Miriam Meima has been a coach and facilitator for over twenty years, dedicating her life to studying the overlap between business and psychology.
Miriam has coached founders and executives at hundreds of companies, including a dozen worth over $1Billion+.
She works one on one with senior leaders, facilitates teams off site and develops customized leadership development journeys for leaders at all levels.
Her specialty is in helping people unlock the next level of performance while maximizing authenticity.
What you will learn
- How to motivate your executive leaders
- Developing your clear North Star: What is it and why does it matter?
- How to develop the right mindset to become a great leader
- Discover why the difference between success and failure is timing
- Learn about the importance of staying curious
- Discover the communication skills you need for effective leadership
- Learn the importance of letting go of ‘being right’
- Find out more about the books and mentors that have inspired Miriam
- Why check-ins should be an essential part of every team meeting
- Discover the metrics that high level CEOs need to see in their dashboards
- Learn a powerful daily practice that will help you become your best self
- Plus loads more!
00:00:03 - 00:00:42
Hi everyone and welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show. Today I have with me, Miriam Meima. Now, Miriam has been a coach and facilitator for over 20 years, dedicating her life to studying the overlap between business and psychology. Miriam has coached founders, executives and hundreds of companies, especially in hyper growth startups in the digital tech space. She works 1:1 for senior leaders, She facilitates team off sites and develops customized leadership development journeys for leaders at all levels. Her specialty is in helping people unlock the next level of performance while maximizing authenticity.
Welcome to the show, Miriam, great to have you here.
00:00:42 - 00:00:45
Well, thank you, Happy to be here.
00:00:45 - 00:01:23
So Miriam's wearing white Bose headphones and I'm wearing black Bose headphones we discovered. So I've called her the White Princess and I'm the Black Knight today, that's our little backstory.
So Miriam, I'm always intrigued by what inspired you to do what you do today. What was the call? Was it quiet wine with a friend where you would, university or college? And so I want to be a hyper growth consultant to tech startups. Where did the expression come from?
00:01:24 - 00:04:07
Where did that come from? Yeah, well it actually started when I was 13, I was really kind of on the younger side, I would say probably when people get the call and my dad was involved with a many community meetings, so I would sit in the back of these really stark rooms with maybe 30 adults discussing things that were very boring and I should have focused on doing my schoolwork, but instead I was fascinated by their decision making process and I couldn't stand it when they had an agenda item that they would talk about and talk about and talk about and talk about and then they would go for a vote and someone would block the vote. It just seems like a waste of time to me because I knew and a month later I would come back and sit in the back of the room and hear the same conversation and I hated it even all the way back that I hated it. And so I started asking people on breaks, why are you, you know, why are people not doing this? Because I could just, I knew, I knew how the vote was going to go and I didn't understand why people weren't intervening. And so they finally kind of challenged me and said something like well if you think you can do so, once you give it a shot, and they actually asked me to facilitate a meeting, and it went really well and I started basically shadowing consultants and facilitators and understanding what it takes to take a group of folks together with a singular mission and try and simplify the process of moving forward efficiently and effectively. And that is so much easier said than done because we make our lives harder than we need to be. So since then I've been fascinated with business and people and how we get in our own way. And so the hyper growth startup piece has come later in my career. Later than 13 years old that came I guess a bit opportunistically that those folks, they're just going, especially venture-backed companies, there's a level of pressure and the expectations that are set on, put on them are stronger and faster and more intense than other entrepreneurs. And so they were in greater levels of distress and stress and also resourced to reach out for support. So I was there and have worked with 12 through the process of going public, many that have hit over a billion dollar valuation, some of which instead went through acquisitions, but just a lot of different paths and I really believe there's no one right way to grow a business. It's a question of what is the founder or the entrepreneur or the CEO of the moment really want.
00:04:08 - 00:04:39
So what set you up to get into the company evolution, which has got about 40 partners globally, what got you into that space? What sort of training did you do in education or was it a, you did some initial training, some people, I did teaching and then moved into technology, sales and business development. So what sort of training did you do? And did you pivot out of that or how did you set yourself up for what you do today?
00:04:40 - 00:05:26
Yeah. When I first went to university, it was to study business and psychology separately. My masters is in organization and management development and probably more importantly, I hired a coach for myself. So it wasn't professional training at first, but I was doing personal work. I was learning to basically look in the mirror and understand how I was showing up as a leader in the organizations I was working in. So I was first working as a consultant and then internal startups and realizing, okay, if I'm going to start to help others, I need to be able to first walk my talk. So after hiring my own coach, I went through a two year executive coaching training program and from there kind of got myself into this role that I'm in today.
00:05:26 - 00:06:12
And it's what you mentioned before about watch, you sat at the back, you must have been a precocious teenager at the back of dad's meetings and I totally get like discuss something and then someone blocks it. Okay. Sometimes management, just being a management consultant or what you do is sometimes I feel you must feel like you're hurting cats, you know, so what are some of the things you've learned in observing people? How do you get them motivated? How do you get them all on the same page? What are some things you've learned along the way that are really important?
00:06:13 - 00:07:35
Yeah. Yeah. Such a good question. I really believe we all want to show up and do great work and go home and have a great life. And so when that isn't what's happening, I get really curious about what's getting in the way, and it's usually people having divergent opinions of the right path forward and getting so focused on their way being the right way that they forget that what's more important than having the right answer is being aligned with the people that they're in business with, especially with their executive team or senior leaders. And so I usually have to help people reorient their focus from being right and train them, give them some frameworks and tools to be honest with themselves about how their communication styles have been less than effective. Start to show a little bit more vulnerability, but what most gets them frustrated and then help get them oriented towards that north star, which most often than not has not been articulated in a way that everybody can relate to, and so that I go to the CEO or Founder and say, okay, we need to talk one on one and we need to figure out what is it you're really aiming for and why, and you can change it along the way, but we need to have a very clear, very explicit north star and and we that's a very helpful starting point and then we can generate alignment and then the cat starts to hurt themselves.
00:07:36 - 00:08:15
In other words, you've got to give them a north star to follow. And the other thing that I think is really, really important is, and I've discovered as well, that it was summed up by a guest I interviewed a little while ago and he said, your ego is not your amigo. And I went, that is so true. And you talked about that people want to show up and do the best work, but they have an opinion that their view is the right view, which is an ego thing, isn't it?
00:08:15 - 00:08:31
Well, it’s exactly right and often rooted in insecurity and fear of getting it wrong and it's so important to get it right that all of a sudden urgency starts to grow and then that's where people start to create just division, unfortunately, instead of alignment.
00:08:31 - 00:09:06
So tell us a little bit more about how you develop a North Star for a company because the CEO or the founder is going to have a bit of an idea, obviously has no idea, that's why they started it, that's why we got funding. So, and then ego must get in the way of that discussion surely as well. So there must be a process you use to develop a really clear North Star and maybe you can give some examples of what they are as well?
00:09:07 - 00:10:38
Yeah, absolutely. So there's, I'd say it's a little bit different depending on the stage of company, so I'm gonna orient more towards earlier stage, and and just for a few of these examples, knowing that with greater bigger companies, it's similar, but just with a little bit more complexity, but with earlier stage companies more often than not, that idea, it was maybe a product or service or there was a need in the market that the founder saw and they might not be able to actually externalize what is it that got them so excited or motivated about that. So usually it's an interview process and it's really pulling out of their minds. What gets them excited? Why were they passionate? Maybe the founder is a great storyteller, in which case if you're listening and you're a founder and you're a great storyteller, take your hand and give yourself a pat on the back because that is one of your greatest assets that you'll have, not only for gaining resources for your business, but for aligning folks internally. But more often than not, people just don't understand. They want to take these images that they have in their mind, they want to put them in the minds of others, that's really what influencing is all about and they need help in that process. So interviewing them and focusing more on the why similar to what Simon Cynic would say, he would say it matters more, why we're doing what we're doing and second it matters what we're doing, but people will emotionally relate to why we're doing it. And so we need to articulate that and we need to use words that will resonate with many people that we're going to be working with internally and externally.
00:10:39 - 00:11:14
Yeah. So when you're actively listening, I'm sure in terms of as you sit down with the founder and you are then asking the right questions so you can get the right answers so that you can and then you've got a feedback to them going. So what you told me, I think is this which is tentative, active listening. So the North Star, is it a one page, a one sentence, a paragraph? Or does it vary?
00:11:15 - 00:12:11
In most cases it's a sentence, sometimes a paragraph, but usually a sentence. I think of a North Star as essentially as it's our longest term. It's the least variable of all the things and then we're going to have that as our guiding light, literally and figuratively. And then we're gonna have a vision which is a longer, it's more of a paragraph. That's a vivid description of an ideal future reality. We're going to set a time and a place and that's going to become a point on the horizon that we're actually orienting towards were more directly and then we're developing a strategy to help us get to that point. So the vision is much more midterm and then what we're finding out is how are we going to get there? Where is the North Star? It's bigger than that. So it allows us the ability to be a bit more vague in our language and a bit more aspirational. It's something that we probably will never reach, but it's going to help us make sure that we're happy with where we're going.
00:12:12 - 00:12:32
Right. So do you have any examples of one sentence, examples of great, I suppose vision statement is one way maybe to describe it, that you found really powerful. Do you have some examples you can reveal to us?
00:12:32 - 00:13:00
Yeah. I don't have written permission, but I think my client would be happy for me to share this. There's a company that I work with, a tech company. They work in the procurement space and their one line North Star is to make procurement feel like a vacation and that very much is embedded in their brand and their brand name and their company name and the way that they operate and they, it's in one line, it seems impossible, but it helps capture everything they stand for.
00:13:00 - 00:13:05
I love it. So in other words you're trying to make procurement a joyful experience.
00:13:05 - 00:13:13
Joyful, simple, easy. Like you could have a pina colada with your, you know, as you're making your decisions.
00:13:13 - 00:13:46
Yeah, that's great. I love that. So all right. So they've got their vision, they've got their North Stars, one sentence in, I suppose best case scenarios. Okay, so they've got a bucket of money and which is venture capital and then the pressure's on, isn't it? So okay and money is not everything, but so what are the next steps that you would be coaching them on, working with them on to get them to grow as fast as possible? What are some of the next steps?
00:13:46 - 00:14:56
Mindset, getting themselves in the right mindset, understanding their strengths as leaders and what their blind spots or weaknesses are to make sure that they can either hire someone to fill those or just develop themselves, which takes longer, but it is possible. So that's them, that's the internal job, we can think of kind of three dimensions, I, we and it. So the ‘I’, let's start with myself as a leader, make sure that I'm set up to be successful. The way I think about it is I as a leader, so putting myself in that position is I need to not only be the right leader for today, but I need to be ahead of the curve, I need to be thinking about what is the leader of my business is going to need tomorrow, next quarter, next year and make sure that my growth trajectory is ahead of the growth of the business. And so really thinking ahead and then there's the ‘We’ dimension of figuring out how to communicate, how to listen, how to articulate my ideas and my thoughts and work with other people and then there's ‘It’ that's the systems, the processes, it's the ability to create infrastructure for the business to operate beyond what I would do with my two hands.
00:14:57 - 00:16:37
Yeah, and quite often that last piece, the ‘It’ is something that entrepreneurs quite often fail at because it's boring. In other words, it basically is, I've got to put in place spreadsheets or processes or steps and I've got to document things and the entrepreneur quite often goes, I just want to go and a lot of them are sales people out there, so they want to go out and sell and then they actually just this what’s happened to me, you just dropped the ball, you lose control. It could be you grow too fast, you don't have enough cash to keep funding the business, all that sort of thing. So in terms of growth, what are some of the strategies you've seen that work and have worked really, really well in terms of where their breakthroughs that a company or some companies that you've worked with have done because in other words, often, especially a high tech startup hypergrowth, they've got an idea which is either two ways to look at it, I think correct me if I'm wrong. Number one is, it's a totally new idea and you've got to educate the market or you’re making a better mouse trap. In other words, you are taking an existing product and making it better. So maybe an example of saying, we're going to disrupt this industry, it's not a new product.
00:16:38 - 00:18:46
Yeah. One of the companies that I've worked with for many years as a company called Slack. I'm not sure if you're familiar with them as a communication tool.
So I started working with evolution and we, my company that I'm working with this evolution, so we started working with Slack when they were about 150 folks. And so now they've gone through becoming a public company acquired by Salesforce and all the way through. And so I would say in many cases by many standards they are a success story. So they're one example, I definitely have worked with other name brand companies that many people have heard of and some honestly, I would say, let me just say for the record though, for growth's sake is not the goal. And most founders who take themselves on a growth trajectory, they look in the room like why did I do that to myself? And so you really have to love growing a company in order to put yourself in that position so that just, I'm just a little bit of a caveat, but for those of you out there who do want growth and not just for the glory because it's fun and you're kind of in it for the ride, that I would say it's a lot about timing in the market. So it's about creating high quality, knowing what you're great at and developing the product or for the service. But there's a lot of looking for opportunities in the marketplace and you usually, there's pockets of opportunity and you gotta jump on them and you can't always anticipate them, so it's noticing it in real time, what's the opportunity here and going for it. And so sometimes that's a one sale for a company that maybe it's a bit bigger than what you have deployed before, but it's thinking just bigger than what you've done before, looking for the next opportunity, the next, the next, the next and that's very uncomfortable because you're literally over your skis and you're kind of intentionally over your skis, but you're building a team and a product or service that will allow you to be able to kind of survive through those pockets of put overextending and then quickly getting your feet under you and then overextending and quickly getting your feet under you.
00:18:47 - 00:19:23
Yeah, that's fascinating. In other words, getting out of your comfort zone can be quite intimidating and scary. So let's go back to Slack quickly, I'm interested in what their mission or vision statement is, one sentence, but they wanted to disrupt email, didn't they? Because they believe the email thread strategy in the way we are trapped by email, email hell is called all sorts of names. Was that the breakthrough? We want to disrupt email, is that it or a bit more than that?
00:19:23 - 00:20:04
A bit more. So in one sentence they wanted to be where work happens. So they wanted to basically move work communication from email and even meetings as much as possible to be happening in Slack. So asynchronous empowering, asynchronous collaboration. And it was a tool that they built for themselves as a founding team, as people in the gaming space. But they built it because it was easier for them to talk to each other through, they didn't have anything to talk to each other. They actually sunset at the other business and realized that this tool that they built from themselves really had some legs. So they developed it as its own product.
00:20:04 - 00:20:09
So that came out of a gaming sector, is that correct?
00:20:09 - 00:20:42
That's right, yeah, the founders. Yeah, so cool. But that's an example of really thinking outside the box, right of just looking for market value and look and kind of taking a bet. And I think a lot of founders are always surprising themselves. I'm like, I don't know if this is gonna work, but I'm gonna give it a go and I think that's the right mindset to be in because it's a bit of experimentation and delight and when we experience that delight, that means we're onto something and continue to move in that direction.
00:20:43 - 00:21:51
Yeah, I love the word delight. I think the other thing that entrepreneurs usually have is curiosity. In other words, if what if I did this without disrupting the team from the true North. So, but if you're curious going, look, let's try this marketing tactic, let's see if that works and another would not get too attached to it, but okay, and then the next step could be that and then you just trying to find that traction point that sometimes it's very hard to find, isn't it?
Because you say I'm not really getting the sales, just it's not happening, then you might try one thing, I'm getting traction then now can I blow this up if you want hypergrowth or what sort of and as an entrepreneur myself, it's like I don't want to create a monster that owns me which is the business, I want me to own it because hyper growth can be scary and not necessarily very healthy either as a human. And this is where the psychology part gets rather interesting, doesn't it?
00:21:52 - 00:21:55
Yes, so interesting. Yeah.
00:21:55 - 00:22:44
So I have been intrigued on your take, which is a company that used to be called Facebook, it's now called Meta and you mentioned a thing before, which I totally agree with is that quite often the difference between success and failure in hyper growth is timing. I saw a TED talk a while back and won this research 200 companies, companies research 200 different startups. He said the biggest difference between success and failure was timing. This leads me to my next question. I'd be interested in your thoughts is do you think Mark Zuckerberg has got his timing wrong in terms of what he's doing with Meta or do you think he's got it right?
00:22:44 - 00:24:08
Well, I think he had it right when he started. Right. I mean if we look at what happened and where Facebook was at its inception, he was answering a call that was very widespread in terms of creating community. So a massive success in terms of growth. And then I think what we're seeing right now in the news is layoffs. And so a lot of people are wondering what's the story there is? I don't know if that's part of what your question is.
So yeah, but I think that restructuring business is inevitable and so it's interesting to me that he's using the market opportunities to kind of force what probably would have been a healthy choice. And I I'm never advocating for people to lose their jobs because there are humans involved. But if we just think about business as systems, they need to contract and expand and contract and expand and growth is not actually as linear as it looks like from the outside. So, shifts in the team structure are inevitable. And so I'll be curious kind of what happens from here and how he can continue to look for those windows of opportunity. And I have no doubt that he and the rest of, well whether he's there or not, there are some brilliant people in the company and some brilliant strategist. So what market opportunities they'll see or discover next will be fascinated.
00:24:09 - 00:24:43
It could be that he starts on that journey and discovers a new or the team, the research discover a product within the, within the journey that's quite often. So just like Slack was a discovery of messaging within a gaming community. So what they thought was a good idea wasn't necessarily going to sit in that bucket, but it's going to be maybe over here. So this is where ego putting your ego to the side becomes really, really important, doesn't it?
00:24:43 - 00:25:07
Yeah, and curiosity like you said of staying more curious than attached, getting attached is very ego based and we become bullish on certain ideas, it goes back to being right and we have to let go of that to be able to stay present and notice what's happening around us. It's like we have to let those blinders come down so we can see the landscape accurately.
00:25:07 - 00:25:20
And that comes through one thing that you worked on, which was if you are going to work with other people and be aware of them, you need to be self aware first.
00:25:20 - 00:25:29
Yes. Which most people do not think is a job requirement of leadership.
00:25:30 - 00:26:22
Yeah, and also a job as a leader is to communicate powerfully and that means you do need to listen and be aware and on my first six months of a counseling course a long time ago and the first thing they worked on in workshops and in small groups was self awareness first. And then the next step, if you're self aware, then you've got a much better opportunity to be aware of others and to lead them. And that was a really a-ha moment for me and I realized my way of communicating was not optimal and so I, it was really hard six months in terms of self awareness first, then you can actually lead others and take them with you.
00:26:22 - 00:26:28
Wow so you noticed or learned more about your communication style and then did it change?
00:26:28 - 00:27:24
Yeah, it evolved. Yeah, and so my father, he passed away a couple years ago, but he was a great talker and I watched my father with horror sometimes as he had cost people and talked about things, I didn't even know he was very unaware. Okay, great father, we had a great family upbringing, but observing dad and then I went okay and then I had a marriage break up and I went okay, I maybe am not communicating well and by observation of my father. So that was a huge, one of the best six months courses I've ever done. Yeah, so and lead into things like active listening, tentative questions, so all that sort of stuff which I'm sure you're very aware of.
00:27:25 - 00:27:45
Thanks for sharing that story. I think you've clearly inherited a lot of the great parts of your dad's communication style and I also want to applaud your effort to learn and grow and kind of take what works and then leave the rest behind. So it's very noticeable that you've done that work and it's appreciated.
00:27:45 - 00:28:08
Thank you very much. Yeah. And communication is so important to me and it changed my sales approach as well. I sat down and would listen to my customers and ask them questions and that is a much more powerful place to start from rather than telling people about your product.
00:28:08 - 00:28:57
Exactly. So that's, am I interrupting you? Yeah. So what I've worked with sales leaders, there is a lot about being able to shift from consultative selling to collaborative selling. And really, it's really rooted in questions and understanding the needs or the pain points of the person that you're potentially selling to and then deciding together as a partnership, me as the salesperson, you as a potential client. Is this a good fit? And those usually lead to larger deals and longer lasting relationships. So being able to, again kind of let go of being right and just ask some questions is at the root of great business on the micro level of each sales conversation and at the macro level as well.
00:28:57 - 00:29:23
Yeah. And also extends right into your personal relationships and life as well. If you can just learn to stop and listen and ask the right questions and then feedback to them what you think they're saying because we live in our own heads and quite often we're guessing what other people have in their own heads and that's a dangerous place to be to assume.
00:29:24 - 00:30:28
So my understanding is we have about 1000 words a minute in our mind and at most we can say 100 of them out loud. So as we realize that as humans, we’re trying, constantly filtering and we're not very good at that and that's quite tiring. But then someone says something and we give their words a lot of weight and we hold it, hold it as you know truth like you said this. Well yeah, that was their best attempt at taking what was in their mind and saying it out loud and maybe at a date in a moment where they're stressed or frustrated and so they're really not, you know, doing a good job, but I think the grace that we can give people is to start to open up into wondering what they're trying to say whether they're doing it effectively or not and letting go of the words they're choosing and noticing the tone of their voice, the speed of their voice and what are they getting at. And if we pay more attention to that and like you're saying, use active listening skills of like, okay, I'm not gonna assume, I know what you're getting at, I'm gonna say what I think you're saying is dot, dot, dot.
00:30:29 - 00:31:27
That is very, very important to do that. In other words, that is tentative, active listening and that becomes, I found out, I find it very, very powerful. The other thing that I've discovered two for me in terms of listening was when we talk to people, we look at their face. I think what I've learned is just look at their eyes and make a note of what color they are and then you are much more present because to be a powerful communicator and listener is you need to be very present and not be thinking about the next sentence you're going to say, but come back with them. So I think you're feeling like this in other words, you could be tapping into that. The emotion of where they are rather than the words that you said 1000 words in your head. Only 100 have said.
00:31:28 - 00:32:04
Such a good trick. Yes. What color is that person's eyes. Yeah, this is really easy when I'm doing warm up exercises with executive team. So we're at a strategy session, I do warm up exercise like let's talk, let's get to know each other a little bit and do active listening and they're really good at it. What I hear you saying is dot, dot, dot and then I say, okay, now let's pivot to talking strategy. Can you still hold the same quality of listening? And it gets so hard for people once they have a kind of opinion on the topic. Yeah, but it's good practice.
00:32:05 - 00:32:54
Yeah. It's just a little trick I suppose that says, okay, I'm with you, actually noticed you and I can see the color of your eyes, which is the entry to the soul and we really just need to be present. And so you obviously are very powerful communicator and obviously a great listener because you're taking CEOs with egos on a journey and you've got to take them with you, You've got to guide them and sometimes getting the cats to run in the same direction is a superpower and you're obviously doing that, doing that very well. So what are some of the books and mentors that have helped you along the way that have inspired you, Miriam, are there any that come to mind that you could share?
00:32:55 - 00:34:28
I'm a fan of Stephen Covey's work. So that's around prioritization. He does have The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Seek first to understand and second to be understood. And he talks about five levels of listening in that book. I'm a fan of Lynsey Oni Patrick, Lynch Cioni, he's kind of one of the original authors around organizational development and he writes very short books that are fables, but most people read them and they say, I think he's writing about my team and it's a short, basically a short story about dysfunction and how to emerge and kind of of all that of dysfunction. And so I find it very relatable and helpful. I used to be, I guess a perfectionist, I would and very self critical. And so if anyone had read any book that I hadn't read and didn't know inside and out, I shamed myself and I went and read the book and I learned it inside and out and that served me well. So I have a lot of books in my library, so to speak, but I have learned that there was more cost than gain to that way of relating to myself. And so I've let go of it and instead I have a much more, a much deeper and consistent connection with my intuition. And so I have the benefit of a lot of experience. And so I'm bringing pattern recognition and as well as kind of more of a spiritual intuition, but I think that honestly is something that I referenced even more than some of the things that I've read.
00:34:29 - 00:34:47
Right. Are there any people that you admire that you think you've learned from? You mentioned Simon Sinek for example and what other people have inspired you in terms of being great leaders of companies?
00:34:48 - 00:34:59
Yeah, good question. Not a great leader of a company. I mean, although she is, but Renee Brown's work has been quite helpful I think to a lot of leaders.
00:34:59 - 00:35:10
I love her work. It's great. The Power of Vulnerability certainly touched my heart in terms of and that comes down to storytelling as well.
00:35:11 - 00:35:58
Yeah. It all comes back to storytelling, doesn't it?
Yeah. I really look at, I'm a fan of some of the classics. So I think Steve Jobs did some things really well and has inspired me in some ways. And then I looked to some more non-traditional leaders, like Gandhi, I think that's kind of interesting to look outside of business and see how people have developed movements and how can you integrate. What is my version of that? That's I think one of the questions I ask everybody, who is someone you admire and what's your version of that and realizing that there's no idea that's too big or too small and no wrong answer to any question.
00:35:59 - 00:36:16
So, guarantee you that's a good one. Steve Jobs is certainly one of my heroes, he's got the same birth date, which is 24th of February.
00:36:17 - 00:36:20
Yeah, your birthday, that’s fun.
00:36:20 - 00:36:59
So but yeah, and I think we need to do as humans has realized that when we grow up, we don't want to be someone else. When I grow up, I want to be me. And I think that's important for us as leaders as well, to understand that we can aspire and watch and learn from others. But at the end of the day, you got to do something that is you and I think being true to you. And that's where there's a lot more motivation. So what brings you happiness and joy rather than just doing something for the sake of it or for the money?
00:36:59 - 00:37:10
That’s exactly right. 100% agree with that. And those are the leaders that can withstand the pressures of the difficult decisions because they're in it for the right reasons.
00:37:11 - 00:37:41
And I think that's where the why becomes important, isn't it? So you've got on the same page, what are some of the, to help our viewers and listeners to understand, what are some of the tactics or strategies you used to keep, to build a team and to make it, have them work together. Are there any sort of processes and systems or tactics that you would recommend in terms of continuing to build the team and momentum?
00:37:42 - 00:38:39
Yes. So a few strategies. One that's more on the human level is I just before, especially long meetings, I really suggest taking two minutes and going around in a circle and everyone in 10 seconds just share like what's shaping, how you're coming into this meeting. And it could be, hey, I've been in back to back meetings, but I'm ready to go or it could be, I didn't sleep well last night, but I'm ready to go or it could be, hey, I've got three things that I'm juggling right now and I'm gonna try and be present, but it's hard for me. But if we are lacking that context, then we're constantly making stories up about why people are showing up the way they are and it's overlaid on every conversation in a way that's unhelpful. So decoupling how people are doing from the conversations really important. So, it's just a very short tool, like what I would call a check in. Just a very short tool for developing personal relationships and gaining context.
00:38:40 - 00:38:50
In other words, you're acknowledging people where they are as people rather than just saying job to be done. Let's get on with it. Let's go jump in.
00:38:50 - 00:39:59
Yeah. Because then people are inevitably carrying with them the conversation they just had and it's gonna color what they're, how they're showing up here and I'm gonna personalize it and then I'm gonna be mad and then it's going to cause more challenge. So the check in is really helpful for team dynamics, I think that having goals tracked, we need to make very clear agreements who will do it by when and it seems foundational and most companies do not do that well. Let's get very good at clear agreements who will do it by when and how are we tracking it and how we will know it's done. And so having either a dashboard or some sort of system in place to track agreements and they could be larger agreements meaning a current project or initiative or they could literally be, I'm gonna reach out to the lawyer and then I'm gonna circle back to you and let you know what I found out. But those things go into individual to do lists and then they get lost and that erodes trust and and it also roads productivity and momentum. So just simple, let's okay, what's our system and you have to get on the same page, let's use one system. Everybody use one system.
00:40:00 - 00:40:55
I love that in terms of making each one accountable and the way you do that is by setting goals. Okay, that's obvious the other part, and I'm interested in the importance of data and dashboards to help with that accountability because in this digital world we live, you can measure almost anything, pulling that data together into a dashboard that isn't too complex, I'm interested in how important and any tips on creating dashboards and what sort of dashboards and how much information is too much? Visualization is important because we can consume so much data quickly with a simple graph. I’m interested in the importance and tips about using data and dashboards. I've been in your take, especially in hyper growth tech startups.
00:40:55 - 00:42:01
Personally, I'm a fan of having two different dashboards. One is a status dashboard, it's a high level bird's eye view of the most important initiatives that are happening across the company right now and what's the status of them and who do I go to if I have questions about what's going or what either what tool or what person can I go to or what questions separate a KPI key performance indicator or some sort of metrics dashboard where we're deciding as a company, what is it that's most important.
Usually I get into a kind of a conversation around leading and lagging indicators. So what are predictive or outcome measures and we want a mix of both. We want revenue is an outcome measure, but we're also tracking what are the strategies that are driving revenue and whether it's whatever that is. We want predictive as well as outcome measures on our dashboard and so and that usually is quite transparent that latter one is something that usually you want to share with the whole company. The former is more for executive teams or senior leaders.
00:42:02 - 00:43:13
At the high level dashboard? The challenge with the dashboard and data is trust and also getting it. So because there's that many KPIs you can pull data from then you've got to present it into something that makes sense. That is a real challenge. But the importance of data to guide you to make sure that you are on track then the team can be accountable and there's no judgment there because the dashboard tells you the truth, the numbers tell you, especially an objective like how many leads do we generate this month? How many? Okay. How many people did we churn if you're in a software as a service type business? What's the lifetime value of the customer? Is it going up? Is it going down? What are some of the important metrics that you think at a high level that the CEO and executive team needs to know? I know that's maybe a big question but what are some important metrics that you would you love to see on a dashboard?
00:43:14 - 00:43:55
Yeah. I love to see, so whatever the user acquisition strategy is let's capture that somehow. How is it performing? And so whether it's, we need to see that in some way. And so for every business that's a little bit different but some way to capture that, some level of engaging way to measure engagement and then some way to measure revenue. I mean usually those are kind of the three basic buckets of how are we gaining users or customers, how are we retaining them? And then our high level kind of top level revenue numbers. So that's at the most basic and then we can dive in from there.
00:43:56 - 00:44:39
So what are some of the most successful stories you've had in companies you work for that, you're going, wow, these guys are just nailing it, and you said you've taken some companies through to going public as well. So is there any stories you can share about, you know, basically some of the great start, great product, you mentioned Slack before. Are there any other ones that you would say, well these guys are just not an overnight success, I'm not talking about it, it's more, okay, so they now are really focused the teams together, they've got the right marketing strategy and then they were gonna go public. What are some great stories you've had experiences along the way?
00:44:40 - 00:46:05
There are some in the beauty industry, I've worked with many companies from very early stages where they've basically had a new take on beauty or CPGs of different companies within CPG, consumer public goods. But you know what's interesting and so when I think about the real breakout successes, I know that when we're reading headlines, it's really sexy to read about the companies that went public, but I would say the founders that are the like, they're the most happiest. They're the most proud of what they've done and they have the financial success that kind of affords them a lifestyle that I think we all kind of dream of. Most of those didn't take their company public. Most of those found the right exit points. They were willing to optimize for their own success even, and they noticed when that was diverging from what the company meant, like cocky stick kind of up into the right and they were willing to entertain acquisition offers or they were willing to step away and hire a new CEO and let that person then take a public. And so I think those founders are often the happier ones and then they usually go back and start something again, give it another go.
00:46:06 - 00:46:49
I've been involved with a startup and the founder did at an early age in his 30s, took a company public and he's now started another company that's been 11, 12 years in the making of and I've been interesting watching his leadership style and also his attitude and he's financially very comfortable. He said, I'm not going public ever again. The exit strategy is not public. I think he likes to mainly, the challenge with public is that suddenly you're accountable to public shareholders and it is public.
00:46:50 - 00:47:07
So it’s much more short term focused. It's hard to get the general public to take a long term view. It's very, very difficult. So the press, you're trying to build long term strategies while delivering short term results and it's very difficult to maintain.
00:47:07 - 00:47:42
It is, and I don't totally get that. And now it's the biggest, what's our exit strategy? Well, the right opportunity very much he's into synchronicity and even hiring the right people. He believes that very buddhist in its approach or Taoism, is he and I actually end up buying the same book at the same time, which was Wayne Dyer's book on the Dow, which is 81 principles of the Dow. I reflect on that every day I go through and read a verse and then sit down.
00:47:42 - 00:47:47
That’s wonderful. What is it that drew you to that book? What is it that resonates so much for you?
00:47:47 - 00:49:28
It's more about flow and not about force. Whenever I've tried to force anything in business or relationships, it normally turns to shit. So for me it's about stepping to the flow. It's being yourself and listening and being aware and not forcing. And I think if you continue to step into each day, wanted to be the best version of yourself that not someone else, it's a much more powerful place to operate from a much more peaceful place to operate from. So, I did an interview with a guy called Finnian Kelly, who's just done some running a breath classes online via an app. And so he's very much into breath. But he said that he sits down every morning and then reflects on just one verse of the Dow. And I went, you know what, I think I might do that. So yeah, because I think, also the other thing that if you're in a frantic busy company, you created a monster and you're going, what did I do this for? And I think you've got as humans going, we need, you don't get inspiration in crazy manic noise. We get inspiration when we stop and reflect and also feed on right information or inspirational books or people. So what are some of the things that motivate you to do what you do? What brings you joy?
00:49:29 - 00:51:20
Yeah, great question.I will, I do want to pull on just a couple of things you said that were so important. And then I promised to answer your question. So what you said about reading this book in the morning and so just touching on one verse. So daily practice of some kind that roots you into your belief system and your connects you with yourself, your authentic self before the day gets started is honestly one of probably the more important things that leaders can do, like you said, being at a state of peace and powerful. They are more simultaneous than most people believe and that most people experience them imagine them to be more oppositional and so they lead into being powerful rather than relaxing into being peaceful and trusting that from there they will see and they will know and they will communicate as needed. So I love that you're doing that and I highly recommend everybody finds a daily practice that supports them throughout. Yeah, for me, what motivates me is I believe there's people in positions of power who are making decisions that aren't proud of and then it perpetuates more of what we don't want in this world. Whereas if given the proper amount of support and awareness, they'll actually make decisions that they're really proud of and they help grow the business and they're more aligned with their values or they're more aligned with what they actually want and so they're perpetuating more of what they do want in this world. So the more I can make space for leaders to be authentically themselves, the better I think our planet can be.
00:51:21 - 00:52:29
So what I think I hear you saying is that you get joy out of feeling that you are making a difference to make the world a better place. Yeah, that's a pretty powerful place to operate from. Yeah, I think we'll leave it right there because I think that's a great place to finish it and thank you very much for sharing your stories and I can see that one of your superpowers is listening, communicating and helping other people become self aware to make sure that they can produce the best results for themselves and others. I think hats off to you, it's just great to chat and thank you very much. I just love doing the podcast because I get to meet these incredibly smart people that are successful on many levels, not just not just about money. Money is just an indicator of at one level. There's a lot more other indicators that I think we need to be able. But thank you very much, Miriam, for sharing. It's been a joy for me to listen and hear you and your insights. Thank you.
00:52:30 - 00:52:50
Yes. On behalf of all of the listeners of any and all of your podcast, Jeff, thank you for the effort and attention you put into making this. I know it's so much a labor of love and there's so many people that benefit from it. So thank you for your sustained commitment to this. It's definitely a gift and thank you for allowing me to be part of it.
00:52:51 - 00:53:09
Thank you. I would do this because you don't need to pay me to do this. I'll do this because I end up having one on one fireside chats and look into people's eyes from the other side of the world and what's not to love about that.
00:53:10 - 00:53:13
That's right, yeah, thank you.
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