Best of Seeking Wisdom 2018: Part II

Best of Seeking Wisdom 2018 part two

On Part II of the Best of Seeking Wisdom from this year, DC and DG discuss Will Smith’s storied rise to success, why being uncomfortable is the secret to personal growth and their key to taking feedback – sleep on it.

Plus, former Facebook and Google exec Molly Graham on culture and employment branding. Lessons from Charlie Munger on “liking/loving tendency,” AKA why you can’t just learn from people you like.

And lastly, DC and DG wrap it up with the secret trick to finding the next group of leaders at your company and the importance of learning to say “no.”

You can get Seeking Wisdom on Apple PodcastsSoundCloudSpotifyStitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Or listen to the full audio version below 👇

Be sure to tune in and we’ll see you back here next year! Before you go leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! In the meantime, you can connect with DC and DG on Twitter @dcancel @davegerhardt.

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In This Episode

0:34 – Will Smith’s book and his roller-coaster life development

2:42 – The growth mindset and getting comfortable with feedback

7:22 – What is employment branding?

9:50 – The ‘liking bias’ as one of the biggest roadblocks to growth

10:25 – You may get the best marketing lessons from people who are not marketers

11:30 – Everything counts; everything about you reflects on the people that work for you

12:46 – Perception is reality

12:50 – Play to the position you want

12:57 – People around you want to model the stuff you are doing; don’t model bad behavior.

13:29 – A manager’s output equals the output of his organization plus the output of the neighboring organization under his influence

14:25 – 100% is your job. The secret to getting promoted is to do more than that

15:00 – How to identify the future leaders in the people in your organization

16:15 – Saying ‘yes’ means saying ‘no’ to something else; figure out the things you should say ‘yes’ to.

Full Transcript

DG: Hey everybody, it’s DG again, I hope you enjoyed part one of Best of Seeking Wisdom from 2018. Obviously if there’s part one that means part two’s coming and that’s what we got for you right now.

This will be the last official episode of Seeking Wisdom for this year. Hope you enjoy all the highlights. Tweet at us @dcancel @davegearhart @seekingwisdom and let us know what you want to hear of in 2019. Have a great holidays. Happy New Year and we’ll see you soon.

DC: Okay, I’m going to the second. Are you ready?

DG: Total Recall.

DC: I don’t think he’s … the second one, I don’t think he’s written a book. But I’ve been-

DG: Give me a clue. You don’t think I can get it? I’m not very … chop like that, but give me-

DC: He used to be a rapper.

DG: He used to be a rapper? Okay.

DC: Okay. I think you …

DG: Okay.

DC: You do got it?

DG: I mean there’s a million people. That is not a big enough clue.

DC: Okay. Okay. Yeah.

DG: I don’t know what he does now.

DC: He’s from Philly.

DG: He’s from Philly. Okay.

DC: You know who it is?

DG: I don’t know. Oh actually I do know who it is.

DC: Who?

DG: I think it’s Will Smith.

DC: Will Smith.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Yeah.

DG: Come on.

DC: Will Smith.

DG: Will Smith. I still got it.

DC: So Will Smith-

DG: I would love … I wish we-

DC: I wonder if he’s written a book. I have to look. I don’t think he’s written a book, but I’ve been watching a lot of his … if you’re not on his IG, get on it.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Yeah. His Instagram game is hot.

DG: Yep.

DC: His YouTube game is hot.

DG: Yeah.

DC: And he does … So-

DG: Wow. I didn’t see that coming.

DC: So Will Smith came from Philly. Became a rapper, and probable rapper if you ever listen to some of his stuff with Jazzy Jeff back in the day. I did see Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince-

DG: Yeah, Will Smith never had a curse in his raps.

DC: In concert. Yeah, exactly. He was clean.

DG: He was clean.

DC: I did see him in concert with Run DMC, Beastie Boys-

DG: Wow.


DG: Wow.

DC: And Stetsasonic.

DG: But you get mad if I say you’re old.

DC: That’s true.

DC: So I saw them. He became a rapper. Then he had a pretty famous TV show, and we use a lot of his GIFYs to this day.

DG: Mm-hmm (affirmative), Fresh Prince.

DC: So if you check your GIFYs the Fresh Prince of Bel Air [crosstalk 00:02:02]-

DG: Bonus points if you shot out … if you leave a six star review and shout out the intro for Fresh Prince.

DC: For Fresh Prince, yeah.

DG: Yep.

DC: Oh, big shot out. A big shot out. [crosstalk 00:02:10]. And then he’s because, as we know, a super famous actor.

DG: Super famous.

DC: And he continues to grow and learn, and if watch his YouTube stuff and the stuff that he talks about, and how he’s been able to be both funny as a comedic actor and be able to continue to grow throughout his career, super impressive.

DG: This is why I love doing this podcast. In what other podcast in the world are you going to get Jeff Bezos, the founders of Home Depot, Sam [Wahl 00:02:36] and Will Smith, Arnold Schwarzenegger, all in one?

DG: You have this mindset, right? And I think you’ve started to retrain my mindset a little bit where I used to get … would be defensive, right? You’re in those meetings taking a beating from somebody and you get defensive.

DC: How does growth feel man? It feels great?

DG: Exactly. So this is what I want to talk about. I want to talk about … we can call this How Growth Really Feels. How Growth Really Feels.

DC: It’s how … I wish I could take a picture of DG’s face right now.

DG: [crosstalk 00:03:07] goes. But I want to accelerate Seeking Wisdom. Our job is to accelerate other people’s learning. I want to try to get this out of you and explain this mindset because it takes a while. It takes a while. But it’s something that I’ve seen you do. I’ve seen Alias do … I know you had to beat on him for a couple of years.

DC: A decade.

DG: A decade for him to turn around. I think this could be a really valuable episode in explaining how you think through that, and the whole mantra of don’t get defensive. It’s an opportunity. So I want to kick it over to you and just talk about that.

DC: Sure. The way I always talk about it on here is that growth is not supposed to feel comfortable. That’s an easy theoretical thing to say when you abstract it out and you think about, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. It’s not supposed to be real comfortable.” But when you’re actually going through and you’re getting feedback and you’re feeling like you’re getting beat up. You’re feeling like you’re under attack. The natural thing is either to pull away and not listen, or to get defensive and to fight back. This says nothing about you. This is just a natural thing, right? When someone’s coming at you, you’re not going to listen to them. You’re going to put the shields up. You’re going to fight back, or you’re going to run away. Right? It’s fight or flight.

DG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DC: The thing that I’ve painfully figured out over the years is that that is the exact moment, when you’re getting feedback and this is the qualifier from someone that you respect and someone that you trust-

DG: Yes.

DC: Trust is the key.

DG: Yeah, so this does not count for the Internet trolls?

DC: No, no, no, no. I listen to them too because I like it.

DG: Yeah.

DC: They give me a different kind of energy.

DG: Yes.

DC: But the haters out there.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Now when you’re listening, getting feedback from someone that you trust, and that you respect from a mentor, from a peer, from a role model, it’s not going to feel good. You’re not going to want to hear. You’re going to want to get defensive. You’re going to want to do what Alias did for half a decade, which was to explain himself to try to convince you and say, “No, no, no. You’re not getting it. Let me tell you why you’re wrong,” and to fight back that way, instead that is the exact magic moment that you need to see there and absorb it, and listen, and not say anything. And just hold it in. It’s so hard.

DG: Take notes.

DC: Take notes. Take notes and just feel it. Absorb it and then step away from it. Detach yourself from it to be able to learn the lessons that someone is trying to pass down to you.

DG: So if you were me in this situation right now, would you … I got a bunch of notes. Would you let it marinate the rest of today? Sleep on it?

DC: Key. Key.

DG: Don’t do it now.

DC: Magic key. Key as DJ Khaled would say.

DG: Major key.

DC: Major key.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Is sleep on it. Don’t take immediate action because you don’t know what you’re taking an immediate action on.

DG: Because you’re still in the heat. It’s an emotional thing. You’re still in the heat of it.

DC: You’re still in the heat. You don’t know what to do. You don’t want to be reactionary. You don’t want it to be a delayed reaction. Just like you fighting back, you just taking action and doing it out of when you have that emotional energy, let it marinate. Sleep on it. Then try to figure out why you were getting the feedback you were getting. Where was that feedback coming from? Was that perspective correct? Could you see that person’s perspective? Then, only then, develop a plan for how you can take some of this feedback and take action on it. Sometimes you’ll get this feedback and you won’t know how to take action on it. You might have to get it again a year from now, and again six months from now. Then you’ll be able to take action. But in this case where DG just got a beating from Mike [Volpe 00:06:48]. Thank you.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Shot out.

DG: Sent in a hitter.

DC: Yep. He’s giving you very tactical feedback.

DG: Yeah, yes.

DC: Like this is not just-

DG: Yeah, it’s not a philosophical, “Should we do this thing or that thing?” It’s like-

DC: No, or it’s not about how you should change as a leader. It’s more real tactical feedback. In that case, I think tomorrow you could look at that and say, “All right. Here’s how I could think about using some of this stuff.” And some of it might not be useful.

DG: So the thing you worked on was employment branding?

Molly Graham: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DG: Was that a common thing at the time? Or were more companies starting to invest in this, and what is that?

Molly: Yeah, good question. One of my really early conclusions at actually both Google and Facebook was that you needed to define your job in a way that would help it last through the last of iteration. I used culture and employment branding when I explained to people what I did, but the way that I thought about it was actually two questions. I like questions as a way to define jobs because I think no matter how much the world moves around you in scaling companies, the question still needs to be answered.

So my two questions at Facebook in HR were, “How do we help the world outside?” Know what it’s like to work at Facebook, which is essentially what employment branding is. This was just, to be clear at the time, we were deeply unwilling to use the word “hacker”. So we were like, “We can’t use that word. It has too many negative connotations.” We’re entrepreneurial, and we learn fast. I wrote a bunch of really boring shit that makes me go to sleep when I read it now. Then the second question was, “Who do we want to be when we grow up?” Which is a question that Mark actually gave me during one of our conversations. So that was the internal kind of culture side.

But employment branding, [Lori Gore 00:08:38], her background at eBay was marketing. She was very focused on like how are we going to market Facebook as a place to work. At the time we were, and still are, heavily competitive with Google but just nobody thought Facebook was going to … it’s hard to remember now. Nobody thought Facebook was going to be anything. They were like, “Why aren’t you just going to sell to Microsoft?” Because they had just done that big deal and all these rumors … they had just had a big advertising fiasco called Beacon, so people just thought it was going to … we were having trouble recruiting candidates. That was a big effort to just kind of help people understand why-

DG: Tell the story about why … yeah, why come here? What are you going to get out of it? What are you going to be?

DC: I think it’s funny. It’s always funny to hear those stories … because everyone forgets about that.

Molly: Oh yeah.

DC: Yeah, yeah.

Molly: Oh yeah.

DC: No one ever thought it was going to be anything.

Molly: Oh yeah, no and I think … that’s actually often when I talk to scaling companies one of my biggest points which is it looks really well put together today, but my entire experience at Facebook, and I think almost everyone that was there just generally, would say it never felt like it was going to … it was obvious that it was going to be this [crosstalk 00:09:44] successful. Yeah, totally.

DC: Yeah, so the key lesson is … and if you … this bias comes from a famous video that I always talk about. Well, it’s actually just famous to me. Like no one actually watches it. But the video is by Charlie Munger, a man I admire. Great. It’s about human misjudgment. In it, he talks about this one thing which is liking/loving tendency. He calls it a tendency. You could look at this in [Cialdini 00:10:20] work-

DG: Yes.

DC: On Influence. One of our favorite books. The important lesson here in liking bias is this, that most of us only want to learn from people that we like, or that we want to be around. This is one of the … It took me a long time to learn this one, this is one of the biggest roadblocks to growth because guess what? There aren’t that many people in the world who are perfect.

DG: Yeah.

DC: There is no one who’s perfect. If you’re going to wait around until someone’s perfect, until you like them, until they have the right experience set then learn from them, that’s going to be a short list. You’re going to be waiting a long time.

DG: You know sometimes I’ll talk about the old Uncle Charlie Munger. Not me, the old … [crosstalk 00:11:05] Your old uncle.

DC: Yeah, yeah, the old, old uncle.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Charlie Munger.


DC: When people were like, “I’m not an investor. I don’t care about investing.”

DG: Sure. I don’t want to be a billionaire.

DC: That’s not what we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean you can’t learning something from that person. Or, “I’m not an athlete. I don’t plan to go do the Olympics.” No, but you can learn something from their journey and how they were able to grow.

DC: All right. This is an important one that I always harp on.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Which is that everything counts.

DG: Everything.

DC: Everything counts, right? Every move you make. The way you carry yourself. Every piece of communication. The way that you organize the studio. All of the things. The way you organize your office. The way you organize your day. Like, all of these things count and they say something about you to your team. These are the subtle clues that people pick up on and they will follow you.

DG: This is one that I had to learn, for example, just to make it more personal, which is like okay we had a different conversation. I had a different conversation with you throughout my progression over the last couple of years, which was like, “Okay, you want to be Director? Here’s what this means now.” Then you’d say stuff like, “Oh you’re a Director now. That means you can’t do this.” Then the next shift was like, “Oh you’re a VP now. That means this.” I was like, “Why the hell does he always say that?” When you read this, this is exactly [crosstalk 00:12:19] how everything you do reflects on the people that work for you.

DG: If you want to show other people on your team what management and leadership looks like, you have to be able to model that yourself and that doesn’t just happen at 2:00 p.m. when we’re in a meeting, but that’s 8:15 if I see you out on the sidewalk. That’s 7:00 at night at a bar, or wherever, right? That stuff has to go through all levels, which is if somebody only sees you from nine to five as this professional person, but then you have after work stuff, President’s Club, all this other nonsense [crosstalk 00:12:44] right? You always say this to me, which is, “Perception is reality.”

DC: Yes. Yes. And played to the position that you want. So if you want to be in a new role, or if you have taken on a new role, the level of responsibility as the great Jay-Z would say, “The streets are watching.”

DG: The streets are watching.

DC: Okay.

DG: Yeah.

DC: What that means is that your team and the people around are watching you for cues of how they’re supposed to act now.

DG: Yeah.

DC: And so how they’re supposed to carry themselves. They are doing something that we’ve always talked about, which is they’re looking to you because they want to model the stuff that you’re doing and reproduce it. So if you’re modeling bad behavior that’s what they’re going to model because they’re going to think bad behavior equals getting me in the same role.

DG: 100%. And in the same vein of that, he also said, “A manager’s output equals the output of his organization plus the output of the neighboring organizations under his influence.”

DC: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DG: Okay.

DC: See? It all has been written.

DG: Explain that.

DC: It’s been written.

DG: Explain that.

DC: This is the Bible. It’s been written.

DG: Explain that.

DC: What this means is that … and this is why I care so much about all the details across the team. It’s not only with single team, and how they carry themselves that sets the tone for the group, or the company, or the greater team. But it’s all those teams and other role models, peer groups, we call them peer groups, that you are surrounding yourself that actually model behavior as well. So even if you have a great running team and you’re modeling good behavior, if you associate yourself or if your company lets other peer groups model bad behavior, then your team is going to average down to those people around you.

DG: I think you also have to be … you say this a lot, which is like, “The secret to getting promoted is to not just do 100% of your job.”

DC: No.

DG: 100% doesn’t get you promoted.

DC: No, 100% is your job.

DG: 100% is your job. This to me means you want to be great. You have to show you could influence other teams, right?

DC: Yes.

DG: Because if you’re this great marketing leader but all you can do is influence the people in marketing, how far are you going to make it? You’ve got to influence sales, customer success, product, all those people.

DC: 100%. One thing, I’m going to give you a little bonus for all you listeners out there, don’t forget to leave a six star rating-

DG: Sure.

DC: After you hear this bonus. The simplest way that you can go about by identifying which builds on this principle is the future leaders in your organization. Get your pens out. Get ready.

DG: Yes.

DC: Here’s how: Look, observe your company and observe the team. Look toward the people, and the desks that people naturally congregate around. That is your next wave of leader. So if you have people on your team who are yet not leaders, but people go to them all the time to get information, to hang around their desks asking questions-

DG: That’s a next level one.

DC: That’s next level judo.

DG: Yeah, that’s like the water test. That’s real good.

DC: That’s a six star rating worthy right there.

DG: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

DC: If they naturally go over there, that is your secret tell. That person probably is exhibiting leadership ability without having the role yet, so might want to double down on those people within your team. Those are your natural born leaders.

DG: Okay. How’s that?

DC: Six star ratings only.

DG: The secret tell to finding your next great manager.

DC: Look at this. Look at this, guys. Right, we give him all the words.

DG: Come on, the secret to … That’s it, we’re going to have … That’s going to be separate.

DC: Okay.

DG: That’s pretty damn good. Okay.

DC: Sometimes I give too much.

DG: Ultimately, you do [crosstalk 00:16:08]-

DC: Sometimes.

DG: It’s okay. It’s a give, give, give, give.

DC: Give.

DG: And then sometimes ask. [crosstalk 00:16:11] They ask. They have the flip.

DC: Yeah.

DG: I don’t want to give all the tips because we want you to go read this book. But there’s a couple which is like saying yes means saying no to something else.

DC: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DG: Default to no.

DC: Yes.

DG: One of the decision making exercises that I’ve learned and observed from working with you, DC, is you always do this thing where you lay out before you make a decision, you lay out the guardrails.

DC: Yes.

DG: And say, “I don’t know what the decision is, but let’s lay out the guardrails.” Okay. We’re doing hyper growth.

DC: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

DG: We want it to feel like this. We want it to be this many people minimum. We want it to be this.

DC: Yep.

DG: Then from there we can start to figure out how we make the decision or … you’ve also done … I’ve seen you and Alias do this, is what are the things that we’re saying no to?

DC: Yes. Most important.

DG: Right now. And that’s invert.

DC: Invert. That’s one of the hardest things because we all, especially myself and Alias, love saying yes to everything-

DG: Yeah.

DC: But we have to start by saying no. That’s why we believe so much in the book, The One Thing, why we give it out to every person who starts that drift, because you have to figure out what are the real big rocks, what’s the inverse of that which are what are the things that you’re saying no to today.

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