the best chess player in the world, world chess champion. One of the craziest things he did after becoming number one in chess, he decided to shift fields completely and said, “I want to be number one in some other field. How about martial arts?” Chess player decides he’s going to go after this martial art, Tai Chi, which is the national sport of Taiwan. There’s a tournament every two years and the guy’s held the title for nine years and Josh Waitzkin, white boy from New York City, decides to go into this field to be number one.
In six years, he actually became number one and he won that title. Kind of a crazy story. Wrote a book called The Art of Learning, which you don’t have to write that, we’ll give you a copy of it. We spent time with Josh. When I meet people like this, one of the things I love getting to is the fact that I don’t believe in magic, I don’t believe anyone is better than anybody else but I want to know what are your tricks. How did you beat everybody in chess? How did you beat everybody in martial arts? Besides a ton of practice, what was the secret? I realized it’s kind of an arrogant thing to do so that you can tell where [unintelligible 00:34:03] overly confident.
I was like, “Josh come on, just tell me the secrets.” This is what he shared with us. He said his concept of “you is you.” You are the same person and the same person shows up especially when nobody is watching or when you’re under stress. You’ve heard this phrase before. His point was chess, martial arts is a game of patience, very much like a game of poker. When you go to the poker table, everyone’s bluffing, everyone’s lying so you cant’s see the real person, but if you looked at them away from the game, you can see the real person.
He would walk around with a black box following people around. He’d watch them in the buffet line as they standing in line, when they’re hungry are they tapping their feet, how anxious were they to give him a patience score. He would look at them at the elevator when they press the button how many times they press the button, they darted or not and you give them a patience score. He followed his opponents around and gave everyone a patience score, that’s how he beat them. I was like, “That is awesome.” Not only can you get self-awareness faster by being able to see the “you is you” everywhere. You could actually use all those things to train people.
You can use the elevator button. I am on the arrogant side which people hate that word but that’s a fast way to say overly confident versus humble. Meghan’s on the insecure side which people hate that word too but that’s overly humble and not confident enough. I need to work on driving up my humility, Meghan needs to work on driving up her confidence muscles. When we go on the elevator, our practice ground is for me to not press the button, to wait for somebody else to show up, press the button and then go in after them and then walk out last.
Meghan’s practice is to press the button, dart in in front of everyone and dart out even as rushing out and just say sorry I’m practicing. Do this enough times, you will see a change. You as you with practice, we are what we practice. Second story. Going to feedback, another individual we met, his name is Peter Gorman, my picture over here. We call him Doc. Peter Gorman is a fascinating individual, he invented the heart rate monitor. When you look at Polartec treadmills, machines measuring your heart rate, he invented that technology and has the patent on the technology where he is paid a royalty that’s 10% Polartec sells globally for 20 years.
His royalty checks are in the range of two to four million a week for 20 years. That’s just one of his success stories. He created a lot of other things but one of the things he created was a machine, this blue strip where you got tested on, called the OptoGait. That machine is a combination of two technologies. It’s the lens of the Hubble telescope that looks a billion light years away combined with lasers from ski racing but pointed at the human body. It is seeing what the naked eye cannot see. His technology has spread to be used by almost all professional sports team, Olympic teams, as well as medical fields but never really in the business world.
We met him and he, like me, we both like to talk. He’s talking, non-stop talking, I’m talking non-stop we’re not listening to anything we’re saying, especially each other, except one word we kept repeating. We kept repeating the word “imbalance” and then talking about balance. He was talking about physical balances, I was talking about character balances. Confidence and humility and the imbalance was what is the reason for driving bad decision making. When you are confident, not humble enough, you tend to make an arrogant call under stress. If you are humble and not confident enough, under stress you make an insecure call and those were the biggest mistakes that kept repeating thematically in decision making.
He was talking about physical imbalances and how an Olympic athlete trains four years, this is one of the crazy insights that Peter did. Four years to go for sometimes a 30-second tournament, 30-second game time. They OptoGaited all the US Olympic athletes before they went to their destination country to compete. Usually, US Olympic athletes used to go three days in advance before the tournament, before like the Olympic tournament. They OptoGaited before they got on the plane and then they OptoGaited every day after they got off in that home country whether, it’s China or whatnot.
They saw that it took five days for them to come back to normal. The vibrations on the plane screwed up their balance physically that it took five days meaning US Olympic athletes were going in disadvantaged simply by going two days too late. All US Olympic athletes now go one week advance because of this machine. There’s other crazier things he’s done but two of the craziest things this guy did was he took two individual strangers he met literally off the street that were paralyzed neck down. Different reasons, one was a plate in the brain that lead to an issue that created neck-down paralysis, six years of these– two separate individuals.
One is a high school football accident, six years of the best rehab you can imagine in the country and were told by doctors, “You can never walk again.” Peter Gorman, Doc, meets them and says, “Come to my office. It’s a mail pack New Jersey. Come to my office, let me help you.” He got both of them to walk in 90 days. One of them’s running a marathon now. You meet a guy like this– I don’t know what you’re thinking but I’m like, “He’s not a magician. Tell me how you did it. What’s the secret?” This is what he says to me, it’s so simple but so profound.
He said, “Charlie, human beings are wired to do the right thing but we often don’t know what is right and what is wrong. As a result, we the wrong thing. If we hurt our right leg, you know what we tend to do? We put all the pressure on our left and we go like this. Yet the right thing in this instance is to put pressure and fight through the pain in the right leg, the very leg we hurt and that is how you get better. We do not know right and wrong which is why we do the wrong thing.”
He created what he called a second screen. A second screen is the ability to go on the treadmill and look at the screen of how you’re supposed to walk. How do you get someone who’s paralyzed to walk? You can’t. You got two people paralyzed with two grown men moving their feet one at a time to show them what they’re supposed to do, did that every day for 90 days and they started to walk. They put their mind to it, their body followed and they are walking and they’re running marathons.
This idea of feedback, the idea that if you could actually break down what most of us actually have which is what we call an echo chamber of BS. We surround ourselves with second screens that just tell us what we want to hear versus wanting to get the truth, what is right? If you do, you will adjust. We are wired to adjust if we can get the truth. One more story talking about the last piece coaching. Some of the interesting and crazy people we spend time with. One of them is the CIA. Like Meghan and I getting approved to get clearance, some of the highest levels in the CIA which– I shouldn’t share that but if you ever want to go, let us know.
This is the compound for Osama bin Laden. Our team spent time with the lead analyst to help catch Osama bin Laden. It’s kind of a neat story. What the team did, and this is talking the biases and blind spots. The US is the most powerful country when it comes to the military technology and they have gobs of money to go and bribe everyone to tell them where the hell is Osama bin Laden and for however long they went, they couldn’t find this one individual. That sounds very impossible. Do you ever watch 24, any of these TV shows? It takes like usually 24 minutes before they find, if not 24 seconds. It’s so fast they couldn’t find them.
They couldn’t find them and they just were like confounded how they couldn’t find them. The lead analyst did something profound. He said, “You know in history, one other time something like this happened was around the Titanic.” The Titanic sank and every country in the world was looking for the Titanic and they couldn’t find them. They went and found the original team that found the Titanic and say, “How did you do it?” They talked about the fact that we all have assumptions that we make and we don’t challenge these assumptions. One of the assumptions of the Titanic was that it broke in two giant pieces.
They look for two giant pieces. That team that found them challenged that assumption and said, “How about if it wasn’t two big pieces but it was thousands of pieces how it broke?” They expanded the search grid and they found the Titanic almost immediately. After meeting with this group they found Osama bin Laden almost immediately. No matter how good we are, we all have biases and blind spots. You need the ability to get someone else, a diversity of thoughts to help you see it and this is where a coaching comes in. Each of these cases “you as you” practice, second screen feedback, and you get coaching to find your biases and blind spots.
These are the three legs of how to build a developmental gym, how to become better decision makers. How do things fail? As in don’t repeat the mistake of other people. I love this formula we got from the military as well and this picture with a car. Performance equals potential minus impediments. Set in another way in a car, potential is stepping on the gas. You’re strengths, what you’re good at, but you have to subtract out how hard you’re stepping on the brakes. Because a car, if you have your foot on the break, no matter how hard you press the gas, just burns out, does not move.
There are two ways to drive performance. To drive higher potential and often we found reducing your impediment is actually going to create a greater return first. Taking your foot off the brake is equally, if not more effective at times, than pressing on the gas. We may put all of it together summarizing 10 years of working with other organizations, we found when it came to decision making Moneyball, the movie with kind of what are the hidden metrics? We found when it came to decision making, applying judgment, most organizations focus on these three things. You want independent thinking.
That’s another word for innovation and creativity. Then you want to invite critical feedback, healthy discourse or collaboration to then get to the right decision. What we found was these were level three, four, and five. Think of the symptoms because you got to get to the root cause of why it’s not happening because organizations come up with creative days. Days that you’re going to be creative, workshops, play-doh and whatnot. Then you have critical thinking or feedback workshops and apps. Then you have eventually, they’re so frustrated what they call decision-making rules.
In the military it’s called, I think it’s M-D-P or is it M-D-M-P. Military decision-making process. There are rules of how you have to decide and you know what that does? It takes your asset, the human being, the power of the brain and it negates it. It shuts it down saying, “Just read the rules and follow it.” That’s the 20th century. When we dug in we found there were two levels that came before it. One was level one gas. You have to give a shit. No matter how great a thing you want to do if people don’t have gas, it ain’t going to work.
The second thing we which we found is the hardest thing to understand and get past is no LHF. It’s a term Meghan came up with years ago, lying, hiding, faking. The amount of time we spent doing that, playing politics, masking our weaknesses, trying to look good, is preventing you from using your brain. It’s preventing you from properly being creative and innovative. Properly having healthy discourse and feedback to each other. Properly making the right calls. Gas looks like this. They for the job done but not without gas. This is what no gas looks like.
No matter how great your strategy is, if they don’t give a shit, you’re not going to see it work. Lying, hiding, faking. Meghan’s going to go into a lot more detail. It’s tie the truth, authenticity, the idea of leaving nothing unsaid especially what you sense and feel. Your intuition, human beings we are data gathering machines. Your intuition and what you feel is simply the accumulations of all data that you know in disparate sources past, present, but we don’t know how to process that. If different thinkers come together and do it, it’s crazy how much better decisions come out of it.
Meghan Messenger: Going to get going with the second half of our presentation. We have about an hour. Ideally, we’re going to leave some time for Q&A, it should not take up the entire hour in the presentation. I think you actually have copies of some of this. I’m going to do something kind of unusual. I don’t normally do this at this stage of the Academy but I’m going to use myself and share an example of when Charlie use this formula, performance equals potential minus impediments. Talking about my impediment and my story. I’m going to give you a full deep dive, here it is.
My greatest impediment is this inferiority complex I have which has led me to become a master LHFer. Came up with the term no LHF because it takes one to know one. You have to do it really well to realize how bad it is. I’m not wearing this, I normally do it’s just I have a lot of different wires going on right now but this is my security badge to get into next jump. The lanyard I have says, “Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.” The reason I have that is that my mother, and this is my family– If you are wondering, I have a twin sister, Ellen, she’s on your left, I’m on your right. It’s about a decade ago.
We’re identical twins, if you’re wondering. Very, very similar. Everything the same but I’m going to tell you what was different about us. I just want to kind of share the reason why I wear this lanyard. It is a reminder for me of all the sacrifices my mother made for me so I can be here. In the ’70s she got into arguably the best dental program in the country. She could have been a dentist, wanted to run a hospital at some point, she had a lot of grand ambitions.
She became a stay-at-home mom, was to me the best mom and still is ever. I love her to death, we’re still very close but she is missing something even still when I look at kind of what happened in her like and what work could have been for her. It’s such a source of motivation for me because of what work has been for me at Next Jump. Charlie talked about work should your next institution of learning without question Next Jump has been my institution of learning. I started in 1998 as a local sales intern when we had a print business, selling locally door to door.
This is my 20-year anniversary coming up this year in June. We’ll be 20 years here. My entire adult life has been working at Next Jump. I have learned more here. I cannot even tell you how much this is truly been like school to me. The journey for me wasn’t easy. Again I went from an intern, I’m the co-CEO of the company now and I look at how did that happen? I spent a lot of time reflecting and kind of what were the lessons, what were the insights, what was the key to this movement that I have. I look at it and say, “My God, that journey was not difficult.” What happened?
Let me just give you a sense of quickly the source of the impediment, the inferiority. She’s right there, my sister. Again, we look the same, We did everything together, we had the same friends, we play the same sports, everything everything everything the same except for one thing. She was the smart twin, I was the dumb twin truthfully and I know I can kind of laugh about it now but not fully. It was really hard for me. There are two quick stories I want to share with you of what I remember the most. The first one in seventh grade, Mrs. Dunphy, God bless you all teachers. I love you to death but I don’t know where Mrs. Dunphy is now but in seventh grade, she was my world geography teacher.
My mother went up to the school and wanted to ask Mrs. Dunphy why Erin is getting A’s and why her twin sister Megan is getting C’s? I did not find out about this until I turned 30 by the way. I just turned 40 last year. My mother waited until I was 30 to tell me this. I don’t think my mother did this in a light way, I think she definitely gets more arrogant. I don’t know what the conversation exactly was but she was asking why Erin is getting A’s and Megan is getting C’s? With a lot of back and forth finally Mrs. Dunphy blurts out. Well, Mrs. Lombardi, frankly it’s because Megan is just not that smart.
Then when I turned 18, I guess 17 going into 18 in high school when you’re applying to colleges. This is the second memory I have that I will never forget. I have such a vivid memory of this. Both my sister and I wanted to go to Villanova, that was kind of our rich school. We both wanted to go apply and back then I think it still happens. You got to go to the mailbox to get your acceptance letters. I lived in this huge hill, I grew up in Massachusetts on Cape Cod and the house is really far apart just very suburban. We had this huge hill that we lived on.
Back then, we applied to I don’t know what 15 schools or something. We just sent out a ton of applications, you just send out a ton. At least they did back then. All the letters were coming and coming and coming, we were getting and we looked a lot of these schools, some of the rich schools are not sure yet but Villanova was the one we wanted to both go to. That day my mother says, “Let me, Erin and Megan go down and get the mail.” Let me go do it. I’ll never forget that split second and because of NQR is not quite right. Why is she saying let me go do that? I was so young but I remember thinking if something is– and I think I knew deep down, is it possible Erin gets in and I don’t get in.
Yes, I got C’s in geography in the seventh grade but I worked really hard and I made pretty good grades. Not as good as Erin, but in my head, I thought I’m going to get in. I’m going to get in with Erin, it’s a possibility that I don’t. Of course my mother is taking this really long walk up our hill as I’m peering out the window. I can watch how slow this process is taking for her to get up the hill. She walks in and she hands Erin and I the letters and when you get accepted it’s like a really thick envelope of all the good stuff that’s about to happen in your life and then when you don’t get in it’s this really thin piece of paper that just says sorry.
It’s not clear. I got this sorry, it’s not going to work out. I got wait-listed, I didn’t get into the school. It’s just a tough memory I have and of course, my sister went and I didn’t and I ended up going to a great school of Fairfield in Connecticut. I loved it, I met my husband there. I learned a ton but still, that was a tough window because I wasn’t the smart twin. I knew it and this is why I learn to LHF because I felt so inferior, I felt we’re the same DNA, why is she smarter than me, why doesn’t she have to try as hard and I learned how to become a master LHFer.
I love this image because this is exactly what most people like to do. They want to hear. Charlie calls it echo chamber of BS comforting lies because it’s so hard to hear the truth. Deep down you know. Nobody is that oblivious, I knew but when you practice not feeling it and talking about it, that’s what you become. You just learn how to keep it in. I learned how to keep it in and I learned how just everybody else to stand in that line in the first 20 years of my life. Welcome Next Jump, we went from 200 employees down to four, I was one of the four.
I helped Charlie build this business back up. Oh my God, did I learn to stand here in that unpleasant truth line? I learned to stand here when most people in our company did not. This is what I learned to do. I learned how to just hear it, take it, seek it out and receive really critical feedback which was if it’s not clear I wish I attempt. I was going to put Charlie’s face down here. I’m not going to lie, I thought Charlie was the devil. I thought he hated me, he’s got an axe to grind but when you’re learning and I’m going to talk about this a little bit.
When you are learning to give critical feedback it’s hard. You’re going to say it all the wrong ways. I used to think if he just said it nicer I’d take it better. Maybe if he just gave me a little warning. I used to ask him, can you just give me a signal that you’re about to punch me in the gut so then I know so I can brace myself for the impact that I’m about to feel emotionally and mentally. When you’re learning how to do that, you didn’t know what to do either. He was in his 20s and he’s trying to build this business and it was tough. Anyway, I’m going to talk more about this.
This is what most people do, this comforting lies and the reason is this imposter syndrome. You’ve seen this movie Catch me if you can forever ago. Leonardo is pretending to be somebody he is not. Why? He feels inferior, if you’ve seen the movie there are tons of different reasons why he kind of goes into this. It looks awesome. How glamorous is that? He’s like the pilot, all the stewardess are around him, he’s living the life, all the girls, fantastic. If you watch the movie this is what happens though at the end.
It is exhausting to lie having fake, to pretend, to be an importer, to pretend to be somebody you’re not, to not say what you’re actually thinking, to hold it all in overtime it wears on you physically. This is what it looks like. I had the privilege of meeting Jim Loehr who’s one of the best performance coaches in the world. He runs on a company called HPI. The human performance institute which was bought by J&J.
One of the best performance coaches and Charlie helped through the process after I had my first child, got me this amazing one on one day with Jim which never happens. He has a course three days but you never get one on one with him. Charlie begged favors and meeting with him, I said this is what is going on in my head. Jim, this is forever ago. If anyone ever knew how little I know, I would be fired, I would be fired if Charlie ever knew if our board ever knew how little I know. Why am I in this position, why did they think I can do this? I felt so over my head but I would never express that in a million years for the fear that I would be fired.
He told me, “Megan, it takes so much energy to cover this up and you sense you’re unique like you’re this oddball but the truth is you’re normal and this is life.” By the way, this only gets worse as you get more senior. If you do not feel like an impostor, it’s just because you don’t have enough responsibility and as you take on more, you’re going to feel it. As you get more senior in your career, you will feel this. If you don’t you’re lying. You’re lying and I’m just going to tell you now you feel it but you just don’t talk about it. Anyway, this was helpful for me.
That was the big turning point of my career thanks to Charlie of reminding me this is normal, if you feel like an impostor. There is data and we spend a ton backing this up. This is awesome data. Working with the neuroscientist from the best in the world, they told us something really profound. It takes twice as much energy to lie than tell the truth. Twice as much energy to lie. It’s in the data when they look and scanning your brain, it takes twice as much energy to lie. That means truth and lying. That means in a 45 hour work week. I think most of you probably work more than that these days but just for the math.
45 hour work week, that means 15 hours is spent doing the first job. Doing the work, the real work, putting the truth out. Putting whatever you’re thinking out on the table. Getting real feedback truth, all truth, good work. 30 hours is doing that second job. Trying to look good, pretending to be somebody you’re not, playing politics, all those things that go into that pretending zone. Feeling like an impostor, there are things you want to say you’re not saying. Two third of your energy is sucked out doing that. That’s two-thirds of your week.
Imagine recovering even half of that 30 hours that you’re spending lying. Half of that would get 15 hours in your week back and what you could do. How much better the job could get done, how you spend more time with your family. Pick up a hobby, exercise, whatever that might be. To back this up, this guy his name is Dr. Jim Fadigan, this amazing guy he created the Cookie Monster and Big Bird in Sesame Street. It’s not Jim Henson, somebody though his not Jim Henson, his Jim Fadigan but he created these two and he’s a neuroscientist, Ph.D. neuroscientist. Built an amazing program called learn to learn and helping public school kids basically jump grades those with learning disabilities.
He said something as we’re working with him that really profound to us back to this brain issue which is the brain wants to be right. When it’s not right, it withdraws. I think in early childhood they call it when you have a strong avoidance response and you kind of opt-out things. You pretend to not be able to do it. As an adult, we call it LHFing but he said when the brain wants to be right and when it’s not it withdraws. It’s almost like a drug addict, if it’s not right, then it won’t go back to that. For instance, if you played politics and it worked, you will keep doing it because you’re brain says, “That felt good. I’ll do more of that. That worked for me.” You start to create these brain habits. If you ever
play dumb and it worked for you. I’m telling you my five-year-old has mastered. This is scary because he’s only five and he’s like a mini LHFer. He’s learned to play dumb and his teachers think he can’t do it. He’s lying and I look like an asshole telling that my parent teacher later today. I look and I’ll tell him he’s lying. He’s faking it. He can do it. He beat up his brother.
Of course he can hold the pen but he has learned how to fake it. He’s learned how to hide. If you ever told the truth and you got dinged for it, you tell the truth then you get in trouble for it and somebody just gives you critical truths on that. Why do I even do that? I should just kept my mouth shut, you create these bad brain habits.
Just to back this up, one more way to think about it this is the book that next Jeff was covered in one of three companies considered deliberately developmental from Bob Keegan a bunch of professors at Harvard. I know some of the people from Bridgewater here which is that one of the other d-do is very successful most, successful hedge fund.
They did a study, they scoured the planet and they were looking for companies they considered deliberately developmental. Meaning they put strategy, the development of their people as their core strategy and they found three companies. This is the first page of the book.
I’m just going to read it to you guys because I think they describe this really well, they call it your second job and they say, in any ordinary organization most people are doing a second job, no one is paying them for and businesses small, government agencies, school, hospitals, for-profit, nonprofits every country in the world.
Most people are spending time and energy covering up the weaknesses, managing other people’s impressions of them, showing themselves to the best advantage, playing politics hiding, their inadequacies, hiding their uncertainties hiding their limitations, they’re hiding. We regard this as the single biggest loss of resources that organizations suffer today.
This is the biggest problem that this team of professors at Harvard spent years. They have identified this is the problem, the second job. Here’s an easy way to think about it. Analogy to think about it. It’s like texting while driving. Driving is your primary job, you’re on the road and you’re driving, that’s your primary job.
The second job is trying to text using your cell phone, using your mobile phone while driving. Logic would say, could you get a little bit better at driving? Yes you could learn skip barber racing schools. Could you get better at driving? You could arguably but then realize you’re spending two-thirds of your energy. Extra time say you shouldn’t do try to do two things at once.
Texting while driving but here’s the problem. This is fascinating, the same data would show up two-thirds, 67%, 64% all road accidents in the United States occur from using your phone texting while driving, two thirds. Wouldn’t you say that people are then just not but they put the phone down, you wouldn’t do it.
If you knew this, the mindset is like, “Oh, that makes sense. I won’t do that anymore.” It’s really hard to do. It’s a hard habit that people have. That they feel the need to be doing that second job. That’s the same thing we’re talking about. The second job that is so baked into us. It’s so natural to protect yourself to lie, hide and fake to get through the course.
That first job is the most important job. If you take that analogy and then put that aside for a second and then think about what your job is, is decision making. What Charlie was talking about is to make decisions but this is what the 21st century decision-making map looks like. We call VUCA, right?
Charlie talked about this, volatile uncertain complex. It is so complicated just like bringing cupcakes into school. That is the smallest little example. It is so complicated. There’s so much information being thrown at you. There’s so many challenges and complexities the world is VUCA and there’s a ton of data to back this up.
Figure all these different choices you have to make and you’re trying to do it with a third of your brain. 1/3 of your brain is on fire trying to figure this out. 2/3 of your brain is lying hiding and faking and managing other people’s perceptions of you playing politics.
However you want to think about it. Near impossible to navigate with a third of your brain. This makes perfect sense, right? How can you possibly navigate with a third. You can’t, just the decisions you’re making. How good are they going to be. The best way to get better is to reduce that second job. Just eliminate. Even if you cut it in half you would then have 2/3 of your brain working and 1/3 LHFing.
The point is that you are what you practice. If you start practicing telling the truth, it’ll start to become a habit. It becomes part of you. You are what you practice but there are risks to this. This is not a– just go ahead and say anything that you want to anyone at any time because that’s what we call career suicide, social suicide.
Telling your peers and your friends are never going to be friends with you again. There’s a lot of bad stuff that can happen by being radically transparent or not lying, hiding, faking. You can floodlight, you can get up and talk about stuff that’s happened to you. That you’ve never dealt with before. That’s what Brené Brown calls floodlighting.
You can just do some really bad stuff TMI, dramas, roll the drama grenade they call it. You can do some but that is going to happen. It’s just natural. That’s life, right? You can’t say this will never happen. Of course that’s going to happen but here’s the dilemma we all face. I want to get make better decisions.
I want to get more of my brain back but I risk career suicide. I risk losing two of my friends. I risk pissing other people off. I risk being labeled an asshole. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be that person that is giving everybody else brutal truth.
That’s really hard to do. We just don’t do it but if you know that feedback is decision-making, data feedback from other people, giving feedback is data from other human beings that will inform your decision-making. You need to be collecting more and more data to help you make better decisions.
If you believe that you don’t have all the answers, that data will help you make better decisions but again this dilemma of this career suicide but you so you– our point is you have to practice it now. Everybody is going to this line, this comforting lies. You might say okay, I’m ready. I want critical truth. I want to be told the truth. I want to get better. I want to get more of my brain back. I want to reduce my LHFing.
You want to stand in this line like I did years back but here’s the problem. There’s nobody sitting there. Nobody is willing to give the critical feedback, the brutal truth, honesty to other people because it’s so hard to do like I said career suicide. All this, you could be inappropriate, you could kill your career, friendships the whole nine yards.
You’d feel like an idiot for saying stuff you didn’t want to say. Why did I do that. I was so vulnerable now everybody thinks I’m weak. Many reasons not to do this. Nobody’s giving you feedback. This is what they call and we’re working with a PhD student who’s finishing her dissertation on feedback. She’s from Harvard and she talks about this organizational science. There’s a ton of literature out there about this.
Organizational science. This is how it happens. Nobody is willing to give the critical feedback. Nobody’s saying anything about anything. You just get silence and this is the problem now. You’re not getting any feedback, no truth circulating, so you have bad decisions. This is backed up more research.
Kim Scott she was a former Google employee who literally built a business around what she calls radical candor, maybe if heard of this. Her point is, radical candor is the best you can be. I’ll explain this in a second but what she says, if you can’t offer a radical candor, the second best thing you can do is be an asshole.
She’s created an entire business off of this. Very successful Google employee. Second best you can do. Here’s how it works. She talks about care, we would say niceness, care niceness how you try to deliver feedback. We learned years back from Jim Loehr had told us that niceness is actually inauthentic kindness.
When you’re nice, yes you might be nice to somebody, you’re thinking something about them, you’re not telling them, that’s inauthentic kindness. You’re not telling them the truth. Call it niceness and then you can challenge somebody that’s giving truth or the no LHF.
Here’s where you want to be. You want to be radically radical candor. You want to give truth with care. You start with no niceness. I’m not going to be nice and I’m not going to give you truth. That’s the worst place to be. You’re not nice and you’re not giving truth. Who wants to be there and this is, they call manipulative in sincerity.
You want to move this into this path. You want to start with nothing and say I’m going to try to be really caring. I want to try to be really nice and care for you, show you I care and then give you truth. All the research and data says that doesn’t work. That’s the path you want to take. That’s the path I want to take.
That is so natural. This is the only path that works, obnoxious aggression before you learn how to do it right and do it with care, give truth-less care you have to. This is the path you’re going to step over the line. You’re going to be obnoxiously aggressive. I feel terrible. I wish I knew this 20 years ago.
When I thought Charlie had an axe to grind, go ahead, that’s the harder job I used to think taking the feedback is the harder job. I’ll take the punches all, oh my god it’s so much harder to actually give it. How do you build this into your company.
This unpleasant truth booth doesn’t exist in most companies or if it does, there’s one person and that one person doesn’t scale to everybody and you can’t yes, could you hire coaches that give truths and private coaches for you’re going to cover 1%-2% of your organization and it’s going to be really costly. Then good luck if you get the best ones, right?
There’s so few of them out there that will give you critical truth there in the arena doing the work. You need to build this into your company culture and what we talk about is the like I said the giving. This is what I feels like to receive it but it also it’s really hard to give it. This is why you look so sad, but if you start, this is the ironic piece. You have to start by building a culture where everybody is learning to give the critical feedback because if there’s nobody giving it, I think a lot of people are willing now to stand in that line. They want truth, they want feedback. I think it’s very different than 20 years ago, but if nobody’s giving it so as much as people are saying, “We want the feedback can you give me feedback?” Because nobody’s willing to give it and that practice to giving it.
Learn how to practice giving critical feedback and then, coach your people on how to receive it, how to deal with it, how to digest it, how to process it and this is where all the coaching comes in but it’s a one-two. You’re going to see 10x in a few minutes at twelve o’clock but the point is that you need to start somewhere and so not to walk into a board meeting and I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m under qualified for this role. It’s to start giving feedback and truth privately.
Call it the private. Just to you. The app that you guys have as an example is one way to do it. Anonymously, nobody knows what you’re writing. You can write feedback about other people in there without anybody knowing. That’s the anonymous feedback and I know people say, “Oh. That’s cowardice.” That’s not the only kind of feedback we have in the company. You’re going to see but that is a way for everybody to practice putting out their independent thought, getting that feedback that truth out so they can get more of their brain back.
Then, ideally, you build in a program where you have these training partners. These TPs. We work in pairs where you can say, “I will say things to Charlie that I never want anybody else to hear.” That is the safest place I have to share my truth. Then, you share with others. This is kind of this idea of a safety circle. You’re going to see 10x. You’re going to have a private way in at twelve o’clock where here’s how it’s going to work. You’re going to see somebody up on stage sharing their development journey.
I think four employees who are planning to do that today. We used to think that it’s actually about them and their growth in their development, but the priority is shifted. It’s actually about the crowd. You all our employees giving that person truth. Giving them feedback. It’s about training everyone not just the one person. That’s the emphasis. We’re training everybody, not the one.
There’s judges. These are our most practiced coaches. You could call them master coaches. You’re going to see three judges and put life. Also, we’re going to give feedback, but you as the audience, as our next jump employees, as our attendees here today are going to first give feedback in the app. You’re going rate them, you’re going to score them and you’re going to give your comments. That’s practice, but then you get to see what the judges think so you can rate yourself in private. “I didn’t see that. I wasn’t thinking that. God, I missed that.”
It’s a way to privately see how you did. It’s like with American Idol. If you watch American before Simon Cowell gives his opinion, are you curious? I was thinking missing this and then we said, He just I knew that.” Or I didn’t think of that. If you’re doing that in private then share that with anybody. This is the program, one of the programs one of the ways to do. We are training everybody to give feedback and the reason we talked about this as a program is that we are as human beings, we are machines.
If you’re going to try to willpower you away and think today I’m going to start giving critical feedback and truth to my friends, to my spouse, to my children, to my peers, you just won’t. It’s so hard to do. If because 95% of how we operate is automatic like brushing your teeth, getting ready, it’s so automatic. Your automatic right now is to not do that. If you bake it into the company and we can’t make it cultural, make it difficult to do the wrong thing, otherwise said make it easier for people to do the right thing and give critical feedback and get truth out so they can get more of their brain back, you’re going to have a much higher chance of success baking it in.
In terms of the results, I think this is the last slide I had. When we talk about team to mission that’s learning the performance mindset. From a strength of team point-of-view, attracting, retaining developing talent and from an attraction point of view, we have 10,000 applicants a year for 10 positions that we fill from the top engineering schools on the East Coast. There’s a place we’ve invested the last decade. From a retention of talent compared to the industry norm in the tech industry, I think we have three times the average tenure and retention in our employees.
At the senior levels, it’s 10x. Most of us have been here almost 20 years at the senior leadership team. Between 10 and 20 years depending why you look at our leadership team. From in a development point of view, one of the coolest things that you’ll hopefully you’ll see today too is that as we’ve had thousands of companies come through our academies and meeting us, one of the things they always say that we’re really proud of its how impressed they are with our junior talent.
That they speak with such wisdom, that they know that they just are impressive and at that such a junior level and I think that shows the development this priority we’ve put on developing our people right from out of college where most of our employees will start right out of college and there’s the growth of the company. The development programs that we’ve built. Then, from a profit point of view, our profits are growing. I think we’re even more excited about the future.
We’re a successful business. We’re profitable and we’re just really excited because we feel we’re only at the halfway point of figuring out how to do this. Hopefully, that gives you guys a quick sense. I think we have some time for—
Charlie: [inaudible 01:15:25]
Meghan: Charlie has a little bit more to share his story and then maybe some questions. Okay.
Charlie: One of the top things I mean you have different things in your mind it might range from this is too much to what do I do? What do I take away but one of the top questions we’ve had for the last decade the more we try to help other companies are is why you’re doing this? Are you going to sell me Tupperware at the end? Is there some– Everyone’s going to be bracing for the sales pitch and there is none. Of course, then the question of that doesn’t make business sense so what’s in it for you? I want to give you a sense maybe up front to help alleviate some of your thoughts but you might not still believe me so I have to see the full three days to maybe get there.
When we find the skeptics, usually at least the third of them half the group, usually get there by end of day Thursday but it does take some time. We have two goals in the company we talked about. One is a better me goal and the other one is a better you goal. The better me goal is to build a top 10 global tech company. Our ambitions are to get this company in the next 5 to 10 years to 50 billion in annual revenues. The reason we are doing this is because we believe that is the single biggest megaphone to be able to create change.
In hindsight, I think the biggest missed opportunity was what Google could have done. The don’t be evil, there’s jokes that they now or don’t be evil. They’ve done things aren’t necessarily the best but they had such a chance. The Google 20% everything Google did, I’ve seen restaurants in New York City, mom-and-pop shops doing the Google 20%. As you succeed everyone wants to know how did you succeed and they follow it to a T.
To create the blueprints not to push and book and talk but to show it through success is something that we are very focused on but there’s a bigger goal and the bigger goal that we talked about putting our business hats on was that if you change how work is running, you will change the world. You will fix the world’s problems if you bring the cavalry into it. The for-profit companies have all the money, all the power, all the tech and all the top talents. If they play a role in just moving their dial an eighth of an inch, you can fix every problem in the world.
There’s an individual I’ve never met this guy but tweeted this, “You can do more good if you’re profitable and make more profit because you’re good.” As the Tesla Fisker story showed, top talent joins the organizations that want to do something bigger. Tesla wanted to fix the problem of the dependence of natural resources and gas. Fisker went for the mid solution. The talent at a rate of 20 to 1 went to go fix the problem. Despite every expert saying, “You will be joining a company that’s going to be out of business.”
This is something that is profoundly new and happening at large scale in the 21st century. We have a statement, you’ll see this on different t-shirt. You’ll see in our walls. Our why to do the little things that allow others to do the great things they’re meant to do. Now, this is a mouthful so we ended up creating a shortened version that’s easier to remember. The implementation version of the why was to do the little things means it’s better me. It’s like having a cup that’s getting full.
When your cup is getting full, whether it’s in profits, whether it’s in knowledge, whether it’s in technology and giving human resource help, it’s little to you because your cup is getting full. Nonprofits tend to have empty cups. They’re scraping at the bottom trying to help others who have even a greater need. It’s important as an oxygen mask theory notion to make sure you’re consistently filling this cup so it flows over to help others who are doing great things, the better you and better us is not next room but it’s a better world and this formula of better me plus better you. It’s something is so profoundly big than what we do.
The story comes from the story of my father and how I was raised. My father is the most famous corn scientist in the world. He’s in the Encyclopedia Britannica as the father of corn. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times. He’s never won and his life mission has been to end world hunger. This has been his goal. I’m oldest of three children. I grew up in Nigeria in West Africa, that’s where the biggest research institute was. I watched him struggle with his greatest impediment. He can’t present his work. He talks too fast, he has a bad stutter, and his writing is awful. I watched him suffer through this growing up. I was a carbon copy of my father, which most people don’t believe. I talked too fast, I had a stutter, and I could not do public presentations for the life of me.
I have this distinct memory. When I was 14 years old, and if you ever have a father as a scientist, they create these white papers, it flows out of the printer. I come home, I was on financial aid, come back from boarding school, I come home. December 24th I’m in his office and he gives me 800 pages of what he wrote on corn research of how to fix and end world hunger. I have to go through, because I’m the older son, correct the grammar and correct the language on technical writing and corn. 5:00 AM, December 24th, sitting in his office, I’m 14 years old.
As I do this, there’s an article on the desk. I pick it up, I read it. It talks about how Dr. Kim is one of the greatest scientists the world’s ever seen. By then it said but he’ll never succeed because he can’t present his work. I watched people try to take advantage of that. I watched people come in and saying, “I will edit your Nobel application, but only if I can co-win it with you. I want half the credit just for proofreading and editing because I know you can’t win without my help.” I watched this over and over again. I did my best but I knew I too, my worst grades were in English. I could not present, I could not write and it’s something that I did not have strength in.
Somehow after I graduate college or actually when I was in college, I started Next Jump. We raised money from 100 angel investors. It’s kind of an odd thing. 100 investors putting $45 million in. I pitch the [unintelligible 01:22:04] people. I remember one day, so it’s roughly 10 years later, I walk into work. I was like, “What happened to my stutter?” It literally disappeared. I wasn’t even thinking about it, I was just fighting to keep my baby, Next Jump, alive and was raising money and it disappeared. It was a spiritual day where I was like, “I got to leave.”
[unintelligible 01:22:25] tech company, end world hunger, it’s clearly one that’s more important. I’m like the yin and yang to go and help my father achieve this big goal. I wanted to leave but 9/11 occurs shortly after. We go from 150 employees down to 4. We have nine months of unpaid rent, I have bloody noses for 60 days in a row. Meghan, Tom, and Kevin in London are the only people here left. We fight and build the business back up. I lose track of what’s happening with my father. Before you know it, 10 more years goes by.
I turn 34, this year I turned 45, but still. When I turn 34 I get a phone call, my father had a stroke. He’s still alive but something changed. Something changed where he had a stroke and my father would always talk about how the Nobel Peace Prize is an amplifier. It would amplify everything he’s discovered and it would end world hunger, which is why he wants to win it. That same month he had a stroke, I met this billionaire who said the most profound thing. It’s crazy sometimes you meet someone and it just lands and hits you in a different way.
He said to me, “Charlie, I only buy art from living artists. I believe in putting fuel behind those and do something with it.” That day it felt like my father winning a Nobel Prize would be a trophy on our mantle, it would not be an amplifier. His energy levels changed, everything was different. He’s still fighting hard trying to end world hunger, but it wasn’t the same person that was there before. Over the years I had this in my pocket, had on my walls where it started by saying I want to complete the mission, continue my dad’s lifelong work, end world hunger.
It changed to identify and empower individuals with a drive and aptitude to solve world problems. I shortened it to empower and help the world’s best accomplish their missions. Then I met a guy in 2011 by name of Simon Sinek, he gave one of the top TED talks. He listened to the whole story and said, “Charlie, you know what you’re actually trying to say is you want to do the little things that allow others so the great things they’re meant to do.” We screen heavily because we do not give help to everybody and we say more no’s than yeses.
20 no’s for every yes to find the people who are doing great things. You’re all here because for one reason or not our team believes we need to give our all to help you to do the great things you’re doing. I love this movie, I don’t know if you guys like this movie, Shawshank Redemption. There’s a scene where Brooks, before he leaves planet Earth, writes, “Brooks was here”, and then Red who was in prison wrote, “So was Red.” There was a general to his group before he got cancer before he left, he said, “Before you leave your job, before you leave planet Earth, make sure you do something that mattered.” This is me and Meghan.
[01:25:40] [END OF AUDIO]