Catalytic Leadership

From Amazon to 'Big Bet Leadership': A Journey with John Rossman

October 02, 2023 Dr. William Attaway Season 2 Episode 11
Catalytic Leadership
From Amazon to 'Big Bet Leadership': A Journey with John Rossman
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Have you ever wondered how leadership principles can transform a business? Get ready to learn from our distinguished guest, John Rossman, an early Amazon executive and leadership expert, as he shares invaluable insights on his journey to the top and the role of leadership in driving significant change. Expect a discussion on the delicate art of managing scaling or descaling businesses, and how leading an experiment differs from leading an entire business.

Experience the world of Amazon through the eyes of John Rossman, who had the privilege of observing the essential role of leadership principles in fostering innovation. The clear yet demanding leadership style of Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder, is put under the microscope. John's unique contributions as a team and individual advisor, and how those roles enriched his leadership journey, are also explored. You'll also get a glimpse into the inception of Amazon's leadership principles and how they can revolutionize your business.

Finally, we dive into John's upcoming book, 'Big Bet Leadership', an essential playbook for thriving in the hyper-digital era. Prepare to be enlightened on the concept of 'big bets': initiatives with great concept risk and the difference between leadership and management. John emphasizes the significance of aligning these to the mission to create value. Additionally, he discusses the need for diverse policies in innovation and experimentation to fast-track learning. John also shares wisdom on the importance of pushing against the status quo, delegating, and broadening our understanding of problem-solving. This episode is packed with insights that every aspiring leader cannot afford to miss!

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Catalytic Leadership, the podcast designed to help leaders intentionally grow and thrive. Here is your host author and leadership and executive coach, dr William Attaway.

Speaker 2:

Hey, it's William and welcome to today's episode of the Catalytic Leadership podcast. Each week, we tackle a topic related to the field of leadership. My goal is to ensure that you have actionable steps you can take from each episode to grow in your own leadership. Growth doesn't just happen. My goal is to help you become intentional about it. Each week, we spotlight leaders from a variety of fields, organizations and locations. My goal is for you to see that leaders can be catalytic, no matter where they are or what they lead. I draw inspiration from the stories and journeys of these leaders and I hear from many of you that you do too. Let's jump in to today's interview. I'm so excited today to have John Rossman on the podcast. John is a leadership and digital transformation expert. He's the author of four books on leadership and business innovation, including the best seller, the Amazon Way. He's an early Amazon executive who played a key role in launching the Amazon marketplace business in 2002. Today, he is a leading keynote speaker on leadership for innovation, transformation and artificial intelligence. He's given over 200 keynotes to worldwide audiences. John is an operator and a builder whose love is diving into business problems and customer needs and designing innovative solutions and business models, creating durable enterprise value. John, I'm so excited you are here. Thanks for being on the show.

Speaker 3:

William, great to see you again and thank you for inviting me. Thank you for all the work you do.

Speaker 2:

It's an honor. I would love to start by you sharing some of your story with our listeners those who are not familiar with you, particularly around your journey and your development as a leader.

Speaker 3:

Yeah Well, that's a lifelong story really, but I'm an engineer by background, so I think my natural orientation has always been solve problems, leveraging data processes, technology, systems, thinking type of approach. And as I got further and further into my career, I was like that's great, but there's this additional superpower that you can add to that, which is the power of leadership, and I had the opportunity at Amazon to see both of those things combined and had a prompt from a client of mine to write the book the first book the Amazon Way, and then a few others, and that's where I've really come to appreciate how leadership can be either the super scalar, the super descaler in terms of making change happen. And that's my business with my clients is when they have a good business or a great business and they need to make a change, want to add a change to that business, whether that's innovation or operating model transition or some type of change and the leadership that you typically your playbook, how you operate as a leader when you are running your operating business, is distinctly different than your exploratory, experimental, change related playbook, and people don't understand that and that's what I try to help them with, is both like what do we do? How do we solve the problem? The strategy of your business, but also, like what twist do you need to add to your leadership in order to be a successful leader for that particular hard problem of creating sometimes dramatic change?

Speaker 2:

I think that focus on innovation and transformation is why I've been looking so forward to this conversation. Now your time at Amazon. You've talked about this in your book, the Amazon Way, which, if you're watching this on video, is over my shoulder here. It's fascinating and powerful read. Highly recommend that to every one of our listeners. Your time at Amazon really was not just up and to the right, it wasn't smooth sailing. Now, I've been a customer of Amazon since the late 90s, since 98. I've been around for a minute. I've watched some of that from a customer view. You saw it from the executive table.

Speaker 3:

Yeah yeah. I would describe nothing about the experiences as up and to the right consistently. It's kind of like a duck on water. What you see from the outside world looks just amazing. What happens underneath the water is everybody's just paddling and scrambling as hard as possible. It's messy. One of the things I give Bezos and Amazon a ton of credit to is they operated with the same mindset, principles, orientation in the down times, when you were being doubted, as they did when businesses boom and everything. I think that those are the times that really test leadership. I was there early. I got to see we were hammering out these leadership principles. There's 16 leadership principles at Amazon. They were codified after I left but we were hammering out like well, how do we make decisions? How do we prioritize? How do we hold each other accountable? What do we think are the distinct, different keys for our business and for our culture? That's going to help scale our business across. All of our leaders. That was really the essence of where those leadership principles came from. I never prescribed to anybody. Hey, these are the right leadership principles for you. But just taking the thoughtful time of answering those questions like how do we prioritize, how do we hold each other accountable. What do we think is different about our culture that needs to be pronounced? Thinking through those things is a healthy thing for any business. If you can codify them, make them real in the business, that can be the type of supercharger to help scale your business and create consistency in leadership and culture.

Speaker 2:

What was it like for you working for Jeff Bezos?

Speaker 3:

I didn't work directly for Jeff but I launched the marketplace business. For the first two years it was a weekly meeting with Jeff. I did get to do a bit of travel with him and everything. It was fantastic and it was demanding and it was hard. It was everything that you would expect a high performing leader like Jeff would make it and everything. He had high expectations for us. I would say. Of course we were trying to change the world and do it really quick and had a ton of constraints and the race was on and we were supposed to be senior leaders within the organization. He was demanding but he was great to work with. He was clear, he was consistent. He made you both think big but understand the details of your business. He was thinking both long term but he was also demanding short term results and it was high energy and he was all in. I thought it was a fascinating place to get to be. I feel lucky to. I had been a partner at Arthur Anderson before Amazon and I just feel like I got to go to the super graduate school of operations and strategy and transformation when I was at Amazon.

Speaker 2:

I love that. The super graduate school. That's excellent.

Speaker 3:

That is so often Whatever is above a PhD Right.

Speaker 2:

That's a perfect descriptor, I think, of those types of intensive environments. When I was preparing for this interview, John, I ran across something that you said that you describe yourself as being unsatisfied with the status quo. This is why you work so much on innovation and transformation. Was that birthed during your time at Amazon? Is that proud of that?

Speaker 3:

I think that is a little bit of a natural thing, but I got to recognize why that's a superpower, why that's a healthy thing, and to lean into it a little bit. That was why I was a good fit for Amazon. It's like, yeah, one of the great quotes I remember from Jeff and he was lecturing myself and another colleague and he was like good leaders recognize the difference between simple things, things that should be simple and things that should be hard, and they only let truly hard things become hard things. In the business, simple things should be simple. That's true for both customer experiences as well as inside of a business. I think that framing really gave me like okay, now, here's why some things are frustrating to me is because inherently, I know this should be a simple thing, but for some reason it's a difficult thing, and that's where you can draw a ton of inspiration for how to improve, how to innovate.

Speaker 2:

It's fascinating. Your experience doesn't just stop at Amazon. You mentioned Arthur Henderson. You've been a senior innovation advisor at T-Mobile. You've been a senior technology advisor at the Gates Foundation. What was it like in each one of these? Can you describe the cultural similarities or differences? Where did you bring that version of yourself that is unsatisfied with this data code, always looking for a way to make it better?

Speaker 3:

Each one of those distinctly different missions, organizations, culture and everything. I think I've always served clients. Even when I was at Amazon, even though I was an operational leader, I also had clients. I ran third-party sellers. They were clients and I also ran a business called Enterprise Service. We ran e-commerce operations for Target and Toys R Us and a bunch of other great brands and everything. I think when you are in the service of others, when you provide professional services, it's always your job to understand the situation and to figure out where to A what do I think the challenge or the problem is? What are? That's the diagnosis, and then where do I think we need to go to and how do we get there? That's the prescription. And then how do I play a role in that? And so you're always asking how do I bring value to this situation? And in each one of those I got to bring a different value equation. Sometimes it was as a team, sometimes it was as an individual advisor, and the thing that took and this is my journey on these books and everything is I found the power of taking the little anecdotes and strategies, mostly from Amazon, but not exclusively from Amazon and how do you insert those into a situation to not just solve the problem or the situation that's in front, but slow it down and go hey, how are we thinking about this and so? And that's when you can recognize the opportunities to say let's just take a little time out and think about how we're thinking about this. That's when you can really then nudge leadership in a new direction and give them a new tool that they can use and adjust the grip a little bit and put them on a different plane and slow them down just a little bit. So often, especially as senior leaders, it's just a rotating wheel of activity and demands and if you can find a space and a good moment to slow them down and go, here's a new trick to get a different type of result. Then you both solve the problem and you give them a new leadership twist that they can leverage.

Speaker 2:

I think that's brilliant. You're teaching them a different perspective, helping them to zoom out, and that will serve them not just like you said not just in that moment for that particular problem, but it serves them going forward, not just them, but the people that they lead.

Speaker 3:

I love that. That's. My goal is both provide short-term value as well as long-term lasting impact in whether it's operational or from an innovation standpoint or some other aspect of leadership and culture. Leave some lasting impact.

Speaker 2:

When it comes to innovation and when it comes to transformation. I saw a stat that said over 70% of all digital transformation and innovation programs fail. Why are they so hard? Why is innovation and transformation so hard, and are there things that leaders can do to help them to succeed?

Speaker 3:

Yeah Well, this is my wheelhouse. This is the underlying, essential situation and problem that I've become a real student of. And they do. They primarily fail to people think of it as time and scope and budget, and yes, they fail on those ways, but, more importantly, they fail to deliver the value in the promise of why we did them in the first place. And then the second killer failure that these things lead to is they make leaders less oriented towards well, we'll do, we'll try that again, we'll do something more right. And so they take. They take less swings going forward. And, as you know I don't know if you ever heard this story, but you know, apparently, supposedly, babe Ruth. You know he was not only the homerun king, but he was the strikeout king too, right, and some reporter was kind of jabbing at him like, oh, why do you strike out so much? He was like you know, you can't hit the ball if you don't swing the bat right. And that's the biggest mistake most companies wait, companies of scale make is not taking enough attempts at doing new things. Now, the key to that is you've got to make those attempts really affordable, right. You have to understand that. This is where this is the heart of why innovation is different than operations. Operations, you should be 90% successful and 10% failure. When you're innovating, you always start with failure, and then you may be iterate your way to success on an idea, but it's definitely a portfolio, right? One out of 10, two out of 10 ideas are gonna be the big ideas, and so you have to make those ideas affordable. Experiments, and that's where you know. So companies don't understand how to make things truly affordable. They don't understand the nature of the game. That's different, and so you know I've really worked hard at like well, how do you change that equation? What are the interrupts, the things you can do differently in order to change that? Well, as it turns out, there's not one thing, right? If there's one thing, it wouldn't be a tricky situation. It wouldn't be a wicked situation. It's a combination of factors, some of which I've already talked about. In particular, one of the things that companies don't do is they're really good about complaining about the current state. Right? This is what's wrong with today. You know either the customer experience or our products or services, or you know how things happen. What we aren't good at is we paint a vague picture of what the future is, but we can't, we don't take the time or the effort to really go. Well, no, write me a story, tell me it so I could feel what the experience should be in the future. And so if you can take, if you can really take the time to create the clarity of your hypothesis, what you believe the future would be, and then guess what maybe write two or three versions of that same thing. So they're addressing the same situation but they approach things maybe differently. Then we can have a really subtle conversation on well, why is A better than B? What would have to be true about C for it to be the best path to go through? Then you can pick the best way to proceed with so much better clarity and team communication around. Well, here's where we're going. Right, you're not there yet. You have to just paint a really crystal clear vision of what the future is so that you can all proceed as quickly and cheaply as possible to test your hypothesis about that future state. So there's a bunch of tricks to doing that. Underneath, all of it is writing. So writing is a real superpower. That's something from Amazon. They talk about narratives and future press releases and these different mechanisms, but that habit of writing and debating is the best method I've come across in most business circumstances to really slow us down, deeply understand the problem but, as importantly or more importantly, deeply understand what we think the future is like, what's the future experience, and then debate those things. Well, guess what that actually is? That's experimenting, right there. That's experimenting, and people don't recognize that that's actual progress and they just want to get going. They just want to start deploying resources, building technology, having their agile methodology and things like. Nope, slow down just a little bit to take the time to pressure, test these things upfront and you will be so much better. But it doesn't even stop there. Even if you do those things, then there's still a number of other root cause problems of why these transformations fail, and so we'll talk a little bit about my next book. But that book it's called Big Bet Leadership is specifically designed to address the failure points of why these transformations or innovation programs or operating model redesigns, why they fail and, more importantly, what senior leaders can do to address that point of failure.

Speaker 2:

That is so, so insightful. I talk a lot about evaluation, John. I think evaluation is something that most leaders understand the value of. There's this idea that experience makes you better. I don't buy that for a minute. I think evaluated experience makes you better, and so the questions that you ask truly matter. A mentor, Bonn, says it this way. He says you have to learn to autopsy success as well as failure.

Speaker 3:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

I love that. You don't know why it's working when it's working. You will not know how to fix it when it breaks. Right? What you're describing really, I think, encapsulates so much of the importance of evaluation, as you're experimenting and understanding that failure is part of the process. Right? You can't walk in and say, hey, we got to get it going. What they really mean is why don't we get the success going the way I envision it? Why don't we see everything? Up into the right, all the time.

Speaker 3:

You're probably much more of an expert on this concept than I am, but this concept of resulting right, yes, yes, and correct my terms and everything, but there was really good book called Thinking In Bets. This is the core message from that book, which is, when you're in a betting situation, which is what you're in, when you're in an innovation portfolio thinking big playbook, you have to separate out the results you get from. Did I do things the right way? Yes, and so a lot of what I have to work with my clients on is separating. Hey, if we go about things the right way, we will, over time, get the right results. But don't either read too much in short term to either the successes we have or the failures. Focus on the inputs, the controllable inputs. We'll get to the outputs if we go about our work and our leadership the right way. I know it. I guarantee it 100%.

Speaker 2:

You mentioned your new book that's coming out in February Big Bet Leadership. Tell us a little bit about that.

Speaker 3:

Yes, so name of the book is Big Bet Leadership your Transformation Playbook for Winning in the Hyper Digital Era. My co-author was my client at T-Mobile, so you'd mentioned that it would be the senior innovation advisor at T-Mobile. Kevin ran the strategy organization. We together we got to stand up a new business incubation capability within T-Mobile and that's where I worked with Kevin and we took a lot of the things from think like Amazon in the Amazon way and that process, and we kind of decomposed them and we made them into T-Mobile's model. And so Kevin and I I moved on, kevin moved on and I was thinking about, like what's the next book and everything, and I finally got this framing right around like, oh really, like, all of these types of initiatives digital transformations, innovation, portfolios, operating models, mergers, new product launches all of those things are big bets. We think they have high potential, but we know that they have material risk to them. Right, they're big, they're bets. There's no guarantee on these things and, as you pointed out, the vast majority of these things fail. Why do they fail and what tools and approaches can we give to senior leadership to help avoid those failures? And that's the goal of the book is to give senior leaders, ceos, boards, executive presidents specific insights into why things fail, kind of a principle or a policy on like what you do, and then a tool or a practical technique in order to avoid it, and we've talked about a few things here, especially around kind of clarity and defining the future state and writing those things out and debating it. So that's just the start of the playbook that we outlined, and so that's what the new book is. It releases in February of 2024. And I think it's got a very unique and provocative point of view on a lot of the things you do in big program project management are absolutely the wrong thing to do when the initiative has significant concept risk to it. And so you need a different playbook because otherwise you will be in the 75 to 90% failure rate that all of these big initiatives have.

Speaker 2:

That's fascinating. The metric that we use to measure success or failure matters, and if we're using the wrong yardstick?

Speaker 3:

And here's what happens at companies is they think success or failure is launching, and launching on time and close to budget. That's the start. That's good, but really the success metric is your ambition. And that's why we named the book Winning in the Hyper Digital Era. We didn't talk about like not failing in the Hyper Digital Era, we talked about winning, and to win, you actually have to create value as a business. And so what happens is we start off with a grand ambition but then, because of a number of governance reasons and incentive reasons and process reasons and bureaucratic reasons, we compress this situation down into playing small ball Right, just don't let it fail. Forget about the ambition, forget about changing the world, forget about all these things. We just have to launch on time, on budget and everything, and that's considered success. Well, that really isn't success. We didn't do it at speed, we didn't get feedback from the market, we don't know whether it's really going to have the impact, but the operational leaders can say, yeah, it kind of launched and that's as good as it gets in most cases. And so I just think the entire mindset when we are truly trying to do something that has high potential impact to the business but has high degrees of risk. You need a completely different playbook, and that's what Big Bet Leadership delivers.

Speaker 2:

That feels a lot like the difference and what so many have called the difference in management and leadership. I mean, did it launch on budget? Did it hit these particular things? Those are management questions. What you're describing is so much bigger. It has to do with the impact, the influence, what is the potential. Those are leadership questions.

Speaker 3:

I've always struggled with kind of this subtle difference between leadership and management, and I won't debate or try to put my point of view on that. All I would add is both of those have to be oriented to the mission you're trying to accomplish, and so when the mission is to create change and to create value, you can't use your management or your leadership playbook that you use to operate your existing business. You can't use those same things when we are trying to change the business. Here's a good example, and this would be more of a management thing than a leadership team, and it presses on leadership too. So Most companies, you set up this innovation team or this change team and everything and like, hey, you're empowered to get this thing done right and so great. Oh, all of a sudden, we need an expert. That could be a technical expert, it could be a thought topic expert and everything. It's like then what do you have to do? It grinds to a halt because you have to use the existing HR policies, the existing vendor policies, the existing procurement policies and all of a sudden, three months go by to bring an expert in to help execute your project. Well, you need a completely different playbook because you are trying to optimize for something different in your scaled business. You're trying to optimize for cost per unit. You're trying to optimize for kind of scaled enterprise risk parameters and everything. Well, when we're experimenting, we're trying to optimize for speed speed to learning. It's a completely different optimization formula, and so what you need to do is explain to those functional leaders get everybody on board like we are going to operate with a different tone, tempo and set up policies here, and if you don't do those kind of supporting elements, no matter how good your innovation team is, no matter you know and things like that, they're likely going to suffer from the hard constraints that your existing policies and environment put on top of them.

Speaker 2:

Sean, we talk about innovation. We talk about this technological transformation that is happening in our world, and artificial intelligence is a piece of that. I read in your introduction that you are a leading speaker and thought leader, not just on innovation and transformation, but also on artificial intelligence. A lot of the people who are listening are seeing tools like chat, gpt and generative AI as tools, but are they also threats? Are they also like? What does this look like? How should leaders and companies look to create value with these?

Speaker 3:

tools. The key thing is it's a tool, and the key thing any business person needs to get good at and can add value by is understanding the use case. What problem do I want to solve? And, guess what, how do I envision the future being better? And then your experts can go. Well, here's a variety of ways that we can use to get from here to there, with AI now being kind of a super tool to do things that we can do we literally couldn't do before the launch of chat GPT. You have to understand the limitations of fundamental limitations of generative AI. It is really good at inference, like the next best logical step. It's not good at deterministic optimization, like how many units should I order or things like that. There's different algorithms for that, and so I think it's so much easier to start with the problem and work backwards like what's the best way to solve these problems. But you do need to be aware of all the tools that you have at your hands in order to solve the problem in a unique and fast manner to do that. So the encouragement that I have for my clients when it comes to AI is a portfolio, and that portfolio, early on, should have two recognizable, easy, containable use cases where we think AI and maybe some other tools could help us get some footing, get some success under our belt and demonstrate some power to it, and so that might be something in marketing or technical development or something like that, but very functional, very contained, very low risk in terms of experimental. But then, in parallel, be thinking about two longer processes, things that are more end to end in nature, that are more transformative, and be doing the same exercise, which is, hey, what's fundamentally doesn't work about this? How would we raise the bar in terms of the output, the cost model, the fundamental service that's being provided here, and think about how would we re-engineer and fundamentally redefine what this process is and then apply technology to it. And so, in that way, you're starting to build organizational capacity in knowing how to go about this and exploring and trying to find value through it. But you just have to understand. Again back to some of the basics we've talked about. It's a portfolio. Things are going to fail, things are going to win. Don't confuse inputs versus outputs. Really focus on how we're going about doing this versus creating quick wins.

Speaker 2:

So good, so practical, and I hope every leader listening is taking notes on that, because I hear so many people confusing those things. That is so helpful. John, Let me ask you how can you stay on top of your game? How do you level up with new skills, new information, new knowledge that you need all the time? What is your process for doing that?

Speaker 3:

Well, I think that Long form content is critically different and critically more important than short-term or short-form soundbite oriented content. And so the way I stay on top is I read a lot, I listen to books a lot and I listen to podcasts a lot, where they really get to open up a topic like this, you get the benefit of an expert on their topic. And so, whether it's books or long form podcasts, that's how I stay curious really and learn new things and new framing and new tools and new language relative to doing things. And so a couple of years ago, I went through what I called my dietary cleanup, my content dietary cleanup, and I kind of got, I got rid of all the junk food that was in my content diet and I started to focus more on like quality inputs, you know, and everything. So that's how I do it, and a bunch of it's early in the morning when I'm working out, I listen to a lot of things and then I just, you know, tend to read quite a bit kind of at night, and that's how I stay on top of it and it's work at times, but it's also, like I know, when I'm highly engaged in something, I can feel the pull of a really good book and new material and a really good expert on something and it's just. It's just easy because you know, underneath it all I'm curious about. You know fast learning from experts.

Speaker 2:

I love that you brought curiosity out there several times. I think that is an underrated leadership superpower. Is there ever a time when you feel your curiosity start to flag?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, if I'm under pressure, right, short term, short termism in general is what you know, forces you to like, you know, okay, got to contract, make everything transactional, everything tackle, and at times that's just, that's good, it's reality and you have to recognize it and stuff. But you just don't want to exist solely in that zone for long, especially, you know, and it's really recognizing like what's your job and I think, what so many senior leaders, my partner, kevin McCaffrey, my co-author. He talks about the CEO agenda. Right, and the CEO agenda is really where the senior leader puts their time, their attention and if you can take that CEO agenda and shape it so that 90% of their effort is not for this quarter's results but shift the percentage right so that 25 to 50% of their time and attention is to next year's business or two years business, that's how great businesses are built Having a team that is capable of delivering today's business and results and all the systems and habits and capabilities in place, and then, having the right CEO agenda, their time and attention focus on the future. But what happens again, most companies is the senior team is completely absorbed into today's business and they delegate. You know, oh, my innovation team or my management consultant. You know they're figuring out the future. It's like, are you kidding me? You that your job is the long term of viability and excellence of this organization and you're delegating your job to others. And when I frame things in that way, you know I either get fired or the senior leader goes yep, I got to change. You know, my CEO agenda here and that's what we focus on is literally going through their calendar and their operational rhythm and we're going to take a bunch of things off by delegating, by creating forcing functions and OKRs and upgrading their leadership team and then, with the now freed capacity, we are going to figure out how to deploy that capacity in the best way possible to creating tomorrow's future great business.

Speaker 2:

The one thing a leader can't delegate.

Speaker 3:

You know I'm always open for pushback and debate and questions, but I rarely get it on that topic, you know, and everything right.

Speaker 2:

I love that I love that so often you're exactly right. I hear leaders all the time. Well, that's their job, I've handed that off to them. There are certain things you cannot do that with, and they typically say it's vital.

Speaker 3:

They say you know they should. You know this initiative. They say it's vital, but if you go where their attention is, where they're spending time, where they're curious and really participating, you know what did I say about, you know, working with basis? Right, he was like part of the team he was. He was working on solving the problem. They don't spend their time there. What they want, what they get, typically, is a once a week, you know, readout status meeting, everything right, like they're not adding value in those types of meetings and everything right. They can maybe help you out on one topic, but they're not deeply involved in solving the problem that this strategy is trying to solve. You're not getting the benefit of why they're the CEO or president and you're not getting their understanding to the subtle things that need to happen in order for this to win or to lose, and so you know you're truly not getting the best out of them.

Speaker 2:

So good, I want to take you back. I want to take you back to you at 20 years old. Yeah, if you could go back and tell that 20 year old version of you one thing based on what you know now. What would you love to go back and tell yourself?

Speaker 3:

It's kind of the advice I give to my two boys which are right in that age zone, and everything which is chase hard problems, which I did. But bet on yourself, play confidently, don't play small ball, don't worry about your job and everything. There's always going to be jobs If you are adding value and you know how to solve hard problems. There's always going to be a great market, a great role. So so bet on yourself early and don't don't be so concerned about you know your job, your title, you know keeping or losing that job. That's that would be my advice to myself when I was 20 years old Solid advice.

Speaker 2:

You mentioned that you like to read and that reading and the inputs that you put into your life. That really is one of the ways you stay sharp and stay on top of your game. Is there a book that you would say, hey, this book has really contributed in a big way to who I am today. This is a book I would recommend that any leader read. That would add value to them.

Speaker 3:

There's a slew, but one of the classics is Peter Drucker's effective executive. And you know he starts off. The start of the book is like eight things a senior leader does and is like boom, boom, boom, you know and everything right. And then, starting with, they ask what does the business need? That's the number one thing an executive leader does, so that that book is a timeless classic. Zero to one by Peter teal, I think is a very good set of you know how to think, about thinking when it comes to to innovating and creating new markets, so that's that's kind of one of my favorites. And then there's a business professor from Toronto, roger Martin, who's written a bunch of really good books. A new way of thinking was his most recent one and he takes on like 15 topics that go on in business and he was like hey, here's an alternate way to think about this and it's a really good book about thinking. Those are, those are a few, but the thing I would say is like, if you've only got one book you like, you need to to broaden your horizons, because there's there's never one perspective or one tool or one approach, because circumstances come in such subtle differences and and and, and. It's the people, it's the circumstances, it's the history, it's it's where you need to get to, and so the more perspectives and the more tools that you can bring to the table, that's what's going to make you a great problem solver and and give you the wisdom that it takes to solve these problems.

Speaker 2:

Why would you limit yourself and your knowledge and understanding in solving problems?

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 3:

Love that. Yeah, you don't have to accept them. All you know and everything right. But, but even when you reject the fundamental premise of something, you're a better thinker.

Speaker 2:

I talk about, that is, is learning to eat the fish and leave the bones. There's almost always fish, sometimes there's more than others, but learning to discern the difference and understanding what you can take and apply that's something every leader needs to learn. I agree, john. If people walk away from this episode with one idea, as so often we do from a podcast like this, what is the one idea you would like for them to walk away with?

Speaker 3:

Well, I think it would be the one. That's great. One area I always start with my clients on is because I all learn so much that it always adds value. And then it starts the exploration process is how you measure both short-term results and how you think about measuring long-term results in your business, the way metrics are used and tying those metrics to true customer experience metrics, and having a balanced playbook of your metrics. What I mean by that is not just financial metrics, but a balanced scorecard that shows you both the input metrics as well as the output metrics that you're describing. Just slowing down to think about how we measure the business or what is really important to measure, that will be, in some cases, a really fundamental shift in management.

Speaker 2:

I know our listeners are going to want to stay connected with you and continue learning from you and hear more about this upcoming book. What's the best way for people to do that?

Speaker 3:

I've got two things to say. This First is BigBet leadership launches February 27th and for go to bigbetleadershipcom. I'm going to do a drawing for this podcast. Give me your name, kindle, email address, the podcast that you're listening to Catalyst Leader and I'll do a drawing close to the book launch. All I ask is that you write a review for the book. It's a request, not a deal, but a request. That's one way. Then the second is just either Rossmanpartnerscom or John Rossman on LinkedIn is probably the easiest.

Speaker 2:

John, thank you for the generosity that you have shown today in sharing so much wisdom and so many insights from your journey so far.

Speaker 3:

Well, thanks for the conversation, your preparation and sharing your platform with me. I hope we get to do some good work out there together.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for joining me for this episode today. As we wrap up, I'd love for you to do two things. First, subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss an episode, and if you find value here, I'd love it if you would rate it and review it. That really does make a difference in helping other people to discover this podcast. Second, if you don't have a copy of my newest book, catalytic Leadership, I'd love to put a copy in your hands. If you go to catalyticaleadershipbookcom, you can get a copy for free. Just pay the shipping so I can get it to you and we'll get one right out. My goal is to put this into the hands of as many leaders as possible. This book captures principles that I've learned in 20 plus years of coaching leaders in the entrepreneurial space, in business, government, nonprofits, education and the local church. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn to keep up with what I'm currently learning and thinking about. And if you're ready to take a next step with a coach to help you intentionally grow and thrive as a leader, I'd be honored to help you. Just go to catalyticaleadershipnet to book a call with me. Stay tuned for our next episode next week. Until then, as always, leaders choose to be catalytic.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to Catalytic Leadership with Dr William Attaway. Be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don't miss the next episode. Want more? Go to catalyticaleadershipnet.

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