Who would have thought that when we first started off with Productivity Mastery Podcast, it would be such a journey of learning and establishing connections with so amazing leaders from all over the world? We started it as an experiment in May 2020, and a little more than 18 months later – we’re celebrating our 90th episode! We’ve welcomed many unique guests, among whom there are the world record holders, gold medalists, CEOs, founders of Global companies, and beyond.
If we were able to sum up all the learnings from the guests on the podcast, we could have written one more book (not a bad idea), but for now, we’ve just picked out 12 Lessons on Leadership by some of the most inspiring people who have come on the show.
1. You’ve got to be ready for the long run
The story of Reebok, told by its founder, Joe Foster, himself, has taught us that it takes enormous courage and perseverance until your business really takes off. To be more precise, it took Reebok 20 years and 6 failed attempts before they could expand their business to the USA, but in the end, it was absolutely worth it. Another valuable lesson from Joe Foster for all business leaders is: “Don’t listen to too much advice.” Everybody has their own vision, so you need to follow your intuition and not let people stretch you in too many different directions.
If you want to learn more about Reebok’s story to success, you can read Joe’s latest book, “Shoemaker“.
2. It’s okay. It’s just a phase
Zane Bojāre is the Head of Marketing & Comms at Startup Wise Guys. We had a very interesting discussion with her about finding the sweet spot between mindfulness and ambition. Zane believes that there is a good and bad ambition, and leaders need to understand the difference between being growth-driven and ego-driven. Her favorite mantra, though, is: “It’s okay. It’s just a phase!” Sometimes, unpleasant things happen, hardships occur, and you might not feel like the best version of yourself. But you shouldn’t let this overwhelm you – take it easy, and realize this is only temporary.
3. Focus on The ONE Thing in your business
It’s natural for entrepreneurs to get carried away in their excitement and try to do as many things as possible all at once. However, this can quickly drain your energy and resources and lead to numerous setbacks. Focus really matters, and if you want to lead your team to success, you need to ask yourself the question: “What is The ONE Thing that I need to focus in my business on?”
If you’re curious to find out more about The ONE Thing principles, check out their page, where they provide consulting options and a collection of valuable workshops.
4. You need to create the conditions for your team to be successful
As the CEO of a global movement devoted to solving environmental issues all over the world, Kate Williams perfectly understands what it is to be responsible for a big team. That’s why her views on a leader’s most important role are that you need to provide the conditions for your employees to do their job in the best possible way. This means taking care of all unnecessary distractions, issues, etc. so that they can be successful in their work. Don’t forget to check out 1% for the planet, the company Kate runs, and if you want to learn more about their “why”, we recommend that you read this article by Kate herself here.
5. You can make money AND have values
For a company whose motto is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time,” Starbucks is living proof that you can make money AND have values. Howard Behar is the former President of Starbucks Coffee Company International, and is known for being the “Man behind the Success of Starbucks.” Howard has always been an advocate of the Servant Leadership Model, which can be recognized in the various stories about the famous company’s culture of care, some of which he shared with us in episode #88.
If you’re interested in the story of how Howard helped establish the Starbucks culture, read his amazing book, “It’s Not About The Coffee”.
6. Test to see if your employees are culture-fit
Speaking of company culture, Ilma Nausedaite shared with us her ultimate test to see whether someone fits your company values and beliefs. What she does is, she asks herself the question: “Would I like my children to be around these people?” And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you don’t feel someone would be good to have around your kids, it’s probably because subconsciously you know they’ll be a bad influence. This means that these people aren’t aligned with your values and how you choose to look at life, and business. Always make sure you have your values clear, especially when you’re hiring new people for your own team.
7. Communicate your vision
For episode #75, we had a guest from Hollywood, the great Director of Photography, Shane Hurlbut ASC. Working in film production with hundreds of people involved, he constantly needs to provide a very clear vision, explained in the best way possible, so that all the departments can work successfully together on creating ONE film. It’s the same in the corporate world – you need to have your whole team united under one purpose, plan, idea, and execution strategy.
Recently, Shane and his wife Lydia took on a venture of sharing their knowledge with aspiring filmmakers all around the world, and created The Filmmakers Academy. It’s really amazing, go check it out!
8. Make sure you’re capable to execute on your strategy
Episode #67 was all about leadership and strategy. Gabriela Styf Sjöman is a Global Executive from the Telecom and ICT industry with leadership experience with Global Network Equipment Providers, Multinational Communications Service Providers, IT Consulting, and Application Software Developers.
Her advice to us is to always make sure we’re capable to execute your set strategy. Because if you can’t fulfill it, no matter how brilliant your strategy is, it will be pointless.
9. Learn to say “NO”
The co-author of PERFORM: The Unsexy Truth about (Startup) Success, Cristobal Alonso, who is also the Global CEO and El Patron at Startup Wise Guys, says that the best way to prioritize is just to say “No.” Many opportunities will come along your journey as an entrepreneur, but not all of them will be aligned with your purpose, values, and vision. That’s why it’s vital that you learn to distinguish the good opportunities from those that will only serve you as a distraction from your main goal.
10. Know the difference between diversity and inclusion
“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” the guest on episode #70 shared. Don’t hire people in your team only for the sake of diversity or PR strategies, because if you don’t make these people feel actually included in your company culture, planning, and decision-making decisions, they’ll soon leave, and you might lose some precious talent.
Mahdis Gharaei is the co-founder & CEO of “the female factor“, a career platform dedicated to empowering & developing a new generation of female leaders. Her biggest passion is being a diversity advocate, businesswoman, and opportunity maker.
11. What gets fun gets done!
As a leader, it is very tempting to get raptured in the serious side of work. We all love schedules, documents, and strategies, but all these things can often become exhausting and overwhelming. That’s where Andrew Tarvin comes into play, sharing his tested strategies on how to add to the life (and work) some well-needed levity. As a Humor Engineer, Andrew believes that one of the most important productivity tools is to… make things more fun! Make your workspace more light, vivid, and filled with excitement. Add a fun line to a serious business email. Introduce a new ice-breaker activity for your team when it’s time for an all-hands meeting. You can check Andrew’s website for more ideas!
12. Strive for excellence, not perfectionism
Achieving a certain goal or acquiring a set of skills at the desired level can take time. Therefore, the point is not to beat yourself up every time you can’t provide “perfect” results, but to observe yourself in this process and strive to become better with every next try.
Lauren Pleydell-Pearce is the Executive Creative Director at PwC UK. She has spent the last 15 years building and leading diverse design teams, and has realized large-scale projects for global brands including Audi, Coca-Cola, Huawei, Heineken, Unilever, and others.
These were our picks for Top Leadership advice from the amazing guests we’ve welcomed on the podcast over the last 90 episodes of learning and inspiration. To conclude, we’d like to share with you Howard Behar’s affirmation which he repeats to himself every single day: “I am enough, I have enough, I do enough.” You are capable, and you are able to become anything you wish to! Remember to actively believe in yourself and focus on the process of becoming the leader you’re aspiring to be. You can, and you will.