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Description: In order to be a good leader and discover and develop your company’s or team’s culture you really need to start with a good “why”. On this episode of The TalentGrow Show with Halelly Azulay, Carter Laren, co-founder of the Gateway startup accelerator, a director and mentor for the Founder Institute, serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and former cryptologist and engineer, shares some of his best wisdom about company culture, startups, and successful leadership that yields top performance in your team. Listen now to learn the one thing most people discount when thinking about starting a company, why he hires people more based culture fit rather than experience or skillset, the most common mistakes he sees startup founders and leaders make, and much more! This episode will help you get some of the best thinking from the world of startups and unicorns that you can apply 100% in your leadership practice, regardless of how big or established your organization is. Enjoy and please share with others!
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- Something most people discount when they think about starting a company (6:02)
- What’s a red flag for Carter when selecting potential startups to invest in? (7:27)
- Why Carter says money and financial targets aren’t inspiring enough of a goal for most employees (8:30)
- Why does Carter suggest hiring people based on their fit to the company culture and mission more than specific years of experience or even skill-set? (10:32)
- Pareto distribution and why Carter says we “sometimes don’t realize how much mediocrity is in the world.” (11:06)
- How Carter helps leaders find people that match the company’s culture (14:20)
- What’s the “fine line” leaders have to walk? (16:15)
- One of the most common mistakes Carter sees leaders make (17:00)
- One of the most difficult things about shifting into team management (18:33)
- The one word key to being a good people manager (21:18)
- Why Carter isn’t a big fan of remote working in early stage companies (22:28)
- What does Carter always tell leaders to do? (22:50)
- Carter’s interesting realization about proper early education (26:27)
- Carter’s actionable tip (inspired by Jordan Peterson) (27:37)
- A day-to-day actionable tip from Jim Collins (28:18)
- “Good leaders cannot be ________________” (29:18)
- Carter’s company - Gateway
- Follow Carter on Twitter
- Nathaniel Branden’s Six Pillars of Self-Esteem
- Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
- Jim Collins’ books: Good to Great and Built to Last
- Halelly’s blog post about mediocrity
- Check out the TalentGrow Show on C-Suite Radio
- Like the Facebook page of The TalentGrow Show!
- Join the Facebook group – The TalentGrowers Community! Share your advice, your progress, your successes and your challenges and questions. Interact with other listeners and with me. Let’s support each other in becoming the kind of leader that people *want* to follow!
- Download the 10 Mistakes Leaders Make and How to Avoid Them free tool
- Intro/outro music for The TalentGrow Show: "Why-Y" by Esta - a great band of exquisitely talented musicians, and good friends of mine
ABOUT CARTER LAREN:
As a self-described “radical individualist,” Carter is the co-founder of Gateway, the premier accelerator for startups in the cannabis space. He is also a Director and mentor for the Founder Institute, the world's largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program. Previously, he developed and built the Founder Lab program for seed stage startups and is co-founder of Pitch.Coach. Carter also served as the CEO of Creative Allies and co-founded MOX, an online 24/7 streaming music video network focused on electronic music. With a background in engineering and cryptography, Carter’s first startup experience was at Cryptography Research, where he served as the Chief Architect of Content Protection. The company was sold to Rambus in 2011 for $350M. He also co-invented a new content protection technology and drove its adoption as a standard for Blu-ray discs. He led and subsequently sold the business to Rovi in 2007 for $70M. He is the owner of Inara Ventures, through which he both invests in and advises seed-stage startups. He continues to serve on the boards of and advise several startups, including OhMiBod, Creative Allies, Chaperone, Eleven, Lily, 100% Food, and Kangaroo Health. Carter is the kind of nerd who thinks that good grammar is sexy.
Ep066: Successful culture and leadership advice from startup mentor and investor Carter Laren
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, welcome back TalentGrowers. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist here at TalentGrow and I’m looking forward to sharing today’s guest with you. My guest is Carter Laren. He comes from the world of startups and startup incubators and he usually gives advice to startup founders but today he’s going to talk to us about his leadership philosophy, the kinds of leadership and psychological qualities that he looks for in founders, and how he thinks they convey well to the reality of leaders and teams in non-startups organizations. He also talks about the importance of hiring for cultural fit and aptitude way more than how many years of experience someone has on their resume and we talk about how he thinks monetary goals are not really that motivating or inspiring to most employees. What your real job is as a manager is to help get better performance, and the importance of having a clear why and a culture fit over experience and resumes. Carter talks about the importance of empathy and curiosity. His budding interest in early education, he gives us a reading assignment or two and a very cool trick for focusing he says he learned from Jim Collins. I hope that you enjoy this episode. Here we go.
All right TalentGrowers, welcome back to the show. I am here with my guest Carter Laren. I’m very pleased to introduce Carter to you because he’s a unique guest, I think. He’s very different from a lot of the other guests I’ve had and I look forward to enriching your world with some of his information and insights. He’s a self-described radical individualist and the co-founder of Gateway, the premiere accelerator for startups in the cannabis space. He’s also a director and a mentor for the Founder Institute, the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program. Previously he developed and built the Founder Lab program for seed stage startups, and is co-founder of Pitch.coach. He’s also served as CEO of Creative Allies and co-founded MOX, and on-line 24/7 streaming music video network, and he has built companies, sold companies, advised companies, and so I really look forward to hearing his perspective about great leadership. Carter, welcome to the TalentGrow Show.
Carter: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Halelly: Thank you for coming along. We appreciate you. Before we get started, you definitely have a unique background, but we always ask our guests to tell us about their professional journey. Where did you start and how did you get to where you are today?
Carter: I’ve definitely taking a circuitous route to what I’m doing now. I started out as an engineer, an electrical engineer, at defense contractor at a college. It was there where I learned the fine art of cryptography, which was not taught when I went to school, kind of in schools, but had to be learned through contracting with the three-letter agency that didn’t like to be named. It was there that I both fell in love with cryptography, but also found a distaste for the large defense contractor environment. Ended up moving to California to help start a commercial-facing cryptography company. To gloss over a bit, we ended up designing some cool stuff. I enjoyed the engineering, but at a small company I realized it wasn’t all about engineering. I had to become a decent contracts lawyer and do a whole bunch of other stuff and I started falling in love with the business of startups themselves. After I sold, I was one of the designers of that company that did the security for the Blu-Ray disc standard, and I sold that to a company and I had to stay around for a little while with handcuffs and rediscovered my, frankly, ineptitude at being a middle manager. I’m just not good at it. It’s good to be self-aware.
I kind of went back into the startup world and did a bunch of random things including some stuff that worked out and some that didn’t. About 10 years ago I started angel investing in early-stage startups, and spending a lot more time advising companies as well, and that’s where I got into some of the stuff that you mentioned with respect to the Founder Institute and really kind of formalizing some of the coaching and training that I would do with early stage founders, which eventually led me to the cannabis industry, not because of cannabis per se, but because it’s the fastest-growing industry in the U.S. and there was a lot of a need for people to help founders build successful businesses and that was something I’ve just fallen in love with, so that’s why I’m doing now.
Halelly: Way to capitalize on a new market, right? Like the Wild West.
Carter: Not something I ever thought I’d be doing. I’ve always been against the war on drugs, but I was never really a cannabis user, so it wasn’t something that was high on my list of, “Oh, I can’t wait to go into pot.” But it’s been an exciting journey and there’s a lot more to go and it’s a super-fast growing business.
Halelly: Kudos, and I should say that you and I met when we both spoke at a conference for targeting young people who are thinking about their careers and you gave a great talk. I really enjoyed it, and that’s how we initially got connected. Our mutual friend and listener of the show, Michael Randolph – thank you Michael for suggesting this episode, actually – wanted to make sure that we talked about your personal leadership philosophy, before we get into what you teach founders.
Carter: Sure. I think also I need to shout out to Michael for recommending a really interesting book on personal health and fitness recently. He’s been all about the good recommendations lately. Shout out to Michael.
I deal, generally, with super early stage founders and I think one of the things that people discount when they think about starting a company is the amount of leadership that’s necessary and a lot of the success of your company is not dependent on how well you understand the product or how good of an engineer you are or even how good of a salesperson you are necessarily. It’s how well you can inspire people that are the right people to join you on your journey. That’s something that’s often overlooked and it’s a difficult skill to master, and even difficult to evaluate unless you’re doing it retroactively. It’s difficult to kind of predict someone’s ability to do that early on, but leadership is one of the most important qualities that we look for in founders. It’s our belief, at least when founding a company, that in order to be a good leader, you really need to start with a good why. That really, what that means, is there needs to be a reason why you’re doing this that you can come back to, that you can own emotionally, that motivates you to get out of bed, that’s not about having a private jet someday because you want to be a billionaire. That it’s about the work you’re doing and why you’re doing it. I think that’s really the seed that you absolutely need before you can grow into anything else, because if you don’t have a really good why, no one will follow you.
Halelly: Makes sense. If you get a founder who is really thinking about their exit and how much money they can sell the company for, that’s probably your sign you’re not going to support them, huh?
Carter: It’s odd. There are different schools of thought here. I do know some early stage investors who like to ask about exits, although frankly most of the good ones don't. Most of the good early stage investors don’t even want to see an exit plan so much. They want to know that yes, this is a big industry and potentially there’s some kind of monetization. But if a founder starts talking early on about well, we’re going to be purchased by Uber or Google or whatever, that’s a red flag. Because in all likelihood, that particular scenario won’t happen, and if that’s all that’s motivating the founder it’s going to be very difficult to get people on board. I like to actually compare – I know your audience is probably familiar with Jim Collins, a famous business author.
Halelly: Good to Great, right?
Carter: Yeah, he did Good to Great and he did another one, Built to Last is another famous one of his. He talked about this big hairy, audacious goal, and he talks about using it to kind of partially inspire employees, and I like what he says about it, but there’s one area in which I disagree with him. He believes that your big, hairy, audacious goal can be based on money. We have to reach this revenue number or we have to hit this financial target as a company, and I disagree with that for the primary reason that for most employees at a large company, that goal sounds like, “I want a big bonus. Help me get there.” That’s not inspiring. Imagine, I think he uses even an example in one his books of Walmart setting a goal to be at some size company by some year, I don’t remember the year and the size. But I just imagine myself, it was back when the cashiers were making under six bucks and hours.
You need a lot of empathy I think as a leader, so put your cashier hat on and imagine being a worker at Walmart, making $6.25 an hour or whatever it is, and having the Walmart CEO try and get up and inspire you by saying, “We need to be an X billion dollar company by this year. Let’s pull together and do this.” You know, who the hell cares? You’re still making $6.25 an hour. Why is that inspiring in any way to most of the staff? I think upper management often gets, they’re very numbers driven and they should be, but they often lose their empathy for the peoples lives who don’t change that much based on financial performance of the company. So they need to be inspired by something else, a deeper why.
Halelly: That’s kind of like your mission, right? The change you’re going to make in the world as the result of the work you do.
Carter: Yeah, I think a lot of companies use mission statements kind of gratuitously and don’t actually mean them, but yes, the extent that you can have a very clear mission and a very clear values, that can inspire people. Absolutely.
Halelly: You say, I read somewhere, that when hiring, you’re trying to hire people to fit that culture and that mission, and that that’s more important than, let’s say, specific years of experience or maybe even a skillset, right?
Carter: Absolutely. This is something, and in brief stints I’ve had managing teams at large organizations and not just at startups. This is something that I still follow. The reason for that is experience is not the same as good experience. So, I think we sometimes don’t realize how much mediocrity is in the world. If you look, are you familiar with Pareto distribution?
Halelly: Yes. 80/20.
Carter: It can be summarized by the 80/20 rule. Basically it’s a square root rule, and it basically means about the square root of the total number of people in your company will produce about half of the productivity. So, what that means is if there is a large number of people that are, let’s say you want an embedded software engineer. Well, in a team of 100 embedded software engineers at a major corporation, 10 of them are producing half of the value. That means the other 90 aren’t really that great. But they may have resumes that say they’ve been embedded software engineers for 10 years. Large organizations often need to be structured around enabling C players to be successful in some way, because there’s not enough A players in the world. But your job as a manager is to find the A players, right? To tilt the scale in your favor on your team. What you want are top performers, not necessarily people with experience.
The other reason I focus on culture is someone who is a bad cultural fit not only maybe not fit themselves but can be a poison pill that drags the rest of the team down. It can cause problems and it can actually undermine the productivity of other people who were previously doing well. So, in my opinion, cultural fit is super, super important when hiring someone, and aptitude, I mean, look. You want agility. You’re going to need agility in any business, presumably, to varying levels. People who have high aptitude tend to be less stuck in their ways and defensive and conservative with respect to change and adapting to what they’re doing moving forward. If you’ve got someone who is, “Yes, I’ve learned how to press these buttons in this particular order and that’s all I ever know how to do, but I’m very good at it, the moment that your business has a need where there’s a different button they need pressed in a different order, they will push back on it. Because they will feel threatened that they’re unable to learn the new button sequence. I’m being facetious a little bit in this example, but that’s kind of the value of the aptitude and cultural fit. Frankly, a smart person who is a good cultural fit and provided that they’ve got some basic tools in the area you need them, they can learn whatever it is you want.
Halelly: That’s awesome. How do you guide the founders that you coach to help them find people that match their culture? How do you actually do that when you’re hiring?
Carter: The first thing is to actually have a culture. That’s not something – we can laugh – but every large company thinks they have a culture that’s written down somewhere on a wall. That’s probably not their culture at all. If you surveyed their employees, you could probably figure out what their culture actually is. Startups, because we normally deal with startups, culture isn’t something they think about right away usually, because they’re scrambling to keep their head above water. They’re trying to ship a product or get a customer or raise money or whatever it is. Telling them, “Hey, sit down and define your culture,” that’s not actually something they'll do often unless we push them. We have a brand foundation document and a blog that I’ve written about it, but we also talk about this and push people to kind of figure out this brand foundation document that gives them a very clear understanding of what their values are, what their purpose of their company is, what their goals are in the long-term, what their voice is like. All of that stuff helps them actually identify a culture. Once you’ve done that, all you really need to do is exude that culture and throw it in the face of anyone you’re thinking about hiring and see how they react to it. I mean, you can tell pretty quickly whether someone reacts to that very well or if they’re not a fit. I think the biggest problem in not hiring people that are the right cultural fit is simply just not knowing what your culture is and having it articulated.
Halelly: That’s the first step, right? Articulate it and actually try to – it sounds like you’re saying – explicitly and implicitly gauge the reaction, the reception of that.
Carter: Absolutely. Before we hire anyone, and we’ve always done this, the interview seems to be going well and we’ll think about, “Do we think they’re a cultural fit? Yeah, seems like it.” Sometimes there’s some obvious things that wouldn’t be a fit. But if it seems like they’re a good cultural fit and we like them, one of the steps in the interview is literally sticking our brand foundation document in front of their face and saying, “Read this. Now, tell me about it. Talk about each point. Talk about what it means to you. Talk about whether you think it’s good or not. Is this what you’d do at a company?” Just have that frank conversation with them. You can often tell if people are BSing their way through that.
Halelly: You’ve worked with a lot of different founders and startups, and you told me before we started that some of them have been successful, and some of them have not. What do you think are some of the common mistakes that maybe you’ve made or that other leaders that you’ve coached have made that you think are avoidable, that maybe we can help our listeners avoid?
Carter: Founders have to walk this fine line of having this very clear vision for what they want to produce in the world, but also be able to take feedback from the world about whether that vision is actually something the world wants. That’s very difficult. Because you’ve got, on the one hand you’ve got to push your vision, but on the other hand it could be wrong because you don’t know the market is going to love what you’re doing. So you have to be open to negative feedback. Just being open to negative feedback without really having any conviction in your vision kind of gives you no direction. There’s this fine line you have to walk, and I think a lot of founders don’t know how to walk that line.
What I’ve made mistakes in the past – and I think one of the most common mistakes I see – is basically a lack of a good what we call customer development, but which I’ll call maybe empathy for the end user. It’s kind of really having this curiosity to understand how is this product being used? Questioning what you’re actually doing. I think this is what the world needs, but does the world think this is what the world needs? There are plenty of examples. I’m sure we can all think of them. Plenty of examples where you think the world should work a certain way but the rest of the people in the world don’t. They don’t seem to agree with you about that. Politics is kind of the obvious example, right? You can vote for someone and everyone else disagrees or you vote against someone and everyone else disagrees and that person ends up in office. The fact that you think it’s a good idea, and it may even be kind of in this weird sense objectively a good idea – it would make whatever you’re doing more efficient or whatever – that doesn’t matter if the people you’re selling it to don’t agree. I think a lot of founders make mistakes about that.
How that translates to a larger company and leadership problems is I would say you need to kind of understand your team as well. A lot of founders don’t carve out time for managing people. I remember when I first starting managing a larger team of people, it seemed weird to me. A lot of managers come from engineering or maybe they’ve done product development or whatever else they were doing. They didn’t have to be very people focused. As soon as you start managing this idea that you need to carve out time in your days and weeks to talk to people and almost play, sometimes you’re playing therapist in some ways, or coach or just trying to figure out people’s psychology and what motivates them and what they care about and having these conversations … the idea that you carve time out of your day to do that doesn’t make sense to someone who, for example, like me started out as an engineer and coded 24/7. That’s a shift that I think is very difficult for people to make when they start managing teams is really valuing the human connection. It takes time and you can’t manage people if you don’t spend the time with them and interact with them. Just carving that time out and being intentional about it is not something people do naturally I think.
Halelly: Totally. That’s the first step, right? If you don’t value something, it’s very hard for you to make time for it, obviously, because we choose how to prioritize where we spend our time based on our values, but then even if you do, this is where I come in with my work in trying to help develop leadership skills in leaders is even if you spend the time, you might not even know how to do it, or not do it very well or efficiently or effectively. There is a way, you need to move up the learning curve and the only way to do it is to get some skills and practice and get some feedback and try it again. But you won’t go there if you don’t even value trying that in the first place.
Carter: That’s the thing, right? I agree with you, but I think you’re using the word “value” in a way that I would agree with but it’s non-standard, in that I think a lot of people would say they do value people, but they –
Halelly: They value people. They don’t value spending time with people when it’s not something specific that they need to do.
Carter: They don’t understand why they need to do it. I remember when I first started to manage people and having had this engineering background, where it was confusing to me. Like, “Oh, don’t people just do their work?” I didn’t feel like I had been managed very much. So don’t people just do work? Don’t I just send an email and tell them what to do and they do it and that’s the end of it? Doesn’t this just happen? This idea that, no, actually, you need to put more effort into the personal relationship, it’s not that I didn’t value the people, but that I didn’t understand that was even needed. I think a lot of people are like that. They don’t understand what’s needed.
Once they do understand what’s needed, like you’re saying, they don’t know how to do it and the key that I would say there is basically back to the one word empathy. Listen to people and really try and understand. Assume that they’re not jerks who are under-performing intentionally or doing whatever. Really have some empathy and curiosity about what’s going on for them, and that will help you to figure out whether or not, A, they’re a good fit for the role you have them in, or B, whether you’re really managing them properly. You might be doing something small or not doing something that’s very small that’s having a big impact on them, and you just don’t know because you’re not listening.
Halelly: So let’s just say you’re now advising a group of founders and you’re telling them this wisdom, which you’ve discovered the hard way. What specifically do you suggest they do? How do you help them bridge that?
Carter: Typically most of the founders we’re dealing with are very early stage. You’re usually kind of driving this car that’s falling part simultaneously and trying to get to a gas station. I don’t know if that’s the greatest analogy but you’ve got all this stuff going on and we don't want founders to feel overly burdened that you have to have these kinds of meetings or do it in this particular way. What I do encourage is, I’m not a big fan of remote working in early stage companies. I think it can work, but it probably takes someone who has managed remote teams before and really understands how to keep them together, and can do that. So, step one for a lot of early stage companies for us is all work in the same place. Stop the telecommuting and all go to the same place so you’re in the same spot. The other thing we tell founders is to make sure that you’re basically communicating, clearly, to everyone. And listening. It’s pretty simple. How they do that, it doesn’t have to be a daily 15-minute scrum. It can be, it doesn’t have to be a weekly all-hands meeting, but there does have to be some kind of regular interaction where you’re listening to each person. We try not to dictate a particular structure, because frankly, at an early stage company, there doesn’t need to be a lot of structure. It might just be you guys go to lunch once a week as a team and chat. People can come in and talk to you one-on-one when they want to. That might suffice for a good year. After that, yeah, things may need to be more structured.
Halelly: I hope listeners, if you’re not in a startup – I assume that most listeners are not – that everything that Carter is explaining or describing is completely, in my opinion, completely conveys to building a team. Even if you’re within a larger organization, when you’re building a team you need to have no only clarity about the mission and the culture of the larger organization, but in a way you’re also building a small startup with your team and a culture for your team and a direction for your team. The time you spend with them and the feedback that you give them, listening to them, all those things I think convey in that way, wouldn’t you agree?
Carter: I do, and I think there are some general rules of thumb that I’m sure managers at startups or large organizations can follow. Things like praise publicly, criticize privately. But all of that really just stems from empathy. Take the time to stop and think about how that other person is feeling about what’s going on. I know that sounds very, very simple, but it’s something that’s actually quite hard to do if you don’t think about doing it all the time. Especially if you’re coming from, I think a lot of managers come from kind of the bottom up, not having managed. Probably doing some kind of technical role, where they don’t really have to have empathy for anyone. It’s not part of their role, right? Throwing them into the mix is part of your job, it’s not as trivial as it may sound.
Halelly: I totally agree. Well, before we wrap up and we always share something real specific that people can do right away, but I want to know, Carter, what’s new and exciting for you? What’s got you energized these days?
Carter: I’m pretty focused on Gateway. I really am excited about the cannabis industry in general. I love working with early-stage founders and so there’s a lot of energy and excitement in the industry and a lot of need for help, so I’m enjoying that. I would say the other thing I’m getting more and more excited about, frankly, is education generally. I have an eight-year-old daughter and I’m kind of seeing, she’ll get through – she’s in Montessori – she’ll get through Montessori at some point and kind of get to that junior high school level and I’ve been working with founders, post-college is the earliest I’ve gone. Immediately after college. I’ve been thinking about kind of the gap between that stage and where I get to touch founders, and I’m starting to see a lot of problems with education in between those two points, and I’ve really been starting to brainstorm about how can that be changed? That’s kind of my longer-term excitement, but in the shorter term I’m pretty excited about Gateway.
Halelly: Wow. Well, you’re right, there is so much room for improvement and things I tend to agree that they’re not really going in a very helpful direction in general in education. Oh boy, that’s going to be a whole other podcast.
Carter: It gets to be this weird recursive thing. I think to myself, “These founders are great, but what I need is right before this, they need to have learned blank.” Then I get to them at that stage and I realize, “To learn that, they really needed to have this experience.” I’ve worked my way all the way back in that thought process, basically to about sixth grade. So I’m realizing that I think there are some good solutions up to about sixth or seventh grade, and after that things just fall apart. That’s what’s got me juiced. Okay, in a generation or two, how do we make sure there are good founders then? So I’ve been thinking about that problem.
Halelly: Wow. Neat. Well, we’ll have to pick that up offline. I really would love to hear more about where you’re thinking of going with that. So what’s one specific action that listeners can take, based on our discussion here I guess, with the lens of leadership, that you think can help them immediately ratchet up their own leadership effectiveness?
Carter: I could give you a little Jim Collins post-it note trick, but instead I think I’m going to go in a different direction and I’ll take direction from Jordan Peterson who I’ve worked with in the past and has been in the news later.
Halelly: The psychology professor?
Carter: Yeah. He helps us screen founders, actually. I would say work on yourself. I would say read the Six Pillars of Self Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. It’s one of my favorite personal psychology books. I don’t think you can be a better leader without first really being into personal growth. So I would say start there.
Halelly: Great. I’m going to link to that book in the show notes. Anything else you recommend they read or think about with that?
Carter: I love the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. Another great book to read. If you want a little day-to-day trick that I did not invent but I love, I’ll give you the Jim Collins trick.
Halelly: Yes, you whet our appetite with it, so go ahead.
Carter: Every morning, before you’re answering emails or doing anything else, you should have a pretty clear idea of kind of what your long-term and bigger goals are for your business, your group or your division of your organization. Every morning, write down on a post-it note, physically, one to three things that you absolutely need to do that day to move your organization in the direction you need to go to meet your goals. Then all you do is, Jim recommends taking it out of your pocket every 15 minutes and looking at it. I just post it on my monitor. When you have that stray moment that you’re about to go quick on Facebook, you see that post-it note and you realize, “I should be doing one of those things.” Because so many of us are interrupt driven, and being interrupt driven does not make you a good leader. Good leaders cannot be interrupt driven. You absolutely have to be dropping things on the floor very consciously. Which means you’re doing the things that need to get done and the stuff that’s dropping, maybe you don’t answer that email on time because you’re doing one of those things on the post-it note and that’s what’s important.
Halelly: Gotcha. So you intentionally say no to things so that you can say yes to what’s important, that you decided was important before you were in that middle of the day kind of rush?
Carter: Yes. I’ve resigned myself to, I’m not a great email responder. Because I’m overwhelmed with emails and if I worried about inbox zero, I wouldn’t move the business forward the way I need to. So sorry, sometimes I just don’t get back in time, and that’s just the way it is. That changes when you get to the point where maybe you can hire someone to handle some emails for you and stuff. But often people are under-resourced, either at big companies or small companies, so if you’re under-resourced, it means you have to accept the fact of reality, that some stuff that you want to get done is not going to get done. So make sure you choose what stuff that is, and it’s not dictated by who happened to write an email in the last five minutes.
Halelly: Beautiful. Well, Carter, thank you so much. I think this has been a very interesting and thought provoking discussion with also some specific ideas that people can absolutely take action on, and I hope that they will. We will link to everything you mentioned, as well as your company and your bio, everything in the show notes, and how can people stay in touch with you and learn more about the great stuff that you’re doing?
Carter: You can always follow me on Twitter @CLaren. Or you can go to gtwy.co to look at Gateway stuff.
Halelly: Cool. Thank you for your time and your wisdom and your insights. We appreciate you.
Carter: Thank you. I really appreciated the chat.
Halelly: I hope you enjoyed this episode TalentGrowers. Get that sticky note and put it where you can see it now. You can get the links to Carter’s website and social media profiles and all the resources we mentioned, all of those on the show notes page at TalentGrow.com/podcast/episode66. While you’re there, of course, be sure to sign up for my free 10 Mistakes that Leaders Make tool that I made for you, and that of course gets you also on my short, fun and actionable weekly newsletter.
We’re super proud that the TalentGrow podcast has been selected to be part of the C Suite Radio Network of high quality business podcasts, so I hope you check it out over there at C-SuiteRadio.com, and you get lots of useful advice and leadership insights. Take a couple of minutes to leave us a rating and a review on iTunes. As you know that helps the show be discovered in people’s searches, the more reviews we have. It doesn’t take very long. It’s very easy to do and it’s very, very much appreciated. That’s it for this episode. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist here at TalentGrow. I thank you for listening and so appreciate you and until the next time, make today great.
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