Maybe the question is “what should you do?” not “what could you do?”

Recent news touts Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that they’re changing the newsfeed algorithm to “.. focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” a focus, they say, on the community. The New York Times in an interview last Thursday dug a little deeper. Zuckerberg was quoted, “It’s important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world,”

You know what else I noticed? Facebook’s stock plummeted 5% overnight.

Imagine with me that you’re a new entrepreneur; an entrepreneur who’s raised capital for a company to grow and “change the world.” Investors expect a return. Imagine for a second you, like Zuckerberg, have decided that your product might be putting profit over people. Imagine for a second your product was a benefit to today’s consumer but could jeopardize their safety, security in the future. (Just watch any episode of Black Mirror , and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.) Because we are bumping up to a technical future where almost anything we want to build we probably can.

All this imagining raises the question: Is our adherence revenue and profit over mission and values point us towards a future we don’t intend?

Seriously, what society do we envision? A Blade Runner future, a Mad Max future, or a Star Trek future? It might just be the result of my age, but most of the people I ask suggest the dystopian civilization similar to Blade Runner. Doesn’t that worry you? Even just a little?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating going back to the “old ways” and halting innovation and change. Hang out with me at all, and you’ll know that I’m very excited about machine learning, blockchain, self-driving technology and all the magical personalized technology in development today. I want it all.

But in that all, I also want someone in your companies and organizations to be responsible and empowered to think about the future us. Someone not beholden to the bottom line, someone not accountable to the investors. Companies need a head of ethics to partner with the head of innovation. Imagine the question wasn’t “what could we build” but “what should we build.” The winner being people, not pennies.

This ethicist can bring reason and thought to potential societal effects without concern for the bottom line. She can bring insight to the effects on all generations and the possibility of unintended consequences before products launch. An ethical voice infuses innovation with humanity.

I know, it’s not a small ask for my all. But I worry. I worry that if the next Facebook founder waits this long to realize that their first “baby” might harm their real babies that it will be too late, too late because everything is moving faster.

Which future do you want?

PS. If you’re a CEO, who wants to be one of the first to include an ethics lead on your team I have several suggestions.

The Awesomesauce Equation

Do you know what makes your people awesome?

I’ve talked at length about why it’s important to be able to articulate your particular awesome. Yes, you have one. Trust me on this. Just in case you’ve forgotten, here’s the high level. There are things you’re good at; it’s why you’re awesome.

  • You like doing the things you’re good at because it’s fun for you.
  • People should know what you’re good at; often they don’t.
  • People choose you because you’re good at what they need you to do.
  • You get to DO what you’re good at, so you’re happy.
  • The person who asked for your help/work gets the job done by a happy person.
  • Bottom line – everyone wins.

Simple right?

Value + delivered value = Everyone wins.

I know, it’s never that simple. That’s why, at this very moment, I’m sitting in an airport lounge about to hop on a LOOOONG flight to Singapore to chat with a room full of formidable folks about why they’re awesome. Continue reading “The Awesomesauce Equation”

Sing the Song of the Unsung Hero

I’m an avid podcast listener. I listen in the car, out on walks, waiting for planes. One of my favorite podcasts is Hidden Brain, an NPR show that “helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain‘s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”

The introduction alone explains why I’m a fan. The entertaining and rich conversation about what exactly makes us tick is fuel to my fire.

While the education I get is always valuable, I want to focus on the really small and special little “something” the show producers include at the end of each episode that always makes me smile.

Right before the credits, they highlight a person they call “the unsung hero.” This person is an individual behind the scenes who, unlike the stars of the show, doesn’t always get the recognition and attention for the work she does. Her work, however, is critical to the development, production, and distribution of each episode. Critical in creating the entertaining and educational episode that I, along with many other fans, have come to love. The highlight of the unsung hero is no more than 60 seconds. It’s a quick but sincere shout-out to say thank you for her key contribution.

How lovely is that?

What’s really interesting is how Hidden Brain publicly tells a story about why someone on their team is important. In other words, the unsung heroes are recognized for what they are good at.

One of my core messages is to impress upon you the importance of articulating what you do in a bold, authentic, unique and compelling way. I iterate this at pretty much every workshop or speaking event I give. If every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room that you’re not in, then you MUST make sure the conversation about you is one that articulates why you are uniquely awesome. Once you can articulate why you’re awesome in that authentic, unique and compelling way, you can share it with others. And when you can share it with others, they now have the language to articulate why you are uniquely awesome. They may even articulate why you are uniquely awesome in that room you’re not in. Continue reading “Sing the Song of the Unsung Hero”

Looking at the whole and not just the role

Welcome back to part three of the “Balance Series.”
Read Part I: How can you be courageous so you can be brave? and Part II: Do you practice organizational empathy?

I’m not sure if my first exposure to the concept of talent balanced teams was an accident or if it was just the first time I was mature enough to notice what was going on. Either way, it totally changed the way I thought about building leadership teams.

Back in the early 2000’s while I was at CNET Networks (soon to become CBS Interactive), I was part of the team that supported the sizable and complex sales organization. I was partnered with the Client Services lead Stacey DeLarios and the Ad Technology lead Adrian D’Souza.

If you ask me how life is today, I generally say “crazy, but good crazy.” However, that period with Stacey and Adrian was genuinely bizarre. It was the beginning of the tech bubble explosion and we were just as impacted as our friends. What it meant for us, however, was this weird combination of almost annual (and terribly painful) layoff rounds, accompanied with this continued acquisition of new brands and companies into the portfolio.

During this period Stacey, Adrian and I leaned on each other in a way that I’d never experienced before. It wasn’t planned or even discussed, but we had this immediate and mutual respect for our individual talents. Not only that, but we sought each other out to work through problems that weren’t necessarily in our “lane” of responsibilities but were in our “lane” of unique talents.

We were in the thick of it at the time and didn’t recognize how this mix of gender, personality, talent, culture, skills, style (I could go on) actually worked better for us as a team. It was when Adrian left several years later, Stacey and I noticed the hole. It was never quite the same again. Continue reading “Looking at the whole and not just the role”

Do you practice Organizational Empathy?

I was reminded the other day about the first time I was hired to speak professionally. I was driving with my husband Randall to the Berkeley Yacht Club. We passed a tall shiny high-rise tucked between the Bay Bridge and the freeway. I mentioned casually, “That building is where I did my first professional speaking gig. Up on one of the highest floors is a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay.” The event seemed like a lifetime ago and made me think about that first presentation. All the rhetoric of “you are the product” and “personal value proposition statements” and my favorite “every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room that you’re not in” had not been developed. They were glimmers of ideas.

What did I talk about? What did I share with a room of women looking to get some practical advice and a little inspiration along the way?

I addressed the idea of “Organizational Empathy.” I shared that when I disagree or get frustrated with someone, I pause for a second to consider: What if I walked in his shoes? Would I react to this situation differently?

My argument with that group of women, up in the high rise, long ago was the idea that we all should look at things from all perspectives. And if you’re empathetic to someone else’s view of the situation, someone else’s perception, then maybe you can find that bridge to collaboration and mutual success. Continue reading “Do you practice Organizational Empathy?”

Money Makes the World Go Round

One of the things I get to do these days is to work with companies that are looking to build out their “women’s” program. Is this the only solution to the current challenges? No, but it’s a start. I’m not going into that debate today. I’m thrilled that smart companies are bringing in people like me to make sure there is a plan for success. Positive signs people, positive signs.

I was working with a team the other day that got me thinking. We were having a conversation that I’d had with almost every team. A conversation about budgets — creating budgets and spending budgets. Continue reading “Money Makes the World Go Round”

Good Intentions

I learned this year that many of my friends set an “intention word” for the year. Not a resolution but a theme, a guide to center them throughout all the twists and turns the upcoming year will inevitably deliver. I was inspired. Now I have a word – BOLD!

My first BOLD move is to start this initiative. The team at The Amplify Lab and I have plans to highlight people who we think are doing interesting things or have ground-breaking ideas. We’re going to ask thought-provoking questions and share with you thought leadership that piques our interest.

Please join us in our initiative to learn about some amazing people and ideas, find out more about what I’m up to, and what we’re doing at The Amplify Lab.

But before I go, what is your word? We’d love to know.