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Creative Culture Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive: What It Takes To Create A Thriving Organization, Chapter 1

I’m very pleased to share, exclusively for this podcast, the first chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization. The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it out in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt. Subscribe and listen to The Robin Zander Show for the full chapter!

 

On the Shoulders of Giants

Responsive has been built on a community of which I am just a single member.

I am grateful to the six people wrote the Responsive Org manifesto, and began a movement: Adam Pisoni, Aaron Dignan, Matthew Partovi, Mike Arauz, Steve Hopkins and Alexis Gonzales-Black. They put words to a problem faced by organizations today and gave us a language to describe the challenges and tensions that have long existed in the workplace.

I would not have written this book without the friendship of Steve Hopkins, who taught me how to run an un-conference, and the handful of collaborators with whom I produced my first Responsive events.

I’m indebted to the fifty-plus leaders who I’ve interviewed on my podcast, The Robin Zander Show, who described big ideas like non-hierarchy and holacracy in simple language and gave me hope that I could write a book to do the same.

 

How To Use This Book

My career path has never followed a traditional route. My first job out of college was as a management consultant, with a gig as a circus performer nights and weekends. Of course, I couldn’t tell the consulting company that I was in the circus, but I also couldn’t admit to my fellow circus artists that I wore a suit to work. I am not content to live in such a binary world. I want to live in a world that encourages the full expression of every individual, and I am dedicated to building it. Improving the ways we work seems like a great place to start.

Responsive is a compilation of tactics and accompanying short stories about innovators on the front lines of the future of work. It is designed to be a choose-your-own-adventure exploration into how we work in the modern era, the approaches and perspectives employed by high performing organizations, and what makes those methods so effective.

While this book can be read cover to cover, I have designed it so that you can jump to those sections most interesting or relevant to you right now. Ultimately Responsive is intended as a reference guide as much as a road map—a resource you can return to again and again as you dive deeper into Responsive and the future of work.

 

A Responsive Café

I have a vested interest in discovering what works for myself and my small team. Throughout this book, I’ll share stories about my small business, a coffee shop in San Francisco, where I work with my ten-person staff to serve coffee and avocado toast and to build community.

I founded “Robin’s Café” in late April 2016, with no prior experience as a restaurateur but armed with a clear purpose: to foster a nascent community that I knew could exist in our corner of San Francisco. We had exactly three weeks from inception to opening day, so, unsurprisingly, our first week of operations was a mess. Attendees of a conference I had organized on site wanted to support the café, creating a bona fide lunch rush on our very first day.

In those early weeks, we were a team of four, often making up recipes on the spot to cover orders. I look back on those times now, after having a tough day, and realize that no matter how terrible things might seem, it will never be as chaotic and insane as those first few weeks.

We desperately needed additional staff. One day, a man named Frank quietly dropped off his resume during our usual morning rush. I was up to my elbows managing an exploding keg of cold brew. But even in the midst of a coffee emergency, it quickly became clear that Frank was professional, playful, and knowledgeable about the food service industry. I hired him, and he soon became indispensable at the café.

On May 20, 2016, Frank had been scheduled to open the café. Around 9:30 a.m., I got a call that Frank hadn’t shown up. “Was he sick?” I wondered. I checked to see if he’d sent me any messages, but there were none. I called him, but it went to voicemail. A week later, I sent an email, mostly in jest, with the subject, “Are you still alive?” The staff and I just assumed that Frank became a “no call, no show,” something not uncommon in the service industry. Frank’s cutting contact was a simple case of job abandonment. Still, it somehow didn’t seem like Frank, and I wanted to make sure he was okay. I tracked down his brother on social media and messaged him. I heard nothing for several days.

Then, out of the blue, Frank’s brother called me. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” I remember him saying, “My brother is dead. He was hit and killed by a train.” In that moment of shock, while I digested what I’d just heard, Frank’s brother went on: “I want you to know how happy he was to be working at Robin’s Café.”

Frank’s death is a constant reminder to me of how truly transient and changeable business—and life—can be. As a small business owner in those first few weeks, I had to be resilient, not just in my response to Frank’s death, but to be able to mentor and support those at our café and in the community who knew him. I was determined to build into the ethos of our organization this realization that circumstances can change in an instant. I wanted my team to be resilient when times got tough and grateful for the days when work felt more like play. I like to think that in some way this commitment to resilience and good humor is a small homage to Frank.

That same ethos is what has compelled me to write this book and to share just some of the ways that ground-breaking organizations and individuals are exploring human-centered work. This book is an invitation to see the value of Responsive approaches and bring them into your organization as fits your vision and culture.

If you’ve enjoyed Chapter 1 of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

Categories
Creative Learning Podcast Responsive

Revolutionizing Education with Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black

I am so excited for today’s interview with two guests. Today we are speaking with Anthony Kim (@Anthonx), the founder and CEO of Education Elements, as well as Alexis Gonzales-Black (@Gonzalesblack), a former guest on the podcast and speaker at Responsive Conference.

We are here today to talk about their new book, The New School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools. I had a blast conducting this interview and sitting down with them, and I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Show Notes

1:30 How Anthony and Alexis met
4:30 Holacracy at Education Elements
7:00 Check ins and check outs
9:00 Balancing tensions
12:15 Assumptions versus known facts
14:15 Alexis’ background in education
15:30 Recruitment and retention
17:45 Inefficient processes in education
24:00 Team of teams autonomy
27:15 Tailor Responsive concepts to fit your personal teams
30:00 Sharing information transparently
32:30 School structures have not revolutionized enough
36:00 The New School Rules book structure
38:00 Planning and predicting
42:15 How to make change with mini experiments
45:15 Creating better work conditions for teachers
49:30 Safe enough to try
52:30 Contact Alexis and Anthony:
Website: The New School Rules
Amazon: The New School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools – If you like the book, please leave a review!
Linkedin: Alexis and Anthony
Twitter: Alexis, Anthony, The New School Rules
Anthony’s Website: Education Elements
Alexis’ Website: Thoughtful Org

If you enjoyed this interview you’ll also enjoy my first interview with Alexis Gonzales-Black, where we discussed her backstory, rolling out Holacracy at Zappos and much more.

And, don’t forget, tickets are on sale now for Responsive Conference 2018 – where both Alexis and Anthony will be onstage!

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Creative Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Writing

Pam Slim on Capoeira, Building a Body of Work, and the Value of Small Business

 

My guest today is the award-winning author, speaker and small business strategist Pamela Slim (@pamslim).

I first began following Pam’s work with the publication of her first book, Escape from Cubicle Nation, and have watched with enthusiasm as she has transitioned over her career across several very different industries and classes of business.

Her latest, bestselling book, Body of Work, gives a fresh perspective on skills required in the new world of work for people in all work modes, from corporate to nonprofit to small business.

As the founder of K’é in downtown Mesa, Arizona, she now supports small businesses through classes, networking events, and virtual programs.

As the owner of a small cafe in the San Francisco Mission, I was very interested to hear Pam thoughts on why small business is not only necessary but also a great place to build within, with enormous potential.

We discuss a trait that Pam has embodied throughout her career, which I think of as being a lifelong learner or autodidact – and what Pam calls being a multipotentialite.

Pam will be speaking at the 2nd Annual Responsive Conference on Sept. 18-19th 2017 in NYC. I hope you enjoy this interview and hope you’ll consider joining us!

Show Notes

03:00 Capoeira
06:30 Lessons learned from Capoeira
09:30 Pam’s move to Mesa, Arizona – Pam mentions the film “Dolores” by Peter Bratt
14:15 Small business is sexy
18:30 Tactical learning
21:30 Work mode
27:30 Different aspects of self
29:30 Pam’s time in college studying in Mexico and Columbia
33:00 Having multiple career choices – Pam mentions How to Be Everything by Emilie Wapnick and her TED Talk
36:00 Body of Work in practice
38:30 Characteristics of Pam’s Incubator
41:00 Building networks
44:00 Growing small, innovative businesses in small, unexpected locations
49:15 New cities becoming hubs
52:00 Enjoying the process
55:00 Pam’s physical practice
57:45 Learn more about Pam:

Pam’s Website

2nd Annual Responsive Conference

58:30 Parting thoughts

If you enjoyed this episode with Pam Slim, I think you will enjoy the 2nd Annual Responsive Conference this September 18-19th in New York City. 

 

Could you do me a favor? If you’ve enjoyed the Robin Zander Show, I would really appreciate a review on iTunes. Reviews help others find the podcast, and more importantly let me know that you’re enjoying what you’re hearing. Thank you!

You can also keep track of the podcast and all of my projects via my newsletter. Just visit RobinPZander.com and click Newsletter.

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Creative Entrepreneurship Physical Performance Podcast Writing

Jenny Blake on Fear, Physical Routines and Learning to Pivot

 

Today’s guest is my friend Jenny Blake (@jenny_blake) an author, career and business strategist and speaker who helps people organize their brain, and build sustainable, dynamic careers. She is the author of PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One and led a workshop at the 1st annual Responsive Conference in September 2016.

Jenny combines her love of technology with her superpower of simplifying complexity to help clients pivot their career or business.

Jenny is brilliant at building simple systems which delegate responsibility and automating decision making. We break down what that means early on in the interview! and she shares a lot of specific personal examples.

We discuss her regular yoga practice, and how a physical routine have helped her build a sustainable career.

Jenny and I also discuss fear, a theme embedded throughout her book PIVOT. We discuss where fear has impacted her business and her personal life, and how she thinks about tackling those.

Whether for an organization or person looking to PIVOT, or just for tactics for simplifying decision making – and life – I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jenny Blake!

Show Notes

02:30 Finding systems
06:15 Explaining systems and delegation
12:15 Jenny’s flow and new book PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One
14:00 Robin’s flow
17:15 Writing
20:00 Jenny’s trends for writing: Toolkit
22:30 Jenny’s family
25:30 Jenny’s desire for teaching and business as a child
28:00 Jenny’s physical practices
29:30 Fear
33:00 Jenny’s relationship
36:00 Fear in physical activities: muay thai and surfing
42:30 Personal responsibility:

Loving What Is by Byron Katie
The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

44:30 Jenny’s coaching
47:30 What’s next for Jenny:

Building Pivot

50:30 What’s next for Robin:

2nd Annual Responsive Conference
Robin’s Cafe
Leadership Retreats

53:00 Find Jenny:

Pivotmethod.com
Toolkit – for authors
Pivot Podcast


If you enjoyed this episode with Jenny Blake, I think you will enjoy the 2nd Annual Responsive Conference this September 18-19th in New York City. 

 

Could you do me a favor? If you’ve enjoyed the Robin Zander Show, I would really appreciate a review on iTunes. Reviews help others find the podcast, and more importantly let me know that you’re enjoying what you’re hearing. Thank you!

You can also keep track of the podcast and all of my projects via my newsletter. Just visit RobinPZander.com and click Newsletter.

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Entrepreneurship Podcast Writing

Steve Scott: Authority on Publishing, Writing 60+ Books, and More

steve_scott_mep-940x646

My guest today, Steve Scott (@stevescott1), is an authority on self-publishing. Steve is an extraordinarily prolific writer, author, and Internet entrepreneur.

Steve has published 60+ books on Amazon, several of which made the difference for me to publish my first book start writing and publishing. I first learned about Steve Scott from an interview he did on the James Altucher podcast in 2014, and have Steve to thank for the publication of my own first book “How to Do a Handstand,” which went on to be a National Bestseller in Japan.

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Practical Philosophy

The Best of Robin’s Reading List from 2014

In 2014 I’ve read more books than in any previous year of my life. That includes the Reed College humanities curriculum, which is just ridiculous. I chalk up the depth and breadth of my reading to the combination of my  infra-red sauna, Amazon Prime, and the fact that I’ve been writing. These are some of my favorite books, and miscellaneous media, from 2014.

2014-11-30 13.42.16

A Fighter’s Heart – A must read for anyone who has tried a martial art and everyone on the other end of the spectrum who has asked the question “why fight.”

Apollo’s Angels – Your primer in the history of ballet. Also, a national bestseller..

Average Is Over – Read this book! Think of it as an investment in your future. The best future-thinking and economics book I’ve read in many years.

Daily Rituals: How Artist Work – A series of short epitaphs looking at the daily habits of artists, writers, and scientists.

Flow – The book that popularized the term. Now its time to understand what flow really is and where to find it.

Fluent in 3 Months – Fascinating tools, applicable for learning a language and for learning anything else with great rapidity

How To Do A Handstand – I wrote my first book this year, which has since become a Japanese National Bestseller.

The Moment with Brian Koppelman – A podcast explore creativity, presence, the arts, and more.

The Monkey Wrench Gang – A classic which is responsible for my love affair with the desert. Also useful if you’re feeling a bit rebellious.

The Morning Pages – This workbook is the most useful tool I’ve discovered for unearthing obstacles. I think of it as a tool for getting my crazy out on a page, so I can spend more time doing productive work.

The Number of the Beast – Heinlein is responsible for coining the term “grok” and the “Heinlein” crater on the moon. This book is a wild romp through time, space, and mathematics.

The Obstacle Is the Way – No nonsense Stoic advise from throughout history on getting through the rough spots.

Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit – Dance choreographer Twyla Tharp tackles the question how to be more creative, more regular, more diligent and more productive. Hard work, clear thinking, and a lot of sweat. The specific tools in this book are invaluable.

Well Fed – Whether you’ve considered the Paleo diet, read cookbooks for pleasure (inconceivable to me), or just want to talk about food this is among the best.

I hope you enjoy whichever of these books catch your eye. Each has served me well in 2014, and I’m looking forward to many more discoveries in 2015. On a related note, if you’re interested in a similar exploration into a diverse array of topics, try my Learning List emails.

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Writing

Books I’m Reading This November

This month I’ve been reading several amazing books. “Flourish” is the new term a world-famous happiness research is calling a set of criterion which describe a person’s well-being. Mieville continues to describe complex and beautiful worlds unlike our own, yet intriguingly similar. And Richard Branson is himself – extraordinary…

Just a few new books (Photo: Natalia Osiatynska)

On a flight from New York to San Francisco I read a fair portion of Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being by Martin Seligman. This exceptional psychologist has spent more than 40 years researching behavior and emotion using everything from rats pressing levers to reforming a private British school into a Happiness University. Seligman now researches what he calls “flourishing” which consists of several factors that make up the well-being of a human. In this exceptional book he describes the development of his research and teaching at University of Pennsylvania and provides a wide variety of extraordinary tools that his readers can begin to apply immediately to improve their own lives.

Note: my favorite of these is his gratitude training exercise. Seligman has conducted extensive longitudinal research proving that as little as three statements of gratitude written per day dramatically increase positive outlook on life. What are you grateful for?

I have recently started China Mieville latest work of speculative fiction Embassytown. As always, I am amazed at Mieville’s unique capacity to draw his audience into a world recognizable and alarmingly different from our own. His landscapes are beautiful, rich, and compelling. His characters tell the story of their worlds through the narrative of their lives. Embassytown is a compelling addition to Mieville bibliography – hauntingly beautiful and more relevant to our lives than the made up world initially appears.

Another favorite this month is Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson billionaire, entrepreneur, and passionate Brit.  Branson is the founder of the Virgin group (which includes the airline Virgin America and the Virgin record label, among many others). Losing My Virginity tells the story of Branson’s life from his earliest days founding the magazine Student through the birth of the Virgin records and into the modern day. Richard Branson’s humor and fun loving spirit pervade and make this story of one man’s success fun to read and useful to learn from for all.

Hope you enjoy these!