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I like to ask three questions and a bonus question when I look at my calendar, and my to do list and even my aspirations. 1. Does it have to be? 2. Does it have to be me? 3. Does it have to be me right now? And the bonus question, does it have to be a meeting?

In this episode

How can you create choices for and with your employees? Why is that important?

“Choice is what moves us from limited to limitless.” 

Karen Mangia is the Vice President, Customer & Market Insights at Salesforce and author of four books.

In today’s episode, Karen talks about the value of leadership and how transparency and trust are linked.

She also talks about how to create choices for and with your employees and why that is crucial when leading a team. 

Lastly, Karen dives into the difference between divesting and investing and she shared 3 questions she asks herself when prioritizing. 

Tune in to hear all about Karen’s leadership journey and the lessons learned along the way!


Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


03:31

Lonely path to leadership

07:31

Sharing ownership and problems

13:29

Transparency is trust

17:25

General mills case study

23:35

When should leaders not offer choices?

25:10

Karen’s motivation behind Success From Anywhere

32:36

Divesting before you invest

36:56

Karen’s three questions

39:41

Be authentically human


Resources

  • Read Karen’s books here
  • Follow Karen here

Transcript

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  00:49

Karen, welcome to the show.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  03:01

Thanks so much. I love having company in my home office.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  03:05

Yeah, this is this is awesome. It’s definitely good to see you. And what a great background you also have there I see those are the four books that you’ve written so far.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  03:14

Yes, these are the four books. And because of the four books, I get to meet interesting people like you. And so this plant that you see is a gift from the CEO of a company called Garden annuity. And it’s about making your office space is beautiful. And this is a desktop garden, she sent me following our conversation. So I tried to surround myself with meaningful things in my home office.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  03:43

Yeah, that’s awesome. That looks really really cool. For everyone listening in, obviously, you’ve had a very extensive leadership background, you’ve worked at Cisco Wiley, today, your vice president of customer market insights at Salesforce, as we mentioned, you’re the author of four books. So there’s a lot that we’re going to talk about today. But I did want to start from the very beginning. And this is a thing we do on the show, which is we like to start off with mistakes. So if you could dial back to the very early days of when you started managing and leading teams, do you remember some of those early mistakes that you would have made in those days?

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  04:16

Most of my mistakes were about buying into the myth that leadership is lonely. You’ve probably heard that

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  04:26

you mean it’s a myth. And it’s not true.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  04:28

We create the loneliness to some degree or at least I found that to be true in my case, because what I internalized from observing what I thought were great and successful leaders is that great leaders say yes to whatever is offering to them and then they deliver results in a way that looks easy, pleasing and agreeable. Maybe it’s that old advertising tagline you know, never let them see you sweat And I thought that being a great leader meant having all the answers, or at least most of them. And what I came to understand over time is that leadership is listening. And leadership is about asking great questions and tapping into your curiosity, not going off into a corner, having all the answers or trying to come up with them, and then presenting this perfect looking package. So very often, I found that I felt stuck, because I was trying to operate in isolation and have answers, rather than ask questions, engage those around me and create possibilities that ultimately lead to shared ownership.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  05:45

So you think that a lot of the loneliness comes from people fearing stating what the status quo is? Or just fearing saying that things that they don’t have the answers to? is a lot of it from that? Or do you think some of it comes from not being able to share those things? Or is it a myth that you can’t share those things?

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  06:04

We see leaders popularized in all sorts of ways, right, we see people who are tagged as leaders in social media, or leaders of companies or organizations. And I think to some degree, we assigned larger than life qualities. And in a way, it’s easy to internalize unrealistic expectations as managers. And what I find so challenging, and I know some of the most challenging jobs that I’ve had, for example, are in middle management, you know, those first and second line sales leader roles, they’re challenging, because you are working so hard to be an advocate for your team and for your customers, and provide everybody the updates that they need. And yet everyone thinks they’re doing it themselves, right? It’s there, I think it’s easy to buy into this thought, or this concern of what is my value? And we start to believe that having all the answers are demonstrating mastery of the business or customer experience, or life, if we’re talking about coaching people, is the value that we provide. What I found over time is the value again, is not in having the answers. It’s in being able to facilitate discovery. So think it’s very often a function of how we see ourselves or what we believe our value is or isn’t or what great managers or great leaders should be, which is a very limiting word. Right? Should

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  07:36

Yeah. So you’re saying that a lot of the value can come from the process of discovery or facilitating discovery? So I’m curious if you have an example, like it could be a fictional example, what is the situation where there’s a problem, and then one way to go about it is the lonely path, the mythical path, and then the other way to go about it is maybe the right way, or the better way to go about it, which isn’t as lonely, where you can facilitate finding an answer.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  08:02

I’ll never forget the time my boss delivered the shocking and unexpected news that I was getting a 35% budget cut. Oh, wow, that’s a lot. That’s a lot. Now at the time, I was leading a large global function. And the work that we did was part of our publicly traded companies quarterly earnings announcement, which in my head was a placeholder for untouchable, right. I mean, it’s critically important, it’s mission critical. And I was shocked. And then my mind started racing. And what I started saying to myself was, we’re going to have to cut programs. And we’re going to have to cut people, I mean, 35% is a significant number. So I left the conversation. And I spent a bunch of time putting together an elaborate business case about all the detrimental effects of that level of a budget cut, and all of the other ways that we could go about becoming more efficient or delivering more with less, that wouldn’t require a scenario to that extreme. And I went back to my boss and presented it. And he, at the end of my pitching and almost pleading said three words, this changes, nothing. Okay, so mistake number one, I invested valuable energy in resistance, couldn’t change anything. Well, my next thought was, and I went into the spiral, and I think this can easily happen. I must be a terrible leader. I mean, I must be a terrible leader. If my team’s getting this cut, we must not be valued, we must not be valuable. And this is my fault. I mean, I must not have portrayed our value organ relevant enough. And so I started trying to solve for this on my own. I hadn’t told my team and I was managing managers at the time for some perspective. And so I was coming up with different scenarios and like you would imagine having sleepless nights, I’m picturing delivering this news, I’m already thinking through who and what might have to go. And as a matter of almost last resort, I said to my team, during our team meeting with my direct reports, we have a challenge. We have a 35% budget cut, and I can’t see any way past cutting programs and people, what do you see that I’m not seeing? What else could be possible? And the team paused? You know, they were as surprised as I was. And they said, let’s think about it. And we started brainstorming and getting curious, deeply curious, wondering, what else could this be what might be possible. Ultimately, after a lot of work, what we did was shift our business model, from being an expense to a center of excellence that was charged for our customer facing services inside of the organization, the ultimate outcome was we ended up with a team that was double the size, completely self funded, and profitable. But see, if I had stayed stuck in that belief that I was supposed to have all the answers, we would have cut programs in people. And it was bringing others in others who were invested in the outcome, that created an opportunity for them to contribute solutions and ultimately feel and ownership of what they helped to create in a way that they were prepared to cascade this news into the people that they lead. And help them see that this isn’t the worst thing. We just have to go in a new direction.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  11:38

Wow, what a great story. I mean, it does such an effective job of explaining what you were saying where you don’t have to have all the answers. And it’s very interesting, because I could see one falling into the trap of okay, well, let me just figure it out. I guess like the answer is this and you do the work. And you don’t want to share it with people, because what if that makes them afraid, and maybe they leave the organization because they think they might get cut. And you can really go down the spiral in that way, and not share the information. But it’s crazy what a turnaround it was because you decided to share and not hog all the problems.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  12:12

And think about the learning opportunities, I would have short circuited for my team, if I had insisted on owning that myself. And I see this a lot in organizations, we hold on tightly to what we feel we own as managers or leaders, when empowering our teams and elevating our teams, and demonstrating to our teams in a practical way that we trust them, is to move the line on ownership. Men, I think we’ve all had an experience where a manager or a leader we respect or someone further up in our reporting chain comes to you and says, Hey, I think you’re ready to take this on, or I trust you to own this on my behalf. And how do you feel you tend to rise to the occasion, right? Like, oh, you’re trusting me to own something bigger. So often we hang on to ownership because it helps us have face time where it’s what we know, or we think we’re contributing value. And really what we’re doing is we’re making our own jobs of empowering and elevating the people we lead more difficult. I mean, we are stopping ourselves from developing them that the very leadership that we’re supposed to be embodying,

Aydin Mirzaee  13:26

yeah, this is such a great example. And I 100% agree. And also, there’s not very much more that can make anyone feel so good to have your leader come to you and say, Hey, can you help me solve this problem? It is, like you said, very empowering. And it also allows them to experience more and grow. One question I had, which is kind of related on this story. So this is a great example. And I love how it really drives the lesson home. My curiosity is more around the facilitation of this sort of problem solving. So in this particular case, a problem was handed down to you, it was a very clear problem that you needed to solve. I wonder when you think about your day to day leadership, and oftentimes maybe it’s not a problem, maybe it’s an opportunity that you want to go after, but all the same lessons apply. Would you say that the role of a leader, especially a senior leader, is to try and figure out what the biggest opportunity areas are, where an organization should spend their time, and then clearly articulate that and then pass that on? Or is even the process of figuring out where the focus should go should even that be facilitated and work with the team on

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  14:39

transparency is trust. Now I understand if you’re doing m&a And you’re about to buy a company, I mean, you can’t bring everyone in the organization into that decision or consideration for a lot of really good reasons, most of which are legal in nature. However, transparency and trust are very strongly linked. Right if I I am a leader in a position to be making a decision that affects you, I need to hear from you, right? How am I getting the inputs that I need to make these thoughtful decisions. And we see this coming to the forefront right now, as people consider the workplace structure for now and moving forward, right? What we hear so often is or we read in the headlines, you know, it’s the mandate, it’s the Elon Musk, everybody back to the office, or it’s the Google everybody back to the office. And now very few people are actually coming. They’re like, Jeremy, and then we have the we let go of our office space. Okay, well, within that theater, there might be some good reasons for all of those when we as a leadership team, isolate ourselves from the people that we are serving, and make decisions that directly affect them. Without transparency, we erode trust. And any great leader is someone whose say, and do ratios match. So if I say people first, we’re all about the employee experience. And then I go away off into the virtual Zoom Room with my other direct reports, as white collar knowledge workers, and I say, What do you think we should do about this return to Office receive? Let’s get him back here. Now, we’re all at this mandate, are those at odds potentially, you’re saying the ratio has to match, you have to hear from the people you lead. And when people participate in creating choices, what happens is an employee can contribute what they see that we might be missing as leaders, that it can inform what choices we are willing to live with and rollout.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  16:41

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I 100% agree with this notion of, I also would agree that a great leader has a very high one to one, say do ratio, I think like that is a great way to it builds trust, if the se d ratio is one to one, then you can definitely have a lot of trust and reliance on that person. And that trickles down to many, many areas of the company. And you actually so you wrote a book about this concept, right? It’s called working from home making the new normal work for you. So what would you say to, I guess, an Elon Musk, that tweet something, get him back in here? Do you think that is not the right way to go? Or maybe it’s the right way to go for their company and every company is different.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  17:25

One of my favorite examples to illustrate why this matters and what we’re all searching for. We are all settling for mandates. At a time when our deepest desire is for meaning, people want to know why am I doing what I’m doing? This is the story behind the great resignation, right people looking at a scenario saying these mandates don’t equate to meaning for me, what’s meaningful is more of what matters. And maybe more of what matters is flexibility, autonomy and choice. An example where this contrast comes to light in a very real way, is the story of General Mills. Now, you might recognize General Mills as the company that we were all killing ourselves during the height of the pandemic to purchase their flour and their cereal, because apparently, we were all going to become master bakers and compete on the Great British baking show together, right? Well, so imagine these are essential workers, you know, they needed to be producing the products that we were all hungry to consume during that time. And like well intentioned leaders. They were listening to their employees, and they heard a very common thing. We’re experiencing a high degree of burnout. So they decided to roll out some additional PTO. They said, take some time refresh 10,000 employees. Of those 10,000 employees only 8% opted in. They were perplexed. The good news is the next choice they made was to get more curious. They interviewed employees, why didn’t you take this program? What would help with the burnout? Why are you feeling burnt out? They also engaged with an organization that helped them understand more about brain science. How does motivation work? How does loyalty work? And they went back to their employees last year 10,000 employees and said you’re burnout, we hear you. That’s why we’re rolling out the Gift of Choice Program. And inside the Gift of Choice program, you’ll have three choices. More PTO, more pay literal money, or donation to a not for profit of your choosing. They knew they were on to something within the first 24 hours 85% of their employees opted into the Gift of Choice Program. Now we’ve moved from eight to 85 Now why don’t you take a guess from you? What do you think the number one choice was? Was it more PTO more pay cold hard cash or the donation to a charity of your choice? What was the top choice?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  19:46

This is a challenging one. I want to say that it would depend on the timing of when exactly this was done. I’m gonna guess the charity of their choice. More PTO? Oh really interesting.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  20:00

The employer got to the outcome that they wanted in a way that was favorable for the employee experience. All humans on planet Earth respond favorably to flexibility, autonomy and choice, particularly when the choices come unexpectedly interviewed as favorable. Now think about this. They did deep listening that informed and surface some choices. The employers, the leadership team stepped away and said, What are we willing to offer? Let’s be real, those were all budget neutral, they rolled out three choices and got exactly where they want it to go, and gained positive employee perception, loyalty, satisfaction, lower burnout, without a mandate, what would change if every leader focused on creating choices for and with their employees?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  20:49

That’s super, super interesting. And I see that creating more choices. Isn’t that positive? I’m still trying to figure out why they ended up choosing the same option, but more chose the other one. I mean, I understand more choices is better. But it is very interesting. I guess, sometimes having a choice that you can compare against make some answers more obvious, trying to think about, like the decision making process that went through to identify that

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  21:20

choice created the higher degree of opt in, right. So now as opposed to I’m going to mandate and tell you what to do to feel better. Now I have a choice when given a choice. And of course, they were very smart about sharing how many people opted in, and you start to realize everyone’s doing it too. Now, are you more likely to enjoy your PTO, if you feel like everybody on your team is taking it too. Or if you’re the only one and all the works gonna pile up while you’re gone? Right, there’s a snowball effect of what happens, but people felt free to choose what was best for them to your point situationally at that moment in time, whatever, a PTO, or just simply the magic cure, everyone would have taken the first time.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  21:52

Yeah, I guess it is very interesting right to say that people are feeling burnt out and for you to say, okay, just take some time off, mandatory time off, you have to do it. Versus you can choose which one you want. And then you’re making the choice for yourself. So we’re not prescriptively saying you must do this to cure your burnout, we’re giving you some of the options. And presumably those options were ideated by talking to those people to begin with. And they obviously did their research and consulted with the brain science consulting firm that you mentioned. That’s fascinating. What a great story.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  22:26

Let me think about this. At its core, the response to a mandate is the same for a two year old as it is for a team leader. You can’t make me, you’re the boss of me, you tell me what to do, right? It rises up something inside of you, right? Whereas agency choice says, Oh, that’s cool, I can influence the outcome of this, I get to choose what’s best for me, as opposed to having someone else I’ve maybe don’t even know somewhere telling me what they’re certain is best for me.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  22:52

Okay, they’re just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now, don’t worry, it’s not single spaced font, you know, lots of tax. There’s a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to Fellow.app slash blog to download the Definitive Guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. So this is a very interesting topic, right like and I think it kind of relates back to the first point or the first story that you were telling us, which is going back to your scenario of Let’s reduce the budget by 35%. If you had come up with the exact steps on how to do that, and then you told your team go execute on these things. You might have a situation of you can’t tell me what to do. Maybe not explicitly, but you’re effectively playing the same game. But if you let them help come up with the options like you’re also giving them the choice to to help figure out how to go down that path.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  24:23

Choice is what moves us from limited to limitless.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  24:26

So is there ever a time someone who’s contrarian here might come and say well, is there ever a time where leaders should say what needs to be done or should tell the team what to do?

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  24:37

The pandemic office closing is a great example. We are close in the office. We’re all staying home. It’s a matter of safety. Right when we are sitting in a burning building, and someone says I’m a firefighter the building is on fire. The fastest path out is through the door. You don’t need to have a lot of choices. Right? There is a moment what it is do or die. I will tell you I think that we overextend the Use Case of the life and death concept of when we need to mandate something more often than not, what’s behind the mandate is the belief we’re holding on to that may no longer be true.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  25:10

Yeah, that’s super interesting. I agree it is overused. And I don’t think most people function in the way that you mentioned. So it is definitely overused. So you have the new book, it’s called success from anywhere came out in December, Wall Street Journal bestseller, what got you to write the book? What was your motivation? And what message were you hoping to deliver by reading it?

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  25:33

When working from home came out in August 2020, people were thrilled to have a resource to offer ideas about how to navigate what was a very new experience for a lot of individuals, teams and organizations. And in my mind, when that book came out, I thought, Okay, this will be relevant through December 2020. And by January 2021, we’ll all be back in the office. Well, you know how that story goes, right? And as I visited with people, they started asking me, now what, because there was this realization that we weren’t all going to stay working from home full time, most likely. And we also were not going to be returning to what we remember as the way things were, you know, in 2019 and early 2020. And so an answer to the question now, what I just stepped back and thought about how can I best be of service? How can I offer some ways to change the conversation and to get curious about how to construct a future of work that works for the contexts we’re in now, for employers as well as employees. And with this book specifically, I also included a playbook with 10 games that teams and organizations can play together. And if you’re competitive, there’s scoring in it as well, that you can use really to help change the conversation, uncover and challenge some myths and misperceptions about work in the workforce in the workplace, and really have some enablement tools to access your own success.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  27:16

What do you think is the main difference? Like does management styles have to change in this kind of new normal? And does it matter if you’re in a hybrid environment or fully remote environment?

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  27:28

Yes. Yes, leadership, and what constitutes a great leader now continues to evolve. And in the world that we’re operating in now, great leaders are listening more frequently and asking new and different questions. They are aligning the organization around outcomes, the team or your function around the outcomes you’re expected to deliver. And then becoming an orchestrator of those outcomes. And helping people within their teams build what I call a network of networks. So think about this in practical terms as setting the expected outcomes being available for some support, and of course, guidance or rescaling, and checking in to, you know, find out if things are on track and giving people the autonomy to do the work they need to do in alignment with those outcomes. And also critically important helping employees expand their network of internal and external context to help them get things done, rise to the occasion, get new skills, build their network, that is what’s valued in big and small ways at this point. And what we see and are experiencing right now is when people are trying to use the playbook that made you successful when you were in your previous business model, it doesn’t translate particularly well to the current context.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  28:56

Some of the things that you mentioned, for example, helping people develop more contacts so that they could do better at their current jobs or problems that they’re facing. Do you think that that is more important now in the post pandemic world is that because people are looking for more meaning and growth opportunities within the rules? I’m curious why things like that are now more important

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  29:19

for several reasons. The first of which is thinking about onboarding. If you go to a new company, or organization, and it’s your first job out of university, or you’ve just changed to a different organization, who you know, is as important or more important than what you know about that new job. And most onboarding programs still focus on what you need to know not who you need to know. And let’s be real when you’ve been in an organization for some amount of time. You build an internal network of people, partially because it helps you to get work done and get to these expected outcomes in a way that is easier. Well, if I am in my home office and you’re in your home of office. And so as everyone else’s How do I find these people, right? So it increases that ramp up time. It also makes it more challenging for people to build a sense of community in the workplace, you know, and have some fun and feel a sense of belonging in this new environment. The second is, we are also accustomed to being able to see people in person, you know, the stand up and ask the question over the wall kind of a scenario, or some people like to talk about the watercooler conversation. In a world where even if we come to the same physical space, we may not always be there at the same time, right now, we need different tools to help people build networks to get things done. Right, and to expand the business acumen of the organization. Right. I mean, if I’m sitting in an office, and I’m sitting next to the finance person, and I work in sales, I still do learn a little about finance and how to close the end of the quarter, right? I may not immediately need to use it. But someday I might. It’s we have to be more purposeful about how to connect the humans, not just how do we move work or tasks from place to place?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  31:01

You know, that’s super interesting. This is a thing that we’ve talked about on the podcast as well, which is new employees, particularly those where it’s their first job, they find it incredibly difficult to get on boarded, it takes longer, and what some organizations are doing, especially smaller organizations, think 50 100 200 people, they’re now starting to favor hiring more experienced people versus junior people, because they’re starting to understand that they are not effective at onboarding them. And so as a result in this remote world, they are better off by just trying to hire more experienced people. So they have less of that problem. Now, obviously, every company is different. And you still need to teach people and onboard them. But this is the trend that’s happening in smaller companies, because they recognize that they’re not doing a good job. But that’s super fascinating that what you’re saying is that networks are a huge part of it. And you have to go out of your way and focus on helping people build those networks. So that’s a very good observation.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  32:02

Think about what networks are at their core support and scale and maybe speed, right? So when I’m hiring an experienced hire, I’m not only hiring their experience and expertise, I’m hiring their network, right, I’m hiring their ability to have support scale and speed that doesn’t exclusively have to come through me as the manager.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  32:19

Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. And there’s other value to this as well, right? The more people that you are networked with, the more people that you know, especially internally within the company. I mean, a lot of retention is also based on how connected do you feel to this organization? Is it you know, are you okay, just logging out of one slack instance, and then logging into another one the next week? Or do you have connections that would also get you to say, so there’s more than just the job. There’s also the connection. So I think all in all, that makes a lot of sense. One thing that I did want to also ask you about is what you have learned about this concept of divesting before you invest. And you’ve said that this is one of the most important lessons that you’ve learned. So I’m wondering if you could just tell us more about what that means. And if you happen to have another great story or example, we’d love to hear that as well.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  33:13

One of my favorite entrepreneurs built a $25 million and growing business based on this divesting strategy. And she asked what I call the genius question, and we’ll get to that in a minute. But in her particular instance, her job is that she is the pastry chef. And she specializes in celebration cakes, you know, these beautiful creations that are part of the fabric of our lives, right weddings, graduations, celebratory moments. And I don’t know if you’ve ever attempted to frost or assemble one of these. I happen to be a professionally trained chef. So I have a little experience in this area. But what happens is you get this platform, it’s round, and you put a layer of the cake on there, and you spin it around and while you’re spinning it around, you know, you put the frosting you flatten it on the sides so you can attach those beautiful decorations. Now, one day she’s frosting what I have to believe is her resilience. I mean, that’s the technical term layer cake. she thought to herself, how could this be easier? And here’s what she did. She unfrosted the sides of the cake. She literally took the frosting away from the sides of the cake. That’s a $25 million business. It happens to be called Milk. Her name is Christina Tosi. You see her design replicated everywhere. Now there’s a few interesting things about her journey. First, she challenged the one ingredient that every leader in every organization holds dear nostalgia, she challenged the nostalgia that’s your birthday cake or your wedding cake doesn’t have to frosting on the sides. But what happened? Well when she did that, the layers were exposed. I don’t know about you, but every organization I see even if it has five people in it has some sense of layers for Hate. And when we take something away, that’s what gets exposed. The other thing, the ultimate genius question that she designed around was, what would this look like if it were easier? Success, easier living beyond burnout. These are all functions of divesting, success is more often than not about what you take away, not about what you add. At a personal level, I wrote the working from home book in less than 30 days during a global pandemic. You know what I did not make Pinterest perfect meals during that period of time, I wore just about the same version of the same outfit every single day why I needed to divest of using my energy in places that were not in service of that outcome to make getting to that outcome easier. Now, when I hit that deliverable, I could take a pause and reconsider, where could I invest? But I didn’t try to write a book in 30 days during a global pandemic, training for an Ironman learn a fifth language, and you know, make perfect kicks, divest before you invest, think for rather than and,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  36:05

yeah, what an incredible story. That is awesome. You know, I think this does apply in so many different cases. Which is why I think a lot of organizations, for example, when they’re looking to make a change, sometimes they do have to hire external consultants or external people to come with a fresh outlook on the situation, because I forget the term that you use, but you refer to nostalgia as one of the things that people hold on to. And they’re afraid to divest. Because that’s the way that they’ve always done things. And it’s incredibly, incredibly challenging. And I love your question of what would it look like if this were easier? If people who are listening in and they want to figure out what kinds of things they might consider divesting? I guess that’s a really good question to ask, are there other triggers that you should consider to get yourself to think out of the box in that way?

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  36:56

I like to ask three questions. And a bonus question. When I look at my calendar, and my to do list and even my aspirations, one, does it have to be? Two? Does it have to be me? Three? Does it have to be me right now? And the bonus question, does it have to be a meeting, you can create space for what matters most? When you ask those questions, because very often, we find that we become human doings rather than human beings. We go from task to task and meeting to meeting without thinking about why. And then we see something else that we aspire to or want to do, or the next big assignment comes through, and we just added on. And instead, we could step back and get thoughtful and consider whether or not that obligation or opportunity serves you. And then if it does, how do you make room for what matters most?

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  37:57

That’s excellent. I love those three questions, lots of tactical takeaways. Today, I will ask you this, which is how often do you do that? Is this a daily practice where you start your day? And you look at the list of things to do? And then you go through that? Is it weekly? Is it monthly? How do you remind yourself to do this,

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  38:15

the first trigger for me of needing to do an SOS session is when I’m starting to feel pulled thin, or that everything is equally important. If everything is important, then nothing is important. So when I feel that alphabetizing the spices in my cabinet, and getting the research report in to my boss or collaborator, and having this conversation with you are equally important. It’s a sign that I’m not clear about why I’m doing all the things I’m doing. And maybe I have too many things that I feel I need to do. So I find that I get sort of self triggered. And yes, each week on Friday, I look at my calendar, and I look at my to do list and I set some priorities. You know, I take some meetings on my calendar, I look at them, I say does it have to be a meeting? I say no, I record a video, I send it to the other person, I might say something like, I hope you’re not disappointed. This is not a tick tock video because I cannot dance. This is a meeting minimizer. And when I looked at our meeting on the calendar, what I realized is that we’re only trying to choose between choice A and choice B, I think we’re aligned on a if you’re with me, I’ll cancel a meeting. Have a great day. People love it. Do I do it. And then each day I write down and I call them my big rocks. You know, if I only do one thing today, what is the one thing I feel most needs to be done? And then I do that first,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  39:37

lots of great productivity hacks. And I think just what you said around when you’re feeling stretched too thin, I’m sure as a manager of managers, this is also something you can witness on your team. So if you see it, you can get other people to also ask these three questions and do all the same thing. So I think it’s incredibly helpful. Karen, we’ve talked about so many different topics today. Everything from working from home on how to pass on opportunities and challenges to your team, the genius question, and of course, just a lot of tactical advice as well. One final question that we ask everyone who comes on the show is for all the managers and leaders constantly looking to get better at their craft. Are there any final tips, tricks, resources, or parting words of wisdom that you would leave them with?

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  40:23

Think about the person to whom you are most grateful for their investment in your career. And when you think about that person who invested in you step back for just a moment and think about how they engaged you? What was it about their style that resonated with you? Turn that around? And be that because I’ll bet you I mean, I, I haven’t met all your listeners, I hope I do. What you’ll find at the core of that is being authentically human. And in so doing, giving you permission to do the same.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  41:02

That’s great advice, and a great place to end it. Karen, thanks so much for doing this.

Karen Mangia (Salesforce)  41:06

Thank you. I’ve enjoyed our conversation. And I would love to hear from your listeners. I’m on all the social media and I regularly put new content on YouTube as well.

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