This episode could have just as easily been called “The Democratization of innovation.” After all, the fundamental thrust of this book and our conversation was about moving innovation beyond the “usual suspects,” i.e., the R & D Department, and spreading innovation opportunities across the ranks. Most promising of all for soliciting input might be front-line employees, who know best the frustrations and disappointments of customers. Others to include range from current and potential customers to distributors and other business allies. Where might resistance emerge to such an expansive view of the innovation process? The answer could be middle managers, focused on executing the current business model. To win them over, it may be necessary to combine coaching about the importance and means of innovating with monetary incentives or placing limits on their career growth if they don’t “play ball.” If there’s a regrettable need to play the heavy, at times, it’s because as the saying goes, “It’s not that people see the light so much as they feel the heat.”
Ben Bensaou is a professor and former Dean of Executive Education at INSEA. He’s also been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, a research fellow at the Wharton School of Management, and a visiting scholar at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
Remember the Marlboro Man, who symbolizes rugged individualism? Minal Bopaiah is here to suggest that the idea of the “making it on your own” is and has always been a myth. That’s because there is always, inevitably, a social context that favors one group more than another. It’s not that individual efforts aren’t valid; it’s just that the story is always more complicated, and those in positions of power are eager to camouflage the degree to which the “game” is tilted by factors like gender, race, and of course relative wealth. Beyond corporate life and the usual topics covered when discussing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), this episode also explores the world of non-profits, where “doing good” has aspects to it that should welcome reform. Get ready for a passionate guest. Minal Bopaiah doesn’t deliver “talking points” – “feeling points” is closer to the mark.
Minal Bopaiah is the founder of Brevity & Wit, a strategy and design firm focused on DEI initiatives. She’s written for the Stanford Social Innovation Review and TheHill.com an author, among other activities and career accomplishments.
The statistics are, frankly, exasperating. Gender equality remains a mirage. For instance, the proportion of female CEOs at major companies in America struggles to break 10%. On Fortune 500 boards, only about 20% of the seats are held by women. The problems with achieving gender fairness go on and on. Fortunately, my guest Colleen Ammerman covers solid ways of addressing the injustices still present. Those steps include not tolerating bad behavior from “rainmakers”—even to the point of disallowing severance pay or other benefits if that person gets terminated due to sexual misconduct. Declining invitations to events that don’t prioritize gender diversity among its speakers is another avenue of applying pressure for change. For anybody who wants to witness both structural and cultural changes within companies, this episode is well worth a listen.
Almost all of the new jobs created in America come from small businesses. As Pamela Slim reports, the precise number may be as high as 99%. And those same small businesses also provide over 50% of the nation’s GDP. So why not focus more on these often-unheralded engines of growth? Slim honors small businesses with an expansive focus that includes Native American, Black, Latinx, Asian, disabled, and LGBTQ entrepreneurs. How can these businesses best find their respective niches, then expand them? Who’s their ideal customer? What kind of community partners can best further their mission and goals? Those and other vital topics are raised in this practical-minded episode.
Pamela Slim is an author, community builder, business coach, and former director of Training and Development at Barclays Global Investors. Among her accomplishments is partnering with author Susan Cain to build and launch The Quiet Revolution. Among her books is Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur.
The New York Times columnist David Brooks once joked that, ultimately, the “revolution” promised us by the Baby Boomers amounted to nothing much more than the founding of Whole Foods. What will Millennials bring us? Already it seems that the answer is employees and consumer-citizens for whom the values they want to live by and be known for on social media will be paramount. Why is that the case? As Nathalie Nahai argues, a primary reason is the looming environmental disaster of climate change. The stakes are high, and the result is that nothing can be taken for granted. With trust being the emotion of business, today’s agile, atomized and antagonized workforce wants some measure of justice: for women, for people of color, and in general for everyone who wants to rally around the mantra of “profit with purpose” rather than “profits ahead of people.” From topics ranging from cancel-culture to woke-washing, this is a very timely episode.
What’s it like to live in a time warp, needing more time than other people to process what’s being said, what it might mean, and therefore how you should feel in response? Sarah Nannery knows the score, given her struggles with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Meanwhile, as a “neurotypical brain” person, her husband, Larry Nannery, adds his perspective about helping Sarah navigate situations ranging from office politics to social outings. Highlights of this episode include what internalization means to Sarah as she copes with feeling “bottled up inside,” and how she makes a “conversational sandwich” to handle the small talk that others can handle so readily.
From Thom Hartmann’s perspective, the battle over whether America should provide universal healthcare has been warped first by racism, then by greed. From the 1880’s to the 1980’s the idea of universal American healthcare was often opposed because it would aid African-Americans, too. Then from the Reagan Revolution to today, greed explains the delay in adopting universal healthcare because the current system favors industry insiders. Meanwhile, the average American pays more for less than is true elsewhere in the so-called Developed World. Get ready for plenty of surprises in this episode, like how the debate about healthcare got launched by three Germans: Karl Marx, Otto von Bismarck, and a person named Frederick Ludwig Hoffman. Never heard of the third guy? Well, at a time when Prudential was the biggest insurer in America, Hoffman became the company’s leading advocate for denying healthcare on racist grounds, thereby blunting the momentum to adopt universal healthcare that the German leader Bismarck had decided was a way to counter the appeal of Marxism.
Ever feel like you’re “screaming” to be heard in today’s social-media saturated world, only to have your “messages” fall on deaf ears? If so, Jamie Mustard has a solution to offer: you need to follow the Primal Laws of Attention. What are those Laws? Go BIG, BRIGHT and BOLD if you’ve got any chance to break through the clutter. Also you need to leverage repetition, deliver an emotional jolt by addressing your audience’s primary emotional concern, and practice transparency to establish your authenticity. Most of all, engage in radical simplicity. If what you are saying can’t be readily, almost immediately understood, forget it. Start over. Then to back up radical simplicity, the “shaft” behind that arrowhead of simplicity is just enough salient details to make the messaging worthwhile. Now. Just. Do. It.
Need a quick laugh to go along with some food for thought? Then this and every session of Scrambled Eggs is perfect, as Dan Hill and his guest explore a key term from each author’s book and how it might lead to improved business practices.
What do customers most want nowadays? According to David Avrin, the three-part answer consists of immediacy (instant gratification), individuality (flexible, customized assistance) and humanity (concern trumps indifference). Of them, while immediacy should in theory be the easiest to enact, ironically enough automation is making that goal more elusive. What else is of interest from Avrin’s version of ranting about the ills of customer service? For one thing, the desperate measures companies take to ward off negative reviews appearing on-line. For another, Avrin’s favorite exercise to help his clients improve their operations: have front-line employees imagine that they are creating a rival company, which benefits from knowledge about what customers really want most but aren’t getting right now. There’s nothing like the risk of losing existing customers, after all, to grab management’s attention!
David Avrin is a highly popular speaker and consultant on the topics of the customer experience as well as on marketing. He’s a former CEO group leader and speaker for Vistage International. This is his third book, following It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You and Visibility Marketing.