Making Company Culture Something Real

AN image of the question "Tell me about something you’ve invented” a the question Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson asks of job candidates wanting to join his company.

In the book, The CEO Test, which executive “aced the exam”? I would vote for Jeff Lawson, the CEO of Twilio, a cloud communications platform company. Why? Lawson allows for very little daylight between Twilio’s espoused values and how the company actual operates. Here is how Lawson pulls off that feat:

  • First, the company’s values were formulated based on broad input from current employees, not just as an exercise controlled by the c-suite.
  • Second, those values are carried forward to future employees by being front and center during the hiring and onboarding processes. The “invention” question above is but one example, given the goal of ensuring every employee likewise has a “builder mentality,” which is one of Twilio’s core values.
  • Third, quarterly and annual employee awards, as well as all promotions, involve honoring employees who embody the company’s values. The converse is that violating those values is cause for the firing of even high-performing “culture felons.”

Released today: episode #49 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Adam Bryant, the co-author, along with former Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer of The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders. Check out the audio link below to get oriented or click on https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/special-series/dan-hills-eq-spotlight to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Adam Bryant and the cover of his new book "The CEO Test: Master the Challenges that Make or Break All Leaders" For Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast "The X-Factors That Set the Best Leaders Apart" episode 49

Adam Bryant is managing director of Merryck & Co, a leadership development and mentoring firm. Before that gig, Bryant was a journalist for 30 years, including at the New York Times where he authored the “Corner Office” column. In addition, he’s a frequent contributor on CNBC.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Why Walking the Talk Doesn’t Propel Culture Change

The typical large American company is estimated to spend $2,200 per employee, per year, trying to manage its corporate culture. That amount equals over $60 billion annually.

Like a three-car pile-up on a freeway, consider these statistics: two-thirds of all business mergers fail; under 30% of executives think their company manages its culture well; and only 10% of HR leaders would go that far. Walking the talk doesn’t work. Who needs to hear more about a company’s “values” or “mission statement”? Trying to instill behaviors based on high-minded rhetoric isn’t nearly enough. Instead, a company’s basic operating system requires change if progress is to be made. That move means changing the habits and routines—the practices—that both drive and reflect the company’s true culture. What is also needed? Executives must ditch overconfidence in favor of psychological flexibility, the competency Israeli thought leader Yuval Harari has called the single most important passport to success in the 21stcentury.

Released today: episode #46 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David G. White, Jr., the author of Disrupting Corporate Culture: How Cognitive Science Alters Accepted Beliefs about Culture and Culture Change and Its Impact on Leaders and Change AgentsCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click on the image below to go directly to the new episode.

Image of the author, David G. White Jr's and the cover of his book "Disrupting Corporate Culture" for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast episode 46, entitled "You are What You Do"

David G. White, Jr. is cognitive anthropologist working with organizations on culture, change, and leadership issues. He’s the co-founder of Ontos Global, a boutique consulting firm. David previously held leadership roles at Microsoft, Mercer, and IBM; and is also a professional jazz musician with 7 CDs.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Of Daddy Wounds & Oil-Patch Drifters

When does 2% become 100%? The answer can be found in Michael Smith’s riveting book about working the oil boom in Williston, North Dakota. There he encounters The Williston Hello. Two short sentences kick off most initial meetings between the guys drifting into town. The first is “What kind of work you do?” The second is “Man, my dad whipped my ass!” Smith goes on to write: “That scar, that hole in a man’s soul the shape of his father, was a defining feature of every man I met in Williston. Men had built their lives around it. Like a tree growing around a hatchet,” as physical and psychological wounds meshed in guys taking on some of the toughest, coldest jobs in the world.

Released today: episode #45 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Michael Patrick F. Smith, the author of The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American BoomtownCheck out the audio and video link below to get oriented or click on the image below to go directly to the new episode.

Michael Patrick F. Smith is a folk singer who has shared the stage with luminaries such as Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. He’s also a playwright, whose works include Woody Guthrie Dreams and Ain’t No Sin. The Good Hand is his first book.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

The Shift from a Thinking to Feeling Economy

A summary of the main point from the book "The Feeling Economy" by Roland T. Rust and Ming-Hui Yuang, which is that we’ve gone from a Physical Economy (manufacturing) to a Thinking Economy (information) and are now entering a Feeling Economy (empathy).

Your career and future employability will depend on how you add value in a world where AI (artificial intelligence) + HI (human intelligence) are converging. Reading faces (facial coding), voices (e.g., Apple’s Siri) and bodies (via Fitbit) fit a world in which your emotional intelligence skills will be vital.

Here are some signposts of the basic socio-economic change underway from a thinking to feeling model:

1987: FCC repeals Fairness Doctrine, opening the way for Rush LimbaughFox News will launch in 1996

1995: Daniel Goleman publishes Emotional Intelligence

1997: Big Blue (IBM) defeats world chess champion Garry Kasparov; emojisfirst appear in Japanese mobile phones

1998: launch of Google & also Sensory Logic (my company, using facial coding to capture/quantify emotions)

2001: release of Stephen Spielberg movie AI Artificial Intelligence

2004: Facebook launches

2005: Malcolm Gladwell publishes Blink (which highlights facial coding)

2007: Fitbit launches; I release my book Emotionomics

2009: Lie to Me TV series based on facial coding launches on Fox (#29 most-viewed show that season); Affectiva and Realeyes switch to applying (automated) facial coding to business in imitation of Sensory Logic

2011: launch of the 1st digital assistant, Apple’s Siri

2014: SoftBank Robotic’s Pepperis 1st social humanoid robot

2016: Apple buys Emotient, the original facial coding automation company

2017: Female robot Sophia named an AI citizen in Saudi Arabia

Released today: episode #44 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Ming-Hui Huang, the co-author of The Feeling Economy: How Artificial Intelligence Is Creating the Era of Empathy. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Ming-Hui Huang and her book "The Feeling Economy" for episode 44 of Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight, titled When A.I. Thinks, Humans Feel. Click on the image to get to podcast link.

Huang Ming-Hui Huang holds a number of posts. She’s a Distinguished Professor at National Taiwan University; a fellow of the European Marketing Academy (EMAC); an International Research Fellow of the Centre for Corporate Reputation, University of Oxford, UK; and a Distinguished Research Fellow of the Center for Excellence in Service, University of Maryland, USA. She is also the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Service Research.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

A Tale of Forbearance & Resiliency

The 2018 movie Green Book won an Academy Award for Best Picture. The real deal, however, is Taylor’s book, which involved scouting over 10,000 Green Book sites where black motorist found safe places to refuel their cars, eat and sleep while on the road. Today, under 5% are still in operation and 75% have ceased to exist since The Green Book was published (1936-1967). Some establishments were the victims of decay over time. But often there are other explanations: “urban renewal” that meant new highways plowing through black communities, laying waste to black-owned businesses; redlining bank practices; or to a lack of anti-monopoly enforcement, whereby white-owned businesses seized unfair advantages. Add in a staggering 700% rise in America’s prison population since Bill Clinton’s crime bill and the reasons why African-American commercial centers are no longer as resilient as they once were are clear.

Released today: episode #43 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Candacy Taylor, the author of Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in AmericaListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Candacy Taylor is an award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian. She’s been a fellow at Harvard University under the direction of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and her projects have been funded by organizations ranging from National Geographic to The National Endowment for the Humanities. Her work has received extensive media coverage in places like the PBS Newshour and The New Yorker

Events & Tips

Candacy Taylor was instrumental in helping the Smithsonian create the special traveling exhibit “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” First stop is the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. For the other, future stops of the exhibit, check out the Smithsonian’s web site.

A friend of mine, David Perry, has released a book Diary of a Successful Job Hunter on the App Sumo to help get the country back to work. It costs merely $1.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

What Two Steps Can Lift Productivity Most?

Quote by Authors Gary Hamel & Michele Zanini “Deprived of any real influence, employees disconnect emotionally from work.”

In lots of companies, the CEO’s strategic playbook now looks like this: become a de facto monopoly seeking bailouts and other, regulatory advantages through a lobbying budget that rivals the money being spent on research and development. What would be a better way forward for companies and the country alike? Two steps can most help drive innovation and lift productivity. The first is to empower employees. Working in small groups free of middle managers, they will be closer to the action and know best what needs to change. Second, link compensation to contribution. Inspire a groundswell of micropreneurs by ensuring that bonuses reflect results achieved on the ground, rather than funding golden parachutes for those in the C-suite.

Released today: episode #39 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Michele Zanini, the co-author of The Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside ThemListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode via the New Books Network web site.

The authors of Humanocracy are Gary Hamel, who is on the faculty of the London Business School and has been hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the world’s most influential business thinker; and Michele Zanini who, along with Hamel, is the co-founder of the Management Lab and an alumnus of McKinsey & Company and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Dan Hill, Ph.D., is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc

Not a Fair Fight

Quote from Germinal by Emile Zole: “I’ve got enough coal inside this carcass of mine to keep me warm for the rest of my days.”

In America, since 1900, over 100,000 coal miners have died in industrial accidents. Lately, though, Appalachia has been seeing far worse. The opioid crisis hit the region hard. Black lung, a disease that Congress tried to curb in 1969 by passing legislation meant to force coal barons to do a better job protecting the miners’ health, has increased. Pitting the miners’ pride and fear against the greed of wealthy coal barons, this is a story about a hard-pressed region struggling to stay afloat.

Released today: episode #37 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Chris Hamby, the author of Soul Full of Coal Dust: A Fight for Breath and Justice in Appalachia.  Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Pulitzer Prize author, Chris Hamby, and his book:  Soul Full of Coal Dust, A Fight for Breath and Justice in Appalachia for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast. Digging In: Coal Barons, Injustice, and Resistance

Chris Hamby is an investigate reporter at the New York Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2014 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting in 2017. A native of Nashville, he lives and works in Washington, D.C.

This episode explores the experiences of a workforce, primarily male, that has long been exploited by those in power in West Virginia’s near-feudal economy. King Coal rules, and miners’ health and lives have been shortchanged in the process. Hamby documents how a few good-hearted people have fought for justice against mine owners, lawyers, and doctors only too eager to dismiss the miners’ legitimate health claims. It’s a parable that fits our era of looming economic inequality.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Fair is Fair

Meetings eat up the workday of most office employees.  But how efficient—and fair—are those meetings? Meetings often involve vague agendas, without a clear sense of purpose or outcome. When that problem of inefficiency happens meetings can feel like a long-winded story without a dramatic climax or pay-off. The story lumbers on until time runs out and everyone goes on to the next tedious meeting.

Beyond that problem, however, is another, ultimately even more corrosive problem: fairness. Often, meetings aren’t inclusive. Women in particular aren’t getting an equal chance to speak or, when they do, find themselves being sidelined. Men tend to speak 75% of the time, even though they rarely constitute 75% of the people in the room. Men also tend to interrupt women, co-opt their ideas, and leave them to do the “office housework,” i.e., things like taking meeting notes or bringing attendees refreshments. As a result, women can feel disregarded, disrespected and less motivated on the job, and who could blame them?

“Work smarter, not harder” has become a cliché. “Work more fairly” should take its place.

Why Gender Equity Is a Men’s Issue

Released today: episode #36 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson, the authors of Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the WorkplaceListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

David Smith is Associate Professor of Sociology in the College of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Naval War College. Brad Johnson is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics and Law at the U.S. Naval Academy, and a Faculty Associated in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University.

This episode explores the experiences women have at work and how to improve matters, especially if male allies provide some help in changing office politics and how organizations behave. From situational awareness to acknowledging that sexual harassment is a man’s issue, so much can and should change. 

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Nature vs. Nurture

It’s a debate that’s been around since Sir Francis Galton, a relative of Charles Darwin, coined the term “nature versus nurture.” Does one factor matter more than another? In my interview with IQ scholar Russell Warne, he couldn’t say precisely how much each factor contributes. 

Nevertheless, a couple of other statements from his book give guidance. First, as we age, the degree to which our environment (nurture) influences our development and behavior recedes in favor of what we inherited though our genes (nature). Second, with adults in positive environments in industrialized countries (typically the West), the heritability of intelligence is about 80%. In other words, ultimately, nature wins for many of us in America.

It’s the holiday season at the end of a very bleak year. The chances are higher than usual that you haven’t been gathering with your parents this gift-giving season. But if you are, this might prove an opportunity to reflect on what you inherited from them: one’s IQ level to a fair degree, no doubt, but personality traits and behavior and habits as well. Here’s to wishing everyone well, and a better 2021!

An Accessible Guide to Being Smart about IQ

Released today: episode #34 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Russell T. Warne, the author of In the Know: Debunking 35 Myths about Human IntelligenceListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Warne is Associate Professor of Psychology at Utah Valley University. He earned his PhD in education psychology from Texas A&M in 2011. Dr. Warne has published two books and nearly 60 scholarly articles. The publisher of In the Know is Cambridge University Press. This episode covers the specific ways in which IQ can be bolstered (mostly physical factors) versus hyped interventions. The episode also touches on how “intellectual meritocracy” is unfortunately contributing to the country’s polarization.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Dark Moon on the Rise

Quote "Across history, what creates the risk of political instability is the behavior of elites." by Jack Goldstone and Peter Turchin

Yesterday’s New York Times includes an editorial, “America, We Have a Problem,” that cites three core ingredients putting America at risk. The ingredients consist of “othering”, “aversion”, and “moralization”: basically, ingredients that denigrate a person or political party that holds opposing views, rather than finding common ground.

Punitive intolerance and anger are often found in tandem, as my latest podcast guest explains more fully. Mix in money, power, and race; then add media-stoked anger and you have a recipe for an explosion.

Calling it the “Turbulent Twenties,” the scholars Goldstone and Turchin have modeled economic and demographic trends that suggest a political crisis is brewing in America, on par with the Civil War era. When the country’s elites are keen on protecting their own selfish happiness, the risk is great that the general public’s feelings of disappointment and distrust will turn to rage. Almost 30 years ago Goldstone predicted the rise of a figure like Donald Trump. Now would be a good time for another Lincoln or FDR.

Anger, Politics, and the Health of American Democracy

Released today: episode #33 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Steven W. Webster, the author of American Rage: How Anger Shapes Our Politics. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Webster is an assistant professor of political science at Indiana University. His research and writings focus on the role of anger in American politics, including the growth of “negative partisanship” in our country, and the ever greater polarization separating Democrats and Republicans.

This episode covers the behavioral implications of anger in American politics, from increased intolerance, blame, and aggression, to an ever-deepening lack of trust in government’s efficacy. Among the topics being addressed is the role of the media and internet in stoking anger; how democratic norms are threatened by partisan taunting; and the way anger invites loyalty to party over country.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.