Ep034: How to be a Great People Manager – Learn from One Manager’s Leadership Development Quest with Jeremy Epstein

TalentGrow Show ep034 How to be a great people manager with Jeremy Epstein learn from one manager's leadership development quest

Jeremy Epstein is not a leadership expert – he’s a marketing expert (and a great one at that). He is a real-life, in-the-trenches leader who has embarked on a self-development journey to become a better people manager. He has chosen a very unique approach to both how he is sourcing advice and in sharing his journey. And in this fast-moving, robust conversation with Halelly, Jeremy shares his approach and some of his insights that have been yielding spectacular results in his own leadership development journey, in the hopes of inspiring you to do the same. You’ll get more than inspiration, though – you’ll get really specific, actionable ideas and advice for how to take your own people management and leadership skills to the next level! Take a listen now!

What you'll learn:

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  • What is Jeremy’s passion and secret sauce? (4:35)
  • What did Halelly ask Jeremy when he made his traditional (remarkable!) birthday call to her? (5:55)
  • What’s Jeremy’s ‘quest’ – his big goal – and what is the unique way he’s chosen to work on his goal? (6:25)
  • How did Jeremy turn some hurtful feedback about his management skills into an opportunity? (7:00)
  • What is Jeremy using a spreadsheet for that most people would think is weird? (8:30)
  • How many people does Jeremy call each year to wish them a Happy Birthday – as a habit? (It will blow your mind) (9:18)
  • Why is being a better people manager just like diet and exercise? (10:20)
  • How did Jeremy choose to approach his development goal and why is it unwittingly aligned with the best practice from the field of Human Performance Improvement, and how is he tripling the value in a virtuous cycle? (11:02)
  • What are some of the key best practices that Jeremy has learned from his interviews with great people managers? (13:00)
  • What’s actually a counter-cultural sign of strength that others think is a weakness and how do great managers leverage it? (13:52)
  • Jeremy and Halelly are both fans of Dan Pink – what are the insights we both like to call on to understand motivation? (15:09)
  • What was Jeremy’s big failing in the beginning? (15:23)
  • What lesson does Jeremy take from Sheryl Sandberg’s playbook? (16:00)
  • What should you do with weak performers on your team? (17:01)
  • What does Jeremy do every Sunday night that lets him be a much more connected people manager? (17:45)
  • How and why does Jeremy ensure he stays connected with his people in 28 minute one-on-one meetings? (18:21)
  • Jeremy gives a few concrete examples of ways he tracks new habits and goals on his self-development excel spreadsheet to help him practice his new behaviors to ensure they become habituated (19:28)
  • What was an epiphany Jeremy had about a big mistake that he was making as a leader, and probably lots of other leaders have done, that he’s now unlearning and changing his approach (and what John Wooden advice provided insight)? (22:03)
  • Jeremy and Halelly are both Marcus Buckingham fans and Jeremy tries to help people play to their strengths by using his teachings (23:25)
  • Leadership is so full of paradoxes –so often there is tricky polarity in the advice on how to be a good leader (24:21)
  • What was the branding Jeremy gave his effort and what is most exciting to him about this effort (yay for positive progress!) (25:30)
  • Jeremy has really transformed along this journey – he describes the exciting possibilities and Halelly feels very gratified to hear (26:22)
  • Jeremy is super-thirsty for continuing this development quest – he wants more and more! He relishes that he gets to keep growing AND he gets paid to do it :) (27:51)
  • What’s one specific action you can take to upgrade your own leadership skills (Hint: Jeremy suggests you buy Halelly’s book, which Jeremy shamelessly plugs – thank you!)? (29:45)
  • What other book that Halelly sent to Jeremy that he uses weekly and recommends to you? (Hint: it is a book of one of my early podcast guests, and I wholeheartedly recommend it!) (30:20)


About Jeremy Epstein

Jeremy Epstein is Vice President of Marketing at Sprinklr Inc. Jeremy joined the Sprinklr team in February 2012 where he is responsible for Demand Generation, including PR, Analyst Relations, Influencer Relations, events, trade shows, and content marketing. Prior to Sprinklr, he was the founder and CEO of Never Stop Marketing, an international consulting firm that served Fortune 500 clients including Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft. Jeremy believes that technology such as Sprinklr’s has the potential to connect a socially disjointed world. He has a B.A. in History and a double minor in Economics and German from Johns Hopkins University; he also studied international relations and marketing in Germany and Japan.


Announcer: Welcome to the TalentGrow Show, where you can get actionable results-oriented insight and advice on how to take your leadership, communication and people skills to the next level and become the kind of leader people want to follow. And now, your host and leadership development strategist, Halelly Azulay.

Halelly: Hey there, it’s Halelly. I have a confession to make. I’m really excited about this episode! I think I say that a lot, but I’m really, really excited. I cannot wait for you to hear this. And you know why? A lot of the time I interview people who are experts and they have a lot of domain expertise about something, they have a lot of knowledge about it. Maybe they’ve written about it, they’ve researched it, and often they’re a practitioner so they actually have on the ground kind of experience with it. But, rarely do I get to, only in a few episodes, where I get to talk to someone who is actually in the trenches as a leader, as a people manager, trying to do a good job of it, and this episode is so unique because my friend Jeremy Epstein will share with you in a very raw and real and authentic and vulnerable kind of way his own journey to become a better people manager. And what he’s done which I can’t think of that many people who have done what he’s doing, and the way that he’s doing it. And he breaks it down and gives you the tools and it’s just so real and it’s so, so helpful. And I know you’re going to learn so much from him, and he’s sharing along the way. Like you’re running alongside his car while he’s on the racetrack and he’s telling you what he’s doing to win this race, but he’s in the middle of it. And he’s a cool guy. So I hope that you’ll enjoy this. I’d love to know what you thought. If you can leave me comments afterwards, email me, tweet at me, and tell me if you like this kind of episode. And also if you have some ideas for people that might also be great subjects for another show episode. You know, if you think they are an exemplary leader or someone who is doing it really well, not an expert, not an author, not a coach, but someone who is in the trenches, oh boy would I love to talk to them. So be thinking about that. Be thinking about if you know some role models. But in the meantime, I hope that you enjoy this fabulous, fabulous conversation that I had with Jeremy Epstein. Here we go.

Welcome back to the TalentGrow Show. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist, with my friend Jeremy Epstein, who is the vice president of marketing at Sprinklr, a top rated social relationship platform for large companies. And he’s always a prolific blogger and a networker extraordinaire. And I’m really excited to introduce you to Jeremy, who I met in a networking function many years ago and have kept in touch with ever since. Because he is actually on a quest that I think will be of interest to you. Jeremy, welcome to the TalentGrow Show.

Jeremy: Thank you so much for having me. It’s really an honor to be here.

Halelly: It’s really wonderful to have you here. And before we dig into your quest, I always ask my guests to give a very brief overview of their professional journey. If you can give the really big picture, where have you been, where did you start from, where are you now, how did you get there? Just to give people a little bit of background about you and how wonderful you are.

Jeremy: I don’t know about the “how wonderful I am” part, but I can definitely give a little bit of background. So I guess the way I describe it is I’m kind of a growth marketer, and I specialize in helping take disruptive technologies into mainstream markets. So this has sort of been the path my career has taken. I started doing what we would call internet marketing in Japan in 1996 in the very early stages. Then I was in ecommerce in 1998. Started my own company in 2000 on sort of what we call micro services, where maybe you’ll see Task Rabbit type idea that we had about 10 years too early. Worked at Microsoft for a while, then helped a lot of large companies and this is where we met, in one of the networking events, helping companies like Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft understand how social media was going to change the way they do business. And then as you shared, I now work at Sprinklr where I’ve been for the past four and a half years. I’m helping that company grow. When I joined we had about 30 people and now we have about 1,200, so it’s been pretty crazy as we’ve seen the growth of these technologies. But my passion has always been about learning these cutting edge technologies and then trying to translate them for mainstream audiences and understanding how it’s going to impact the world in which we live.

Halelly: Wow. That's amazing, and congratulations on not only your personal growth, but on the growth of the company that you have chosen to help grow. So well done. Very cool. And you know, I think what’s interesting about you as a person is that you’re very interested in technology, but in the social aspect of it, and you’re really good at social in the high touch and the high tech way. I don’t know a lot of people who do both really well, and I think you bridge that really well.

Jeremy: Thank you.

Halelly: So, you and I have connected in a lot of different ways, and mostly I guess social professionally, and so I’ve enjoyed following your blog and following you on social media and seeing how you think, and I’ve always enjoyed watching your craft. Because you have a lot of really interesting exemplary kinds of practices in terms of how you maintain a network. Maybe another day we can talk more about some of that, because I think a lot of people can learn from you. But one of the things you do is, that’s remarkable and I’ve blogged about it – I’ll link to it in the show notes – is that you call every person that you’re connected with on their birthday. And when you called me on my birthday, back in December, and it was a totally expected call, like, “Jeremy and my mom call me on my birthday!” You usually don’t allow people to ask you much about you. You’re a like, “No, it’s about you, it’s your birthday!” But I did, I got one in, and I asked you, “What’s got your attention these days? Or what’s a big challenge you’re trying to solve?” And you told me that you have a big goal to become a better people manager, which of course peaked my interest since it’s what I do for a living. And of course you’re not the kind of person who just kind of throws things out and then hopes that the universe will just serve it to you on a silver platter. But you approach this with a very intentional approach, and this is where that quest I mentioned earlier came about. So, would you please describe to the listeners, how did you, what is your unique way that you decided to follow up on this goal?

Jeremy: Sure. You nailed it. About eight, nine months ago I got some pretty strong feedback that let’s just say my one-size-fits-all management style did not fit all equally well. And it was definitely not working. And for about 24 to 48 hours I was pretty unhappy, because nobody likes to get the negative feedback about their performance. But then I said, “Look, this is like everything else. It’s an opportunity for growth.” And then I sort of attacked it the way that I attack most things, which is a combination of very focused and disciplined execution as well as leveraging the network and recognizing that I don’t have all the answers. So, the first thing I did was, once I started to isolate what the problem was, I basically build a strategy map and aligning sort of the tactics to my goal, which I sort of said, “Look, ultimately I want to be a better people manager,” but really this falls under the rubric of really being more compassionate as a person overall, and developing a sense of empathy. And so the people manager sort of flows from that, and I identified a couple of tactics. So one of them, for example, is read a bunch of books around being a better people manager, so I can highly recommend Halelly Azulay’s book around that, definitely worth a read. And also being connected to people managers who my network views as valuable.

And then I build a scorecard from that, so people sometimes laugh at me. They’re like, “Jeremy, you’re trying to be more compassionate, but you’re using a spreadsheet and a scorecard to do it?” My answer is that’s exactly what I’m doing because I believe your brain can be trained by the actions that your body takes. And there’s a lot of research that supports this. So basically if you force yourself to ask questions, to listen to people, to engage in behaviors that are more empathetic and more compassionate that will train your brain to become more empathetic and more compassionate. So I measure myself on a daily basis, have I done these types of behaviors? Like hanging out with people who emulate or whose behavior I wish to emulate. So that’s one of them. But I’m also very comfortable and maybe some people don’t understand this, I’m very comfortable sharing sort of the journey that I’m on. Because as you mention, I make a lot of birthday calls. I call about 1,800 people a year, just to wish them happy birthday. And what I found, you’re right, I don’t want to talk about myself, because I already know what’s going on with myself, but I don’t know what’s going on with you.

And what I find is it’s a really great opportunity to learn from my network about their lives, their perspectives, and just keep in touch. But, sometimes people like you are smart and savvy enough to be able to get me to talk about myself, and you’ll ask questions like, “Hey, what’s going on?” And that’s what I feel like is the best approach, just be very vulnerable. Because none of us are perfect. We all have issues and areas for improvement, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. So basically to say look, I’m embarking on this effort to become a more compassionate individual person. I want to be a better people manager, make the people whose careers I’m responsible for more valuable, meaningful and fulfilling, and honestly I don’t know how to do it! I don’t know the ways to do it. What do you suggest? What do you recommend? Are there people who you think are great people managers who I should talk to? So my approach has been let me meet as many of these great people managers, let me talk to people about what they think, and throw that start to build an understanding of what really great people managers look like and how they behave, and then start to build that back into my spreadsheet of these are the behaviors that I want to execute, until it becomes second nature. It’s like a diet or exercise. Like I’m just basically trying to build a new habit in terms of the way I engage with people, both on my personal life but also in the professional life.

Halelly: I want to ask you more about your spreadsheet and habits, but before I do, I just want to quickly follow-up on what you mentioned, which is your approach was to ask people who is already doing it really well? And I don’t know if you realize this, but in the world of human performance improvement, this is in fact one of the best ways to improve performance, is to look for exemplars. Because a lot of times we try to look for what’s wrong or problems and try to fix them, but in fact if you look for who is doing it right, and have more people try to learn from them, what are their workarounds, what are their tricks, how are they doing it? That ends up being one of the best ways to improve everybody else’s performance, who can learn from those people. So you’re doing the right thing and then you’re sort of doubling the value that is created because you’re sharing what you’re learning with other people. Because you were blogging about it, so now more people can learn from what you’re learning. So, what an awesome approach! It is an effective approach.

Jeremy: I’ll even take it one step beyond that. First of all, I’m glad to know that I picked up … it was probably from reading your blog that I realized that’s what I should do, so I don’t want to think that I intuitively figured it out. But not only that, but I’ll ask people, I interview people, I put it on a blog. They benefit but it has … that’s why I always love blogging and podcasts are the same thing, which is I share it with the community and then what happens is people will read it, they’ll benefit, but they’ll also say, “Hey, you should talk to my former boss so-and-so, because she was really good at this too,” and then it just becomes this virtuous cycle. So that’s how a lot of this happens, so it really just keeps going in that respect. And that’s what I love. That’s why I’m like, “Just chuck it up on the blog,” and it starts becoming, that’s the idea of the conversation or the podcast, obviously the same thing.

Halelly: So awesome. And of course in the show notes I’m going to link to the blog post where Jeremy wrote about this. So obviously you wrote a lot about it. We are not going to have enough time to cover every single nugget of wonderful information that you share, but from those interviews, what are some of the key lessons that you learned? What are some of those things that you’re putting on your spreadsheet?

Jeremy: So great question. I’ve done about seven formal interviews and probably another 10 to 15 or so sort of informal. I’m constantly asking this question of everybody now. But you know, I was sort of thinking of what are the sort of big takeaways, and there are a lot of really good ones. One of them I think, I sort of wrote down about eight or so big uber takeaways, but one I think is there’s really no finish line. You can always improve, and you know, I think that’s something especially for someone who is very achievement or goal oriented, as I’m sort of wired that way, it’s kind of humbling. It’s like there’s no point where I’m done, because you’re never done. So that’s number one. I think the second thing comes back to what I shared before about the vulnerability. You know, I think certainly in American society and some other societies, it’s not always so cool to talk about where you’re vulnerable and where you’re weak. We have to sort of display strength, but I actually think that’s the opposite of what you want to do as a leader is everybody, again, everybody has vulnerabilities and weaknesses. And it’s actually sign of strength to be able to go to your team and say, “Here’s where I’m very poor. Here’s where I’m vulnerable. Here’s what I’m working on,” because it establishes comfort and trust and it gives them an opportunity to say, “Hey, you know what? Here’s where I am, and it’s okay,” because as a manager you want to know where does this person not particularly do well? I mean, I’m a big sports fan, so if you’re not or people who are listening aren’t, hopefully they’ll get the analogy anyway. But if you’re coaching a basketball team, you want to know who are the people who are best suited to take the shot or rebound or play defense, and assign them appropriately. Don’t make the best rebounder take the shot, because that’s not his strength necessarily. So as soon as you find someone’s vulnerability, you’re actually going to be able to put that person in a position to succeed more rapidly and help the team overall succeed. So I think showing that vulnerability.

And that kind of goes to the next one which is really what is the core of each person? When I say core, it’s really not just their core professional strength, but what’s really motivating them as an individual? I know, Halelly, you’re a big fan of Dan Pink as am I, and you know, he talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose. Which of those three things is really sitting at the core? What’s really driving each person on a daily basis? And to the next point, sort of understanding their goals and ambitions, not just on a professional level but on a personal level. Because if you can help craft a career opportunity that allows them to develop as a person, then their opportunity for individual fulfillment and professional achievement is that much greater. And remember there’s a person there, and this is where I think I failed so miserably in my first whack at it, is I sometimes just saw them as resources to be deployed. Like an assembly line or a machine, and not just a person with feelings and thoughts and emotions. And that’s really where I think it was my big failing in sort of my first couple of iterations.

The next one is I took out of the Sheryl Sandberg playbook, she calls it radical candor, which is once you’ve established the trust, the single best thing you can do is have those very direct, straightforward conversations. Too many managers I think beat around the bush and don’t have the conversation. Say, “Halelly, I asked you to get the project done by Friday. You didn’t get it done, and that’s not okay. And we need to fix it.” So not saying, “Oh, you know, okay…” It’s very straightforward. “Halelly, that presentation was not acceptable.” Done. Very straightforward. You have to have the strength to be able to have those hard conversations. But, it all has to happen within a framework of the person feeling that you genuinely care for their career. I’ve never had a problem with the straightforward, blunt conversation. I did have a problem or a challenge with creating an environment where everyone felt that I was genuinely invested in their career. Because frankly, I wasn’t, and that was my failure, until relatively recently. Hopefully it’s getting better.

Last couple is getting rid of weak performers as fast as possible. And that’s tough, because you want to give people a chance to grow and thrive, but at a certain point, you have to get rid of them because they take too much energy to manage, they take that energy away from your high performers, and it sends the wrong message to everybody else on the team that you tolerate that type of substandard performance. So you have to get rid of them. And the converse of that is obviously promoting and celebrating your superstars. Really giving them an opportunity. And lastly, continue to overinvest in the relationship. It’s just you can never invest too much. And that’s hard when you’re running around, doing a thousand different things. But you have to put the time on, so like every Sunday night I set up my one-on-ones with my team, because I don’t have a schedule that allows me to do occurring, because there’s too much dynamic in my schedule. But every Sunday night, I look at the week ahead and I make sure I have time with every single one of my director reporters, and some of my skip levels as well, to make sure, hey, at least we have time to just connect, talk about whatever is on their mind and take it from there. I realize that’s a lot, but those are some of the ones that stuck out from my, what, three-four hours’ worth of interviews so far, I guess.

Halelly: Wow, that’s so much to chew on. So just a quick follow-up about the one-on-ones, how long are they?

Jeremy: As a default, I’ll sort of just set them up for half an hour, but sometimes we’re done in 15 minutes and we don’t need it, and sometimes we obviously have more to talk about and we’ll schedule more time. So I think we sort of set it up, actually, I set them up for 28 minutes because I feel like that’s more fun than 30, but it’s basically like that’s enough time to get into a meaty conversation without feeling rushed. Again there are weeks where we’re like, “Okay, everything is cool, no biggie. We connected, fine.” No sense just filling the time. Or just, “Okay, you know what? Let me make sure I can find more time today or tomorrow so we can finish it.” So that’s sort of the baseline, 10 minutes is probably too short, and an hour you feel like you have to fill the time and time is a pretty valuable commodity. That’s how I operate. I don’t know if that’s the right approach, but sort of what I do.

Halelly: Well, I think you already know that there’s no right approach, what works for you, right?

Jeremy: Fair enough. More like what works for them, not me.

Halelly: For all of you. So, give me a very concrete example of something that you put on that spreadsheet that’s related to all of these findings, and then how do you track it?

Jeremy: Good question. So one is I make sure I have a skip level meeting with each of my skip levels, at least once a month. And I know how many skip levels and I know how many meetings I have. Number two is I make sure that every single one of my directs has a mentor from my network, and then I make sure that they’re connecting with them at least once a month, and I just go through and say, “Hey, you know, did you connect with them?” And my third one is I want to be supportive of their personal goals. I’ll ask people, “What are your personal goals?” One person on my team is very interested in losing weight. Another person is interested in quitting smoking and things like that. And then so every Friday, I have a Friday morning ritual where I ping them and I’m like, “All right, how did we do on the personal goals?” You’re losing weight and your cigarettes, I guess you could say they’re a couple steps connected to Sprinklr, but that’s your personal goal. I am just holding you accountable to the goal you told me you want to do, because I honestly want you to be successful. So I just have little calendar reminders on Monday I do this, on Friday I do this, on Wednesday I do this. Little things that I just … and it takes three, five, eight minutes. It’s not a big deal, but I just follow-up on all of these little things spread across the week to make sure that I’m practicing the behaviors that I want until they become totally second nature for me. Which some of them have, but I still have plenty of work to do.

Halelly: Very cool. Thank you for that. I think that helps people envision what you mean by that. So, I mean, I think that you described a lot of different ways in which you were showing your vulnerability by talking about how you were doing it wrong before, or that you were making mistakes before. What do you think is one of the biggest or most common mistakes that you’ve seen a lot of people make in their endeavor to be a people manager, or maybe that you’ve personally made that you weren’t aware of that you figured out how to fix it or overcome it or sidestep it?

Jeremy: I don’t think I’m at the point … it’s like a big irony to me that you’re even interviewing me about this, because I feel like I’m such a novice rookie. Like what could I possibly tell people, like I’m such a guy who is just trying to figure it all out. So I’m humble that even I might have something to offer people who have far more knowledge. But I definitely don’t feel like I’m at the point where I can look across the broad range of managers and go, “Oh, this is what people do.” I know for myself, where I failed miserably, and I’ve heard that other people sometimes have this challenge as well, is like I said before, you have a one-sized-fits-all. It’s almost like my way or the highway. This is how I manage. This is how I run my shop. This is how I do things. It’s like that’s great, but I think what I’ve seen with great coaches – and I try to use the word coach instead of manager – again, as I shared I’m a big sports fan, so I look to athletics a lot for that type of inspiration. But like John Wooden, who is a legendary coach at UCLA basketball or great coaches of other sports is they all really understand how to treat their players as individuals in order to get the best out of them, while melding them together as a team. That’s really a hallmark of a great coach, is treating each person, coaching the individual, and not just saying, “Here’s my style. Deal with it. Just fit into it.” And I think that’s the big, the epiphany, that I had, which is, “All right, I can have some structure.” There are certain things some people need, like very clear guidelines and scorecards. And other people are like, “Here are your general things and call me when you’re done.”

You just need different things. It’s just like children. I have three kids – they don’t all need the exact same type of attention for every single thing, and it’s irresponsible to force them to do that. So again, not that the people who I manage are kids, but sort of treating them, it’s like, “You do this well, you don’t do this well, so let me play to your strengths.” I know you’re a big Marcus Buckingham fan. So am I. I’m a huge fan and I actually have people do the strength finder’s report. I read them and try to commit it to memory and stuff like that. So it’s like, “All right, I’m going to do everything I can to double down on your strengths.” That’s what I’m going to do, going to make you a better shooter, make you a better rebounder, whatever it is, if that’s what you do well. And let someone else do the things you don’t do well, because there’s no sense forcing you. Same thing with me – there are certain things I know that I’m really good at, things I’m mediocre at and things I’m just never going to be good at. So it’s like just acknowledge those and say, “I’m not going to be good at these types of things, so let’s make sure there’s a way to protect me from me on those types of things,” and meanwhile address the ones where I’m mediocre or the things that absolutely have to be addressed. That kind of thing.

Halelly: Makes sense. Wow, great. And as you talk, and everything that I do, I always come back to thinking that leadership and managing people is just so full of paradoxes, right? I mean, there just seems to be so much information that says, “Do this while doing the opposite too.” Or the very flip side of something is really just doing it too well, or doing it too much, and so on. So it really is tricky, and so good for you that you’re approaching it with this kind of openness, and I hope that people listening are inspired to do something very similar because it is a never-ending process. And so when you say that you’re humble, you’re on a journey and you’re learning, and you’re sharing what you’ve learned. That’s all it is. None of us know everything, and we’re always just learning something and then reaching back and sharing it with someone else.

So I’m going to ask you for something real specific that people can take away and act on, but before we do that, what’s really exciting on your horizon? What’s got you jazzed up these days?

Jeremy: Goodness. It’s been really exciting because I think there’ve been a couple of instances where I think, I mean, we’ve kind of come up with – as a marketer I couldn’t help resist it – I’ve come up with a sort of branding for the process. I call it Jeremy 2.0, and it’s kind of picked up a little bit of a life of its own, which is kind of scary and funny at the same time. But there are moments where I’ll be working with someone and I’ll say, “You know, a Jeremy 1.0 would have said fire this person.” Get rid of them. And I would have had a short temper, I would have been quick to judgment. Would have been very lacking in understanding. And now I find that I’m much more … I give the benefit of the doubt. Which is the part I said, it’s tough to balance that with the get rid of weak performers task, so I’m really struggling with what’s the right balance, but there have been a couple of instances where I say, “You know what? I’m going to really go against my natural instinct to just give up on this person or give up on this,” and really invest in this person or this team or what have you or this relationship, and it’s been so rewarding and so fulfilling to see that these things have really come to fruition when, in a previous life, I would have given up on it. Then I start kicking myself like, “What else did I miss? I feel like an idiot.” But at least it’s like wow, okay, there is this other way, and now it’s just sort of expanding the toolset. So yes, there are times where you shouldn’t give up on people or relationships or teams or projects. More people, I guess you could say, and it’s worth it. And it really has this amazing possibility as opposed to, “Hey, you know what? They failed the first time. They’re done.” Which I think was my much more sort of … I’m not proud of it, but that’s sort of how I used to roll. I was very aggressive, 100 percent of the time. There’s room for that. There’s a place for all of these things, and you have to have the wide skill set, and you have to know when to use each skill. So you have a hammer, you have a screwdriver, you have a drill, you don’t use them all at the same time obviously. That’s sort of what I’m working on. That’s just very exciting, like oh my God, there are more tools than just the hammer that I had in my toolbox.

Halelly: That’s funny. I use that metaphor a lot, and it makes so much sense. It is not easy, but it is so rewarding. I’m really happy and very … it’s very satisfying and gratifying to hear that you’re enjoying this challenge that you’re on. Out of curiosity, I saw that in your blog post about this, you are seeking even more input. You’re inviting people to connect you with more people, beyond the other people who are connecting you with more people. So is there some kind of ultimate bigger goal with what you’re doing with this? Or you’re just sort of thirsty, unquenchable thirsty, for more of this?

Jeremy: I think it’s really the latter. It’s not like, “Oh, I need to do this so I can do whatever.” I realize no matter what I do professionally or personally, I need to be better at this, connecting with people, inspiring people, understanding them, motivating them, being a coach, being supportive, whether it’s my kids, whether it’s my synagogue, whether it’s my … it doesn’t matter. So I get, I’m in a phenomenal opportunity where a place like Sprinklr has brought this to my attention. They’re coaching me, helping me. I tell people, “I need to get better at this, and I’m getting paid to do it. What a great gig that is, right?” It’s pretty cool. So for me, this is part of the process of sort of preparing for whatever that next phase is in the grand scheme of things. So, it’s just this is the smart move. It’s just like look, I’m 43 now, and a couple of years ago I was like, “You know, I should really make sure I’m in good shape because it’s a lot easier to get in shape on the early side of 40 than the late side of 40.” So I changed my habits, I changed my diet, I changed my exercise. It’s the same thing, just sort of a transformation on sort of the emotional intelligence side of being … I don’t know if that’s too self-aggrandizing, but that’s kind of what I’m trying to make happen.

Halelly: Fantastic. All right. I think you’re inspiring. So thank you. What’s one specific action that listeners can take – maybe today, maybe just generally this week – that can help them upgrade their own leadership skills?

Jeremy: You mean besides read your book?

Halelly: Thank you for that shameless plug, I love it!

Jeremy: Was that too blatant? You definitely should read Halelly’s book. Everybody go get it, buy one for your friends, buy one for everybody. Don’t be an idiot, it’ll change your life and then you can thank her later and what have you. You should actually also, I should also give props, I do want to thank you since that was probably too blatantly self-promotional and I’m sure you don’t mind, but you did also kindly point me in the direction of another book called Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, which I really also enjoy, and they have this thing called the never-ending interview. And they give you questions, and it’s just an amazing list of questions like, “What aspect of past jobs have you loved the most? How do your strengths sometimes work against you? What can’t you keep yourself from doing?” So basically once a week, I go through that list and I pick out what’s my question of the week, and then I just ask people in random conversations. I’m like, “What do you think? What’s your strength?” So each discussion I have with people kind of becomes like this ongoing exploration and discovery. So that’s very simple. You don’t have to do anything unusual. Just hey, you’re having a regular conversation and by the way – I mean for some people it might feel a little awkward the first couple of times, but trust me, it’s not a big deal. People love it. People’s favorite topic is themselves, so they’ll talk about it. And you know, you really get a chance to understand the person a lot more. So, maybe that’s one thing that I would recommend. Buy Halelly’s book! That’s another.

Halelly: Thank you. So the book Jeremy just described, the second book that Jeremy just described which I did send him after he told me his goal, because it seemed like such a perfect kind of guide, was written by my friend and mentor, co-authored by my friend and mentor Dr. Beverly Kaye, who was also one of the early guests on my podcast. So I will link in the show notes to that episode, because she gives lots of interesting stories too, and I think that book is fabulous. So good, I’m glad you’re enjoying it and thank you for suggesting it. So how can people stay in touch with you, learn more about you and follow the cool stuff you’re doing?

Jeremy: Sure, well, I’m kind of all over the social web. JER979 is sort of my handle that I’ve had since 1991, and I kind of have stuck with it. So Twitter, LinkedIn, I do have a website, neverstopmarketing.com, which was my company is still sort of my overarching mantra that I sort of maintain and also, @Sprinklr, S-P-R-I-N-K-L-R, no “e” because we have to be internet-y and cool of course, sprinklr.com. Any of those places I’m happy to keep in touch, and I’m always looking for people who have suggestions or recommendations and I love connecting people with other people, so if there’s any service I can provide to any of your listeners – within reason, of course, I won’t give you my kids. You can’t have that. You know, I’d be happy to do it. But I really, whatever makes sense, but happy to stay in touch and any friend of Halelly’s is a friend of mine, I think for the most part.

Halelly: Thanks Jeremy. And he is a connected guy, right? Because he does this networking thing so well, and in an authentic and true kind of connection. So it’s worth it to connect with Jeremy. I do recommend. I have benefited from being connected with him, and see, now you benefit from my connection with Jeremy because now you get to learn from his learning journey. So thank you, thank you for being willing to be open and sharing vulnerably about your learning journey to becoming a better people manager and improving your own leadership skills. I think that everyone listening should go and take the actions that you’ve suggested or at least act on a couple of things that you maybe sparked in them, and thanks for your time!

Jeremy: My pleasure. Thank you so much.

Halelly: You are welcome. What did I tell you? Wasn’t that an awesome show? Isn’t Jeremy such a cool guy? And don’t you feel inspired now and also equipped? This makes my heart so glad because you know, podcasting is not what I do for a living. Maybe you didn’t realize that, but what I do for a living is develop leaders. So I help organizations develop a strategy for how to develop leaders, and of course I also go and I speak at conferences and meetings, to large audiences, and I facilitate workshops for different kinds of organizations and most of the time they are for people that are already in a leadership position or being groomed to becoming leaders and managers. And, all of my work centers around helping people be better managers and better leaders, and so when I meet people like Jeremy who are really doing it with his whole heart and he’s seeing the results, it just is so gratifying, so satisfying to me. And I hope that you will take some action as a result of listening to this episode, because you know, knowledge and inspiration, all that is really good, but only if you take action will there actually be some kind of results for you in change. So you need to go do that, okay? Promise? And you can take action also by leaving comments or starting a discussion in the comments section of the show notes page, which is talentgrow.com/podcast/episode34, and if you care to share this episode with someone that you think might benefit from it, all you have to do is just ping them, send it to them in an email or send it to them via social media, and that way someone else gets to benefit and I of course benefit from reaching more people and making a bigger difference in the world, which is something that I really care to do.

So in the meantime, thank you for listening. Thank you for sticking around. I appreciate you, and I hope you make it a great day.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the TalentGrow Show, where we help you develop your talent to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. For more information, visit TalentGrow.com.

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