Continue reading “Episode 014- Ariel Solo cast-Intuition in business- Listening to body in business and working more consciously”
TCC 013 with Monika Hilm
In episode 013 of The Corporate Corner Podcast we meet Monika Hilm from Sweden.
Monika has made her career in the hotel industry over the world. Sweden, Denmark, Singapore, UK, Romania, Greece, Austria and now finally Czech Republic is countries that Monika has worked in.
Happiness at work
Monika is also part of the Happiness at work movement and was instrumental in bringing that to Prague and Czech Republic.
If you are interested in the Happiness movement and are in Czech Republic you can follow it here: Happiness at work
Monika the Author
Monika took one year off to write a book about things close to her heart and how to create better hotels with happier people and the result is:
“PUT YOUR PEOPLE FIRST and the rest will follow”
where she talks about her experience in the hotel industry over the world and how to create better hotel environments by putting your people first.
She also outlines interesting management theories and gives numerous real life examples of how each of us can do things better.
The book can be ordered at Monika’s own webpage at Monika Hilm and there you can also read more about Monika and what she is up to.
You will also find the book on Amazon.
You can also follow Monika on LinkedIn where she often writes interesting articles
More about Monika
Monika has done several public speaking’s and a Tedx talk soon to be published. You can find some of them here:
In episode 12 of The Corporate Corner we have Halee Fischer-Wright with us talking about the bestselling book The Tribal Leadership.
You can find more about Halee and the book here at CultureSync
and you can buy the book here: The Tribal Leadership
and listen to the podcast:
It is a very interesting book and for anyone who has been in any corporation or organization you will find a lot of interesting stories and you will most likely recognize yourself or your organization at one or more of the levels.
What is a tribe?
The book describes it like this:
A tribe is a group between 20 and 150 people. Here’s the test for whether someone is in one of your tribes: if you saw her walking down the street, you’d stop and say “hello”. The members of your tribe are probably programmed into your cell phone and in you e-mail address book.
Tribes in companies get work done — sometimes a lot of work—but they don’t form because of work. Tribes are the basic building block of any large human effort, including earning a living.
Halee explains that they mean by corporate culture.
The way we define culture how things are done around here. So from that standpoint we really identify to take culture and push it and improve it beacuse what we know is when you improve corporate culture the outcome improves as well.
The Five Tribal Stages
The book describes five different levels through which corporations and organizations cycle through with the level Five culture being the most desirable
Every tribe has a dominant culture, which can peg on a one-to-five scale, with Stage Five being the most desirable. All things being equal, a Five culture will always outperform a Four culture, which will always outperform a Three and so on.
Stage 1 – Life Sucks
2% of American professionals operate at level 1 and it is a place to avoid if possible .This is the stage with the mind-set that creates street gangs and people who come to work with shotguns.
In the book they describe their findings around stage one.
Life sucks, so there is no point to values, vision or morality. In fact, these seem like con games designed to make us miss the obvious truth of life, which is that it isn’t fair, it’s a vile place, and we all die.
Stage 2 – My life sucks
The essence of Stage Two is “my life sucks” and it accounts for 25% of workplace cultures and in the book we can read.
There are some good examples of Stage Two organizations that most people love to hate, The Department of Motor Vehicles, doctor’s offices that make us wait forty-five minutes reading magazines older than we are while the receptionist moves so slowly we wonder if she may have died.
Who has not been in a level 2 organization? These are the places where you always hear “It’s not possible” or “we have always done it like this”.
Interesting was that in the book they mention even CEOs they have met that through their career always blame things on external parameters and in the talk we touch upon something interesting when Halee mentions that you can have this new CEO coming in full of enthusiasm but being dragged down a level to adapt to the existing corporate culture.
Stage 3. I am great you are not
48% of American professionals operate at Stage Three and this is what we all are taught in the educational systems, to become great.
The essence of Stage Three is “I’m great” and unstated and lurking in the background “and you are not” as they describe it in the book.
The book mentions the businessman Donald Trump as a good example of a typical stage 3 person and this was before he became president.
In the talk with Halee with discuss Donald Trump and his Stage 3 attitude and how his behavior and attitude is rippling down to a lot of stage 3 people out there.
Stage 4 – We are great, they are not
Stage 4 is literally taking the greatness and skills of people in level 3 and bringing it to the next level where they move away from the centric I view to a more holistic view where the WE is the most important.
Often people raise to Stage 4 from some insight that this I race is not sustainable in the long run and want to achieve something bigger.
The Stage 4 always have this feeling of that WE are great but it is also coming with WE are GREATER than them. Could be another company, another department or someone they are competing with.
Stage 5 – LIFE IS GREAT
This is the stage people arise to to create something bigger for humanity.
Examples they give in the book is of people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, U2’s Bono, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and people of their ilk who often go on to contribute to global – not just tribal causes.
They also give the example when they go out to interview people at the pharmaceutical Amgen and that the employees are not competing against someone else but where they say: “We’re in competition with cancer”.
The Corporate Corner
In this second episode with David we talk about a lot of things. To give you an idea of the topics here is a selection of some of the subjects:
IT or Technology
David mentions his annoyment with me using the term IT in the previous episodes of the TCC Podcast for what in his eyes should be the technology department.
It’s true I have been fostered in companies where there were a clear distinction between business and IT and the IT departments was always referred to as IT, the people who brings cost to to the table whereas in David’s world it’s all about building great products and there is no real distinction.
How wonderful wouldn’t it be to work in a company like that.
Difference in attitude Europe versus US
David is talking about the difference in attitude between Europe and the US.
In Europe the perception is that everybody just have a job whereas in US many people have the ambition to change the world.
In Europe some of the companies David talked to is all about revenue, profit margin, cost and not what the company is actually producing.
David notice that in Prague trams are full at 9 in the morning, they are full at 5 in the afternoon and you rarely see office lights on in the evening.
It is funny, but as I am writing this I am reached by the rumor that my previous company is thinking about installing the clock stamp system for the staff in the Prague office, same as they have in Frankfurt and I am curious how David would survive in such an environment.
In the Czech Communist system this was called “Píchačky” and is well symbolized by this picture and doubtful whether this is generating creativity and most likely, if introduced, will make people feel they are thrown back to a period and regime that everybody thought was long gone.
David mentions that for his first 10 years at Microsoft he worked 7 days a week and without ever taking holidays. He explains:
I never thought of a job as 9 to 5. I thought of a job as we need to go deliver Internet Explorer, we need to go deliver Windows, we need to create a whole new way of doing things, we created AR at Disney before AR was cool.
The 1 on 1 walker
David use the technique of walking with his direct reports on his one on one meetings and he is doing it outside the office to get out the confined office environment.
Let’s go out. Let’s just be two people and kind of friends for the 20 minutes we are going to go for a walk and have a real conversation.
That is the time he got to know what is really going on and people having the guard down outside the office, David explains and this leads us into the next subject, friends at work.
Friends at work
David tries to put a wall between friendship and work. He explains:
The hardest thing you can do in your career is to lay off people that you really didn’t want to lay off and to fire somebody. People have lives, they have families, they have kids on college and bills to pay.
David mentions that he noticed a lot of people who have promoted friends and seen the problem that it can cause and he tries to keep a barrier between friendship and family and he explains how he learnt this at an early age at Microsoft.
Jim Allchin was a good teacher for this. I definitely learnt that you should separate business life and personal life. You should never promote someone because he is a friend.
He tells us about some negative examples of this that he has seen and what it causes:
I witnessed people who have become really good friends and they promote their friends. They actually cause badness in the culture, they cause, if they are not good at their jobs they cause people to be mad or upset and you have created a cancer in the organization.
But David also mentions that he has made some good friends during his career which in my opinion is inevitable, we are human beings after all.
David mentions that he has always been fearless and he emphasizes the importance of being fearless and what he has noticed.
I think people have fear, fear of speaking up, fear of being wrong and they don’t know how to be fearless and to stand up for themselves.
He recommends the reading of Jean Case’s book Be Fearless: : 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose
So you were always fearless, even in the beginning of your career? Mats asks David.
Yeah, even as a 22 year old kid. Look I have been told by various leaders, that was a stupid idea, dumb, can’t believe you thought of that. OK, that is your opinion, you are no different than me, I don’t care what your net worth is, I don’t care what your wealth is, I don’t care if you are 50 and I am 20, doesn’t matter. What I know is, we are both just people trying to go solve hard problems and you are going to have your opinion I am going to have mine.
What a gift to have that capacity of mind!
We cover a whole bunch of other topics and Ariel and I are doing a nearly 30 minutes debrief as we find the conversation so interesting so hang in there, it is long but a lot of take aways.
Where to find David
David is publishing his wisdom mainly on Facebook and Twitter and that is where you can best follow him.
Facebook – David Sobeski.
Twitter – dsobeski
The Corporate Corner
For years I talked to David about this podcast I want to make and that he just have to be part of it so he is aware, but when we meet up at the local Starbucks before the talk he is making it clear that this is not something he is looking forward to.
It’s snowing outside, a cold January day in Prague, one of these days you just want to put a blanket over your head and sleep an hour more.
“Where are your questions? David is asking.
“I thought you were going to have a notepad with questions”
Maybe I should be more structured I’m thinking, but questions for David I have more than enough of. He is like an encyclopedia of modern and ancient technology and knows literally everybody who is worth knowing in the technology industry. After the podcast episode with Tony Schiavo David is messaging me that he thinks he knows Tony, they studied at same place and same time and he remembered the accountant guy. Same when I read about some company or that and that person, it nearly always turns David is knowing them.
I decide to throw the structure of the interview upside down and start with these questions that is burning my head, the ones about Bill Gates and Microsoft.
Bill Gates and Microsoft
I recently started to follow Bill Gates blogs and his LinkedIn posts and he comes across as this amazing philantrop caring about everything from Vaccines, Alzheimer’s to Artificial Intelligence and meditation at it sound somehow too good to be true.
How was he really as a boss? I wonder and I ask David, who had the opportunity to work with him in Microsoft.
He tells us the following:
We were very focused on making sure we had a great product or we beat this competitor or that competitor. He was very competetive, very aggressive, very to the point.
He had a communication style in a meeting where you kind of had to impress him. He would ask very tough questions, he knew a lot before coming in to a meeting, but I think the one attribute he has is he can listen very quickly, process very quickly and ask really, really hard questions and you need to be able to answer these questions or it just turns bad.
It wasn’t like he was trying to be mean spirited it was really about trying to push you and trying to get the best out of you and thus the team.
David talks more about Microsoft and how it is a company with a lot of technically really smart people and that in the old days the tend to build products from a technology view first rather than with a product view.
Microsoft was a developer lead company, we would build Windows SDK, Visual Studio, C++ compilers, we spent a lot of time building the developer tools we used ourselves.
David explains how inside Microsoft they felt like the underdog who could be outcompeted at any moment, while from the outside many of us felt like Microsoft was this big monopoly.
David gives us some insight into what Microsoft were the late 90ties and early 2000 years and he is also mentioning how he for the first 10 years at Microsoft worked 7 days a week and never took a day off. Pretty amazing and unbelievable for a European thinking of work life balance.
David is talking about how he grow up in West Pittston, Pennsylvania in a classic middle class family with parents who sacrificed for themselves for their kids.
David was lucky to get his first computer, a Texas TI/99-4A computer as a young kid and that is when he started to use computers by playing games and not long after doing programming himself.
In high school he won a statewide coding competition and then went to university and studied computer science and mathematics.
He is praising the connections you make in university as very important.
He learnt the importance of time management at an early age and always tried to under promise and over deliver.
David’s second job was a IBM where he joined the IBM Watson research center where he worked on software for phones and he worked on the first smartphone, the IBM Simon phone.
His boss at IBM wanted him to wear a white shirt and maroon tie and to come to work at very specific times and David got yelled at for not obeying the rigid IBM rules. One of the reason he left IBM relativeley quickly.
Building Great Products
David is talking about the importance of being a listener, a user of things and to love the idea of investigation. Be a customer and never be afraid of asking dumb questions.
He gives as an example, the movie Big where Tom Hanks plays the kid Josh Baskin whose wish it is to be a grown up.
In one of the scenes Josh Baskin is in a meeting with the CEO and the person presenting the new product and by saying some simple phrases out of kids mouth like “I don’t get it” and “it’s just not fun” he turns the whole discussion around and David emphasizes the importance of never loosing your eyes of innocence.
We cover a lot more in this episode, we also talk about David’s close relation ship with Steve Jobs and their talks about the future of computing.
David talks about a startup he was part of, Playdom, and how they were sold to Disney.
He explains why Computer Science really should be called Computer Art and much, much more. Tune in.
EPISODE 007 DETAILED SHOW NOTES
In this episode Mats is meeting with David Dostal. They had the conversation in Prague just before Christmas.
- David’s quest from freedom at any price
- David’s interest for computers and programming already as a young teenager
- How he as a 25 year old started a company in Switzerland
- The struggle you can have with German bureaucrazy
- David’s experience as in investor in internet companies
- How his journey that took him back to his parents roots in Czech Republic
- The creation of his new company Fetview and what change that will bring for gynecologists and patients over the world
- What David thinks about theoretical studies
- Advices he would give to young graduates and students
- How he as a teenager improved the production lines at Mercedes
EPISODE 006 DETAILED SHOW NOTES
- Tony’s career in several Wall Street Banks
- The challenges in managing people
- How to manage by influence
- Buy versus build in the software industry
- How to hire the right persons and what to look for
- How Tony took a break and went to a silent retreat
Stress at the Work Place
Today Mats meets with Katri Lampinen. She is working for SPP, a swedish provider of Pension and Insurance solutions and is an expert and has lot of interest in stress related questions.
- The long term sickness leave in Sweden goes up after the holidays, why is that?
- 7 out of 10 managers are stressed according to a survey made in Sweden.
- What could be the underlying reason in a country like Sweden to see the stressrelated issues such as burnout rise so much
- Katri gives some tips on what you could do to manage stress in the new year.
EPISODE 003 DETAILED SHOW NOTES
Podcast Recording: The conversation was held via Skype between Prague, Czechia where Mats was and Jersey City, outside New York on a Sunday. A lot of planning and flexibility was required to time this when Shuchi’s son had a nap. Overall good connection but some blips and cuts here and there.
- How it was to come to Czechia and be one of the first students at the Czech Technical University when they for first time launched studies in English language
- The challenge of going back to work after only a couple of months at home with a newborn baby
- The difference in work life balance between USA and Europe
- The exellent working atmosphere Shuchi found in Europe
- The challenge of moving from a cozy European company and to work for Goldman Sachs
- Long working hours and not much holiday in USA
- The difficulty to outsource IT projects to India and the cultural difference between India and USA
- How the IT department in the US companies are more streamlined from Shuchi’s experience
Episode number 2 of the The Corporate Corner Podcast is out and I am so happy to share this conversation with Mike Kubena.
This was my first interview and it was important for me that it was Mike, I really like to talk to him and I knew it wouldn’t overly stress me.
So off we went to Denver to see Mike, this was back in August this year and we were in California so Colorado was only 2 hours flight away.
We started the day with a 70 kilometer bike ride. We had been saying for years we were going to cycle together and this was the opportunity and I knew it was also a good chance for me to get Mike a little tired before the conversation.Continue reading “Behind the scene for the Mike Kubena interview”