Michelle Peluso, the C.E.O. of Gilt Groupe, the online shopping site hasn’t had an office in over a year! Her desire to connect and understand the various teams under her leadership has lead her to sit in the open with everyone. She has no interest in an ivory tower feeling disconnected from her people. Learning this approach and the power of positively from her father, an entrepreneur himself, and curiosity from her mother, a teacher, she brings passion and purpose to life and business.
In terms of hiring, Ms. Peluso loves loyalty. She says, “I understand that maybe it’s more generational, and maybe I’m crossing over to the old generation, and soon I’m going to be talking about how I walked to school barefoot, uphill both ways. But I like grit and persistence and loyalty.”
I do too!!
Her advice to women: grace! She states, “if your going to live a bold life, and if your going to take risks and try to step out of your comfort zone, you are going to occasionally fail, make some mistakes, and occasionally disappoint yourself… Grace is meeting those moments on your journey, then picking yourself back up, being humble enough to learn and not be to hard in yourself.”
Well said and a great perspective for both men and women as well as parents!!
Brad Smith is the chief executive of Intuit, the software company. He learned leadership skills by becoming a black belt by age 18 and teaching 150 students soon after. There, he learned that “success is creating the environment where people can be their best selves and continue to grow and develop.” I love it! In my business I do likewise for the people I coach from athletes to entrepreneurs to adolescents trying to figure out life!
Mr. Smith, interviewed by Adam Bryant of the Corner Office, says that he learned from his father to: “never mistake kindness for weakness.” Again, I love it. Too few of us are truly kind. It takes courage to be kind. Anyone can be critical and judgmental. “Always be kind and generous but always stand your ground,” he states a core lesson from his father. Well said!
Mr. Smith also believes in the value of making mistakes, acknowledging your wrongdoing, learning and improving. When interviewing prospective hires he asks them to tell him about their biggest mistake and what the lesson they took away. In helping college students make career decisions he guides them to go for what excites them, to pursue their passion or what makes their heart beat faster, another lesson from his father!
I like Mr. Smith’s style and perspective; it’s positive, no-nonsense and progressive. With this kind of leadership, more corporate environments would be both humane and fulfilling!
Learning more about the mind and it’s abilities is always fascinating to me! An article by Sumathi Reddy in the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal suggests that forgetfulness is not only pervasive as many of us suspect but linked to our genetics in a substantial way. For instance, one study found that 75 percent of people may carry a gene mutation that leads to higher incidences of forgetfulness. As we age, the brain shrinks making us more prone to memory and concentration lapses too. The good news is that there is plenty we can do to help ourselves. When we encode memories if we pay closer attention to our behavior we are more likely to remember things. In other words, the more present we are, the better our memory! This is part of how I teach others to succeed in life, business, and sports. The more in the here and now we are, the better our performance no matter what the activity!
Retrieval is also better if we can trace our emotional state to use as a clue to where we put a lost item in the first place. In other words, the more mindful we are the better our memories. This is also true of success and performance. Stress, depression and fatigue decrease memory, concentration and performance. On the other hand, putting ourselves in a great mental state improves many aspects of living including memory and performance!
Kim Bowers, C.E.O. of CST Brands, a gas-station and convenience-store retailer, doesn’t trust managers who manage up really well but not down. In other words, it’s fundamentally important that your team will go to bat for you what she refers to as “walking over hot coals for you.” Creating that loyalty and bonding with your people is an indispensable leadership skill!
Ms. Bowers’ perspective on career management is very interesting as well. She says, “Throw it out the window. It’s not going to happen that way. If you work really hard, opportunities will come along, and success will follow.” I agree that working hard is important, staying open, and looking for ways to expand your skill sets and abilities is fantastic. However, some people might want to cultivate mentoring and guidance because they don’t always see the opportunities when they come or have the courage to take the risk. Also, I find that a fair amount of younger people today aren’t patient enough to work hard and pay their dues. On the other hand, when I guide someone who finds them-self in an environment where hard work leads to frustration, change might be necessary sooner no matter what it looks like from the outside.
I teach fluidity which means cultivating awareness of the circumstances and creating the courage to take action to change unhappy situations. Fluid people are less attached in general to certain outcomes which is another way of saying what Ms. bowers is suggesting that ultimately you can’t really control your career. But what you can do is work hard, stay open, and seize opportunities as they come!
Tom Erickson, C.E.O of Acquia, an open-source softwear company, addresses the value of accepting failure on an emotional level in this Corner Office interview. He states, “I’m looking for people who are going to jump in and own their own work, who are going to risk something and risk failing.”
I love it!! When people ask me what I do for a living I have many different responses depending on my mood and the person asking the question. The traditional response is that I have a doctorate in psychology and do a hybrid of business coaching, life coaching, and sports psychology. I do all that but what I really do is help people face their fears, embrace change, become more fluid, flexible and creative and ultimately live with more courage! This is what Mr. Erickson is taking about too. How does one do that, you might ask? By practicing living and expressing your truth each and every day until it becomes the core of who you are! Only you know what your truth is and what you are avoiding. Coaching and guidance is helpful but at the end of the day, you must take action and practice living with courage!!
Don Knauss, the C.E.O. Of the Clorox Company is a former Marine and athlete who makes tons of sense. He believes in motivating others by creating trust through exercising power cautiously and caring about his people to such an extent that they are primary – what he refers to as the heart piece. Like myself, he agrees that intelligence is important too but without heart over time it’s hard to retain great people. He too looks for passion over pedigree and believes in the necessity of becoming an excellent communicator. I really enjoyed his perspective because it reminded me of so much that I offer and teach others; especially the importance of hammering away at the fundamentals: my core teaching is to avoid nothing, be as present as possible, have bang-up integrity, honor yourself, and learn to develop and trust your intuition!
Thank you Mr. Bryant for your outstanding interviews and Mr. Knauss for sharing your perspective!
Adam Bryant interviews Jeff Lawson, the C.E.O of Twilio, a cloud communications company based in San Francisco in this week’s Corner Office section of the Sunday New York Times business section. An entrepreneur since age 12 when he started a video production business, Mr. Lawson discusses the value of communication and resolving conflict something his crew rarely did in his next enterprise, a dot.com company.
As both a psychologist and business coach , I teach communication at a very high level. My argument to business people is that whatever you learn and practice in your business life can be applied to your personal life and vice versa. Becoming proactive and engaged and learning to address issues head on instead of avoid them is absolutely important in every area of your life and will eventually help you become a much better parent too!
Communication skills, much like many other things in life, improve with patience, practice, and perseverance. If you want to become a better communicator, practice bringing things up. Over time, you will become more discerning and tactful. Remember: the more you practice, the better you get!
I just came across a Corner Office interview when I was cleaning my house yesterday after my girlfriend took one of our dogs and left for the LA area where we intend to set up shop eventually! Apparently, I had saved the Sunday Business section from the first week of January and didn’t read it till today. Karen Abramson, the C.E.O. of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, learned from her father, a business manager and owner, that if you have the skills to successfully run one business, you can use those same skills to run just about any business! I agree in general. A leader who is present, focused, clear, determined, and loyal can create success wherever they go.
Ms. Abramson also discussed the importance of having clear expectations because as she states, “even though you think things may be intuitive, people don’t always understand what you’re doing and thinking.” I agree with this statement as well. In guiding individuals, whether or not they are athletes, entrepreneurs or housewives, clear and transparent communication builds loyalty and trust and eliminates most misunderstandings and dramas. Learning to become a better communicator is important no matter who you are! My advice: hire a coach or mentor to help you communicate better . It’s a no – brainer!
Sheila Talton, C.E.O. of Grey Matter Analytics, a consulting firm, an anti-Vietnam war activist in her youth failed out of college because she focused to much on organizing and protesting. Working as a secretary at a fork lift company a white male salesmen noticed her initiative and then got behind her and pushed her to go back to college offering to help her with her coursework. I shared this part of her interview because I just got off the phone with a minor league baseball player that I’ve been coaching for seven months. He is heading into spring training this year with a clear head, zero drama, and much greater focus! He thanked me for all my assistance and told me that he is now behind his girlfriend much like I got behind him. She too is thriving!
Ms. Talton also shared that she will offer up a member of her team for promotion or another opportunity if it is right because it shows how invested she is in other people’s careers not just her own. Instead of holding on or hoarding good people she prefers the good will generated from letting them go. I love this enlightened approach to business management and leadership. I imagine that she is successful in her personal life too. I often teach people, including athletes and entrepreneurs, to be more fluid and flexible by holding on less and letting go sooner. Often, it is simply the best way to live, create, and be!
Each week I do a quick little blurb on Adam Bryant’s interviews in the New York Times Sunday Business section. This week he interviewed Jody Greenstone Miller, the co-founder and chief executive of the Business Talent Group, a provider of project based talent. I enjoyed her open and honest style but what stood out for me most was her desire to hire optimistic people who are problem solvers not just problem spotters.
I often say that anyone can criticize and judge but it takes strength of character to be understanding. In a similar vein, anyone can point out a problem but it takes strength of character to resolve the problem. Ms. Miller also prefers hiring people who “give you energy, and not take energy from you.” I believe this is very important when it comes to success in life and business. It’s what I refer to as eliminating the takers from your life, minimizing the neutrals, and inviting the givers!