Creating Authentic Leadership

in PODCAST

Authentic leadership is critical in today's new era of work. Learn how to be more authentic on the job and why being vulnerable matters so much for effective leadership.

image of Jacob Morgan, the guest on this leadership 480 podcast episode, with a smiling woman leader in the background to show that this podcast topic is about creating authentic leadership

A 480 PODCAST

Creating Authentic Leadership

36 minutes | May 3, 2022

00:00:00 00:00

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In this episode of the Leadership 480 podcast, Jacob Morgan, bestselling author, keynote speaker, and professionally trained futurist, joins DDI to discuss authentic leadership and why it's so important in this new era of work. He also shares the benefits of being an authentic leader, tips to help leaders be vulnerable at work, and how to prompt others to be vulnerable in return. 

Beth Almes:

Hi, Leaders, and welcome back to the Leadership 480 podcast. I'm your host, Beth Almes. Today, we're talking about who we really are at work, and what it means to be an authentic leader. I hope you all are ready to get honest with us today, as I chat with our special guest, Jacob Morgan, a bestselling author, professionally trained futurist, and highly sought-after keynote speaker on leadership. He's also the host of an award-winning podcast called "Leading the Future of Work," and a social influencer.

At this point, Jacob is also working on a new book on vulnerability in leadership, and that has a lot to do with our topic today. Jacob, you've joined us once before on the Leadership 480 podcast, and I am so glad to have you back on this topic.

Jacob Morgan:

Thank you for having me. I'm looking forward to it. It's kind of like a sneak peek because I haven't really explored this topic in too much depth as I'm planning for the book. So, we'll see where the conversation goes.

Beth Almes:

Sounds great. There's a lot of talk about authenticity at work these days, especially in the wake of the pandemic. All of a sudden, it's like we've got to real, something's crazy going on in our lives both at work and at home. 

Most people, we've kind of got zero energy to hide it right now. How do you think authenticity at work is defined in this new era?

Jacob Morgan:

Simply put, I think authenticity is just being a single version of you. Traditionally in the corporate world, we've always had a separate persona for our work life, and a separate persona for our personal life, and we didn't let those two meet each other. 

There's actually a show on Apple TV which I'm a big fan of, which some listeners may be familiar with, called "The Severance". It's a new show, and the whole premise of the show is that your memories are severed. What happens at work, there's a work version of yourself and a personal version of yourself, and the two never meet.

So, when you show up to work, you only remember stuff that happens there. As soon as you go on the elevator and you exit the building, you become your personal self again and all your work memories you don't remember. That's traditionally how we've tried to think about work/life balance. You don't bring your work home with you, and you don't bring your personal life with you to work. You have Jacob A and Jacob B.

I think this world of authenticity is really saying that there's only one single version of you, and that is the single version of you that you need to be wherever you are. Ultimately, I think that's what authenticity is really about, is just being you.

Beth Almes:

That's so interesting. I'll tell you, my husband and I often joke about the moment we answer the phone we know if the other person is on a work call or a regular call because you have like work voice that you put on. As soon as you answer it, "Hi, I'm Beth Almes," and he's like, "Oh, that's a work call. She's on a work call."

Jacob Morgan:

Yeah.

Beth Almes:

There's almost a different voice and mannerism that even goes with those two different personas.

Jacob Morgan:

There's voice. There're manners, and there's dress code. There's body language that's different. Eye contact is different. How we present ourselves is different. How we speak. It's very, very different. A lot of people don't think about it, but when you really start to take a step back and pay attention, you notice that most of us have created these two different personas of ourselves and now we're starting to realize... It's kind of like a Doctor Strange episode where we've created these two universes and they're trying to coexist, and we're realizing that we can't keep them in these two separate universes anymore. They are crashing and colliding together, and forcing us just to be us instead of these two different alter egos.

Beth Almes:

I think one of the questions we often hear from leaders, and I get this especially from folks who are a little bit more traditional in their view of work, but is it really crucial to be authentic? Sometimes you'll look out there, there's iconic business leaders who run multi-billion dollar companies and they're not authentic at all. In many ways, you would say "Sure, they're a big success." So is it really necessary? Or what are the benefits of becoming an authentic leader?

Jacob Morgan:

I think it depends on what your goals are and what your aspirations are. I'm exploring this in depth for my new book that I'm working on, "Vulnerability," and tied to that, this theme of authenticity keeps coming up. One of the things that I always ask these CEOs, and I've interviewed around 40 of them so far, and I'm going to have 100 in total, is I always ask them, "Is this stuff necessary?" The general consensus is, if you just want to be good, if you just want to make money for the company, if you just want to be good at delegating, if you just want to be good, you probably can do whatever you want.

If you want to be great, you cannot be great unless you connect with your people, and you cannot connect with your people unless you are authentic, unless you are vulnerable. It really depends on where you want to go, and on the impact that you want to have. We've all worked for leaders, they're good, they're not great, they're okay. They're not mean to us. They are cordial to us. They're nice to us. They say hi. But there's nothing really there beyond that. Those leaders tend to do okay. They lead successful teams. They make money for the company. But those are the types of leaders who ultimately will never go beyond that.

They're never going to truly unlock the potential of other people. They are never truly going to create this kind of human connection. They're never truly going to solve the world's biggest problems, or tackle complex challenges, or unlock opportunities because in order to do all those things you can't do them alone. You will not be able to do them with people unless you can be authentic with them. 

Also, I think it sells yourself short because if you are not willing to be authentic, and even one step further, if you're not willing to be vulnerable, it makes it very hard for you to learn. It makes it very hard for you to be curious. It makes it hard for you to be the best and the most full version of yourself.

Do you need to be authentic? No. You can just keep going on doing what you're doing, and be okay with it. I think if you want to be a great leader, then that's really where it really is crucial.

Beth Almes:

You mentioned vulnerability there. I think, when I've talked with folks about the idea of authenticity at work, there's some fear behind it of when we say "There's one version of myself," that means you might share with your team that you enjoy a certain type of music, or something that you're afraid that people will say, "Oh, that's stupid. I don't like that idea," or it makes them lose respect for you. There's some fear about that in the vulnerability. How do people get over that? How do you get over that fear of "If I share this, there's the possibility that people will think less of me"?

Jacob Morgan:

I can share a very, very personal story that just happened recently. It's a very tragic and unfortunate story, but it happened. There was somebody, he was one of my biggest evangelists, one of my biggest supporters. We never met in person, but we spent a lot of time having virtual calls together. I did a virtual presentation that he was hosting. We spent a lot of time exploring ideas, and even talked about one day doing an event together where he lived, in Spain.

All of a sudden, I haven't heard from him in a little while. His name is Manuel. I haven't heard from him in a little while, and all of a sudden two days ago I get a message from somebody that says, "Hey, I'm sorry to tell you, Manuel passed away." I was very, very heartbroken for that because the last message that he put up on LinkedIn was talking about a conversation that we had on leadership and employee experience, and this webinar that we did together. I was very crushed and heartbroken by that.

What made it worse is then I talked to somebody else who knew him. She said, "Manuel really looked up to you. He really admired you. But he didn't want to share really personal things with you because he didn't want you to think less of him. He didn't want to share too many of his personal challenges with you. He didn't want to share too many of his personal struggles." He really wanted to just be focused on work because he didn't think that I would want to do these webinars with him if I knew more about him, and personal struggles and challenges, which we all have.

That was really crushing to me because I try to not give off that impression with anyone. I was definitely in tears. I was like, "Wow, that's terrible. I never want anybody to feel that way." It's unfortunate, because here is this great person who I considered a friend, who we probably would have been great friends if we lived together, who didn't feel that he could be vulnerable with me because of how I would perceive him. That to me is the most tragic piece of all of this.

For me, the lesson that I took away is you should be vulnerable because oftentimes what happens, and there was some research that was done on this topic by a lady named Anna Bruk, and she created this concept called "The Beautiful Mess Effect." What she found in doing a lot of her research is oftentimes when we perceive other people as being vulnerable, we prescribe positive attributes to them. 

So, "Oh, Beth is vulnerable. That's so great. She's so brave. She's so courageous. Good for her." But oftentimes when we think about vulnerability for ourselves, we think "Bad things are going to happen. I can't let my insecurities out. I can't let people know all these things about me because I'm going to be embarrassed and people will think less of me."

It's really an irrational way that we think because when we think of other people being vulnerable or even authentic, we think of positive things. But when we think of ourselves doing it, we think of negative things. Again, it's a very rational way that our brains think about this stuff. When it comes to ourselves, we try to think of the negative, and other people we think the positive. You do need to be vulnerable. If you're thinking about it, you do it.

Of course, boundaries are important. One of the most important skills that I think a lot of successful CEOs have, is they know how to read the room. Meaning, you know who to share information with and who not to share information with. If you share information with somebody and it ends up not having the desired effect, you will learn from it. It's kind of like a comedian who takes the stage. If you look at any successful comedian, or even a speaker for that matter, but specifically if you look at a comedian not every joke that they tell all the time is going to hit.

If they tell a joke on stage and it doesn't hit, do they stop being a comedian and retire? No. They make a mental note of that and they say, "Okay, maybe I need to reword this. Maybe it's the audience where it didn't click. Maybe it's just a bad joke, and maybe I just shouldn't share this with other people anymore." You know what, the next day they get back on stage and they do their set, and they keep working on it, and they keep improving. 

Being authentic at work I think is the same thing. You will get into situations where sometimes you read the room incorrectly, where maybe you share something and the other people don't respond in the way that you thought they were going to. Or, where you share something and they look at you and they say, "Oh my God, Jacob's an idiot. I cannot believe he shared that."

That's okay. You learn from it, and you say, "Okay, mental note, Beth doesn't like really talking too much about family or personal stuff, so I'm just going to keep it light with Beth. How is your day? How is it going? All right, let's move on." You make those mental notes and you create those boundaries, and you know who can you be more authentic with, who can you be more vulnerable with versus other people. 

Don't let it discourage you. It's kind of like we've all been in those situations and settings with friends, where sometimes you say something to a friend, or you say something to a family member, and it gets taken out of context, or it gets taken the wrong way. You make a note of that. You don't just never talk to that person again.

You learn from it. I think what we do inside of our organizations should be no different. Be authentic. Be you, and just pay attention to who you surround yourself with. Pay attention to reading the room, picking up on social cues, knowing what you can share, and how you can act, and how you can behave in different environments and settings. It requires a level of self awareness, but there's no magic thinking behind it. You can't just be a robot every day.

Beth Almes:

I think that's such great insight. Your story about Manuel really was making me think about there's the aspect of being authentic yourself, but then there's how can you be welcoming towards other people being authentic with you? 

My guess with Manuel is, there is nothing you ever did that made him think "I can't be." It was his own assumptions of "Oh, I just am assuming that because Jacob does all these things he's not going to like me," and all those things.

Jacob Morgan:

Yeah.

Beth Almes:

How do you set that stage for others to be authentic with you?

Jacob Morgan:

In all fairness to Manuel, I think he was authentic with me. He was not vulnerable. The Manuel that I saw, I think is the Manuel who he is. It was his personality. It was the intense, the excited, fun Manuel. It was him. I didn't think I was getting a different version of him. But he didn't feel like he could be vulnerable with me. There is a difference between I think being authentic and being vulnerable.

Being authentic is being a single version of you. Being vulnerable on the other hand is reviewing your insecurities. One CEO described it as "Revealing your ignorance," so to speak. I've had a lot of different CEOs define vulnerability in different ways. Authenticity and vulnerability I think are two different things, but the authenticity piece comes back to that just being that single version of you. Look, if people don't like you for you, don't be around those people.

Beth Almes:

Yeah.

Jacob Morgan:

If we worked at the same company, and it's like, "God, I really hate Beth." I'm not going to spend time with you. I'm going to try to get away from you. I'll still say, "Hey Beth," but I'm not going to go out of my way to build that relationship or to build that connection, which is not everybody is going to build a connection with everybody else. 

We build connections with people who we are naturally attracted to, who we find commonalities with, who we see that there is... It's kind of like that human... We know if we're going to be connected to somebody, whether it's on a romantic level, spouse, significant other, a friend, or a coworker.

There are always those people who you are just like, "I don't see anything going on there," but somebody else will see potential there. So, it is okay. Not everybody is going to accept you. Not everyone is going to want to be your best friend, but that should not deter you from being who you are.

Beth Almes:

I think that's so important. What about the bigger picture of the culture surrounding you? As you are trying to be authentic with others, but of everyone else around you, if they're very guarded, how do you try to change that or start to influence that situation?

Jacob Morgan:

If you're okay to be vulnerable or authentic, and everybody around you is not, chances are you're in a different environment than you should be. If you are part of a company where you're trying to be you, and you feel that nobody else is either encouraging that, supporting that, believing that, or acting in that way, then you really need to take a step back and say, "Is this the right company for me?" 

Why would you want to be in an organization where you can't be you? I think that's where we need to step back from an individual level and say, "You know what, this is not the right company for me," which also means you need to do more of your due diligence before you take a job, and understand that it's not just about a paycheck. 

It's about making sure that the values, the culture align with your beliefs, and that the people that you're going to be working with, you see alignment with them, and that they behave and act in a way that aligns with the type of person you want to be.

Same thing like being friends with somebody, or same thing like looking for a spouse, and things that you want to see in them. I think an organization... In fact, I always say that working for an organization is just like being in a relationship. There are not a lot of differences there. If you don't feel like you are in that kind of environment, I don't think you should be a part of that company, or a part of that team.

Beth Almes:

I'm sure that's been a big fuel in The Great Resignation lately. It seems like a lot of folks are saying, "If everything isn't coming together for me, I'm not feeling like this is where I need to spend my time and effort. I'm happy to go do that somewhere else, or even take a break from it for a while until I figure where's the right place for me to spend my time."

Jacob Morgan:

Yeah, and I think that's a great thing. I think people should be doing that, because one of the things that the pandemic has really taught us is that it has made it I think very clear what we care about and what we value. 

Prior to the pandemic, there used to be I think some uncertainty around "What do I care about? What do I value? What do I need?" Then the pandemic happened, and all of us really... Our priorities shifted, even personally.

I lived in the Bay area. The pandemic happened. All of our friends moved away, and we're stuck in the Bay area. One day, my wife and I are like, "What the hell are we doing here? We have no friends here. We have no family here." 

So we moved back to Southern California, where I honestly thought I would never, ever live again. My wife and I would joke that we would never want to come back here. "How could people live here?" The pandemic happened, and guess what, we live in Southern California 15 minutes away from my parents.

That's because the pandemic made it very clear for us what we care about. We want community. We want help with our two kids. We want to be near family. We want that support system. That became the number one priority for us. For other people, that priority could be different. 

Maybe some people realized they want a higher-paying job. That's what matters most. Maybe other people realized that it's not just about money, and they just want to do things that make a difference, or they want to be near family.

These are things that we maybe have thought about before, but the pandemic has really made it crystal clear what these priorities are. Really what I think The Great Resignation is about, or The Great Reshuffling if you want to call it because people are oftentimes switching jobs, not just resigning in total, one of the things that we're seeing is people are making choices based on what those priorities are. Like, "I don't feel valued here. Life is too short. I want to be part of a company that truly values me, whether that's money, whether that's something else, that's what I care about."

So, yeah, The Great Resignation is really I think a wake up call for organizations to create places where people genuinely want to work there, not where they need to work there.

Beth Almes:

I think that's such a good point. When you call it The Great Reshuffling too, as leaders, as people leave, you're just inheriting new employees who have a different set of expectations and you have to kind of live up to that or they'll be leaving in a year or two down the road anyways if it's not. 

The pandemic has certainly been I think a wake up call for a lot leaders. As you've interviewed people about vulnerability and authenticity, do you find that mostly is it a natural behavior for them? Is it something they have learned over time? Is it something that they switch with a wake-up call like the pandemic?

Jacob Morgan:

It's a mix. I've talked to some leaders who are clearly this is how they were. I can give you a couple of examples. I talked to the CEO of a company called Genpact yesterday, a big professional services firm. They have around 115,000 employees. 

Their CEO is Tiger Tyagarajan. We just talked yesterday. He strikes me as a very open and vulnerable person. I said, "What happened?" He was telling me this story about when he was 24 years old, he graduated from an MBA program and he was taking a job working for this company. He was supposed to work for this guy, and this guy had a really big reputation of hating the new kids who came in.

He just despised them. He wanted to make their life hell. He didn't want to work with them. Tiger took this job, and he was supposed to be this guy's boss because he got his MBA, and he was supposed to be this guy's boss who was in his late 40s/50s. He had a couple of ways that he could approach that. He could have gone in and he could have said, "Look, I'm your boss. I don't care if you don't like me, but you're going to do a good job for me."

Instead, what he did his first day on the job he went over to him and he said, "Look, I don't know anything. I want you to teach me. I want to learn the ropes of this company. I look up to you. I admire you, and I understand that I don't know anything here. I want you to help me and make me better." To his surprise, the guy responded back and said, "You know what, I'm going to do everything I can to make you succeed. You're now like my son." This was in a five-10 minute conversation.

Beth Almes:

Wow.

Jacob Morgan:

By being vulnerable, he immediately switched that around from somebody who was going to hate him, who somebody who he said is now like his son. I talked to Lara Abrash, she's the CEO of a big division of Deloitte, tens of thousands of employees, and she was telling me this story of how she got put into a leadership role and she was in this leadership role, and she was going to be in a hard position.

She went into it thinking, "You know what, I got a plan. I got a strategy. It's going to work. It's going to be amazing. I'm going to be totally fine." She goes in there, and a couple of months in she's failing. She's having a hard time. She's struggling. In a moment of vulnerability, she goes to her CEO at the time and she's like, "Look, I can't do this. I think you made a mistake by putting me here. I can't handle this. Things are not going my way. I'm sorry to say this, but I shouldn't be doing this."

The CEO at the time, the way that she explained it, he just kind of smiled at her and said, "I know. I know this is going to be tough. I expected you to fail. I knew this was going to be hard. Let's come up with a plan to help make you succeed." They worked together, and they came up with a plan. Now she's the CEO running this massive division of Deloitte, and it was because she was vulnerable. It was because she admitted that she needed help.

In different situations, like for Tiger, it happened when he was in early 20s. For Lara, it happened later on in her career because she was put into a very difficult leadership position and she was having a hard time. I talked to the CEO of Swiss Airlines, and he was telling me he was never a vulnerable person. He was always command and control. He was always just like, "Do what I tell you to do." Then one day early on in the morning, he gets a phone call. I think it was Flight 111 crashed, and 120-130 people died.

He became vulnerable because he says it was the grieving. He saw how people were coming together, employees, and family members. Everybody banded together in this really tragic moment for the company, and for the family members. He realized after that moment he can't lead the way he was. He can't be command and control. He needs to be vulnerable. I think for different leaders it happens at different times.

I think your upbringing is a big part of it, how you were raised, but I think it's also situational. It could be being put into a tough spot. It could be experiencing tragedy. It could be any number of things. It's a gamut. It's a mix across the board. 

Another CEO told me about how he went through a really terrible divorce in the 80s, and that made him more vulnerable. Another CEO shared another tragedy where he had a daughter who had a very rare disease called BPAN, and she's in her 20s now, and she's never said a word, and she is not able to be a self-sustaining adult. But he also told me that her greatest joy is just driving down the road really fast, and he opens his windows, and she just feels the wind on her face, and that's her greatest joy.

He shares these vulnerable moments with his team. I think whether it's through personal tragedy, or through work-related difficulty, or a challenge that you're trying to overcome, or maybe you were raised and brought up that way. People become vulnerable in different ways. I do know that at some point life will make you vulnerable. Something will happen where you will be vulnerable.

You should never stuff it down. You should never try to avoid it, and you should never try to repress all those things because what happens is your body starts to physically manifest symptoms. I experienced this, and I haven't actually shared this story with anybody. It's going to be something that I'm going to talk about in the book, but I had a panic attack a while ago and it was because I was stuffing down all these emotions and pushing them down.

Finally, when confronted with the idea of writing a book about vulnerability, my body was just like, "You're going to have to confront something that goes against your nature, something that is not a part of who you are." And my body reacted. 

If you try to not be authentic, to not be vulnerable, to push everything down, you're going to start to find that you will physically manifest things whether it's anxiety or panic attacks, whether it's gaining weight, whether it's being moody to people, or whether its physical pain that you might experience.

Your body will let you know that this is not a good thing. I genuinely think it can kill you. It can hurt you. So, be vulnerable. Be authentic. Of course, do it with boundaries. Do it with reading the room. But do it.

Beth Almes:

Those are such powerful stories, and when you think about how much time you spend at work, if you are not being authentic it's awfully long time to spend an exhausting... if you're not being yourself, if you're putting on an act. Then, if you're expecting that of others as well. 

So, if you're the leader of the team and you're expecting others to do the same, it's really a tremendous mental and emotional load to try to be that work person who is not really you for such a big part of the week.

Jacob Morgan:

Yeah, there's this one CEO, he explained it to me the same way. I said, "Why are you vulnerable at work? Why do you share these things with your people? Why do you let people know about your personal and professional challenges?" 

He was like, "Jacob, I am at work eight to 10 hours a day as the CEO of this company. The thought of me being something other than myself for eight to 10 hours a day just seems exhausting, and tiring, and something that will hurt me." So he's like, "I'm not going to do that."

Beth Almes:

I think, as you're sharing these stories, I think it goes against that advice that you have in there, just the fake it until you make it. Pretend that everything is totally fine, even if you're going crazy. I still see that advice around a lot. 

While there's something to be said for having a little bit of confidence even when you're feeling down, at the same time I think the stories you're sharing of people who admitted at some point "I'm struggling," or they said, "I'm struggling with something else in my life and I'm bringing that to my role as a leader," if you keep trying to fake it, you might end up in a place where it's really causing problems for you, even physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

Jacob Morgan:

Yeah, it can really hurt you. I always encourage people, be the single of you. Life is short. You never know what's going to happen.

Beth Almes:

As many of us are now working in a virtual world as well, do you think it's harder or become easier to build that authenticity between leaders and their teams?

Jacob Morgan:

In some ways it's easier, and in some ways it's harder. It's easier in the fact that we are now having more of a window into each other's lives, like we're having phone calls with each other, we see our kitchens, we see our family rooms, you see a kid running in the background. You might see a spouse or a pet. So, you have more of a glimpse into the lives of the people that you work with.

From that perspective, it's been good. The downside of that is we miss the human aspect, which is still very, very relevant. I interviewed a researcher and he told me that I think you get between 50-80% of the oxytocin when you're vulnerable with somebody digitally versus in person. The in-person, it still matters because you have those casual conversations. You have those casual bump-ins. You can get coffee with each other. You can spend time with each other.

You don't have any of that in a digital environment. It's hard to create that trust, that psychological safety. You don't have that body language. You don't have that same presence that you do when you are in person. It's kind of like would you only have virtual friends, or would you only have a virtual spouse? Why not? It's not the same. You need the in person. You need the touch. You need the hug. You need the handshake. You need the chatting, the walking. You need these things just as a human being.

From that regard, it's been very, very hard. We do need both of those things. We need to get a glimpse into each other's lives and who we are as people, but I think there's also still very much a place for the in person relationships, which is why we're having so much conversation about hybrid work, the ideal situation of being able to blend the two.

Beth Almes:

Yeah, it's such a tough call right now for leaders as well, who feel like they want to engage with their teams, but they're not looking to take away flexibility. It's such a tough time as people are trying to figure out this next step of "How can we still connect just as authentically," and yet maintain a lot of the good things that have come out of virtual work in jobs that can do it.

Jacob Morgan:

Yeah, there're pros and cons to everything. That's just the nature of life, the nature of work. Like I said, I do think there's still very much a place for the in person stuff, but the virtual has still allowed us to keep those relationships and to get a glimpse into each other's lives.

Beth Almes:

My last question for you today is one that I ask all of our guests on the show. Can you share with me a moment of leadership that changed your life, whether for the better, a leader who inspired you, or even one that made you say, "I'm going to go in the opposite direction and never do that"?

Jacob Morgan:

Probably the most pivotal story in my life is the one that I've shared many, many times in my speeches, and in my books. It was when I graduated college, it was the first job I ever had. I graduated college with a dual degree in Economics and Psychology. I went to UC Santa Cruz. I was very, very excited to join the corporate world. My first job out of college was working for a company in Southern California.

I took the job working for this company because I was sold a story. I would be doing these great things, and traveling the country, and meeting with entrepreneurs, doing this really impactful stuff. It was a three-hour daily commute, hour and a half to work/hour and a half back each day. I took the job because of the story. A couple of months into my job, I'm just doing data entry, and cold calling, and PowerPoint presentations.

The pivotal moment for me was when the CEO comes out of his beautiful corner office and he screams, "Jacob, I got a really important project for you." So, I get excited. I'm thinking, "Here we are. I paid my dues. My time has come." I go over to the CEO, and he puts his hand in his pocket, takes out his wallet, and gives me a $10.00 bill and says, "I'm late for a meeting. I need you to go run to Starbucks and get me a cup of coffee." He said, "You can get yourself a latte as well."

At that moment I realized, "All right, something is very wrong here." I have a dual major. I graduated with honors. Why am I doing this stuff? It made me realize that the way that we think about work and business is very, very broken. 

We assume that when you first start you got to do the grunt work, you got to do the bad work, you got to be treated poorly because that's just how business is. But why? Why, just because you're new at the company should you be treated poorly? Why should you not get leadership training, unless you've been at the company for 10-15 years?

Wouldn't it be much more impactful? Wouldn't you want to prioritize the experience of the people who are there on day one? Wouldn't you want to treat them better? Wouldn't you want to teach them and show them that there's opportunity for learning and growth? Shouldn't you as the CEO get them coffee? I just realized that everything is very much flipped around. After that moment, I realized that I don't want to work for anybody else ever again.

I was involved in search engine optimization 15-20 years ago. This is way before all the stuff I'm doing now. But it set me off on my path of being an entrepreneur, and not wanting to work for anybody else ever again.

Beth Almes:

That's such a powerful story. I love the idea of where you're coming around. If you're the leader, the CEO, it's really almost you that should be getting the coffee for your team, of "How can I help you be better? How can I help you grow?" Rather than, "You're here to serve me." It's really the other way around, "How can we make them the best that they can be?"

Jacob Morgan:

Yeah, absolutely.

Beth Almes:

Thank you so much for being here today on the Leadership 480 podcast. It has been such a pleasure to have you.

Jacob Morgan:

My pleasure. Thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Beth Almes:

Thank you to our listeners who took part of their 480 minutes to be with us. Remember to make every moment of leadership count.