Choosing Leadership

with Sumit Gupta

A podcast for people who know deep inside that there is more.

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Why Choosing Leadership?

This podcast is called “choosing leadership” – because that is what leadership is – a choice.

The choice to step into the unknown. The choice to see fear as a friend. The choice to take courageous action rather than waiting for readiness. The choice to see how powerful you are.

I choose leadership every time I record this podcast, as I have procrastinated on it for more than a year.

My invitation to you is the same – to “choose” leadership and to step up a leader in an area of life that matters to you – be it work, passion, health, impact in society, or something else.

I will be starting (and stopping) multiple series from time to time. All of them will focus on leadership – but they will look at it from multiple angles and perspectives.

This is what I do most naturally – to lovingly and gently provoke you to help you see your own light – to help you see what you are already capable of.

Show Format – Multiple Series

Leadership Journeys

In this series, I am interviewing leaders with an interesting story to learn how they got where they are today. We all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. 

Humble Inquiries

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we deliberately put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Simple Not Easy

I spend time daily reflecting and simplifying complex leadership challenges. These reflections are sparked by own life experiences, and also from the various stories I hear from leaders and change-makers all day.

Recent Episodes

Leadership Journeys [28] – Gilad Regev – “Fear can be my friend, I’m not trying to control my fear or ego. I look at them and get the information from them but I’m not trying to suppress them.”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Gilad talks about how he spent 25 years of his life doing M&As and realised he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his career making rich people richer. He now works to solve the biggest challenge humanity faces – climate change – through a rewards based approach. Listen to this episode as we discuss fear, ego, greed, taking responsibility without burden, seeing money as energy, and the importance of our body when it comes to leadership.

You can find Gilad at the below links

In the interview, Gilad shares

  • The way to scale up climate action is through changing of the economy.
  • I started many years ago to work on my fears. I didn’t want my fears to control me. And then suddenly I realized that there is another guy that controls my life and that’s the ego. And. I see by the way, ego and fear as a ying-yang
  • And then once you start to look at your ego, it’s much easier for you to look at the mirror and say, Hey where is my responsibility?
  • There was less and less resistance from my being for me to ask these questions. It was less and less. I could be more and more honest with myself because that ego, that small devil did not take over and reject those thoughts. And I think that really what helped a lot.
  • Fear can be my friend, which means I’m not trying to control my fear. I also don’t try to control my ego. When they’re popping out, I look at them, they look at me, and I get the information from them but I’m not trying to suppress them.
  • I physically felt that money is energy. Because when you’re practising Tai Chi, you’re practising on energies. 
  • I’m more in harmony with myself. Hence I’m not afraid of letting go.
  • Maybe the best advice I can give is if any person can, from time to time, just stop all the noise. We have so much noise around. It’s coming from all directions. And just try to be with oneself and try to become observant. It doesn’t have to be meditation, people sometimes afraid, but just to breathe, just to turn off everything, for five minutes or for seven minutes, and maybe that’s can be the starting of the process.
  • Everything is in front of you, but because you are not stopping or you are always in that rush, you’re not seeing it. And sometimes by just stopping pausing, and allowing things to settle down, you will see it for yourself.

Leadership Journeys [27] – Anshul Kamath – “The privilege of a lifetime is to discover who you truly are”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Anshul shares how his life took a sudden turn from the world of corporates and finance when he listened to a deep inner voice and pursued the unknown path. We talk about how that path led him to many serendipitous moments – including meeting many coaches and mentors who have taught him how to listen to the deep wisdom and intelligence of our intuition and body – and the science behind it.

You can find Anshul at the below links

In the interview, Anshul shares

  • at some point, you start to pay attention to some of the subtler signs. It’s very hard to describe it, but there is just an internal feeling that feels this is not right.
  • I know how you just tune in and listen in to yourself and understand what your body’s really telling you.
  • There are three kinds of lives people lead, which are survival, success and significance.
  • Ever since I left. I was very clear that I’m just gonna pave my own path. And there is no set path for me in front of me.
  • This is scientific stuff. 75% of the communication that happens is actually your body trying to tell your mind something. And only 25% is your mind actually trying to tell your body, but we only pay attention to that 25%. 
  • The answers don’t come to your mind because a lot of times we will tell ourselves the stories we want to listen to in our mind.
  • The best decisions when you are actually listening to yourself come from a place of absolute common stillness.
  • I’ve always believed in authenticity. One of the defining kinds of quotes, I remember when I was when I just left shell and started this sort of unknown path and life was the privilege of a lifetime is to discover who you truly are.

Leadership Journeys [26] – Laimonas Noreika – “If you want to outshine in this world, be yourself”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Laimonas shares how he is building his 10th company, and how being bullied at school gave him the drive to succeed and prove others wrong. He also talks about family and the importance of placing people first, and how business is only a reflection of the energy of its people. He also shares how he has learned to hire people smarter than himself and not try to do everything by himself – which was limiting his growth at one point.

You can find Arturs at the below links

In the interview, Laimonas shares

  • While you’re actually failing you’re learning a lot. That’s what created me as an entrepreneur,
  • I was bullied at school and that made me a bit angry with the world. So I have to go and prove things.
  • I really want to show that it’s possible to seek success while you’re smiling while you’re good to people while you are helping. And don’t be that douchebag businessman who is mean and really controlling things.
  • I want to prove the other way of doing business. That it’s fun. It’s pleasant and it’s doable
  • Business is just a reflection of people and the energy people create.
  • When I started my business, I tried to do everything myself. Like I did marketing, I did sales. I did a one-man show, but that limited my organization from growing.
  • when you go to do business, you expect stressful situations. You expect things to change super fast. So if you expect that, so why stress then? Why would you stress? This is the normal life of the startup things change so fast. So just don’t stress about it.
  • a lot of times people sometimes think that I’m, too relaxed too optimistic, but it’s just me being myself
  • if you want to outshine in this world, be yourself. 
  • focus on building something meaningful provide results for yourself, and your team and keep building,
  • you can be a leader and still be yourself.

Leadership Journeys [25] – Henny Hoekstra- “Life is too short to make decisions that you don’t want”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

Henny is someone who doesn’t follow the normal route in life. She lost both her parents at an early age and learnt quickly that life is too short to not make your own decisions. She wants to be happy and also create an environment where her teams can also learn, grow, and be happy at work. She acknowledges that she can be too hard on herself, and tries to let things go and find a balance.

You can find Henny at the below links

In the interview, Henny shares

  • Life is too short to make decisions that you don’t want to have. 
  • I also feel like no matter what happens, if I die out, I will be happy because I have the feeling that I created a positive impact on the world.
  • If you look at leaders there they’re mostly like very angry or tough people. Not exactly, always vulnerable. I do believe that people that are able to show vulnerability make sense because we’re all human beings. And if, and then we connect with each other when we’re trying to be vulnerable, when we try to open up with each other, we get more connected.
  • Our emotions and our inclusion play a bigger role in our decision-making than our rational minds.
  • it is better to also take the time for yourself. So when you’re working you’re doing the right things, because if you’re very tired, you make bad decisions and that’s not what you want to do as a leader.
  • almost all choices are reversible. So it is worse to not choose.
  • Always be learning. Always develop yourself. Always you can learn something from someone. Everybody can teach you something, be open to it, keep developing yourself, and they will also keep developing everything around you.

     

Humble Inquiries [10] – Focus for leaders and teams

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into Focus for leaders and teams. How to stay focused and get quality work done in the age of distraction? How to train your mind to get into a state of flow without getting interrupted every now and then? 

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Leslie – “coming back to the why and why am I doing this is really what has helped me generate more focus. “
  • Sumit – “before we talk about focus, it’s very important to identify what to focus on and not just focus for the sake of focus, but focus always for the sake of producing a result.” 
  • Sumit – “we have to choose because if you try to focus on everything in a way you’re not focused on anything, “
  • Sumit – “focus is also very closely tied to being committed, being responsible for what big responsibility that you have taken on.”
  • Leslie – “not only does productivity go down because you’re flipping back and forth and then you’re slower. Your risk of errors is greater. “
  • Sumit – “So if you’re driving, you can keep the whole route in your mind, but you have to focus on the road in front of you. So focusing on the present moment or the today is very important. “
  • Leslie – “You think you need to do more, but that’s not necessarily how it pays off.”
  • Sumit – “Does the phone owns you or do you own the phone? So again, as you said just because you have a phone doesn’t mean that you have to answer every call or you don’t mean that you have to keep it on at all times.”
  • Sumit – “It’s just not healthy to hear a ping sound every five seconds or every five minutes, even, it’s just, or brains or bodies are not built for that. “
  • Sumit – ” It’s not just about productivity. It’s also about health and wellbeing, which is so much more important. “
  • Sumit – “You’re choosing at any moment. If you’re in a meeting and your phone rings, you’re choosing to answer that phone, right? If you’re in a meeting and your boss suddenly calls you, you’re choosing to answer your boss or choosing not to, but all of these are choices and we get away. We make it easier psychologically by using these like defence mechanisms or escapist language. Like I did not have a choice or I have been trying, but I have not been able to.”
  • Leslie – “There are those moments of when and what suits, your kind of biological clock. So paying attention to it is really important. And, my way of doing that is noticing it and capturing it and journaling it and then adjusting my schedule so that I can take advantage of when suits me the best.”
  • Sumit – “Multitasking is a myth. “
  • Sumit – “the human brain is just not capable of doing two things at a time. You can do as many things as you want, but in any given moment, you can only focus on one thing.”
  • Leslie – “you can quickly see how slow you are when you’re switching back and forth, as opposed to accomplishing one and then accomplishing the other task.”
  • Sumit – “focus requires energy.”
  • Leslie – “Just like your windows browsers, and you have too many tabs open, I have too many tabs open in my brain and I need to shut them down so that I can focus.”
  • Sumit – ” we can hold only five to seven things in our short-term memory at a time.”
  • Sumit – “If you take a bike and load it with so much stuff that it can’t move, that’s not the problem of the bike.”
  • Leslie – ” I’ve now gone back to, headphones free and just enjoy the sight and sounds of nature.”
  • Sumit – “there is also that notion associated that if I take time for myself then to feel guilty about that, that’s wrong or that’s selfish. But again, coming back to the metaphor of you always putting your own oxygen mask first, and in fact, that is necessary.”

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Humble Inquiries [09] – How to prioritise and balance the long and short-term?

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into how to prioritise the long-term and short-term as a leader. How to find the critical balance in business as leaders – where we are responsible for short-term metrics – and yet also for the long-term growth and sustainability of our business? 

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Sumit – “we all agree on this is a big problem but we still can’t agree on what to do because the structures of the world we live in is still derived or run by a lot of short-term thinking”
  • Leslie – ” it’s really, what is that most important thing of where we’re going? So that then as a leader, you can help decide for your team, how. Support the organization in getting there. I think the first is to have courage and ask specific questions to get that direction. “
  • Sumit – ” if you realize something is missing from a long-term point of view, The way to do it is not to do it alone, but to build a consensus so that the team or the company can do it as a group, as a unit.”
  • Leslie – “Having the courage to ask, and then when you get the answer of the direction, ensuring that’s something that you feel passionate about and is the right thing to do, and you want to do it so that you can convey that to your team.”
  • Leslie – “To step into that space and maybe not know how we’re gonna get there. But this is where we know we should be going.”
  • Sumit – “it shouldn’t become a match like somebody needs to win and somebody needs to lose. It needs to become a partnership. It needs to become a team effort.”
  • Sumit – “it’s very important to measure numbers in the short term, but not to see those numbers going up and down as a direct measure of the performance of your people, of your teams. Because then there is a lot of hidden elements.”
  • Sumit – “What if you like hit your numbers, but destroy your reputation in the market, in the industry. So there’s a lot of things which you cannot measure like trust. What if you like, you certainly go through a downturn. And to save cost in the short term you do a round of layoffs, but it destroys the culture and the trust in the organization.”
  • Sumit – “If leaders who want to focus on the short term will not get followers, they will automatically have to change.”
  • Leslie – “It requires courage and trust in self to know what is right for you.”
  • Sumit – “Nothing stops you from sending an email to the CEO or sending an email to, to your high people, higher up in your hierarchy or to or to find them somewhere and to engage them in a conversation.”
  • Sumit – “There are many places that you can find help if you go looking for it.”
  • Sumit – “That’s the definition of courage, right? Courage is not about giving up at the first disappointment, but courage is about trusting that this is important and then moving forward, no matter how slow or fast the progress is.”

Asquoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Humble Inquiries [08] – How to keep yourself motivated?

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into how to keep oneself motivated as a leader. If we are not motivated ourselves, it shows its impact on everything we do and every responsibility we have. Leadership starts with finding and staying connected with our own motivation first.

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Sumit – “if we get our body moving, it lifts our moods, it lifts our spirits.”
  • Leslie – “my personal practice is sitting with coffee and enjoying a bit of cosy time and journaling, and that helps me reflect on yesterday and set the intention for what today is.”
  • Sumit – “another practice which works very well for me is to just highlight three or four areas where I want to complete something today”
  • Sumit – “anybody can build a new practice, even if that is uncomfortable for them.”
  • Sumit – “motivation is  it’s it’s connecting to that fire, which is within you and then giving it a little bit of air so that it becomes like a flame”
  • Sumit – “You don’t have to do anything as an obligation. Because that’s, again, going against motivation, right? Motivation is when you are free to choose and do something.”
  • Leslie – “Some other ways are just taking that time to pause and maybe asking for help, as a leader that could be. An opportunity, not only for yourself but the team as well ask for help. “
  • Sumit – “sitting in silence or sometimes taking a break allows all of those matters, which we deeply care about, but we don’t really address because we are so busy, just having that moment of peace allows them to come up and then we can listen to them and actually put it into our actions and practices.”
  • Leslie – “going for a walking meeting together is a great way to combine a lot of what we’ve talked about when it comes to finding that motivation”
  • Sumit – “I think an overcrowded mind sometimes can stop us from being motivated. And once we empty our mind, either through reflection or through journaling, it allows us to touch those deep levels of feelings, which actually is motivation. Motivation is not a thought process. It’s not something you can reason yourself into it. It’s a feeling that you already have. But sometimes the mind is so cluttered that you get lost or you’d lost touch with it”
  • Leslie – “it is different for everyone and the leader can’t take sole responsibility for motivating each person on the team. It’s each of the individual’s responsibility to find that too, but there is value in communicating what motivates.”
  • Sumit – “there is no such thing as a motivated or a demotivated person. There are only moments in which you are motivated and demotivated. And then every moment is a new opportunity,”
  • Sumit – “every moment is basically telling you that if you’re demotivated, that something is missing, either you need to say no to something, or you need to do something differently that you can make the experience fun”
  • Sumit – “Motivation is not something which you can design or control. You can only create the conditions for motivation to happen, but not really directly motivate somebody. You can direct somebody or force somebody to be motivated.”
  • Leslie – “One of my suggestions, which I got from another organization was let someone from the team lead, let them bring a topic, let them change the format. So again, creating that space and really injecting some air back into it, to give motivation and really the opportunity for that motivation all over again, as a team.”
  • Sumit – “if you don’t take a shower, that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or something is wrong. You just take a shower, if you wash your hands and they become dirty again, you simply wash your hands again. Similarly with motivation, right? If you’re not motivated or if you don’t feel that energy, it’s not like something is wrong or something is missing. You just shift. Connect with something and then you’re motivated again.”

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Leadership Journeys [24] – Arturs Burnins – “I feel comfortable doing any work which is good for the company”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Arturs shares his vision for the future and how he plans to take his company from 15 to 50 people. He is a leader who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and he is ready to do any job in his company. He has no false pride of being a CEO, and yet, at the same time, takes time to step way from the day-to-day to focus on the long-term strategy for his company, and then supporting his team to execute on that.

You can find Arturs at the below links

In the interview, Arturs shares

  • I always wanted to do things my way. And do the things that I believe it’s the right thing to do.
  • Nothing happens in weeks or months. it usually takes years. Or at least half a year to see some initial result. You need to work hard and at least for some time you need to work on idea on a project before you see any reasonable results.
  • Energy is a limited resource. You cannot utilize your energy forever without any recharge. you sometimes to recharge your battery to get new energy and new ideas.
  • The thing that’s helped me probably the most, I think it’s doing sports. I personally play football. During this one to hour session with the team, you physically cannot think about the business. You cannot think about the problems you just focus on the ball on the team, on the situation on the field. So basically the moment when you basically recharge your mind.
  • That’s probably challenge number one. How do we keep everything on the same page? When we have 15 people versus when we have 50 people in a team. 
  • So how you communicate, how you make a decision. So that’s one of the challenges to making it very transparent. And not over-micromanage everybody to achieve that.
  • I feel comfortable doing any work which is good for the company. Some people think that okay, the CEO should only basically lead or show the vision and don’t do some not CEO stuff. In my opinion, like as far as it’s a company if it helps. I can do any part of the job as far as it helps

Leadership Journeys [23] – Bhav Patel – “We’re so focused on the gravestone that we forget the graveyard”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Bhav shares not just his leadership style but also the madman part of him. He talks about the incredible role luck plays in our journeys, and how he uses drawing to bring a deep focus to his work – and how that helps him stay balanced as a leader.

You can find Bhav at the below links

In the interview, Bhav shares

  • I’ve always put a lot of my journey down to luck. Like just having been at the right place at the right time with the right manager who was able to guide me into the role.
  • I certainly try to think about decisions I make that impact the company that impacts the team. Just like the bigger picture, as opposed to always just focusing on the team.
  • I talk about this with my team constantly when we have career development conversations generally. What gives you energy? Like, what is it that gets you up? What do you enjoy? 
  • Energy is like a balance. There’s gonna be things that give you energy and things that drain you on an adventure. 
  • A large part of like my early influence has always been maths, science, and believe it or not, art. I feel like between those three subjects, you kind of get to see the world with different lenses. So from the math and science perspective, you get to see the world from a very quantitative matter-of-fact, point of view, then from art, you kind of have this very abstract interpretation of what things mean and how people interpret them.
  • Everyone’s different. And people react to situations very differently.
  • I like to paint and draw when I’m not working. Obviously I’ve got two kids, which means that my free time is limited and precious. Sitting down and painting or drawing helps me take my mind off things and just focus on being in the moment.
  • When I focus, I can, I’ll put myself into almost a meditative state where it’s nothing but the problem I’m working on.
  • I’ll split my week between like being really close to the problems and what my team working on, but also then taking a huge step back to actually, are we as a team heading on the right track?
  • If you don’t want to be misinterpreted or you want to get to some outcome. You have to recognize who you’re speaking to. Adopt and adapt the way you talk to their style.
  • If you adopt the right style for your audience. You at least minimize the risk of something being lost in translation. 
  • I think there is this distinct lack of training in all organizations, even in education, which prepares people for these non-technical skills. That’s also critical as you progress into leadership positions. 
  • We communicate in so many different ways that people sometimes forget.
  • If I’m being completely honest. I don’t know what the answer is, what the future holds.
  • I use the expression we’re so focused on the gravestone. We forget the graveyard.
  • It’s easy to be a good leader when things are looking great. It’s only when you know, you’re staring down the barrel of a gun and you have to make like big decisions and know, you have to prioritize ruthlessly and you have to, you’re going to disappoint people that actually your skills as a leader and your authenticity and your concept communications, they really started to show themselves in you your true character is revealed.
  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say again, I think people often forget. Yes, of course you’ve earned your right to be, uh in a position of leadership, but there’s an incredible amount of luck for every person who makes it into a management position, probably like 10X who don’t.
  • It took me a while to recognize that I can’t solve every problem. I can’t, I’m not supposed to. I’m supposed to be the advocate. I’m supposed to have the hard conversations when I need to. I need to motivate them when I need to. I need to praise them. 
  • All of the skills that got me into this position are not going to be the skillset that will make me successful moving forward.
  • I think having a network of peers, people who are at the same level as you don’t have to be in your discipline, Talking to them, understanding what the challenges are, reaching out to people, and understanding what you need to develop a service mindset sooner. It’s going to be super helpful. 

Leadership Journeys [22] – Bart Snijders – “Having fun and meaningful work is way more important than high salary”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In this interview, which is one of the longest ones I have done because both of us were having so much fun, Bart talks about his goal to offer meaningful and fun work to a thousand people. We also talk about the value of stopping and celebrating and what all happens under the surface of spoken words when it comes to people, conversations, and leadership. You do not want to miss listening to this one.

You can find Bart at the below links

In the interview, Bart shares

  • A big part of my life is my family. So it’s definitely worth mentioning. And, uh, yeah, there’s no book words written how to raise a kid.
  • I try to create like a unique company culture and create a legacy with it can inspire other companies as well, how we work together.
  • I believe that people can do everything if they want it bad enough.
  • We don’t really judge on what you can do at this point, but we look at people at the potential. Like the learning capacity, how fast can they learn something? How willing are they to go the next mile and, and to really push towards the result? And I think that’s failure is a big part of our culture here. 
  • I am nothing more than anyone else here. It doesn’t matter if you’re like, if you have a hundred million or not, if you have super smart, super, pretty like rural people. And I think that’s the base of the culture here under leadership, uh, how we try to do it and try to help each other.
  • I want to offer a thousand people meaningful and fun work. ’cause I think for a lot of people, work is something you need to do to get paid for. And I really believe that it should be a lot of fun and it should be meaningful.
  • Psychological safety is one of the most important things for high-performance teams.
  • I don’t offer people work, but offer people meaning. I give them the opportunity to do meaningful work and contribute like, if you look back in 10 years or 20 years, and even like at the end of your life, you can look back and say, Hey, you know, this is what I left behind. This is how I changed the world a bit. 
  • Most people in my team understand that having fun and meaningful work is way more important than having a high salary.
  • You can never put revenue in front of mental or like even physical health in any way.
  • I think we’re the top 50 fastest-growing companies in the Netherlands. And, uh, this is something that we can really be proud of. So I’m really thankful.
  • I try to be a good example. So to my teams, uh, I tried to walk in the office like at a different time. Just to, to, to show them that you don’t have to be at nine, like nine to five now, please. Now. And I go to the gym in the middle of the day to show them, and I try not to send slack messages in a weekend or evenings, but to give you the example as well, and, and to, to have that flexibility and to, to be in control of your own life.
  • Working for 14 hours straight – that’s the stupidest thing you can do.
  • I think in general, like if you can do six hours really productive work a day, and I think you’re very busy and then you can do some like email stuff around it. Please like go to the gym and then work because you will be way more effective and. Yeah, which I do try to support that in older, all the way we can similar as mental health.
  • Life is – you cannot, you can never put a filter on everything. I thought it was also stuff that you need to deal with. And people that say that they don’t have any issue. Like. They’re lying because everybody has their own sort of shit.
  • I think being a, being a parent is kind of very related to being a leader. because it helps you, first of all, focus on something bigger than yourself. It helps you focus on long term rather than just thinking of short term, uh, many times the way children deal with things. It teaches you a lot.
  • If you really look at communication, then words might be the least important thing. You can feel so many different things when you communicate and when you’re leading. And I’m very aware of that energy that I bring.
  • Recently I went to a colleague and, and when I was at a desk, she starts crying and I just, I, I saw it. I felt that I needed to be there, but in the past I would never have been capable of doing this because I was not aware of, uh, I was just listening to words, looking at people.

Leadership Journeys [21] – Sandeep Sharma – “When the oxygen is less, the lighter you are, the better you walk”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In our interview, Sandeep talks about his career as a series of base-camps on the way to the summit. He spoke about his learnings from his father, shared his views on leadership – and how leadership all starts with being authentic. He also gave some advice on trust, building relationships, and putting down the weight or burden we unnecessarily put on your shoulders – as a leader. Those who are listening, this is going to be an inspirational listen for you.

You can find Sandeep at the below links

In the interview, Sandeep shares

  • You believe in people they believe in you and that’s when great things happen. And that’s when trust builds.
  • People recognize me for my smile and I keep smiling, even during the toughest of my days.
  • A lot of times in leadership, people say that to hide their emotions, they need to read a mask. And I don’t think so. Those times are there right now. Post the pandemic, you need to be authentic, you need to be truthful.
  • I’ve always, probably been in the background, not confident about myself. To now be in the foreground um, is been conscious of not being it’s taken a lot of hard work and effort work.
  • When people are able to express themselves, that is a validation of a leader. I think that’s what we need to be. 
  • You just be what you are. I don’t think so. You need to fake it. Because people will see it if you fake it.
  • Fundamentally, if you do three things that 1) give people clarity, 2) enable them to do the job and 3) keep motivating them, you will be successful in anything which you do. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 
  • I’m happy at the end of the day when you yourself are happy and the people we’re supporting are happy. 
  • Nobody’s perfect in this world actually its imperfections are what makes us so human beings.
  • What got you here will not get you there. we had to shed some weight because when the oxygen would be less, the lighter you are, the better you walk.

Leadership Journeys [20] – Thomas Vles – “I realized I was living a life that I thought I wanted, but not the life I really wanted.”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Thomas opens up about realising how he was living a life that was not what he really wanted. We talk about the importance of focusing on yourself first, and the importance of happiness, friendships, experiences, and relationships. He shares the wisdom of doing nothing, and the important role sports and exercise play in his life. In addition to leading his company, he climbs mountains, does kickboxing, races cycles, and has plans to make a movie. He knows he is more than what he does and doesn’t let work define him.

You can find Thomas at the below links

In the interview, Thomas shares

  • I realized about myself that I was living a life that was actually the life that I thought I wanted, but not the life I really wanted.
  • Later on I realized that’s actually it’s more important to also focus on yourself. Having the quality of life, happiness, friendships, relationships, experience and yeah, that, that sort of you have changed the whole ambitions that I had.
  • If you ask people, then they would probably describe me as being very ambitious, but for me, work is lower on the priority list 
  • I think it’s very important to live your life like that you take, most of life gives you, and I think that’s the responsibility to everybody, as you can not change what happens to a person, but you can still change the way you respond to things that happen.
  • In the weekend, I really try to focus on not working. I tried to keep the weekend really private.
  • My team gives me a lot of energy. everybody takes ownership. Everybody feels as if you’re on a mission and that’s, I think very special.
  • I believe that every person is interesting and has a story, so I always am keen to hear about that.
  • I’m currently here and enjoying it, so there’s no need for me to really look ahead in life.
  • I really enjoy doing something for the first time. 
  • I try to put myself in places where I can really take everything out of myself and full myself and grow a lot
  • He basically helped me out in a very difficult period of my life by sharing with me his wisdom about doing nothing and letting everything go for a while in order to to find what you need to do. that advice is advice that actually led to where I am today.
  • I think it’s going to sound very egoistic, but let’s say this, the first thing you need to worry about is yourself. If you are not in touch with yourself, then how can you love work? 
  • People would describe me as being super ambitious. So it’s, I think it’s about seeing the relevance in it and also not letting things define you. Like it doesn’t make me a better person to have a great job, but it does put me in a position where I can have an impact on leadership.
  • I think gratitude is key in life, for sure. I’m really grateful for the people around me for the blessings because I’m very privileged in life. And also I was lucky sometimes. But mainly also about let’s say how amazing I’m healthy. I have a beautiful wife and a good life. Everything is really good. 
  • I do think that if you can create an environment in your office where you have the feeling that you were friends with everybody and it’s a fun experience for everybody. And I think that’s very important also for your success as a company. 
  • You need to be basically naive enough to believe in your own dreams. And then really go for it.
  • If you have a product start selling it before you have it and see if people like it.

Leadership Journeys [19] – Prakash Palani – “My leadership style is, people comes first, everything else follows.”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Prakash opens up about his early childhood filled with struggles, and how he had no choice but to succeed. He shares how he created a life for himself through hard work and never giving up, and how he started his own company to give back to others like him. We talk about leadership and responsibility, and he surprises me by sharing that he feels no pressure as a leader because everyone in his team takes equal responsibility. His leadership style, in his own words, is “people come first, everything else follows”.

You can find Prakash at the below links

In the interview, Prakash shares

  • When I was a kid, my father was a rickshaw man, so that’s how I had my school days and so on. So I quit the schooling and the age of 17, I think, after, right after the 12th grade in India and I started working.
  • If you take a look at our company, we’ll see a lot of ESE graduates become graduates, diploma graduates, and not necessarily from the city, the major cities they come from. Various backgrounds, basically rural areas. They don’t speak English. 
  • If you go to marriage halls, you’ll see people serving you and making food. So that was my first job.
  • I used to go to all the interviews, but I was rejected because I could not speak English.
  • I did not have a choice. I had to fight hard
  • We have an employee-first policy. So we have a belief that if you take care of your employees, Then they will take care of your customer
  • Our first customer is still our customer
  • People ask me, what is your leadership style? My leadership style is basically, that people come first, and everything else follows.
  • Three things I do carefully is to eat, sleep and do some exercise. These are the three things. Everything else is work.
  • We have a partner here, they came to our partnership only because we take care of people. They really value what we are doing for the people because they are also a people-driven company.
  • we have people, for example, one was running a pawn shop. Today he is a software engineer who’s really doing a fantastic job for us. 
  • It’s not just, that we start a company and you deviate from your purpose. We are very strong in our purpose. We have also ensured that purpose has been transitioned into the people. Because I alone cannot do this. My next level alone cannot do this alone. This purpose goes into the roots of people.
  • My responsibility – It’s not totally on my shoulder. So here the culture, like when I say people-first culture, we also don’t go there and do micromanagement.

Leadership Journeys [18] – Théodore Rozencwajg – “Giving freedom comes with the responsibility of letting people make their mistakes.”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Theo shares how he has been exposed to a very multi-cultural environment ever since he was a child. We talk about the importance of building a great organisation instead of just building a great product, and the difference between urgent and important things. We talk about transparency, courage, and loneliness as a leader; and how perfectionism is not a scalable strategy, and the value of thinking long-term.

You can find Theo at the below links

In the interview, Theo shares

  • So moving around is not something I decided myself. It was mainly driven by my parents back in the day. But I think I’m quite grateful for all of these experiences because I got to see quite a lot of different environments. So I was always exposed to a very multicultural environment.
  • I would say more than particular events, it was more the people that I met. So I’ve been surrounded, I think by entrepreneurs which came in all sorts of well different kinds. Some had this entrepreneurial mindset but we’re effectively building new businesses as part of a larger organization. Some were really starting their own businesses and that was really an, in very different industries. I have three siblings. Two of them are also entrepreneurs. So I think maybe there’s something and then the upbringing as well. 
  • I think it always gave me lots of adrenaline in a good way in the sense that was always super excited to wake up in the morning and catch up with everything that was going on
  • It’s one thing to build a great exchange or a great product in general, but it’s something completely different to build a great organization around it.
  • As an early stage company CEO there’s a lot of urgent things, but it’s important to still find the time to work on the important things.
  • We spend a lot of time thinking about how we want to structure the organization, how we want to structure the dynamic between people. 
  • I consider myself very lucky and I’m very grateful to be working with people who I also really look up to in terms of their expertise, skillset and in a way we’re also very much like-minded.
  • We like to foster an environment where basically it doesn’t matter whether you’re a founder or an intern, but we need the best arguments should win in a debate and that’s how decisions are made. 
  • I’ve never learned as much in such a short amount of time because as a founder, as a CEO you basically have to do everything. So I find myself doing things that I never thought I would ever have to even think about. But that’s actually the part that I enjoyed the most coming from a mathematical slash finance background. I never thought I would have to deal with HR matters, which I now found extremely interesting, for example, again, that comes back to concept of building an organization.
  • I try to surround myself with people who can and are willing to give me advice. So that can come in the form of advisors to the company. It’s also our investors. So we raised two funding rounds and I have these bi-weekly calls with them that are that take the form of a sort of feedback session, but we’re basically, I’m mostly able to express my challenges and hear their take on it because they also have a different perspective.
  • I’m a big believer in transparency and that’s also, again, an environment we try to foster here at D2X.
  • A lot of courage is needed and I do have to get out of my comfort zone. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • While it does get lonely sometimes I still feel that as an organization we’re really in this together. And I try not to be a leader who just dictates what people should do. I really try to empower people as much as possible. I think that’s probably something a lot of CEOs would say, I’m not sure if we all do but at least it’s really one of my guiding principles.
  • With giving freedom comes the responsibility of letting people make their mistakes
  • I think especially as a, as an organization when you’re growing fast if you basically decide to micromanage. It’s not going to be a good outcome in most situations just because it’s not possible.
  • I personally had my fair share of challenges when it comes to delegating tasks. I’m a bit of a perfectionist in certain things and I think I used to be a bit of a control freak in certain ways. but I’ve been working a lot on that. I think it’s not a scalable strategy. So the sooner you realize that the better off you are. What really made the difference was surrounding myself with people that I could trust.
  • Instead of basically surrounding myself with lots of people, I would rather surround myself with a smaller number of people. I look up to so that I can fully trust them and that they will actually deliver a good output in terms of quality in terms of time. 
  • Being able to take a step back and see that the big picture is really helpful. 
  • It’s still something I’m working on. It’s still a big challenge. I think the pressure is constant. I used to see entrepreneurship as as a marathon rather than a sprint. And then I realized it’s actually probably a marathon, but at the pace of a sprint.
  • It is really important to be able to release some of the pressure But I’ve found it extremely challenging, especially at the start was disconnecting. But I think it’s necessary. If you’re able to disconnect, then you can basically keep up 
  • At some point decided to basically stop looking at my phone during the day, I was also able to achieve a lot more because I was able to focus.
  • We all think or at least most of us think we’re super humans when we started these things and we think we sometimes overlook the mental health component. But again, this is a long-term thing. You want to build a lifestyle that is healthy and sustainable.
  • To me, success will really happen when we have an organization where people are fulfilled where we are, we’re all great performers and we’re achieving great things together. I see this more and more as as a people’s experience rather than just a personal one. And yeah, so I’m really committed to making that happen. 
  • That’s really the difference between urgent and important and you need to do both right. Urgent needs to be done now, but important. It needs to be done. Nonetheless so again, it’s finding this balance.
  • Being scared is absolutely normal. I was extremely scared when I did it. I remember the day I resigned from my previous job. I think 15 minutes later, I was almost shaking thinking, oh my God, what have I just done? Am I really doing this? 
  • I think fundamentally there’s never a perfect time to start, but if you’re really driven if something really drives you there’s something you really want to do.
  • All of these experience basically they make sense in hindsight. But yeah, it’s impossible to have everything figured out in the present.
  • The moment you say that this is what I’m feeling, that makes it easier for you to actually move forward from that.

     

Humble Inquiries [07] – Teams 2 – How to create high-performing and value-producing teams?

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into the performance and value of teams – which is the second of two episodes we are recording on teams. Nobody is paid for doing more or working hard. People are paid for producing results that matter.

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Leslie – “What makes up trust and why is that so special in a team and looking at it from the four components of sincerity, reliability, competence, and care and that, it’s not my language, it’s from the thin book of trust”
  • Sumit – “a caveat with any request is that people have the like people should have the permission to say no. Because if people can say no then you cannot trust any yes.”
  • Leslie – “in order to have trust, I feel like you have to be vulnerable.”
  • Sumit – ” if people do not feel there is enough space for them to be open either with their emotions, with their ideas or , just what is happening in their physical body, it will impact performance “
  • Sumit – “most of what we call us trust or psychological, emotional safety is created not by doing something extra, but by stepping back and giving space for silence. Like that uncomfortable silence, which allows the safety and space to emerge. “
  • Leslie – “another thing that I’ve become so aware of in that is the value of actually declaring that there’s been a breakdown, whether that’s been a breakdown in communication or process procedure, or even a breakdown in the team.”
  • Sumit – “I think we all know what is not working or what is wrong or what will create a breakdown in results in the future. But  we do not have that openness of, we do not feel free to talk about it. And that’s the value of declaring a breakdown.”
  • Sumit – “slowing down sometimes can actually allow us to work on these foundational elements, which makes everything else much more easier and much more productive.”
  • Leslie – “slow down to either speed up or slow down to be more successful, whichever way you want to look at it. Really. Has some power behind it. “
  • Sumit – “The foundational elements are not just meant to be understood as concepts like checking tick boxes. they are meant to be embodied in the team leader, but also then everybody else in the team, which will make any misalignment or any lack of clarity in that embodiment, very visible for people.”
  • Sumit – “it’s also the commitment to not just doing more producing more results, but it’s also the commitment to the purpose, to the standards, to the values and to the ways of behavior that the team has set. “
  • Sumit – “Every team has a customer and are we really taking care of their concerns and producing value and sometimes doing more or being busy is not directly correlated to that.”
  • Leslie – “our work fills the time we have available”
  • Sumit – “I have seen people being very relaxed, very calm, not busy, and still producing more than what they were doing earlier”
  • Leslie – “You’re not going to have a great day every day. So the other option is sharing that too. Look team. I know today I may be a little off my apologies for that.”
  • Sumit – “If people don’t have the context and they cannot suggest a better idea or they cannot suggest if something is totally not aligned with the long-term vision, the long-term purpose of the company team, or of the customer.”
  • Leslie – “Your culture is almost like the secret sauce of your organization. Words, actions, behaviors, and you’re clarifying and reinforcing, what’s truly valued in an organization.”
  • Sumit – ” the specifics of what is expected from whom to whom by when and for what reasons – is very important in every request.”
  • Leslie – ” continuous learning helps the team and individuals in general also helps the organizations retain their people because they know that they’re being invested in their own growth and development.”
  • Sumit – “as leaders, it’s very important to be conscious of. What mood am I creating in my team? And is my language, is my tone of voice, is my physical posture, reflecting that accurately or not?”
  • Sumit – “if you notice two, two different companies with two different cultures, what you will see is very different conversations happening.  once you identify what are the conversations, which create a particular culture, then the access to you is to shift those conversations. “
  • Leslie – “And your culture is never going to be all things to all people. It shouldn’t. Your culture should be unique to your organization and to what you want it to be, what you want to create, and the people that align with that will want to be part of it. “
  • Sumit – “You cannot plan or enforce a culture. A culture is like something which is out of providing space for a particular kind of conversation, connecting with people, then listening with them, addressing their concerns.”
  • Leslie – “A high-performance team is not a checklist to go down. It’s a fluid, circular process. It’s like dancing. You might step on your partner’s feet every now and then or you might fumble a little bit. You just say I’m sorry. And how do we get back on track and keep rolling ahead? But it’s definitely not a checklist.”
  • Sumit – “A high-performing team is not like an objective to reach and the team remains high-performing forever. It’s a journey.”

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Humble Inquiries [06] – Teams 1 – What makes a team a team?

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into the foundations of teams – which is the first of 2 episodes we are recording on teams. All work gets done in teams, so it is very important that we spend enough time ensuring we have a “team” before talking about performance.

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Leslie – “we need a team so that we can have all those different components working together towards that common goal or purpose.”
  • Sumit – “we need teams because we cannot do everything alone.”
  • Sumit – ” if everybody in a company in an organization is moving in one direction as a team, Then that company will leave everybody behind irrespective of the market, irrespective of the product, irrespective of the economic situation.”
  • Sumit – “what makes a team is a set of conversations, not just a hierarchical relationship, are not just something on paper”
  • Leslie – “Sometimes it’s qualified as like the fluffy extra stuff. Instead of seeing it as the essential foundation to lead to success.”
  • Sumit – “Almost everybody I talked to has this reflection that they know that what they do is not all productive, that there is wastage there, that they are working on things which don’t matter.”
  • Sumit – ” if you can get the conversations, right. what I have seen is that you can produce more value. You can get more done, like not done as in time spent or tasks completed, but more done for the actual stakeholders for the team in less amount of time.”
  • Leslie – “When you’re in any team, you need to know who you’re serving, what does that look like?”
  • Sumit – “a team exists, not in a vacuum. But to serve somebody either it could be an external customer of our company, but it could also be internal stakeholders”
  • Leslie – “conflict or any sort of bump in the road, is inevitable. We’re not all perfect. What keeps a team is that if something does happen where someone is not aligned, or they have done something to hurt the team or an individual that it’s addressed and held accountable so that you can return to that state of alignment “
  • Sumit – “when these foundational alignments are not in place, what happens is it results in gossip? It results in disengagement. People get disconnected.  People know what is wrong, but they don’t speak about it. And people know where the team is faltering, but they don’t bring it up.”
  • Leslie – “it reminded me of a quote and it’s from Julio Olalla. And any problem in an organization or relationship is directly related to a conversation not being held or one being held poorly.”
  • Sumit – “Everybody should be committed. And somebody, if somebody is not committed, then the team leader needs to have those conversations to get that commitment.”
  • Leslie – “if you’re resisting communication for fear or blame, or that you’re going to ruffle some feathers, it’s likely that not having that conversation is going to cause more harm than actually having the conversation.”
  • Sumit – “The commitment and the choice part is very important because you cannot force people to be a part of a team. “
  • Sumit – “what happens when you create a team with all superstars, it creates entitlement. It creates competition because now everybody wants to one-up the other person.”
  • Sumit – “this is a huge blind spot. that we see responsibility as a burden, taking responsibility as taking the blame for what goes wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. responsibility is it’s like a privilege. It’s like a choice,”
  • Leslie – “If you, as a team member are seeing something not going right with someone else in the team, it’s not blame it is responsibility, but it’s out of care of wanting the team. To succeed and do better. So sharing that is important and it is a caring act as opposed to one of blame”
  • Sumit – “this foundation level is where everything else becomes easier. without the foundation, everything else becomes harder. “

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Humble Inquiries [05] – Mastering Overwhelm

This is the Humble Inquiries series. In this episode, Leslie joins me as my co-host to humbly inquire into overwhelm – the feeling of too much to do and too little time – which is a very timely one as we find ourselves in new ways of working. Co-hosted with Leslie Wireback on the Choosing Leadership podcast

In each episode of Humble Inquiries, we are deliberately going to put ourselves in the uncomfortable space of not knowing the answer and humbly inquiring about these challenges – with the aim to provoke new thoughts, actions, and practices – to help us better serve our coaching clients, and also to help the leader in you navigate the biggest challenges – at life and at work.

Show Notes

  • Sumit – “we see doing more as a badge of honour. we feel that if we are not doing more, if you’re not doing more than our peers, then that’s somehow a weakness or a sign of not being a good professional.”
  • Sumit – “overwhelm and having this sense of too much to do is basically an invitation to ask better questions”
  • Leslie – “What do you care about? What are your priorities, really stepping back and looking at that whole big picture and making adjustments – not just once but regularly”
  • Sumit – “What I’ve found is that I do not have time is always a lie. I think a better, more accurate representation, would be that this is not my priority. “
  • Sumit – “I do not have time is never the whole truth. There is something deeper beyond that. “
  • Leslie – “I fell in the trap of my work hours needed to be eight to four, eight to five something typical, whereas that doesn’t necessarily work well or serve me well each and every day”
  • Sumit – “the first element of really asking ourselves what is the cost of operating this way? And is that okay with me? And if that’s okay with you, then yes, wonderful. Continue on that journey. But if you identify that something is missing and that is not okay. Then the question is staring in your face.”
  • Leslie – “saying no feels rude. And so then I don’t want to say no, I care too much. And I want to help people and saying no is going to disappoint them. Whereas., if I don’t say no, I may be disappointing myself or someone else because of I’m creating a conflict and an  inability to manage all that I have to do.”
  • Sumit – “No,  is the most powerful word. And also one which most people find it difficult to speak.”
  • Sumit – “A NO doesn’t mean that you are rude doesn’t mean that you are polite. Doesn’t mean that you’re hardworking doesn’t mean that you’re not hardworking. It doesn’t mean anything unless you make it mean, meaning something. So a no is a simple word. No is a full sentence in itself. “
  • Leslie – “it might take the leader being vulnerable and saying I can’t get it all done. I need help. And that. Your team might finally say, thank you for admitting this, that as a team, they’re all drowning too.”
  • Sumit – “It’s only about managing your priorities and then your energy”
  • Sumit – “To realize that everybody has 24 hours, no matter what they do, whether I am an employee as an individual contributor, whether I am a manager of whether I am a president of a country, everybody has 24 hours, not a second more, not a second less for me, realizing that is a very empowering and liberating feeling.”
  • Sumit – “is it that my time owns me? What is it that I own my time? I do. I get to choose what, and where I spend my time because everybody has 24 hours. The only question. How are you prioritizing? What are you saying? Yes. To what are you saying No to”
  • Leslie – “as a leader, do you look at the gifts of the individuals on your team and kind of reshuffle responsibilities?”
  • Leslie – “the stories you tell yourself on the assessment you’re making of, I’m not good at my time management or I’m not good at saying no, all of that, questioning it and changing it to have a different perception”
  • Sumit – ” every courageous act is a vulnerable act as well.”

As quoted by Edgar Schein in his book Humble Inquiry, an humble inquiry is recognizing that insights most often come from conversations and relationships in which we have learned to listen to each other and have learned to respond appropriately, to make joint sense out of our shared context, rather than arguing with each other into submission.

Leadership Journeys [17] – Lars Maat – “Everybody in my company has an unlimited study budget”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Lars shares how he has built his company around the values of transparency and learning. He shared what he learned from working for others – and how that shaped his unique way of doing business. He encourages everyone to come up with suggestions and new ideas as long as people back them up with facts. He shares how openly talking about his values allows him to attract the right kind of employees and clients. He vulnerably opens up about his fears and challenges and yet how he feels in gratitude for the impact he is having on others’ lives through his work.

You can find Lars at the below links

In the interview, Lars shares

  • We combined the businesses in 2018. At that point, we had six people and here we are four years later we grew from 6 to 30. 
  • The first thing that I wanted in the company is complete transparency. All of us staff at the moment know what they are earning, know what the colleagues are earning. They know how much we ask for our clients, how many hours that I was at work that, that represents and same applies to the clients.
  • In our company, everybody has an opinion. Everybody can come up with improvements or with their reasoning. How they are thinking we basically have one rule and that is okay. You can say everything you want, but you need to back it up with arguments or facts. And whether it’s senior staff or union or trainee or intern, as long as they came up with some good ideas, they can back them up with facts or arguments. We as management or we as a company, owners are willing to listen to that.
  • Our core values are something that really separates us from a lot of other companies. So it helps us to generate not only clients but also the clients that are thinking the same way as we are which results in. the same applies for getting the right people on the job.
  • My role has completely changed because I’m not working for clients anymore. I’m there for my staff and I need to help them as soon as they have some problems or as soon as our clients have one of the problems with the work that we are delivering. 
  • Some of the jobs that we are having at this moment, may be gone in, in one or two years or maybe even faster (due to artificial intelligence). We need to make sure that everybody knows what is going on and how do you keep up with that and how to cope with that, to just make sure that everybody keeps, it keeps a job and we still have our clients and have value for our clients. 
  • Everybody in the company has an unlimited study budget, which basically means if you want to go to a seminar and events follow a course, read a book or anything you can just go. We will pay for that. This basically means that I’ve got some colleagues who spent like 30 euros a year on developing while their neighbour is spending like 5,000 euros a year for also developing. 
  • And I think that’s really important because as long as everybody is developing their skills, they will get smarter and better, and it will result in better work for our clients. And it results for a better name for our company. Let’s be honest, as soon as you, as a person stop developing then how do you go forward in life?
  • One of the things that most people will not know is the fact that in the beginning, I was really scared to do these kinds of talks. And everybody was like how can you do that? But now when, once you’ve done it, a couple of times, you’re not nervous anymore.
  • The fact that we are able to make an impact on the lives of others. That is the thing that we are most grateful for.

     

     

Leadership Journeys [16] – Eddie Rice – “There’s no straight line to success”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Eddie shares with us the difference between TedX like speeches and impromptu speaking, and how to prepare for both. He highlights the importance of storytelling and the power of practice when it comes to becoming good at public speaking, among other lessons he has learned from writing speeches for CEOs. He also talks about the importance of having a team in accomplishing anything worthwhile.

You can find Eddie at the below links

In the interview, Eddie shares

  • There’s no straight line to success. I think if you ask anyone, it’s very much a very squiggly line with lots of lefts and rights, turns and circles, and trying to find out where it is that you want to be.
  • And too often, we don’t see the amount of practice that goes into a really good keynote speech or really good TEDx talk. We only see the finished product.
  • if I could tell anyone out there to get over your fear of public speaking, you have to seek out opportunities to practice your public speaking skills rather than waiting until an opportunity comes up.
  • I think a lot of people think that impromptu speeches are really, truly off the top of someone’s head and what’s actually going on. Is that someone is reaching into past material that they’ve prepared and they’re just recalling it and they’re ready to go. 
  • So it’s very similar to stand up comedians. It looks like it’s all impromptu, but they’ve been rehearsing that material over and over again to get it down. And it’s just a matter of recall when they’re on the stage.
  • You’re trying to tell a story, not to boast, but to be instructive, to be a teacher. 
  • I get to really work with very smart, intelligent people that have great stories to tell. And I’m always learning something new with every speech that I get to write for somebody it’s always a new industry. It’s always a new area that I get to learn and grow in.
  • I have a front-row seat to what these CEOs are telling their companies, and what these keynote speakers are telling their audiences. So I almost get it for free. It’s given me a mini MBA almost in how business works, especially in the areas of leadership and community.
  • I’ve really developed my conversation skills and ability to ask questions. And that’s really, truly impacted me in terms of being able to talk with almost anyone that I come across.
  • You need a team behind you in any endeavour to help you succeed in any goal, you do what you are really good at and then let everyone else help you out in the areas where you need the help. 
  • I like to change my environment. And that really helps me think in new ways when I can be around different people and do the work that needs to get done.
  • You want to seek out people who have already done it and asked them how they accomplished it. So in any type of like large endeavour, you don’t want to go it alone. Find the people that have already done it, find the coaches that are out there, try them out and see who resonates with you.

     

Leadership Journeys [15] – Gastón Käufer Barbé – “I am always paying attention and always learning.”

This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing.

In the interview, Gastón shares about growing up in a family of entrepreneurs in Argentina, and how that led him to start his own company – but in the Netherlands. He talks about not being afraid of making mistakes, and the importance of listening in his work. He also shares how he has learned to delegate as a leader which has led to lowering the burden he has faced as a founder and CEO on his shoulders.

You can find Gastón at the below links

In the interview, Gaston says

  • I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I always have this heritage, like listening to my father and my grandfather, all the things that they studied or the, that they decide to take the risk and do things. I inherited from them from a family perspective.
  • Amongst the companies that I worked for before, one was Avon cosmetics. So my boss there, he was extremely straightforward. He was very kind in sharing his learnings.
  • Don’t be afraid of committing mistakes. Take decisions.
  • Sometimes they don’t go as expected. So you feel like you’re like this sort of crashing a car constantly until you realize what you have to do. And you are able to turn the wheel and put the car in the right direction. I think you’re doing the things that the market needs that you identify, what are your strengths, and then you’re able to offer that.
  • I’m a big fan of Argentina entrepreneurs starting businesses. I bow to them. The main difference is that the conditions to start a business in Argentina are extremely difficult.
  • I’m extremely passionate about identifying gaps in the market and identifying in what way companies can provide a better service.
  • I’m extremely passionate about that is it’s about people and understanding people. It’s something that I find extremely interesting differences in cultures, in countries.
  • People are extremely intelligent, but they also like processes.
  • Listening is absolutely key to not only really understanding what they want to say. And, but also to identify what are the fears that they have, what are they really looking for?
  • Listening is where the real deal is happening. And as you said it’s when done it’s transparent, it’s not like the visible, but it’s a, especially as a leader, if you put your attention on the listening, then you can change you and the quality of a conversation.
  • If you’re really listening to what they have to say, you can really identify way more things in an extremely broad range of aspects that talk in the conversation but they are there and they need to be addressed. And that’s the main difference as you were saying, like between a leader or someone that just is like addressing needs.
  • I’m always paying attention and I’m always learning. So listening and learning from everyone, it’s something that I always put in practice.
  • With time, I’ve learned that we have grown the team. So I realize that. Delegating in a smart way is extremely key to growth.  It provides confidence to the rest of the team. It boosts their confidence. It makes them feel very responsible and accountable for what they are doing. 
  • The first challenge, I think almost everybody is facing is, that the speed of change has increased. And then there is a lot of uncertainty. Almost everybody has to continuously learn and adapt.
  • I know the effect. Probably situations that we have never thought could happen or never thought that it would affect us suddenly you’re experiencing it and you need to basically serve the way in the best possible way that you can.
  • Start small, focus and really understand the inside out of that niche. Really understand what your target is looking for. Be extremely critical.