A few weeks ago, I sat down with Michael Roderick to discuss brand strategy and his work around creating “referrable brands.” This conversation covers a wide range of topics related to brand strategy, including his AIM model which stands for Accessibility, Influence, and Memory. We apply this framework to a variety of business examples, including my own efforts at Zander Media. I hope you enjoy!
In this episode, my friend, Daniel Stillman, interviews me for his podcast, The Conversation Factory. We discuss how to ask better questions, the value of loving, non- judgmental questions, and my story.
I hope you enjoy today’s podcast as Daniel flips the script and interviews me on the art of asking questions.
Larissa Conte is a systems coach, ceremony designer, and rites of passage guide through her business, Wayfinding. She also works with The Ready doing organization transformation to fuel the future of work. Larissa specializes in facilitating transformation and alignment across scales to foster power that serves.
With deep experience in the energetics and mechanics of transformation, Larissa helps individuals and groups develop refined sensing and listening, shed what no longer serves, and dynamically steward greater creative energy in their lives and companies. Her work weaves 10+ years of experience in the diverse fields of leadership coaching, organizational culture consulting, ecosystems science, strategy design, holistic healing/wellness, ceremony, somatic intimacy coaching, and wilderness survival. She’s worked with hundreds of leaders across startups and the Fortune 100, and is based in San Francisco.
As change agents, within or outside of organizations, attendees of Responsive Conference are those most responsible for other’s transformation. Onstage at this year’s conference, Larissa will invite us to consider our own blind spots, and the taboos we are failing to address that keep us from doing our best work.
Show Notes 3:00 Thinking and sensing 7:30 Physical injuries and emotional challenges
9:45 Wayfinding 13:00 Moved by feeling 17:30 Minimum amount of challenge for maximum change 19:15 Rite of passage 23:45 Larissa’s personal rituals 26:30 Beginnings and endings 30:00 Closing a meeting 31:15 What is going on culturally 36:30 Tensions coming to the surface 42:00 Unique voice
I hope you enjoy this talk from Responsive Conference 2016 with former Navy SEAL and New York Times best-selling author Chris Fussell (@fussellchris) alongside Rachel Mendelowitz (@rachelowitz) as they discuss “Team of Teams” and new ways of organizing companies of the future.
Alongside General Stan McChrystal, Chris runs the McChrystal Group – an organizational design consultancy that works with companies all over the world to do in industry what Stan, Chris and the US Military did during the Iraq War. In the book Teams of Teams, Stanley McChrystal and Chris outline how they took the special operations branch of the US Military – a stereotypically bureaucratic organization – and transformed it into a adaptive, agile system.
This video was recorded at the 1st Annual Responsive Conference in 2016.
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.
This video was recorded live at the 1st Annual Responsive Conference in 2016. Come see Adam Pisoni live again this year at the 3rd Annual Responsive Conference on September 24 and 25, 2018 in Queens, New York.
Adam Pisoni (@adampisoni) co-founded Yammer (which sold to Microsoft for 1.2 billion dollars). He recounts how he learned about about Conway’s law. “At Yammer, we believed in rapid product iteration. Once we realized the organizational structure was part of the product, we then had to believe in rapid organization iteration.” The engineering mantra at Yammer became: “We’re not smarter than other people. We just iterate faster.”
This insight led Adam to recognize that he and the engineering and product teams at Yammer were not just building a product but building a company (at least, if they were going to be effective). He began to investigate what it would mean not just to rapidly iterate on Yammer’s product but to iterate the organization’s structure itself.
In other words, he began to explore whether Yammer could become more Responsive. What Adam was clear on, was that their product didn’t exist in isolation. Yammer, as a communication platform for enterprise businesses, was particularly well placed to recognize the challenges of the current working world. Eventually, Adam put these thoughts into a manifesto and shared them with CEOs and C-level executives. The response was an enthusiastic affirmation of their ideas. The result of this thinking led Adam to co-found the Responsive Org movement.
Experiments in Education
Adam realized the education system in North America is largely still reliant on an assembly-model way of teaching and thinking. Consider the structure of most schools: there are grades, segregated by age; there are alarm bells which tell students when to move from one classroom to the next. The most common form of learning is to passively sit and absorb lectured lessons.
More subtly, subjects are taught according to a linear progression. Math education in the United States, for example, moves from algebra, to geometry, to advanced algebra, to precalculus, to calculus. This progression to trains students to think about math in a way that only entrenches a hierarchical, linear view of how to how the world works. School in the 21st Century is still designed to produce people to work in factories.
Adam was bold enough to tackle revitalizing the education system, by optimizing administrators’ time and budgets. He founded Abl Schools, a collaborative platform for administrators and teachers. Abl has re-envisioned how principals relate with their teachers and facilities and how schools use their time. The idea is to help schools better manage the day-to-day to be able to achieve its educational goals, starting with the company’s first product, a cloud-based master scheduler.
Exciting possibilities emerge when we reconsider even behemoth institutions like the U.S. education system and experiment with new approaches that leverage technology and new models of collaborating. What is necessary, is the willingness to experiment.
A Diverse Founding Team
Adam Pisoni has been open about the challenges of creating diversity in founding his company Abl Schools. He writes:
“If your founding team is homogenous, it will likely develop a narrow culture which is well suited for that narrow group of people. That culture won’t be as self-aware of the lack of inclusion in the culture, but it will feel inclusive for everyone within the tight knit founding team. As new employees with different backgrounds join, they will be more likely to reject or be rejected from the culture than to add to it. While you may be celebrating how strong a culture and tight a team you have, you may also be unaware of the ways you’re actually reminding that new employee that they don’t belong.”
While there is a lot of conversation about fostering an inclusive company culture, very few Silicon Valley companies have an equal gender split between male and female employees, and even fewer have women or underrepresented groups at the highest levels of leadership.
As Adam explains, this doesn’t actually mean teams of straight white men can’t produce great companies. He argues: “I believe diverse founding teams can produce better outcomes. A team of white men can come up with good ideas. But I believe a diverse team can come up with better ones.” The curiosity and perseverance Adam has demonstrated at Abl Schools is an example of what can be done in any number of genres by founders just starting out.
If you enjoyed this episode of the Robin Zander Show, you might also enjoy hearing me and Adam in conversation, recorded at the Responsive book launch party last November.
At Responsive Conference 2018, Adam will be joined onstage by Anthony Kim (Founder, Education Elements) to dive deeply into the problems facing our current educational practices, and what can be done to improve them.
I’m pleased to share this talk at Responsive Conference 2017 with Steve Hopkins (@stevehopkins), Director of Customer Success at Culture Amp and a founding member of the Responsive Org movement.
Steve is passionate about helping clients develop a responsive operating culture that they can be proud of. At Culture Amp, Steve does this by guiding clients through successful culture change programs using the Culture Amp HR and People Analytics platform.
I’m pleased to share this keynote address by my friend Aaron Dignan (@aarondignan), founder of The Ready, at Responsive Conference 2017.
Aaron Dignan sees the same phenomenon everywhere he looks. Our most trusted and important institutions – in business, healthcare, government, philanthropy, and beyond – are struggling. They’re confronted with the fact that the scale and bureaucracy that once made them strong are liabilities in an era of constant change.
Aaron is the founder of The Ready and a founding member of the Responsive Org movement.
This talk was recorded live at the 2nd Annual Responsive Conference in September 2017. We’re gearing up for Responsive Conference 2018, and excited to have The Ready leading an interactive Teaming simulation.
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.
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.
Organizing events is a community effort, especially events as open to interpretation as an un-conference. I first sat down with a small group interested in Responsive Org events in 2015. Of that initial group Steve Hopkins was a founding member of the Responsive Org movement, Dori Rutkevitz was an active organizer in the related Reinventing Organizations community, and all of us were enthusiastic to learn more. Steve’s initial proposal to organize an un-conference was met with enthusiastic support by everyone at the table, followed promptly by “What’s an Un-conference?”
In the two years following that first meeting, I have produced and directed more than a dozen un-conferences and several more formal events. This short article is the playbook I wish I’d had when I began organizing events.
What is an Un-conference
An un-conference is any event where the agenda is set by those who attend. The rules of an un-conference are simple:
Rule #1: Whoever shows up are the right people
Rule #2: Whatever happens is fine
Rule #3: Whenever it starts is the right time
Rule #4: It is over when it’s over
In less flowery language this just means ditch expectation and don’t try to control the experience.
Flow of the Day
After attendees arrive, an empty conference agenda is posted on the wall with time slots and a variety of meeting spaces. Leaders share a theme or question they would like to discuss and post it in a time slot. If you post a topic, it is your responsibility to turn up to that session and introduce your topic or question. If you are not hosting a session, you are free to attend whichever of the sessions you are interested in.
Attendees are encouraged to adopt any of a number of roles:
Leader — who is facilitating each breakout
Scribe — is someone responsible for taking notes for each group
Nomads — give attendees permission to move between break-outs
The Law of Two Feet
Everyone at an un-conference is encouraged to practice the law of two feet. The law of two feet says that if you become uninterested at any point, you are encouraged to leave and join another session. In an un-conference you are also invited to take breaks at any time, with the idea that it is sometimes in the breaks that the ‘A-ha’ moments arrive.
Roles & Responsibilities
There are three main components necessary to a successful event — recruiting, production, and a strong facilitator.
A Word on Recruiting
In my experience, it is helpful to have an extended network to help with recruiting, not just a single person. All other logistics can be handled by a single person.
Among the organizers, someone has to be in charge of logistics, including:
— Venue sourcing and on-going communication
— Setting the date
— Attendee arrival emails
— Day-of logistics
A strong facilitator can make or break any event, but especially one with as fluid an agenda as an un-conference. Facilitator on the day of the event. It is essential to have one strong facilitator overseeing each un-conference, to welcome attendees and provide context for the event.
How to Facilitate an Un-Conference
Here are some tips, most learned the hard way over hundreds of hours of practice in the last two years.
1. Stay Centered
Despite having spent a fair amount of time on stage, I found myself getting nervous and feeling rushed in the hours leading up to a day-long un-conference. My single biggest piece of advice for a facilitator is to arrive with plenty of time to spare so you won’t feel rushed. You are responsible for the framework within which the attendee experience takes place. As such, staying grounded and centered is the single most important thing you can provide, even though in the moment it may feel like it is more important to make sure the space is set up or the coffee is ready.
2. Don’t Participate
This one might seem odd. It can seem like the entire point of organizing an event is to participate. In my experience, doing so decreases the ease with which I was able to coordinate new sessions, lead an end-of-day wrap-up, and refocus attendees when necessary.
In my view, the facilitator of the un-conference is there in service to the attendees. I have found it gets in the way of the attendee experience to actively participate in sessions and workshops that occur throughout the day.
The facilitator should practice before the beginning of the un-conference. Review these guidelines for a successful un-conference and be able to describe un-conference rules from memory. Practice your welcome speech.
4. Incorporate movement
I have always found it very useful to incorporate movement into events. When we have short periods of movement interspersed with other kinds of learning, we shortcut the passive sit-and-absorb tendencies we all learned through the education system, and which have carried over into most events. Read this article on the importance of movement within events.
Events are a lot of work, and sometime I have learned to produce of necessity. However, in this hyperactive digital age, I’m convinced of the value of what Tony Hsieh calls “spontaneous collisions” — the value of people spontaneously cross paths. If you’re considering putting on an event of your own, I encourage you to do so. When we create a container — an event or gathering — we create the opportunity for emergent possibilities to fill the open space.
This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at Robin’s Cafe with Adam Pisoni, co-founder and former CTO at Yammer, co-founder of the Responsive Org movement, and founder and CEO at Abl Schools.
In conversation from stage and then Q&A with the audience, we discussed founding Yammer, the Responsive Org movement, and his efforts at Abl Schools to revitalize the U.S.education system. Exciting possibilities emerge when we reconsider that even behemoth institutions like the U.S. education system can become Responsive!
While there is a lot of conversation about fostering an inclusive company culture, very few Silicon Valley companies have an equal gender split between male and female employees, and even fewer have women or underrepresented groups at the highest levels of leadership.
We will explore the challenges and lessons learned at Abl Schools, and tactics any founder can apply in the effort to build a Responsive organization.
4:00 Intentions 7:00 Yammer and Conway’s Law 10:00 Starting Responsive Org 11:45 Theory of Responsive 13:30 Challenges of these changes 16:00 Iterate in the shape of your organization 18:00 Adam mentions:
19:15 Adams transition to education 21:30 Mindsets 24:30 Dropping out of high school 26:30 Education limitations 30:00 Diverse founding teams – podcast and article 36:15 Social emotional skills 40:00 Responsive Org tensions 46:45 Balancing success and time with experimentation 51:30 Egos and fear of failure 53:30 Integrative decision making 57:30 Value of experience 1:01:00 Diversity 1:04:45 Abl’s work in public schools 1:07:30 Measuring impact 1:10:00 Playing with boundaries of leadership and structure 1:15:00 Hiring that focuses on diversity 1:20:00 Purpose of diversity 1:24:30 VC’s reporting on diversity of companies they fund 1:26:15 Robin’s Book: Responsive: What It Takes to Create A Thriving Organization
Don’t forget to give a listen to my first podcast with Adam Pisoni, as well.
My guest today is former Navy SEAL and New York Times best-selling author Chris Fussell (@fussellchris).
Chris is the co-author of Team of Teams and was a speaker at the 1st Annual Responsive conference in September 2016. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Chris over the last year.
Alongside General Stan McChrystal, Chris runs the McChrystal Group – an organizational design consultancy that works with companies all over the world to do in industry what Stan, Chris and the US Military did during the Iraq War. In the book Teams of Teams Stanley McChrystal and Chris outline how they took the special operations branch of the US Military – a stereotypically bureaucratic organization – and transformed it into a adaptive, agile system.
Chris’s new book is called One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams. In it, he outlines the tactics and tools they used during the Iraq War, and are now teaching in larger organizations. In reading the book, I’ve enjoyed tactics like their multiple-thousand person daily video conference, and the emphasis placed on how to build an underlying narrative throughout an organization of diverse and distributed teams.
In this interview, Chris and I also dig deep into what it meant for him to be a Navy SEAL, his upbringing and family, how he and his wife maintained contacted their relationship while he was deployed overseas, and how he thinks of an emphasis on what he calls “physical readiness” happening in cycles throughout life. Chris and I went pretty personally into a lot of aspects of his life in the service that I’ve always wanted to ask about.
Over the time I’ve known Chris, I’ve been really impressed. He’s unflappable, but also humble. He presents solutions to some of the most complex problems facing organizations today, but also talks candidly about challenge and what is need for transformation – whether a single person changing their mindset, or an entire organization changing their operating system.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Here is… Chris Fussell.
3:30 Team of Teams and the military 8:30 Navy SEALs 11:30 Chris’s upbringing and training 14:30 Going through BUD/S 16:30 Early experiences as a SEALs 19:30 Being humble and good at listening 26:00 Chris’s remote relationship 33:15 Physical practice 39:30 Outlets 42:30 Closing down emotion 46:30 Transition back to family life 50:00 One Mission 57:30 Operations and Intelligence Forums
He spent the first season of his business career in the manufacturing sector, principally with The Morning Star Company of Sacramento, California. In addition to being a world leader in the food industry, the Morning Star Company is known for being a completely self-managed organization, which we discuss in the interview.
Doug now engages with the Morning Star Self-Management Institute and other vibrant organizations and leaders to co-create the future of management.
I asked Doug to come on to the podcast because he has more experience than most with non-hierarchical organizations and I appreciate the philosophical underpinnings that shape his thinking.
“This is what the future of work looks like – we just have to figure out how to talk about it.”
My guest today is Alexis Gonzales-Black, an early advocate of the Responsive.org movement. I had heard Alexis praised as an incredibly innovative thinking on “the future of work”, and it was certainly my experience that she brings enormous enthusiasm and insight to bear on the topic of organizational design.
Alexis co-led the rollout of Holacracy (which is a system of self-governance) at Zappos – the world-famous shoe company. She describes what is was like to be in the room when the CEO Tony Hsieh walked in and declared that the company needed to operate more like a city. Alexis now works in organizational design at IDEO.
I’m really impressed with the work she as done to date, and I hope you enjoy this interview with Alexis Gonzales-Back.
00:00 – 4:30 Turning Zappos into a city
4:30 – 6:30 Working under Tony
6:30 – 9:30 Holacracy at Zappos
9:30 – 13:30 What is Holacracy?
13:30 – 17:00 Transition from recruitment to implementing Holacracy
17:00 – 21:00 Alexis’ history that lead to her interest in self-management
21:00 – 25:30 Responsive.Org as an identity
25:30 – 29:00 Responsive tensions
29:00 – 36:00 Hierarchy
36:00 – 38:00 Education
38:00 – 40:00 IDEO
Bob Gower (@bobgower) has one of the most eclectic career paths of anyone I know. I met Bob after he published the article “From Sex Cult to C-Suite” and I was so intrigued by the range of things he had done in his life that I reached out to him. We have been collaborating ever since.
In this interview we dive into what does it mean for humans to be fully mature and how can organizations support human development.
Bob is a part of the curation team and a speaker at the upcoming Responsive Conference, taking place on Sept. 19-20th in Berkeley, CA.
1:30 – 5:30 Adulting
5:30 – 9:30 Why sustain a business?
9:30 – 14:00 Maturity, values, and purpose
15:00 – 19:00 Bob’s eclectic background
19:00 – 22:00 Organization applied to people and organizations
22:00 – 25:00 Messes that work
25:00 – 29:30 Experiencing the world while also faking it
29:30 – 34:00 The cult
34:00 – 36:00 Trying something new
36:30 – 40:00 Cult-like behavior elsewhere
40:00 – 44:30 Freedom after leaving something
44:30 – 47:00 Good Company
For another podcast episode discussing The Future of Work, listen to this interview with Mike Arauz:
And if you’ve enjoyed the Robin Zander Show, stay up to date with goings-on and get weekly tactics via the newsletter.
My guest today, Meredith Haberfeld (@merhaberfeld), is the co-founder of Think Human, a coaching company that has worked with a wide variety of organizations – including, among many others, SoulCycle, Spotify, and Flat Iron Health – to foster leadership and build high performing organizations.
Meredith looks at things from a unique viewpoint bridging a scientific, business savvy, and soulful perspective. Since we first met over coffee half a year ago I have been increasingly impressed with Meredith, and how she carries throughout her professional and person lives.
I had the opportunity to spend time with Meredith’s family on a recent trip to New York, enjoyed late night conversation on human development and organization design, and saw first hand the quality with which Meredith treats everyone: using questions to foster each person towards growth.
2:00 Meredith’s personal story
5:45 Think Human
9:00 3 lenses: Science, business, and soulfulness
11:30 Coaching and training
15:00 What differentiates the people that work at Think Human
18:00 Building the right team
21:00 Shifting an organization
25:00 Rewire your brain
34:00 Meredith’s experience with SoulCycle
37:00 Having a clear vision
41:00 Building wins for everyone
44:00 Meredith’s vision as a parent
47:00 Meredith’s purpose
Reach out to Meredith: http://www.think-human.com/
My guest today – Adam Pisoni (@Adampisoni) – is the co-founder and former CTO of Yammer, a business communication software company which sold to Microsoft for over 1 Billion dollars.
I met Adam last year as a part of the Responsive Org community, which Adam co-created.
Adam’s new company A.b.l. is the next step in building resilience and responsiveness at work and beyond. We discuss how A.b.l. is striving to impact children’s lives through changing how schools allocate resources, which drive the day-to-day operations of student’s learning.
Throughout this conversation – and all of Adam’s endeavors – I’m impressed with his playfulness in the face of big and challenging issues. Among other examples, Adam is constantly considering the diversity of his own company. Tech start-ups are predominantly straight, white men. Diversity in Silicon Valley is a hot button issue and Adam tackles it head on, voicing his strong opinions, recognizing his own privilege, and being willing to be proven wrong.
I couldn’t be more pleased to have Adam on the podcast. He’s a tested and proven entrepreneur – which I take to mean just a starter of things. His efforts to start the Responsive Org movement have paved the way for many of my own events and community organizing. Adam is thoughtful, curious, and playful in the face of challenge. I hope you enjoy this rambling conversation and interview with Adam Pisoni!
Quick note: If you enjoy this conversation with Adam Pisoni, check out the 1st Annual Responsive.org Conference, happening in the Bay area, on September 19th and 20th. Adam will be a speaker, and it is going to be an incredible event. Check it out here!
2:30 Always Be Learning (A.b.l) 4:00 Origin of the education system and the need to update 9:30 Adam’s life growing up 12:30 Adam’s perspective on privilege 17:00 Being a contrarian at Yammer 21:00 Naming the Responsive Movement and predicting its future 27:30 Working in large (Yammer) vs. small (A.b.l) organizations 30:00 Building a diverse workforce from the start 34:30 Hiring at Robin’s Cafe 40:30 Moving beyond the comfortable 45:00 Compassion for other people 48:45 Robin’s key lessons from opening the cafe 50:30 Breaking of hierarchy stereotypes 56:00 Robin’s Cafe – 3153 17th Street on 17th and Shotwell Monday – Fri 8am – 5pm Saturday – 9am – 4pm
My guest today, Steve Hopkins (@Stevehopkins), is one of the original signators of the Responsive.org movement. In this interview we discuss Steve’s history and his current work with the start-up, Culture Amp. We cover his experience building Yammer alongside our mutual friend, Adam Pisoni, why he moved to San Francisco from Australia, and his love of coffee.
We also touch on parenting and sports, to better understand how to manage people and work as a team.