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Newsletter Issue 36

Every few weeks, I ask one question to a founder, CEO, manager, or business owner I respect…

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The Heartbeat Podcast: A chat with Rand Fishkin

As the CEO of Sparktoro, author of “Lost and Founder”, and former CEO of Moz, Rand Fishkin built a business generating $50MM a year, raising money via venture capital – yet for his most recent business, decided to raise an alternative form of funding. In our conversation, Rand speaks frankly about what he wish he would’ve known when financing a business, and the importance of discovering a solid understanding of yourself. Watch or listen to our conversation below.

Listen to the podcast and read the transcript of the interview here.

What I’ve been writing lately

Research: Why Managers Ignore Employees’ Ideas
“We found that managers face two distinct hurdles: They are not empowered to act on input from below, and they feel compelled to adopt a short-term outlook to work.” Written by Elad N. Sherf, Subra Tangirala, Vijaya Venkataramani, Harvard Business Review

Bad to great: The path to scaling up excellence
“Organizational researcher Andrew Miner and colleagues, for example, measured the moods of 41 employees at random intervals throughout the workday. The researchers discovered that negative interactions with bosses and coworkers had five times more impact on employees’ moods than positive interactions. This “bad is stronger than good” effect holds in nearly every other setting studied, from romantic relationships to group effectiveness.” Written by Huggy Rao and Robert I. Sutton, McKinsey Quarterly

Why Hypotheses Beat Goals
“Hypothesis generation contrasts starkly with more traditional management approaches designed for process optimization. Process optimization involves telling employees both what to do and how to do it. Process optimization is fine for stable business processes that have been standardized for consistency.” Written by Jeanne Ross, MIT Sloan Management Review

Why It Doesn’t Always Pay to Be Decisive about Making Decisions
“Thirty years ago, in their book Decision Traps,[…] professors J. Edward Russo and Paul J. H. Schoemaker answered this question; the key was avoiding what they labeled “Decision Trap Number 1: Plunging In.” Before you take up a decision, they wrote, “you should make choices about the decision process itself — choices that are likely to determine the character of the whole effort. We call these choices the ‘metadecision.’” Written by Theodore Kinni, strategy + business

A handy leadership tip

From our online leadership community of 1,000+ managers in The Watercooler in Know Your Team

How do you introduce new hires at your company? 

  • Send an introductory email to everyone in the team, with a photo and a bio of the new hire.
  • Have an optional introductory breakfast for the whole company. For this manager who suggested this, normally about 50% of people show up. It’s a nice, relaxed way for the new hire to meet some people before starting the work day.
  • Hold a “meet and greet” with the new person for everyone on the team to get to know the new hire.
  • Have “brain breaks” so the new hire can unplug and stop learning for a bit. Some of these brain breaks are games like darts or Pandemic which the new hire will play with different members of the team. By the end of two weeks, a new hire should have had at least one 30-60 minute activity with every member of the team.
  • Take the whole team out for lunch on the new hire’s first day.
  • Schedule a board game night a few days after someone starts. Of course not everyone attends, but if the new hire chooses to participate, it’s a great way for them to get to know others in a non-work setting.
  • For remote teams, schedule an all-hands intro video call on Day 1 with the new hire where the whole team does a quick intro (the Watercooler member who suggested this has 16 people and finds this still manageable). Then the new team member does an intro and the team usually asks a few questions.
  • Ask some of these icebreaker questions for the entire team to answer.

Just for fun

The Urgent Quest for Slower, Better News
Interesting piece by the New Yorker. Nice complement to Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism, which I enjoyed.

Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Canopy. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.