Keith Ferrazzi is the Chairman and Founder of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a research institute founded on behavioral science and its effects on business.
He began his career as the youngest CMO at Deloitte Consulting, and then became the CMO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Keith currently works with Fortune 100 companies all over the world. You can think of this episode of thousands of dollars worth of consulting from Keith himself.
Keith received his BS in economics from Yale University and his MBA from Harvard. He is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.

Keith is a New York Times bestselling author of Who’s Got Your Back, Never Eat Alone, and Leading Without Authority.

He has a new book on the way titled Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest, which, as you’ll hear, I think should have been called Going Forward to Work.

Enjoy this interview with Keith Ferrazzi!

If you enjoyed this episode of the Remarkable People podcast, please leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe. Thank you!

Transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with Keith Ferrazzi:

Guy Kawasaki:
Hello, it's Guy Kawasaki.
This is the Remarkable People Podcast.
This episode's remarkable guest is Keith Ferrazzi.
He's the chairman and founder of Ferrazzi Greenlight. This is a research institute that investigates the effect on business of behavioral science. He began his career as the youngest CMO at Deloitte Consulting, and then became the CMO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Keith currently works with Fortune 100 companies all over the world, making him a highly sought after coach.
You can think of this episode as thousands of dollars worth of consulting from Keith, himself.
Keith received his BS in economics from Yale University, and his MBA from Harvard.
He's a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.
Keith is a New York Times bestselling author of Who's Got Your Back, Never Eat Alone, and Leading Without Authority. He has a new book titled Competing in the New World of Work, and as you'll hear, I think it should have been called ‘Going Forward to Work’.
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People, and now, here's the remarkable Keith Ferrazzi.
I have to offer my opinion on something. I think that you should have named the book ‘Go Forward to Work’, because I think you could own that phrase and it's such a catchy phrase, because everybody's thinking “What's he mean by go forward to work, isn't it go back to work?” That's the whole point, right? It's a whole new work.
Keith Ferrazzi:
I wish I had you in my editorial meetings with Harvard business school press because I was pushing for that so damn hard. The reason for this book is I was so desperately afraid that we would crawl out of the rubble and go back to old work ways, which by the way, I'm seeing happen a lot.
I wanted to make sure that we clenched to this moment as a real inflection point, and we didn't go back to work, we went forward to work. So, my research institute, by the way, on this topic was and it still is.
So, I've hung onto the name, and I've hung onto that as a principle, but I lost the hill battle, buddy. Maybe you can give me some influencer tips with editors.
Guy Kawasaki:
It's so easy to remember, go forward to work, the opposite of go back to work.
Keith Ferrazzi:
I learned my lesson, Guy, years ago when Never Eat Alone came out.
Guy Kawasaki:
Also a great title.
Keith Ferrazzi:
It is, but I actually fought the publisher on that one and lost again.
So, the original title for Never Eat Alone was You Can't Get There Alone. You can't get there alone. I thought that was the best title.
They just grabbed one chapter in the book called Never Eat Alone, which is one of the chapters and they said, "That's the title of the book." I fought them and I fought them and they won because publishers in my world they win. Yours, apparently, they don't, but they won and they were right.
So, in this case when I fought it and at the end of the day, I said, "You know what? I remember having this fight once before on a title, you can have it." So, you know better.
Guy Kawasaki:
Is it the same publishing house, Harvard Business?
Keith Ferrazzi:
Different publishing house, yeah. But it's a good setup because that's exactly right.
This book is all about how do we go forward to work. How do we capture all of the lessons from an incredibly condensed volatile time, and learn how to lead in volatile crisis and realize that the rest of our lives is going to be leading in volatility. How do we do that with radical adaptability and what did we learn from the pandemic?
So, you hit it.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. So, now that we've established that they're wrong and we're right, what are these conditions that we must now adapt to? Let's get them out on the table.
Keith Ferrazzi:
Well, look, the world that we live in today, and I'd be interested in your perspective on this, you and I have been watching an incredible, particularly in the technology space, an incredible volatility for decades. There have been a set of disruptors and a set of organizations that have effectively adapted, but few.
Many of those organizations have been cumbersome and lumbering in their adaptation to the volatility of the markets, the competition, the volatility of consumer demand, the volatility of technology advancement, the volatility, et cetera. The reality is, that in a two-year period we had shit thrown at us every week that forced us to look at what was happening, what was changing.
Keep ourselves open to the fact that what our assumptions were last week were not our assumptions this week. I believe that skillset of having that kind of constant looking around corners, I call it foresight. That ability to exercise agility, which in this case was called crisis agile, not the traditional agile that we talk about in implementing in a company, but crisis agile.
The ability to say screw it to silos and org charts and just bring the right people to the table and get the job done, I call that collaboration and inclusion.
Finally, how do you do that, which I don't think we did very well, how do you do that by continuing to build resilience instead of leaving us rattled and tattered on the side of the road.
Those four attributes are the attributes that we really encumber radical adaptability.
What I found in looking at 2000 executives, in their best practices of dealing in this crisis period, and 300 different companies, was that we found amazing nuggets of success, but in no one company. Nobody had it all together, but there were some people doing agile incredibly interestingly.
Some people doing collaboration and inclusion, particularly with hybrid tools that blew me away. We had people crowdsourcing business planning during the pandemic, instead of this top down old business planning process, which started with the CFO and the CEO, and then got cascaded to the executive team and then worked its way down the organization.
We had organizations calling meetings of the 3000 of their top leaders, crowdsourcing what the business planning growth opportunities were for the year ground up, because they could in a hybrid world.
So, we saw these crazy innovations and we wanted to poll all of those together in our research and say, okay, now wouldn't you want to learn from the 2000 executive best practices?
Guy Kawasaki:
So, can we unequivocally state that virtual teams can outperform traditional teams?
Keith Ferrazzi:
Oh, I love that question.
The answer is that we discovered something in our research that there is this dichotomy that most of us have had, myself included, and certainly most executives still have, which they think the debate is virtual versus in presence.
The reality is, it's missing the whole point. I want to change the whole framework for that conversation. The better framework for the conversation is, how do we, as an organization, collaborate?
Think of this as a layered stack. We call it the collaboration stack. It's not just physical meetings as one form of collaboration, and remote or virtual meetings as another form of collaboration. There's actually a whole form of collaboration, which the world you come from knows well, which is asynchronous collaboration, which is collaborating without ever calling a meeting.
Then, there's another form of collaboration when you have people that are physical and remote called hybrid, which in reality we have been doing for decades. It's just that poor son of a bitch who's been in China that no one's been paying attention to on the call, that person has always been standing out there, and that's a hybrid meeting.
We just did it like shit. By the way, what's so interesting is after all of this remote first work for two years, we're moving back into hybrid and we're doing it shit again.
So, the stack goes like this, asynchronous first, remote second, hybrid, and then physical. I'll just walk you through really quick, and I think your listeners will love this.
Gil West, who's the chief operating officer at Delta Airlines moved over to become, I think, also the president or the COO of Cruise. So, he moved from one of the largest transportation companies in the world, very traditional, into one of the most modern unicorn transportation companies in the world, very untraditional startup mindset, which is Cruise.
What he said, the biggest lesson he learned was that the way in which he used to think he would start collaboration or start a project was, let's get a meeting on it.
Over there they're like, screw that. We don't have time for a meeting. We're going to collaborate asynchronously, collaborate in the cloud. We're going to put out a document that people are going to beat the hell out of for a week, where not just twelve people that you think should be in a meeting, we'll have thirty people beat the hell out of that thing.
We'll have all of these dialogues.
Then, when we beat it up as best as we can in the cloud, we'll see what actual conversations we need to have in synchronous meetings. Then, we'll go to a remote meeting, and we'll have multiple remote meetings needed that actually qualify some of the disagreements, some of the challenges, et cetera, and then we'll land an answer.
Now, when I brought that idea of asynchronous first remote second to a company like General Motors, we were able to accelerate the decision-making process, the innovation process by, what would take probably months for meeting after meeting to get created, where we create a meeting, “Oh, everyone's scheduled. It's going to take two weeks to get to that.” We get to it and we realize we don't have all the people in it.
Now, we got to create another meeting or there was some conflict in that meeting.
So, we'd have to have the meeting after the meeting. All of that got condensed into about a two-week asynchronous collaboration process with many more people, three to five times more people in the asynchronous process, therefore greater inclusion, greater innovation.
We ended up finding out that the real innovations, the original hypothesis, was that these twelve people need to meet in the meeting.
The actuality is only four people had enough insight from that meeting in the asynchronous process that mattered. In the thirty-five that actually got involved in the process using asynchronous, there were six that would've never damn well been invited to a meeting that were the ones that landed the biggest innovations, sometimes two layers down in the organization.
So, if you go asynchronous first, and then you default to a remote meeting when needed, then you have a physical meeting if you're getting to a point where it's so damn crunchy that you got to get in a room and hash this out or as my old mentor, the CEO of Deloitte would say, Greg Seal, "You got to have a long slow dinner on this one."
You need to have a little bit of social lubricant, et cetera. The physical is needed where heightened emotional impact is going to be a critical component of the outcome, whether that's celebration, or positivity, or crunchiness.
So, you start using the collaboration stack. The answer is, you could be a physical first company. You could be a virtual first company. It just doesn't matter. The reality is that even if you're a physical first company you start asynchronous, you go remote, and you use physical.
There's no reason to think that one or the other, and in reality, that's why remote first companies work so well, because they naturally are predisposed to starting asynchronous first.
So, that was a very long answer, but that was a really cool insight. What I just told you is about 20 percent of one chapter that we call Collaboration and Inclusion, which is we really started to learn, in the research and what we put in the book, we really started to learn the answer to that question.
Like, how do we collaborate in this new world?
Guy Kawasaki:
If I were the CEO of a company who is your client, how much would I have just paid for that advice? I know McKinsey would've charged five million. How much would you have charged for that?
Keith Ferrazzi:
That's a great question because there's ... No, no, no, no, I'm going to answer that question not by giving my price, but I'm going to answer that question because the answer to that would be, like you, we have speaking fees.
I wish mine was as high as yours, but we have speaking fees and we can go out and we can educate or teach, right? Educating and teaching is what you do in speaking. Frankly, you and I both know that the impact of speaking correlated to transformational outcomes is low.
No one gives a speaking engagement and all of a sudden General Motors turns around, right? That's not a direct correlation.
Guy Kawasaki:
Well, we would charge more.
Keith Ferrazzi:
Right. Exactly. Speaking is corporate entertainment, right? That's what we are.
What really matters, what we're awakening to here is that we need to change fundamental thinking about how we work.
This awakening of Gil West, from call a meeting, to open a Google doc, or go in the SharePoint documents, that transformation is massive, and it doesn't happen because you're aware. It's coached.
So, the intervention here is an intervention of iteratively trying on these new ways until we realize, damn it, this is the way to work. What we tried to do in the book is get so practical that I give you very distinct, what we called, high return practices.
So, what we did over a two-year period is we watched people doing clever things. We extracted the practices from this particular company.
Then, we went over, and we had a round table discussion of executives, and we brought what we thought were best practices. We put them on the table and we had them debate and argue and discuss them. They massaged in what they thought was the best practice.
Then, we took that best practice and we applied it into the research companies, and we saw whether it moved the needle successfully. Only when a best practice moves the needle successfully did it make it into the book, and it became what we called a high return practice.
So, this idea ... there's a little simple one called a decision board and the importance of it is, unless you want to get into it, it's a way to do asynchronous collaboration that replaces a meeting called a decision board. It's a place where you argue, et cetera. That becomes a high return practice.
Now, I could go and teach somebody that or I could go in and sit with that executive team over a period of months and help them re-engineer their meetings and coach them into a new way of being. Back to the price point, it's one thing to have a speech.
Then you read the book and you get the practices, but gosh, someone's got to apply those practices, hold them accountable, keep the pressure on, and coach them through to a different way of being.
We created a video course that we're giving away for free associated with the book, so that you don't necessarily have to pay for the consulting services to get it done, the coaching services, you can get at least a video series going as well.
But that's the big frustration that I know you and I have, Guy. We put these books out. We believe in them strongly, but if you don't come behind them with coaching, and McKinsey doesn't do coaching, McKinsey just tells you an answer. You got to land the plane.
Guy Kawasaki:
All right.
So, two follow on questions that immediately leaped to mind.
If I were listening to this, the question in my mind would be, well, okay, you sold me on asynchronous collaboration. What tool am I supposed to use? You mentioned Google doc.
Now, let's just get really tactical. What am I doing? Am I forwarding a Microsoft Word file around? Am I sharing a Google doc? Am I using Slack? Take me down right down to the detail. What am I using here, Keith?
Keith Ferrazzi:
Yeah, I love this. I had a wonderful conversation recently.
So, we probably had about 300 major CIOs in this research, Federal Express' CIO, Home Depot, CVS, Abbot. We had major glitterati as a part of this conversation.
The one thing that I can tell you is the tools don't matter worth shit. No offense to my software friends who are paying for my research institute.
They, of course, matter. On the nuance, whether you're using Microsoft Teams, whether you're using Slack, or whether you're using Zoom, or BlueJeans, et cetera, you can make these things work. They all have one reason or another to do it to use those particular tools. They all have uniqueness associated with them.
No question. What we found was that all of these companies had the tools capable of shifting the way you work, but nobody was using them for that.
Here was the big thing that I've come to the conclusion of, and I'm working with a group of CIOs to awaken to this. Shame on us as CIOs. I'm not a CIO, but I'm going to dawn my empathetic brethren hat. Shame on us, the CIOs, who put these amazing game changing tools in place, trained people how to use the tool.
So, you can train somebody how to turn on Teams, how to open a room, et cetera, but we've never partnered with our HR partners to fundamentally reboot the assumptions of how we collaborate together, which makes a guy like Gil realize you don't call a meeting first.
So, that's where we get very excited, which is we need to reboot the way we work, not just add the tools, and teach people how to use them.
That training, that coaching, frankly, doesn't exist in 95 percent of the Fortune 500 that we're even now working with, which by the way, I can give you my pricing list as to how we help those companies bring that awareness into reality.
Now, I'll answer your question. The tool you use is not important, but the decision board is. I alluded to this. Stop having meetings.
If you're going to have a meeting on a topic, don't have the meeting. I don't care if you use a Google spreadsheet. I don't care if you use a SharePoint on a Microsoft Word document. I really don't. I think using sheets are better, but there's lots of tools, or Excel, you could use Excel and use a SharePoint and share of it. But what you're going to do is you're going to fill out four columns.
What's the problem we were trying to address? So, I'll give you an example. A manufacturer is late in retooling for a new product. We're going to miss the deadline.
The next column is, what are some of the challenges that we think are causing this?
So, the manufacturing person is the one calling this meeting. We're going to be late in retooling. The reason? Damn it, product designed a much too complex product, they need to design a more simple product.
Next column is who's going to be pissed off about this conclusion? Marketing, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Next column is who should be involved in this discussion? Here's the twelve people we should invite to what most people would have thought is the meeting. You give it out to the twelve people.
Now, we're all looking at how we're filling in this document real time.
You could see it in your head in a Google doc. You could see it in a spreadsheet, in the SharePoint sheet spreadsheet, and you say, “No, that's not the problem. This is the problem. Oh, that solution is bullshit. This is the solution. “
Here's two other people that you should have involved. By the time you're done debating in this spreadsheet, that's when you have thirty-five people involved. Now, you can look at it in the tapestry of this discussion and realize “This needs to be a meeting. This needs to be a meeting. Let's go have those remote meetings.”
So, again, the tool to me, Guy, doesn't matter but the concept of a decision board, which nobody teaches. When they've given you these tools, no one teaches you how to use decision boarding instead of meeting. So, again, it's not the tool. It's the recognition that a decision board comes before synchronous meetings.
Guy Kawasaki:
So, we've been using the M word a lot. Could you walk us through the ideal virtual meeting?
Keith Ferrazzi:
So, now you're into the second tier.
By the way, just for your listeners, I don't want them to be disappointed or whatever. Literally, the whole discussion is one portion of one chapter, which is a great one, and everyone's worried about it. But there's a whole book with lots of content of rich best practices, which we could go into.
We're literally in one that we know we're struggling with a lot, which is why we created actually a separate division, how to reboot workflow and organizations using these tools. We're just doing tons of workshops in that because everyone is interested in this.
So, go into the meeting. Now, we're in the thread right now called a remote meeting. Okay? When we moved from physical meetings on March 12th, 2020, into virtual meetings on March 14th, 2020, we didn't do anything different.
We used to have twelve people sitting around in a room having a conversation with an agenda. We turned on Zoom, Teams, BlueJeans, blah, blah, blah, and we had twelve people sitting around the room having an agenda.
Now, I guess I understand the logic of that because there's nobody telling them, “Dudes, you got a new tool with new technology, with new functionality. Why aren't you using that new functionality and that new space in a most effective way?”
So, for instance, I'll give you three or four ideas. One of them is the simplest one, which is when you had twelve people in a meeting, our research showed that coming out of that meeting, if we pulled people in that meeting, no more than four people, somewhere between three and four, people would say that they were fully heard in the meeting.
So, the average individual in a meeting does not feel fully heard. Now, that goes back to the root cause. We've been coaching teams for many years, and I have seen that conflict avoidance in a room is one of the greatest erosive shareholder value attributes.
Not speaking up in a meeting kills more companies than anything else because it leaves risk on the table that should have been called out. It leaves innovations that could have been gained because you don't want to throw your buddy under the bus by critiquing their presentation or their report out. It's bullshit.
I know you spend so much time, Guy, with founder teams, and I find that this is not a problem with founder teams. You take a founder team where they all have enterprise hat on and they will all speak up in that meeting because they have an enterprise hat on, and a role functional hat.
You go to a large organization where they've lost that, and everybody is just keeping in their swim lane and you don't want to throw each other under the bus.
One of the things that we did is we have identified critical myths during this process and those critical myths, we're calling those critical myths out in the book. But one of these critical myth is you don't throw your buddy under the bus. As a result, people don't get hurt.
So, in a remote meeting, in a virtual meeting, once you pose the question effectively that you're talking about in the room, you push a button, and everybody goes into breakout rooms of three. You open a shared document in that group, and you have a question.
So, for instance, let's say somebody just gave a report out on some major threat of work.
You push a button, everybody goes in their group of three, and there's two simple questions. “What challenge do you have for that report out, and what innovation might you offer to that report out?”
In small groups of three you spend ten minutes typing into the document, what challenge and what innovation. Now, when you read Ray Dalio's book Principle, he talks about having that kind of dialogue in the room. When I talked to Ray, I was like, "Ray, good for you, but you hire assholes. They love challenging each other in the room."
The rest of us have insecure guys that are ego-driven and walking on eggshells. We don't have that. You hire for that kind of resilience. Rest of us have to figure out how to coach that kind of resilience into it and it's tough.
But when you turn it into an assignment, into a breakout room, now, these people are actually doing what they're told, which people are good at doing at the big companies.
They're writing their challenges and they're writing their innovations. Come back into the room then have a dialect, it's fundamentally different.
Now, that's just one little practice in how to use this new format differently that gives you game changing outcomes or returns in a remote meeting. I've got twenty-four of these things you do differently in a remote meeting.
Guy Kawasaki:
Before you go on, I need to know a little detail. How are the three picked that go into each room?
Keith Ferrazzi:
They can be totally random or you pick the people ... The way I like to do it is, because you can set up the rooms in advance, you put the people in the room that hate each other the most, because I need to coach these people into having conversations when they would've normally ignored each other, or talked behind each other's backs, or had back-channel conversations with the CEO about each other.
All the bullshit that exists in team dynamics that I am constantly coaching into team's transformation is something that I try to engineer to. I lean into it and I force it to happen. So, I would do it random, or you pick the crunchiest people and put them together and you iteratively force them to work together.
Guy Kawasaki:
Keith Ferrazzi:
But the other one I'll give you, and again, you could imagine how ... I said there were twenty-four of them, I'm given a few high return ones, but I'll give you a few others really quick.
One of them is, why do you need to have only twelve people in a meeting of two hours?
So, let's say you have a meeting of two hours, but you have three agendas. Why don't you have a half of an hour meeting and you have thirty people in the room?
Because that's the group that you want to have bulletproofing some idea and going into breakout rooms and innovating, right? Then you come back, you wrap that up. Boom. Thank you all. Bye, bye. Boom. They're gone.
Now, you got twelve again. Now, we have a new agenda and this agenda requires a couple of other people involved. The biggest thing that we learned is this idea that we called ‘teaming out’.
What the last two years did for us is it brought the recognition. First of all, because it's crisis and we brought everybody together. We needed to get together, but also because of hybrid, and it was so easy to bring people together that we rethought the way we get work done in org charts.
The reality is, we've been saying for a decade we get work done in networks, but now we have a way to easily work in networks and fluidly. So, your team on a topic can be different on one agenda item to the other as you're in a two-hour meeting coming in and out of it. So, it's such a simple way.
Now, all of a sudden, you've taken what used to be twelve people talking about something, missing three people's critical point of view, and the change management implication of that is huge.
Guy Kawasaki:
I love these concepts, but my question is, so who is the puppet master? Who is architecting, “Okay, now we're going into breakouts. So, these are the three, three, three. Now we're going to do this. Now we're going to do that.”
It's not the CEO. So, who is the meeting producer?
Keith Ferrazzi:
So, you go to and we do coach this process.
The reality is in big teams this does become organic. There's a natural way of working. If you look at how a regular meeting runs, that's orchestrated by a collective agreement on how to behave.
The CEO is the leader, the chief operating officer might play a certain role. There's maybe one voice who's the protagonist usually, whatever it is. There's an informal way in which a meeting and a group works.
What I'm saying is in this new world, as we're making the transition to a whole new way of working, you probably do need somebody in that room who is going to be the advocate for a new way of working and the facilitator of marching through a different way of working. You can hire them from the outside or you can have one person on your team.
It could be anybody. It could be this facilitator. Read this book. Watch the video series. Understand the new way of working, and then be your coaching facilitator.
It doesn't matter who it is. It could be an outsider. It could be an insider.
What I do find though is similar to one of the best practices of a hybrid meeting, where you have people that are partially physical and partially remote, is identification of an individual whose role is the role of inclusion. So, if you have a meeting, the quick best practice for hybrid, so remember I'm going through the best practices for each part of the collaboration stack right here with you.
If you're in the hybrid meeting the best practice is, Guy, you're just a random person in the room. Guy, on a periodic basis your job is to make sure that if you think people are losing inclusion because they're remote, that your job is to bring them back.
So, I say to “Guy, set your alarm for every half of an hour and your watch is going to buzz, and when it does ask yourself, how have we been doing?”
So, the leader who's into the content conversation and has totally lost the guy in China because he's into this debate, et cetera, he needs somebody like Guy to pull him out of that and say, we haven't heard from China for a while, and we're on a critical topic that they should be having a point of view on.
“Dude, you're sleeping. Because I know it's two o'clock in the morning there for you. Or are you naturally more introverted and you're not trying to interrupt.”
You need a facilitator of inclusion. That's just a small role.
Similarly, in this idea of you running a remote meeting, somebody does have to have enough guts and have the social permission of the team to interrupt and say, “Guys, we're talking way too much in a group of twelve, let's go to the damn breakout rooms. We know we need to get there. Let's stop spending half of an hour here, go to the breakout rooms. We'll be back.”
Now, that's what I would do if I'm coaching in the room, but somebody else needs to do it and be named as the arbiter of this new way of working, because it's not natural, Guy. It's not the way we've been running for 200 years.
What's unfortunate is we took 200-year protocol of how to do meetings and put it into this precious, wonderful new technological environment and we didn't do shit different. We just met the same way as we did for 200 years.
Guy Kawasaki:
Last week, the guest was a woman named Nicole Paiement, and she is one of the few female opera conductors in the world.
What she described is amazingly similar to what you just described. Being an opera conductor sounds like. What you just described.
Keith Ferrazzi:
Yeah. We know about leadership. You've written a ton about it.
We know about these things called leadership competencies, if you're an HR person, but you know what we've forgotten? What we've forgotten is we don't teach people how to be teams. There's a difference. The difference is that leadership predominantly focuses on an individual's ability to get the most out of a set of resources.
But the leadership coaching doesn't spend enough time on how to get the most out of the interdependency of the resources.
What's interesting though, and I love this phrase, there was an executive at GM who is the number two in manufacturing. She said at the peak of the pandemic, "Keith, we're good. We know what to do in a crisis. We're good at that. We really know how to marshal. We're at our best."
I totally agree. People were at their best, and what happens when you're at your best in a crisis, your ego, the turf, all that shit falls away and the team rallies hard as a team, right?
We put it all aside and we get it done, damn it. We did that, and so many companies did that. Now, coming out of that crisis as the motivator for cutting across silos and being a team and driving in these ways and speaking up because, damn it, what I have to say could save the day today. That kind of courage, all that stuff happens in that kind of a crisis.
Now, what I don't want to have happen is all of those wonderful attributes, I don't want them to disappear in the midst like Camelot. Coming out of the crisis, I want us to sustain these on an ongoing basis.
I created a word for this kind of teaming. I call it ‘co-elevation’, because when I saw what these teams were doing, it wasn't just collaborating an old form style. There was a real purpose about it. There was an emotional uplifting, there was an energy. We were coming together to go higher together and to break through adversity and to see around corners and to lift these other's energy up and to commiserate and be vulnerable.
I saw executives crying about their mothers in nursing homes that they were fearful of getting COVID, and they were vulnerable together. They did things that I've never seen done before in executive teams during that two-year period.
I don't want to lose that. That co-elevation, to me, is the power of team. Yes, it's symphonic organization and it's coming together as that beauty of the music. I love that analogy you made.
Guy Kawasaki:
All right, I'll introduce you to her.
So, you know how some podcasters have a speed round and sometimes it's just like A, B, Mac or Windows, or iOS or Android. So, I've always found those entertaining.
Now, I want to do a speed round with you, but it's go going to be, I think, the most challenging speed round maybe in the history of podcast.
Keith Ferrazzi:
I don't need that.
Guy Kawasaki:
Are you ready?
Keith Ferrazzi:
I'm still struggling on whether iOS or Windows, but go ahead.
Guy Kawasaki:
So, with the Keith perspective on the world of what we have been through, how it has created collaboration, and innovation, and all this good stuff, I'm going to give you a few terms and I just want you to quickly summarize, okay, this is the new reality of this, and this is what you got to do.
So, what is it and what you got to do. Okay? I'm going to just spout off some stuff and you're going to give me that answer. What's the current status, what you got to do. Okay?
Keith Ferrazzi:
Yup, yup.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. So, describe, and et cetera, the new team? In a nutshell, what's the new team?
Keith Ferrazzi:
The new team is a group of people independent of org chart aligned to commit and committed to achieve a goal. That's what a team is. Okay.
Guy Kawasaki:
Next, the new employee.
Keith Ferrazzi:
The new employee has nothing to do with W2, has nothing to do with the report. The new employee is a contributor to that goal success, and it could be inside, outside of the organization. It doesn't matter.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay, the new leader.
Keith Ferrazzi:
So, I came out with a book right before the pandemic called Leading Without Authority. I think the new leader is an individual who has the humility of stepping down from the leadership position, but the ability to, one step, but the ability to lift everybody up one rung so that everybody takes this significant responsibility for the outcome as a collective.
The new leader marshalls ... is a leader of a movement. It's somebody who enlists people, whether they report to them or not. When we've thought about leaders in the past, we think about reporting lines. We think about authority. We think about et cetera. Once I have the title, now I lead, and this is how I lead with the title. Bullshit.
The new leader influences and enlists and invites people to create greatness independent of whether they work for them or not.
Guy Kawasaki:
The new vendor.
Keith Ferrazzi:
We did a really interesting study. There's a guy named Anup Sharma out of LyondellBasell, who at the peak of the pandemic, the very beginning of the pandemic, stepped back and said, "We can't afford to have our vendors fail. But more importantly, we're going to re-look at our vendor process, and we need to bring them under the tent."
So, they started to have these co-creative sessions with their vendors to shed costs and create value that had to accrue on both sides of the balance sheet for the vendor and for the individual.
The new vendor is no more than one of those nodes on the team.
It's not like, as we think about procurement and this separatism, it's nothing more than a node within the team.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. The new director on your board of directors.
Keith Ferrazzi:
It's really changing because boards have dipped down into a level of operations that they had never done before. At some level board governance was really just about fiduciary responsibility and oversight, et cetera.
But we've gotten into the stage where now you've got board members who are putting ESG on the table and saying, the mental wellbeing of our employees is a measurable aspect of the S of ESG, and I want to know what your plan is to deal with the mental wellbeing of our employees. That's not been a board governance responsibility.
I fundamentally feel that the new board member is an activist, but they are a coach to the organization in those blind spots as well.
Now, it's very interesting, I think that this is controversial, but we're seeing a shift at what level of detail boards are beginning to look at.
Guy Kawasaki:
Pardon my ignorance, but what does ESG stands?
Keith Ferrazzi:
Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah. The ESG process is what boards look at when it comes to environment, social, governance, ESG.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. Okay.
Keith Ferrazzi:
It's a shorthand for their role in looking at those externalities.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. The new job review.
Keith Ferrazzi:
I love that one. The new job review is a constant 360 from the people that you work with.
That's a significant shift in the social contract among a group of teams. Right now, there is no social contract among peers that I give you feedback. If you and I reported to the same boss, there is no reason that I give you feedback.
None at all. It is not my job. It's your job to do your own development, and the job of your boss to tell you.
But I come to a situation where in the future, and what we need to do and what we need to recontract, actually, that's what I call ... That's one of the things we do with teams, is we recontract the social contract of the team.
The admittance that I need to make you better, I need to lift you higher.
The other issue is we talked about these network teams. Your boss doesn't even see where you're working most of the time, because you're on all these network teams that doesn't even have direct visibility to your boss who's facilitating.
So, you need to be able to get constant peer to peer feedback in order to have any relevancy for the real work you're doing.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. The new compensation plan.
Keith Ferrazzi:
Who gave you these, by the way? You're putting me on a hot seat here. This is fantastic.
I've never been forced into this, and I love it.
Guy Kawasaki:
I want you to say after this podcast that this is the best question you have ever faced in an interview in your life.
Keith Ferrazzi:
I'm just sweating, is the issue. I know a podcast is good when I'm sweating. All right.
So, the new compensation. I would say that we are going to get to the stage where compensation is more closely aligned to value creation.
How do we pull that off? You go back to this issue of working in networks. Our HR systems are architected on hierarchy and org charts, so therefore we get our reviews from that. That's how we get compensated.
I can't wait to see the software that's being created, and I've seen some early versions of some software that's looking to this, but I can't wait to see the software that actually replicates the way the future of work should work. But it's not the stuff that was orchestrated on this assumption that a leader is going to give you your performance review and a leader is going to give you your compensation plan.
So, I think if I were to derive that from the last question, which is there are attributes of your peer input and of the question of, “Are you driving value?”
You know who did this? God bless him. One of my best friends who passed away during this last few years was Tony Hsieh. After Tony and I created something called the Tony Hsieh Award with his family foundation and mine, if you want to go to, we're finding entrepreneurs who are radically innovating on the edge like he did. So, he radically innovated on employee engagement.
We all know about happiness, what he did there, but toward the end he was radically innovating on internal marketplaces, where people's budgets were set based on whether anybody else in the company would pay them to do the work they're doing.
If nobody else in the company would pay them to do the work they're doing, they wouldn't get the money.
Now, it didn't go as well as he had originally imagined, but had he lived and had he continued to be the CEO, I think we would've seen that kind of iteration. The question of the future of compensation, and the future of budgets, and the future of all of this, that's the kind of thinking we need, internal marketplaces.
Guy Kawasaki:
Can you handle a few more?
Keith Ferrazzi:
I love it. I'm loving it.
Guy Kawasaki:
I don't want to make you sweat too much.
Keith Ferrazzi:
I'm glad I'm wearing a sweater. It's embarrassing.
Guy Kawasaki:
Yeah. Right. Okay. The new recruitment process.
Keith Ferrazzi:
I give you two interesting insights, and there's a chapter in the book on resilience and mental wellbeing, and how do you build that into your team.
The insights are not at all what you would think. It's not throwing yoga programs to people. I worked with Weight Watchers and Headspace and BetterUp and ESRA. Working with all these companies, pulling together the question of how do we keep resilience at the forefront of what it means to be a leader in a company and team resilience.
Procter & Gamble came out of that and said, the number one talent brand attribute we're going to have is your mental wellbeing. So, the CHRO of P&G said, she wants to make sure that you are coming to work at P&G because you know that you will have a more resilient and a better mental wellbeing than if I worked anywhere else.
So, I think we're going to be taking a very close look in recruitment. I think we're going to be taking a very close look of “What is your talent brand? Why would someone work with you?”
Compensation and job role responsibility are a piece of it, but I think it's going to become much richer and more robust.
It's so funny, back in the olden days, you and I both have heard this, these damn millennials, yada, yada, yada, they are so entitled. They're so this. Well, you know what? We've got to serve our associates in ways that get 150 percent out of them, and that makes them want to stay and be light attractors to their peers and referrals and intakes, et cetera. It's going to require a fundamental redefinition of our value proposition to the associate.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. This is the last one, not the last question, but the last lightning question.
Keith Ferrazzi:
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. The last lightning question is, what is the new onboarding process?
Keith Ferrazzi:
Well, unfortunately, you and I could have an entire session on that.
I started a software firm on onboarding a number of years ago, and what I discovered in that process and that we applied it in the sales organization, and I came up with this idea that our software created speed to quota.
What I found is that there's three attributes that are important for us to pay attention to in onboarding, what they know, what they do, and what they feel.
So, what they know. I know the product, I know the this, et cetera, right?
What they do. Everything from go pick up your computer, to your benefits, and whatever the doing action items are.
What they feel.
The number one predictor of speed to quota of a sales rep ended up being at the end of the first week we asked the question, “Do you feel like you belong here?”
We found that actually had the greatest correlation to speed to quota, that one question. Very similar to the old days when Gallup had that question, do you have a friend at work, which was the highest predictor of employee engagement and retention.
So, I think in onboarding, like so many other things, and it's interesting, I was just talking to a financial services company that asked us to think about just that question and the great retention, the great resignation.
How do we make sure that those that are coming in? That first month is the most predictive of the next three years of productivity and retention, but the purposefulness of the emotion, the purposefulness of the emotional connectivity of the individual to the role and the people around them needs to be more attended to than just throwing a networking reception with our senior executives.
I wish people who know you, the great thing about you is the smile that you have on your face that happens about thirty seconds before you hear the laughter. It's fantastic.
It's like, this should be videoed for everybody, not just audio, because that silence that you guys don't hear listening is this amazing grin of Guy that we all know when we get to know him.
Guy Kawasaki:
Two truly last questions. Okay?
So, the second to the last question is, Nancy Pelosi calls you up and says, "Keith, with all that you've learned, I read your books, Keith, tell me what the hell do I do to make Congress more effective?" Keith says ... ?
Keith Ferrazzi:
The cabinet operates in one of the most functionally siloed groups, hub and spoke to the president, doing their functions. The cabinet does not stress test, bulletproof, go into breakout rooms, challenge each other.
We do not have a cabinet that is this interdependent body of brilliant people making each other better. At the same regard, when I talked about what is a team, are all those you need to get the job done. Ronald Reagan knew that. Tip O'Neill knew that.
There were times in our political past when we realized that to make the country better and to get things done, it wasn't about silos and schisms and digging into a hole and antagonizing. That's the worst behavior. That would be a bankrupt company. The way we behave politically, if we apply that to a corporation, it would be bankrupt.
But the reality is working in fluid networks around critical goals, and to have leaders who have enough humility to step down a notch off the bully pulpit and into real relationships of pulling people in to co-create.
What I would do if I had Nancy is I’d say, “Listen, I know you don't believe any of this shit works and I know that you believe that these guys are evil and they don't listen and whatever, but do me a favor. Give me one initiative that you're trying to get through and give me one congressional committee or a leader that's trying to push it through. Please let me coach them to do things a little differently than we might have otherwise, to surprise some members of the executive branch, to surprise some members of the opposing team, to surprise some members in the public sphere, in the NGOs, and to invite them into a different co-creation than we ever have before. Let's figure out a way to create co-elevation. Just give me one damn initiative with one leader who's willing to work a little bit differently and take a little bit of coaching and let's see what happens.”
That's where I'd go. That was basically the Fast Company piece that I wrote.
Guy Kawasaki:
I would give you Jim Jordan if I were Nancy, but that's a different discussion. Okay.
So, truly my last question. All right.
So, I loved what you've been discussing. I loved how we have to adapt. As we look back, we're going to say, “Wow, that pandemic was tragic in many ways, but it forced us to change, and the world is better for it in many ways.”
Now, what happens post pandemic? How do I keep this juju going? How do I keep this momentum going?
Let's just pretend that people get vaccinated. Vaccines are better, or whatever, we reached herd immunity, all of that. Fantasize with me for a second.
So, now, we could go back to in-person meetings only, et cetera. Everybody's going back to the office. How do we not lose all of this goodness?
Keith Ferrazzi:
When I'm talking to clients, I say there's several forms of intervention.
One of them is we try to awaken all leaders to what they missed by saying, “Guys, you had your heads down, you got the job done. Congratulations. Here's a resource, the book, for how 2000 executives crowdsourced a set of best practices. Go apply those.”
So, that's one. You could do those webinars and that sort of thing.
But the two places where I feel you should start is at the executive team. If you get an executive team of a company agreeing to start to shift some of the ways they're working, lead with asynchronous, not remote meetings, do remote meetings in a different way.
I'll give you another little, tiny tip, which is probably one of the most powerful ones in a radically volatile world.
What we found in, fewer than 10 percent of Fortune 1000s predicted the pandemic and reacted to it before the thirteenth. They had some things going on, but I was coaching a company at the time, and I sat in the board room, and I remember them bringing up COVID as one five-minute agenda on a three-hour meeting on the eleventh of March in 2020. Of course, they were locked down on the thirteenth. The company Lockheed Space, Rick was the president there, they had a simple process where in their executive team meetings once a month they had a quick drill.
Every member of the executive team had a different vantage point to look at risk and opportunity in the world. The marketing guy had competition. The sales guy had customer changing insights. The CFO had something else, et cetera.
In five minutes on the agenda, once a month, they said, “Hey guys, is there anything that we're missing from a foresight perspective around risk that we may be missing or an opportunity we may not be taking advantage of?”
Everybody would go around and they'd either say nothing or they'd throw out the title of it. If it seemed compelling, that went to a separate meeting where they double clicked on that and then they decided if it went into scenario planning.
It was in December that somebody brought up this virus going on in China. By February, they shut the organization down and went fully virtual.
Now, think about that simple process for us to be able to use. Now, why do I bring that up to the answer to your question of What do we need to do next?” Where I focus is if you get the executive team to apply all of this stuff, then you've changed your company.
That's it. It's just the executive team.
Frankly, I'll even go one step lower, take and reinvent your staff meeting. Your staff meeting is the place where the culture of the company comes to life. You're in a staff meeting of the executive team.
Are you conflict avoidant or are you bold and co-elevating? Are you inclusive or are you insular and siloed?
You reinvent the staff meeting and how it works, including adding agenda items like this foresight, including adding the attributes of resilience to build it more sustainable. We own each other's energy and build that energy and celebrate each other, et cetera.
You change the staff meeting. Now, I've gone at the whole way down to rebooting the staff meeting. If you reboot the staff meeting in this new way of working of the executive team, that's where you start.
Guy Kawasaki:
Okay. I will say, Keith, that this is about the 120th episode and many guests came on because they had a book about to release. I would say that of all the episodes, this episode is the one that is most compelling to go buy the book now.
I hope you take that as praise. I mean it as praise, because if I were an executive listening to this, I'd said, wow, I got to go get more information than Guy dug out of him. I have to go really see how this happens. So, this has been fabulous. I hope I didn't pump you for too much information.
Keith Ferrazzi:
Guy, this has been fantastic. I would just ask a couple of things. Number one, I would very much love to tell people how to get the book and what they get when they go get it.
So, you can either go to, as Guy pointed out at the beginning of this, There's a tag there to go to the book,
Now, what you're going to get when you get there is not only the ability to buy the book, which you can do it in a number of places. But if you click there, we're going to give you a free video series of eight videos that you can use with your team to begin to land this. It's virtual coaching. I'm not there, but I want us to make you implement this.
That's what you're going to get, and you're going to get a workbook because I don't want to end this in a book. I don't want to end this in corporate entertainment. I appreciate the speaking fees and all of that stuff, but what I want to end is your transformation.
Frankly, what I want to end is I want to turn around the way the world works. That's why I'm in this business for as many years as my gray hairs show that I'm in this business, because I believe if we change the way the world works, we change the way human species interacts, because we all work.
I've heard too many executives one after another say to me, “When I finally adopted these rules, I became a better spouse. I became a better parent.”
Because who we are, and how we show up, and how we listen, and how we engage, and how we step off of our podiums, all of these things, and how we look around corners, and how we own each other's energy. This is the kind of stuff that society should be doing, and politically.
I'm so glad, Guy, that you mentioned the politics because this is what's wrong with the world. We're at an inflection point. I want to make sure that this inflection point is fully leveraged, truly fully leveraged.
Guy Kawasaki:
So, there you have it. I hope your head didn't explode with too many thoughts and tactics and strategies about how to go forward to work.
Our thanks to Keith Ferrazzi for giving us all that information.
I'm Guy Kawasaki. This is Remarkable People. My thanks to Peg Fitzpatrick, the queen of social media, Jeff Sieh, the king of sound design, Shannon Hernandez, the prince of sound design, Madisun Nuismer, the drop in queen of Santa Cruz, and Luis Magana, the source of the best Mexican food recommendations in all of California.
Until next time, Mahalo and Aloha.