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.

Restoring the Statue of Liberty

An image of this Q&A-  Q: Does the Statute of Liberty celebrate: 1) immigration or 2) Emancipation? A: As originally conceived, #2.  Source: Berry & Gross, A Black Women’s History of the United States

When the French abolitionist Edouard de Laboulaye and designer Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi unveiled their concept for the Statute of Liberty in 1871, the monument include a broken shackle at Liberty’s feet and a chain in her left hand. By 1886, however, the tide had turned. Jim Crow—and Jane Crow—laws were being cemented into place across the South. So a new version of the statute was dedicated instead, leaving black women bereft of their rightful place in the country’s iconography. Since 1886, has there been progress? Yes, but sometimes just barely. Why did black women working as domestic servants in the South join the Great Migration north? Often to escape the risk of rape in their masters’ homes. It’s been a long road forward to commanding figures like Kamala Harris and Serena Williams, among others, leading the charge.

Released today: episode #48 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Kali Nicole Gross, the co-author along with Daina Ramey Berry of A Black Women’s History of the United StatesCheck 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.

Kali Gross is Acting Professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Her previous books include Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso, winner of the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction.

News Items

My interview on Cynthia Farrell’s podcast “This Is How We Lead” aired this week. Check out “Emotions & Facial Coding in Leadership” by clicking on any of these links below:

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3fCztHJ
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/31w0SCw
Google Podcasts: https://bit.ly/3ctGiZS
iHeart Radio: https://ihr.fm/31x6exq
Pandora: https://bit.ly/3cwVIg0
Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/2PHb5K4

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

Celebrating Up-Tempo Blues Music

The record producer Sam Phillips is quoted in Memphis Mayhem as saying that “Rock and roll is the blues with a mania. Tempo is the main difference.”

Musical tourism in Memphis was a $4 billion annual industry prior to Covid-19 and is likely to be even bigger once the pandemic subsides. Memphis has seen such troubles before. Yellow fever epidemics after the Civil War caused wealthy whites to flee in large numbers, leaving the city open for the rise of the South’s first millionaire: an African-American businessman named Robert Church. The two local heroes on which the local music tourism depends, however, consist of W. C. Handy, the father of the blues; and Elvis Presley coming along 45 years later. It was in Sam Phillips’ legendary Sun Studios on a hot July evening in 1954 that Presley recorded “It’s All Right Mama” and rock and roll took off. For a decade starting in the 1960s, Memphis became the 3rd largest center for recording music in America. No wonder Dusty Springfield came to town to record Dusty in Memphis; you had to be there!

Released today: episode #47 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David Less, the author of Memphis Mayhem: A Story of the Music That Shook Up the WorldCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click on the image below to go directly to the new episode.

David Less has studied Memphis music for over 40 years, including work done for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Gibson Guitar Foundation. He’s been published in Rolling Stone and DownBeat, among other places.

News Items

On May 7, 2021, Omnivore Recordings is releasing Boogie Shoes: Live on Beale Street. The CD/LP features Memphis legend Alex Chilton (The Box Tops, Big Star) backed by the Hi Rhythm Section that backed Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner and others. The liner notes come from David Less. To learn more, visit the OmnivoreRecordings.com web site.

Logo of Faces and Places Tours has an image of the Statue of Liberty
Circle October 7-9, 2021 on your calendar, please! Those are the dates for the inaugural Faces & Places tour to be held in Memphis. This highly customized, unique tour will be a mashup of history, biography, music, and EQ insights that will offer attendees a transformative experience in the city of Memphis. David Less will be one of two guests that all tour participants will meet in person during the tour. To learn more details, contact dhill@sensorylogic.com – thanks.

The Internal Rhythms We Live By

Sharon Olds from Arias, quote: “My mother beat me to the meter of “Onward, / Christian Soldiers.” She speeded up / the tempo which dragged, in church.”

Among all the damage the Biden administration inherited and is now trying to un-do is its efforts to reunite the children separated from their parents at the country’s southern border. How long will the affected children’s psychological wounds endure? If the writing of Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Sharon Olds is an indication, the answer is forever. In interviewing Sharon nothing struck me more than learning about her use of enjambmentof words spilling over line-by-line so urgently, as a way of wrestling control over the very rhythm of her life and craft.

Released today: episode #40 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Sharon Olds, the author of AriasListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode via the New Books Network website.

Photo of poet Sharon Olds, and the cover of her book "Arias" for Dan Hill's EQ Podcast episode 40, titled Intimate Truths about Embodying Joy & Pain"

Sharon Olds is the author of 12 books of poetry, including recently Arias (2019), which was short-listed for the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize. Her 2012 collection Stag’s Leap won both the Pulitzer Prize and England’s T.S. Eliot Prize. She’s the Eric Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University’s Graduate Creating Writing Program.

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

Did the Civil War Ever End?

Quote by the American novelist William Faulkner who wrote about how the past shapes the present in Requiem for a Nun  "The past is never dead."

On January 6th, a participant in the mob storming the Capitol was seen inside the building carrying a Confederate flag defiantly. The ghost of novelist William Faulkner might have smiled at such a sight, not in support of the Rebel cause but because Faulkner believed the past gets repeated endlessly—that what was is never over. That reality applies to nations and individuals alike.

Released today: episode #38 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Michael Gorra, the author of The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil WarListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

The author of Portrait of a Novel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Gorra is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of As I Lay Dyingand The Sound and the Fury.

This episode touches on two of William Faulkner’s novels in particular: The Sound and the Fury as well as Absalom, Absalom! It considers the role of memory and history, Faulkner’s alcoholism, the sexual exploitation practiced by plantation owners, and the greater presence of Nathan Bedford Forrest over Robert E. Lee in Faulkner’s fiction writings. Ties to today’s reckoning for racial justice is a part of the episode, too.

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.

Working up a Sweat

Quote: Between 1965 and 2009, the amount of time Americans sit around increased by 43%. Daniel E. Lieberman

It’s a typical New Year’s resolution: you’re going to get in better shape. To do it, you’ll eat less or healthier and you’re also going to exercise more. Here’s the math. For the average adult American weighing 180 pounds, total daily energy expenditure is about 2,700 calories. Maintaining our body, i.e., our resting metabolism, will cover only 1,700 of those calories.

Where can you “pick up the slack” by expending another 1,000 calories each day? You might still be growing. You might be sexually active. You might be otherwise physically active, i.e., exercise. Those are your options. Otherwise, that extra 1,000 calories will go towards storing energy, i.e., getting fatter.

Human beings have not evolved to use up extra calories through exercise, even though that would be healthier. We inherited a survival strategy based on reserving our extra calories, a trait that has helped us stay alive and reproduce in the past. If we have not inherited an instinct to help us work up a sweat, what will motivate us? The answers is making it fun, including: exercising with friends, doing so while entertaining yourself, as part of a game, in a nice setting, and adding variety to exercise routines. Finally, set realistic goals in order to stay with it. Use those tips to make your life span and health span overlap.

Despite Not Evolving to Exercise, It’s Healthy

Released today: episode #35 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Daniel E. Lieberman, the author of Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and RewardingListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photo of Author Daniel E. Lieberman and a photo of his new book: Exercised Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Episode 35 of Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast "Despite Not Evolving to Exercise, It's Healthy"

Lieberman is the Lerner Professor of Biological Sciences in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He received degrees from Harvard and Cambridge Universities. This episode isn’t about how to exercise (more) but, rather, why exercise is important and the myths that surround it. A key part of the conversation is a comparison between Westerners and non-Westerners, especially in Africa, to offer insights of what kind of historic lifestyle patterns Americans now run the risk of violating.

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

Of Changes & Values

From David Bowie to Tupac Shakur and others, songs about CHANGES abound. More prosaically, however, change proves hard to pull off. Since individual behavior changes must also happen for larger, company-wide initiatives to succeed, let’s turn the focus to individual change. Sustained personal change depends on tapping into deep-seated, inner motivations, which brings us to a person’s values system. 

Forget hackneyed corporate vision statements. What’s your own vision statement? If you had to choose, what five values might you select as most important to you? And if you created a bucket list of things you want to accomplish, personally and professionally, what 12 items might be on that list and why? In other words, how might those items or goals reflect your values and help you change and develop as a person, closer toward what you consider your ideal self?

Inspiring Sticky Change

Released today: episode #32 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Ellen Van Oosten, co-author of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photo of Ellen Van Oosten and her book Helping People Change for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast.

Van Oosten is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Faculty Director of Executive Education at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. She is also the Director of the university’s Coaching Research Lab. This episode investigates not only what one wants to do in life, but also what one wants to be? To sustain change, be positive. Hunt for gold, not dirt, Oosten writes, and identify heroes from various stages of your life in order to help focus your dreams.

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

Be Psycho-Logical

What’s better in business, and life, than always trying to be logical? It’s to be psycho-logical. Here are five insights from Rory Sutherland’s book for you to reflect on:

  1. Gain a competitive advantage by spotting the instances where universal laws don’t apply, and rivals haven’t noticed (yet).
  2. Relying on data can make you blind to important facts that lie outside your model; after all, data reflects the past rather than shines a light on the future.
  3. Being too rationale runs the risk of making you predictable, so competitors can anticipate and prepare for your next move.
  4. Evolution doesn’t care about accuracy, only fitness. So don’t get hung up on accuracy, strive for effectiveness.
  5. Prize understanding people over measuring things. Remember to factor in unconscious motivations as well as post-rationalizations to get a better handle on people’s behaviors, which shape attitudes and not the other way around.
How do animals attract mates and ward off rivals? They signal vitality in ways that cost them physically. Guess what? Consumers do it, too.

Spreadsheets Leave No Room for Miracles

Released today: episode #23 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Rory Sutherland, the author of Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Rory Sutherland is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, a legendary advertising agency. He’s a columnist for The Spectator and a former president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (the IPA). His TED Talks have been viewed over 6.5 million times. This episode covers lots of ground, including how important it is to not use logic as a filter, limiting your ability to notice the quirky patterns in people’s behaviors.

Working Remotely, Feeling Likewise

In The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, there’s the entry: “ALONE, adj. In bad company.” On the packaging of this mock Fisher-Price product offering, the despair of a crying baby is a burden wine promises to relieve. While “Covid-19” will win hands-down as 2020’s Word of the Year, being “remote” from colleagues, from happiness, and from one’s other numbed feelings, should be on the runners-up list. Look at the upside: at least this parody product isn’t cross-branded with Clorox to include ingesting some bleach to solve your woes!

A World of Zooming and Zapping

Another runner-up for Word of the Year in 2020: Zoom, in all its manifestations. For everything from conference calls to being fired.

Communicating Virtually Is Like Eating Pringles Forever

Released today: episode 16 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast series, featuring Nick Morgan, the author of Can You Hear Me? Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Nick Morgan and his book cover "Can you Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World. The Book cover is blue with yellow and green communication doodles. The title of the podcast episode is Communicating Virtually is Like Eating Pringles Forever.

How can we protect ourselves amid the emptiness and treachery of virtual communication?

Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. He’s written for Fortune 50 CEOs as well as for political and educational leaders, and coached people for events ranging from TED talks to giving testimony to Congress.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • What’s the likeliest way to lose the trust of others during a conference call, and how can you best hope to restore it? 
  • Why are most online webinars a disaster and what kind of format improves them best?
  • If powerpoint presentations are no longer the way to go in selling to prospects in online calls, what’s the alternative?

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