Imagine finding yourself working in the sponsorship arena because it’s the way to get a visa and stay in England. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Jackie Fast. Fortunately, she happens to have been very good at that kind of work. Within a few years, Fast’s ability to put brands together as co-sponsors for a variety of brands meant she was spending time, for instance, doing work for Richard Branson on an island he owns in the Caribbean! Not bad work if you can get it. From the vantage point of her highly successful, entrepreneurial career, what strikes Ms. Fast is how fast the world is changing. Few if any older executives will manage the transition, she believes, to a world where the internet has democratized big business and where Millennials and Gen Z-ers favor a values-based approach that puts enjoyable and meaningful work front and center.
Jackie Fast is the founder of the venture capital firm Sandbox Studios, which invests in celebrity-owned brands and has worked with The Rolling Stones, Red Bull, Zoom, Formula One, Virgin, Allianz and Universal Music among others.
Greater social inclusivity can, at times, seem to take forever. It wasn’t until 1967, for instance, that bans on interracial marriages were finally declared unconstitutional in America. How appalling that such a hallmark of diversity would have taken so long. And yet a decade earlier, a mere 4% of surveyed Americans were in support of interracial marriages, a number that today stands at 87% approval. Clearly, progress has been made in a country whose citizens are often multiracial as well as in interracial marriages and relationships. How can the momentum for accepting people as they are be sustained in these divisive times? Soo Bong Peer’s suggestions are of both a personal and systemic nature, ranging from practicing greater empathy to having leaders dialogue more often with employees distinctly different in backgrounds, experiences and perspectives from themselves. One specific idea Peer suggests is that rather than lecture-style, lunch-n-learn sessions at company headquarters, why not try for Friday “movie lunches” instead! She cites as inspiration long-time movie critic Roger Ebert and his remark that “movies are like a machine that generates empathy.” If seeing is believing, then getting executives, managers and employees at large to see on screen lives lived in circumstances far different from their own might help enable a warmer, more inclusive spirit in corporate America.
Soo Bong Peer is a strategy consultant and executive coach for Fortune 500 companies. The daughter of a prominent South Korean general and ambassador to Mexico, she has lived in multiple countries, including the U.S. for the past 50 years.
The correct answer is four percent. So, in corporate America, while women constitute about 30% of the personnel in management, African-American women are only one eighth of that 30% total. Or to put it another way: in a more fair world, since black women collectively form 7.4% of the U.S. population, that four percent should be twice as large. You might ask “What are the percentages for other women of color?” The answer is 4.3% for Latinas, and 2.5% for Asian women. No wonder my eloquent guests on this episode refer to the situation women are facing as—not a glass wall—but a concrete wall! Remember Ronald Reagan telling the Soviets to “tear down that wall”? Just like the Berlin Wall, this issue is a matter of justice and liberty, too. To rectify the situation, more compelling steps must be undertaken than mere lectures about the need for greater diversity. For instance, Ella Bell Smith mentions that at Dartmouth’s Tuck School where she teaches, they’re about to take executive groups on an immersive experiential journey: visiting the anti-lynching museum in Alabama. Of all the interviews I’ve taped, this is one of my favorites.
Ella Bell Smith is a professor of business administration at the Tuck School of Business. She’s also the founder and president of ASCENT: Leading Multicultural Women to the Top. Stella M. Nkomo is a professor in the Department of Human Resource Management at the University of Pretoria. She was the founding president of the Africa Academy of Management.
There is NO correct answer to this week’s quiz, which poses one of the 401 philosophical questions explored in David Birch’s book, Pandora’s Box. While many, even most, of my recent blogs have focused on business, this week’s podcast and blog has to do with pondering the meaning of life as opposed to how to make a meaningful living. How you might answer the quiz will reveal the value system that underlies your life and gives it purpose and direction. Are there other versions of this quiz? Yes, one would be: what do you most want: wealth, fame, power or love? Another comes from Catholicism: of the seven deadly sins, which do you believe is the worst: wrath, sloth, gluttony, avarice, lust, envy or pride? When I had the opportunity to ask that last question of former U.S. presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy years ago, the former professor was quick to answer: “Envy. In politics, sloth is a virtue.” By that he meant, the laws and policies that get rushed into action are often, in hindsight, those that prove to be the most regrettable. An answer to live by.
Released today: episode #66 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David Birch discussing Pandora’s Box: 401 Philosophical Questions to Help You Lose Your Mind (with Answers) and Fred Matser discussing his book, Beyond Us: A Humanitarian’s Perspective on Our Values, Beliefs and Way of Life. Click on https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/special-series/dan-hills-eq-spotlight to get to the new episode.
David Birch teaches philosophy and religious studies at Highgate School in London. Fred Matser is the founder and chairman of the Fred Foundation and a leading Dutch humanitarian.
The correct answer to this week’s quiz is A because to change a habit you need to make it easy. Figure out which elements stand in the way, typically either time, money, physical effort, mental effort, or an unproductive routine. Find a weak link in what author BJ Fogg calls the Ability Chain, and you’ve found a way to break-through. Fogg has been in the business of helping people and companies change habits for a decade now and has a wonderful array of terminology and sayings. “Emotions create habits” is one of them. Another is “Decision and habit are opposites.” Still another is “Celebration is habit fertilizer.” Perhaps most important of all is “Simplicity changes behavior.” Give this episode a try, on behalf of making your listening to my podcast series one of your new habits!
BJ Fogg founded the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University. He teaches industry innovators and created the Tiny Habits Academy to help people around the world. He lives in Northern California and Maui.
The correct answer to this week’s quiz is supposedly C), 30%. At least that’s what Jim Detert has concluded from participants completing the survey that underlies his Workplace Courage Acts Index. In that survey, the questions involve whether one dares challenge an authority figure—defined defined as a manager or a leader one rank or more above your supervisor. A challenge could be regarding a strategic or operating policy; inappropriate behavior; or unethical, even illegal behavior. At the policy level, the percentage of courage nears 40% (managers are easier than leaders to challenge). But when it comes to personal behavior, being a good diplomat is crucial to ensure your career doesn’t get beheaded. Detert’s best advice for how to speak truth to power and survive to tell the tale? Have a solution in mind. Be specific and also be seen as an advocate for growth or improvement, as opposed to merely shaming the other party. Another hint: it helps if you’ve built up your personal brand equity by demonstrating warmth and competency leading up to the moment when you dare to step up.
Jim Detert is the John L. Colley Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He’s won multiple awards for his teaching and curriculum development at both UVA and Cornell University.
The correct answer to this week’s quiz is all of the above, A through C. It’s a trick question because advancing as well as protecting one’s career is a tricky proposition. It’s tempting to say A, competency, is the single most important quality to possess. After all, what’s more fundamental than can you do the job well? And yet, as a university department chair said to me in an interview years ago: “We know you’ll publish and be good in the classroom. What we want to know is can we stand to go to lunch with you for the next 20 or more years?” So in lots of ways, B, compatibility, can you get along with others, proves more decisive in one’s career. Finally, don’t underestimate option C, commitment. Sure, on day one you want to do the job well and get along with others. After three to five years into the job, however, when you’ve been disappointed by sundry developments within your department, can you still summon the energy to care? It’s hard to fake being excited to be there. They give Oscars in Hollywood for playing a role, but you may not be an A-list actor day in and day out.
Released today: episode #62 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Gorick Ng discussing The Unspoken Rules: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right. Click here to get to the new episode.
Gorick Ng is a career adviser at Harvard College. He’s also managed new employees at the Boston Consulting Group, worked in investment banking at Credit Suisse, and been a researcher with the Managing the Future of Work project at Harvard Business School. Gorick’s book has been featured on “The Today Show,” CNBC, and in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company.
The correct answer to this week’s quiz is option B. Nor is that the last of the eye-opening statistics contained in the new book by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. Workplace anxiety is estimated to cost America $40 billion a year in lost productivity, errors, and health-care costs. Add in stress in general and that number climbs to over $300 billion. What percentage of millennials have quit a job for mental health reasons? The answer is estimated to be over 50%. For Gen Z, the estimate is 75%. Finally, here’s the kicker. In a situation reminiscent of Joseph Heller’s famous, satirical novel about World War Two, Catch-22, 90% of employed adults report that they would be anxious about reporting their on-the-job anxiety to their bosses. In other words, welcome to the bureaucratic absurdity Heller’s characters encounter on a daily basis: “a problem for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem” itself. A boss causing stress becomes the choke point for resolving that stress.
Adrian Gostick is ranked among the top ten global gurus in leadership and organizational culture. Chester Elton is ranked number two among organizational culture experts around the world and among the top ten in leadership and it shows in my interview in which he’s an exceptionally gracious guest.
The correct answer to this week’s quiz is answers A and C, though B is hardly out of the question. That conclusion comes courtesy of Melody Wilding, a self-described Sensitive Striver. What characterizes this type of person in Wilding’s estimation? Sensitive Strivers tend to be sensitive obviously; also thoughtful, responsible, vigilant and full of inner drive. They’re committed and kind-hearted, hence conscientious about the details and eager to get along with others. Their tendency to be “over-everything” can get them into trouble. In other words, they’re perfectionists who get burdened with more work than they or anybody could readily handle. Stress results. To overcome what Wilding calls the Honor Roll Hangover and subsequent burn-out, she suggests cutting your to-do list by 70%. A safer route is to ditch an all-or-nothing approach for something more modulated and realistic. If you can do that and keep your job, another way others might describe you is a Miracle Worker!
Melody Wilding has been named one of Business Insider’s “Most Innovative Coaches” with clients across a range of Fortune 500 companies. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Fast Company, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. She received her master’s degree in social work from Columbia University.
The correct answer to this week’s quiz is 15 slides, following the title slide. That number comes courtesy of Debi Kleiman, who’s seen it all; she’s witnessed over 1,000 pitches by the entrepreneurs of start-up companies based on her own business world experiences. Having been the Executive Director of the center for entrepreneurship at Babson College, the nation’s #1 school for entrepreneurship, Kleiman developed a pitch deck formula she calls the 4-H Framework: Headline, Heart, Head and Hope. A good pitch hits all four bases, and the pitch might be a home run if delivered well. Sadly, the odds don’t favor females, who receive a measly 2% of all venture funding despite owning 38% of all the businesses in America. No wonder Silicon Valley has also been called the Uncanny Valley, a reference to what it feels like to have to interact with uncaring robots!
Debi Kleiman is now the managing partner of The Upside Angels, investing in early-stage startups and providing strategic advisory services to founders. After her BS from Cornell University and her MBA from Harvard University, worked at Coca-Cola, Welch’s, Procter & Gamble, and Babson College before launching her own firm.